Palo Alto Weekly 25th Anniversary

Twenty-five years
of community news coverage

Since the Weekly began publication in 1979, hundreds of issues and events have occurred in the communities it covers. Some highlights over the years follow. If you would like to suggest others, e-mail to

• Palo Alto Weekly begins publication Oct. 11.
• Cubberley High School closes.
• Palo Alto City Council rejects proposed rent-control ordinance prohibiting annual increases of more than 7 percent.

• Palo Alto council decides to close Palo Alto Yacht Harbor.
• College Terrace rapist" apprehended after months of community concern.
• “Medfly Wars” declared to eradicate Mediterranean fruit fly invasion, but Palo Alto rejects intensive Malathion spraying in favor of stripping fruit from trees.

• After fruit-trees fails, aerial spraying from low-flying helicopters wins the Medfly war.
• City agrees to buy closed Terman Middle School site for $9 million for a community center and, later, leases it to the Jewish Community Center.
• Palo Alto voters reject gay-rights ordinance.

• Three Palo Alto elementary schools close.
• Palo Alto council invites private groups to submit bids to operate cable TV system.
• Stanford proposes 1,200-unit Stanford West housing project and extension of Sand Hill Road to El Camino Real -- renewing a decades-long effort.

• East Palo Alto incorporates as a city after close election.
• Winter storms flood Barron Park and other creekside areas.
• Stanford puts Stanford West on hold after Palo Alto council imposes conditions.

• Reagan administration approves Stanford's terms to build Ronald Reagan presidential library in Stanford foothills.
• Olympic soccer games held at Stanford Stadium.
• Palo Alto council OKs extension of Sand Hill Road to El Camino Real; Menlo Park council files suit.
• Jordan Middle School closes, leaving Wilbur the sole middle school.

• San Francisco 49ers win Super Bowl at Stanford Stadium.
• Cable Communications Cooperative (“Cable Co-op”) selected to operate four-community cable television franchise for Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton.
• Palo Alto council OKs regulations to discourage construction of huge homes.
• Festival Theater, the Hamilton Avenue movie house where customers sat on beanbag chairs, closes.

• Palo Alto council imposes growth restrictions on commercial development downtown.
• Tinsley school-desegregation lawsuit settled when Palo Alto and other Midpeninsula districts agree to accept Ravenswood City School District students.
• Dr. Edith Eugenie Johnson Park opens in Downtown Park North neighborhood.
• Palo Alto begins to clamp down on gas-powered leaf blowers due to noise.
• Palo Alto school district proposes merging its two high schools at Paly and converting Gunn to the district's only middle school.

• Reagan Presidential Foundation declines to build its library at Stanford.
• Joaquin de Monet proposes high-rise office, hotel and shopping complex for Whiskey Gulch neighborhood of East Palo Alto.
• Plan is abandoned after Palo Alto, Menlo Park and neighborhood groups sue. Voters reject ballot measure calling for Palo Alto to become nuclear-free zone.
• After contentious election, Palo Alto school board in early 1988 reverses decision to merge the high schools.

• St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park proposes to sell part of its 88-acre property for construction of about 140 homes.
• Two-year drought forces Palo Alto to activate old wells for backup water.

• Loma Prieta earthquake causes estimated $150 million in damage at Stanford, additional damage at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Palo Alto and topples brick chimneys throughout the area -- as well as bookstacks in Menlo Park main library.
• Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton separately enact new rules to assure houses aren't too big for their lots.
• Palo Alto school board adopts plan to reopen Jordan as a middle school and include sixth-graders at both middle schools.
• After $6 million renovation, Stanford Theatre reopens as a temple to classic movies of yesteryear.

• Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev visits Stanford.
• After four years of drought, Palo Alto mandates 25 percent cutback in water-use levels and hires bicycle-mounted "gush busters" to warn and cite water wasters.
• Federal officials tighten flood-protection rules, affecting 4,000 residents in designated flood-zone areas.

• A year of controversy over improper billing by Stanford on federal research grants culminates with Donald Kennedy's decision to resign as university president.
• Palo Alto council approves 45,000-square-foot expansion of Palo Alto Medical Foundation, but a referendum quickly qualifies for the ballot.
• Citizens group forms to protest night-time noise in Palo Alto from Mountain View's new Shoreline Amphitheatre.

• Drug-related crime and street violence in East Palo Alto peak with shooting of 11 people, one fatally, in a 15-hour period.
• Palo Alto Medical Foundation's expansion proposal is approved in referendum election, but foundation announces move to El Camino Real site instead.
• Stanford unveils new plan to extend Sand Hill Road to El Camino, along with major expansion of shopping center and construction of 1,200-unit housing project.

• Two months after celebrating 100 years of publishing in Palo Alto, the Peninsula Times Tribune closes its doors.
• The Palo Alto Weekly launches its Friday “Weekend Preview”edition, and its parent company, Embarcadero Publishing Co., acquires the Almanac, covering south San Mateo County.
• East Palo Alto approves Gateway 101, its first major redevelopment.
• Paly boys basketball team captures its first state championship.
• Palo Alto Animal Services receives anonymous call that a black mamba snake is missing, but the deadly reptile is never found -- a possible hoax.

• Weekly becomes first newspaper to publish its entire editorial content on the World Wide Web (Timeline of online publishing)
• Weekly gets second “sister paper,” the Mountain View Voice.
• Palo Alto celebrates its centennial at 275 events that attract an estimated 350,000 attendees.
• World Cup soccer comes to Stanford. Brazilian fans charm locals with their drums and dancing, and the U.S. team loses to Brazil, 1-0, in a July 4 match.
• Varsity Theatre shows its final film, "Cinema Paradiso," and a developer announces plans to convert the Spanish-style landmark to a bookstore and cafe.

• Palo Alto voters reject Measure R, which would have frozen the city's building limit for 20 years and prevented the rezoning of residential property to commercial.
• Palo Alto voters approve Measure B, a $143 million bond to finance the repair and renovation of district schools.
• Serial rapist sexually assaults five women and attempts to attack two others in less than three weeks in Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Sunnyvale -- suspect is arrested in January 1996.

• Palo Alto council places strict limits on demolitions of old homes, while work begins on a new historic-preservation law.
• David Packard, one of the fathers of Silicon Valley, dies at age 83.
• Bloomingdale's opens its first store west of the Rockies, at Stanford Shopping Center.
• Stanford trustees and University of California regents approve a merger of two Stanford and two UC San Francisco hospitals and medical centers.
• Weekly launches a community Web site,

• Palo Alto voters approve Stanford's Sand Hill Road development projects, but Menlo Park files a lawsuit to block them.
• Early morning arson fire rips through an East Palo Alto home, killing nine people, including five children, and injuring eight others, including four firefighters -- launching campaign to ban non-removable bars on windows.
• NASA scientist Herbert "Bert" Kay is kicked and beaten to death as he takes an evening stroll through downtown Palo Alto -- six gang members arrested.
• Palo Alto approves ordinance making it an offense to sit or lie on downtown streets.
• Chelsea Clinton begins freshman year at Stanford.
• Palo Alto council approves Medical Foundation's plan to move to new, $130 million campus on at 795 El Camino Real area

• El Nino Feb. 3 flooding damages hundreds of Midpeninsula homes and, in Palo Alto, sparks criticism over city's preparedness.
• East Palo Alto council approves University Circle office, hotel and retail project for Whiskey Gulch.
• Menlo Park ordinance banning gas-powered leaf blowers is rejected in a referendum.
• First store opens at East Palo Alto's Gateway redevelopment project, renamed the Ravenswood 101 Retail Center.

• After three years of contentious debate, the Palo Alto council passes new historic-preservation ordinance; but a referendum quickly qualifies for the March 2000 ballot.
• Cable Co-op board approves sale of system to AT&T for $70 million in cash and $20 million in other considerations.
• Merged operations of Stanford and University of California, San Francisco hospitals lose $66 million in one year, prompting calls to end the merger.

• Stanford general use permit, with 2 million square feet of new academic buildings, approved by Santa Clara County after hard fight over the Stanford's foothills lands.
• Former Palo Alto mayors Joe Simitian and Liz Kniss  move up, respectively, to the state Assembly and Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
• The Weekly gets a third “sister paper” with the launch by Embarcadero Publishing Co. of the Pleasanton Weekly.
• Palo Alto voters reject fee increase for storm-drain replacement and renovation -- no sunset clause or cap for proposal to double fee to $9 per month.
• Palo Alto music teacher Kristine Fitzhugh is found dead in her Escobita Avenue home.

• Dot-com economy implodes -- Silicon Valley loses 200,000 jobs in what is called the worst regional economic downtown in the United States since the Great Depression; local governments and school districts feel the pain, but rental-housing market is a bright spot (for renters) as apartment vacancies abound for first time in 20-plus years.
• Former Chief Planning Officer Nancy Lytle elected to Palo Alto City Council in 2000, launches stealth bid to take over council majority.
Kenneth Fitzhugh is convicted of second-degree murder for killing his wife, Kristine Fitzhugh, whose body was discovered in their Escobita Avenue home in May of 2000.

• Palo Alto voters reject $49.1 million “library bond”to build new Mitchell Park Library and renovate Children's Library.

• IKEA is built and opens in East Palo Alto, virtually completing Ravenswood Shopping Center, –touted as the economic engine of the city's future. Widely predicted massive traffic jams fail to materialize.
• Weekly settles 2002 lawsuit against Palo Alto over secret council-to-staff e-mails and answers back to council members settlement creates statewide precedent for open electronic communications.
• Palo Alto Online launches Master Community Calendar to make it easier for the community and organizations to plan ahead.
• Former Judge LaDoris Cordell elected to the City Council via unconventional campaign, using hand-drawn lawn signs and refusing to accept donations. Nancy Lytle loses re-election bid, retires from local politics.
• Land-use projects hit rough going in Palo Alto: City halts projects for nine-month Charleston Corridor study and road redesign; Hyatt Hotels pulls the plug on the city's venerable but aging Hyatt Rickey's, “Palo Alto process” gets blamed, some say unfairly -- for project delays.
• East Palo Alto celebrates its 20th anniversary of incorporation, maturing but still facing economic challenges because of a down economy and with a growing concern about increasing crime.
• “800 High St.,”large housing project in downtown Palo Alto, narrowly approved by voters after a hard-fought, expensive campaign over growth and size.
• Jewish Community Center (JCC) plans for major new “Center for Jewish Life” unveiled for former Ford Aerospace/Sun Microsystems site in southeast corner of Palo Alto, coupled with a Bridge Housing proposal for below-market housing.

• Palo Alto opens two new downtown parking garages, but has trouble filling them due largely to a commercial vacancy rate exceeding 25 percent in the area.

• Weekly gets a fourth “sister paper,” the Pacific Sun in Marin County, coincidental to celebrating its 25th anniversary of the Weekly and its 10th year of publishing its content online
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25th Anniversary • 1979-2004




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