News


California Avenue construction hits merchants hard

Some businesses lose up to 25 percent in sales, but they look forward to the renovated district

Merchants who are struggling through the dust and noise of the California Avenue Streetscape Project have lost as much as 25 percent of sales, they said earlier this week.

But despite the hardship, many say they are hopeful the $6.9 million improvement project will attract more customers and boost sales once it is completed in March 2015. The renovation includes new lighting, pavement, street furniture, a plaza and spots for outdoor dining. With the number of traffic lanes being reduced from four to two, sidewalks will be expanded.

Robert Martinez, owner of Palo Alto Eye Works, said the lost revenue was expected.

"We knew it was going to get ugly before it got pretty," he said.

As the project rolls along, business owners report that the biggest dip in sales happens when construction takes place in front of their stores. More than seven months into the project, colored glass now sparkles in the new concrete, and areas where sidewalks have been widened hint at the shape of the avenue to come.

Martinez said he is looking forward to some of the improvements. The street will have better drainage and more lighting, and the new sidewalk pavement has good traction, even when wet, he said.

Construction in front of his store started in earnest on Sept. 4. As it has intensified in the last two to three weeks, he's seen the biggest dip in sales.

"That's when all the orange netting, cones and pylons intimidated people," he said.

Construction on his block is expected to end in the next week or two, and Martinez is gearing up for that day.

"Now I have to go to referring doctors and tell them the construction is gone, and people can come back," he said.

It's not just retailers who've felt the squeeze. Amos Wu, owner of Subway sandwich shop, estimated his business is off by more than 20 percent.

"When they started blocking the road, people avoided the area," he said.

He's tried incentives and other ways to lure customers.

"We put up balloons, but the help is limited. Hopefully, the suffering will pay off," he said.

Judy Ohki, manager at Leaf & Petal women's apparel store, said with street parking gone, the store is letting people park in the back as an incentive.

Vin Vino Wine Bottle Shop & Tasting Bar posted a sign on its door announcing a "Cal Ave Construction Sale" of 15 percent off on three bottles or more.

"Last month was brutal for our business," the store noted in its online October newsletter. "Traffic was way, way down."

The merchant accused the city of "doing nothing" to ease the loss of business but urged loyal shoppers to continue their patronage.

"Cal Ave has long been a special part of Palo Alto, a haven for locals, and if you are one of our fans, October will be a good time to turn out and support Cal Ave businesses," Vin Vino Wine noted.

Use of social media and Facebook blunted some of the losses for European Cobblery, owner Jessica Roth said. Sales have been down -- but perhaps less than expected, she said -- for her family business.

Roth said she's a little worried about how construction will affect the holidays, which is when many stores make most of their money. The contractor will be working on the east end (Park Boulevard and the Plaza area) of the project during the holidays, City Project Engineer Shahla Yazdy said.

Roth and other retailers hope shoppers will know that and won't stay away, so stores can make up some of the lost revenues.

Yazdy, who is managing the project, said final street grinding, paving and striping is scheduled for the very end of February or March -- pending rain and unforeseen circumstances.

The work, concentrated this month on the El Camino Real end of the district, will next move to the north side of California between Birch Street and Park Boulevard. Mollie Stone's Market Manager John Garcia said although the construction so far hasn't seriously dampened the store's sales, he is concerned about the coming weeks. And should the project be delayed further into spring, it could seriously harm sales.

The renovation has already had a three-month setback from its original completion date -- the end of this year -- after complications with a water-main replacement under the street.

"The busiest time for us is Passover. I'm concerned about that," Garcia said.

CORRECTION NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that to accommodate merchants, the city plans to halt construction during the holiday season. Palo Alto Online apologizes for the error.

Comments

14 people like this
Posted by No kidding
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 31, 2014 at 11:25 am

One of the restaurant owners says that Friday and Saturday nights are the hardest, when they had previously been the most lucrative--making it hard to pay the newly increased rent.

Something needs to be done about the glass in the sidewalks. My four-year-old caught her toe on a piece of glass and fell hard, deeply abrading both knees, one requiring four sutures because of a deep puncture. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen.


3 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2014 at 11:27 am

And this loss of revenue by the merchants comes as a surprise?


3 people like this
Posted by Floyd
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 31, 2014 at 11:37 am

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 31, 2014 at 11:50 am

Compared to similar projects in downtown Mountain View (Castro St), Los Altos, Burlingame, Menlo Park, the California Ave streetscape project is amateurish and ugly (look at the sidewalks: inconsistent cement work and the bizarre glass-infused areas). Who made these design choices?


10 people like this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 31, 2014 at 11:57 am

And the city so kindly gave the merchants some piddling sum like $2,500 TOTAL to compensate them for their losses when the project was supposed to be done on time.

Too bad all the restaurants and merchants didn't convince the city they were consultants; then they could have gotten $200,000 each.

Seriously, how are they going to compensate the merchants for the delays??

When is the city going to take responsibility for its delays and lack of responsiveness?

Remember, this is the place where it takes 9.5 to PREPARE to write an RFP to synchronize the timing at one of the worst intersections on one of the busiest roads. That's before the hard parts of actually writing the RFP, hiring the expensive consultants and THEN turning the light switch.


8 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 31, 2014 at 12:01 pm

As Don said the glass sidewalks are really inconsistently constructed. And shouldn't they be using some sort of polished glass chips? It looks like they went out for a six pack, broke the bottles, and threw them into the cement.

It is obvious some of the sidewalk already needs to be torn out and redone. Who is managing this project? Unless this gets fixed now, the whole street is going to be done wrong, and will have to be redone. This is another Mitchell Library situation waiting to happen - delays and lawsuits incoming. Whoever is in charge needs to get down there and get the project back on track. The sidewalk is the most important element of the whole project!


2 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 31, 2014 at 12:23 pm

The mid-block crosswalk in the 400 block of Cal Ave, a major pedestrian artery, was supposed to be closed for 2-3 weeks. It was closed for 5 weekends. This meant big losses for retailers. This is one example of the project's sloppy approach to planning.

And when they finally finished the two 400 block mid-block crosswalks, we lost about 4 feet compared to the width of the old ones (why?). And, the north side of the crosswalks have hard 90-degree corners, which are effectively narrower, and they look sort of like what you might see in a business parking lot, hardly what you'd choose for a major beautification project. The south side has nicer sloped edges.

Whoever made the design choices for the project should go back to design school.


7 people like this
Posted by Carol Gilbert
a resident of University South
on Oct 31, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Thank you, council, for presenting the California Ave. with a project that is costing them money and that they didn't want in the first place.


5 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2014 at 1:30 pm

The workmanship of the hardscape of the newly designed California Avenue is awful. It is tasteless, too. The further they get into the renovation, the more obvious it is becoming that it's a hideous disaster. Someone needs to step in and change the direction of the renovation.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 31, 2014 at 1:42 pm


** Someone needs to step in and change the direction of the renovation. **

But how?


10 people like this
Posted by Julian
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2014 at 1:45 pm

None of this is a surprise. The best near term way to deal with this is on Tuesday: NO INCUMBENTS !! [Portion removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2014 at 2:39 pm

The city should have just closed the street and gotten the construction over with more quickly. Direct traffic coming off of El Camino to use parallel streets (Sherman or Cambridge) instead. The big parking lots are more easily accessible from the side streets anyway.

The city could have also encouraged Midtown residents to visit on foot during the construction period. That long rumored pedestrian bridge over the train tracks from Midtown to the California Ave business distract should have been built before tearing up the streets. Instead, all we got was the car-centric Oregon Expressway makeover which closed some crosswalks and slowed down pedestrian lights and really discourages pedestrian.


10 people like this
Posted by Pumpkin
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Glad to know I'm not the only one noticing the jagged bits of glass on the new California Avenue sidewalks. Poor kid with 4 sutures! Just as our Wise City rulers would rather spend our tax dollars on slip and fall lawsuits instead of fixing or even spray painting sidewalks displaced by tree roots in a more timely and reasonable manner, so, too, our City Hall geniuses thought SHARP glass pieces in a high use SIDEWALK was a brilliant idea along with hurting businesses for months and months. [Portion removed.]


22 people like this
Posted by Terry Shuchat
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 31, 2014 at 3:16 pm

I own Keeble and Shuchat Photography on California Avenue. When the first glass was placed in the sidewalks I told the City that is was a bad idea. The glass is sharp and the new glass sidewalks make the old sidewalks look even older in contrast to the new glass sidewalks. The City did not agree with me. Now we are stuck with them and more kids are bound to fall and get hunt on the glass. It is too bad that the City listens to consultants before it listens to residents and property owners.


3 people like this
Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Sidewalks embedded with glass was never in the original Streetscape plan. So when I saw these being installed, I thought perhaps during the years 2010-2014, when The Project was being reviewed and improved by so many interested members of the public, the current City Council, the new and different City Staff people and all led by a Consultant firm, that the sidewalks with glass was just what the majority of the people wanted. Surely, this would not come as a surprise to anyone overseeing The Project for the past 5 years.

I tried to find photos online of other communities that used glass in city sidewalks, for comparison. But I found none. It doesn't mean there are none available. I just couldn't find any, from the search words I've used.

In the Soho district though, they have rounded glass embedded in the sidewalks, for purposes of drawing light to underground spaces, glass that is both useful and historic (comes from old buildings).

And I also found an article on Rubber Sidewalks from 2009 I'm sharing here, in case anyone else is interested in knowing about this alternative for other areas in Palo Alto.

Web Link

The glass in the sidewalks issue aside, I think it's best to wait until The Project is completed, before coming to a conclusion about the overall look.

Regarding going/coming from Cal Ave, almost daily, a driver/pedestrian to the district, I've not had any more inconvenience than I did when downtown Los Altos, Mountain View and even Menlo Park was torn up for improvements, years ago.

The City has been excellent in communicating about the work that is to be done. The construction workers have made any inconveniences very limited.

It's easier to get all around Cal Ave/Cambridge/Park Blvd. than it was to get to Walgreen's in Los Altos, when the Packard building was going up (blocking off streets and taking what seemed like forever.)


5 people like this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 31, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Surely you jest!

Have you tried to have dinner at any of the outside tables at Cafe Brioche, Pastis, Med Wraps etc. in the last few months?

If you enjoy such excellent communication with the City, perhaps you could tell them that A) the Cal Ave Merchants are losing money and B) residents like me are costing them sales tax revenue by going to the stores, esp. the Trader Joe's in Menlo Park because of the 9.5 YEARS it's taken the city to even PREPARE the RFP for synchronizing the traffic lights on Embarcadero!

Wait. Aren't you the person who communicated with the City when they cut all the Cal Ave trees down???






Like this comment
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 31, 2014 at 5:24 pm

I assume the use of glass in sidewalks is part of the "New Urbanism" wave that has apparently captivated certain people downtown. Does anyone know if there's a purpose to using the glass? Does it cost less than concrete? Is it recycled? Is it considered attractive? Are there reflective qualities to it that are desirable? I've only seen it briefly as I biked by - perhaps one purpose is to keep bicycles off the sidewalk? If you are a reader who knows about this stuff, please provide some information b/c from the sound of things, a big mistake was made.


Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 31, 2014 at 5:50 pm

In my humble estimation the new sidewalks with the glass bits are dazzlingly beautiful.


2 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 31, 2014 at 7:03 pm

"The construction workers have made any inconveniences very limited."

Not quite true. We had a couple of morning where we customers couldn't get into the store at open. And one where customers couldn't get out. This with a promise in each streetscape newsletter of "Pedestrian access to businesses will be maintained at all times."

The inconveniences have been very limited, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost revenue to the businesses on California Ave.

And this was in this week's newsletter:

"The contractor will begin working on the block between Birch and Park (north side) this week. Work will begin at the corner of Birch and California Avenue. Contractor will saw cut and remove concrete for the sidewalk bulbouts and installation of streetlight and electrical/irrigation conduits"

They're starting in on the 300 block before the 400 block is finished. This has been the mode of operation throughout the project.


4 people like this
Posted by helene
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2014 at 7:12 pm

I will say it again. The California Ave. Development is a disaster. Not surprise there is a problem with glass in the sidewalks etc. Build more density office buildings, more cars, and then eliminate two lanes. Guess the cars will be driving on the wider sidewalks. Dissatisfied? VOTE NO for any incumbents or any Palo Alto City Council candidates who are endorsed by incumbents. The only way to make a change in this once beloved town.


5 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2014 at 9:51 pm

The Go Mama scuplture is so uniquely hideous and offensive and so prominent that it offsets any attempt at street beautification. The sculpture's removal should have been the first step in any beautification
project but as Mr. Shuchat points out the City doesn't listen to residents.
Maybe a new Council majority which does listen to residents can take care of this. This isn't complicated - it can be done,and at the same time send a strong symbolic message of change at the first Council meeting in January.



Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 1, 2014 at 2:40 am

I also find Go Mama a bit grotesque, but it sure mesmerizes little kids. While I sit nearby
at the Sunday Farmers Market, I see the under-5 set universally stop in their tracks when
they see that face (no, not my face).


2 people like this
Posted by Gayle
a resident of Fairmeadow School
on Nov 1, 2014 at 3:00 am

Where are the bicyclist groups? The ones who planned this streetscape with Jaime Rodriguez and Shahla, they designed it! Ugly!


1 person likes this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 1, 2014 at 7:20 am

If only Mayfield had gone "dry" as Leland Stanford requested, all this wouldn't have happened, and Mark Zuckerberg wold be sipping his lattes at the Nut House.


5 people like this
Posted by HUTCH 7.62
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2014 at 9:08 am

Dude those new glass sidewalks suck. My daughter fell on it the other day and really cut up her knees.

I'd like to meet the Idiot who thought embedding jagged glass in concrete was a good idea.


2 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 1, 2014 at 9:20 am

This city document calls for new "Standard grey sidewalks" in front of La Bodeguita where there is glass embedded concrete .

Web Link

The legend shows two kinds of sidewalk One called "special color concrete paving", the other "new Standard grey sidewalks"

I can't find any mention of glass embedded sidewalks nor do i recall it being mentioned at all during the planning process.

Perhaps the link above is not the final plan, perhaps someone can clarify when the glass sidewalk decision was made????


Like this comment
Posted by ducat
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2014 at 9:38 am

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by City's taste
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 1, 2014 at 11:13 am

Don wonders: Who made these design choices?

Maybe the same people who chose the City Council chambers carpet.


6 people like this
Posted by Pumpkin
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2014 at 3:04 pm

I challenge all City Council Candidates to be blindfolded and allow the kids with scrapped knees to pick the spot for the candidates to run their hands along the jagged glass on the Calif. Ave sidewalks.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 1, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Hearing about that sidewalk glass and actually looking at it are two different things. I searched for sharp pieces with my fingers and could not find any, though it's fairly obvious that breaking one's skin on it may take a somewhat less forceful fall than on perfectly flat concrete. I didn't find the texture to be a tripping hazard. One observation is that skateboards generate quite a rumbling noise on it compared to the click, click, click of normal sidewalk seams. Are there any stroller or wheelchair users here to comment on the relative comfort of rolling on that surface? Most wheels these days seem to have a more pneumatic quality than the thin hard rubber wheels of the past. Anybody try it barefoot yet?

A distant concern will be how to repair and refinish the surface when, as with all paved sidewalks, uneven cracks inevitably appear in the future. Simple surfaces have simple grinding solutions.


2 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 1, 2014 at 5:09 pm

My biggest issue with the glass-in-sidewalk isn't safety, it's aesthetics (read: it's really ugly)


2 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm

There was a lawsuit back in 2011 to stop this over budgeted lack of factual environmental and economical studies. Residents should have strongly supported the businesses to stop the lane reduction. If only we focused on what the City were suppose to do which were to repair, replace and restripe the faded lines on the street. Can we open up the lawsuit again?? Not sure if that's possible. Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 2, 2014 at 2:03 pm

@Mike - a lawsuit to stop the construction when it is halfway done would be extremely unhelpful to the businesses being affected. The sooner this is over the better.


2 people like this
Posted by Golly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2014 at 7:40 am

Golly, another city project that was scrutinized throughly by an inept city council and city manager and handed over to our equally inept public works director to supervise it' s completion has gone bad? Go figure, right. The California Ave. "project" has been going on for 5+ years now and the sidewalks are only one more chapter in this planned fiasco. Maybe it is a time for change in city council and finding a qualified city manager and senior management staff.


1 person likes this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 3, 2014 at 8:51 am

Going on for 5 years? If you mean from planning and challenges, then yes. But just construction, less than a year.


3 people like this
Posted by Helene
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2014 at 9:48 am

Not happy with the City Council? Don't vote for any incumbents or anyone endorsed by incumbents. California is only the latest foley in this town.


1 person likes this
Posted by out of towner
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 3, 2014 at 10:34 am

Several years ago, downtown San Carlos looked just like California Avenue. I worked at a business on Laurel Street during the process of gutting everything on three blocks of Laurel up to the storefronts. We all squawked and grumbled, but just as we were thinking it would never end, the project was done, and the street has only gotten prettier and more vibrant in the last decade. Of course there were some kinks to work out afterwards, but those too were resolved. Construction will pass, and it will be OK again.
However, I do think it is worse than silly not to move the farmers market to the train station parking lot, or even to push it down one block, or use a parking lot behind the street. This past Sunday's setup was insanely congested, especially when negotiating around those double-wide strollers.


4 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 3, 2014 at 11:10 am

I have been comparing this to a similar project on Castro Street in San Francisco.

The SF project was finished very quickly and with huge consideration to the neighborhood. They had serious scheduling problems, with the need to have the street available for crowds in June for Pride celebrations, and also for a weekend in October for the Castro Street Fair. Somehow, they managed to get things put back together so that these events could be handled, and now the project is basically complete and looks great.

I work in the California Avenue area every day and have been dismayed by what looks like an amateurish effort. The Palo Alto City Council and staff just does not seem to be able to handle municipal projects very effectively.


1 person likes this
Posted by Looking forward to the new Cal Ave.
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2014 at 11:50 am

Construction is challenging to live with. Anyone who has ever gone through a remodel knows this. This, too, shall pass. Then we will will have a much nicer Cal Ave.

Here's an interesting article from the Washington Post about bikes, pedestrians, cars and retail. Enjoy!
Web Link




1 person likes this
Posted by Don
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 3, 2014 at 2:32 pm

"Then we will will have a much nicer Cal Ave."

The thing is, I don't think it's going to be much of an improvement. It's not up to the quality of similar projects: Menlo Park (Santa Cruz Ave), Los Altos (Main St), Mtn. View (Castro St), Burlingame (Burlingame Ave).


1 person likes this
Posted by Longtimer
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2014 at 3:06 pm

The California Avenue Street Plan has gone on longer than the past five years, being in the planning stages since 2005, and almost complete by 2006 when the first grant application was made. City documents are available proving it did not start just 5 years ago. Nothing in Palo Alto moves that fast.


3 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm

The one thing all the places you mentions (and you should include Broadway in Redwood City as well) have over California is beautiful mature trees providing shade and greenery. Still can't believe the city went in and chopped them all down. But regardless of all the problems the work being done is an improvement. Just took too long, cost too much, and is looking a little more shoddy than it should.


8 people like this
Posted by Tass
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 3, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Mr. Recycle is right about Redwood City. It long ago bypassed Palo Alto as a vibrant downtown with live entertainment at the Fox and Little Fox, movies and concert in the town square, lots of good restaurants, shops like University Art that USED TO BE in Palo Alto, etc. etc.

What does Palo Alto do with its old theaters? Turn them into office buildings to create more parking problems.

Shame on us. VOTE if you haven't already.


Like this comment
Posted by @CA_Customer
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2014 at 10:50 pm

I have no complain about the construction. The street is shaping up nicely. The wider walkways are going to be much more pedestrian-friendly than the old boring design.

For people who don't like to see any improvements in the city, please hold on your judgement until the work is done. We can all support the merchants in a transitional period by taking our business there instead of constantly complaining about any new work in the city.


7 people like this
Posted by Helene
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2014 at 11:12 pm

Many of us liked California Ave the way it was before the trees were "accidently" destroyed. We don't need wider sidewalks when we are sacrificing two lanes of the roadway. Imagine the traffic that will be problematic. [Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Worker
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2014 at 9:08 am

Cal Ave is as bad as downtown. The police let people park motorcycles on the streets. Cars park facing the wrong way and the police drive right by it if it looks like a car from Palo Alto. They only watch the borders of the city and schools during school hours. They focus more on limiting parking spaces then improving traffic. Put better bike lanes around town so bikes aren't in car lanes slowing down traffic. Instead they will make all of Palo Alto permit parking to keep non residents out.


4 people like this
Posted by Life Long Palo Altan
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Nov 4, 2014 at 12:59 pm

The people that thought the Cal Ave project was a good idea are the same idiots that thought that reducing Arastradero from 4 lanes to 2 would CALM traffic.

Vote out all incumbents and get rid of the traffic czar..


Like this comment
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 4, 2014 at 2:41 pm

@Life Long Palo Altan & @Helene - California Ave is a lightly trafficked 3 block dead end street. Two lanes will be fine. It is not comparable to Arastradero.


1 person likes this
Posted by helene
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 4, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Mr.Recycle, I beg to differ as far as California Ave being a lightly trafficked 3 block dead end street. There are more
buildings being torn down for higher density office complexes. I know my husband's company and other friends were evicted from their office spaces right off of California Ave for this very reason. I don't for a moment believe all the
newly arrived workers will be walking or taking the train to work. The reality is the City is trying to make California
Ave. another University Ave. I have even read a reference to it being called University Ave. South. Fewer lanes do
not make for less traffic.


1 person likes this
Posted by Amy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 4, 2014 at 3:18 pm

The glass in the sidewalks is awful--pieces are already coming out and it is not pretty. I'm not even sure what the city is trying to accomplish with this project. I try to avoid walking there as much as possible.


1 person likes this
Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 4, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Sorry - old Cal Ave. is/was a dump, with old, outdated stores that will eventually go away because of the internet.

All this whining about construction is ridiculous.


Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 3:46 am


Our City Government just cannot seem to understand what the real problems are for Palo Alto residents.

If I had to tell you what is wrong with the California area it is parking.

You can drive around for a long time looking for a place to park to go and eat. And people are so desperate, maybe because are hungry that they do not pay attention to their driving and rude and careless.

One big problem I run into constantly is the idiot apportionment of parking spaces on the South side of California Ave.

Every one of the many parking space is just a bit too small that almost all of the spaces take way too long to get into and out of and once in you can barely get out of your car.

If you are lucky enough to get a decent parking place, or one where there is a free spot next to you so you can get out of your car, when you return you may not be able to get into your car.

I have brought this issue up here over and over and never gotten a response.

The parking lots are so inferior people are getting their cars damaged and not being able to get in and out of them.

PLEASE - go through the parking spaces and just remove one from every linear configuration of parking places so people have the room to park and get in and out of their cars.

This is more important the messing up the whole area for a problem that is not really even a problem ... the place works fine and is otherwise nice to visit on a Sunday at the Farmer's Market, lunch dinner and other times EXCEPT FOR PARKING.


1 person likes this
Posted by Marcy
a resident of Mayfield
on Nov 5, 2014 at 7:09 am

At night the glass fragments embedded in the sidewalk makes the pavement look wet and icy when it's not. This would be a real hindrance anywhere that actually freezes. I also am really curious to see any data on how this sort of sidewalk wears over time. Where is the transparency (pun intended) on this design choice? -- What are the names and reasoning of those who made it?!

I second the comments on the construction dragging on. And the mobile road signs saying that "Cal Ave is open for Biz" are beyond tacky.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 7:52 am

As far as I know, there are no plans for recycling and/or composting bins. For a modern, supposedly progressive city to ok a streetscape plan without them is pretty sad.


2 people like this
Posted by Marcy
a resident of Mayfield
on Nov 5, 2014 at 8:59 am

Addendum to my earlier comment -- some possibly useful references on glass embedded sidewalks here (link below) or web search for "Towards Broad Use Of Recycled Glass Concrete On MSU Campus" where MSU=Michigan State University
<Web Link;

Still why use such large chunks of unpolished glass in the Cal Ave sidewalks? It seems rather hasty and not properly documented or researched.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 5, 2014 at 1:13 pm

@Marcy's link works if the trailing %3E is truncated (that's an ascii ">"). But that reference is more about recycled glass integrated into the bulk concrete mix rather than just the surface finish. The only example of surface application that I could find is at Web Link which are prefabricated concrete paving tiles.

@CPA re parking space -- city specified width is from 8' 6" to 9' 6" (Muni Code 18.54). My car is 5' 7". Somehow it's a magnet for SUVs, as I always return to find large vehicles parked right on my lines since I seem to have left so much space. Usually I don't have much trouble getting into the car and backing out, but it's always amusing to watch the next driver try to enter the spot.

Out of curiosity I'll start carrying a measuring tape.

By the way, CVC 35100 general rule on vehicle width is 8' 6" maximum. Most SUVs max out at 6' 8". Edmunds.com is a good source for late-model vehicle dimensions.


3 people like this
Posted by Owie
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm

My two-year-old grandson slipped on a loose piece of glass on the sidewalk in front of Brioche last Sunday. Pretty cheesy work if the embedded glass is already coming loose. Very upset that his little knees were so badly skinned and required a visit to urgent care. The doc found a tiny piece of green glass in one of the deeper scrapes.

Someone is gonna sue, and I am betting that it won't be long. This glass-in -the-sidewalk thing is a safety hazard for children and the elderly.


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