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As redevelopment looms, one homeowner stands firm

Original post made on Nov 17, 2017

As the city prepares for long-term revitalization of the Ventura area, Olive Avenue residents find themselves in the center of what could be a sweeping redevelopment of the neighborhood.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, November 17, 2017, 6:50 AM

Comments (28)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2017 at 8:05 am

I'm shocked about this happening, but then again I'm not shocked.

How can 2 families start buying up all the properties on one street and then plan to alter the neighborhood? How can there be plans to replace all the single family homes with something else when the homeowners don't want to sell?

I know that neighborhoods evolve and that the houses will one by one change as new owners update but this should be a natural process, not a mandated or forced process.

Moving Frys who appear to have no plans to move sounds wrong. The Olive Garden went the same way, so did the Bowling Alley. Thankfully the owner of the Milk Pail was able to keep his property.

It is a very different scenario if a large parcel becomes available for sale. But forcing small lots to sell is wrong, wrong, wrong.

It is imperative that we all prevent the forced alteration of our town into a large sardine can!

Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 17, 2017 at 9:10 am

This is exactly the kind of displacement of community that we should be avoiding as we move forward as a city.

Shouldn't this be a designated a historic district and protected like some of our Eichler neighborhoods?

I hope Ms.Pittman will receive the help and respect she deserves from this community.
And, that she is able to hold out against those that want to redevelop her own beloved multigenerational home.

No doubt the new market rate housing will be financially out of reach for most....excepting those working in high paying industries such as high tech.

Posted by Citizen PA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2017 at 9:29 am

Well now it makes sense why the City so neglects the sidewalks and roads in that neighborhood.

I think residents are going to have to get proactive or this will not end well for anyone but big developers.

Posted by Citizen PA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2017 at 9:31 am

It's hilarious that they would want something for the "retail" on CAL Ave which has been decimated by company-town takeover ala Univ Ave.

Posted by Just Curious
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 17, 2017 at 9:51 am

What else should we know?

Posted by Vigilante PA
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 17, 2017 at 10:18 am

GREAT work Ms. Kelliher! The kind of journalism PA needs!

Posted by dtnorth
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 17, 2017 at 1:36 pm

I am so glad you didn't sell out, I hope for your sake the surrounding area is still livable after they get done with the whole "revitalization" project

Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Marie is a registered user.

I hope the city requires true benefits for the citizens of Palo Alto when they upzone this zone, enriching the owners immensely. The only benefits that I think count are PERMANENT low income rental housing (at least 50%) and extra parking to make up for the existing parking deficit that is available to the public. At a minimum, there should be one parking place per bedroom - although even that is probably inadequate.

In any case, to establish the true demand for resident parking in the CAL Ave area, I would like to see a survey of both the existing low income housing, next to the train station as well as the market rate condos on the other side of the train station. That would give real world data as to car ownership of people living next to a train station. I doubt there is less than 1 car per bedroom and probably more.

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 17, 2017 at 2:03 pm

Annette is a registered user.

As I read this story I found myself smiling about Ms. Pittman's values. She loves and cherishes her home and all that it stands for. I admire that and hope she continues to stand firm.

Posted by Judith Wasserman
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 17, 2017 at 3:04 pm

Judith Wasserman is a registered user.

You go, girl!

Posted by Resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2017 at 4:29 pm

Boyd Smith was a past recipient of Palo Alto's Tall Tree Awards.

Posted by Just Say No
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 17, 2017 at 5:49 pm

It's outrageous that by buying up lots people would try to change the zoning for their own profit. In today's environment, this would set a terrible precedent, all residential lots would be up for grabs. Palo Alto, don't let this happen!

Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 17, 2017 at 6:50 pm

"This is exactly the kind of displacement of community that we should be avoiding as we move forward as a city." - above

"Urban Renewal = Negro Removal" - ca. 1955

Nothing's changed.

Posted by Roger Overnaur
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 17, 2017 at 10:09 pm

"It is imperative that we all prevent the forced alteration of our town into a large sardine can!"

Then recall Kniss, Scharff, Tanaka, Fine, and Wohbach.

Posted by Palo Alto
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 18, 2017 at 6:45 am

I don't know you, but I am proud of you. If only more people were like you. I too, grew up here. Even though I have
a good job, I will leave soon. Can't afford the housing.......

Some people will say "If you can't afford to live in Palo Alto, leave". So there you go.

Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 18, 2017 at 12:24 pm

Money talks ... people walk. This is what all the talk about "affordable housing" and continued commercial development is about. Much less easy money available if the city has constraints on growth and development. Growth will make things more expensive, not less expensive.

Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 18, 2017 at 12:45 pm

"Growth will make things more expensive, not less expensive."

Hear! Hear!

For decades developers have grossly overpaid for real estate, knowing city hall would cover them--with a generous margin--by granting over-development privileges under the PC spot zoning process. This routine misuse of PC zoning has doubtless caused much of our real estate inflation.

Posted by Smith, Mega developer
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 18, 2017 at 3:23 pm

>According to Santa Clara County records, Boyd C. Smith owns nine of the 18 homes on the street; residents confirmed he is Boyd Smith Sr. of the Ash Street real estate firm WSJ Properties.<

Boyd Smith and his son Lund Smith are well known Billionaire property owners and developers.
A few of the properties they own include
Lytton Gateway, 335-355 Alma St (home of Chamber of Commerce)
395 Olive Ave
WSJ Properties building at 3201 Ash St.(with partners)
3260 Ash St.
Land under Fry's Electronics, Park Blvd.
3130 Alpine Rd. Ste 190
301 Coleridge Ave.
Office bldg on 500 block of Hamilton Ave. Lund Smith

And many more.
As the TV Law and Order attorney said yesterday, "Today's megalomaniac
is tormorrow's philanthropist."

Posted by Chuck
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 18, 2017 at 4:48 pm

Hang tough Lakiba. There are a lot of residents in Palo Alto who agree with you. The City is just not listening.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 18, 2017 at 8:31 pm

Incredible story. Not sure what I can do about it, but I will thoughtfully ponder..

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Nov 18, 2017 at 8:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Lakiba - start a Go Fund Me campaign to protect what is left of your neighborhood. I will certainly contribute.

Posted by Susan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 19, 2017 at 10:31 am

Although Palo Alto may need more affordable housing, there is a limit to what the existing infrastructure can support, and we have already passed that limit in the area surrounding California Avenue. The fact that the Ventura neighborhood is near a trainIt does not mean that residence won’t have cars or use and park them locally. Ms. Pitman should not be displaced: she has every right to remain in her treasure at home. Who among us would like to be kicked out of our homes?!

Posted by College
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 20, 2017 at 12:18 pm

Once I was told how cancer cells grow. These two families grow their property just like that. Please do not underestimate the power of cancer, it kill the whole beings

Posted by Lakiba Pittman
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 20, 2017 at 4:44 pm

Local station KPIX - Ch 5 in the Bay Area came out to interview me today in response to this story - there will be a snippet about the situation with my home being in the midst of a 'revitalization' project in Palo Alto. I am 'standing firm' to keep my home and the great legacy of my parents who saved up for years in order to buy this little cottage. It's also a part of black cultural history in that it was one of the few sections of Palo Alto where Blacks could buy property due to the redlining that was going on. Other Black families lived on my street when I was growing up and many more lived in the larger neighborhood we called So. Palo Alto, running from a couple of blocks north of California Avenue all the way down to Arastradero - now known as the Ventura Area. Just this summer we had our South Palo Alto Reunion where the children and the grandchildren of all of those working class Black folks (and many of our friends of other ethnic groups) returned to the neighborhood to pay respects, check on folks, eat, drink and reminisce. Those who have moved away because of rising prices and the desire to buy a home they could afford have had to leave the area, yet, still feel that South Palo Alto is home. My grandparents came to Palo Alto in the early 1920's. We have generations that have attended schools from kindergarten through high school - and college. There is more to my story, but my story is only one story in the midst of many. The news comes on at 6 pm. Will continue to keep you all posted as I learn anything new, and thank you for all of your well wishes and support.

Posted by Anke
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 20, 2017 at 4:56 pm

Thanks for the update, Lakiba. Rooting for you!!

Posted by Melissa Michelson
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 21, 2017 at 12:15 pm

Thank you, Lakiba, for fighting for this neighborhood. Please us all know how we can help!

Posted by Marie H.
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 21, 2017 at 6:11 pm

Thanks for standing your ground Lakiba. How can we help?

Posted by Gus L.
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 22, 2017 at 10:24 am

You can help by demanding the City put in Single family homes in the Fry's site so it will conform to the area and not be a Three or Four story tall Condo nightmare.
There is No reason to have High Density in that area.

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