California Ave. fountain voting 'through the roof'

Three designs on display at art gallery at 320 California Ave., in back of restaurant

The second California Avenue controversy -- what kind of fountain should replace the old, damaged one at the end of the business district -- has generated a huge amount of community interest, according to the city.

Online voting has "broken all records" and interest in the fountain selection is "through the roof," Elise DeMarzo, staff liaison to the Palo Alto Public Art Commission, said of the Open City Hall voting, at

The deadline to vote is Tuesday noon, prior to Thursday's meeting of commission in City Hall. Models of the three alternative designs are on display in The Gallery, behind Printers' Inc. cafe, at 320 S. California.

People with no Internet access may vote by calling 650-329-2227 and casting a ballot at the Palo Alto Art Center, at Newell and Embarcadero roads, she said. The center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The fountain-design debate is in addition to a debate over whether to reduce the lanes on California from four to two through the district, which runs between El Camino Real and the Caltrain tracks, where the fountain is located within a circular turnaround.

The three alternative designs under consideration are a traditional "bird-bath" design that would re-use the existing fountain bowl with a new base, and two more-costly alternative designs with modernistic sculptures in the center.

All would have splashing water, unlike an initial replacement proposal two years ago.

The old fountain, believed to have been installed in the 1960s, was damaged over the years by vehicles running into it, although police have no record of anyone calling in to report that they hit a fountain.

-- Palo Alto Weekly staff

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Like this comment
Posted by ODB
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 13, 2011 at 4:27 pm

In the half century since I first saw the fountain, I have never heard an account of a vehicle colliding with it. That could be the reason the police have no record of it. There have been plenty of times the fountain was filled with soap suds, though.

File it under Urban Myth.

Like this comment
Posted by Mike Alexander
a resident of another community
on Jan 13, 2011 at 9:46 pm

As part of the Oregon Expressway project (1963), the California Ave. grade crossing was closed. The pedestrian underpass, fountain, and recently-departed trees along California were all installed at that time.

Like this comment
Posted by YSK
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 13, 2011 at 11:12 pm

In the 70's, we used to put soap and food coloring in it. Pretty. Stupid too, but hey, we were kids. California Avenue is so UGLY right now it's frightening. Speaking of ugly, (because of the missing trees), what the heck are they doing at the Community Center? All those trees planted in the oddest place and now they are apparently thatching it with some twigs and stuff.

Like this comment
Posted by supportsCalAve
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 14, 2011 at 11:51 am

Cal Ave really shines in beauty on Sunday mornings when the streets fill with Farmer's Market shoppers!

Like this comment
Posted by Chuckling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2011 at 11:53 am

Were police reports made every time a truck broke the sprinklers in the street medians? No. Was the whole community aware of it, when that happened? No. Does that mean it never happened? No.

Just because police paperwork doesn't exist on something, doesn't mean it never happened. Trucks hit the fountain, repeatedly and for years. It is not a myth.

Why didn't any of you take notice (that means LOOK AROUND from time to time - survey the surroundings) and why weren't you more vocal before now, all of you that claim to "love" California Avenue enough to opine on it at this late date?

Like this comment
Posted by ODB
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Our family moved to the area in 1961 and the California Avenue fountain and underpass were already in place and the grade crossing eliminated. Oregon Expressway came later.

If someone collided with the fountain with enough impact to do damage, the police would eventually become involved and the city would have to repair it. The driver of the vehicle would have to explain how he got from the roadway onto the island. DUI perhaps?

Like this comment
Posted by Alexis Moiseyev
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 18, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I have liked the fountain and its location from the first time I saw it in October 1962. I hope it will be kept.

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

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