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.