Palo Alto took an important step in its plan to redesign a 39-acre portion of the Ventura neighborhood early Tuesday morning when it appointed a new working group that will help the city with the planning exercise.
The group will ultimately include 14 members, though three will be determined by the Planning and Transportation Commission, the Architectural Review Board and the Parks and Recreation Commission, each of which will choose one representative from their respective panels.
The remaining 11 were selected Monday night and early Tuesday morning through a byzantine process that featured a long debate about appointment procedures, a series of secret ballots and — once council members were too exhausted to fill out ballots — by spoken motions.
The council had previously specified that the group include members from the Ventura, Barron Park and Mayfield neighborhoods, as well as business owners and property owners. Because of the complex procedures, the appointment process that began shortly after 7 p.m. Monday night wasn't concluded until about 1 a.m. Tuesday morning.
The group will help the city create the North Ventura Area Concept Plan, a document that will evaluate new land uses for the North Ventura area, which is comprised of a mix of residential and commercial uses, as well as a 12.5-acre commercial campus including Fry's Electronics. The exercise is expected to take about 18 months. It is funded by a $648,000 grant from the Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Authority and $250,000 from The Sobrato Organization, owner of the Fry's site.
The working group will include Ventura residents Angela Dellaporta, a former English teacher at Gunn High School; Kirsten Flynn, an interior designer; Yunan Song, who in addition to living in the neighborhood works at SAP Labs LLC in the Ventura area; Rebecca Parker Mankey, an accountant and self-described "well-read amateur" with political ambitions; Heather Rosen, an attorney and community volunteer; and Siyi Zhang, an environmental consultant who lives a block away from the project area.
Representing Barron Park will be Carolyn "Cari" Templeton, who works near the Fry's site, and former Councilwoman Gail Price, a housing advocate who lives in Barron Park and who has a background in urban and transportation planning. Terry Holzemer will serve as the sole representative of the Mayfield neighborhood, just north of Ventura.
In addition to area residents, the list includes two prominent Ventura property owners: Tim Steele of Sobrato and developer Lund Smith of WSJ Properties.
The two alternates will be residents Lakiba Pittman and Waldemar Kaczmarski.
The group is expected to start meeting in June and to meet on a monthly basis until December 2019.