News

As costs rise, nonprofit behind Palo Alto History Museum struggles to meet fundraising goal

City Council prepares to consider other options for historic Roth Building

Facing a funding shortage and mounting costs, a nonprofit dedicated to celebrating the city's past is now staring at an increasingly murky future.

The Palo Alto History Museum, which has been trying since 2007 to fund the rehabilitation of the Roth Building at 300 Homer Ave., remains more than $3 million away from its goal of making the building suitable for occupancy, according to staff and consultants. Given the funding gap, the City Council signaled on Monday that it is preparing to consider other uses for the historic and dilapidated building, which the city had purchased in 2000.

By a 5-1 vote, with Vice Mayor Tom DuBois dissenting and Councilwoman Lydia Kou absent, the council agreed to invite other organizations to propose uses for the Roth Building. At the same time, the council directed its Finance Committee to consider another possibility: an increased commitment of public funds for the long-awaited but perpetually elusive project.

The council reached its decision after the city's consulting firm, Macias Gini & O'Connell, reviewed the nonprofit's fundraising to date and concluded that the building's rehabilitation remains between $2.4 million and $2.8 million shy of the $9.2 million price tag. According to the review, the Palo Alto History Museum has about $1 million on hand for construction as well about $937,000 in pledges, of which about $909,000 could potentially be available for the first phase.

Even with contributions of about $5.1 million in public funding, the museum remains well short of what it needs to fix up the building, particularly given the recent escalation of construction costs. The $9.2 million estimate is from 2016 and the project contractor, Vance Brown Builders, has indicated that the price tag today is expected to exceed $10 million.

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Project supporters urged the council Monday to increase the city's contribution, a move that they argued would give other potential donors confidence and boost the museum's prospects. DuBois suggested that given the city's recent decisions to contribute more than $8 million toward the reconstructed Junior Museum and Zoo, an increased investment in the Roth Building would be appropriate.

"For a town of 60,000 people, I think we're a pretty interesting place," DuBois said, pointing to the city's rich history of tech pioneers (HP, Varian, Google and Facebook), academics (Stanford University) and cultural trailblazers (singers Jerry Garcia, Joan Baez). "We have a lot of cool, unique things that happened in Palo Alto. I think it's been a long history for the museum."

But while DuBois supported increasing the city's investment in the museum, his colleagues indicated that it's time to look elsewhere. Councilwoman Liz Kniss, who served on the council in 2000, when the city first bought the Roth Building (she returned to the council for another stint in 2012), proposed putting out a request for proposals that could involve rezoning the site so that it can accommodate new uses. The site is currently zoned as "public facility."

Kniss argued that Roth Building is a valuable part of the city, which has fallen into ever deeper disrepair over the past 15 years. It's time to consider a different direction, she said.

"It's time for us to go on to whatever the next chapter may be," Kniss said.

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Councilwoman Alison Cormack agreed and said the recent strategy — which she characterized as "muddle along" — isn't working. In addition to inviting other groups to propose uses for the Roth Building, Cormack and her colleagues also unanimously agreed to consider arrangements in which the Palo Alto History Museum shares space with another tenant, which may involve having the city occupy a portion of the building.

The council's Monday decision was informed by the Macias Gini & O'Connell review, which concluded that about $681,500 of the $937,000 that donors have pledged to the museum had "high risk factors" associated with them, which decreased the likelihood that the museum will actually collect the money. The more realistic amount that the firm deemed to be collectible was between $242,600 and $583,000, according to the review.

"Based on our analysis at this time, there is no evidence to support that PAHM has the required $9.2 million available for Phase 1. We estimate that PAHM needs to secure approximately a minimum of $2.36 million, and at most, $2.85 million for Phase 1 expenses to meet this goal," the report states.

But for Kniss and others, the bigger factor wasn't the recent analysis but the project's long and somewhat frustrating history of the project. Even though the nonprofit met the council's goal of raising $1.75 million for the project in 2018, the Palo Alto History Museum has also seen its expenses go up as it hired staff for an operation that initially consisted of a handful of volunteers.

Laura Bajuk, executive director of the History Museum, disputed the conclusion from Macias Gini & O'Connell that a good chunk of the pledges that the group has received are not collectible. She told the Weekly that she has recently checked back with would-be donors and almost all said they would honor their pledges (she estimates that $914,000 of the pledges remain valid).

"I'd say, we're going to have a much higher collectivity than what they projected," Bajuk said. "But pledge money disappears if a museum is not part of project."

Bajuk also argued Monday that the cost of rehabilitating the building would spike further if the council changed directions. The museum's agreement with Vance Brown, which obtained a building permit for the rehabilitation last year, would no longer be applicable. Neither would the donations, both for the capital costs and for the museum programs and exhibitions (which would cost an additional $8 million). Bajuk said the community is excited to move into the building and actually get the programs in place.

"We'd like to be in museum business and not in the construction business," Bajuk said.

Sergio Mello, who is in charge of corporate outreach for the museum nonprofit, told the council that the city has many corporate donors who would like to step up and contribute to the museum. Many, however, are waiting to see whether the project is viable and has the city's support.

"It's really important for the corporate (donors) and a lot of the citizens to feel this support, and that there is a joint effort from all the sectors of society to be able to bring this project to fruition," Mello said.

Palo Alto resident Elisabeth Rubinfien suggested that the council's support to date has been "lukewarm." The most significant contribution from the council to date has been its dedication of funding to the project through "transfer of development rights," a mechanism that allows builders to contribute funding in exchange for additional square footage of allowed development.

"Donors like me, who are committed, we put conditions and made pledges because we aren't interested in donating to a city building that the city would use for offices or other uses," Rubinfien said. "We want to build a museum. If we put in thousands now and the museum can't get off the ground, we have no recourse."

The council generally shared her desire for a museum, with Councilman Eric Filseth suggesting that the Finance Committee needs to have a full discussion of further contributions by the city. But Filseth and his colleagues also signaled that they are both skeptical about the museum's current prospects and open to other uses for the building. Filseth noted that even though the museum has raised significant funds (including about $2 million for programming), the funding gap remains significant and the status quo "gets worse every year."

Mayor Adrian Fine concurred.

"I think the restart is appropriate," Fine said. "It does allow us to preserve the building and bring it to shipshape as needed."

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As costs rise, nonprofit behind Palo Alto History Museum struggles to meet fundraising goal

City Council prepares to consider other options for historic Roth Building

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Mar 2, 2020, 11:40 pm

Facing a funding shortage and mounting costs, a nonprofit dedicated to celebrating the city's past is now staring at an increasingly murky future.

The Palo Alto History Museum, which has been trying since 2007 to fund the rehabilitation of the Roth Building at 300 Homer Ave., remains more than $3 million away from its goal of making the building suitable for occupancy, according to staff and consultants. Given the funding gap, the City Council signaled on Monday that it is preparing to consider other uses for the historic and dilapidated building, which the city had purchased in 2000.

By a 5-1 vote, with Vice Mayor Tom DuBois dissenting and Councilwoman Lydia Kou absent, the council agreed to invite other organizations to propose uses for the Roth Building. At the same time, the council directed its Finance Committee to consider another possibility: an increased commitment of public funds for the long-awaited but perpetually elusive project.

The council reached its decision after the city's consulting firm, Macias Gini & O'Connell, reviewed the nonprofit's fundraising to date and concluded that the building's rehabilitation remains between $2.4 million and $2.8 million shy of the $9.2 million price tag. According to the review, the Palo Alto History Museum has about $1 million on hand for construction as well about $937,000 in pledges, of which about $909,000 could potentially be available for the first phase.

Even with contributions of about $5.1 million in public funding, the museum remains well short of what it needs to fix up the building, particularly given the recent escalation of construction costs. The $9.2 million estimate is from 2016 and the project contractor, Vance Brown Builders, has indicated that the price tag today is expected to exceed $10 million.

Project supporters urged the council Monday to increase the city's contribution, a move that they argued would give other potential donors confidence and boost the museum's prospects. DuBois suggested that given the city's recent decisions to contribute more than $8 million toward the reconstructed Junior Museum and Zoo, an increased investment in the Roth Building would be appropriate.

"For a town of 60,000 people, I think we're a pretty interesting place," DuBois said, pointing to the city's rich history of tech pioneers (HP, Varian, Google and Facebook), academics (Stanford University) and cultural trailblazers (singers Jerry Garcia, Joan Baez). "We have a lot of cool, unique things that happened in Palo Alto. I think it's been a long history for the museum."

But while DuBois supported increasing the city's investment in the museum, his colleagues indicated that it's time to look elsewhere. Councilwoman Liz Kniss, who served on the council in 2000, when the city first bought the Roth Building (she returned to the council for another stint in 2012), proposed putting out a request for proposals that could involve rezoning the site so that it can accommodate new uses. The site is currently zoned as "public facility."

Kniss argued that Roth Building is a valuable part of the city, which has fallen into ever deeper disrepair over the past 15 years. It's time to consider a different direction, she said.

"It's time for us to go on to whatever the next chapter may be," Kniss said.

Councilwoman Alison Cormack agreed and said the recent strategy — which she characterized as "muddle along" — isn't working. In addition to inviting other groups to propose uses for the Roth Building, Cormack and her colleagues also unanimously agreed to consider arrangements in which the Palo Alto History Museum shares space with another tenant, which may involve having the city occupy a portion of the building.

The council's Monday decision was informed by the Macias Gini & O'Connell review, which concluded that about $681,500 of the $937,000 that donors have pledged to the museum had "high risk factors" associated with them, which decreased the likelihood that the museum will actually collect the money. The more realistic amount that the firm deemed to be collectible was between $242,600 and $583,000, according to the review.

"Based on our analysis at this time, there is no evidence to support that PAHM has the required $9.2 million available for Phase 1. We estimate that PAHM needs to secure approximately a minimum of $2.36 million, and at most, $2.85 million for Phase 1 expenses to meet this goal," the report states.

But for Kniss and others, the bigger factor wasn't the recent analysis but the project's long and somewhat frustrating history of the project. Even though the nonprofit met the council's goal of raising $1.75 million for the project in 2018, the Palo Alto History Museum has also seen its expenses go up as it hired staff for an operation that initially consisted of a handful of volunteers.

Laura Bajuk, executive director of the History Museum, disputed the conclusion from Macias Gini & O'Connell that a good chunk of the pledges that the group has received are not collectible. She told the Weekly that she has recently checked back with would-be donors and almost all said they would honor their pledges (she estimates that $914,000 of the pledges remain valid).

"I'd say, we're going to have a much higher collectivity than what they projected," Bajuk said. "But pledge money disappears if a museum is not part of project."

Bajuk also argued Monday that the cost of rehabilitating the building would spike further if the council changed directions. The museum's agreement with Vance Brown, which obtained a building permit for the rehabilitation last year, would no longer be applicable. Neither would the donations, both for the capital costs and for the museum programs and exhibitions (which would cost an additional $8 million). Bajuk said the community is excited to move into the building and actually get the programs in place.

"We'd like to be in museum business and not in the construction business," Bajuk said.

Sergio Mello, who is in charge of corporate outreach for the museum nonprofit, told the council that the city has many corporate donors who would like to step up and contribute to the museum. Many, however, are waiting to see whether the project is viable and has the city's support.

"It's really important for the corporate (donors) and a lot of the citizens to feel this support, and that there is a joint effort from all the sectors of society to be able to bring this project to fruition," Mello said.

Palo Alto resident Elisabeth Rubinfien suggested that the council's support to date has been "lukewarm." The most significant contribution from the council to date has been its dedication of funding to the project through "transfer of development rights," a mechanism that allows builders to contribute funding in exchange for additional square footage of allowed development.

"Donors like me, who are committed, we put conditions and made pledges because we aren't interested in donating to a city building that the city would use for offices or other uses," Rubinfien said. "We want to build a museum. If we put in thousands now and the museum can't get off the ground, we have no recourse."

The council generally shared her desire for a museum, with Councilman Eric Filseth suggesting that the Finance Committee needs to have a full discussion of further contributions by the city. But Filseth and his colleagues also signaled that they are both skeptical about the museum's current prospects and open to other uses for the building. Filseth noted that even though the museum has raised significant funds (including about $2 million for programming), the funding gap remains significant and the status quo "gets worse every year."

Mayor Adrian Fine concurred.

"I think the restart is appropriate," Fine said. "It does allow us to preserve the building and bring it to shipshape as needed."

Comments

common sense
Midtown
on Mar 3, 2020 at 3:46 am
common sense, Midtown
on Mar 3, 2020 at 3:46 am

Given the dire need for housing, the council should be consistent with it's priorities and previous talk and zone the size for high density residential, and get on with building housing on that site.

Anything else would show what a bunch of hypocrites they are.


Lulu Picoletti
University South
on Mar 3, 2020 at 7:36 am
Lulu Picoletti, University South
on Mar 3, 2020 at 7:36 am

@common sense...not!
How stupid to believe all it is about housing, no community space, no retail, no imagination except stupid political rhetoric imitation.


Anon
Evergreen Park
on Mar 3, 2020 at 7:50 am
Anon, Evergreen Park
on Mar 3, 2020 at 7:50 am

Lulu picoletti got it just right!!
How sad that s majority of our city elected a dont even care enough about our city to respect and be curious about its history.


Community spaces!
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2020 at 8:34 am
Community spaces!, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2020 at 8:34 am

I'm surprised Kniss and Fine didn't just outright propose to make it another gym for day workers or a corporate cafeteria of the kind killing downtown businesses and restaurants.

Los Altos did a beautiful job preserving their history museum and making it a destination for families with kids. We went there, and to the Palo Alto History Museum as well when ours were young. At PAHM, there were always interactive displays and interesting things to learn.

PAHM is not as well-kept as LAHM, but both were valuable places to bring the kids, meet with other families, space the kids could run around and explore. Naturally this City Council has no sense of prioritizing places for families, but the neo-yuppies will grow up one day and start families, like the yuppies did in Los Altos. We should have at least as much commitment to children and to the history of Palo Alto as we did to putting in new drapes and snazzing up City Hall (what was that, to the tune of over $4 million during the recession?)


An Ohlone View
another community
on Mar 3, 2020 at 8:50 am
An Ohlone View, another community
on Mar 3, 2020 at 8:50 am

Perhaps the old Roth Building should be torn down to make way for a sleeker and more modern appearing Palo Alto History Center.

There are enough of those fake 'revisionist' Spanish/Mexican architectural-inspired buildings throughout Palo Alto & not being authentic in any way, some are starting to get tiresome.

If fiscal issues are the primary concern, why not start with a 'progressive' history of Palo Alto & changing locations from time to time?

Beginning with tule huts scattered along the Baylands with a concession stand selling oysters on the half shell, acorn porridge and woven reed containers.
The oysters could be sourced outside of the SF Bay (too polluted) and the baskets could be made in China.

This depiction would then be followed by the Spanish, Mexican, white settlor/robber baron, and high-tech periods at various sites scattered throughout the city.

A roving museum of sorts.

Then the 'preservationist' historical types will get their museum (of sorts) & that dilapidated Roth Building can be torn down for new housing!

A win-win for all parties concerned.


commonsense
Barron Park
on Mar 3, 2020 at 9:41 am
commonsense, Barron Park
on Mar 3, 2020 at 9:41 am

You can support a history museum that shows off Palo Alto's storied history without housing it in this building. Unfortunately, the building is literally rotting away. If the price was $9.2 million four years ago, there's no way it's any less than $11-12 million now. And the project is not starting today...And an additional $8 million (also subject to annual increases) for exhibits? Have they even considered this museum at another location that would cut the cost at least in half?


Watcher
Professorville
on Mar 3, 2020 at 10:44 am
Watcher, Professorville
on Mar 3, 2020 at 10:44 am

"I'm surprised Kniss and Fine didn't just outright propose to make it another gym for day workers or a corporate cafeteria of the kind killing downtown businesses and restaurants."

Clearly Kniss has a commercial tenant in mind for the building and has been lobbying their case to the rest of the council. She wasted no time proposing her motion to open it to bidders, and her "colleagues" fell in line with remarkable alacrity. This case bears watching.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2020 at 11:20 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2020 at 11:20 am

@commonsense is on to something, though it needs a higher building. All the unused park space next door could have high density housing on it as well. And the fact there's no parking there is a plus: since only people without cars could live there, you wouldn't need Homer street either, so that could have housing on it too.


Green Gables
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 3, 2020 at 12:34 pm
Green Gables, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 3, 2020 at 12:34 pm

The City could have done the construction necessary so that the building would not have ended the way it has in its dilapidated state. They own the building. Just typical of inefficient government. The City Council could have pushed them on but, alas, not. Stupid and lazy.


Joe
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2020 at 1:45 pm
Joe, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2020 at 1:45 pm

Palo Alto's history is inexorably tied to Stanford, and it's history. Given how small Palo Alto was until the 1950s--there isn't much history in which to revel.

Much of early Palo Alto's history is not that pretty.

Not surprising that few are willing to contribute to this venture.


Lori Hobson
Menlo Park
on Mar 3, 2020 at 2:02 pm
Lori Hobson, Menlo Park
on Mar 3, 2020 at 2:02 pm

This is not my battle. I know that.

For an outsider, this is what comes to mind that makes it hard to get excited about Palo Alto's history museum as I am hearing it described...

The "history" on the organization's web page is a list of people who did great things. There is no theme, no cohesion; it's just "look at the great people who lived here!" And from the article it sounds like fundraisers seem to think that to get corporate donors you need to directly focus on the tech giants for the museum. Maybe. But we have the Computer History Museum already. We already have "the garage," too.

Perhaps the people who built/are building the tech companies and local residents would be more likely to fund something that honors the area's (and their own) propensity for bucking tradition. A museum that digs a little deeper into the individuality, expressiveness, and counterculture that tolerated new thinkers to plant roots here. The Palo Alto Museum of Counterculture.

Instead of focusing on primarily on the technology companies directly, why not consider the influential counterculture of the area? Historically, this included Ken Kesey, the Grateful Dead, Joan Biaz (a Paly grad), and others. Palo Alto was Ground Zero for the hippy movement. Think about the old St. Michael's Alley! That flavor continues today with the area's ties to Burning Man and other expressive counterculture activities. More recently there are places like IDEO, with David Kelley helping companies learn how to break the corporate culture mold. Even groups like the bicycle culture or environmental movement are pretty fundamental and are largely viewed as fringe groups by larger society.

Yes, the famous people help tell the story. They are the data points to a bigger theme of what goes on here. There is no doubt that the area's attractiveness to and tolerance of counter cultures (even foreign cultures) is a big part of how the area became what it is though. Even stodgy famous people would be part of the story as they show the counterpoint!

OK, enough of my brain fart. But that would be a fun museum to bring guests to visit, not the same story being told again from the same angle. Imagine the fun counterculture performances and exhibits it could host!


Wyn Wachhorst
Atherton
on Mar 3, 2020 at 2:48 pm
Wyn Wachhorst, Atherton
on Mar 3, 2020 at 2:48 pm

The “tech” side of Palo Alto’s history isn’t just recent big tech; Palo Alto has been the electronic hub of the world since the beginning of the 20th century, with De Forest’s invention of the radio tube, Cyril Elwell’s perfection of wave transmission, etc. Palo Alto has also been home to a number of significant literary figures. And the “countercultural” side of Palo Alto history goes well beyond all its colorful figures from the 60s to include the proclivity of Palo Alto residents to think outside the box and mainstream culture from the city’s very beginning. Nor do the “stodgy famous people” in Lori’s comment above serve only as “the counterpoint” to counterculture. Lori’s comment is the proverbial “sound of one hand clapping.” It is the fact that Palo Alto has embodied both extremes of the socio-economic and psychocultural spectrum that makes it’s history so unique. Yet for all its diversity, free-thinking, and explosive development, Palo Alto has retained a balance that is instructive for a nation spiraling ever deeper into political, economic, and cultural imbalance.


Wyn Wachhorst
Atherton
on Mar 3, 2020 at 2:56 pm
Wyn Wachhorst, Atherton
on Mar 3, 2020 at 2:56 pm

I should add that the museum has no intention of focusing solely on tech history but is fully aware of the broad spectrum of people, places, and events in the making of Palo Alto history.


Novelera
Midtown
on Mar 3, 2020 at 3:13 pm
Novelera, Midtown
on Mar 3, 2020 at 3:13 pm

Oh, fixing up a historical building and having a history museum located, appropriately enough, in said historical building isn't a "best use" by our "sell to the highest bidder" growth council members. But $9 million on road furniture for Ross Road is just fine. Kniss still hasn't been cleared by the California Fair Political Practices commission from not disclosing until after the election the developers who donated to her campaign.


Laura Bajuk
Charleston Gardens
on Mar 3, 2020 at 4:12 pm
Laura Bajuk, Charleston Gardens
on Mar 3, 2020 at 4:12 pm

"Los Altos did a beautiful job preserving their history museum and making it a destination for families with kids. We went there, and to the Palo Alto History Museum as well when ours were young. At PAHM, there were always interactive displays and interesting things to learn."

PAHM is the group with a plan for the Roth Bldg. We are not yet an active museum.

I am guessing you actually mean MOAH, the Museum of American Heritage, across the street on Homer. This is in a City-owned building, as are other cultural institutions in town.

As the past E.D. of the Los Altos History Museum for 11 years (before coming to PAHM 3 years ago), I am glad you have such a good impression of it. My plan is to bring all those best elements and experiences to play here in the new Palo Alto Museum.


Not historic
Southgate
on Mar 3, 2020 at 4:30 pm
Not historic, Southgate
on Mar 3, 2020 at 4:30 pm

Not really much historic in Palo alto, so hard to justify this kind of expenditure for basically another ego trip for the " everything is historic" crowd.
Who will visit this white elephant? Tourists? Locals?


Wyn Wachhorst
Atherton
on Mar 3, 2020 at 5:05 pm
Wyn Wachhorst, Atherton
on Mar 3, 2020 at 5:05 pm

To: "Not Historic" above:

What is your concept of “historic?”―wars, elections, dates, pacts, acts? It must not be invention or we’d have to eliminate Palo Alto as the electronic center of the world from 1909 to date. It must not be cultural change or we’d have to eliminate Palo Alto’s leadership in the 1960s and 70s. Nor 20th-century science and literature. Most history is made by people and events at the grassroots, and Palo Alto has been a nodal point at many junctures in the human story of California, the nation, and clearly even the world.
We have wars on terrorism, crime, drugs, and hunger, but any victory lies in winning the war that few realize we are in―the war on ignorance. H.G. Wells said it best: “The future is a race between education and catastrophe.”


Wyn Wachhorst
Atherton
on Mar 3, 2020 at 5:18 pm
Wyn Wachhorst, Atherton
on Mar 3, 2020 at 5:18 pm

And Since history does not really repeat itself, what is the value of any history, national, local, or individual, outside of group of individual identity? Is there some population requirement for a group to have an identity? (And as to the larger shaping the lesser, it works in both directions, especially in a case like Palo Alto.)


Wyn Wachhorst
Atherton
on Mar 3, 2020 at 5:21 pm
Wyn Wachhorst, Atherton
on Mar 3, 2020 at 5:21 pm

typo above: "group OR individual identity"


Not historic
Southgate
on Mar 3, 2020 at 5:23 pm
Not historic, Southgate
on Mar 3, 2020 at 5:23 pm

Wyn: IMHO people in Palo Alto tend to confuse “historic” with “old”— we have that all the time with old houses/buildings. And I think their is the “we are special” mindset in Palo Alto, whereby Palo Alto cannot be just another city—they are Palo Alto , so there has to be something special (historic) about the city.
But let’s be honest, who will visit this place? Sure , you may drag school kids to see this, but really tourists will have little to no desire to stop by. This building will be an ego trip for the usual “historic” suspects, including a very vocal former mayor. There is a better use for this money and I am sure a better use for this building


Wyn
Atherton
on Mar 3, 2020 at 5:41 pm
Wyn, Atherton
on Mar 3, 2020 at 5:41 pm

Palo Alto has a very significant historical place in larger history that certainly goes beyond “old.” But the objection seems to pivot on museum attendance. Putting aside the fact that the content will always evolve, why are we concerned with tourists? Every group has a story, Palo Alto’s happens to be more significant than most, but why do we care about any story that’s interesting? Why watch a documentary? Why go to a movie or read a novel? The museum is to Palo Altans what a photo album or scrapbook is to a family. Does that leave the money issue? It’s hardly that much money given the many far more expensive means-over-ends local projects, many of which simply enrich individuals while deteriorating quality of life.


The money changers
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 3, 2020 at 7:59 pm
The money changers, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 3, 2020 at 7:59 pm

Sad to see Liz Kniss consistently working for her developer supporters. And Cormack is right there, she's good at working with big money people, she is experienced raising big money for the libraries. And of course Adrian Fine is right there.

How about her admitted violation of money reporting before her election? What has she done to the FPPC that they won't report a decision?
She admitted that she purposely didn't report developers contributions because the voters probably wouldn't like it.
Yes, that is what she said.


An Ohlone View
another community
on Mar 4, 2020 at 8:44 am
An Ohlone View, another community
on Mar 4, 2020 at 8:44 am

With all of the wealthy people and so-called civic/social-minded folks residing in Palo Alto, why not simply hold a fundraiser to generate additional funds?

Maybe the old Roller & Hapgood site could be used in lieu of renting hotel space.

Theme-wise...make it a costume/masquerade ball with guests dressed up as Ohlone/Costanoans, Spanish missionaries/explorers, early white settlors, Leland/Jane Stanford, assorted Mexican & Asian laborers/service providers, and maybe toss in Herbert Hoover & the founders of Hewlett Packard as well.

^^^This is reflective of the history of Palo Alto.


Wyn
Atherton
on Mar 4, 2020 at 8:56 am
Wyn, Atherton
on Mar 4, 2020 at 8:56 am
An Ohlone View
another community
on Mar 4, 2020 at 9:39 am
An Ohlone View, another community
on Mar 4, 2020 at 9:39 am

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 4, 2020 at 9:55 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 4, 2020 at 9:55 am

I can't believe some of these comments. Go over and look at where this building is situated - it is part of a urban park system next to new residential buildings and next to a children's play area. It is a great building. Old and historic. Get your Starbuck's or other coffee people involved and turn it into a joint city location for a snack while the children are playing, meeting place, and is near commercial businesses so some light lunch served. And flyers of what to see in PA. You keep trying to make everything into a non-profit which disqualifies a commercial use for this site. There is nothing godly about a non-profit designation.


Lori Hobson
Menlo Park
on Mar 4, 2020 at 11:16 am
Lori Hobson, Menlo Park
on Mar 4, 2020 at 11:16 am

Thanks, Wyn, for pointing out the typo. Baez. I typed fast and didn't check before pressing submit. My bad.

Sort of to your point (though it was removed), you probably COULD have a test for deciding who is allowed to donate to the museum. Then y'all could be assured that you and the fundraising committee are surrounded by like minds. Unfortunately, it appears that may be the problem with the current approach, which has not produced much monetary enthusiasm. But I'll use my potential donation to get myself some of them there (or their or they're) English lessons.

Yawn.








Curmudgeon
Downtown North
on Mar 4, 2020 at 5:47 pm
Curmudgeon, Downtown North
on Mar 4, 2020 at 5:47 pm

"Given how small Palo Alto was until the 1950s--there isn't much history in which to revel. Much of early Palo Alto's history is not that pretty."

Monumental ignorance like this showcases Palo Alto's critical need for a museum of its story. How can the self-styled Capital of Silicon Valley not have one? It is inexcusable for "our" city government to dismiss their opportunity to rectify that, seemingly over an unseemly snit at the organization attempting to do them a service?

Do the councilmembers seriously believe that an alternative tenant is willing to drop $10M upfront to rehab a seriously neglected municipal asset, before it realizes a dime's worth of value from its occupancy, for the honor of being a tenant of a city government that shows so little regard for its capital assets? Really?


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 5, 2020 at 6:45 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 5, 2020 at 6:45 am

If you look at the opportunities that are provided at the Mitchell Park library - including a small coffee shop with food - you can provide those same opportunities for use at this location. At Mitchell - here have been wedding receptions, children's events, celebration of life events, knitting classes, etc. Make it into a community center with all of the attributes of a community center. The walls can be decorated with pictures of old PA. The PAMC also has pictures of old PA on their walls. It is the perfect location for a community center. Just put in those items that people will be attracted to -and the small coffee shop can run be run by the same people who run the Mitchell Park coffee shop.


An Ohlone View
another community
on Mar 5, 2020 at 8:50 am
An Ohlone View, another community
on Mar 5, 2020 at 8:50 am

"Given how small Palo Alto was until the 1950s--there isn't much history in which to revel. Much of early Palo Alto's history is not that pretty."

^^^Interesting observation & commentary.

Would it be safe to assume that Palo Alto prior to the 1950s was essentially the 'Mayberry' of the SF peninsula?

Speaking of Mayberry, for those who recall watching The Andy Griffith Show during the 1960s...isn't it peculiar that for a small rural North Carolina town there were absolutely no African American townspeople ever portrayed or assumed to be residents of that quaint little community?

Prior to the 1970s, most of the African American Palo Alto residents lived south of Page Mill Road from Olive Street and into the Ventura neighborhood. Other than a few African American domestic workers & their families who may have resided on Fife Street in Old PA, there were no African American schoolchildren in any of the PAUSD elementary schools except Mayfield which covers the South Palo Alto area.

Early pre-1950s PA = Mayberry RFD?


Curmudgeon
Downtown North
on Mar 5, 2020 at 12:23 pm
Curmudgeon, Downtown North
on Mar 5, 2020 at 12:23 pm

"Other than a few African American domestic workers & their families who may have resided on Fife Street in Old PA, there were no African American schoolchildren in any of the PAUSD elementary schools except Mayfield which covers the South Palo Alto area."

My point illustrated again -- we need a history museum. This writer is completely unaware of the numerous Palo Alto residents of African and Japanese ancestry who lived in the area near the old AME Zion church in the 800 block of Ramona. That church was active in the '30s, '40s, and '50s. The Japanese community center on that same block flourished until executive order 9066 cleared out its membership.


Wyn
Atherton
on Mar 5, 2020 at 12:34 pm
Wyn, Atherton
on Mar 5, 2020 at 12:34 pm

There were five African American students in Addison Elementary when I was there in the late 1940s. And that's just Addison. Three were good friends: Chuck Winston, A.D. Barker, and Freddy Morgan. The other two were Mamie Stevenson and J.L., whose last name I can't recall. There were at least a half dozen others at Jordan in the early 50s.


I Grew Up In PA During That Time Frame As Well
Crescent Park
on Mar 5, 2020 at 3:48 pm
I Grew Up In PA During That Time Frame As Well, Crescent Park
on Mar 5, 2020 at 3:48 pm

>> There were five African American students in Addison Elementary when I was there in the late 1940s.

>> This writer is completely unaware of the numerous Palo Alto residents of African and Japanese ancestry who lived in the area near the old AME Zion church in the 800 block of Ramona. That church was active in the '30s, '40s, and '50s.

^^^ most likely the children of domestics, gardeners & service workers (i.e. there were several Japanese laundry/dry cleaners in Palo Alto at the time).

How many 'people of color' were Palo Alto doctors, lawyers and major owners of downtown commercial real estate properties (i.e. Thoits, Brophy, Ames etc.)?

Name one.

There is a reason WHY there are two Buddhist Temples (Palo Alto & Mountain View) so close in proximity. The pre-war Palo Alto Japanese were primarily service employees to white upper middle class Palo Alto families while the Los Alto to Sunnyvale Japanese were mostly farmers (i.e. berries, flower growers & nursery operators).

The southernmost Japanese agriculturalists were viewed as provincials by the PA Japanese who interacted on a daily basis with a different class of people during the course of their working day(s).

No different than the southern plantation days when African American domestics often looked down upon the African American field hands.

They were all slave to a certain extent but it is human nature to look down on others.

Bottom line...just 'being there' doesn't mean acceptance or lack of prejudice. When the war came both Palo Alto & Los Altos/MV/Sunnyvale Japanese were shipped off to camp...regardless of who their customers/employers were.

And the same applied to African Americans post Reconstruction. Jim Crow was not picky.


Wyn
Atherton
on Mar 5, 2020 at 4:13 pm
Wyn, Atherton
on Mar 5, 2020 at 4:13 pm

I think my post was misinterpreted. I was suggesting that there were in fact a large number of African Americans in Palo Alto in the 1940s. Not just Ramona St. but Fife St. and others.


Curmudgeon
Downtown North
on Mar 5, 2020 at 6:33 pm
Curmudgeon, Downtown North
on Mar 5, 2020 at 6:33 pm

"How many 'people of color' were Palo Alto doctors, lawyers and major owners of downtown commercial real estate properties (i.e. Thoits, Brophy, Ames etc.)? Name one."

Sorry, but your point escapes me. Not the fact that you hint at, but the point you may have had in mind.

Be that as it may right now, we vitally need a common historical education resource to enable us to work out these meanings and our responses from a shared factual basis. Most educated communities have a history museum to anchor their cultural record. Palo Alto notably does not, and its government has recently monkey-wrenched an attempt to provide one. Go figure.


Sally
Downtown North
on Mar 5, 2020 at 7:23 pm
Sally, Downtown North
on Mar 5, 2020 at 7:23 pm

Y'all are being unfair. We only gave them s decade! That's not enough! I mean, the young cute kids on the posters outside the building are only 2 years away now from being 28-year old senior executives at tech firms to make their donations!

So what, they only averaged nothing per month of donations (when you factor out the portion that they are considering as "donations" that are really council from us taxpayers!). Let's give them another decade!


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Mar 5, 2020 at 10:26 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Mar 5, 2020 at 10:26 pm

Sell the house to Rob Levitsky with a covenant that he name the house New Speedway Boogie and all the students with rent controlled who live there pretend they live as did in days of yore (before FB): Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, David Nelson, Robert Hunter, Gregg Rolie, Maya Ford, Steve Jenkins, Matt Flynn, Tommy Jordan and Lou Welch. Grace Slick, Stevie Nicks
Maybe one BR could be for a musician to live in residence and We The People would get a share of the publishing for any song written there.
Rock and roll saved Apple’s butt it can do the same for Roth.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 6, 2020 at 4:27 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 6, 2020 at 4:27 am

I don't get the whole riff on Mayberry. This city existed here because of Stanford University. A university town. With sports games, art museum, teachers and workers at the university. Then came the people who invented technical and medical advances. Also logging - boats came into the embarcadero to take the lumber up to SF to rebuild after the earthquake.


Count Urban
Midtown
on Mar 6, 2020 at 5:48 am
Count Urban, Midtown
on Mar 6, 2020 at 5:48 am

@Lori Hobson
I would definitely take visitors to the Museum of Counterculture. Great idea! Where should it be? Is Rob Levitsky selling any property?


Stanford Cardinal
Stanford
on Mar 6, 2020 at 9:45 am
Stanford Cardinal, Stanford
on Mar 6, 2020 at 9:45 am

QUOTE: This city existed here because of Stanford University. A university town. With sports games, art museum, teachers and workers at the university. Then came the people who invented technical and medical advances.

YES. So instead of denigrating Leland Stanford as a robber baron, he should be roundly celebrated as the individual who put Palo Alto on the map via his globally acclaimed university.

A Leland Stanford Day in Palo Alto would be appropriate and a fond ongoing remembrance for a man who not only built a university but also provided countless jobs for various people of color.

It doesn't matter what kind of indiscretions or exploitation he may have utilized to fulfill his financial aspirations. All wealthy men do...Carnegie, Mellon, Morgan, Rockefeller, Gates, Knight etc. and then they use their excess money for humanitarian purposes because they now have so much of it!

How many here are aware that where City Hall now stands (on Hamilton) the first Palo Alto Library once stood...courtesy of a Carnegie grant who yes, had to hire gunmen to put down a riot by union steelworkers demanding more pay...but at the time, he had a business to run!

Ruthless capitalism gave rise to America's great wealth & while the practice has its shortcomings, advances cannot be made without vast amounts of...MONEY!


DUH
Greenmeadow
on Mar 8, 2020 at 2:09 pm
DUH, Greenmeadow
on Mar 8, 2020 at 2:09 pm

> "Sell the house to Rob Levitsky with a covenant that he name the house New Speedway Boogie"

^^^Bad call & brush up on your rock history. That song was about the disaster at ALTAMOUNT 1969.


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