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Anyone object to a new sign at Miki's Market?

Original post made by Tom DuBois on Nov 20, 2013

I got a notice in the mail that Alma Village and the new grocery moving in want an exception for a permanent lighted sign on the old Miki's market. It will be a sign projecting out from the building, 76 Sq feet(26 ft tall) extending about 10 feet above the roof line.

The ordinance is for a maximum of 3 sq feet, not to exceed 12 feet tall.

Anyone concerned about this?

Comments (24)

Posted by Objection overruled, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Oh, I am sure someone will object-- that is the palo alto way. The sign will be on the wall facing alma, I assume. So who will it bother?
Does not matter someone will object.

Posted by Palo Alto Native, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 20, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Ha, I agree with the first poster that someone always vehemently objects. Palo Altans are too opinionated. And this forum brings out the rants.

That said, it sounds kind of tacky being 26 feet tall. But it depends what the sign looks like. As long as they choose decent colors and not red and blue, it could look okay. Is it supposed to appear classy if it's a discount grocery store? Really, no one has to live across the street and stare at it so it shouldn't matter.

Posted by let them, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Alma is the ugliest street in Palo Alto. Signs cannot make it uglier. If it helps their business, let them go ahead. They were stuck with a really ugly building space and deserve a chance.

Posted by I object, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2013 at 6:54 pm

I object because I am extremely sensitive to LED lights so damn close up.

These lights are meant for highway billboards not to BURN your eyes up close.

People can joke now but wait until they get the burn sometime.

Alma is ugly because of Miki's. It's otherwise tree lined, and with nothing much to bother until now, again.

Posted by I object, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2013 at 6:59 pm


Refer to the price somebody was willing to pay the City for beaming us up on 101.

Ad space is money, but destroying eyesight should be illegal.

People are sneaking up these signs everywhere. Notice the Verizon sign at the corner of Cowper and Hamilton.

I have to close my eyes to make a right turn to Cowper and keep meaning to complain about it. Did they get an exemption, or can anyone put up these in your face billboards?

Posted by Ernest hemingway, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 20, 2013 at 7:17 pm

I object-- do you plan to stand on the sidewalk on alma and stare at the sign? Not sure how you will end up " so close up" to the sign

Posted by Robert, a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2013 at 7:42 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2013 at 9:41 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 21, 2013 at 12:18 am

I really don't think it is very nice for someone to poison the whole discussion by saying that anyone who complains is just a whiner. The whiners built this country, and the desire for something better, fairer, easier, nicer is a positive one. And it's not like the people who say nothing don't whine in private, and the people who want to sign are probably just making a preemptory attack. The subject is out there so people can express themselves, so ... why are these kinds of pointless posts that do not really express anything allowed to remain. If I was editor, I'd delete them.

Anyway, the assumption that any sign would be facing out to Alma might not be true. There are plenty of signs that project out so that drivers from both directions can see them, i.e. look at about any gas station sign ... and this building already projects out into Alma quite enough.

Allow a variance for one business and pretty soon we'll have Las Vegas. So, if you want Las Vegas ... go live there instead of Palo Alto. That building is hard to miss, they don't need a giant sign to get noticed.

Posted by Tom DuBois, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Yes, it'll project over the sidewalk facing Alma(also a violation requiring an exception, but they have no choice since there is no set back). I believe it will be red.

There aren't many other signs on Alma, and none that I can think of that violate the ordinance limit of 3 sq ft. This is 76 sq ft. I'm not crazy about the height and it projecting up above the building itself.

I understand the argument about its an ugly building and any business will need all the help it can get. But I am concerned about the precedence setting - what's the point of ordinances if you can simply ask to ignore them? Make's it easier for the next big sign on Alma. It's also a bit incongruous for the city council to admit is its a horrible building, and then add this to make it worse.

Still most people don't seem to be offended.

Posted by I object, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 21, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Crescent Park Anon,

Thank you for the civility, the snide comments probably support having a neon sign.

That it would matter so much to anyone to defend neon signs is interesting.


You bring up precedence and ignoring an ordinance. I definitely object to both.

The City has the choice to make the sign proliferation a PC process, spot treatments to favor businesses, or to abide by the ordinances that are there for a reason!

Soon enough enough of us will object to the in-your face (eyes) advertising. Just because nobody is posting now doesn't mean we're not all going to protest later.

Posted by Ernest hemingway, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 21, 2013 at 4:53 pm

We'll, if the city wants the grocery store to succeed, they may need some help. In this case a neon sign, which will require an exemption. It does not necessarily set a prescedent. Of course some people want the new grocery to fail-- that way they can continue to complain about Alma Village.
I am curious, I object! don't you think it is dangerous to close your eyes when you drive?

Posted by I object, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2013 at 12:17 am


"don't you think it is dangerous to close your eyes when you drive?"

I have to look away or close my eyes but no, I don't drive for hours with my eyes closed. Yes it's dangerous, as dangerous as strong glare or direct sunlight which can blind momentarily.

So what's in this for you? you get your kicks laughing at me, or you get paid to put up signs, maybe you are the sign salesman.

We know advertising is money. Must pay a lot to put up signs in Palo Alto.

Grocery stores by the way don't survive because of their neon signs, and not sure why any business deserves an exemption. Residents don't get exemptions either.

Posted by Tom DuBois, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 13, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

The Midtown Association did file an appeal. However, this large, illuminated sign is currently slated to be approved without review at next Monday's city council meeting.

Please email the city council to let them know you do NOT approve of this large sign on Alma (there is no other sign anywhere this height or area on Alma, and very few on even El Camino Real). Ask them to remove it from the consent calendar. If you can, come speak at Monday's meeting.

Some relevant facts:

While a cloth banner sign had been previously approved, MCG requested a new exception for two illuminated signs that went before the ARB on October 17th. These signs are substantially different that what been previously approved - constructed out of metal and illuminated. (Web Link).

On Nov. 7, City staff negotiated the request down to one illuminated sign. This sign goes well beyond current zoning. Instead of a maximum of 12 feet high and 3 sq feet in area, the current proposal is a sign 26 feet high and 76 sq feet in area, and extends above the roofline. (Web Link)

The developer has characterized this as a last minute appeal. Notification was mailed to citizens on Nov 18th with a 14 day response period (until Dec. 2). An appeal was prepared as quickly as possible and submitted on Nov. 27th, just before the Thanksgiving holiday by Sheri Furman.

To summarize the view of the mid-town association from Sheri's appeal:

1. We are not objecting to the three other signs that meet the site's master sign project.
2. The blade sign is greatly in excess of municipal code.
3. The ARB findings are not supportable.
4. The sign does not enhance the site.
5. The business can be identified with a smaller sign as are most businesses in Palo Alto are, such as Safeway and Whole Foods.
6. There are no other signs of this size and type anywhere on Alma and few on El Camino.
7. This is a worrisome precedent that the population of Palo Alto does NOT want.
8. The closest Grocery Outlets in neighboring cities do not have this type of signage. The Redwood City store is one of the nicer looking stores and has no blade sign at all.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I don't like it. Why? Because it sets a precedence. If this badly designed building gets away with it, what will stop other buildings wanting one so that they have fair advertising.

1. It will be lit and with all the confusing traffic lights around here we don't need more confusing lights.

2. It is big, just like the ugly banners outside the JCC which are not temporary even if they do occasionally get changed.

3. Who are they trying to attract? Discount grocery stores tend to have their own following who will know where it is. Local residents will know where it is because they live close by. Drivers on Alma are unlikely to be looking for spur of the moment shopping as they tend to be regulars on this street who would know it was there anyway.

Posted by Bob Moss, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 13, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Normally signs that project out over the sidewalk or above the roof are prohibited. There have been several efforts to have such signs approved for developments along El Camino but almost all have been rejected as not complying with the sign ordinance. Approving the one on Alma will send a bad message and makeit very hard to keep similar signs off El Camino.

The building isbig and right against the street. Nobody will have problems finding the store with signs that actually comply with the sign ordinance.

Posted by Kept it small, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 13, 2013 at 2:06 pm

As long as the sign is relatively small, I.e, under 12 ft high, and does not project out over the sidewalk, I have no problem with it.

Posted by Midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 13, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Tom- I live in midtown and I am on the midtown mailing list. This is the first I hear of an appeal by the midtown association. When was thus decided? We're the residents of midtown polled. Or is this an example of you, Sheri and Annette claiming to speak for all the residents? How do you know that the population of Palo Alto does not want this?
Looks to me like some shenanigans being put forward by self appointed " neighborhood leaders".

Posted by Environmentalist, a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 13, 2013 at 5:47 pm

The City Council should remove this from the Consent Calendar so that they can discuss and vote on it. I am opposed to this sign as it does not comply with the current ordinance. Palo Alto is becoming less attractive every day, due to developers and the city council members who allow them to do whatever they want, whenever they want.

Posted by Wondering, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 13, 2013 at 6:20 pm

The ARB approved 2 illuminated large signs?

Posted by Hecky, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2013 at 7:33 pm

What in the world is the matter with the ARB that they would approve two huge, bright, and obnoxious signs???? What planet are they from?

Posted by seniorl lontime resident, a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 14, 2013 at 11:50 am

I agree with all of the reasons stated by Tom DuBois (above) for not allowing this sign to be put up. It's another blatant example of allowing someone other than the residents of Palo Alto to do what they please. Our voices are not being heard and the city of Palo Alto is suffering the consequences. We have dense ugly, garish structures!

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 14, 2013 at 2:02 pm


Allow a variance for one business and pretty soon we'll have Las Vegas. If you want Las Vegas ... go live there instead of Palo Alto. That building is hard to miss, they don't need a giant sign to get noticed, and residents nearby do not need lots of artificial light shining in their eyes.

Posted by Tom DuBois, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2014 at 11:48 am

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

There's a petition out to ask Grocery Outlet to either build a smaller sign or a use a cloth banner instead of an illuminated sign.

Our city council approved one of the largest and highest signs in the city to go up at Alma Plaza. The petition is asking Grocery Outlet to do the right thing anyway. People are out gathering paper signatures and you can also sign online here

Web Link

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