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Palo Alto Bowl--the Deeper Implications

Uploaded: Dec 15, 2009
I am a big believer that Palo Alto is a special, but not unique, community. There are other towns which offer great opportunities and amenities, Palo Alto has been very good with its offerings over the years.

They don't all come from the City. Stanford provides many programs available to the public, as does the School District and private entities, including Palo Alto Bowl.

This is glue that holds us together. I really don't care for bowling, but I attended numerous birthday parties at Palo Alto Bowl when my kids were age appropriate for such activity.

I worry that many programs that are provided through the City's Community Services Department are now at risk of getting cut or eliminated altogether, due the the current financial circumstances the City faces: declining revenue sources, actuarial expenses from retired employees, major infrastructure upgrades, and on going operational expenses.

So, to bring it back to the bowling alley, what's the City to do? The decision has been made, and the process seemed to be better than some other big projects of late. While it is a shame to lose the bowling alley, it appears that this approval to get a Hilton Hotel in town will help the revenue line, which in turn means that fewer programs run the risk of getting cut.

A Hilton Hotel is quite different from many of the other lower cost places that comb El Camino Real, it is more like the demised Hyatt Rickeys. It has the potential to attract travelers who are part of the Hilton affinity program, and those who travel here and are on the expense account.

I regret that Palo Alto Bowl is going away, and I hope that some of the revenue generating by this new hotel through the hotel taxes paid by patrons will keep alive other programs, mainly funded by City revenues, that otherwise would be cut or eliminated altogether.
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Posted by Resident, a resident of ,
on Dec 15, 2009 at 5:27 pm


I respect your point of view, but you are forgetting quality of life here.

Palo Alto Bowl (and the Winter Lodge) are one of the very few places for older kids and teens to ride their bikes and hang out with friends. In the summer they can cool off and in the winter they have somewhere safe and inside. What else do we have in Palo Alto for our kids?

Middle school sports, up until this year, were open for all. Now there are only a certain number of spaces and it is first come, first served. Baseball, soccer, basketball, are all popular but field and gym space are hard to find and once a child reaches the age of 12, most of these sports are only available to those who are able to get on select teams or whose parents are coaches. Our only recreational swimming pool is open only during the summer and a few other weekends even though we have hot weather for many other months.
The movie theaters in town are not likely to show the movies kids want to watch.

These kids don't have that much free time, but when they do have a day off school for teacher development or such, they need parents to drive them to the movies, to lazerquest, sky high, mini golf, or other places outside their home town.

Losing the PA Bowl, is depriving kids of a little bit of independence. Losing the PA Bowl, is taking something away from the kids feeling of belonging to Palo Alto. Losing the PA Bowl really is a quality of Palo Alto life issue.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of ,
on Dec 16, 2009 at 3:01 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

That's the way I feel about the loss of the Yacht Harbor, an early act of Big Sister politics backed with our friend, lying pseudo science. Yacht Harbor was perhaps to pretentious, El Toro Harbor might have bean a more apt description for the hundreds of those little 8 [?] foot two seaters that introduced thousands to the fun and learning and guarding the South Bay. That, and the subsequent reneging on the promise to the Sea Scouts and giving their building away for PC reasons set the pattern of contempt for individual choice by Know-It-all councils.

Posted by Daniel Mart, a resident of ,
on Dec 16, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

I agree with the last two comments.

And yes, corrupt council may have approved demolition, but people, we're not dead yet. More and more peope need to be made aware, that's the thing ... this is "not" about the PA Bowl owner selling the place before he knew what he had; there are numerous examples of that in history. Rather, what this "is" about is a status quo which favors the rich; which gives millionares the power to do whatever they want. It needs to change NOW.

Posted by K-Mart, a resident of ,
on Dec 16, 2009 at 12:33 pm

"corrupt council "

You are making some serious charges, Mr Mart. Care to back them up with some facts?

"this is "not" about the PA Bowl owner selling the place"
You mean the owner did not have the right to sell his own property?
Why did you not offer to buy the place and put together a co-op to purchase it?

"which gives millionaires the power to do whatever they want."
Which millionaires are you talking about? What are they doing that is against PA regulations? Please elaborate on your claims.

Posted by Sigh, a resident of ,
on Dec 16, 2009 at 4:40 pm

At least we still have lawn bowling.

Posted by Daniel Mart, a resident of ,
on Dec 18, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Daniel Mart is a registered user.

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Anon, a resident of ,
on Dec 18, 2009 at 8:36 pm

This is just like the efforts to save the pumpkin patch farm in Mountain View. Those efforts failed and the property was sold to developers. Three seasons have passed and the pumpkin/Christmas tree patch is a faint memory but the land just sits there dry, deserted and untouched. Has the money to develop it dried up? Are the legal hurdles going to drag this on for decades? Once the wrecking ball swings at the Palo Alto Bowl, how certain is it that the fancy hotel and all its gleaming gold revenue will follow?

Posted by Palo Parent, a resident of ,
on Dec 18, 2009 at 9:36 pm

Anon: Good point. Look what happened to the Bay Meadows horse race track in San Mateo; they knocked it down over a year ago and now it's just a pile of rubble because of "poor economic conditions" . . . progress?

Posted by 7-10 split, a resident of ,
on Dec 19, 2009 at 2:32 am

Too bad. Another neat entertainment outlet, gone. What I'd like to see are incentives for certain kinds of businesses - like bowling alleys, etc. - made possible. Signs of the times, with a fun game like bowling dying because of low exposure. Who has time to bowl at a bowling alley, when you can bowl on your iPhone. Fast thumbs = big bums.

Posted by Resident, a resident of ,
on Dec 19, 2009 at 9:03 am

There is seriously a lack of entertainment for our kids in Palo Alto. Yesterday, being the last day of school the kids were looking for something to do to celebrate the start of Winter Break. Laserquest was too busy, movies too sedentary, but bowling was an option. We have more and more families moving into Palo Alto but there is less and less entertainment for them. We are almost giving them no options but to stay at home playing video games when there is no school.

My kids ride their bikes everywhere in Palo Alto, and as they get older they do ride their bikes to the movies or San Antonio, but the options of fun destinations on bikes is getting less. That, coupled with the fact that we have very poor public transport options means that parents have to drive them. This takes away from teaching them independence.

Having the bowling alley has always been good for socializing, exercise, independence and fun for our kids. Keeping the kids at home staring at a screen does none of this.

Posted by Kenny, a resident of ,
on Dec 20, 2009 at 8:55 am

At Palo Alto Bowl last night (Saturday night), more than 3/4 of the lanes were empty, and yet they insist on renting lanes by the hour rather than offering a "by the game" option as well when business is slow. Apparently they are struggling a bit, and their inflexible pricing policy isn't helping.

Posted by K-Mart, a resident of ,
on Dec 20, 2009 at 1:13 pm

You mean Daniel Mart and all those people who joined his Facebook group were not at the bowl last night? What kind of support is that?

Posted by pat, a resident of ,
on Jan 1, 2010 at 10:02 am

We all have our favorite places and are sad when they close. Mine was Cafe Verona.

However, property owners can do what they like with their property, whether we like it or not. Maybe the PA Bowl owner wanted to retire and got a great offer. Should he be forced to keep the Bowl open because some families like bowling?

The real problem is that Palo Alto (and all of CA) needs revenue. Any developer that can offer a revenue source -- and/or high density housing -- is going to have an easy time of it.

Posted by Resident, a resident of ,
on Jan 1, 2010 at 11:14 am

California needs housing is an interesting concept. Over the past couple of years, I know of several families who have sold their single family home because of divorce and both parents have individually bought townhomes/condos to remain in Palo Alto to keep their kids in the same school. Of course the sfh has been bought by another family with school age kids. Perhaps one of the reasons for the needs for more housing is the high divorce rate?

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