In the latest Around Town column, the City Council will consider a downtown developer's project for the umpteenth time and Palo Alto resident Christine Blasey Ford gives thanks to her supporters.
FULL-COURT PRESS ... Palo Alto's elected leaders will have a tough decision on their hands on Monday, when they consider — for the umpteenth time — Elizabeth Wong's proposal for a mixed-use development at 429 University Ave. Years in the making, the project has already been denied, appealed, approved on appeal (with conditions), partially denied (based on failure to meet on conditions) and appealed yet again. The project seemingly scored a victory in 2017, when the council rejected an appeal from a neighbor, Michael Harbour, and approved the project, with the condition that the developer make some modifications to a decorative wall, add landscape details and revise building materials, colors and craftsmanship-related detailing. Last month, the Architectural Review Board and interim Planning Director Jonathan Lait each "partially denied" Wong's revisions, prompting her to appeal. Meanwhile, Wong is threatening a lawsuit if the project doesn't win approval. Timothy V. Kassouni, the attorney for Wong's company, Kipling Post, LP, submitted a complaint on Nov. 13 accusing the two Architectural Review Board members who voted against the project — Robert Gooyer and Osma Thompson — of "overt bias" because of their broad objections to the project. Kassouni also criticized Lait for refusing to "intervene and restore some semblance of objectivity and discretion" to the board's process. "Should the appeal be denied, Kipling Post will immediately file a Complaint against the City of Palo Alto," Kassouni wrote. "This legal action will compel issuance of the building permit and will award Kipling Post all damages and attorney's fees attributable to the City of Palo Alto."
SHOWING GRATITUDE ... On the eve of Thanksgiving, Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey Ford took time to thank the nearly 14,000 people who supported a GoFundMe campaign to pay for housing and security expenses she and her family accrued since she went public in September with her sexual-assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, who has since been confirmed to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. "Although coming forward was terrifying, and caused disruption to our lives, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to fulfill my civic duty. Having done so, I am in awe of the many women and men who have written me to share similar life experiences, and now have bravely shared their experience with friends and family, many for the first time. I send you my heartfelt love and support," she wrote in a Nov. 21 update on the page. The fundraiser closed with a total of $647,610, well above its $150,000 goal. "Your tremendous outpouring of support and kind letters have made it possible for us to cope with the immeasurable stress, particularly the disruption to our safety and privacy," she wrote. Once all security costs have been paid, Ford plans to donate leftover funds to organizations serving trauma survivors.