Long-delayed Professorville home gets go-ahead | October 29, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - October 29, 2010

Long-delayed Professorville home gets go-ahead

Non-historic home in historic district to be demolished, replaced

by Gennady Sheyner

After three years of studies, public hearings and bureaucratic wrangling, a family's proposal to demolish and replace a building in Palo Alto's historic Professorville neighborhood finally received the green light Oct. 25.

The City Council decided Monday to support a proposed demolition and replacement of a one-story building at 405 Lincoln Ave. despite arguments from the city's Historic Resources Board that the project would run counter to the neighborhood's historic status. The board recommended that project applicant, Allen Akin, refurbish the existing building rather than replace it.

The board agreed with the applicants' environmental analysis, which showed that the one-story building at 405 Lincoln is not a historically significant structure. But despite the finding, the board recommended that the building be retained.

"We felt that this building, while not significant enough to become a Category 1, was certainly significant to the greater Professorville district," Bower said. "For that reason, the board felt that the retention and expansion option is the most environmentally sensitive option."

The applicants, Allen Akin and Michelle Arden, have been trying to get the building demolished and replaced with a two-story building since June 2007. On Monday, Akin and several of his neighbors complained to the council about the obstacle course he's had to navigate through. The planning process required the applicants to complete a comprehensive Environmental Impact Report to investigate the project's effect on the neighborhood and modify plans numerous times.

"This has been a long, difficult three years for us but we've done what was asked," project applicant Allen Akin told the council Monday night. "We learned the rules, we followed them, we met all the requirements."

Akin told the Weekly earlier that they had spent more than $500,000 on the required studies and permit fees.

The council agreed that the process has gone too long and voted 8-1, with Councilwoman Karen Holman dissenting, to approve the environmental review for the project and support the applicant's original proposal.

Mayor Pat Burt said the city regrets that the process has taken this long.

Vice Mayor Sid Espinosa agreed and urged his colleagues to move the project along.

"It's embarrassing, absurd and I'm sure absolutely frustrating for the applicant," Espinosa said.

Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be e-mailed at gsheyner@paweekly.com.

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