East Palo Alto adopts inventory of historic places

Local Register of Historic Resources identifies 52 properties as historic resources

East Palo Alto's rich history took a first step toward preservation on Jan. 6 after the City Council unanimously voted to adopt an inventory of the city's historic places.

East Palo Alto residents, historians and members of the East Palo Alto Historical and Agricultural Society worked with the San Mateo County Historical Association to identify historic properties within the city and helped create the 1994 Historic Resources Report. The list contains 52 properties as historic resources.

The council adopted the report, renaming it the Local Register of Historic Resources. The register does not include establishing a program to protect or preserve the resources. It merely identifies properties that would be classified as historic.

In the past 20 years, East Palo Alto has lost 29 percent of its potentially historic properties in part due to redevelopment and lack of any program or incentive to encourage preservation. Currently, 37 of the original 52 properties exist, according to a report by Brent A. Butler, city planning and housing manager.

Of the 52 properties, seven are classified as having potential for listing on the National Register of Historic Properties. Eight may become eligible as more research is performed. The other 37 properties were classified as being eligible for listing under a local preservation ordinance. East Palo Alto currently does not have a preservation ordinance, according to Butler's report. Of the 52 listed properties, three were in excellent shape, 20 were in good condition and 13 were in decent condition.

The greatest number of properties lost were in the Weeks neighborhood, with seven lost resources, but in terms of percentage, the Gardens and University Circle neighborhoods lost all of their historic structures, according to the report. The Weeks neighborhood has the largest remaining quantity of historic properties, which is of regional significance. The properties are associated with the Charles Weeks Poultry Colony, a utopian society that existed near the turn of the 19th century, and San Mateo County's first wharf, which was constructed during the height of the gold rush in 1848.

The adoption will have no fiscal impact unless the city participates in the Mills Act Program. In California, the Mills Act is the single most important economic-incentive program for the restoration and preservation of qualified historic buildings by private property owners.

Enacted in 1972, the law grants participating cities and counties the authority to enter into contracts with owners of qualified properties who participate in restoration and maintenance of the property in exchange for property tax relief.

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1 person likes this
Posted by Raymond
a resident of Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Jan 8, 2015 at 11:31 am

There's a Hotel sitting where most of the Whiskey Gulch neighborhood used to be.

How does the local population benefit from the land use in their neighborhood?

Has our community reaped any benefit at all? Jobs? Public space? Community development contributions?

A big fat -0-.

Like this comment
Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2015 at 12:10 pm

What do you base your opinion on, Raymond?

1 person likes this
Posted by Opal'z
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 8, 2015 at 12:38 pm

Opal'z is a registered user.

It's about time. So much of the charm of the town has been already been demolished.

Like this comment
Posted by Whiskers
a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 8, 2015 at 2:16 pm

Having been somewhat acquainted with EPA in the '40s, '50s & early '60s, I wish specific properties were mentioned.

Unless there isn't a hotel sitting where Whiskey Gulch was, Raymond isn't offer an opinion, just asking questions.

1 person likes this
Posted by Re Raymond
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Raymond is right. The so-called Whiskey Gulch neighborhood was located where University Circle is now. It is several large office buildings and the Four Seasons Hotel.

I've heard the reason for Whiskey Gulch was there is it was far enough away from Stanford University to be able to sell alcohol. It's the same reason Ernie's Liquors on El Camino Real was located there.

I expect that the City of East Palo Alto benefited from the increased property taxes. But it's not clear the extent to which the residents there or the local businesses that were there before benefited. And I think that's Raymond's question.

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Posted by Whiskers
a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 8, 2015 at 5:18 pm

One memorable EPA character I remember was Parkey Sharkey. (Actually, I don't remember of he lived in EPA or just drove his taxi there.) My mother's friend Marge Cassidy lived in EPA with her unwell son Buddy. I well remember Marge calling Sharkey and the conversation probably went like this: "Sharkey, this is Marge. I'm over at Esther's. Come pick me up." Good memory, but like so many unappreciated at the time.

Like this comment
Posted by Ana
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 9, 2015 at 10:12 am

Local non profits have recieved funding to support youth & family programs through hotel tax. I grew up in this town and do not miss Whiskey Gulch. The place was run down and unsafe in the 90's. It was not a thriving downtown where you could take an evening stroll for ice cream. The community allowed drugs and other illegal activity to take over. Hopefully our new downtown will be stay clean and safe for us to enjoy.

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

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