Usually it's the residents who sue developers over development projects. But on June 24, Glenbrook Court Limited Liability Company reversed that when it sued 153 homeowners and the city of Palo Alto. Glenbrook Court formed to build 14 homes on a new cul-de-sac at the back of the Hyatt Cabana Hotel property adjacent to the Greenacres I neighborhood. The developer filed the lawsuit to dissolve the Greenacres residents' claim to a 1-foot strip of land where Glenbrook Drive ends at the Hyatt property. The residents came to a tentative settlement with the developer in August. But the city refused to take a necessary part in the settlement. The developer has decided to put the lawsuit on hold until June.
The ball is now in the city's court. Community Skating Inc.--which runs the Winter Lodge--proposed repairing and operating the decrepit tennis courts that remain from the old Chuck Thompson Swim and Tennis Club on Middlefield Avenue. The city's zoning administrator approved the plan, which includes restrooms, a park area and bleachers, on Aug. 15. But three separate groups of residents who live near the facility appealed the decision. The Planning Commission started a public hearing on the matter on Nov. 13 but continued it to Jan. 29.
The Lytton Avenue Traffic Management Plan was not a welcome addition to the neighborhood for many people when it took effect at the end of May. Most of the complaints have concerned a raised median on Chaucer Street at Palo Alto Avenue that prevents several traffic moves, including a left turn from eastbound Palo Alto Avenue into Menlo Park. City studies showed that drivers are making illegal maneuvers to get around the restrictions. The data also show that traffic has decreased on Lytton Avenue and Palo Alto Avenue, as expected, and increased on Chaucer. The city is waiting for responses from residents before making a recommendation to the City Council on Jan. 13 on whether to keep the "street furniture."
After two years of dust, noise and other disturbances, Barron Park residents finally got peace when a $5.5 million flood control project ended in July. The Santa Clara Valley Water District built an underground culvert to take excess water from Matadero and Barron creeks and modified a sedimentation pond behind Gunn High School designed to keep sediment from building up in Barron Creek.
Mickey the donkey, a celebrity around the Barron Park neighborhood, was left in the lurch when his owner, Josina Bol, died in February. But the Barron Park Association came to the rescue, taking over his feeding and care on Nov. 1. Mickey has been a fixture of Bol Park (named for Josina's late husband Cornelius) for 29 years. Residents Edith Smith, who features Mickey in her paintings, and Inge Harding-Barlow are leading the Mickey Committee, which is seeking donations and volunteers.
The hot real estate market and local economy contributed to a small boom in residential development this year. Most of the projects proposed or built are on "infill" sites. Seventeen homes were built on the former Peninsula Times Tribune site in downtown Palo Alto. Menlo Park was the site of the Pacific Hill (26 condominiums) and Pacific Parc (25 townhomes) projects. There have also been proposals for 39 homes on Laurel Street and 30 to 35 homes in Belle Haven.
The Palo Alto Police Department opened its first substation in March. The substation opened at the Ventura Community Center in the Ventura neighborhood, which suffered from gang-like activity in recent years. The police threw open its doors to the community with a festive party March 21 that was well attended by officers, neighborhood representatives and city officials. The substation is open to the public two hours a day from Tuesday through Saturday and is staffed with volunteer help.
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