News

Park Boulevard office building wins approval

Palo Alto officials nix request for added height but allow development to proceed

The three-story office building proposed for Park Boulevard in Palo Alto was, by all accounts, an exceptional project.

For opponents, that was precisely the problem.

Dozens of them flocked to the City Council meeting Monday to protest a request by Tarlton Properties to exceed the height limit for a proposed development at 2555 Park Blvd. Located in the California Avenue Business District, between Grant and Sherman avenues, the 24,466-square-foot project would replace an existing one-story building. While its commercial zoning allows for a height of 37 feet, the applicant proposed a roof terrace and two staircases that protrude over that limit, raising the building's height to 50 feet.

The council responded by denying this exception request, effectively killing the roof terrace idea. The council also voted 6-2, with Mayor Karen Holman and Vice Mayor Greg Schmid dissenting (and member Tom DuBois abstaining), to approve the project without the height-adding elements.

Despite the vote, the council's discussion further underscored the city's growing anxieties about commercial growth. Even though the project is zoned for office use, and next to the California Avenue Caltrain station, it encountered fierce resistance from the public, with many wearing red stickers shaped like a stop sign, labeled "Stop 2555 Park Boulevard." In public comments, many argued that the development would worsen traffic and parking in the California Avenue area. Others argued that the building's garage would lead to car queues that would interfere with the traffic. Many complained about height.

Jared Jacobs, who lives next door to the proposed development, argued that the new office building would cast a shadow over his home. Jared and his wife, Alice, each made a presentation to the council, urging it to deny the project. He also argued in a letter that if the project is built, "our entire rear boundary will face a very close 37-foot concrete wall with a small tree sandwiched in front instead of the immense sky, sunrises and diffuse natural light that we enjoy today."

Jacobs also argued that the so-called "design enhancement exception" (DEE) requested by Tarlton should be denied. Peter Brewer, who owns the office building at 2500 Park Blvd., made the same point and argued in a letter that the height exception should be denied because it is "antipathetic to the privacy of the surrounding residential neighborhood." Brewer called the proposed design "monolithic" and said the request for additional height is inappropriate.

"It creates a massive structure that's out of proportion to everything else in vicinity except the courthouse," Brewer said.

Both Jacobs and Brewer pointed at the city's zoning code, which requires that for such exceptions to be approved, there must be "exceptional or extraordinary circumstances or conditions" at the property that require a waiver of a design rule.

In practice, however, approvals of such exceptions have been routine. In some cases, they are requested for mechanical roof equipment that would push the height just beyond the limit or an increased setback that would result in wider sidewalks. Recent projects that have asked for and received DEEs include 3159 El Camino Real, a mixed-use development around Equinox Gym, and a three-story building at 500 University Ave. The development proposed for 441 Page Mill Road, which the council is set review later this month, is seeking two DEEs.

Thus it was a dramatic break from recent practice when the council decision early Tuesday morning followed the letter of the law and, based on that, deny Tarlton's request for the added height. Councilman Greg Scharff observed that the council appears to be shifting its stance toward exceptions.

"Now that we have basically decided that we're all fundamentalists and the code is our bible ... what I'm really interested in is letting the developer and the business community know what they can expect and to have some consistency," Scharff said. "Right now we're going through a transition in the way they're thinking about it."

Councilman Pat Burt disagreed that there has been a shift among the council members and noted that several members have long been troubled about how the exceptions are used. A number on the council, he said, "have been trying to convey to the Architectural Review Board concerns about how liberally they've been granting DEEs."

In this case, the Architectural Review Board (ARB) unanimously supported the exception, and the city's planning staff added its own endorsement to the board's decision. Several speakers who supported the project urged the council to follow suit. Kristen Hughes, one of the investors in Tarlton Properties, lauded the proposed roof and said the building would be benefit the city.

"I think the roof terrace is a real asset to the workers and to this building, and I hope you will follow the recommendation of the ARB and the planning commission and approve the project," Hughes.

The council saw things differently. Councilman Eric Filseth came out particularly strongly against the height exception. The community, he said, "wants us to be more fundamental in our interpretation of the code."

"I think where we've gone wrong is we've been too liberal in our interpretation of things in the last few years and it's sent a mixed message to the developer community that it's not clear what they're going to get," Filseth said. "If we can be clear and be more fundamentalist, I think everyone will benefit."

When it comes to the Park Boulevard project, Filseth said it would take a "contortionist argument" to make the case that the proposed design exception meets "the letter of the law, let alone the spirit."

"It almost seems like we're jumping through hoops to justify something that isn't consistent with what the code is, which is 37 feet," Filseth said.

The tendency of projects to build to the zoning limit and then ask for variances "feels like we're being gamed, almost," Filseth said.

After the council agreed to kill the exception, members voted to approve the project. Because the building currently on the site is eligible for designation as "historic" on the state's historic registry, the council had to adopt what's known as a "statement of overriding consideration" to enable its demolition. Scharff called the existing building "ugly" and said the new building would be "a lot better."

Councilman Marc Berman also supported the project, noting that its location near the Caltrain station makes it an appropriate site for more office space.

"This is where we want to have office space, if we're going to have office space in Palo Alto," Berman said.

Comments

66 people like this
Posted by Cheryl Lilienstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 8:03 am

Two things: if staff actually ENFORCED the design exception regulations instead of choosing to ignore them in favor of trying to set precedents by busting height limits, or producing "things we like," we would not have wasted the community's resources. Meaning, developer time/money, staff time, committee time, resident time, council time, and ultimately tax dollars. This has simply got to stop.

And: to correct Gennady, the building being shaded is a HOME. Not a business. Entitled to protection that the staff chose to ignore. To have sunlight obliterated by a tall building is a great loss to quality of life. We all need buildings that STEP BACK from the maximum possible.

This is the problem: the actual regulations are being VIOLATED by the staff, commissions, committees, in favor of high density that is both their personal preference and also their bread and butter.

I appreciate the city council's decision to decline the design exception on the grounds that it meets NONE of the rules.


37 people like this
Posted by Duveneck Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 2, 2015 at 8:32 am

I wanted to say good job to the city council last night on 2555 Park Blvd. I'm glad to see the new council starting to enforce the zoning rules while at the same time allowing the project to move forward. Bonus points for adding the GO passes to reduce car trips, which are clearly very problematic at that location. Basically, staff wasted the council's time by bringing a project that had multiple clear zoning violations in front of the council on the false pretext of "interpretation".


22 people like this
Posted by Mystified
a resident of University South
on Jun 2, 2015 at 9:46 am

I like rooftop terraces. If raising the height limit to 50 ft is what it takes, I'm in favor.

This was a prett silly decision.


19 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 2, 2015 at 10:29 am

Wasting resources and time. Yes indeed. I'm sure our hardworking CC members didn't run for office expecting to do what they are now having to spend so much time on due to the failure of all the bodies involved in the review process. Interesting how rules just seem to be a challenge to those who feel a need to be creative in finding loopholes. Maybe CC should be issued robes since they have to act as judges on almost every building project.


30 people like this
Posted by Shameful
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 2, 2015 at 11:03 am

Those poor residents, they will be stuck with a huge building looming over them ominously. Sounds depressing. They will never be able to sell this house in the future.

The house was there first, predates the zoning change ( which stinks). This is a terrible thing to do to a homeowner. The city and the developer should pay top dollar for this house, as well as moving expenses, so the owners can buy another house in Palo Alto, rather than leave them stuck like this.

This is just rotten, makes me wonder who was bribed.


21 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 2, 2015 at 11:26 am

"I'm sure our hardworking CC members didn't run for office expecting to do what they are now having to spend so much time on due to the failure of all the bodies involved in the review process."

Actually, I think that's a big reason they did run: to curb the habitual excesses of the ARB and PTC, which got so out of control due to the laziness (or worse) of prior city councils. [Portion removed.]


14 people like this
Posted by muttiallen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 2, 2015 at 11:35 am

muttiallen is a registered user.

The home was built as a 'commercial' space -- no side-yard set-backs, 3 stories tall, etc. It was first used as a home, then as an office for several years, then sold to be used as a home again. It's zoned commercial, and chose to conform to commercial zoning when it was built -- early 1990's?? Now it is suffering from that choice. It's a great space -- I knew the original builder. He's the same person who wanted to turn that big ugly water tower on Alma downtown into a home. Creative guy.


33 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 2, 2015 at 11:44 am

I watched last night and was struck by something I find bothersome: a sense that Staff, including the CM, tends towards advocacy rather than neutrality. I was also reminded, again, that significant issues are raised by those directly impacted by a development and others who pay attention to development-related issues that could and should be identified and addressed by Staff. I think Filseth was exactly right when he said it feels like CC is being gamed. And I agree with Shameful re the impact on the house; it's a shame there's no plan to compensate them for their loss.

Also amazed that following the City's own codes is equated to being a fundamentalist with the inference from Mr. Scharff that that is a bad thing. What exactly is the point of having codes and regs if they are not followed? I applaud CC for not allowing the height exception; if the developer sincerely wants a terrace, he need only ask his architect to figure that out within the allowed 37 feet. Such theater!


22 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Sorry to disagree with Shameful and Annette.
The house (as muttiallen says) is in a commercial area and the original owner understood the ramifications of his choice. I bought a one story house many years ago, and when I later built (within the zoning codes) a two story house that overshadowed the neighboring one story house, my neighbor didn't complain. Later when a new owner of the neighboring house razed it and built a two story house that impacted my views and light, I didn't complain. My wife still doesn't like it :-). In any case, this building on Park is now (after the CC's appropriate action yesterday to deny the exception) following code. The neighbors don't seem to have much of a case for opposing it. IMHO.


30 people like this
Posted by Rainer
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 12:06 pm

Rainer is a registered user.

Cheryl writes:
“This is the problem: the actual regulations are being VIOLATED by the staff, commissions, and committees, in favor of high density that is both their personal preference and also their bread and butter.”

This waste of time is the present Council’s own doing. When the prior (lame duck) City Council in November quickly installed pro-excessive growth members on the Planning and Transportation Commission, commentators Dave Price and Diana Diamond renounced the “stacking” of the commission, and called for remedies.

We do have a California Commissioner of Planning. His rules are published in the Commissioners Book, Web Link . In the first paragraph the book says:
“Commissioners serve at the pleasure of the council or supervisors, so commission membership changes in response to changes in those bodies.”

Since the ARB and PTC recently have approved 100% of projects, maybe after nibbling around the edges, they are useless as a needed filter with the present membership. I suggest that the ARB not have a single architect on it. The PTC was better until the willful stocking with members whose relentless pursuit of [Quote] “high density [that] is both their personal preference and also their bread and butter”.

Elected representatives, what are you waiting for? Stop wasting yours and the public’s time. Why does a resident have to measure the critical arrival time of cars? Why do a residents have to make a local traffic analysis, when it is clear that the car stacking mechanism is overtaxed by a factor of 4 to 6?

In contrast, the Historic Resource Board does a good job evaluating projects, mostly bias fee as they did with 2555 Park. Blvd. But their mandate makes then powerless. As per Pat Burke they mandate should be strengthened. Go CC, go for it!


5 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 2, 2015 at 12:18 pm

Brian - thank you for supplying that background information - and for disagreeing as nicely as you did. Not having the additional height will surely help the homeowners; perhaps that will be sufficient. As for the parking issues that were described last night, only time will tell on that issue. I sometimes get the impression that auto-related decisions assume all drivers are at the prime of their lives and perfect drivers.


6 people like this
Posted by Jane
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 12:41 pm

@Annette. Keeping the building to 37 feet will still cast a shadow completely over the home directly behind this building so that in winter their home will be completely blocked from the sun, and even in summer only a little sunlight on their second/third story. Their little garden will always be in shadow, except for possibly an hour or two from the east in the morning. The code says that the daylight plane must be taken into account when buildings abut a home, so that in this instance the third floor should be stepped back, possibly the second floor too. The council approved this project with instructions to the staff to follow up on the daylight plane as it impacts this home.. The homeowners will look out at a 37 foot solid concrete wall less than 20 feet away. Their tree is close enough to the property line that I doubt it will survive the excavation of a huge hole just feet away and losing half if it's roots, as well as making it unstable.


4 people like this
Posted by Jane
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 12:50 pm

Regarding the roof garden, this would have been private and no asset to anyone except the building owners who might have been able to get a little extra on the lease for a space where additional employees could work on their laptops, and on rainy/cold days use one of the break rooms. Although stipulated these spaces can't be used for offices who is going to monitor? What is the difference with employees working on their laptop in the break rooms during lunch, and staying in their all day working on their laptops? There is no restriction on the number of employees who can be crammed into these offices. In fact the high rents offices can now command is an incentive to use every little bit of space as densely as possible.


2 people like this
Posted by Suspicious
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 2, 2015 at 1:04 pm

I have a very suspicious feeling about this, I bet the homeowners will shortly get a big offer for their home to enable them to move so that their lot can be used for more building projects. And they would probably be wise to accept it as the likelihood is that nobody will want to buy it to live there.


26 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 2, 2015 at 1:17 pm

"...a sense that Staff, including the CM, tends towards advocacy rather than neutrality. ... I think Filseth was exactly right when he said it feels like CC is being gamed."

This is business as usual. Staff has gamed the council for decades, almost always playing a council eager to be gamed. That's how our town character became the mess it is. Staff does not live here and has no stake; Palo Alto is their LegoLand town to build up bigger and bigger. Developers are their natural allies, and the councilmembers like their generous campaign contributions.


25 people like this
Posted by cm
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 2, 2015 at 1:19 pm

One thing missing from the comments on this project and that I hope will be examined closely is that current developements are allowed a plethora of exemptions when determining the square footage of their developments. When a residential home is built the entire structure is counted towards the square footage allotment. When a developer builds a project, past city councils have passed rules so that they get to exempt many areas of the building from counting towards their square footage. This is how they can end up with a three story building that covers the entire lot when the FAR (floor area ratio) would only allow for a two story building. Basically they should be building a two story building but since they don't have to count spaces like lobbies, stairwells, elevators, mechanical closets etc. they get all sorts of extra space and can add another story to the building. This needs to stop and they need to be held to the same standards as anyone else. The entire square footage of the building, no matter the usage, needs to count towards the FAR. This will bring down the size of these buildings. The current city council needs to pass an emergency ordinance to block all exemptions and require that the entire square footage of the development count towards the overall size of the building.


32 people like this
Posted by Who's who
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Not insignificant is the architect for 2555 Park, Heather Young, a partner in Daniel Garber's firm FGY Architects. She was on the ARB until she totally flipped her loyalties to local developers.
Head of the FGY firm Garber himself flipped from the Planning Commission to go to work for local developer John Arrillaga's 27 University project.


12 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 2, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Good comments, and maybe, just maybe, the message given and sent by CC at last night's/this morning's meeting, will be received and understood by those who caused this to happen. I've learned, just from my recent re-involvement in city issues, what lies ahead. I've written numerous comments on it before.

I read today's article about the next phase of the San Antonio Road (Villages) development (400,000 sq ft of office space). My stomach ached. I shopped there for many years and loved it. I'm so old I remember the "Old Mill" with shops, a movie theater, and a great food mart. But some of the commenters on that article said PA should follow that same path, be enlightened by what Mt. View is doing.

Please...spare me. I don't want my town to look like that. We're just different on this side of San Antonio Road I guess, and I hope it stays that way. Throw all those nasty tags on us you want to, but let us be a different and unique city and not get caught up in all this craziness swirling around us. And if all our city forefathers could come back and see what's going on they'd slap some knuckles, maybe some 'slaps up the sides of the heads' also...and say 'Stop it, what the hell are you thinking and what are you doing to my town?"...but they're too busy turning over in their graves.


33 people like this
Posted by Bye Bye ARB
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 2, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Last nights City Council meeting made it abundantly clear that the Architectural Review Board members needs to be dismissed. Or, that the loser architects that comprise the ARB should be sufficiently embarrassed to step down. It makes you wonder if they are being paid off by developers to approve non conforming buildings. The planning director should be fired. She and the rest of the planning department should be fired for wasting the time of the city council that is left to clean up the mess from poor decisions the ARB and the planning dept have made. And, what is with City Manager Keene. He had the audacity to suggest that because Mt View and RWC make building exceptions, we should, too. At this point he must be starting to see the handwriting on the wall. His days are numbered as City Manager. [Portion removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Jacob sympathizer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 2, 2015 at 3:22 pm

The young, cute family that owns the house next to this soon to be built hideous structure, should convert their house to commercial space and either rent the building out, or sell it. The potential rent for the commercial space might be extremely high and a good deal for them. Leaving the property as a house will not give them the best and highest value if they chose to sell. I don't think they will lose money on their investment if they convert the house to a commercial building prior to selling. Hopefully they will get good real estate advice and not be hasty and sell without thinking carefully about their options. In the interim, if they find it unbearable to live in their house, they could probably rent the house out as a residential home for up to $10,000 per month.


2 people like this
Posted by fundamentalism
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 4:02 pm

I think that Councilman Scharff hit the nail on the head.

The building is clearly a lot nicer having a roof garden. No one can see the garden from below, but it makes the people in the building have a much more pleasant space. In order to use this space, the elevator and stairs went to the roof. Now, I suppose they'll have to climb through a trip door to the roof. It won't be as nice, but they'll manage.

I'm really happy that Council accepted the option for Caltrain Gopasses, instead of the extra parking spaces.


4 people like this
Posted by Unmystified
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 4:25 pm

I like rooftop terraces. If raising the shaving off the 3rd floor is what it takes, I'm in favor.


32 people like this
Posted by LegoLand
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 4:45 pm

Carmudgeon wrote:
Palo Alto is [the staffs] LegoLand town to build up bigger and bigger. Developers are their natural allies, and the councilmembers like their generous campaign contributions.

We observe cynically how those Council members with aspiration for higher office (County Commissioner or State rep) Berman, Wolbach and their godmother, who will need those $10,000 campaign checks are playing to the developer crowd.
They might already be on the higher office track, but for good measure throw them out at the next opportunity.

As for those staff members staff who advocate for the developers, they should be paid directly by those for whom they work , and not by you and me for whom they should work, but don't!


19 people like this
Posted by Used to love PA
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 2, 2015 at 5:13 pm

As long at the planning department and city manager are rewarded by higher salaries and budgets for increasing revenue, we will continue to see this behavior. There is a lot of personal interest and conflict of interest going on in Palo Alto these days. The city is more misaligned than ever and I do t know the CC can get it back on track.


16 people like this
Posted by Rainer
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 5:21 pm

Rainer is a registered user.

Annette wrote
“As for the parking issues that were described last night, only time will tell on that issue”.

No Annette, this cannot wait. The stacked parking issue is intimately coupled with the traffic in the small 30 foot deep and 37 foot t wide (one car length) at the entrance into Grant (stub). There is a coupled inside and an outside problem.

The inside overtaxing of the car stack system by a factor of 6, as shown last night, is an outside safety issue for ingress and egress for the 94 parties (mostly families) who park in the underground garage because of the spill back to Grant and Park. But maybe enough traffic tickets for loitering will solve the problem. From experience elsewhere (101 Lytton anyone) it is known that some employees avoid using stacked parking at all cost.

For the first time some Council members, overriding the “no problem” advocacy of the staff who proved in the FEIR that no Stop Sign sign was needed or allowed, called the Grant/Park intersection dangerous.

For the inside: Seattle requires an attendant to be there all the time for a reason. Plus back-up power.

These are the facts as we know them:

1. Inside, there is only room for 2 waiting cars in addition to the 1 being stacked.
2. Outside, with a rate of 68 cars per hour, 6 unstacked cars are coming in with 2-3 minutes at the same time 7 times per hour.
3. Of those 6 cars, 4 queue back to Park Blvd. because none must block the garage traffic in Grant.
4. 3 cars per minute alight from or disappear in from the Palo Alto Central garage.
5. Waiting time to cross over Park Blvd. from Grant to Grant, takes up to 10 minutes, and is dangerous.
6. Waiting time to make a left turn from Park into Grant is several minutes and is dangerous.

Therefor the traffic on Park is LOS F, actually is out of scale. . The required bulb out makes a simple queue impossible. The distance from Park to the stack is one car length.

Late last night the council bought the miraculous and undocumented solution out of the Developers hat last night. It is not clear what it technically consisted of? I wonder if Councilor Burke, who accepted it, knows. The CC just wanted this problem to go away and go home.

Since this a safety issue, it will have to be looked at by a traffic expert who is neither being paid by the developer, nor under the City Managers advocacy pressure.

To Anette’s advocacy point: It took me a while to realize that the people in front who I thought were the developer’s advocates, were actually City employees.


10 people like this
Posted by Gus L.
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 5:27 pm

Back Bone, the council has finally found its back bone.. Good Job. Keep it up.


5 people like this
Posted by Michael O.
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 2, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Michael O. is a registered user.

Why is there a residential single family home right in the middle of the commercial district?


6 people like this
Posted by Jane
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 6:04 pm

The residential unit used to be in compliance with the zoning, as is the condo's/apartments next to it. The city changed the zoning about ten years later. So the house is grandfathered in as non-conforming


20 people like this
Posted by jane
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 2, 2015 at 6:34 pm

There was a comment earlier about the ARB, which has become only architects now, and why they take such a lenient view of the developments that come before them for review. It occurred to me a long time ago, after attending a few of the ARB meetings, of course they tiptoe around the developments they are reviewing because the architects of these developments are their professional peers and colleagues. In addition, some of the architects on the board may hope for future commissions from the very developers whose projects they are reviewing. I remember when John Barton (an architect) was either on the PTC or a council member at the time refused to excuse himself on a discussion and vote on a development whose architect he had received commissions from. You can guess which way he voted, and I think it was the deciding vote too! I am troubled that members of the ARB don't have to be Palo Alto residents and the board has become completely comprised of architects because I'm pretty sure that wasn't always the case. Previous councils stacked the decks when appointing members of the ARB , just as last fall the prior council in a last ditch effort finishing stacking the PTC membership with less than objective judgement. In a town such as Palo Alto I can't believe there aren't talented individuals who would be well suited to the ARB who don't hang their shingles out as practicing architects available for hire.


14 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 2, 2015 at 7:31 pm

Ah, yes, the fox looking out after the chicken coop!


14 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 3, 2015 at 7:30 am

ARB...and many of those foxes are not Palo Alto residents.


12 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 3, 2015 at 10:04 am

"ARB...and many of those foxes are not Palo Alto residents."

Likewise the city staff members who hold their leashes.


11 people like this
Posted by traffic worries
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 3, 2015 at 10:08 am

Still worried about traffic. If anyone knows or ever goes to California ave during the lunch hours there are large packs of workers walking from Park Blvd (AOL and such) and have complete disregard for cars, I've almost hit them many times as I creep across intersections. They just chat and walk and don't look out while they cross into on coming traffic.

And has anyone mentioned the car that plowed into Peter Brewers office once night which is adjacent to this new development and next door to the single family home on Sherman? And this was at night when it wasn't even busy. Can image what craziness the new development plus the one already going up at 3045 Park Boulevard is going to create.

Web Link


10 people like this
Posted by Palo alto native
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 3, 2015 at 3:37 pm

Good job CC. We can still save what's left of our town. No dense housing or commercial project excemptions. Pass local ordinance requiring PA residency for arb appointments and conflict of interest law prohibiting architect applicants and developer lobbyists. Pass new ordiance to count all square footage use, too. Mandate ground floor for a list of qualified services (bookstores, stationaries, cafes,dry cleaning, flower shops, gift stores, art stores, music stores, electronic stores, hobby stores) at a 50% lower rental rate. The greed of this new influx of firms, developers, investors, venture capitalist - they just don't care about those of us who live here. Push Silicon Valley profits to areas that truly need the upgrades - and we are not one of them! Invest in EPA, San Jose , Stockton, Oakland, Richmond, EastLA, Madera, Napa, San Leandro. And yes, we do not want to become a Mountain View. They were a comparative slum in the 50s and 60s and have now become an urban blight and growing. Follow the models of Woodside, Portolla Valley, and Hillsborough with respect to all others that want to build or live here. In short, we are done. No more population, firms, traffic, density, pollution.


8 people like this
Posted by save Palo Alto
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 4, 2015 at 9:02 am

YES to @Palo alto native push all off Palo Alto's wealth to other surrounding areas. YES to everything @Palo alto native said. If these developments continue we'll have to rename Palo Alto Edificio Alto.


Like this comment
Posted by The boat has sailed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2015 at 9:37 am

" Mandate ground floor for a list of qualified services (bookstores, stationaries, cafes,dry cleaning, flower shops, gift stores, art stores, music stores, electronic stores, hobby stores) at a 50% lower rental rate. "
Unless the city owns these buildings and subsidizes the rent not sure how you can mandate a 50% lower rent. Also is there a real desire for these type of businesses? Who will run them? It will have to be local merchants since palo alto hates chain stores.
ANyway, there never was real retain in Palo alto and it is too late now to save something that never existed


Like this comment
Posted by JoAnn
a resident of Ventura
on Jun 5, 2015 at 6:47 pm

The article says: "In practice, however, approvals of such exceptions have been routine. In some cases, they are requested for mechanical roof equipment that would push the height just beyond the limit or an increased setback that would result in wider sidewalks."

Wider sidewalks? Since when have developers wanted to give us wider sidewalks? They take every centimeter they can, and then encroach on the sidewalk with plantings and, in the case of ground floor restaurants, tables, chairs and heaters. What a joke.


4 people like this
Posted by Credent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 6, 2015 at 6:54 pm

The mechanical exception for height limits is not anything new and doesn't require any trade out or deal. It happens all the time and typically has no impact as you can't see the HVAC systems from the ground and casts no shadows onto the street. This is not something to waste our time on. What has to be controlled are the height limits that have been set for the actual building mass. Such as the case with this property.


Like this comment
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 21, 2015 at 6:40 am

With the lack of rain, I'm surprised that no one expressed any concerns over possibly stirring up toxic dust from this construction site.
Here is the Environmental Hazards Consultant's Report.
Web Link


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