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Stanford Shopping Center owner threatens lawsuit over gas ban

Original post made on May 10, 2023

The owner of Stanford Shopping Center is threatening to sue Palo Alto after the city had indicated that it will not allow a new building that is set to house a restaurant from world-renowned chef Jose Andres to use natural gas.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 10, 2023, 9:51 AM

Comments (46)

Posted by Barron Parker Too
a resident of Barron Park
on May 10, 2023 at 10:11 am

Barron Parker Too is a registered user.

The City Council would be wise to immediately rescind their foolish restriction on use of natural gas by this restaurant. The 9th Circuit Court has fortunately made this position untenable, so the city would lose in court in any event.

Two other comments. The stupidity of pulling this last minute stunt forbidding use of gas in the restaurant and risking loss of a viable business is mind-boggling. And secondly, natural gas is both clean and energy efficient -- much more efficient than burning gas, oil or coal in a power plant with only about 50% actually being converted into electrical energy, plus loss in the transmission lines. This attempt at appearing "green" is actually bad for the planet.

Posted by Lillian Waters
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 10, 2023 at 10:44 am

Lillian Waters is a registered user.

Professional chefs prefer not to cook with electric ranges because there is less heat control.

Palo Alto is overstepping its boundaries

Posted by BGGUST
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 10, 2023 at 11:07 am

BGGUST is a registered user.

The Palo Alto City Council should definitely change their decision, and allow gas connection to the proposed restaurant. If nothing else , as an exception to their "all electric rule" for new building code.

As a tax payer I don't think Palo Alto should spend one dime on a law suit , especially when the precedent of Berkeley's experience basically confirmed that banning gas stoves is not legal. Waste of money

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 10, 2023 at 11:17 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Bring the forced electrical conversion to a vote.

Posted by Eva_PA
a resident of Ventura
on May 10, 2023 at 11:52 am

Eva_PA is a registered user.

The city approved the installation, allowed installation, and then denied the hookup? SPG is justified in pushing this issue. Even if they are not successful it would seem reasonable that they received payment to cover the costs incurred for the hookup.

Posted by Jim Hols.....
a resident of Community Center
on May 10, 2023 at 12:07 pm

Jim Hols..... is a registered user.

I'm for solar wind and new tech nuclear to replace coal and gas. But prohibiting gas ranges is a politically correct symbolic approach with no meaningful reduction in the planets climate. Wake up Palo alto council and stop catering to the fringe voices.

Posted by MBH
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 10, 2023 at 12:16 pm

MBH is a registered user.

José Andrés is the founder of World Central Kitchen, a non-profit devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters. We, on this planet, are in the midst of a fossil fuel induced natural disaster. With that in mind, I can only imagine that Andrés would wholeheartedly support induction cooking in all his new kitchens around the world.

Posted by Mondoman
a resident of Green Acres
on May 10, 2023 at 12:49 pm

Mondoman is a registered user.

As so often on these virtue-signaling issues, Los Altos has avoided shooting itself in the foot:
" Gas is banned in new commercial buildings except for certain exemptions such as laboratories and commercial kitchens which brought about the most criticism from restaurant owners and builders with potential restaurant tenants. "

Posted by Richard
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 10, 2023 at 12:55 pm

Richard is a registered user.

The law to prohibit natural gas is simply a display of moral posturing that will
have absolutely no effect on the climate. It does however cause unwarranted expenses on homeowners who may need new appliances and will have to add the expense of a remodel to install circuitry. Our grid fails much too often to totally rely on electricity. And oh yes, there’s that 9th circuit court’s ruling. If the council spends one cent on trying to defend its decision while other needs, such as a stronger police force, streets in disrepair and the like go wanting, it is negligent in caring for the needs of the city’s citizens.

Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on May 10, 2023 at 1:49 pm

ALB is a registered user.

Many cultures use gas for cooking including Asian and Spanish cuisines. Gas ranges are necessary for controlling fire which is key in executing wok and Paella dishes. My family in the south of France use gas which is best for crêpes, omelettes and coq au vin to name some examples.

To deny the great José Andrés a restaurant here is a shame. He is genuine. World Central Kitchen started up by this great chef and his wife in feeding people in Haiti after the devasting earthquake in 2010. WCK has fed people in Puertico Rico, Ukraine, Kentucky, Texas and Louisiana.

His attitude fighting for hunger relief is exceptional. His cuisine is outstanding.

Palo Alto needs to stop pushing back on gas stoves. Bienvenida José Andrés!

Posted by anon
a resident of College Terrace
on May 10, 2023 at 3:16 pm

anon is a registered user.

Ridiculous ban for restaurants.
People like to posture that they know induction is as good gas, but they aren’t pro chefs or cook a wide range of international/ethnic dishes that need very high heat that a chef can manipulate quickly.
When I heard Jose Andres was coming here I was very happy. Now I’m just depressed.

Posted by Forever Name
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 10, 2023 at 3:52 pm

Forever Name is a registered user.

Agree with all previous posters who say City PA gas ban is virtue signaling, moral posturing, politically correct Council catering to fringe voices. Leave it to City of PA to pass an illegal ban, an egregious waste of city taxpayer time and money.

City's ban is just more ridiculous unnecessary legislation clogging up time so the Council doesn't have to focus on real and difficult issues that matter and require actual smart analysis, like traffic and infrastructure. City will 100 percent lose in court over this, if it even gets that far, which it won't bc of 1. the stupidity of their last minute bait/switch when permits already given and 2. legal precedent already established by Berkely Judge (thank you for common sense). In fact, I hope City PA gets sued over this so they have to drop the ban like Berkeley: "violates the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act, a 1975 law that regulates energy use." Legally, City PA has zero legs to stand on.

If for some reason this inane ban stands for Stanford Shop Ctr restaurants, or any restaurant or homeowner in PA, there's a perfect solution. Switch to cooking with wood burning fire! That would be a fun statement.

Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 10, 2023 at 4:51 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Not a surprise!

The city loses again! We don't have a good track record. What were those people responsible for making that bad decision thinking? It shows ineptitude and an over exuberant attempt to enforce a rule that will be challenged many times, and not only by restaurants. And if Barron Parker Too's comment regarding the cleanliness and efficiency of burning natural gas is true, then where do the anti-gas advocates go from here? It takes other forms of energy to produce electricity and Palo Alto, even though we get our clean water from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, gets very little, if any, electricity from the hydroelectric generators at O'Shaughnessy dam that holds back the water in the reservoir. The progressives are in a big rush to save the world with rules like this one. I understand their concern and I do believe it is real, but making conversions like this one is not as simple as flipping the on/off switch on your lamps or wall switch for light fixtures of all kinds (ceiling mounted, et al).

People don't like being bludgeoned into thinking like the "save the earth" folks, and agreeing with them on all issues, whose solutions involve lots of rules, restrictions, and those saviors of our planet should just stop doing it. Keep giving the message, but in a more gentle and gradual way. If it makes sense to the masses, then they will get behind it, eventually. If they don't, then they'll be accepting the fact that life on our tiny floating globe in the universe, a planet of the sun, will change and may eventually cease to exist as we know it. We'll turn it back to the hard shelled creatures that 'bug us', and that we try to kill...the cockroaches.

Posted by fred
a resident of University South
on May 10, 2023 at 4:51 pm

fred is a registered user.

Palo Alto should not waste money on defending its ban. The money should be used for housing.

Posted by Crescent Park Rez
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 10, 2023 at 6:26 pm

Crescent Park Rez is a registered user.

If there’s a lawyer out there who works in takings law that could provide an informed opinion here, that would be helpful. But minimally i would think they had an implied contract to install the gas stoves.

BUT the Michelin star rated restaurant the French Laundry uses induction stoves and has for ten? Twelve years? They have extremely accurate and reliable temperature/heat control.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on May 10, 2023 at 6:31 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

Right said, @Fred. Our taxpayer dollars continually stoke the fires of discontent which are sown by the CC who are out of their league. Akin to Red Cross volunteers. Appear any time there's a disaster, especially when they created it.

"This would be an unfortunate loss for the residents of Palo Alto, as well as a compensable loss for which SPG would be forced to seek redress," Shimko wrote."

I would not suffer a loss if a restaurant doesn't open at the mall. But I guess what Shimko is saying is that those who depend on tax revenues would be the losers. And the biggest segment of those are working at the City Manager's office, and everybody else who takes a city paycheck. Seems like they should be able to influence the CC. Is that the tail wagging the dog, or the dogs wagging each other's tails, or how many tails does it take to wag this dog until it's too tired to continue the game?

Posted by Richard
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 10, 2023 at 7:05 pm

Richard is a registered user.

Re crescent park res: yes it is possible to cook well with induction. But to force a business or homeowner to put in induction, with no effect on climate (compare Palo Alto’s carbon footprint to China’s, India’s et al) when a kitchen remodel would be required, is wrong. One may also need to replace all their pans. By the way, TFL’s renovated kitchen cost $10 million. Web Link

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 10, 2023 at 8:12 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

During the big rainey period many cities lost electrical power - Los Altos for one closed down and dark. Many days around the bay with no electricity. But we in Palo Alto had electricity and gas power for heat, hot water, and cooking if that is what is used in the house. We successfully made it through that bizarre period based on what we have now.

What possesses groups to take exisiting, working systems and come up with ideas that are self-defeating in the long run. We cannot produce enough electrical power as a stand alone option. Never ever put us in a corner with no options. A script for disaster.

Posted by sardina1151
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 11, 2023 at 6:31 am

sardina1151 is a registered user.


TFL converted MOST, but not ALL, their ranges to induction six years ago when they reopened after their remodel.

in addition they have a wood burning rotisserie, they've prepared "rack of elk" for me on (hardily carbon friendly)

David Breeden the Chef de Cuisine there will tell you that for most of their dishes induction works great. they still maintain an 8 burner La Cornue gas range in the kitchen. as well as another one in the prep area behind the wine cellar.

I don't know of many pro kitchens that can live without a gas burner or on earth can you make a Paella with induction?

Palo Alto will be legally forced to step down on this, or spend a ton of money and do it later anyway.

Roy Thiele-Sardiña

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 11, 2023 at 6:47 am

Bystander is a registered user.

This is a case of cut off your nose to spite your face.

Palo Alto losing a world class chef and restaurant due to virtue signalling rules will be just the start. An open flame is necessary for so many delicious foods. Imagine only eating fried burgers instead of flame grilled burgers. Steaks, chicken, lamb and seafood taste so different when they have been cooked over a flame rather than an electric bar. As for rotisserie, electric rotisseries cannot do the same job as one with a flame.

Posted by Leland J.
a resident of Professorville
on May 11, 2023 at 7:45 am

Leland J. is a registered user.


This thorny debacle harkens back to that time in spring of 1878, or was it '83? I can never recall due to that terrible bump on my head sustained up in Coloma.

Anyway, I do recall the incident like it was yesterday. My beloved Jane and I were fixing a supper up on the grange. She had the most wonderful possum and elderberry stew simmering over an open fire. Lo and behold, a deputy scoundrel from the local sheriff's outpost rode up on horseback and informed us that open fires were no longer welcome up in these parts!

As he explained it, the smoke and fumes were disruptive to the mating habits of certain squirrels and polecats. This fella demanded that we douse our lovely campfire and eat our possum stew cold! Can you imagine the perfidy?!

I sincerely hope our town learns its lesson from my tale of woe and abolishes this silly, time-wasting, money-spending boondoggle.

A family's got to eat!

Posted by Byron Lange
a resident of Atherton
on May 11, 2023 at 8:17 am

Byron Lange is a registered user.

There should be some sort of middle ground on this issue, in other words certain exceptions for professional dining establishments.

The PACC is being overly arbitrary in the name of ecology and their position doesn't hold water from a realistic standpoint.

Posted by Paly02
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 11, 2023 at 2:46 pm

Paly02 is a registered user.

It's my understanding that the Berkeley case and the Palo Alto case hinge on two different concepts, so it's not clear to me how relevant the Berkeley decision is to the current case.

Posted by OnlineName
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 11, 2023 at 3:37 pm

OnlineName is a registered user.

I read the cases are different because different agencies are involved and may be seen as legally different.

Either way, Palo Alto should reconsider, esp in light of public opinion.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 11, 2023 at 6:20 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

I just spoke with friends who say induction cooktop does NOT work with their country’s cuisine.
I think Palo Alto is wrong; they are dictatorial and overstepping their authority. The city is not reasonable.They’re childish.
Stick to City matters; also engage with County, region, state as appropriate.

I support this restaurant. They are reasonable.

On another angle:
I also oppose the related floated notion (by SF Bay Area politicians/bureaucrats) for “the rich” to pay for “the poor” - (insofar as changing out various gas to electrical appliances in existing SF Bay Area residences). It’s very expensive and difficult to do for middle class Palo Altan homeowners, though we’ll absolutely, undoubtedly be labeled “the rich.” Zuck is rich. Sacramento and regional politicians will claim anyone making $150k/year is “rich” and must pay for others’ conversions.
I am truly worried about these dictatorial politicians/bureaucrats: they likely will force many of us to GET OUT of the region.
Our home has perfectly functioning gas appliances, and YES a good exhaust hood over the excellent gas cooktop. Changing out the various gas fired appliances will/would be a nightmare.

Policies for new construction can be considered and discussed, of course -

Posted by cheese guy
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 11, 2023 at 8:14 pm

cheese guy is a registered user.

The culinary problems of the 1%, that's about all I can say.

Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 12, 2023 at 6:50 am

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

What I find interesting is that ZERO PA citizens are posting here in support of their council’s decision, somewhat like that Homer Simpson GIF of him retreating into a bush.

Posted by marc665
a resident of Midtown
on May 12, 2023 at 9:36 am

marc665 is a registered user.

Let's get the city council to rescind the ban. Support the petition.

Web Link


Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on May 12, 2023 at 11:34 am

Annette is a registered user.

CC, City Attorney, and City Manager: I hope you are noticing the continuity of the above messages. These comments are from residents of a city that consistently demonstrates its commitment to green initiatives. Eat some crow and revisit the language in the virtuous but not-well-thought-out ban.

Posted by Paly02
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 12, 2023 at 11:49 am

Paly02 is a registered user.

I've never thought the Palo Alto Online comment section is representative of Palo Alto. I'm surprised y'all make that assumption.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 12, 2023 at 11:53 am

Online Name is a registered user.

They may be more representative that the city surveys on which budget priorities are based where only 384 people responded, a number that's been dropping every year.

Posted by Paly02
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 12, 2023 at 12:16 pm

Paly02 is a registered user.

... that doesn't even make sense. Let's say there are 28 people commenting on this article and let's also assume they are all Palo Alto residents. 384 is larger than 28, so of course it's more representative.

Posted by maguro_01
a resident of Mountain View
on May 12, 2023 at 7:29 pm

maguro_01 is a registered user.

The most important reason for disallowing gas isn't being discussed. That is, that in the event of a very large earthquake gas service everywhere will turn our towns into San Bruno in its gas fire/explosions.

There seems to have been a injustice here with respect to this upcoming restaurant and it may well get hooked up. But gas service has to end in this area and its particleboard and plywood cities even including buildings with quake auto shutoff valves.

Berkeley was mistaken in its politicized approach to the issue. The Hayward Fault, supposedly the likely source of the next Big One, runs right through Berkeley. Indeed right through the UC stadium if memory serves. In the event, gas service may burn most of Berkeley to the ground.

Electric stoves in some ways must be a technological museum, though consumer ones have adopted a layer of microprocessor-based controllers over the old tech heating elements. There are relatively new power semiconductors being made in increasing quantities for the demands of electric vehicles. Gallium Nitride or Silicon Carbide (GaN, SiC) bring the possibility of affordable, compact, efficient continuous heat control of resistance heating elements or other heat-generating technologies. And apparently the base materials aren't sourced from China.

The fine chef mentioned and his peers should be able to get continuous control, temperature sets and temperature/time profiles, timers, what ever they might wish for. They could easily make up 'recipes', macros of commands, and easily select among pre-made up recipe profiles they frequently use. On stove tops as well as ovens of various sorts. The 'recipes' should be programmed by a chef in cooking terminology only and then run (interprested) correctly on any of the manufacturers line. Or, at some point, maybe made to a standard that could be run on any smart stove. The stove makers could offer example 'recipes' and even make a marketplace in them.

Posted by maguro_01
a resident of Mountain View
on May 12, 2023 at 7:45 pm

maguro_01 is a registered user.

"interpreted", sorry.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 13, 2023 at 10:21 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@marc664, thanks so much for posting the link to the petition to rescind the natural gas ban.

"Let's get the city council to rescind the ban. Support the petition.

Web Link


Some of you may want to share it with your neighborhood groups as well as write to City Council although it seems like the new policies prevent them from easily reading and compiling the letters they're now getting.

Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on May 14, 2023 at 5:50 pm

ndn is a registered user.

Let me just remind everyone that when an earthquake occurs anywhere the bursting of gas lines means that out of control fires will in fact reduce entire neighborhoods to ashes and death. I do have an earthquake shut-off valve (gas remaining in pipes is subject to ignition) but it's my understanding that most don't. It goes a long way to make gas use safer.

I understand Andres,' but some very famous (e.g. Thomas Keller?) chefs do cook with electric.

The newer electric ranges such as the induction ones, like my own Kitchen aid are marvelous and SO easy to clean. I exchanged my Wolf (two ovens) when I remodeled, for an induction one and I don't want to go back to gas.
Surely, as a matter of preference it's also one of experience. I don't want gas anymore independently of climate concerns.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on May 14, 2023 at 9:13 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

Can't wait to see the new Diesel Semi's that are rolling off the Tesla assembly line. The dual laptops seem to be an impediment to vision but what do I know. Apparently any maroon can drive one, as evidenced by the video at the Tesla website: Web Link Drivers will get lonely since the front seat only accommodates one person.

According to Slash Gear website, there is no sleeping compartment: "It does not, however, have any sleeping arrangements for the driver. It's strictly a day cab configuration, meaning it's not suited for trips that take multiple days." Not even enough room or privacy to allow for a truck stop cutie to join a driver for a sweet conversation while getting juiced.

OTR drivers will not be buying these things. Where are they supposed to sleep? Sitting up? Pitch a tent alongside the chargers?

Can anybody tell me...

Tesla claims a Semi can go approximately 300 to 500 miles if going 0 - 60 MPH.

Will this hurt or help the economy or the planet?

Posted by maguro_01
a resident of Mountain View
on May 15, 2023 at 7:28 am

maguro_01 is a registered user.

@MyFeelz - Way off topic. Also futile if you are short....

Posted by maguro_01
a resident of Mountain View
on May 15, 2023 at 7:29 am

maguro_01 is a registered user.

Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on May 15, 2023 at 11:45 am

TimR is a registered user.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that bans like this are illegal (Cal. Rest. Ass’n v. City of Berkeley, April 17, 2023). So why does Palo Alto think it can continue to violate the law?

Posted by Brian Hamachek
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 15, 2023 at 7:38 pm

Brian Hamachek is a registered user.

Banning natural gas was shortsighted and needs to be repealed. Sadly, I don’t see that happening and so now we are all forced to live with the consequences of a poor decision made by a few of us.

Posted by OnlineName
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 15, 2023 at 8:36 pm

OnlineName is a registered user.

I don't see why we should have to live with something that's going to cost all homeowners / landlords lots of money when we continue to experience lots of outages and there's nothing showing PA or the area can handle the increased power demands.

Posted by marc665
a resident of Midtown
on May 16, 2023 at 6:03 pm

marc665 is a registered user.

If you want to convince the City Council to repeal the ban on natural gas, you can express that here Web Link

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 17, 2023 at 10:10 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Reading about this in the papers the gas line was put in legally under the then guidance. I was surprised to see that the shopping center is owned by the Simon Group so shaming SU for what goes on that shopping center is a no go. I think the Simon Group is capable of suing the city if need be - they are a big boy company.

The big boy company should also be responsible for safety and security at that location.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 18, 2023 at 12:15 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

Resident, it is managed by the Simon Group. I’m pretty sure Stanford owns the land and the center.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 18, 2023 at 12:30 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Yes - SU owns the land under every building on their property - including the residential houses. But if Simon owns the buildings on the property then they are responsible for the safety and security, as well as being in compliance with all rules and regulations concerning the tax base.

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