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Plans for Palo Alto History Museum remain in limbo as City Council rebuffs funding requests

Council members propose selling or leasing the Roth Building, a long-considered site of future museum

The Palo Alto City Council struggled this month to find ways to rehabilitate the historic but dilapidated Roth Building at 300 Homer Ave. Embarcadero Media file photo by Gennady Sheyner.

For nearly two decades, Palo Alto's elected officials and civic leaders have viewed the historic Roth Building next to Heritage Park as the perfect place to launch a museum celebrating the city's legacy of leadership in technology, education and health care.

But with the city's finances on the wane and frustrations mounting about the slow pace of progress on museum fundraising, some members of the City Council indicated on Dec. 14 that it may be time to abandon the project and consider other options, including a possible sale of the 1932 building that was designed by renowned architect Birge Clark and that once housed the Palo Alto Medical Clinic.

For the city leaders, the historic building at 300 Homer St. is both a headache and treasure. It is a historic asset in a prime downtown location, adorned with murals that celebrate medical achievements. It is also vacant, derelict and seismically unsafe.

Everyone agrees the building should be fixed up as soon as possible. But the only plan to do so thus far has come from Palo Alto Museum, the nonprofit that has been spearheading the museum project since 2004. The organization presented the council with two options. One would help structurally and seismically rehabilitate the building to create what's known as a "cold shell" for the museum. Another would involve making further renovations to make the building occupiable by the museum. The former option would cost an estimated $6 million; the latter would run at about $10.5 million.

Most of the funding for the cold shell option would not come from the general fund, according to the museum's proposal. The nonprofit has about $500,000 in cash on hand for the construction and another $4.9 million in revenues from the city's "transfer of development rights" program, which supports the rehabilitation of historical buildings. The museum has also received $300,000 in county grants and city staff has identified another $300,000 that can be allocated for the project from library impact fees (the new museum would hold Palo Alto's historical archives, which are currently housed at Cubberley Community Center).

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For the more ambitious $10.5 million plan, the museum had recommended utilizing other impact fees, including ones designated for park improvements.

But with the city's finances in a rut, council members showed little appetite last week for significantly investing more public funds in the project. Instead, the council reverted to its familiar pattern and requested that staff consider other options for the Roth Building.

As in the past, council members talked about the urgent need to rehabilitate the building as soon as possible. They recommended leasing some — or all — of the building to a private entity. And for the first time, they floated the idea of outright selling the historic building, though several members also noted that they don't particularly favor going this route.

They stopped well short, however, of taking the type of actions that proponents of the museum had been hoping for.

Council member Alison Cormack was among those who urged action on fixing up the Roth Building. She said she has recently toured the building and saw medical equipment that has been in the building since the city purchased it in 2000.

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"I'm appalled that our city and prior councils and this council and staff have let that building just sit there for 20 years. … I'm actually really stunned. I'm stunned this has not been on our infrastructure list," Cormack said.

But while Vice Mayor Tom DuBois noted at the Dec. 14 meeting that the Roth Building is a Palo Alto-owned asset and suggested that the city needs to at least fund the cold shell, most of his colleagues were reluctant to spend more public money on the project. Cormack brought up the idea of selling the Roth Building, saying it would be irresponsible for the council to not consider that option.

The council voted 5-2, with DuBois and council member Lydia Kou dissenting, to direct staff to explore a menu of options for the Roth Building, including considering a possible sale, with Palo Alto Museum getting a first right of purchase. Other options are pursuing a lease that would generate revenue, rezoning the site to make it economically viable and partnering with the museum to build a "warm shell" without the use of public funding.

All of these options fall well short of the nonprofit's request. The museum has already spent $1.8 million on rehabilitation plans for the Roth Building. It has also received pledges of $2.1 million for museum programs and exhibits, according to Rich Green, president of Palo Alto Museum board of directors. That funding, however, cannot be used for the retrofitting work.

"I think we've charted a very clear, expedient path to getting that building rehabilitated in a very short period of time with a huge contribution of funds from museum donors and museum efforts," Green said. "So it seems to me like the smartest way forward is to stay the path — use our plans, use the funds that we raised and work with us … by possibly reallocating some of the available impact fees to completing the warm shell, getting the building occupancy permit so that we can come in and install our museum."

Council members showed little appetite, however, for tapping into the city's pool of impact fees. Mayor Adrian Fine called the museum project "laudable" but suggested that allocating the impact fees to the museum would represent "an end run around the financial process." Impact fees, he said, are intended for a whole range of priorities relating to parks, libraries and community centers.

"If I knew we could've done it on council, I would've done it years ago," Fine said. "I would have said, I love bike lanes and dog parks and let's use the impact fees to fund those. I find this entirely inappropriate."

Council member Eric Filseth also rejected the notion that the city has millions of dollars available for the museum project. He joined the council majority in directing staff to return in six months with an update on other uses for the building. While the vote was very similar to the council's prior direction to explore other options for the Roth Building (with the notable addition on a potential sale), council member Liz Kniss said she believes the options represent a reasonable road for the city at a time when its finances are strained.

"We are in terrible times," Kniss said. "We've still got a raging pandemic. We've got an economic situation that looks about as bleak as one has looked in a long time. We don't have a really clear avenue for really dealing with this as of yet."

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Gennady Sheyner
 
Gennady Sheyner covers the City Hall beat in Palo Alto as well as regional politics, with a special focus on housing and transportation. Before joining the Palo Alto Weekly/PaloAltoOnline.com in 2008, he covered breaking news and local politics for the Waterbury Republican-American, a daily newspaper in Connecticut. Read more >>

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Plans for Palo Alto History Museum remain in limbo as City Council rebuffs funding requests

Council members propose selling or leasing the Roth Building, a long-considered site of future museum

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Dec 22, 2020, 3:30 pm

For nearly two decades, Palo Alto's elected officials and civic leaders have viewed the historic Roth Building next to Heritage Park as the perfect place to launch a museum celebrating the city's legacy of leadership in technology, education and health care.

But with the city's finances on the wane and frustrations mounting about the slow pace of progress on museum fundraising, some members of the City Council indicated on Dec. 14 that it may be time to abandon the project and consider other options, including a possible sale of the 1932 building that was designed by renowned architect Birge Clark and that once housed the Palo Alto Medical Clinic.

For the city leaders, the historic building at 300 Homer St. is both a headache and treasure. It is a historic asset in a prime downtown location, adorned with murals that celebrate medical achievements. It is also vacant, derelict and seismically unsafe.

Everyone agrees the building should be fixed up as soon as possible. But the only plan to do so thus far has come from Palo Alto Museum, the nonprofit that has been spearheading the museum project since 2004. The organization presented the council with two options. One would help structurally and seismically rehabilitate the building to create what's known as a "cold shell" for the museum. Another would involve making further renovations to make the building occupiable by the museum. The former option would cost an estimated $6 million; the latter would run at about $10.5 million.

Most of the funding for the cold shell option would not come from the general fund, according to the museum's proposal. The nonprofit has about $500,000 in cash on hand for the construction and another $4.9 million in revenues from the city's "transfer of development rights" program, which supports the rehabilitation of historical buildings. The museum has also received $300,000 in county grants and city staff has identified another $300,000 that can be allocated for the project from library impact fees (the new museum would hold Palo Alto's historical archives, which are currently housed at Cubberley Community Center).

For the more ambitious $10.5 million plan, the museum had recommended utilizing other impact fees, including ones designated for park improvements.

But with the city's finances in a rut, council members showed little appetite last week for significantly investing more public funds in the project. Instead, the council reverted to its familiar pattern and requested that staff consider other options for the Roth Building.

As in the past, council members talked about the urgent need to rehabilitate the building as soon as possible. They recommended leasing some — or all — of the building to a private entity. And for the first time, they floated the idea of outright selling the historic building, though several members also noted that they don't particularly favor going this route.

They stopped well short, however, of taking the type of actions that proponents of the museum had been hoping for.

Council member Alison Cormack was among those who urged action on fixing up the Roth Building. She said she has recently toured the building and saw medical equipment that has been in the building since the city purchased it in 2000.

"I'm appalled that our city and prior councils and this council and staff have let that building just sit there for 20 years. … I'm actually really stunned. I'm stunned this has not been on our infrastructure list," Cormack said.

But while Vice Mayor Tom DuBois noted at the Dec. 14 meeting that the Roth Building is a Palo Alto-owned asset and suggested that the city needs to at least fund the cold shell, most of his colleagues were reluctant to spend more public money on the project. Cormack brought up the idea of selling the Roth Building, saying it would be irresponsible for the council to not consider that option.

The council voted 5-2, with DuBois and council member Lydia Kou dissenting, to direct staff to explore a menu of options for the Roth Building, including considering a possible sale, with Palo Alto Museum getting a first right of purchase. Other options are pursuing a lease that would generate revenue, rezoning the site to make it economically viable and partnering with the museum to build a "warm shell" without the use of public funding.

All of these options fall well short of the nonprofit's request. The museum has already spent $1.8 million on rehabilitation plans for the Roth Building. It has also received pledges of $2.1 million for museum programs and exhibits, according to Rich Green, president of Palo Alto Museum board of directors. That funding, however, cannot be used for the retrofitting work.

"I think we've charted a very clear, expedient path to getting that building rehabilitated in a very short period of time with a huge contribution of funds from museum donors and museum efforts," Green said. "So it seems to me like the smartest way forward is to stay the path — use our plans, use the funds that we raised and work with us … by possibly reallocating some of the available impact fees to completing the warm shell, getting the building occupancy permit so that we can come in and install our museum."

Council members showed little appetite, however, for tapping into the city's pool of impact fees. Mayor Adrian Fine called the museum project "laudable" but suggested that allocating the impact fees to the museum would represent "an end run around the financial process." Impact fees, he said, are intended for a whole range of priorities relating to parks, libraries and community centers.

"If I knew we could've done it on council, I would've done it years ago," Fine said. "I would have said, I love bike lanes and dog parks and let's use the impact fees to fund those. I find this entirely inappropriate."

Council member Eric Filseth also rejected the notion that the city has millions of dollars available for the museum project. He joined the council majority in directing staff to return in six months with an update on other uses for the building. While the vote was very similar to the council's prior direction to explore other options for the Roth Building (with the notable addition on a potential sale), council member Liz Kniss said she believes the options represent a reasonable road for the city at a time when its finances are strained.

"We are in terrible times," Kniss said. "We've still got a raging pandemic. We've got an economic situation that looks about as bleak as one has looked in a long time. We don't have a really clear avenue for really dealing with this as of yet."

Comments

Need the Museum
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 22, 2020 at 10:45 pm
Need the Museum, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 22, 2020 at 10:45 pm

Tiny towns no one has ever heard of manage to have city history museums. So do big cities. Why Palo Alto of all places may fail to is bizarre given our rich and varied history that has made our town remarkable.

That any council member would consider selling this historic building in Heritage Park is irresponsible. No higher or better use can be made of the building and its location than for our History Museum. Stay focused on facilitating that, City leaders.



BayAreaNative
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Dec 23, 2020 at 9:11 am
BayAreaNative, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 23, 2020 at 9:11 am

Palo Alto does deserve a city focused history museum. And the Roth building is clearly the best possible location for this museum. The city council should find a way to make this happen. The building is 19,000 square feet (and I don't know if that even counts the basement). There must be a way of sharing space with a city museum and some other business or organization that can also share the costs of the building rehabilitation. Perhaps that organization would be one of the city departments that currently is renting space downtown. I agree that this has gone on far too long without any substantial progress forward. Figure out a financial compromise and make it happen!


PAReader
Registered user
Midtown
on Dec 23, 2020 at 10:40 am
PAReader, Midtown
Registered user
on Dec 23, 2020 at 10:40 am

Sell Foothills Park first


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 23, 2020 at 11:46 am
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 23, 2020 at 11:46 am

If the concept of establishing a Palo Alto history museum is that important, why not hold a community fundraiser sponsored by local high-tech companies willing to match funds (and/or by making a HUGE contribution of their own) towards this venture?

If not, tear that old delapidated Roth building down & put something else in its place as it is not a historical landmark...just another retro Birge Clark designed building of which there are many throughout Palo Alto.


Laura Bajuk
Registered user
Midtown
on Dec 23, 2020 at 2:55 pm
Laura Bajuk, Midtown
Registered user
on Dec 23, 2020 at 2:55 pm

The Roth project was addressed very late, in a very challenging meeting (the last of this year and term), so it's no wonder there was some confusion or that it got tangled up in the City’s dire financial state (which rightly concerns all of us).

Yet the Museum and City are partners toward a common goal: to rehabilitate the Roth Building for public use. Here are two options, which both involve a full partnership between the City and the Museum:

1) A stabilization option (“cold shell”) which is already FULLY FUNDED, at $6.5M, and requires NO additional funding - at this time. This option was unanimously supported by the City’s Finance Committee on November 17. (But it means a longer timeframe, resulting in a higher cost.)

2) A second option would make the building fully useable – but requires about $4M more to do so. This is where we suggested Council consider using eligible Impact Fees, which would NOT impact the City budget. (Read more about that in the City Staff Reports.)

Both of these make best use of limited time and resources - but more work is needed. The on-again, off-again support of Council coupled with the current health crisis has slowed fundraising. But we thank our loyal donors and supporters, and look forward to continuing to work with City Staff and Council to benefit this community.

Best to all in this holiday season,
Laura Bajuk, E.D., Palo Alto Museum
(and Midtown resident)


rsmithjr
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 23, 2020 at 3:00 pm
rsmithjr, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Dec 23, 2020 at 3:00 pm

One of my best friends is the president of a museum in Kingsburg CA, down in the central valley. They survive on very little funding and volunteers like him.

Take a look and see what can be done.
Web Link

Frankly, I don't think our historical society has done very well with this. They seem to be waiting for someone with big pockets to show up.


Rich Green
Registered user
University South
on Dec 23, 2020 at 3:11 pm
Rich Green, University South
Registered user
on Dec 23, 2020 at 3:11 pm

It is essential for the City Council and all of us who are concerned about the future of the Roth Building to understand the information presented in the City Staff Reports, ID # 11832 and ID # 11611, which can be found here:

Web Link

Quoting today’s article: “Mayor Adrian Fine called the museum project ‘laudable’ but suggested that allocating the impact fees to the museum would represent ‘an end run around the financial process.’” In fact, allocating certain specific Impact Fees toward the rehabilitation of the City-owned Roth Building makes complete sense and will not draw from the stressed General Fund in any way whatsoever.

Based on research and planning by the Museum, the Roth Building qualifies for: 1) Library Impact Fees, because the City Archives, temporarily housed at Cubberley, are part of the City library system, and significant square footage is being allocated to house them in an environment necessary to assure their longevity; 2) Park Impact Fees, because the restroom that is part of approved Museum plans will serve families using Heritage Park; and 3) Impact fees for community facilities, because the Museum’s architectural plans include substantial community use for over 20% of floor space. These public facilities would include community meeting spaces, lecture areas, an education center, and more. Impact Fees have very narrow application. The Museum’s proposal to the City not only satisfies relevant requirements but does not take away from any other already allocated use of those fees.

The City Staff reports make it clear that the City’s allocation of these Impact Fees to complete funding for the rehabilitation project is the clear, logical, most expedient path forward. Museum board members, staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to raise funds to fix this wonderful old building. Through the Museum’s efforts, over $6.7M out of a total budget of $10.5M is available for rehabilitation. We’re close to getting this job done, but the longer we wait the more expensive it will become. The Museum has made this project Shovel Ready by investing in City-approved plans and an active building permit.

The Museum’s efforts to raise funds for the Roth rehabilitation project (apart from fundraising for the Museum itself) have been seriously impeded, especially over the past three years due to great uncertainty about the partnership that the Museum has enjoyed with the City on a project that will benefit the entire community. It is not feasible for the Museum to continue to raise funds toward the repair of this City-owned building until that partnership is confirmed, re-energized and supported in good faith with City leadership.
-Rich Green, President, Palo Alto Museum


The city should fix it and rent it out for income to pay for the rehab
Registered user
Downtown North
on Dec 23, 2020 at 11:27 pm
The city should fix it and rent it out for income to pay for the rehab, Downtown North
Registered user
on Dec 23, 2020 at 11:27 pm

The history museum group has had two decades to get their act together and raise some money to rehab this building. It is not happening. This group seems to be sitting around waiting for some deep pockets to step up and that is not happening, now they are begging the city to pay for it for them. At no time have I ever noticed them actively trying to raise funds, but perhaps they don't think they can raise enough from small donations.

Enough is enough. The city should save this historic building, fix it up and rent it out a market rate to pay for fixing it up. They should not sell it, but use it as a source of income that will continue into the future. If the history museum people ever find any funds they can then rent some of it at market rate also. Or maybe they can negotiate a slightly lower rate as a non-profit. But under no circumstances should be wait any longer for them. Nor should we bail them out. They've had decades to get the job done and it has not happened. Not a good group to trust to run a project in the future it would seem.


CGPA
Registered user
Downtown North
on Dec 24, 2020 at 1:17 am
CGPA, Downtown North
Registered user
on Dec 24, 2020 at 1:17 am

Ten million dollars is $500 per square feet. Then add another ten million to make it rentable. So you are looking at 1000 psft, which is about what buildings are selling for in that location. The city would have to give it away to make it economically viable.

And that's to an owner. To lease it would need a 50 year lease, again at $0 to allow the leaseholder to recoup their costs.

What's really fascinating to me is how no one can do a back of the envelope calculation like this and come to a 30 second conclusion that the reason PAMF donated the building in the first place was because it had no economic value. This building is going to sit forever looking just the way it does now until someone is smart enough to admit all this, and tear it down. Instead, Palo Alto pretends that a museum, that has had 20 years to come up with funding and has found nothing more than a few quarters in the seat cushions, is one day going to miraculously pull through.

This is the same reason Palo Alto has no Caltrain crossings. No one will admit the tunnel and even the trench is never going to happen, and the people who bought the neighboring properties at a huge discount are just sure that other city's residents will pay for their windfall. More delusional thinking.


GeoffPaulsen
Registered user
another community
on Dec 24, 2020 at 10:40 am
GeoffPaulsen, another community
Registered user
on Dec 24, 2020 at 10:40 am

I’m biased. My grandfather, Dr. Russel V. Lee, built this building, and I have fond memories of visiting him in his office there, with its walls covered with photos of him with various VIPs.

Yes, my grandfather had an ego, but he was also a visionary, and fostered remarkable progress in the field of health policy.

He:
- Pioneered, in this building, the concept of group medical practice.
- Pioneered, with Stanford, a pre-paid medical plan.
- Was part of a presidential commission that proposed Medicare for all.
- Sat down one on one with President Kennedy and sold him on Medicare, three weeks before Kennedy was shot.
- Persuaded the American Medical Association to support Medicare.
- With his wife Dorothy Lee, raised five sons and a daughter who all graduated from Stanford Medical School. One of these sons, Dr. Phil Lee, designed and implemented Medicare.
- Hired, as part of his original five clinic doctors, a woman, Dr. Esther Clark.
- Built Channing House
- Was the personal physician for various presidents of Stanford University.
- Served as the chair of the Palo Alto planning commission and myriad other organizations.
- As a 24-year old doctor at San Francisco General Hospital in 1918 during the “Spanish Flu”, pioneered the use of plasma from the blood of flu survivors to treat patients.

My first job out of college was interpreting Civil War history for an old fort (Fort Point in San Francisco) that was once a neglected hulk considered for demolition - and with a much less dignified history than the Roth Building.

It’s been my observation that when a building, ship, or other part of our history has been out of service for about 50 years, it is often considered to be an unusable relic, and is often destroyed.

But after about 100 years, it is either remembered with regret that it was destroyed, or cherished, restored, and interpreted.

My grandfather was a true visionary, and I encourage the City Council members who either who benefit (or who have family members who benefit) from Medicare, to look to the future, even 50 years in the future, and consider the importance this building can have in interpreting not just Palo Alto history, but the history of the health of our nation.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 24, 2020 at 11:08 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Dec 24, 2020 at 11:08 am

Do not sell this building. Bring is a group like ADA's to put in a small food area - coffee, treats, a small lunch.

Put in an area that has maps and things to do - a tourist area. Add Caltrain schedules.

There is a child area next to it so it is well used. Maybe a small bookstore with children's books for a rainy day adventure.

It is a city treasure and the city should get both city and county funding to support it. Arrange to have groups reserve for a meeting so it is generating income.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 24, 2020 at 11:40 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Dec 24, 2020 at 11:40 am

Reading the full article it notes that there is medical equipment still sitting in the building.. Tell Sutter Health - Palo Alto Medical Center to clear out the old medical equipment they are storing there. And if they have been using this building as a dumping ground for their equipment then get them to help refurbish the building.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 24, 2020 at 12:21 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Dec 24, 2020 at 12:21 pm

I am noting that certain PACC members have a penchant for selling city owned assets. That suggests financial gain in these endeavors could surface to individuals who facilitate these purchases. WE need total transparency on any sale of property. Also any upgrade of city owned property.


Chris
Registered user
University South
on Dec 24, 2020 at 7:15 pm
Chris, University South
Registered user
on Dec 24, 2020 at 7:15 pm

Good luck trying to sell the building.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 24, 2020 at 7:32 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Dec 24, 2020 at 7:32 pm

It is a lovely building. Not helped by some of the attachments to it. Get some SU students to make a project out of fixing it up - some fun. I can see it rented for some events - Easter Parties for kids. Fashion shows for student designers. A mini-event center. High tea with yummies? Where is people's imaginations? Graduation parties for young children, endless list of fun things to do. There is a giant park behind it.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 25, 2020 at 8:41 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Dec 25, 2020 at 8:41 am

I am a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation so am inclined to save the building. Filoli is part of the Trust. Much to be gained by keeping our history intact.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 27, 2020 at 1:34 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Dec 27, 2020 at 1:34 pm

This building has a huge park behind it. Add it to the Parks Department and use it as an annex to other parks. Let SU help here. Hold events here. Again - a food court like ADA's - sweets, lattes, tea, small lunches. A children's library like at Mitchell. A tourist shop with maps, train schedules, place to go and see. Some fuzzy stuffed animals to sell with a SU logo on them. SU theme gifts. The Art people could have a small section to sell glassware, jewelry, products from their art classes.
There are bits and pieces all over the city that can have a small prescience at this location. And it is a beautiful building, Go over to Filoli and look at how they have used their space. You have examples all over the place.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 27, 2020 at 1:46 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Dec 27, 2020 at 1:46 pm

Like to add here the the PAMC is in part a history museum. Walk the halls and look at the pictures / photos on the walls. Mayfield High School, old time stores, old time autos. A lot of resources are spread all over the city. How nice to walk through a small museum where the history of the area is collected in one place. The Fry's location also if they have any art and relics. All of the resources are here.


marc665
Registered user
Midtown
on Dec 31, 2020 at 1:33 pm
marc665, Midtown
Registered user
on Dec 31, 2020 at 1:33 pm

Make it a homeless shelter. Let's open up the boarded up doors and let the homeless take it over. It could be Palo Alto's Ghost Ship.

Or drop a note to Moms 4 Housing in Oakland and let them know they can occupy the building.

:^)

/marc


A little sad...
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 31, 2020 at 2:12 pm
A little sad..., Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 31, 2020 at 2:12 pm

There doesn't seem to be much respect for or love of history here. Also missing from this conversation is a former Palo Alto tradition...asking, "How can I help?" We used to be a city where people gathered together--each doing what we could for the greater good. Preserving history was one part of our communal effort to create this wonderful city. It is how we created and enhanced our libraries, parks, open spaces, and community centers. One does not have to be wealthy to help. Elbow grease and strategically used volunteer time are appreciated.

How can you help make Palo Alto better? Volunteer in the PTAs (for your own kids--This is one of the oldest and strongest national/local advocacy groups for children in the country). Improve our parks and services by volunteering on commissions and councils. If you don't have a lot of time, put in a few hours a week helping to clear invasive plants from Foothills Park, or be a museum docent, or choose some other short volunteer activity that is meaningful to you. Or just donate what you can--every amount is appreciated.

Remember that parks and many of our local services are supported by teams of volunteers. People who volunteer are usually kind and generous by nature. Volunteering is a great way to find good people and build wonderful friendships.

Volunteering is a gift you give yourself AND the community. Roll up your sleeves. Today is a good day to help.


James
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 6, 2021 at 4:26 pm
James, Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 6, 2021 at 4:26 pm

@A little sad... In today's environment it is said that Palo Alto history is a history of colonialism, white privilege, elitism, eugenics, racism, inequality, sexism, cultural appropriation, greedy capitalism, .... all bad stuff, nothing good. Therefore city may consider donating the building to Native Indian, Black, Brown and Chinese people to commemorate the centuries of oppression they endured.


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