No 'Packard Court' -- too small a street for a giant

City Council says street is too small to bear Packard's name; decides to revisit city's naming policy

Palo Alto boasts a plaza named after a flamboyant banker, and streets named after tree species and Victorian writers, but it would be a vain search for a street sign honoring one of the city's most illustrious residents, David Packard.

The City Council balked Monday night at naming a small cul-de-sac in the Barron Park neighborhood after the philanthropist and Hewlett-Packard co-founder, whose home and garage on Addison Avenue are widely recognized as the "Birthplace of Silicon Valley."

"I find myself offended that we'd choose David Packard's name to apply to about the smallest street you can have in town," Councilman Larry Klein said. "This is, after all, David Packard, founder of the most iconic company in our history."

The city's planning staff and the Palo Alto Historical Association both recommended that the council name a street in a new four-lot subdivision near the 700 block of Matadero Road "Packard Court."

In addition to the street size problem, Klein criticized the city's overall policy for naming streets and parks, noting that some are named after individuals of little significance while others have generic or vague names. He cited Heritage Park at Homer Avenue and Waverley Street as an example.

"It seems like we're all over the place without guidance and guidelines on that," Klein said.

The council unanimously voted to direct its Policy and Services Committee to take a fresh look at street-naming practices. Currently, the council receives a list of names from the Palo Alto Historical Association and then votes on the association's recommendations. In this case, "Packard Court" was the only street name recommended, Advance Planning Manager Steven Turner said in a report.

Karen Holman, who had served on the Palo Alto Historical Association's board of directors, said the process of naming streets is challenging for the association because of the "availability of locations to name."

"Opportunities for naming sometimes don't present themselves in a way that accomplishes the goals of the association either," Holman said.

The council agreed with Klein's assertion that the city needs to "establish a more rational naming system for streets, parks and everything among us -- so we don't name one of the smallest things after our all-time giant."

The Policy and Services Committee will take on this task early in 2011.

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Posted by Page Mill
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 14, 2010 at 11:29 am

They should change Page Mill Road to Packard Road. The road goes right by HP headquarters.

Few people remember who Page was or where the old Page Mill was. The road doesn't even go to Page Mill anymore anyway. There is really no point to keeping the Page Mill name.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 14, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Let us go back to the old rule - nobody alive. Ideally dead at least one year.

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Posted by Page Mill
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 14, 2010 at 1:12 pm

David Packard passed away in 1996. William Hewlett passed away in 2001.

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 14, 2010 at 3:25 pm

I'm not crazy about Mineta San Jose Airport.
I do support naming a significant street in PA after David Packard.I think naming changes should be done sparingly, however Mr. Packard is definitely deserving of this honor. He was known locally, regionally, nationally, internationally as a groundbreaking leader.
I have been in other cities where far less known/significant individuals have had streets named after them. For example, oddly, a street on one side of San Francisco City Hall has a confusing long name, named after some doctor. I don't think anyone would be confused by the name Packard, though.

Like this comment
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 14, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Since renaming major streets is so difficult -- significant expenses to businesses located on such a street and confusion for businesses and residents caused by out-of-sync maps and cached directions-to -- it seemed that there were few opportunities to honor giants such as Packard. So the Council's decision could be viewed as a de facto one to _not_ honor Packard with a street name, a valid decision if one is worried about damning-with-faint-praise.

Additional background: part of the reason for choosing Packard for this tiny cul-de-sac was that for a number of years he lived a few houses up the street from this new development.

Disclosure: I am _not_ part of the PA Historical Association but have followed this because the cul-de-sac is across the street from my house.

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Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 14, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Additional thought: Since Palo Alto is built-out, the only new streets are likely to be small cul-de-sacs such as this one. Is the Council's guidance to PAHA to choose insignificant people for naming these insignificant streets? For example, those who served a single term on the Council. Wouldn't this turn the "honor" into an insult?

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Posted by Doug Graham
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 14, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Somewhere along the line, three important facts behind this name proposal apparently got lost or ignored;
(1) The developer of this small cul-de-sac, which runs off matadero avenue, proposed naming it after his daughter.
(2) The new street is located about 200 feet from 724 Matadero, which is where David Packard lived with his family during the critical TEN YEARS while he and Bill Hewlett built H-P; 1939 to 1949, when they moved to Los Altos Hills. During this time, David was a major community leader in Barron Park and Palo Alto. He was a Trustee, then President of the Board of Trustees of the Palo Alto Unified School District, and personally led the movement to build Barron Park Elementary School. He and Lucille were very sociable and had many friends in the neighborhood. He was also instrumental in getting his neighbors to establish the Barron Park Fire Protection District and form the Volunteer Fire Department that gave us our fire protection from 1948 until we joined the city in 1975.
(3) The proposed name was not to be David Packard Court - it was to be PACKARD Court, to honor the family, four of which have made major contibutions to Palo Alto, Stanford and the surrounding communities through their philanthropy; David, Lucille (Children's Hospital), David Woodley Packard (Stanford Theater), and Julie Elizabeth (Monterey Aquarium). They and the other two children all lived on Matadero Avenue.

I will continue to push for naming SOMETHING in Palo Alto for this family - one of the greate3st families to live in Palo Alto, even though it was Barron Park at the time.

Douglas Graham

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Posted by Page Mill
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 14, 2010 at 5:30 pm

How about naming that park on Page Mill Road after him. It's very prominent and almost right across the street from HP.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm

I think asking the Packard family if they thought of it as an insult or an honor would have been appropriate.

I am not in favor of changing the name of any existing street, park, plaza or anything else once it has been established, but I do like the idea of honoring well known Palo Altans. This means that the likelihood of naming something after someone will now be a small cul de sac or park and if we were to establish a tradition of naming new ones after well known Palo Altans then all well and good.

After all, we have some very odd named streets around here and for someone living on a street named after someone well known, at least they don't have to keep spelling it every time they give their address.

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 14, 2010 at 7:54 pm

I continue to believe that we should have a Hollywood-style "walk of fame" on the downtown pedestrian mall (or at least on the sidewalks) honoring leading (world-famous) businesses and people . . .

Like this comment
Posted by Hollywood
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 14, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Celebrities pay money to get their names in the Hollywood "walk of fame". How many locals are conceited enough to pay for that "honor". If you really want your name enshrined, just donate a building to Stanford. For the right price, they'll even name it after you (living or not).

Like this comment
Posted by Just a thought
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 15, 2010 at 6:34 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 15, 2010 at 11:34 am

"I do like the idea of honoring well known Palo Altans."

Um, the David Packard of HP lived in Los Altos Hills, not Palo Alto.

Like this comment
Posted by bikes2work
a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Dec 15, 2010 at 6:30 pm

I was thinking the same thing as Doug Moran regarding the possibility of new streets in Palo Alto. New major streets are going to be rare, but Council could consider working with Stanford to rename Welch Road. My understanding is that street will be completely reworked with the new hospital development. With Lucille Packard Children's Hospital nearby, it would be a good name for the street too.

The only downside is the loss for Welch. Anybody know who that was?

Like this comment
Posted by C.A.Klystron
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 15, 2010 at 7:39 pm

How about changing Homer to Packard. I always fall asleep reading Homer and Packard was taller. Who needs stories about Greek antiquity when I have deGoogle to tell me the truth.

On a side note does anyone use Scroogle Web Link to get around the snoops?

Like this comment
Posted by michael james
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 15, 2010 at 9:01 pm

we should consult the city's arborist to see if the trees need protection from any insults
the green points rater must be included to insure the old signs are recycled
we will need a demo permit for the old sigs but it can not be issued until after the neighbors have had a chance to complain
city staff must guarantee no gas leaf blowers are used in this operation

clearly we need a consultant to write a report measuring any stress this may cause the donkeys

Like this comment
Posted by Let's move on to something important, please.
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 16, 2010 at 9:15 am

We have so many more important issues to deal with right now. Let's move on, please.

Like this comment
Posted by Winter Dellenbach
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 17, 2010 at 7:55 am

In all the zeal to name (or rename) a street for David Packard, I would like us to also remember a more complete person than the charitable donor and businessman.

It needs to be noted that Packard was assistant secretary of defense for Dick Nixon during the Vietnam War (that other needless war that lies led us into). I remember well when David Packard stated, as reported in the papers that the (I paraphrase) "traitors" up on Page Mill Rd. should be prosecuted.

I was one of those "traitors" along with Joan Baez, her husband David Harris, former Stanford student body president who spent years in prison for refusing to go into the army, and other draft resisters and staff at the Institute for the Study of Non-violence living at Struggle Mountain on Page Mill, many of whom also went to prison rather than fight in Vietnam.

There was a peace march back then on El Camino that had a person, representing Packard, riding on the back of a bomb float.

So let's remember the whole person and the whole history, not just the pretty parts.

winter dellenbach

Like this comment
Posted by Summer
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 17, 2010 at 8:26 am

Well, at least Ms Dellenbach admits that she is a traitor. Of course, she proudly wears that tag and of course exaggerates the "facts"--she claims David Harris spent years in prison, yet:

"Eventually, Harris was arrested and convicted of draft evasion, a federal felony. He was sentenced to a term in federal prison. He served about 15 months in various minimum- to medium-security prisons; he was released on parole in October 1970. "
(Web Link))

I sit too late to send Ms Dellenbach to Guantanamo?

Like this comment
Posted by JoAnn
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 17, 2010 at 6:06 pm

I used to live on Clara Drive in Midtown, named, I'm told, for one of the developer's daughters (the other one was Sandra). It bends, and has two sets of addresses, in the 900's where it parallels Colorado, and in the 2900's where it parallels Middlefield.

I used to watch everyone from cabs to pizza delivery cars hesitate and turn around, unable to find my address. The first time I went there, I was driving up the 900 block and thinking "The 2900's are going to be out in the Bay." Even though it is a pain, one part or the other ought to be renamed, but since I don't live there any more, I'm not working for this. But there might be other streets like this that could and should be split into two names.

Like this comment
Posted by Nick
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 18, 2010 at 12:08 pm

It is time to rename Embarcadero Road Packard Boulevard!

Like this comment
Posted by Wade Larsen
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 20, 2010 at 7:19 am

A dedicated cul-de-sac in one of Palo Alto's most prestigious neighborhoods is not a fitting tribute to David Packard? I assume that some very nice upscale homes will eventually be built there as well. And the fact that the Packards lived on Matadero from which the court extends. The only detraction I can think of is that Barron Park was not an original Palo Alto neighborhood. Sorry, but College Terrace and Old Palo Alto's streets have been developed and named. That leaves only new streets as choices. Many HP employees past and present have made their homes here in Barron Park. Packard Court sounds good to me.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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