Around Town: state recognition; small solutions

Tidbits collected by the Weekly staff on people, events and other happenings.

STATE RECOGNITION ... Ada's Cafe was selected by state Assemblyman Marc Berman as the 24th Assembly District's Small Business of the Year. Representatives from the coffee shop went to Sacramento on Monday, June 5, where they received the award during a lunchtime ceremony attended by about 500 people. Berman recognized the business for its commitment to hire adults with developmental disabilities and its research in best practices to provide "meaningful employment" for them. The Palo Alto cafe operates out of the Mitchell Park Community Center, but also has a second location at the Bay Area Metro Center in San Francisco and a catering business at a commercial kitchen on Old Middlefield Way in Mountain View. The nonprofit currently has 40 adults with developmental disabilities on staff.

SMALL SOLUTIONS ... Can small apartments help solve Palo Alto's giant housing crisis? Members of the Planning and Transportation Commission considered the question on Wednesday, June 14, as they offered words of encouragement — as well as concern — to a developer looking to construct a 60-unit building on the corner of El Camino Real and Page Mill Road. The commission voted on the proposal from Windy Hill Property Ventures, but members generally liked the experimental nature of the project, which is banking on a "car-light" lifestyle of the building's tenants by providing about 40 fewer parking spots than is required by code and offering them a host of commuter benefits. Most commissioners supported the idea of building a multifamily complex at the site, though they also argued that the developer will have to offer all sorts of amenities and incentives to deter driving and justify a zone change. And even though they were generally sympathetic to Windy Hill, they also cautioned the developer to have a "backup plan" in case its vision of train and bike commuters doesn't materialize. "Right now, it violates the Comprehensive Plan, it violates zoning, it's under-parked for residents, there's no guest parking and it's already a high-traffic area," Commissioner Ed Lauing said of the project. "What's not to like?" (Update: Read more about how the commission and Architectural Review Board reacted to the project here.)

MAKING THE AIRWAVES ... Palo Alto teen Zoe Lin is among the young classical musicians who will be featured on NPR's From the Top, a program hosted by pianist Christopher O'Riley. The 17-year-old cellist will be playing "Adagio and Allegro, Op. 70 for Cello and Piano" by Robert Schumann in collaboration with O'Riley on the keys. The episode, filmed in front of a live audience at Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center in York, Pennsylvania, also includes performances by four other guest musicians and the York Symphony Orchestra. Hear Lin perform when the episode airs nationally on Sunday, June 18, at 7 p.m. Bay Area listeners can tune in to KDFC's website. The episode will also be available online at


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