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Palo Alto Weekly

Publication Date: Wednesday Jan 1, 1997

  • Cover Story
  • Upfront A June 19 fire caused $850,000 of damage to the popular Hobee's Restaurant in Town & Country Village Shopping Center in Palo Alto, and also caused smoke and other damage to a half-dozen other businesses. The owners hoped to reopen the restaurant within four months, but by the end of the year the reopening date had been pushed back to April 1997. Another fire swept through three businesses on Hamilton Avenue downtown on Dec. 21. The Pacif ic Mountaineer, Frame-O-Rama and House of Bagels were all destroyed in the blaze, which caused an estimated $3 million in damage.
  • Stanford Stanford University had some good budget news to report this year. Provost Condoleezza Rice reported to the Faculty Senate May 2 that the university had gone from a $40 million budget d eficit to a $15 million surplus in three years, effectively ending the budget crisis that began after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The quake caused $150 million in damage and was followed by Stanford's dispute with the federal government about the ove rhead charges on its research grants. The overhead rate on the grants was reduced, causing several years of cutbacks.
  • Issues It's been a series of time-outs for the folks at the growing Menlo-Atherton Little League who would like to build and pay for a baseball diamond in Atherton's Holbrook-Palmer Park. Despit e an appeal in May by famous sporting residents like Joe Montana and Willie Mays (on video), the Atherton City Council has avoided making a decision. First council members sent the matter back to the Parks and Recreation Commission for further study, then they surveyed town residents. The survey found that a little over half of the residents supported the idea of organized sports in the park. At year's end, the council was still considering whether an environmental impact report is needed. Some neighbors object to the noise and traffic baseball games could bring.
  • Schools The Palo Alto school board's closed-session promotion of Associate Superintendent Pat Einfalt Jan. 30 sparked criticism from teachers who were on the brink of negotiating a new contract. Others charged the board with violating the state's open meeting laws. During the closed session, the board promoted Einfalt to deputy superintendent, increasing her annual salary by $9,000. The action was initially revealed by an investigative report in the Paly Campanile newspaper. After the outcry, the school board held a special meeting on March 8, to redo their action in open session. Einfalt planned to retire Dec. 31, 1996.
  • Environment Two strange wildlife encounters occurred in 1996. On Feb. 2, a local man told a Palo Alto Baylands naturalist that he saw what he thought was a mountain lion in the marshy Baylands. The c ity posted warning fliers. Then, Portola Valley resident Hank Nickel speculated that the sighting, and many others that are never confirmed, were hoaxes by hunters and ranchers trying to drum up support for Proposition 197, on the March 26 ballot, which w ould have removed the ban on sport hunting of mountain lions. The measure was defeated. Then in July, a coyote without the usual fear of humans attacked a 3-year-old Palo Alto boy in Windy Hill Open Space Preserve. The boy underwent rabies treatment as a precaution. The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District trapped seven coyotes and had to euthanize them to test for rabies.
  • Neighborhoods After 14 years of lawsuits and objections from neighbors and open space lovers, St. Patrick's Seminary of Menlo Park finally succeeded in selling 46 acres of its 88-acre wooded campus o n Middlefield Road in May. Since then, Oak Leaf Associates has been building the first 47 of 145 luxury homes planned for the land. The homes will sell for between $700,000 and $1 million. Fourteen of the homes will be duplexes sold at below market rates.
  • Transitions Bank mergers reduced the number of local bank branches available to Midpeninsula residents in 1996. In February, Home Federal of San Francisco announced that its Midtown branch would close in June as a result of a takeover by First Nationwide Bank. In July and August, three local branches of First Interstate Bank of California closed because of a merger with Wells Fargo Bank. In addition, in October, California Federal Bank announced that its Palo Alto branch would be closed in March 1997 after the bank's sale to First Nationwide. One merger that did not reduce the number of local bank branches was the merger between Cupertino National Bank and Mid-Peninsula Bank, announced in June. Those two banks, with branches just three blocks apart, did not consider themselves to be direct competitors, since they specialize in different areas. Mid-Peninsula Bank had become the last independent local bank after University Bank merged with Comeric a Bank in March.
  • Sports
  • Top 10 Spurred by skyrocketing housing prices, Palo Alto was on pace for a record number of home demolitions in 1996--52 through Sept. 13. But when two cherished historical houses were torn dow n--a Julia Morgan-designed home at 1201 Webster St. Aug. 13 and a 97-year-old Victorian in College Terrace Sept. 3--residents called on the City Council to pass a demolition moratorium to preserve the character of the city's older neighborhoods. After a h eated public hearing, the council unanimously approved an immediate ban on the razing of all pre-1940 homes at 1 a.m. on Sept. 17. Developers and real estate agents said it was a violation of property rights. But council members said it was a necessary ti meout to strengthen Palo Alto's 20-year-old historic preservation ordinance. On Oct. 28, the council adopted interim demolition regulations, which superseded the all-out moratorium and will remain in place until permanent regulations can be adopted next s ummer or fall.
  • Notes & Comments
  • Our Town: News of 1997
  • News
  • SCHOOLS: Enrollment will peak next fall
  • EDUCATION: Garland school may be reopened
  • SCHOOLS: Spanish program
  • STANFORD: Midwife program may be cut
  • DOWNTOWN: Sit-lie ban
  • COMMUNITY: Palo Altan burnishes city's image
  • CITY COUNCIL: Six may apply for City Council seat
  • Around Town
  • Community Notebook
  • Community Pulse
  • Marriages
  • Menlo Park Police Logs
  • Deaths
  • Palo Alto Police Logs
  • Spectrum
  • Board of Contributors: Notes and comments from 1996
  • Letters to the Editor
  • Title Pages
  • The red winds blew
  • Book Talk
  • Sports
  • Special Section
  • Arts & Entertainment
  • Weekend Preview
  • Eating Out
  • Mini Restaurant Reviews
  • Movies
  • Movie Times
  • Movie Theatre Addresses and Phone Numbers
  • MarketPlace
  • Classifieds
  • On-line Classified Ad Form
  • Back Issues
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    Copyright 1997 Embarcadero Publishing Company. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited. The Palo Alto Weekly and the Weekly logo are registered trademarks of Embarcadero Publishing Company. Other trademarks or registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.