Around Town: Shifting gears; clinching basketball's highest honor

Tidbits on people, events and other happenings in Palo Alto

In the latest Around Town column, a proposed car dealership without the Architectural Review Board's recommendation is coming before the City Council on Monday and a famous Palo Altan wins an NBA championship.

SHIFTING GEARS ... The Palo Alto City Council will meet this Monday to decide whether to approve a proposal to demolish the Embarcadero Road building that once housed Ming's Restaurant and construct a car dealership at the site. It will head into the review without a recommendation from its Architectural Review Board, the body charged with vetting all major development applications. That's because, after three public hearings, the board decided that the proposed Mercedes-Benz and Audi dealership still has too many outstanding issues that need resolving before it could secure its endorsement. Board members took issue with the dealership's black façade, the landscaping plan for the dealership's periphery and the apparent conflict between a proposed bike path at the property and mature trees that stand in the way of the path. The trees would be removed under the proposed plan, which explains that keeping the trees would require the path to be relocated and result in elimination of some display and inventory spaces. Given these unresolved issues, the board agreed on June 6 to continue the discussion to a fourth meeting — a deviation from the typical process that seeks to limit reviews to three meetings. The board decided to continue the conversation despite staff's suggestion that the proposal by Holman Automotive Group could be sent to the council without the board's recommendation. At that meeting, Vice Chair Peter Baltay pushed back against the idea of the project going to the council before the board completes its deliberation. "We need to take a stronger stand and say, 'This should not be allowed the way it stands now,'" Baltay said at the June 6 review. Even so, staff is recommending that the council approve the project on June 24, its final meeting before the summer recess. In a new report, city planners concur that the refinements that the board has requested are important and should be addressed. That said, Planning Director Jonathan Lait has opted to send the proposal to the council rather than authorize a fourth meeting before final approval. On June 17, a group of residents urged the council to reverse course and wait for the board's recommendation. Former Mayor Karen Holman (no relation to the applicant) noted that the project will be standing near the Baylands for the next half-century. "I don't know why the rush to get this forward," she said.

CLINCHING BASKETBALL'S HIGHEST HONOR ... Palo Alto High School alumnus Jeremy Lin broke ground in the sports world by becoming the first Asian American with an NBA championship on June 13 with the Toronto Raptors. "Promise I'll never stop reppin Asians with everything I have!" he wrote in an Instagram post, sharing photos with his family and younger brother Joseph Lin celebrating the win from Oracle Arena in Oakland. Paly's Athletic Department congratulated Lin, who was on its 2006 state championship-winning team, through a tweet showing a mural of him at its new Peery Family Gym with #OnceaVikingAlwaysAViking. The win was a milestone for the Raptors, which won its first NBA championship after surpassing the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the series. Lin, who joined the Raptors in February, averaged 3.7 minutes in the postseason and played in the final minute of the Canadian team's Game 3 win on June 5.


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Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2019 at 8:25 am

The Ming site would be an ideal place for housing. Is a car dealership more desirable than a potential school site at Cubberley? We have very little space to build and we should be asking whether a car dealership is a wise use of space. Perhaps the car dealership should be given the option of putting housing on part of the land.

2 people like this
Posted by Frank
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2019 at 11:15 am

@resident. Apples to oranges. The Cubberley sure is city owned or co-owned, so the city has a lot more input (rightly so). And it is adjacent to residential. The Mings site is private property, which is squarely in commercial/industrial space. And by the way it’s adjacent to another car dealership, so it seems an ideal spot for a... car dealership.

Karen Holman’s comment re “rush” seems inapplicable here. The restaurant has been closed for years, and this project has been in the planning development stages for years. A car dealership creates almost no traffic impact and generates a substantial amount of sales tax revenue.

Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2019 at 1:01 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Hey, Eric how about a Mayoral Proclamation in honor of Palo Alto World Champion Jeremy Lin?

He joins Paly class of 1948 "Jungle Jim" Luscutoff who won seven NBA championships with the Celtics.

7 people like this
Posted by This and that
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Jun 23, 2019 at 2:07 pm

Frank- Holman comment is inapplicable, but par for the course. Holman routinely opposed any and every development that came before the council. The fact that she is no longer on the council has not stopped her from inpeding progress. Look what happened with her bike bridge plan. 7 years and still no bridge, so delaying the dealership is business as usual.

Mark- Jeremy happened to be on the roster. He contributed nothing towards the championship.

7 people like this
Posted by Family Friendly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 23, 2019 at 3:32 pm

Just this morning, I was thinking to myself, “Gee, what this town needs is another car dealership.”

What we really need are more school and community gathering spaces, green zones, and - yes - restaurants. Kids don’t seem to have a voice in Palo Alto politics any more, though.

Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2019 at 9:17 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Meanwhile in a related story Palo Alto resident Alex Blandino hit his first major league home run,whereas Probably grab Jack Peterson has 19 for the Dodgers and Rez respectively

Like this comment
Posted by Staff question
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 24, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Planning Director Jonathan Lait is a puzzling staff member.
Who is he working for? Developers? Like Steve Emslie before him?

Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 25, 2019 at 4:16 pm

@This and that

Geez, too bad Holman turned you down for a date, but I understand why she would. Just get over it and stop whining in this Forum.

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