Town Square

City: No more 'island' of homes on commercial block

Original post made on Dec 11, 2012

A string of awkwardly placed homes on a busy stretch of Page Mill Road in Palo Alto could soon make way for a dense new development thanks to a zoning change the City Council approved Monday night, Dec. 10.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 2:33 PM


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Posted by Ducatigirl
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 11, 2012 at 5:54 pm

That area of town will look much better once the zoning is uniform.

However, those houses were there long before the commercial buildings were....what happens to the people living in them and/or owning them now?

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Posted by Paco
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Dec 11, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Sounds like a sellout to local developers. What happens when Councilmember Scharff decides "your" house looks like "an eyesore", or Nancy Shepherd claims your house "looks lonely", or Pat Burt decides your property is an "anachronism". This outright sellout by city council to developer Schawb and architect Northway smells all the way to the bank. How unfortunate that city council has decided that residential properties within city limits are now considered an eyesore and an anachronism that require immediate rezoning and are put on the market to the highest bidding commercial developer. How convenient for a developer to decide that they require your residential property for the fullfillment of their envisioned project and can simply have local government declare your property as lonely looking or an eyesore and turn it over to the highest bidder for financial gain. What a great country! What a pity!

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Normally I would agree with both the above posters. But, have they seen the houses in question? They look deserted and I wonder if they are even habitable. No idea who the owners are, but I doubt if they could rent them out.

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Posted by who owns them
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I'd venture to say that the houses are run down and look like crap and lonely on purpose. The developers must own them.

If I had owned them, before selling out I would have gotten a good lawyer, and not sold for a penny under upside on the entire deal.

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Posted by Laine
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 11, 2012 at 11:16 pm

How about this concept Paco. The owner of the property can sell or develop these parcels however they wish, assuming it's done legally and to code. It's their business and not yours. You wouldn't want someone questioning what you should do with property that you own, and I'm sure they feel the same.

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Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 12, 2012 at 10:47 am

It seems that the rezoning is appropriate, however the change takes residences out of the ABAG count and increases the infrastructure demand caused by the higher density.

The developer is "gifted" or "inured" the greater value while the rest of the community bears the increased infrastructure demands.

The Council awarded a big benefit to the land owner, so where is the public benefit in return? Absent the public benefit, the Council has simply enriched a private party at the cost of the residents.

Any zoning change, no matter how appropriate, should at least share the upside with the public, as we will all have to share in the cost of additional sewage capacity, water capacity, street repair, school expansion, low income housing, etc.

And no one has been held accountable for the historical decisions that have caused the current $400 million infrastructure deficit, yet we take actions like this that will further grow that deficit.

Please, open the Council's eyes to the cause and effect. Accountability? Anyone else feel the frustration of seeing a leadership that speaks of delivering a better outcome, but keeps on doing the same old thing.


Tim Gray

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Posted by litebug
a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2012 at 11:12 am

So, what's new? The developers have ruled Palo Alto for decades. It appears the idea is to have the entire town evolve into one huge ugly industrial park/shopping mall/medical center/office tower/high density housing complex. (former resident 1970-2008)

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Posted by Margt
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 12, 2012 at 11:34 am

Not so "conspicuous", but one of the other "commercial" establishments along there is a wonderful veterinarian, Dr Lagerweff and The Animal Doctors. My kitties and I hope they won't get squeezed out with all this development.

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Posted by gina
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 12, 2012 at 12:15 pm

The Animal Doctors and Dr. Lagerweff literally put my cat back together after my brother accidentally ran over her when she was about 6 months old. This was close to 17 years ago. Throwing him under the bus and putting him out of business would serve no purpose after all he has done serving the communities of menlo park and Palo Alto. He already had to move once when the beltramos family kicked Lagerweff out of his place of business on avy avenue in menlo park. now the city of palo alto wants to evict him a second time. When will this stop. Dr. Lagerweff and his staff at the Animal Doctors are the best vets around and in doing so should be left alone.

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Posted by Janet L
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 12, 2012 at 5:21 pm

While I think the rezoning is appropriate, we should all realize that these houses were likely built before Page Mill was widened into expressway. These homeowners had their street, which was probably once a nice place to live, destroyed by fast moving traffic. Is it any wonder that they're now "lonely" and an "eyesore".

We can't turn back the clock on Page Mill, but it's unfair to denigrate these home for being "nondescript" "anachronisms" when they simply had the misfortune of getting in the way of the almighty car.

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Posted by Alison
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 12, 2012 at 5:54 pm

I, too, am a big fan of Dr. Lagerweff and his team. The Animal Doctors is an absolutely outstanding veterinary practice. If the story is accurate, however, it looks like they will be spared a razing. Reportedly 423-451 are the 4 addresses in question, and Animal Doctors is at 461 Page Mill Rd. I sincerely hope they will not be forced to move.

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Posted by Dennis
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 12, 2012 at 9:32 pm

As to who owns the property, I submit this quote from the above article: "The four parcels are expected to ultimately house a mixed-use development designed by architect John Northway, who is working with property owner Norm Schwab on the project."

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Posted by Gary Ruppel
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 12, 2012 at 9:54 pm

One of these houses was owned by the parents one of my Cubberley HS buddies (I graduated in 1959). The home was built before the advent of the Expressway. The parents ran a small business in the back that fixed small motors (lawnmowers, cultivators, etc.). They also would sharpen your saws and such.

These houses, when occupied were typical south PA homes. Certainly, one would have never classified them as "nondescript anachronisms".

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Posted by jardins
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 13, 2012 at 12:49 am

@ Greg Scharff:

Of course these houses look rundown now--their occupants were driven out about three or four months ago, and stuff has been pulled out of the houses into the yards (all behind a cyclone fence).

I always thought how nicely painted and planted these properties were, until the developers came along . . .