Downtown, El Camino feel the brunt of Palo Alto's economic pain | September 3, 2021 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - September 3, 2021

Downtown, El Camino feel the brunt of Palo Alto's economic pain

New report shows steep revenue drops over the pandemic in prominent commercial areas

by By Gennady Sheyner

It's no secret that the pandemic has been brutal for Palo Alto businesses, with hotels hollowing out, retailers struggling, commuters staying home and restaurants scrambling to stay alive amid shifting health restrictions.

Like in other cities, the struggles of the business community trickled down to City Hall, which banks on hotel and sales taxes to pay for basic services like firefighters, police and libraries. But because the city has long depended on its huge daytime population of employees to spend money at its businesses, the shift to remote work has had a particularly devastating effect on Palo Alto. A new report indicates that while most cities took a hit over the course of the pandemic, Palo Alto took a severe beating.

According to the analysis from the city's consultant, Avenu Insights & Analytics, the city's sales tax revenues in 2020 declined by 27.3% from the prior year, with losses particularly steep in the downtown area and in commercial corridors along El Camino Real and in Midtown. The drop in Palo Alto far exceeded the declines experienced by other jurisdictions, according to the report. Statewide, receipts dipped by 7.2% between the final quarters of 2019 and 2020. In northern California, the decline was 5.1%, while in southern California it was 8.6%.

The analysis by Avenu showed a drop in every sales tax category, with particularly poor showings among department stores, furniture and appliance businesses and restaurants.

In many cases, the declines in Palo Alto far exceed those in nearby jurisdictions. In the category of "general retail," the city saw a dwindling of 33.5% between the final quarters of 2019 and 2020. Mountain View and Los Altos saw decreases of 11.2% and 16.8%, respectively, over the same period, while Cupertino experienced a drop of 18.5%. Among the surveyed jurisdictions, only Milpitas saw a bigger drop in this category than Palo Alto, with receipts dipping by 35.5% between the fourth quarters of 2019 and 2020.

Palo Alto also had by far the worst showing in the "food products" category, with a drop of 42% in sales tax receipts between the final quarters of 2019 and 2020. Mountain View and Los Altos, by contrast, saw sales taxes diminish by 21% and 28.2% over the same period. None of the jurisdictions surveyed by Avenu showed a steeper decline in the food segment than Palo Alto.

The news, while gloomy, isn't entirely dire. Some segments of the local economy started to rebound in the final three months of 2020, according to the report. The restaurant segment, which traditionally generated about $1.1 million per quarter in sales tax receipts, brought in only about $339,414 in the quarter that spanned between April and June 2020. The number moved up to $543,111 in the third quarter of the year and to $600,427 in the final three months.

Department stores also had a particularly dismal 2020, with the segment generating only $29,823 in sales tax receipts between April, May and June (down from $453,439 in the same period in 2019). Sales have since picked up, however, with sales tax receipts rising to $186,208 in the third quarter of 2020 and to $315,453 in the fourth.

Not every commercial area in Palo Alto faced the same level of decline. Stanford Shopping Center — a regional destination that includes major sales-tax generators such as Tesla, Apple and Herm?s — saw its sales tax receipts drop by 17.7% between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the same period in 2020, going from $1.7 million to $1.4 million. California Avenue also weathered the storm reasonably well, despite a 26% drop in restaurant receipts. Spurred by an increase in receipts from the "general retail" segment, Palo Alto's "second downtown" showed a decline of 19.9% in total receipts, which fell from $123,009 in the fourth quarter of 2019 to $98,543 in the same period of 2020.

In downtown Palo Alto and the commercial areas along El Camino Real and in Midtown, the drop was far more precipitous, with each of these areas seeing a drop of more than 50% in sales taxes generated. Food products, which account for the greatest share of sales tax receipts in the downtown area, fell off by 48.6% between the last quarter of 2019 and the last quarter of 2020. The next two largest categories — general retail and business-to-business — showed declines of 54.8% and 62.2%, respectively. El Camino and Midtown had a combined drop of 47.7% in the "food products category" over the same period.

The Town & Country Village shopping center did marginally better in 2020, with its sales tax receipts falling by 36.4% between the final quarters of 2019 and 2020. Numerous shops and restaurants at the shopping center — including Patrick James and Mayfield Bakery & Café — have recently shuttered, bringing the center's vacancy rate to about 21% as of June, Dean Rubinson, director of development for Ellis Partners, which owns the center, told the council at a recent hearing.

Hotel taxes also have plummeted over the course of the pandemic. With business travel grinding to a halt over the course of the pandemic and Stanford University operating in remote mode, Palo Alto's hotel tax revenues plummeted from $25.6 million in 2019, to $18.6 million in 2020, to a projected level of just $4.8 million in 2021.

The sobering report from Avenu is already shifting some of the conversions at City Hall. On Monday night, council member Greg Tanaka cited its findings in explaining his opposition to increasing the construction contract for the city's new public safety building. Tanaka called the decrease in Palo Alto's sales tax revenues "pretty striking."

"It's something for us to keep in mind, in terms of our budget for our city, and to make sure our resources are very well allocated," Tanaka said.

John Shenk, CEO of Thoits Brothers, a major commercial property owner in downtown Palo Alto, also cited the new report during Monday's discussion of homelessness. He urged the council to fund a police unit to provide outreach services to downtown's homeless population, which he argued is hurting downtown's already struggling business community. Shenk noted that while Stanford Shopping Center has done reasonably well, the "community-serving retail areas have really suffered."

"The retailers who have multiple stores on the Peninsula report that Palo Alto is by far the worst retail environment," Shenk told the council, which subsequently directed staff to come up with an outreach plan for homelessness that involves police officers.

The dismal economic trend has eaten into the city's general fund, which went from $225.8 million in fiscal year 2019 to $209.7 million in fiscal year 2020 and to $188.9 million in fiscal year 2021, which ended on June 30.

While the council has already made some adjustments, including freezing or eliminating more than 70 positions, the city's financial pain was somewhat ameliorated by federal assistance — namely, the roughly $13.5 million that the city was allotted through the American Rescue Plan — and by a withdrawal from the city's budget stabilization reserve.

Some council members, most notably Vice Mayor Pat Burt, have suggested that the best way to fill the budget gap in future years is through a business tax, a funding mechanism that the council had previously considered for major infrastructure priorities such as "grade separation" at rail crossings and construction of affordable housing.

Last month, the council reaffirmed its intent to place a business tax on the 2022 ballot, with most members favoring a tax based on square footage. During the Aug. 16 discussion, Burt suggested that the decision on how to spend the business tax will be "somewhat dependent on the status of economic recovery."

He suggested that a business tax would allow the city to address problems like traffic gridlock, insufficient housing and deterioration of services, thus helping to sustain the city's historically dynamic business climate.

"We've had drastic service cuts to police and fire, code enforcement, libraries, parks and other services — every place across the board — and the community is just starting to understand how deep those cuts are," Burt said. "We don't yet have a projection that allows us to restore ourselves to the services that this community has had for decades and decades."

Email Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner at [email protected]

Comments

Posted by Patrick Donlevy
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 2, 2021 at 9:28 am

Patrick Donlevy is a registered user.

Yes, the pandemic took an economic toll with its various public health restrictions but all things considered...

> "...restaurants scrambling to stay alive amid shifting health restrictions."

^ Like how many restaurants do we really need?

> "major sales-tax generators such as Tesla, Apple and Hermès — saw its sales tax receipts drop by 17.7%..."

^ These are high-ticket/prestige items that do not exactly lend themselves to a constructive personal or family related austerity program. No big loss (except to the retail sellers of such ostentatious goods).

> "...downtown's homeless population...is hurting downtown's already struggling business community."

^ The homeless population has always had a presence in and around retail environments prior to the pandemic so why make them scapegoats for an economic downturn?

> "Some council members, most notably Vice Mayor Pat Burt, have suggested that the best way to fill the budget gap in future years is through a business tax..."

^ By taxing struggling businesses?

The bottom line...the pre-pandemic City of Palo Alto along with various Palo Alto retail outlets and restaurants were living high off the hog until recently.

Times change for a variety of reasons and there will always be an ebb and flow in just about anything.

The primary landlords in downtown Palo Alto and Stanford Shopping Center have been raking in multi-millions of dollars in business leases for decades...so no sympathy for them (aka billionaires).

And for the city to even consider taxing struggling, rent-paying stores and restaurants is a fiscal obscenity.

Survival of the fittest applies and while some retail stores will be missed if they have to close, such is life.

And there are already far too many dining options so a few restaurant closures wouldn't be a bad idea either.

It's called adaptation to the existing and future conditions.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 2, 2021 at 10:42 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Golly gee, do you think maybe the city shouldn't have pushed policies so heavily dependent on the commuters who've outnumbered taxpaying residents 4 to 1 over the last decade?

Maybe we didn't need to push out the 80+ longtime residents at the President Hotel in the hopes of getting lots of hotel taxes from the new upscale hotel operator?

Maybe the city leaders could think about policies for the taxpaying residents instead of commuters and businesses travelers dependent on business cycles AND they could think about cutting city spending on unnecessary consultants. For example, why is the city hiring a CONSULTANT to update and reformat its policy handbook when we've got a huge and expensive Communications staff (more than $1M a year). Can't one of them do that as part of his/her job for which we pay hugely?

Those of us who are still here and who are still dependent on resident-serving businesses would appreciate that.


Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 2, 2021 at 11:09 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

If we tax large businesses — greater than $1b market cap or valuation— we could raise $50m


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 2, 2021 at 11:49 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Re reliance on hotel taxes, just today Bloomberg/Business Week released a survey showing that business travel may be permanently doomed to keep declining.

Web Link

This trend-based planning reminds me of all the claims 5 yrs ago that Uber/Lyft would reduce car traffic as cities rushed to give them all sorts of parking spaces, tax breaks, etc. when in fact it increased car trips dramatically. Even now cities are rushing to let developers cut parking requirements so they can increase density based on that fairy tale that no one will use cars.

You'll recall that Palo Alto "leaders" wanted us to pay the Uber/Lyft expenses for the commuters overrunning us as well as other categories of their commuting expenses.


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2021 at 11:50 am

Bystander is a registered user.

Let's see. During the lockdown, where did people go shop for food or other household necessities. I'm willing to bet we went to Costco, large supermarkets, Target, WalMart, etc. How many of these are in Palo Alto? Answer, zero. How many Palo Altans started getting their necessities from Amazon, and food delivered by UberEats? Did that come from Palo Alto? Maybe, maybe not. During the lockdown, how many of us went shopping at Stanford Shopping Centre? Certainly not for those impulse buys or lunches with friends or coworkers or dinner dates.

How about looking to see what having no affordable retail in Palo Alto has done to our shopping practices during the pandemic? How about looking to see what keeping grocery stores small has done to our shopping practices during the pandemic?

Perhaps now it can be seen that Palo Alto is reaping what it had been sowing with all its limiting of big box stores.


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2021 at 12:15 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

COVID is the sneaker wave that’s washed away the thin layer of shiny veneer Palo Alto’s been hiding behind for decades. The Great recession had a decades of impacts on this town. Unlucky prop-13 is a slow moving tsunami economically gutting our city and thus it’s ability to thrive today. Overlay Palo Alto onto City of Oroville and there is not much difference cept the number of teeth in a residents mouth.


Posted by Frank Winslow
a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2021 at 1:31 pm

Frank Winslow is a registered user.

• "Hotel taxes also have plummeted over the course of the pandemic. With business travel grinding to a halt over the course of the pandemic and Stanford University operating in remote mode, Palo Alto's hotel tax revenues plummeted from $25.6 million in 2019, to $18.6 million in 2020, to just $4.8 million in 2021."

^ I don't have a problem with that. Pre-pandemic 2018-19 ECR motel rates in Palo Alto during the midweek used to run anywhere from $175.00-$250.00 per night and now they can barely fetch $80.00 for the same room.

Chalk it up to supply and demand (as in plenty of supply and minimal demand). And it serves the motel proprietors right for having milked out of town visitors and business travelers prior to the pandemic.

Every dog has its day and right now a motel room in PA is going for about the same as a Motel 6 in Sunnyvale alongside 101.

• "Why we need a UBI in Palo Alto just like West Hollywood."

^ A regular $1000.00 monthly stimulus payment just for being a gay senior? Combined with an average monthly Social Security check, that comes to about $2500.00 a month.

Why shouldn't straight seniors in West Hollywood (or elsewhere) be entitled to the same bonus?

This sounds like preferential discrimination but it does cover a lot of pedicures.


Posted by The Honeymooners
a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2021 at 2:14 pm

The Honeymooners is a registered user.

>> it serves the motel proprietors right for having milked out of town visitors and business travelers prior to the pandemic.

I had the misfortune of once honeymooning in Palo Alto and we stayed at one of those nondescript one-star motels along El Camino Real.

It was the one that had below street parking and a faux Disneyland castle appearance.

During our stay, we dined at a Mexican restaurant called Compadres and then wandered across the boulevard where we encountered a raucous trailer park that generated some serious apprehension on our part from the standpoint of personal safety.

I will never forget this experience and have since divorced the individual who concocted such a hare-brained romantic getaway.

Downtown Palo Alto is OK but the rest of the city (especially the utterly mundane ECR Barron Park area) leaves something to be desired.

Melanie Palmer/Pacific Palisades, CA


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2021 at 2:40 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Consultants is a way for City of PA to vertically insert a third , fourth of fifth party into a two party capitalistic system without voting rights given to residents a say. Trump did it, why not Palo Alto?! Egregious.


Posted by Demetrius Lange
a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2021 at 3:22 pm

Demetrius Lange is a registered user.

If Palo Alto were to host a DLPA gathering, the hotels/motels + the downtown businesses and restaurants would thrive...a celebration of Palo Alto's
ongoing commitment to diversity!

Web Link


Posted by dollarbin
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 2, 2021 at 4:56 pm

dollarbin is a registered user.

I'm going to miss Barbecues Galore.


Posted by [email protected]
a resident of Palo Alto Hills

on Sep 3, 2021 at 4:55 am

[email protected] is a registered user.

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.


Posted by Lillian Davis
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 3, 2021 at 6:28 am

Lillian Davis is a registered user.

> "Palo Alto is reaping what it had been sowing with all its limiting of big box stores."

Los Altos doesn't have any 'big box' stores and neither does Menlo Park.

And homes cost about the same in all three communities.

Blame PACC-approved expenditures, upper management salaries and benefit packages, and a reliance on consultant services.

Big box store tax revenue cannot solely subsidize city expenditures in a city like Palo Alto.


Posted by Eric Fleming
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 3, 2021 at 7:45 am

Eric Fleming is a registered user.

>> "(...the utterly mundane ECR Barron Park area) leaves something to be desired."

True to a certain extent but once you get past the tacky ECR/Barron Park corridor, the residential area is quite nice (with the possible exception of the trailer park).

Like Cupertino, Barron Park was once an unincorporated area.

As a result, there is no traditional main street or town vibe...just strip malls and small businesses including those horrid motels.


Posted by Pia Malstrom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 3, 2021 at 8:36 am

Pia Malstrom is a registered user.

El Camino Real in Barron Park could really use some sprucing up.

Being an easily accessible Palo Alto boulevard, establishing high-rise housing and some decent shopping malls would serve a far better purpose than having all of those crappy motels and insignificant stores lining the pathway.

This endeavor would also generate more tax revenue which is the topic here.


Posted by Melba Cotton
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 3, 2021 at 9:24 am

Melba Cotton is a registered user.

>> If Palo Alto were to host a DLPA gathering,

I don't think an LGBTQIA street festival would be good for Palo Alto regardless of how much revenue it generates.

It's probably OK for pre-teen attendees and older but I wouldn't want my younger children (aged 5-7) exposed to such frivolity.

Too much explaining required.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 3, 2021 at 10:54 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Gays aside, it's still worth noting that Palo Alto's over-reliance on offices and business travel have given us a much bugger economic shortfall than surrounding communities.

We can "thank" past previous city councils and past and present city "leaders" for our sorry state of affair and the games they played to evade the citizen-sponsored successful ballot initiative to cap office growth. They never met an office development project they didn't support.

Unbelievably, current "leaders" and "planners" continue to shove yet more offices into every new "multi-use" development rather than putting the much-needed housing there -- rather than next door in our neighborhoods.


Posted by Marci Jenkins
a resident of Southgate
on Sep 3, 2021 at 11:36 am

Marci Jenkins is a registered user.

The summer street fairs that take place along the main streets of Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Los Altos, and Mountain View are bad enough in terms of parking gridlock and foot traffic.

Imagine a raucous street fair focused on LGBTQIA lifestyles and recreation.

Would this reflect the actual interests and advocacies of most midpeninsula residents?

Highly unlikely and perhaps best reserved for places like the Castro District (SF) and West Hollywood where like attracts like.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 3, 2021 at 12:06 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Marci, your bias and deflection are showing. Street fairs and even Kings Mountain Art Fair have gone virtual or been scaled back due to Covid concerns which have been prolonged because "some" people stubbornly and selfishly refuse to get vaccinated and/or wear masks.

"Imagine a raucous street fair focused on LGBTQIA lifestyles and recreation...best confined to Castro St etc."

And everyone -- not just gays! -- happily singing YNCA and other raucously fun songs at a time when fun is desperately needed in these tough and strange times.

Now, back to the reasons for Palo Alto's economic woes!



Posted by Phil Beckham
a resident of Portola Valley
on Sep 3, 2021 at 12:53 pm

Phil Beckham is a registered user.

- Now, back to the reasons for Palo Alto's economic woes!

Agreed...if you've been to one tacky street fair, a Concourse de Elegance (car show), Obon Festival, Chinese New Year's Parade or a 'fun' and raucous DLPA gathering, chances are you've been to them all.

The only exception might be a Dead show which are no longer taking place.

As far as any economic woes, we will just have to ride out the storm while enduring the Covid pandemic, news from the Middle East, and American politics.

No one said it would be easy and so as Alfred E. Neuman from Mad Magazine used to say, "What, me worry?"

Life is too short to get stressed over things you cannot control.


Posted by Jody Metzger
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2021 at 7:57 am

Jody Metzger is a registered user.

- "Imagine a raucous street fair focused on LGBTQIA lifestyles and recreation."

This will never occur in Palo Alto regardless of its revenue generating potential.

Too divisive and outrageous.

The City of Palo Alto will simply need to implement austerity measures until things pick-up and everyday life returns to normal.


Posted by Clyde S.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2021 at 10:04 am

Clyde S. is a registered user.

Gay festivals aside, Palo Alto is known for its acceptance of all peoples and as a gay man I enjoy going to Old Pros in downtown Palo Alto where males of my calling can intermingle and enjoy watching live sports on TV over a beer.

When I attended Stanford, the LGBT student community would often schedule a gay night out at the now defunct Antonio's Nut House.

Opening a gay nightclub in Palo Alto would most certainly add to the city's tax coffers while providing yet another gathering place for the LGBT community to socialize.

Taking precautions to prevent the spread of both Covid-19 and HIV would also be paramount as no one wants to get sick these days or pass an illness on to others

There is some talk going around that the
old Nut House building is available for lease and an investment group comprised of former Stanford MBA students are currently exploring the possibility of reopening the venue as a colorful gay bar.

This would be terrific as a highly visible Palo Alto gay community would further enhance the city's reputation as one of diversity and acceptance.


Posted by Janice Campbell
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2021 at 11:33 am

Janice Campbell is a registered user.

I'm OK with a significant and impactful gay community in Palo Alto providing they keep a low profile and are not as flamboyant as the ones depicted in the DPLA pics.

Palo Alto does not need that kind of unwarranted and flagrant attention which is best reserved for places like San Francisco and West Hollywood.


Posted by Paige O'Neill
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 4, 2021 at 4:16 pm

Paige O'Neill is a registered user.

~ "Imagine a raucous street fair focused on LGBTQIA lifestyles and recreation."

Years ago, my husband refused to let me bring our then 5-year old to the Lilith Faire at Shoreline because he felt that a youngster of that age might be confused or traumatized by the sight of countless lesbians and transgenders in attendance.

I complied with my husband's wishes and attended the concert with a few of my former college girlfriends while my husband stayed home with our son.

In retrospect it was probably a good idea that I left our young son at home as there was no reason for him to be unecessarily exposed to alternative lifestyles at such an early age.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 4, 2021 at 5:12 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Similar arguments are made whenever I ask why PA sacrifices the millions of dollars in tax revenues from LEGAL marijuana dispensaries that ONLY serve ADULTS, mostly by delivery, when 77& of us voted to legalize and tax it.

I've long thought a nice tax-generating marijuana lounge where people could listen to music, chat, play scrabble and indulge would be fun and profitable but that too is a pipe dream.

The arguments are always "but the children..." even though they're legally off limits to kids. Obviously we can't have kids traumatized guessing which car might be delivering taxable legal substances; much better to shut down the Children's Library for lack of tax revenue.

Check out the Entertainment section of Best of PA for the last several years. The top-rated "entertainment" is consistently a wi-fi spot!

For anything more fun and/or for adults, we've long had to go elsewhere. And we do. Which just might be why PA's worse off than surrounding communities.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 4, 2021 at 5:40 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

I attribute this bad situation to:
- barricades on University Avenue and California Avenue. These should be removed ASAP!!
- aggressive homeless. Transients coming TO Palo Alto downtown Caltrain station.
Please read the police blotters published in our local newspapers. Fights, drugs, warrants, arrests.
Other Caltrain stations much safer.

Well, Palo Alto politicians and some residents appear to invite outside, sometimes criminal, transients here. I do not feel safe walking to the University Ave. Apple store. Looking for parking blocks away is tiresome.
True, I can return to Stanford Shopping Center Apple Store (makes more sense).

Stanford and their luxury property management group at Stanford Shopping Center are separate, make big coin, though I recommend they step up patrols /enforcement to prevent Oakland “rainbow girl” criminals, or else I will avoid shopping there, too.
Too many incidents are occurring there.

Contrast:
- thriving downtown San Mateo (really nice this past week!) and downtown Los Altos.
Latter no barricades, while I think a side street may have still recently closed in San Mateo, but crucially, NOT 3rd St.
Very much enjoy strolling those downtowns, as well as Mt View Castro St. in past (haven’t been there for a couple months, so unsure on current status as to how they’re doing, though I hope well).

I feel sorry for our retailers and services in Palo Alto.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 4, 2021 at 8:03 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Anonymous is right. Had our highly paid staff started checking out the existing parking garages 8 or 10 years ago, maybe they wouldn't have spent a fortune replacing parking lots with more garages unless they can count them toward our housing allotment.

I remember the time frame because friends who now live in London were visiting. We parked at the High St./Alma garage to walk to Evvia and there were at least 12 people all camped out there, with one woman sitting on a car hood doing manicures. Tons of bedding around. Our friends were shocked and not feeling as homesick as before.

Street-smart people, especially women, know to avoid garages and to opt for safer more visible parking lots. NOT new. NOT rocket science.

It was dangerous then and worse now.


Posted by Justin Morales
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 5, 2021 at 8:34 am

Justin Morales is a registered user.

>> ...a nice tax-generating marijuana lounge where people could listen to music, chat, play scrabble and indulge would be fun and profitable but that too is a pipe dream.

^ A great idea and modeled after the coffeehouses in Amsterdam.

> aggressive homeless. Transients coming TO Palo Alto downtown Caltrain station.
Please read the police blotters published in our local newspapers. Fights, drugs, warrants, arrests.

^ Then the PACC should instruct the PAPD to run these unwelcomed transients out of town or arrest them for vagrancy and illicit drugs.

The SC County Main Jail or Elmwood facility is where most of these people belong if they cannot be law abiding trespassers.

Clean up Palo Alto and business will slowly rejuvenate providing the coronavirus subsides and the homeless transients are totally eradicated.


Posted by Farley Cooper
a resident of Los Altos
on Sep 5, 2021 at 8:51 am

Farley Cooper is a registered user.

Why is it so difficult for Palo Alto to curtail and remedy its homeless problem?

We don't have this issue in Los Altos.


Posted by toransu
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 6, 2021 at 7:39 am

toransu is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Tyler Cannon
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 6, 2021 at 9:14 am

Tyler Cannon is a registered user.

The City of Palo Alto will need to curb its
expenditures and establish a budget based on actual community necessities.

And as far as the LGBTQIA community, I have worked with many members of this demographic subgroup in the SoCal entertainment industry.

The majority of them are very professional and prefer to keep their private lives and lifestyles private.

It is the younger Millennial-aged gay revelers who tend to opt for the more ostentatious and flagrant photo-ops depicted in the DLPA pics.


Posted by Vance Johnson
a resident of another community
on Sep 6, 2021 at 10:28 am

Vance Johnson is a registered user.

A large gathering of LGBTQIA enthusiasts coming to Palo Alto would most definitely stimulate the local economy albeit temporarily. Palo Alto hotels/motels would be booked solid and the restaurants/bars would flourish, not to mention the various merchants both downtown and at Stanford Shopping Center and California Avenue.

It would be like Sturgis, SD except with gay theme festivities.

Money is always green regardless of the individual.

The only community concern/issue should be mandatory vax requirements or pre-negative Covid testing results for all attendees as 500,000+ gay partying enthusiasts descending upon Palo Alto is a lot of people.


Posted by Patti Johnston
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2021 at 11:33 am

Patti Johnston is a registered user.

If the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce and PACC were to promote and endorse an LGBT festival in Palo Alto as a means of generating much-needed tax revenue I would have no problem with this endeavor BUT I would probably avoid the downtown area due to the potential gridlock + I would feel uncomfortable (as a mother of two young children) exposing them at such an early age to such blatant debauchery and revelry as depicted in the DPLA gathering..


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 6, 2021 at 12:06 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

What's DPLA? I looked it up and get Digital Public Library. We must be consuming different media.

Elsewhere it was reported that PA's planning to hire an Economic Advisor for almost $300,000 after conducting a survey of some 65 businesses. That's a HUGE amount of money during a budget crunch and growing unfunded pension liabilities.

Perhaps our existing highly paid employees could take field trips to Redwood City, Menlo Park, Los Altos, etc. and see what they're doing to keep their downtowns lively with regularly scheduled events that people know about and can plan to attend.

A little common sense would also include banning downtown company cafeterias like the former Palantir's that so decimated downtown restaurants while Palantir employees lobbied for yet more breaks like covering THEIR commuting expenses. Common sense would also dictate that the city not waste OUR money hiring a drumming band to clear out restaurant patrons on Cal Ave, especially when the struggling restaurants had already spent their money for musicians who were more dining appropriate!

What's the $300,000, advisor going to do about the landlords that so rarely accommodate longterm tenants? I had my eye appointment with a "medical retailer" who'd hoped to stay at Town & Country in a smaller space but Ellis never returned her call after claiming "medical retailers" were just the type of tenants he wanted and which our "planning staff" were going to let Ellis have even though they'd never bothered to define what "medical retail" meant.

Let's hope the city actually does something construct for resident-serving businesses. For a change and doesn't produce yet another groundbreaking study like the one from the PA Chamber of Commerce that a few years ago that shoppers like to shop where there are a variety of shops.

PS: Shops should not include "fake retail" which the city has long allowed downtown.


Posted by Marion Peters
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 6, 2021 at 12:24 pm

Marion Peters is a registered user.

> What's DPLA?

@Online Name/a resident of
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland

The posters were referring to DTLA.

Web Link


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 6, 2021 at 4:50 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Thanks for the correction / clarification.


Posted by Caryn Jeffries
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 6, 2021 at 5:22 pm

Caryn Jeffries is a registered user.

Though Palo Altans for the most part share and embrace a 'live and let live' perspective, I don't think a DTLA festival would be in the best interests of the community regardless of its revenue generating potential.

Traffic and crowd gridlock, potential altercations, and Covid-Delta pose noteworthy concerns as people would be coming into Palo Alto from all over...some as members of the LGBT community and others as spectators.

500,000 outside attendees converging in a city of 65,000?

And as noted, some PA parents would not want their young children exposed to such a spectacle.

On the other hand, a downtown DTLA festival would be far more entertaining than your average summer street fair.


Posted by Betsy Winters
a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2021 at 7:48 am

Betsy Winters is a registered user.

>> On the other hand, a downtown DTLA festival would be far more entertaining than your average summer street fair.

If you build it, they will come from all over and this endeavor would be good for the local economy as well.


Posted by Tristan Rogers
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 7, 2021 at 11:49 am

Tristan Rogers is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 7, 2021 at 11:56 am

Online Name is a registered user.

*IS* the city even considering a DTLA festival or is this just another attempt to sidetrack a serious discussion of the city's economy and policies?


Posted by Tristan Rogers
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 7, 2021 at 12:03 pm

Tristan Rogers is a registered user.

The city doesn't need to consider or even officially approve a festival of this nature.

Social media can easily promote such a gathering regardless of the PACC or PA residents.

And many business owners would relish such an economic opportunity.

Money is green regardless of whose wallet it comes from.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 7, 2021 at 12:50 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Of course the city needs to approve it like it needs to grant permits for demonstrations and/or festivals in parks or on public streets.

Once again, WHY is the possibility of a DTLA festival dominating this thread? Let's see some background on the possibility that it's being considered or discussed!

Otherwise we can only conclude that it's another "weapon of mass distraction" and/or an attempt to gear up homophobic sentiment at a time when we've seen more than enough hate crimes.


Posted by Muriel Pettibon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 7, 2021 at 12:55 pm

Muriel Pettibon is a registered user.

Chances are any revenue generating gathering or festival would be welcome in Palo Alto regardless of its theme.

How about a Middle Eastern street fair with native foods and music to celebrate and welcome our new Afghani refugees?

Though few Afghanis will be settling in Palo Alto due to the exorbitant costs of residential real estate, Palo Alto could easily celebrate its commitment to diversity by hosting both gatherings.


Posted by Jason Tarrick
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 8, 2021 at 9:13 am

Jason Tarrick is a registered user.

The DTLA participants seem to have an aversion to wearing face masks at such a large public gathering.

One might assume that if an event of this nature were to take place in Palo Alto, the PAPD would be out enforcing public health precautions including the wearing of face masks and full vaccination verifications.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 8, 2021 at 11:25 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Would the PAPD -- with its pathetically low vaccination rate -- be doing the infecting or the protecting?

One more time, some EVIDENCE please that this obsession with a DTLA street fair is more than the usual homophobia. If you can't cite any evidence, than please stop because you're only making yourselves look silly and making us wonder about Stanford's declining admissions criteria.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2021 at 12:07 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>> One more time, some EVIDENCE please that this obsession with a DTLA street fair is more than the usual homophobia.

Not homophobia...a celebration of life itself!


Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 8, 2021 at 12:56 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Outdoor dining experience is short of hideous. Dirty, rickety tents. hot concrete to eat on. In stark contrast, Los Alto commerce embraced the Pandemic, lining outdoor eateries with attractive wine barrels and flowers. City has done zip for its small biz holding on by a thread. Where did 12million dollars get sucked up the City rcvd from Cares Act? Thread the needle.


Posted by larryncelia
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 9, 2021 at 10:36 am

larryncelia is a registered user.

Good timing, next week is national small business week, and this year’s theme is Celebrating Resilience & Renewal. So let’s show support for our favorite Neighborhood small businesses by spending our money there directly!


Posted by Jake Turner
a resident of Los Altos
on Sep 10, 2021 at 8:07 am

Jake Turner is a registered user.

> Dirty, rickety tents. hot concrete to eat on. In stark contrast, Los Alto [sic] commerce embraced the Pandemic, lining outdoor eateries with attractive wine barrels and flowers.

Los Altos is a nicer place to live than Palo Alto and the downtown experience is far less stressful and congested with a more enjoyable outdoor cafe environment.

We also do not have the homeless issue to contend with.

Palo Alto could take some lessons.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 10, 2021 at 10:34 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Los Altos also has much better retail, with lots of interesting independent shops worth browsing including several from Palo Alto including The Nature Gallery, formerly of Town & Country, which moved after getting nowhere with the T&C landlord to whom PA's "planning officials" keep kowtowing until pressured NOT to by concerned residents who want to preserve resident-serving retail.

Therein lies the difference. According to the owner, they're thriving on State Streetbecause of the retail foot traffic and because Los Altos supports her hosting evening Wine & Cheese receptions. Business will pick up even more now that the big new Food Court on State Street has opened nearby after a great pr campaign positioning it as a foodie destination akin to SF's Ferry Building.

By contrast Palo Alto HAD a big food court, Liddicoat's, but in its infinite, er, wisdom decided we needed more offices. As I recall it closed around the time PA employed a Tourism Promotion Manager whose campaigns WE funded for years while our "leaders" kept pushing for more offices.

Absurd. Re PA's "support" for resident services, according to their UPLIFT newsletter, they seem to expect huge thanks for their big library hour "expansion' that gets us a lousy 2 more HOURS a week, er a 4-day week AT Rinconada.


Posted by Los Altan
a resident of Los Altos
on Sep 10, 2021 at 11:05 am

Los Altan is a registered user.

>"In stark contrast, Los Alto commerce embraced the Pandemic, lining outdoor eateries with attractive wine barrels and flowers."

The city of Los Altos had nothing to do with the wine barrels (which were donated via a collaboration between residents and restaurant owners) or with the flowers (which are from the restaurants themselves). In fact, when cities like Mountain View and Palo Alto were making their downtowns more pedestrian friendly by closing down streets, Los Altos City Council did not extend the street closures, resulting in parklets with cars coming within inches of diners.

From a Palo Alto resident's perspective, the grass may be greener in Los Altos, but the reverse could also be true!


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