Shop Talk: New hotel and more

Hotel parking problems, new Town & Country tenants, Grocery Outlet coming soon

PARKING CONCERNS AS NEW HOTEL OPENS DOWNTOWN ... As workers put the finishing touches on the highly anticipated Epiphany Hotel, scheduled to open next month in the transformed site of the iconic Casa Olga, 180 Hamilton Ave., at least one Palo Alto developer is concerned about the apparent lack of parking spaces. The eight-story, 86-room luxury hotel does not have a parking lot or garage for its guests. "I don't know how they're going to do it. How do you run a hotel without parking spaces? Parking is gold," said local developer Chop Keenan, who owns hotels in Half Moon Bay and Hermosa Beach. The Epiphany will offer valet parking to its guests, according to the hotel website, but it has one nearby business owner wondering if an already over-parked downtown could get worse. "We're excited about the Epiphany opening around the corner. It looks like a beautiful hotel and it will be great to have more people staying downtown overnight, but our customers already complain about parking here," said one merchant who runs a small business on Ramona Street. Asking that her name not be used in this story, she worries about hotel guests who opt out of valet parking and prefer to find street parking on their own. "I hope it doesn't impact Ramona (Street)," she said.

Business owners are concerned that the Epiphany Hotel, set to open in March, could cause more parking problems downtown. Courtesy of Glodow Nead.

An upscale, sustainable furniture store is about to take root in Palo Alto. Moving into the former Day One space in Town & Country Village, Cisco Home will feature a wide array of handcrafted home furnishings. All of Cisco's furniture is made by local craftspeople at its Los Angeles headquarters. The Palo Alto store is the company's sixth location and the second Cisco in the Bay Area -- the first is in San Francisco's Hayes Valley. Cisco spokesperson Natalie Pinedo is anticipating the Town & Country store will be open in the next few weeks. "Our Palo Alto store is the first one in a shopping center. We're very excited about this one. All of our other stores are stand-alones," she said. Pinedo, who is the daughter of Cisco Pinedo, the founder of Cisco Home, said the company wants to have a greater presence in northern California. "We're looking forward to becoming part of the Palo Alto community," she said. With a sharp eye toward the environment, an unusual part of Cisco Home is the "Inside Green" collection, says Pinedo, which uses building materials that are made from organic and sustainable sources. Another "made-in-America" store recently opened in Town & Country Village. Malia Mills is a New York-based boutique that specializes in bra-sized swimwear. "Instead of looking for a small, medium or large, you buy by your bra-size. It's a much better fit," said Malia Mills manager Olivia Moray. The swimsuits are on the pricey side; they start at about $375. Acknowledging the price tag, Moray said, "Yes, it's expensive, but it's an investment, and the swimsuits will pay off year after year."


After Grocery Outlet obtained final approval in December from the City of Palo Alto regarding its 26-foot-tall sign at Alma Village, it is now full-speed-ahead for the discount grocer to move into the space that formerly housed the short-lived Miki's Farm Fresh Market. Grocery Outlet is scheduled to open in April.

Heard a rumor about your favorite store or business moving out, or in, down the block or across town? Daryl Savage will check it out. Email


Posted by Midtown, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 16, 2014 at 7:09 pm

So how did they get away with NO PARKING spaces? They slid that one under the radar. There is another 50 cars parked in the residential areas by the valets. Pretty slick way to get the community to pay for their parking. Next the City Council will ask the good tax payers to fork up for a new parking garage.

Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 16, 2014 at 7:33 pm

Where are the parking spaces provided by the Cardinal Hotel? The hotel slid nothing under the radar. Aren't you going to bring up "greedy developers", midtown??????

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 16, 2014 at 10:36 pm

The Epiphany is a former residential hotel, not a new building. The building never had parking to begin with...built in 1975.

Posted by Worse than greedy, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 16, 2014 at 11:15 pm

Casa Olga wasn't an eight-story, 86-room building with a restaurant.
ok Rupert, I'll respond to your taunt. Yes, Greedy Developers. There are many other words to accurately describe these architects/developers much worse than greedy but the newspaper won't print them. NO PARKING and the city approved it.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 17, 2014 at 6:00 am

It never *had* parking. The building was already a hotel and it had retail on the first floor.

Yes it is going to be a parking PITA, but I don't think you can equate this to the new under-parked developments in town.

Posted by Neal, a resident of Community Center
on Feb 17, 2014 at 7:41 am

Casa Olga was hardly iconic.

A $375 swimsuit is not an investment unless it pays yearly interest and dividends.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2014 at 11:02 am

$375 swimsuits - only if you never get them wet.

What happens if the suit doesn't change its shape but your body does?

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2014 at 12:52 pm

If the City responded to issues affecting the quality of life then the
"grandfathered" uses loophole which allows underparking would have been
eliminated as the parking problem grew. Instead projects like 611 Cowper
now under construction benefit from the loophole. Is the Epiphany using
the "grandfathered" uses loophole to avoid providing any parking? We have
a change of ownership, a change of use, but the same footprint, so the
lack of parking is grandfathered in? If that is what happened then the
ordinance should have been changed as the parking problem spread.It's just another loophole built into the City code.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 17, 2014 at 7:20 pm

It looks like the Epiphany is paying in-lieu parking fees only for
the existing 5 parking spaces it is eliminating which are at grade.
No other in-lieu fees under the "grandfathered" provisions.

Posted by Midtown, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 17, 2014 at 9:10 pm

And we wonder why we have a parking problem. Look no further than ourselves who let them get away with it.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 17, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

No parking at a new hotel? $375 bathing suits described as "investments." This is like reading The Onion!

Posted by Rainer, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 17, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Rainer is a registered user.

@Crescent Park Dad:

You rote:
Yes it is going to be a parking PITA, but I don't think you can equate this to the new under-parked developments in town.

Yes I can. It got a new building permit. From a citizen point of view, the Council and Planning Whatsoever is guilty of criminal negligence.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 5:45 am

Looking into the matter of parking assessments further it appears that there
was an agreement in May,2012 whereby the assessment district "would no
longer be required to reimburse the property owner (Casa Olga)for any
portion of future assessments", which had been the arrangement.Under this
agreement Joie de Vivre, the hotel which has a long-term lease with Casa Olga, would be assessed for 195 spaces. Anybody out there who can verify that this is the current status of parking assessments please do so.
Of course the assessments in themselves do not translate into parking spaces
in the immediate time-frame.

Posted by Ingenorg eejit, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2014 at 7:12 am

"Yes I can. It got a new building permit. From a citizen point of view, the Council and Planning Whatsoever is guilty of criminal negligence."

Criminal negligence????? Have you filed a complaint with the police? I doubt t. No crime committed. Just more hysteria.

Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 18, 2014 at 9:17 am

The Epiphany was exempted from onsite parking because it is in Palo Alto's "transit-oriented" zone. Guests and staff will stroll between it and the transit center. No parking needed.

Posted by Developer angst, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 18, 2014 at 10:21 am

It is hilarious that Chop Keenan, of all people, is complaining about the lack of parking in this project. Really, Mr. Keenan, YOU are concerned about parking problems? Build parking to serve YOUR projects...and then we'll all feel some sympathy for your pain.

Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 18, 2014 at 10:35 am

@ curmudgeon - love that! A hotel in a "transit zone" - one that does not have any direct public transportation from any airport - does not need parking? Too funny!

Posted by EnormousSign, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2014 at 11:36 am

A petition just launched to ask Grocery Outlet to put up a smaller sign or a cloth banner instead of an illuminated sign. While out city council approved one of the largest and highest signs in all of Palo Alto, we are asking Grocery Outlet to be a good neighbor.

Please add your name to the petition here
Web Link

Posted by Ingeborg eejit, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2014 at 11:43 am

I see nothing wrong with the sign, as is, and will not sign the petition. Plus the people behind this petition are known for their,outrageous accusations during the measure D campaign. No thanks. Good luck to grocery outlet-- we need a low cost choice in our city-- shopping is pathetic enough in palo,alto.

Posted by ChrisC, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 18, 2014 at 12:51 pm

ChrisC is a registered user.

Hmmmm. Lol about The Onion. Too true. As for whoever said previously a hotel, implying no change in parking, very wrong. I'm not sure how many rooms were low income residences (section 8?) but I think most occupants didn't have cars. I used to see people from there in wheelchairs, or just sitting outside. Yet another snafu from city hall. I don't blame the developers. AND, who wants to join a pool betting in which month the swimsuit shop will be out of business? This isn't rodeo drive.

Posted by Nothingtowear, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 18, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Funny about the swimsuits, rather expensive - especially considering that there the beaches are far and the water is too cold to swim in ...

Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 18, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Sometimes these blogs are more entertaining than SNL. In one paragraph we read about the deepening of a self-inflicted wound and in another there's a nonchalant reference to swimsuits that START at $375. And are called an investment. Oh, please. That's got to prick even the most dedicated consumer's conscience - it's ridiculous!

Posted by Cynthia, a resident of Community Center
on Feb 18, 2014 at 11:15 pm


We just remodeled a home and had to go through excrutiating, excessive and expensive code approvals to finally get our city sign off. We had PA inspectors check every element of our new house which, of course, included spaces for 2 cars to park.

NO parking for the 80+ visitors who will be staying at the Epiphany each night? Which City Council team approved this?? I am stunned and so deeply frustrated that we were not only stuck with the high fees, but were stuck following ALL the rules while the city found lookholes for this hotel. UGH!!

I love the Joie the Vivre chain and they are not at all to blame. It is our city officials who let them do this. Shame shame on them!

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 18, 2014 at 11:34 pm

$375 for a swimsuit would not sound so high if the article had also quoted a one-night stay at the Epiphany.

Posted by Ken again, a resident of Professorville
on Feb 19, 2014 at 12:17 am

The Hotel was appealed to council but they could not get three members to vote to even discuss it, so they never did. Staff gave it a negative impact report.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2014 at 7:49 am

How many spaces are being assessed by the downtown parking district
against Joie de Vivre for the Epiphany Hotel? The 5 spaces which were
in a small garage on the ground level which were eliminated in the remodel are being assessed. Is all or a portion of the remaining original
195 space allocation for the building being assessed? Casa Olga had a
reduction of the allocation from 195 to 78 under a prior agreement due to
its use as a convalescent care facility and then single occupancy hotel with
72 rooms. The Ephiphany has 86 rooms and a restaurant. Does anybody out
there know the answer to this? Are they actually paying for 195 spaces in
addition to the 5 spaces eliminated? Of course this doesn't solve the immediate problem but it is important. The parking issue hangs over the
project but give the architect credit for the natural wood vaneer panels
which do frame the building and tie into the redwood mosaic very effectively. The roof extension is visually problematic especially from a

Posted by sunshine, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 19, 2014 at 8:57 am

Parking should be absolutely required for any hotel in this area. Why did the City Planning Department/Architectural Review Board let them get away with this. There should be at least one space per room and some more for visitors, especially if they have a restaurant on site.
Sine the City has foolishly approved this development without necessary parking they should provide a valet lot near 101, and those staying in the hotel should not be allowed to park their own cars. The hotel can provide a shuttle from/to the valet lot. The other alternative would be for the hotel to pay for a permit to park the requisite number of cars on the top (only the top or in the lowest basement--below street level) of one of the parking garages that is currently under used. The hotel should pay the top price for parking permits and would need one for each room.

Posted by Deep Throat, a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2014 at 11:39 am

Here are links to the city staff reports from October 15, 2012, and May 21, 2012, about the Casa Olaga parking agreement with the city that appeared on Consent Calendar:

Agreement with Casa Olga: Web Link

Original staff report: Web Link

City Council minutes (see page 3): Web Link

"Council Member Klein advised he would not be participating in Agenda Item No. 5 because he has previously represented the Casa Olga organization."

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 19, 2014 at 11:44 am

Hmmm is a registered user.

This hotel's lack of parking is yet another reason to avoid downtown Palo Alto.

As for the bathing suit shop - how about organizing a field trip to T&C, getting a bunch of cupcakes and ice cream cones to go, then do a spot of bathing suit shopping?

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2014 at 3:44 pm

@Deep Throat
Thank you for finding the documents relating to in-lieu parking fees for
Epiphany. It looks like the Hotel is paying in-lieu fees for the 5
spaces they eliminated in the remodel and 3 spaces for 800 sq ft of
retail for a total of 8 spaces or about $62000. Maybe I am missing something here- it is confusing.

Posted by Berry, a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 19, 2014 at 3:58 pm

When are we going to overthrow our city council? Who was responsible for this enormous failure to the citizens of Palo Alto? Who I demand!

Posted by what happened to Astor Home?, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 19, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Astor Home disappeared from Town and Country - any idea why?

Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Berry- if you are so outraged, start a campaign to recall the council. We are a civilized city-- we do not overthrow elected officials.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 19, 2014 at 7:55 pm

The owner of Astor (friend/neighbor of ours) decided that the business was not what she wanted to continue doing with her time. Life decision. Rent and/or T&C management had nothing to do with the decision.

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