Controversial moratorium takes effect in Palo Alto

City Council takes a unanimous stance against acai invasion

Editor's note: Happy April Fools' Day!

With residents raving mad about new developments transforming a once vibrant downtown into a bland "monoculture," Palo Alto officials on Monday night imposed a moratorium on acai restaurants in the city's main commercial corridors.

"We're in danger of a monoculture in zoning," Councilman Tom DuBois said during Monday's long discussion. "The status quo is driving us toward an environment dominated by a single Brazilian berry."

Mayor Karen Holman concurred and argued that it's important to promote a diversity of retail establishments in Palo Alto.

"This whole city is transforming into an acai grotto," Holman said.

The proposed moratorium was sparked by a recent proliferation of acai restaurants near University Avenue and California Avenue in recent months. In some cases, the acai shops have replaced venerable and long-standing businesses, including Cho's Dim Sum, Jungle Copy, Varsity Theatre, University Art, Shady Lane and Bargain Box.

The trend began in late 2014, with Vitalities Berry moving to California Avenue and Bare Berries setting up shop on University. With local buzz building around acai -- a purple berry that often gets blended into a smooth puree and topped with other fruits in a dish known as the "acai bowl" -- new shops have since popped up at Town & Country, Stanford Shopping Center, the Midtown Shopping Center and Alma Village.

Roberto De Silva, whose acai shop Berry Bliss opened its doors in January, was one of about a dozen proprietors who attended the Monday meeting to argue against the moratorium. He and others argued that the council is being unfair and short-sighted in defying the open market and targeting his industry.

"It's the frozen-yogurt people – I know they put you up to this," De Silva said. "I know they still think they're the 'next big thing,' like it's 2009, but it's important to remind everyone that we do live in a free-market economy. We're giving the people what they want today!"

On the other side of the debate were the land-use watchdogs, the neighborhood leaders and the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, which released a statement Tuesday arguing that the spread of acai is pricing out local banks, startups and venture-capital firms.

"I get it. They're delicious. But enough is enough," Chamber CEO Judy Kleinberg said in the statement.


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3 people like this
Posted by Toomuchtimeonmyhands
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2015 at 8:45 am

Once more our all-wise City Council has overstepped its bounds. There can NEVER be enough acai spots in town. I'd vote for one on every block, perhaps to replace a Starbuck's?

15 people like this
Posted by Watch out for invaders from the south!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 1, 2015 at 10:11 am

Has everyone forgotten that acai berries are from BRAZIL??? Do we really want these immigrant berries taking the jobs that should go to all-American berries like raspberries and strawberries? Yes, I know that those berries were originally European imports, but they've been here long enough that I think of them as American, so that makes it okay. I don't trust acai berries because they are unfamiliar, and change makes me afraid. Ban acai berries!

12 people like this
Posted by wiggy
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 1, 2015 at 11:04 am

Man, I was getting pretty riled up at the thought of this anti free market commie goobermint regulation, but then breathed acai of relief when I realized it's April Fools Day.

22 people like this
Posted by Wry not?
a resident of Portola Valley
on Apr 1, 2015 at 11:17 am

It's both a tribute to the skill of the Weekly's writers and a commentary on where Palo Alto seems to be going lately that - without the notation "HAFD" - any one of the stories above could easily have been true.

5 people like this
Posted by mark weiss
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 1, 2015 at 11:57 am

I'm surprised Judy didn't try to claim that purple Brazilian berries are people too.

2 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 1, 2015 at 12:06 pm

Please relax, everyone -- it's April Fool's Day!!!!

6 people like this
Posted by BP, no not that BP
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2015 at 1:20 pm

Just realized that all of the articles are in honor of this day (April 1). Thanks so much for the laughs, especially Clark Kent!!😃

4 people like this
Posted by Kudos!
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 1, 2015 at 2:00 pm

My mouth was literally wide-open reading this (in ridiculous astonishment) and then I saw it...HAFD! Drats! You got me again! hahahah! I'm sharing this, I love it!

5 people like this
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 1, 2015 at 2:06 pm

Les S. Moore is one of my favorite P.A. Online writers. ; )

Like this comment
Posted by lol
a resident of Southgate
on Apr 1, 2015 at 4:27 pm


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

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