In the latest Around Town column, news about an upcoming auction of items that once filled Antonio's Nut House, residents concerned about how the enforcement of the city's 72-hour parking limit has impacted people living in RVs and Santa Clara County waiving permit fees for small businesses that have been financially challenged during the pandemic.
BIDDING FAREWELL ... Antonio's Nut House may have permanently closed after four rowdy, peanut-strewn decades on California Avenue, but you can still take home a piece of dive bar history. Clars, an auction gallery in Oakland, is auctioning off a collection of Nut House items on Sunday, March 21, including a neon "Pabst Palo Alto" sign, the famous nut-shaped tables, bar stools and a roulette wheel. "It's an honor to represent this collection at auction," Cristina Campion, associate director of the Furniture and Decorative Arts Department at Clars, said in a press release. "There's a wide range of treasures that will certainly appeal to those who have fond memories of the Nut House." The one popular item that won't be up for auction is the fake gorilla that stood in a cage that was stocked with roasted salted peanuts for bar patrons. The beloved figure was accidentally taken to the gallery along with other items from the dive bar. It was rescued last month by resident Jeff Day, who hopes to include the gorilla in the future Palo Alto History Museum. Bidding for the online auction is available by phone, absentee bid and online at Live.Clars.com.
FORCED OUT ... Palo Alto's efforts to enforce its 72-hour limit on parking got some pushback this week from numerous residents, who urged the city to show some leniency when it comes to residents who live in recreational vehicles along El Camino Real. While the trend of people living in RVs along the main thoroughfare precedes the COVID-19 pandemic, critics contended at Monday night's City Council meeting that the city should suspend its enforcement during the health crisis. Angie Evans, a Crescent Park resident, argued that by notifying residents that their RVs will be towed if they don't move them, the city is depriving these residents of a safe place to live and pushing them into the streets or shelters. "It's not OK to push people onto the streets ever and it's really, really heinous to do that in the middle of a global pandemic," Evans said. Ebru Haritaoglu, a junior at Palo Alto High, agreed. "So many people are losing their jobs. ... Let's not make this tough time worse for them by removing them from their homes and towing the RVs," she said. While numerous speakers referred to the city's actions as an "eviction" of residents, City Manager Ed Shikada rejected that characterization. "That is a regular recurring activity that our Police Department undertakes," Shikada said at the meeting. The city has, however, stepped up its enforcement efforts since January. According to a March 10 blog post from the city, the Police Department had placed tow warning flyers on 450 vehicles between Jan 1 and March 10. The majority of those who received them have voluntarily complied and moved within the 72-hour period, according to the post. The department had issued 16 parking violations and towed three vehicles (two RVs and one trailer), all of which were unoccupied and were not "actively lived in," according to the city.
IN THE BEST INTEREST ... Small businesses that have faced financial hardships in Santa Clara County during the COVID-19 pandemic were given some relief Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, which approved a proposal to waive or reduce their permit fees for one year. It applies to restaurants, personal care services, gyms or fitness facilities, grocers and retailers that have less than 50 employees, according to a staff report. County staff also noted that businesses owned by minorities have been challenged by the pandemic. "Small businesses have payroll, bills and fixed debts so every fee we can reduce or waive as we begin to economically recover from the pandemic will help," said Supervisor Cindy Chavez, who worked on the proposal with Supervisor Susan Ellenberg. "Their stability means the economy's broader stability," Ellenberg said at Tuesday's board meeting. Eligible businesses can expect to see the waiver applied on their next invoice. County administrators plan to transfer $5.5 million from the General Contingency Fund to cover funds the Department of Environmental Health would lose from the waiver. Small businesses could also be eligible for temporary permit and license fee waivers from California under a legislative package Gov. Gavin Newsom signed last month.