Original post made by Daniel Mart, Mountain View, on Jan 1, 2013
I really wish I could have done a lot more for the Palo Alto Bowl; I really wish that more people would have cared enough at the time. If you are not already aware, I founded a campaign to preserve Palo Alto Bowl -- a true, authentic and Americana bowling alley from the early 1950s. An alley that was extremely popular, not only with locals but with people the world over. And one that Palo Alto's government demolished, despite overwhelming public support for the hallowed structure. In fact, the fake "hearing" began with the mayor instructing his council to ignore everything that had and would be said/written in support of Palo Alto Bowl. The council as a whole acted very childishly. Rolling their eyes, and acting as if they did not want to be there. And despite the fact that Palo Alto's ice rink -- two years newer than Palo Alto Bowl -- was dubbed a historic landmark, according to the council, landmark status could not be given to the bowling alley. Despite the owner's willingness to do so. Why? A council member is responsible for the skating rink getting preservation status. He fought for it. "While still on the council!" Talk about conflict of interests. Talk about contradiction. Talk about favoring the rich.
I wonder how much of a payoff they received from Barry Swenson?
With the demolition of Palo Alto Bowl, they have set off a huge bomb in the disabled community; at the time, losing what little respect this council may have had and making us feel utterly useless.
I am disabled. Physically disabled, to be exact. Rachel Maddow said something interesting right before accepting the John Steinbeck Award at San Jose State University. She said that if one is, say, disabled, and if one fights for a particular issue, and if that cause is lost, then "that" one -- that person -- is to blame for the outcome. And this is because he or she is a minority (and the disabled being the most discriminated against group in existence today certainly helps). And this unfortunate fact most certainly has hateful repercussions, for all it does is guarantee hardly any public backlash for developers. In this case, perhaps it is the stereotype that all disabled people are naive, lack intelligence, and do not know what they are doing.
Special education in this state is shameful when compared to the level it once saw. We are getting rid of and hurting people -- teachers, aides, therapists -- who saw the intelligence of all disabled people. Who were willing to see the fight and the hurt in their eyes. Facets which, sadly, most people were unwilling, or not able, to see.
And it is sad when a city has a government that ignores not only the historical status of a popular landmark, but also that landmark's crucial significance to a minority community (in the case of Palo Alto Bowl, since the 1970s). And it is sad when we have a rich developer like Barry Swenson who never seemed to give one damn, and who is able to use his wealth to pursue legal action if he does not get his way. And because of all this, Palo Alto is severely lacking in services for the disabled and the youth.
Despite what others might believe, discrimination remains very much alive.
Why even have a city council if they can just be paid off by the 1% and tell us to -- to be frank -- go to hell? If Palo Alto City Hall truly cares about their city, they are not showing it.
El Camino here is extremely pathetic; it is bombarded with hotels and motels. Most of which have a ton of vacancy. And why is a large hotel -- at the bowling alley site -- being constructed across from another large hotel?
I will tell you the reason why: Barry Swenson is filthy rich. Cities can tax hotels, no matter how much -- or how little -- they are filled.
And we, the people, do not matter.
Fortunately, I have not given up. Fortunately, ADA lawyers do exist.
And "fortunately," we have opened numerous eyes over the past few years.
The new, currently-barren CA Avenue. The demolition of Palo Alto Bowl, a long-time recreational staple for the disabled community. The widely-opposed destruction of Lytton Plaza, robbing the once protest-friendly square of any and all character; what was once a great extension of Stanford University is now a pathetic wasteland; a gigantic waste of money. Crap inherited from the Burt administration, and the mayor before him.
Why doesn't the council actually make a great effort to gather public imput, and to do what the majority of us want? Or that might take too much time... To the council: please, guys. You are here for a reason. You became politicians for a reason. At least, initially. We need leaders who care about people; not so-called politicians who sleep with insanely rich developers and then in turn receive metaphorical kickbacks to destroy Palo Alto.
You have already destroyed so much. No more, guys. Please. Take a stand. Become a government.
As long as I am living on earth, I will never be hesitant to relay anything and everything that you have pulled. To tell stories of how "better" Palo Alto used to be.
BTW, I use a blue walker and wear gold-colored glasses. If you see me around, say hi. I'd love to get to know you.