Palo Alto Bowl would make way for a new Hilton-operated four-story hotel if the City Council votes to approve the project tonight.
The proposal, which has been opposed by local bowlers, would replace the bowling alley at 4309 El Camino Real with a 167-room hotel and 27 three-story townhouses. Applicant Aaron Barger of Barry Swenson Builder has already received the support of the city's Architectural Review Board and Planning and Transportation Commission for the project.
On Nov. 18, several members of the planning commission said they felt sad about losing Palo Alto Bowl. But the commission concluded that the project is consistent with the city's zoning ordinance and that the developer has a right to pursue the mixed-use project.
"I think that there are certainly people in the community who feel that we are losing a number of amenities of the community such as the Palo Alto Bowl and other things that we have lost in the past," Commissioner Arthur Keller said. "We have to be sensitive to the legal property rights of the owners of the property and their rights to develop this."
Meanwhile, local bowlers have been sending letters to city officials and attending commission meetings to urge them to keep Palo Alto Bowl in place. The Facebook group, "Help Us to Save the Palo Alto Bowl From Demolition!" had 2,553 members as of Monday morning.
The city's Open City Hall website, which asks residents to opine on upcoming agenda topics, showed 47 people voting against the project and only four voting for it.
"We need to preserve family establishments like Palo Alto Bowl as well as our schools," resident Jennifer Wright wrote. "Overcrowding is already a big problem for the district without adding more high-density housing."
But the council is unlikely to reject the proposal. Hotel taxes are one of Palo Alto's few revenue streams. The city has also been striving to deter purely residential projects along El Camino.
In 2006, the City Council revised its zoning ordinance to allow higher densities for hotels. At last month's planning commission review, Commissioner Lee Lippert called the Hilton project a "very appropriate proposal," particularly given the recent closure of Hyatt Rickey's, a hotel that made way for a townhouse development.
"By us not having another hotel site like this, we are losing, number one, people staying in Palo Alto being able to come back here to work," Lippert said. "Number two, we are losing a very valuable resource in terms of the transit occupancy tax.
"So this site begins to address that."
The council meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. tonight (Monday, Dec. 14) in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave.