News

Residents are glaring at lights atop College Terrace Centre

Neighbors say 'globe' lights shine into their homes, yards

Globe lights on the rooftop of the new College Terrace Centre in Palo Alto are creating light pollution at night, which is affecting nearby homes and yards, according to the center's neighbors, some of whom are asking why the lights are being allowed.

The globes, which adorn the rooftop garden patio and gazebo at the newly built complex at 2100 El Camino Real, cast bright light as far as a block away, said residents on Yale Street.

Malcolm Slaney said the light is creating shadows in his backyard.

"The very fact that they are built into the rooftop garden, they are clearly overkill for task or safety reasons, (which) makes them objectionable. (The developers') application for the permit said that they would do as much as they could to keep office light from impinging on the neighborhood. That's good. But they have completely blown it on the rooftop globes. They could have easily put a down-light in and been better neighbors," Slaney said in an email.

Pria Graves, another nearby resident, said the project's environmental analysis from October 2009 acknowledged the building had significant potential to create substantial light or glare and adversely affect day or nighttime views of neighbors. But the discussion focused on light emanating from inside the buildings, not the rooftop garden perched 30 feet above the ground.

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Graves said she mentioned at the time that the proposed remedy only dealt with internal building lights.

"The lighting for the vegetated roof area and gazebo ... will be a visual nuisance to the adjacent and nearby residences and must be addressed," she wrote.

In a later letter to the city's Architectural Review Board, she said, she noted the potential for noise and light from the patio. City senior planner Russ Reich reportedly told Graves that the patio is not intended for night use and would only be accessible during the normal business hours of the office space, she said.

Slaney filed a complaint in December about the lights through the mobile PaloAlto311 app.

In response, Reich wrote that he has been been working with the building owners to address the issue.

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"The project has not yet passed its final inspection and addressing the lighting is on the list of issues they must correct," he wrote.

For the time being, Slaney said the lights appear to have been turned off recently, but neither he nor Graves have heard how or when the problem will ultimately be fixed.

Reich said in an email to the Weekly on Thursday that since Slaney's December complaint the developer has been exploring a number of solutions to lower the intensity of the lighting.

"They are looking at reducing the number of LED strips within each light fixture and adding a light shield. ... They also are planning to modify the system such that the globe lights will go off when the grocery store closes each night."

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Residents are glaring at lights atop College Terrace Centre

Neighbors say 'globe' lights shine into their homes, yards

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Apr 7, 2017, 6:56 am

Globe lights on the rooftop of the new College Terrace Centre in Palo Alto are creating light pollution at night, which is affecting nearby homes and yards, according to the center's neighbors, some of whom are asking why the lights are being allowed.

The globes, which adorn the rooftop garden patio and gazebo at the newly built complex at 2100 El Camino Real, cast bright light as far as a block away, said residents on Yale Street.

Malcolm Slaney said the light is creating shadows in his backyard.

"The very fact that they are built into the rooftop garden, they are clearly overkill for task or safety reasons, (which) makes them objectionable. (The developers') application for the permit said that they would do as much as they could to keep office light from impinging on the neighborhood. That's good. But they have completely blown it on the rooftop globes. They could have easily put a down-light in and been better neighbors," Slaney said in an email.

Pria Graves, another nearby resident, said the project's environmental analysis from October 2009 acknowledged the building had significant potential to create substantial light or glare and adversely affect day or nighttime views of neighbors. But the discussion focused on light emanating from inside the buildings, not the rooftop garden perched 30 feet above the ground.

Graves said she mentioned at the time that the proposed remedy only dealt with internal building lights.

"The lighting for the vegetated roof area and gazebo ... will be a visual nuisance to the adjacent and nearby residences and must be addressed," she wrote.

In a later letter to the city's Architectural Review Board, she said, she noted the potential for noise and light from the patio. City senior planner Russ Reich reportedly told Graves that the patio is not intended for night use and would only be accessible during the normal business hours of the office space, she said.

Slaney filed a complaint in December about the lights through the mobile PaloAlto311 app.

In response, Reich wrote that he has been been working with the building owners to address the issue.

"The project has not yet passed its final inspection and addressing the lighting is on the list of issues they must correct," he wrote.

For the time being, Slaney said the lights appear to have been turned off recently, but neither he nor Graves have heard how or when the problem will ultimately be fixed.

Reich said in an email to the Weekly on Thursday that since Slaney's December complaint the developer has been exploring a number of solutions to lower the intensity of the lighting.

"They are looking at reducing the number of LED strips within each light fixture and adding a light shield. ... They also are planning to modify the system such that the globe lights will go off when the grocery store closes each night."

Comments

Whoever approved it should be fired
Stanford
on Apr 7, 2017 at 10:30 am
Whoever approved it should be fired, Stanford
on Apr 7, 2017 at 10:30 am
58 people like this

Also it's easily the most hideous looking building in Palo Alto and perhaps anywhere. The whole thing is visual pollution. The lights are just the icing on the cake.


Cube Farm Haven
Green Acres
on Apr 7, 2017 at 10:39 am
Cube Farm Haven, Green Acres
on Apr 7, 2017 at 10:39 am
18 people like this

[Post removed.]


Donald
College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 10:49 am
Donald, College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 10:49 am
36 people like this

[Post removed.]


June
College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 10:55 am
June, College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 10:55 am
19 people like this

I like the building. It is refreshing to have something that is not depressive beige. It has a clock tower, something I really like. Whoever the architect and builder are, I would like to say, "Thank You"!


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2017 at 11:00 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2017 at 11:00 am
9 people like this

I agree with June. I like the clock tower and the color is OK but not hideous. I can't comment about the light pollution as I have not seen it in the dark.


Don
College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 11:45 am
Don, College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 11:45 am
29 people like this

The clock tower looks like it was taken off a mcmansion, or from a low-budget movie set. (Read: cheesy)


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2017 at 12:17 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2017 at 12:17 pm
3 people like this

The clock tower always reminds me of the one in Back to the Future!


down we go
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2017 at 12:20 pm
down we go, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2017 at 12:20 pm
45 people like this

The hideous color is made even worse because it clashes with the Shell station next door. The decline of Palo Alto is surreal it is so drastic,
so all encompassing in virtually every aspect of
the urban and residential environment. A special
place is being destroyed by a clueless self-serving government.




Butt Ugly
College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 12:36 pm
Butt Ugly, College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 12:36 pm
41 people like this

Did no one involved in designing this abomination realize that the hideous lights atop it produce TOO MUCH LIGHT POLLUTION???

Or are the lights there to protect the building from all the low-flying planes that fly over Palo Alto after dark???

There is really no legitimate reason for the lights, and they add to the atrocious hideousness of it!

QUICK! Remove the lights and buy some towering cypress or redwoods to cover up this monstrosity!!!


Alexander
College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 12:51 pm
Alexander, College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 12:51 pm
14 people like this

LOL. Love reading the usual stream of negative comments on this forum from the usual posters who hate any and all new buildings in the city. If only they would have copied a Birge Clark design that Julia Morgan had used and had it built in an eichler style!! ! Amazing that some PA residents actually think that any of the old buildings in the city are that great looking.


CT resident
College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 1:04 pm
CT resident, College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 1:04 pm
40 people like this

I have to drive by this wreck every day. I am so angry the city allowed such an ugly building to taint such a subtle neighborhood. Every time I drive by it I think "Medieval Times dipped in mustard." The dichotomy between it and the simple, clean form of the new place that just went up across the street from it, is infuriating.


Mary
College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 1:36 pm
Mary, College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 1:36 pm
9 people like this

Come on people (read naysayers). Palo Alto is the epicenter of change (read technology). We should be proud and fortunate that we live in such an amazing place. Can anyone name one place in the bay area that housing has not gone up in value? The new building is 200% better than the previous run down dump of an eye sore. Let's think about this for just a minute.... Has anyone asked themselves, Is it possible for the lights to cast a shadow a block away into a backyard that blocked by a house? Are there any backyards directly facing the building? The lights are indirect light. That's like saying, "I can see the lights in your house are "on" from a block away down the street." The city street lights are brighter than the building lights.


What happened to downtown PA
Old Palo Alto

on Apr 7, 2017 at 2:49 pm
Name hidden, Old Palo Alto

on Apr 7, 2017 at 2:49 pm

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.


College Terrace Resident
College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 6:19 pm
College Terrace Resident, College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 6:19 pm
21 people like this

It is an obnoxious looking building and it does throw out a tremendous amount of light and we live SEVERAL blocks SOUTH of that monstrosity.

As well... when they redid the curb on College Ave, it feels that they took more sidewalk space and cut the opening of the turn from El Camino x College Ave. So if you are making a right hand turn (i.e. South bound turn) onto College from El Camino, you have this tight almost 90 degree turn to make onto College.. and it is not this smooth fluid turn.

Every time I make that turn, I wonder which city inspector approved that new curb that these builders erected.

It's an awful looking structure, and it's clear that once that building up and running, it will use College Terrace side street parking as well as roadways for it's business, not only leading to it's current light pollution but also traffic pollution and parking pollution.


architect?
Midtown
on Apr 7, 2017 at 10:57 pm
architect?, Midtown
on Apr 7, 2017 at 10:57 pm
3 people like this

The original architect was Tony Carrasco. Don't know whether he finished the job or if someone else did, there were so many changes along the way.


College Terrace Resident
College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 11:13 pm
College Terrace Resident, College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 11:13 pm
2 people like this

What is the median age of a College Rerrace Resident?


opening?
College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 11:14 pm
opening?, College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 11:14 pm
Like this comment

Anyone know when College Terrace Center will be opening for business? i.e. when will the various tenants (including the grocery store) move into it? And any idea which commercial tenants will be occupying it?


CT resident
College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 11:50 pm
CT resident, College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2017 at 11:50 pm
13 people like this

Re: median age of College Terrace resident

It's a mixed community. If you ever attend one of their community block parties, you will find the whole range of ages. From young children, to all the way up to seniors. You have families with children, techies, couples, students, retirees, young families, old families.... it's a huge diverse mix.

Because of it's unique location of being right next to Stanford, as well as being close to various amenities (Stanford hospital, California Avenue, El Camino, 280 and 101)... it is an incredibly diverse group of folks who live in College Terrace. But what they have in common is a love for their community and their surroundings and neighborhood.

What else is becoming clear is that CT people are generally thinking it's an ugly, massive structure they've erected for the past year, while concurrently breaking various city ordinances (i.e. construction on weekends)

Time will only tell.. but it's becoming amply clear the builders and owners did not think about their surrounding neighborhood and how they could contribute to it... but rather about the bottom line of profits. It shows.


E.
College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2017 at 12:02 am
E., College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2017 at 12:02 am
11 people like this

A contrast to the ugly College Terrace Center architecture, is the subdued, subtle yet pleasing architecture of the new Stanford residences (which can be found next to the Wells Fargo Bank). The lines are pleasing and elegant to the eye. It's simply elegant, clean, and aesthetically soothing to look at. Every time I see the Stanford residences built on El Camino (next to the bank at El Camino x California Ave), I think, "what a great design!"

In contrast, the bright yellow stucco castle they have, with square lines and sharp edges, taking up an entire block, without any greenery, or trees or landscaping is gaudy and tacky and lacking elegance.

It's jarring to behold every time you drive by and it.

Now it apparently also glows in the dark with the lights atop the roof.

Who thought this was a great design? Whomever approved of this hideous design....should have an exact same structure erected next to their home in their neighborhood.


Open for business?
Barron Park
on Apr 8, 2017 at 12:38 am
Open for business?, Barron Park
on Apr 8, 2017 at 12:38 am
12 people like this

If the College Terrace Centre isn't yet open for business, why is it lighted at night?


Just saying
College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2017 at 9:35 am
Just saying, College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2017 at 9:35 am
7 people like this

It's bad enough that we have an ugly clock tower with a barely readable clock face but can't they at least reset the clock. It has been four minutes slow for AGES,


Annette
College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2017 at 9:56 am
Annette, College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2017 at 9:56 am
15 people like this

It is a huge generalization to categorize all critics as naysayers. Some people over do it, but complaints can serve a purpose. Speaking at City Council isn't something everyone can do, but most people can find a few minutes to express an opinion on line. And forums such as this can serve as an indicator of public opinion. The quantity and quality of development in Palo Alto arguably promotes some naysaying. I think this city would benefit tremendously from some official naysaying. As in NO, that cannot be built until our roads and circulation issues are fixed. Or NO, Sand Hill, we will not approve additional development by you until you perform on the existing agreement at Edgewood. Or NO, Castilleja, you cannot ignore a CUP for 15 years and expect your neighbors to acquiesce when you bring a project with bigger impact to the table. And NO, developers, we cannot accommodate more commercial office space at this time. And NO, Palo Alto is not the place for acres of high-rise, stack and pack housing. And NO, ABAG, you are not the arbiter of housing development in OUR city.

As for the College Terrace Centre, I am among those who think it is an eyesore. The area needed improving, but I am always amazed when substantial amounts of money are spent and the results are an architectural hodgepodge. It looks to me like something that was designed by committee.

It is also true that turning left or right from College to El Camino is more difficult (and often dangerous) due to limited visibility.


Robert Smith
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 8, 2017 at 10:00 am
Robert Smith, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 8, 2017 at 10:00 am
16 people like this

The College Terrace development was a planned community development. Under the PC ordinance, the developer was able to obtain a zoning override, which allowed a much larger building to be constructed. To obtain this, he promised a grocery store. His slogan became "Only I can save JJ&F." He hired PR people to get residents from College Terrace to endorse his plans and come to city council meetings.

Within weeks, the family behind JJ&F left, causing a problem for the developer with the city, which was finally solved after he hired Miki from the failed Alma Plaza grocery store. We still have not seen the grocery store open.

I am repeating this history to remind folks that many residents supported this huge project. Given the history of the other grocery stores that are the "benefit" for PC projects in Palo Alto, you may find that the grocery store becomes an illusory benefit, beware.

We also need to be aware of this destructive city ordinance that allows huge, ugly buildings to be built based on the promise of some "benefit". The builder may then try to dump the benefit, just like Sand Hill Properties is trying to do at Edgewood Plaza today.


Eileen
College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2017 at 11:14 am
Eileen, College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2017 at 11:14 am
11 people like this

I also agree with Annette.

I also concur that turning right is difficult. Wondering if developers made it an extra sharp turn to create more parking space on that side of the street?

Is this turn an issue that the College Terrace Community advocate for the city to fix?

Building is ugly and hideous - but is that something that can be fixed at this juncture?

The zoning over ride (as per Robert's post), to build a much larger building was a poor decision. The much larger building constructed is claustrophobic and for lack of a better word, ugly.


Eileen Stolee
College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2017 at 4:10 pm
Eileen Stolee, College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2017 at 4:10 pm
2 people like this

As far as I know those new residences on El Camino, near California Ave, are not for Stanford people.
They are low income apartments and you need to qualify by income level.


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