Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 24, 2012

News Digest

Social-media exec claims British Bankers Club

Eight months after the party stopped at the landmark British Bankers Club in Menlo Park, signs of revival appeared, thanks to a former social-media executive with ties to Palo Alto.

According to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which yanked the pub's liquor license in January, a new company led by Owen Van Natta has asked to transfer the permit. Agency representatives said the license is pending.

Van Natta, a Palo Alto resident and graduate of Palo Alto High School, worked in key positions at a roster of social-media companies — including as COO of Facebook and CEO of MySpace — before resigning as chief business officer of Zynga last November. He and his wife, Jennifer, applied for the alcohol license as the owners of Evergreen Park Hospitality Group, based in Palo Alto. The company also filed for federal registration of the BBC trademark in March.

The historic brick building at 1090 El Camino Real used to house Menlo Park's administrative and police departments, but in more recent years became known for a crowd whose rowdiness resulted in numerous police visits.

The BBC made headlines in 2010 when a busboy and a cook were arrested for sexually assaulting two women at the club. Police said the men followed the women when they went to an upstairs room in the club to sleep after becoming intoxicated. Both men pleaded guilty to related charges.

Former owners Lance White and Richard Eldridge initially said the BBC had closed for remodeling but eventually posted on its website saying that it would not reopen.

The signs of revival are sparse, however: Phone lines remain disconnected at the club, and calls to the Evergreen Group went unanswered. Menlo Park city staff said no one has yet applied for the new business license required to reopen the BBC.

Van Natta was not available for comment on plans for the club.

INCLUDE Suspect SKETCH

Suspect sought in Crescent Park groping

Palo Alto police are seeking a man who they say groped a woman standing next to her car in the Crescent Park neighborhood Monday afternoon, Aug. 20.

The incident took place at about noon on the 600 block of Fulton Street, according to the police. The victim, a woman in her 20s, had stopped in front of her parked car and was retrieving keys from her purse when a man approached her from behind. He allegedly grabbed her buttocks under her dress and then ran east on Hamilton Avenue. The victim immediately called the police, who responded but were unable to find the attacker.

The suspect was described as an East Indian man between 25 and 35 years of age. He had black hair and was wearing an orange "varsity-style" jacket, blue jeans and shoes similar to Vans, police said.

Police released a sketch of the suspect Tuesday morning.

Police ask anyone with information about this incident to call 650-329-2413. People can also email anonymous tips to paloalto@tipnow.org or send them by text or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

School board: state ballot measures 'critical'

With school districts across California slashing programs and payrolls, four Palo Alto school board members Tuesday, Aug. 21, said they would endorse both school funding measures on California's November ballot.

Though neither measure is perfect, it's important to "stand shoulder to shoulder" with other districts that are "hemorrhaging very badly," board member Dana Tom said at the first Board of Education meeting of the 2012-13 school year.

The two measures are Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's temporary taxes to fund education and local public-safety funding, and Proposition 38, Los Angeles lawyer Molly Munger's proposed tax to fund education and early childhood programs.

"If we get neither measure passed, it's really, really bad," Tom said. "Many districts in our state have used up their arsenal of backstops to scrape by, from not having the required minimum reserve funds to cutting the school year, and further cuts would be devastating to them."

If both measures pass, the state Constitution specifies that the provisions of the measure receiving more "yes" votes prevails.

Failure of Brown's measure would trigger $6 billion in immediate spending cuts, mainly to education.

Palo Alto is shielded from the brunt of those because it relies on the state for only 3 percent of its operating revenue, with 74 percent coming from local property tax. In fact, with a strong local real estate market and increased assessments, the Palo Alto school district may face something of a financial windfall in the coming year.

The school board will formally vote on endorsing the ballot measures Sept. 4.

— Chris Kenrick

Comments

There are no comments yet for this post

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields