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Downtown development sparks architecture debate

Original post made on Sep 5, 2013

With its glassy walls, boxy shape, 50-foot height and preponderance of office space, a four-story building proposed for 240 Hamilton Ave. is perfectly emblematic of downtown Palo Alto's latest development trends. For downtown resident Douglas Smith, that's exactly the problem.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, September 5, 2013, 9:55 AM

Comments (51)

Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 5, 2013 at 10:27 am

Architecturally, the new building looks better than what is there now, which is pretty much a big bland nothing. This definitely isn't another cheesecake.

But, I can't help look at it and wonder where the parking is, and how another large building will affect traffic..


Posted by Stop Maybelling us, a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 5, 2013 at 10:30 am

"City planners, in their analysis, had found the project both compatible with the downtown area and consistent with the Comprehensive Plan"

As far as what the City Planners "found", that goes without saying. It also goes without saying that it isn't.


Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2013 at 10:48 am

It is possible to blend the new and the vintage... San Francisco did it brilliantly around MOMA and the Metro which play so well with the older churches, etc.

Palo Alto is doing a full-on "FAIL" in that respect.

And "better than what's there now" is hardly an endorsement of something we'll have to live with for a very long time. I can see that pitch if it's anything less permanent than a building that costs millions to build.


Posted by M Wolf, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2013 at 10:49 am

Tall glass buildings are deadly to migrating birds.
Web Link


Posted by BirdLover, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 5, 2013 at 11:05 am

The City just voted to ban feeding the feral cats to protect songbirds, meanwhile, they build a glassy wall, 4-story tall building to be kill all the birds. Audubon, since you are all over the place, so why not interfere this time?


Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 5, 2013 at 11:07 am

Will the reflections melt the paint off our cars like the building in England did to that Jaguar?

Of course this monstrosity won't add a single car to our horrible parking problem. Another miracle from our fine city.


Posted by Phyllis/deLemos Properties, a resident of another community
on Sep 5, 2013 at 11:09 am

As an owner of two historic properties in the adjacent block I applaud Mr Smith's aggressive stance in awakening the public to this approaching atrocity. I hope a lot of the public will weigh in. I am doubly troubled as we have spent 3 generations creating and maintaining beautiful buildings in what has become the historic block of Ramona Street and consider this lack of sensitivity by the architectural control board a serious slap in the face. To add insult to injury, as a property owner I will now be tapped (yesterday's news story) to pay into an assessment district for a new parking structure to accommodate the cars created by this and other overly developed and underly attractive structures in the surrounding area.


Posted by Voter who's had enough, a resident of University South
on Sep 5, 2013 at 11:28 am

This council is the least capable of any in the area. I would say they're the worst in the history of Palo Alto but they're probably tied with the Kniss/Klein/Cardell "retroactive pension giveaway" councils of about a decade ago.

Holman's lip service about an angry public is as close to listening as they will get -- there will be no action on behalf of citizens when the opportunity exists to do favors for developers.

Kniss and Klein are career politician retreads. Marc Berman has been a major disappointment. He tries hard (I think he fancies himself a future congressman) but he's clearly overmatched by the job.

I will be voting NO on Measure D, to stop the council's overreach at the Maybell Project.

I will sign and support any referendum petition if neighbors take a similar route with future ill-conceived developer giveaways, and any recall petition should citizens be pushed too far.

I will vote out all incumbent in 2014 and vote for residentialist candidates... preferably private sector types who have a modicum of business sense.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2013 at 11:39 am

This appeal of 240 Hamilton is right on target. The entire review process is broken regarding scale, design, parking requirements. Developers control the process and the City staff, ARB, Council, simply rationalize the final approval as somehow conforming to
City policy, objectives, guidelines in what is a total joke.

This can be seen in project after project starting with The Cheesecake Factory ten years ago on University Ave which the staff also recommended for approval which then sailed right through the ARB and not a peep was heard from the City Council. This unfettered mall design prototype placed on University Ave was followed by 50+ CAKES I believe all in mall settings, nothing even approximating a University Ave.

Overdevelopment and design issues and debasing of historic resources characterize the Gatehouse project on Lytton and the office project at 317 University with the Birge Clarke arches facade. Roxy Rapp's latest building also done by the Hayes Group at Bryant and University is too big, too dark, and together with the Jos Bank Bldg which was on its own an interesting contrast is now a huge uninteresting monolith completely out of scale. The design exception allowing the 12 foot roof extension at the Epiphany is unsettling and grotesque all the way down the Hamilton Ave streetscape past Waverley. The 240 Hamilton project is along this same Hamilton Ave corridor in a very sensitive and high profile location.


Posted by ron, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 5, 2013 at 12:13 pm

On your list of ugly buildings, you left off the JCC at Charleston and San Antonio. The local media was a sleep when that was slipped by the public in 2006, and few people turned out at the council meeting to object. People were shocked at how bad it looked when it finally opened.


Posted by Norman Beamer, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 5, 2013 at 12:31 pm

It would be interesting to speculate on what the above folks would be saying about Birge Clark's designs if they were living back when he was first proposing them. For example, his Post Office design was objected to as "inappropriate for a formal federal building." I'll bet there were other objections along the lines of "incompatible with surrounding buildings" or "false attempt to mimic Spanish Colonial style" and the like. Similarly, the Frank Loyd Wright house at Stanford was considered "a monstrosity" by the entrenched faculty establishment.


Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Well, it's ugly, out of place in its environment, and underparked. Approval was a slam dunk.


Posted by Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think what is being proposed is architecturally better than what is there now. Also Smith's survey is about as unscientific as it could possibly get. What a waste of time. Do we really want bogus survey's produced by non-professionals informing our public discussions?


Posted by Tina Peak, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 5, 2013 at 1:58 pm

This building is another slap in the face to residents of Palo Alto and a give away to the developer. It has no parking, netting the developer millions of dollars, that he doesn't have to spend on building parking spaces, while also driving more cars into surrounding neighborhoods. At 50 feet tall with no set backs, it is difficult to see how this meets the legal floor area ratio for this area. (Unless the city has quietly changed the FAR). It is too tall, too dense, has no parking and is a bland wall of glass. If it were only two stories tall it might be OK. Time to elect new council members who represent the residents needs for sustainability and not growth and replace the entire planning commission and architectural review boards.


Posted by More glass boxes, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm

>Planner Nortz wrote, the project "creates enhanced vehicular and pedestrian entries," "provides varied building mass and height," and "maintains Hamilton Avenue as a pleasing, tree-lined pedestrian environment with complementary outdoor amenities."
Is this a joke?
It would appear that architect Hayes, a favorite with local developers (and with Pat Burt, as Burt declared at a Council meeting a few weeks ago) likes glass buildings, he designs so many of them.


Posted by Concerned Retiree, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Palo Alto used to have charm. Unfortunately, the awkwardly tall buildings which are now dotting or will soon dot our landscape offer neither charm, nor the practicality of parking and breathing/sidewalk setbacks. The architects have simply taken advanced lego blocks and built chock a blocks. I am glad that Douglas Smith is able to call a pig a pig, instead of praising these awful new buildings. Now, about our so-called and overly expensive Public Art ...


Posted by Whose city is it anyway?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Since Palo Altans are more involved in their community than those in most other localities, why can't we the people have a voice in what buildings and developments are built here? We go to council meetings, etc, and even though we form a majority, our needs and objections are overridden!

At least half of us, possibly more, have no representation at all. Council members all live north of Oregon, and some have financial interests in these developments ( such members should be disqualified from being on the council). The majority of the monstrosities are being built SOUTH of Oregon. This is not coincidental!


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 5, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Without exception or substitutions, building codes should mandate adequate parking for all occupants of a building.


Posted by retiree, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 5, 2013 at 4:58 pm

As far as parking, all new construction should be required by code to provide two parking places per resident and at least one parking place for 90% of employees in the building, plus customer parking for retail and commercial businesses. If that requires a one or two story underground parking garage under the proposed buildings, so be it.

Also, the required set backs from the curb need to be increased from the present standard.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2013 at 5:03 pm

I suppose Doug Smith considers Blurred Lines to be the best song of the year, Simon Cowell to be the leading expert on music and Kanye West to be a better artist than Michael Tilson Thomas based on popular acclaim and lifetime box office. 240 Hamilton has a lot of issues, but not being Spanish Revival is not one of them. There are good tile roof buildings and bad ones, just like there are good glass buildings and bad ones. The questions we need to ask are "Does the building meet code without any variances?" "Is it adequately parked for the intended and likely use?" and "Is it a good design (in whatever style)?" Nostalgia is great but you don't get an instant old building if you can't use and get the old materials or follow the old construction practices.


Posted by Brian, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2013 at 11:56 pm

I would have to say the comment above by Anonymous (resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood) perfectly sums up the hypocrisy of Douglas Smith.

It's an extremely flawed concept to equate popular appeal with good taste. We would never stand for that in art, literary or music criticism so why should we accept it in the review of architectural design? The last thing we need is an American Idol style approach to these things. I am pretty sure if the city were to take that approach it would lead to bland, boring "done that, seen that before" developments which can be truly horrific.

There may be plenty of smart people in Palo Alto but understanding good architecture and design is not necessarily one of their top talents! In some respects they may be among the least informed in the bay area on these subjects!


Posted by Brian, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2013 at 12:20 am

I just looked at Douglas Smith's Survey Monkey Survey. It's a 100% worse than I imagined and is pure B.S.! It might as well be a survey to compare apples and oranges. Anyone with any understanding of design and architecture would realize you compare historic and modern buildings by different sets of criteria. You can't say one is better than the other. I saw no point in filling out his survey as it presents false comparisons and forces you to make false choices. In many cases you could like both options equally but there is no way to state that.


Posted by Alan, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 6, 2013 at 12:26 am


Why do all Palo Alto developer present distorted pictures of their projects?

Take a careful look at the sidewalk in the image of this project from Hayes Group Architects.
Notice how big the sidewalk is in front of the building and how much it shrinks in front of the other building as it goes down the street. What is this developer trying to hide?

I think they are hiding the fact the this offsets on this project are too small for the height of the building. We the public and the committee members should be presented with accurate drawings show what the project would ACTUALLY look like. These developers need to stop these distortions!!



Posted by former resident, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 6, 2013 at 10:34 am

Unfortunately the hideously-designed Jewish Community Center set a new, extremely low floor for what's architecturally acceptable within Palo Alto. With that precedent in place, it's harder to argue against projects that are just moderately ugly.


Posted by Jeff, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 6, 2013 at 10:55 am

The new building is going to be 15,000 sf but it has a net increase of 2 parking spaces?

This is from the same guy who said the downtown parking problem was because residents weren't parking their cars in their garages and that downtown would decline?


Posted by Floyd, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2013 at 11:25 am

I rejected the JCC when I downsized partly because of the whole building concept (ugly) and the location (it wouldn't fit anywhere IMHO). And then there's the Cheesecake Factory!
Glass buildings and birds don't mix. I watched this year as they tried to fly through my patio window for a whole week. While some knocked themselves out, all were able to survive and leave.


Posted by bruce, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 6, 2013 at 11:50 am

I think the building looks fine but unless it has enough parking for the tenants and their visitors, it shouldn't be built. Imagine University Ave. at 3pm when all of downtown is redeveloped along with the proposed Arriaga project at the train station. Not a nice picture.


Posted by Douglas Smith, a resident of University South
on Sep 6, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I was prepared for negative reactions when I undertook the survey. I have seen none that carry any real weight. Decide for yourself if the survey is BS: you don't have to vote like I want you to. Follow your intuition. The argument that we have to be taught to appreciate good architecture is a false modernist conceit. Not to say that education is bad -- I continue to read more about architecture myself -- but bad that we should be indoctrinated with a counterintuitive ideology as architecture students are. This has a direct parallel in modern academic music (often called New Music or advanced styles) since the early 20th century. The great majority of the populace doesn't like it, it doesn't speak to them at all. I can analyze and understand that stuff because of my academic training, but I will never like it because it generates the wrong visceral reaction in the audience. Just as modernist buildings tend to do. Atonal and related composers and modernist architects are leaving their roots and taking off in a direction that is theoretical and abstract instead of directed at the soul or heart of the audience. The elitist will argue that he won't pander to the public. Well, I wouldn't pander like I believe pop or rock musicians do, but was Beethoven pandering? There was a crowd 20,000 people at his funeral procession in 1827. Beethoven symphonies and really good architecture whether new or old will always be recognized as superior and will enjoy enduring popularity.
And the argument that we have to judge traditional and modern architecture by different standards is a sly ruse. That means we are supposed to forgive modern styles for not having many of the elements that we have always enjoyed looking at and just focus on the theoretical and proportional beauty. I'm not buying it.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 6, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Anyone surprised that Doug claims that the criticism of his one- sided survey " do not carry any weight"
His survey is biased and is not significant. It is clearly put together by someone who thinks the current " old " architecture in palo alto is historic/ important/ aesthetically pleasing. Doug should pay attention to Norman's comments.

Floyd-- you complain about glass buildings and in the next breath complain about the JCC-- the partnthatnseems to,draw Floyd and everyone's else's ire has no,glass.

I like the JCC and glad it was built. I am especially glad it was built so that it will continue to annoy former resident and the other complainers for decades to come.


Posted by Homes shouldn't be chimneys, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2013 at 3:11 pm

I have two words for these critics of Doug Smith: Alma Paza


Posted by Homes shouldn't be chimneys, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Apparently my mobile device has a sense of humor.

Alma Plaza


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2013 at 3:39 pm


Survey is at Web Link


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2013 at 3:56 pm

> "Glass buildings and birds don't mix. I watched this year as they tried to fly through my patio window for a whole week."

You watched for a week and did nothing? See
Web Link

S.F. considers rules for bird-safe architecture Web Link

For more information on the proposed Standards for Bird-Safe Buildings, go to Web Link. Web Link


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Batter-up. It's an oversized building. Strike one. It's also an ugly
building. Strike two. It's also underparked. Strike three. No, in
Palo Alto it's a home run for the developer. The developers bat
around. It's a rout - the residents get slaughtered, again.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 6, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Resident--
Is the building within the city's height limit?
"ugly" is in the eyes of the beholder . Maybe the downtown parking problem is that all the old " historical" buildings are woefully short of parking. But, wait, if it is " historic" it does not need parking.


Posted by Not again, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Lee Lippert must go.

This clown has championed every single crap building we are stuck with.

JCC
Alma Plaza
Crap Housing Prisons along Alma
The list goes on

Will someone please get him off the ARB! He has all the taste of stale white bread.

Palo Alto deserves BETTER ARCHITECTURE.

Start with dumping Lippert!


Posted by Downtowner, a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 6, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Ignoring aesthetic considerations, this structure causes further damage to downtown Palo Alto by not including adequate parking for those who will use it.

How can anyone with even a partial brain not understand that cramming bigger buildings to occupy/house/entice more people is terrible unless the infrastructure to handle the influx of people, cars, and bikes is enlarged first? Until streets are wide enough to accommodate the anticipated additional vehicular & pedestrian traffic, don't build it. It is becoming increasingly difficult to maneuver around town. Palo Alto's narrow streets weren't laid out for then-nonexistent SUVs & other behemoths of the roads.

So-called transit centered communities never work without multiple public transit systems crisscrossing communities, as in Boston, New York, Chicago, Paris, London, Tokyo. Usually, elevated, underground, surface trolleys & buses move in planned order to distribute residents to their home, business, or recreational destinations.

Reduce density to restore function. It's just a cold cruel fact of life that not everyone who may wish to can work or live in Palo Alto. Building more structures to hold more businesses without adding a great deal of parking is nuts. Maybe the tenants must certify that they & all employees & customers must all arrive on foot or via bicycle? No, then someone will sue for ADA violations.


Posted by Brian, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Downtowner,

Downtown Palo Alto does perfectly fine as a "transit centered community". Once you step off the Caltrain practically all of the downtown is within a 15 minute walk. You don't need to add parking if so many people can easily walk to their jobs from transit. If the downtown area was 10 times larger than it currently is then yes, you may want some additional crisscrossing transit services but that of course could never happen so we don't need to concern ourselves with it.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 6, 2013 at 10:14 pm

But, people on other threads, have stated that the parking garages in downtown are underused. So is the really a parking problem or is traffic/ parking being used as an excuse to attempt to stymie new buildings in downtown?


Posted by Downtowner, a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 6, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Brian, isn't that a bit cavalier? Your answer completely ignores people who cannot get to PA by CalTrain, which goes in a straight line from SF to Gilroy. Please don't pretend that it's of any use at all to people in Los Altos, East Palo Alto, Fremont, Cupertino, Portola Valley and all the other communities it doesn't serve. Getting to a train station from a lot of those places is harder than driving all the way into PA.

Mountain View, with a Light Rail terminus @ the Cal Train station, is the closest place around here which is transit-centered.

You may be lucky enough to live within a 15 minute walk of a train station but most people coming into town aren't, hence the problem.




Posted by Brian, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2013 at 3:34 am

Downtowner,

SamTrans, VTA, Dumbarton Express, and Stanford's free Marguerite shuttles all serve downtown Palo Alto as well. Just like Caltrain they drop you off within a 15 minute walk of practically all of downtown Palo Alto.

Regardless, Caltrain serves plenty more people than those just within walking distance of a station. Many people between San Francisco and San Jose take a bus, ride a bike, or drive to the nearest station using Caltrain as a component in a wider transportation network.

Many people won't find transit useful but neither is it reasonable for them to expect mass transit to act as their personal chauffeur picking them up directly from their house and dropping them off at their work every day. If that's what they demand they should just fork over the money for a taxi. As always some people may have no practical choice other than driving but free parking should not be considered a birthright.

If everyone thinks parking is such a problem why aren't they demanding the city build more parking garages? The developers of the new projects are likely paying into the city's parking assessment district in lieu of providing on site parking. The city could partner with Caltrain and build a new shared Caltrain / City garage south of the station. This would be paid parking at about $5.00 a day or whatever the current Caltrain parking rates are. A new garage at the station would still be within a 15 minute walk of all of downtown which shouldn't be an issue unless you are handicapped, disabled, or elderly. In that case more handicapped parking would be added in more central downtown locations.

The reality is some building sites are just too small to provide on-site parking at either the street level or below grade. If on-site parking were provided for these projects the circulation space required would use up most of the street frontage, not allow ground floor space for retail / restaurant uses and basically kill the sense of street level activity most new projects are trying to foster.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2013 at 7:23 am

Brian has the right idea, but there is no chance at present for the great number of Palo Alto commuters (those coming into town and also those leaving town for work) to use public transit. For those who can, they do. But there are many more for whom it is very onerous as well as those who find it near impossible. It is those that are in the onerous category that we should try and help.

Improving public transit has never been a goal of transit authorities in the Bay Area.

We need one transit guru authority rather than all the individual authorities. Even all the buses serving Palo Alto are not the same authority. We need to start working to make transit more user friendly, from scheduling, ticketing (why should two short trips be two expensive fares and why should 3 stops on Caltrain be two zones and more expensive than 5 stops in one zone, for example), off peak travel discounts, multi journey ticketing (10 journey discount tickets that are not dated), new residents in rentals near transit hubs given free transit for several months as a signon perk, free Caltrain parking after 3.00 pm. and other incentives. On top of that we are not getting new routes even discussed.

Mountain View is looking into some type of Pod Car system from Castro Street to Googleland. We are not anywhere near thinking about some type of high tech people moving system in Palo Alto. Why not?

Even the shuttle serves only half our school kids and school traffic causes lots of traffic problems around town. Why is the shuttle free and why doesn't it serve all kids getting to school?

Why isn't Palo Alto looking at improving public transportation in town and making our neighbors do the same? This region is full of innovative minds but why not in the transportation arena?


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 7, 2013 at 7:24 am

The estimated parking requirements for the new building are 46 for the commercial space, and 4 for the residential based on city guidelines. The city council should give up their reserved parking spaces under city hall if they vote for this project. They should also free up the parking spaces with the electric charging stations, as they are rarely used. They should also require as a condition of their employment that all workers at the city hall and the City Development department (located across the street from City Hall) be required to take public transit, or bike/walk to work.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2013 at 8:02 am

@Brian
You are advocating, arguing for, and trying to justify and rationalize what is irrational - the complete build-out of Downtown Palo Alto. You want more of the same. Besides completely changing the scale and character of the Downtown the infrastructure cannot handle more development. The streets are jammed, the surrounding residential areas are being ruined. Where will new garages go, who will finance them. The entire City is being over-run with traffic and ugly streetscapes. We have no inter-connected regional public transportation system serving Palo Alto. You describe a patchwork of services which is not a viable alternative for most people in terms of practicality and time consumed. Also consider if you are delayed at work, or have a long meeting, and go outside normal commute times, will the public transit option be available? Caltrain is not the Paris Metro. Caltrain was the excuse to build the monstrous Lytton Gateway. You want more of this and some massive garages since parking is better provided separately anyway. Let's treat Palo Alto as a commodity and not a community and keep building.


Posted by s. Coen, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 7, 2013 at 8:52 am

So many of you have already said what I was also thinking. How in the world did we get such a poor group of City Council and inadequate planning department people. Oh, because many of you voted foe the current City Council people. But it isn't all of their faults though, we as local residents must attend these meetings or at least send emails to our council with our concerns about these big buildings that do not fit in. Also we must DEMAND that any buildings like this provide their own " on site" parking garages. If they must, then dig deeper into the ground to have 2 or 3 lower levels to support the people who will drive their cars to work and have a place to park as well as the consumer who will be visiting these businesses. Palo Alto is not capable of supporting all of these cars to park and in no way should residents or businesses be taxed or required to pay any extra money for additional parking structures. This is what some of the council are talking about and that will send current business into another city. If any new buildings are going to be built downtown it must be the sole obligation of the builder to provide the necessary parking either below ground or above ground at their expense. Not the residents or other business or the city.
As for the large glass buildings their are many confirmed reports how this will cause birds to fly into these types of buildings as well as the excessive heat that will radiate off the glass.
Really City Council and Planning Department people? Can't you see how important it is to maintain our heritage building designs and low rises.


Posted by John, a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 7, 2013 at 10:34 am

As one who used to live in Palo Alto and still works there:

A 4 mile commute by bus takes 1 hour--two buses--one bus to get to the 22 or the rapid if I can get the connection.

Driving takes 15 minutes, even with the massive traffic on EC and Page Mill. So much for public transit.

As far as "How in the world did we get such a poor group of City Council and inadequate planning department people." Totally agree, you reelected the same old political retreds, who are now talking about lifting term limits and collecting pensions.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2013 at 10:36 am

@s Coen
Sending emails and appearing at Council meetings makes no difference.
The arrogance of the staff and Council members is not often cited
as a prime factor in what we facing, but it is. They simply do not
listen. Only a mass turnout by residents at a Council meeting will have any impact since they then view it as politically risky. On a
pure substantive basis the staff and Council do not evaluate or
care what residents say. Arrogance stands in the way of listening
and learning. So it's impossible to educate and expand the vision
of the staff and Council. This is the basic framework we are
operating in, in a situation where special interests and personal
agendas are paramount to start with.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 9, 2013 at 10:51 am

How the heck does City Planner Jason Nortz come to the conclusion that the project "incorporates quality design that recognizes the regional and historical importance of the area"?

is it because the glass block will reflect the historical buildings around it?

Seriously, does the council ever question what the staff puts in front of it, or do they just pull out their rubber stamps?


Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 9, 2013 at 11:04 am

"How the heck does City Planner Jason Nortz come to the conclusion that the project "incorporates quality design that recognizes the regional and historical importance of the area"?"

He read the script thoughtfully provided by the developer.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 9, 2013 at 1:38 pm

It's not a super attractive building, but IMO a step up from the JCC, Alma Plaza, and the low-income housing on Alma.
I do think it's unrealistic to think everyone can use mass transit. I have a family member who is carpooling to work and this person tells me it's very, very, very rare in this person's business circles.
Downtowner/Menlo Park made intelligent commentary about successful, major transit options in major cities/metro areas, so this region needs to decide "what we are" and make plans from there. Please, in an open manner, not behind closed doors.


Posted by bru, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 14, 2013 at 5:36 pm

bru is a registered user.

I thought they posted artists renditions of this online months ... maybe a year ago now ... and it never looked so bad as this. The view was from across the street maybe at the train station and I remember it looking a little bit like most of the boring office buildings of Palo Alto, with no character, but not as bad as this pictured here?


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