Around Town | August 31, 2018 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 31, 2018

Around Town

LIVING IT UP ... Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer turned a few heads five years ago, when she bought Palo Alto's oldest funeral home, Roller & Hapgood & Tinney. Now, plans are afoot to convert the building at 980 Middlefield Road into something completely different: a private club that is geared toward female tech workers and that would offer working spaces, networking events, speaker series, conference rooms, a small gym, a gallery, coffee and snacks. Dubbed "The Corner House," the new venue's mission would be to "provide a vibrant, welcoming space for traditional and non-traditional professionals to collaborate, work, learn, find support, build community, and spend time with their families, friends and neighbors." According to the application, there would be about 150 members and guests using the site at any given time, though up to an estimated 400 people would show up for special events. There also would be outdoor events with amplified sound, though the club would be required to cease operations by 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and by 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Indoor events would run until midnight, according to the application. All these activities notwithstanding, the application claims that it would actually be quieter and cause less traffic than the former funeral home. Having "tens to hundreds of mourners gathering en mass is presumed to have been a greater strain on noise and traffic due to a private event than the facilities (sic) newly suggested model and use," the application states. The ambitious proposal, however, faces one formidable obstacle: It is illegal under the zoning code. As such, the property owner (officially listed as 980 Middlefield LLC) will need to convince the City Council to change the "planned community" zone — which was tailor-made for the site to accommodate the mortuary use <0x2024> to allow for the new facility. This might be tough sell at a time when parking shortages and traffic congestion remain issues of intense community concern and when Addison Elementary School, which is located right across the street, is undergoing its own remodeling project. It also doesn't help that the proposed project would reduce on-site parking spaces from 45 to 36. While the applicant states that the facility would "encourage walking, biking, ride-share, carpooling or public transportation" and that off-site lots can be used for large events, city planners noted in the report that even with these measures, "It is not clear that the proposed parking would be sufficient to accommodate the day-to-day use at the site." The City Council plans to consider the preliminary plans and offer early feedback at its Sept. 10 meeting.

SHIFTING THE ADMISSIONS FOCUS ... Year in and year out, Stanford University has publicly announced its steadily decreasing undergraduate admission rates. No longer, the university announced Thursday. The change is "intended as a small step in reducing the outsized emphasis placed on the admission rates at U.S. colleges and universities," a release states. Provost Persis Drell said Stanford doesn't want to be part of the college admissions arms race nor send the message to qualified students that Stanford is "out of reach" for them. "We want students to know that when we encourage them to apply to Stanford, it's not because we wish to be known as a most competitive university with a low admit rate. It is because we want promising students of all backgrounds to seriously consider the educational opportunities and possibilities at Stanford," Drell said. Stanford will still provide application data to the federal government as part of an annual public report.

LOOK FOR THE SIGNS ... Elderly homeowners in Santa Clara County should watch out for mailers from individuals or companies that offer to purchase their homes that aren't on the market, the District Attorney's Office said in a press release this week. The office has received reports from senior citizens receiving the mailers, which could lead them to end up selling the home for much less than they're worth, see it on the market again months later "at a substantially higher price" and put themselves at risk of not finding a new residence. Victims of a real estate scam can find help through the office's real estate fraud unit at


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