News

City hopes to lure industry to East Meadow Circle

Palo Alto eyes host of land-use changes to area that has seen major housing growth

After seeing a surge of housing in several south Palo Alto neighborhoods over the past decades, city officials are now poised to transform these areas near the Mountain View border into enclaves of industry and innovation.

The city's focus is on areas just west of U.S. Highway 101, including the neighborhoods around East Meadow Circle and Fabian Way, a quilt of small parcels along San Antonio Road and the area around San Antonio and Charleston roads, near the Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life. These traditionally industrial and mixed-use neighborhoods have seen an influx of housing over the past decade, with large residential projects such as Altaire, Vantage and Echelon recently going up in the area.

This part of the city is one of two -- along with the California Avenue Business District/Fry's Electronics site -- that Palo Alto officials have identified as ripe for a major land-use changes. The city is putting together "area concept plans" for the two areas as part of its effort to update the Comprehensive Plan, the city's officials land-use bible. While the planning effort still has a long way to go, the City Council on Monday night expressed support for the staff proposal to bring industry to East Meadow Circle and to lure large, revenue-generating businesses to San Antonio Road.

The council singled out the area around East Meadow Circle for major zoning changes out of recognition that this part of the city doesn't have the necessary infrastructure to support a housing surge. Council members cited a lack of neighborhood-serving stores, parks and amenities in this area and a shortage of public-transportation options, all of which would make it undesirable to allow additional housing to be built. At the same time, the council stressed the importance of industry to both Palo Alto's image and economic health.

"Our heartbeat has been research-and-development and innovation and to lose one of the last places in town with relatively inexpensive space of that kind is really unfortunate," Councilman Larry Klein said. "At the same time, we've been providing housing in a part of the community where it's difficult if not impossible to provide the same level of services as we do to other areas in the community."

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Planning Director Curtis Williams said the proposal is to retain, enhance and attract high-end research-and-development and light industrial uses in this area.

The council endorsed this vision Monday by an 8-0 vote, with Councilwoman Karen Holman absent. Klein said the growth of housing and the diminishing of industry in this area was one of the reasons for his decision to return to the council in 2005. He called that the Echelon development a "mistake" and bemoaned the loss of industrial businesses in the area.

Though the concept plan would encourage industrial development, it would restrict the intensity of such developments near single-family residences. Vice Mayor Greg Scharff advocated targeting the East Meadow Circle area for incubators of start-up companies.

"I think as long as it involves innovation, we should allow it," Scharff said.

Williams stressed that while start-ups would be part of the picture, the city is also looking at other types of industrial uses. The point, he said, is to promote industry over "professional offices" such as attorneys and accountants in this area.

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The San Antonio Road area, which is located southeast of East Meadow Circle and adjacent to Highway 101, would see changes of a different sort under the city's concept plan. The document aims to encourage large, revenue-generating businesses such as hotels or big-box stores east of San Antonio.

This, however, could prove complicated. Williams noted that this stretch includes about 66 parcels and 75 property owners. Bringing large developments such as hotels or major stores to this area would only be possible if some of these land owners consolidate their properties, which is far from a sure thing.

In the coming months, the city will analyze what types of incentives it could provide to the property owners to encourage this consolidation and create larger parcels, Williams said. Klein was among those who said they were skeptical about the prospect of consolidating lots around San Antonio.

"Are we going through a lot of effort to accomplish nothing?" Klein asked.

But he joined the rest of the council in approving the concept plan and directing staff to perform an economic study for the San Antonio Road section of the concept area. Councilwoman Gail Price said she was optimistic about the prospect of redeveloping this part of Palo Alto and called staff's concept plan a "very exciting opportunity" to achieve a "creative solution."

"This is an area that I think has languished, and if we don't have some structure and additional economic and community-development ideas devoted to it, it will continue to languish, which is not what we want for any of our areas in Palo Alto," Price said.

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City hopes to lure industry to East Meadow Circle

Palo Alto eyes host of land-use changes to area that has seen major housing growth

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Feb 13, 2012, 10:47 pm

After seeing a surge of housing in several south Palo Alto neighborhoods over the past decades, city officials are now poised to transform these areas near the Mountain View border into enclaves of industry and innovation.

The city's focus is on areas just west of U.S. Highway 101, including the neighborhoods around East Meadow Circle and Fabian Way, a quilt of small parcels along San Antonio Road and the area around San Antonio and Charleston roads, near the Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life. These traditionally industrial and mixed-use neighborhoods have seen an influx of housing over the past decade, with large residential projects such as Altaire, Vantage and Echelon recently going up in the area.

This part of the city is one of two -- along with the California Avenue Business District/Fry's Electronics site -- that Palo Alto officials have identified as ripe for a major land-use changes. The city is putting together "area concept plans" for the two areas as part of its effort to update the Comprehensive Plan, the city's officials land-use bible. While the planning effort still has a long way to go, the City Council on Monday night expressed support for the staff proposal to bring industry to East Meadow Circle and to lure large, revenue-generating businesses to San Antonio Road.

The council singled out the area around East Meadow Circle for major zoning changes out of recognition that this part of the city doesn't have the necessary infrastructure to support a housing surge. Council members cited a lack of neighborhood-serving stores, parks and amenities in this area and a shortage of public-transportation options, all of which would make it undesirable to allow additional housing to be built. At the same time, the council stressed the importance of industry to both Palo Alto's image and economic health.

"Our heartbeat has been research-and-development and innovation and to lose one of the last places in town with relatively inexpensive space of that kind is really unfortunate," Councilman Larry Klein said. "At the same time, we've been providing housing in a part of the community where it's difficult if not impossible to provide the same level of services as we do to other areas in the community."

Planning Director Curtis Williams said the proposal is to retain, enhance and attract high-end research-and-development and light industrial uses in this area.

The council endorsed this vision Monday by an 8-0 vote, with Councilwoman Karen Holman absent. Klein said the growth of housing and the diminishing of industry in this area was one of the reasons for his decision to return to the council in 2005. He called that the Echelon development a "mistake" and bemoaned the loss of industrial businesses in the area.

Though the concept plan would encourage industrial development, it would restrict the intensity of such developments near single-family residences. Vice Mayor Greg Scharff advocated targeting the East Meadow Circle area for incubators of start-up companies.

"I think as long as it involves innovation, we should allow it," Scharff said.

Williams stressed that while start-ups would be part of the picture, the city is also looking at other types of industrial uses. The point, he said, is to promote industry over "professional offices" such as attorneys and accountants in this area.

The San Antonio Road area, which is located southeast of East Meadow Circle and adjacent to Highway 101, would see changes of a different sort under the city's concept plan. The document aims to encourage large, revenue-generating businesses such as hotels or big-box stores east of San Antonio.

This, however, could prove complicated. Williams noted that this stretch includes about 66 parcels and 75 property owners. Bringing large developments such as hotels or major stores to this area would only be possible if some of these land owners consolidate their properties, which is far from a sure thing.

In the coming months, the city will analyze what types of incentives it could provide to the property owners to encourage this consolidation and create larger parcels, Williams said. Klein was among those who said they were skeptical about the prospect of consolidating lots around San Antonio.

"Are we going through a lot of effort to accomplish nothing?" Klein asked.

But he joined the rest of the council in approving the concept plan and directing staff to perform an economic study for the San Antonio Road section of the concept area. Councilwoman Gail Price said she was optimistic about the prospect of redeveloping this part of Palo Alto and called staff's concept plan a "very exciting opportunity" to achieve a "creative solution."

"This is an area that I think has languished, and if we don't have some structure and additional economic and community-development ideas devoted to it, it will continue to languish, which is not what we want for any of our areas in Palo Alto," Price said.

Comments

More-Infrastructure-Please
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2012 at 7:57 am
More-Infrastructure-Please, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2012 at 7:57 am

> The council singled out the area around East Meadow Circle for
> major zoning changes out of recognition that this part of the city
> doesn't have the necessary infrastructure to support a housing surge.
> Council members cited a lack of neighborhood-serving stores, parks and
> amenities in this area and a shortage of public-transportation options.

Is anyone on the Council listening to themselves? Within one hundred yards of this area the Council has allowed housing projects at Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life, as well as large residential projects such as Altaire, Vantage and Echelon. So, what “infrastructure” is supporting these residential projects?

> At the same time, the council stressed both the importance of industry to
> Palo Alto's image and economic health.

The economic side of this claim would be better understood if the Council would have provided some hard numbers about the contribution to Palo Alto’s GDP, and the subsequent contribution to the City’s “take”. As to Palo Alto’s “image”—given it’s hostility to cars, and business in general, this statement is almost laughable.

Oh, but this is the "Year of Infrastructure", so we'll probably be seeing that word interwoven into everything the Council rambles on about for the next ten months.


svatoid
Charleston Gardens
on Feb 14, 2012 at 8:40 am
svatoid, Charleston Gardens
on Feb 14, 2012 at 8:40 am

"As to Palo Alto’s “image”—given it’s hostility to cars, and business in general, this statement is almost laughable."
Good point. Why would any business, knowing the response from Palo Alto when it comes to trying to get something built (too much traffic, too much noise, it will have a negative impact on local businesses, the building is not artistic enough, the building is not aesthetically pleasing and on and on) even consider opening a location here??

Anyway, this project belongs somewhere else--Embarcadero Road, College Terrace or Professorville.


Ronnie
Midtown
on Feb 14, 2012 at 11:40 am
Ronnie, Midtown
on Feb 14, 2012 at 11:40 am

Thumbs up for some stores or something useful. Another park wouldn't exactly be bad either!
As for public transport - I would like to see a high-speed maglev train which would have 2 stops: 1 on E Meadow Circle, and the other in the center of the Las Vegas Strip (around the Venetian/Mirage area). Tickets would be free for residents of mid-town and south Palo Alto. There would be VIP club cars serving beer, pizza and burgers, as well a wide variety of upscale Mediterranean, Indian and Mexican cuisine. There would aslo be lounge chairs and flat screen TV's showing live sports and movies.
The train would travel at about 300 miles per hour. The trip should take less than 2 hours.
People who do not live in the local area would be permitted to ride, but tickets would cost $700 per person. Of course they would be in a different car. Due to space restrictions (to make room for the VIP amenities) the seat width in the visitor car is only 16 inches, with a seat pitch of just under 1 foot. The visitors would be permitted to enter the casino-car, which would have slots and video poker.
Trains would run every hour, at 15 minutes past.
Its pretty much a win-win.


rem
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 14, 2012 at 12:36 pm
rem, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Feb 14, 2012 at 12:36 pm

East Meadow Circle/Fabian Way Concept Plan Area Map

Web Link ]

NO - NO - NO - NO

Leave the area along. There is a traffic problem NOW which will be increased with this project(s).


Paul
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm
Paul, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Ronnie, I think you've got something there. Are you going to present this to the city council soon, so that we can all be there to offer support? The VIP car - also serving brie and chardonnay?


Jean Wilcox
Charleston Gardens
on Feb 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm
Jean Wilcox, Charleston Gardens
on Feb 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm

At last Palo Alto has finally woken up to the fact that they have a large area south of San Antonio and East of Charleston bordering onto H.101 which would be an excellent location for big box stores or auto dealerships.

Mountain View woke up to this fact some 10 years ago and developed Charleston Plaza; when in fact Palo Alto had an even larger exposure to H.101, but simply ignored it.

Some years ago I asked a member of the CC why they didn't develop Palo Altos land south of San Antonio and East of Charleston? She replied that PA had to keep those run down old warehouses to have somewhere with low rents to offer "start-ups." How uneconomical is that?!!!

The City has spent years agonizing over the future of University and California Avenue and have consistently ignored what the retailers really want, direct exposure to H.101.

Another huge advantage of that area is that East Charleston is the direct exit to H.101 south.


MK
Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Feb 14, 2012 at 4:54 pm
MK, Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Feb 14, 2012 at 4:54 pm

With all of the proposed increase in housing expected for the San Antonio corridor, adding industry will just exacerbate the problems there, especially the increase in the number of cars that will be on the roads. San Antonio Rd will become a parking lot.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2012 at 5:04 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Industry?

Offices are one thing, but industry?

East Meadow Circle is not a suitable place for industry although office complexes are already there and that is not a problem.

If industry is proposed a better site would be in the area south of San Antonio and West of Charleston. Alternatively, we could have a couple of big stores there since it is so close to the stores already there in Mountain View. Ideally, a wonderful grocery store, with some moderate priced eatery and a coffee shop.


svatoid
Charleston Gardens
on Feb 15, 2012 at 5:49 am
svatoid, Charleston Gardens
on Feb 15, 2012 at 5:49 am

Has the city even identified any big retailers that would be interested in moving to that area?
Anyway with traffic the way it is no won San ANtonio, changes would have to be made. Perhaps San ANtonio would not longer be the designated truck route--that would have to move to Embracadero Road.


MaryJane
Crescent Park
on Feb 15, 2012 at 8:44 pm
MaryJane, Crescent Park
on Feb 15, 2012 at 8:44 pm

I had forgotten about this location. Seems like the perfect place to put a pot dispensary if we think we really need one. It had been brought up before and I never though there was an appropriate place for this in Palo Alto. I am not sure I would want to live around there when industry moves in and then you do not know what industrial processes are going or what is venting into the air or water though.


Sharon
Midtown
on Feb 15, 2012 at 9:57 pm
Sharon, Midtown
on Feb 15, 2012 at 9:57 pm



During the Cold War the area was dominated by defense industries

It makes sense to encourage high tech and manufacturing to locate there

--for tax revenues and employment

Manufacturing will also provide employment for EPA residents.

Google and Face Book chose to locate out of Palo Alto--why?


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