City cracks down on businesses infringing on sidewalks | May 2, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 2, 2014

City cracks down on businesses infringing on sidewalks

Outreach campaign aims to get downtown restaurants, retailers in compliance

by Elena Kadvany

In response to complaints in recent months about downtown sidewalks becoming more and more crowded with outdoor seating and sandwich-board signs, the city has launched a concerted effort to get more businesses to comply with what is and isn't allowed on city sidewalks.

The city, in conjunction with the Downtown Business and Professional Association, held a series of meetings starting last fall with a group of downtown businesses, primarily University Avenue restaurants, about which people had complained or which had been identified as not having the proper permits in place for outdoor tables and chairs.

"We're working on trying to give them a path to simple compliance prior to having to enforce the stick side of it," city Economic Development Manager Thomas Fehrenbach said.

In order to place tables and chairs in the public right of way, businesses must apply for an encroachment permit from the city. The permit includes several stipulations: The tables and chairs must be approved; they must be set 8 feet back from the curb, and the space under the tables and chairs must be routinely cleaned so as to not create a "public mess," Fehrenbach said.

A long-term (more than five days) non-residential encroachment permit costs $920.

Palo Alto's sign code "typically" does not allow for freestanding A-frames and sandwich-board signs placed in the public's right of way on sidewalks, Fehrenbach said. Businesses whose property lines extend in front of their buildings are of course permitted to do so.

Representatives from about 15 downtown restaurants with ample sidewalk seating — Joya, La Strada, Gyros Gyros, Umami Burger, John's Café and others — attended the meetings. They were told that if they didn't comply within 45 days, they would be fined.

Fehrenbach said many of the restaurants had simply been unaware of such requirements before the meetings. Their compliance levels had run the gamut, from lack of proper permitting to tables and chairs placed adjacent to the curb instead of the business' building.

Mistie Cohen, a partner with Oren's Hummus Shop at 261 University Ave., was one of those restaurateurs. Oren's used to have six outdoor tables, some of them two-seaters and others, four. Cohen said there was enough room to seat 20 people.

Since the meetings, Oren's has cut its number of sidewalk tables down to two and moved them far enough back from the curb, directly up against the restaurant's front window. Cohen said they also hired a company to steam clean underneath the tables once a week to uphold the cleanliness level required by the city. (The city also steam cleans sidewalks once a month.)

Oren's has also stopped serving alcohol at its sidewalk tables as the city expressed it would start to enforce rules against those businesses that didn't have the required outdoor liquor license (a separate application and cost from an indoor license).

As a "newer restaurant on the block," Cohen said the Oren's team initially saw other downtown restaurants with similar outdoor seating options and assumed they could do the same.

"We just followed what the standard was showing throughout the city," she said.

Russ Cohen, executive director of the Downtown Business and Professional Association, said this standard was supported by a previous lack of enforcement.

"If there isn't any enforcement, then there's a tendency to become complacent," he said. "If you don't know the rules, then there are no rules to follow."

However, he said, "The rules are not arbitrary."

"They're there for a reason, or many reasons, and I think restaurants and retailers now have a better understanding of why the rules are in place."

Though Mistie Cohen said the city's meetings were "great," she also characterized compliance as costly. The once-a-week steam cleaning is an additional cost, as is the loss of room for 20 outdoor diners.

"It's difficult as a business owner — every table, every seat is a dollar for your restaurant," she said.

Fehrenbach said the city is continuing to work on getting all downtown businesses up to code and plans to expand the outreach — and possible code-enforcement sweeps — to Palo Alto's other business districts, including California Avenue.

"This is ultimately about making (downtown) a really pedestrian-friendly environment with not a lot of clutter and also making it fair for everyone," he said.

Online Editor Elena Kadvany can be emailed at


Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 2, 2014 at 8:20 am

Just wondering if this enforcement will include places that have taken over "public" parks with their outdoor seating such as Cafe Riace and St. Michael's Alley.

Posted by another palo alto resident, a resident of Palo Verde
on May 2, 2014 at 8:44 am

now, if only they'd crack down on the off-leash dogs in our parks!

Posted by Sorkin, a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 2, 2014 at 8:52 am

How does Caffe Riace encroach on a public park?

Posted by parklet, a resident of Downtown North
on May 2, 2014 at 8:54 am

Don't block the sidewalks. Tables, signs, and other cr@p on the sidewalk is huge barrier to wheelchairs and families with baby strollers. Businesses should be allowed to close street car parking spaces in front of their properties and put tables up over there. I see businesses in Mountain View and San Francisco doing this with great success. Why not in Palo Alto?

Posted by LS, a resident of Community Center
on May 2, 2014 at 8:58 am

So the city is finding that the public doesn't have clear paths to walk on University Ave? What about clear benches to sit on too? I wonder if this new enforcement will also include enforcement of the sit and lie ordinance. The benches downtown are being used by the homeless as camping sites and the public can't even sit down to enjoy an ice cream or the scenery . Outside of Epi there was a guy set up with a business selling something and all of his stuff took up both benches. He parked himself there most of the day. On the opposite side of the street was a guy with his shopping cart suitcase parked right in front of one bench as he was sleeping on the other bench. He had a whole set up. The only thing missing was his alarm clock.

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 2, 2014 at 9:42 am

> A long-term (more than five days) non-residential
> encroachment permit costs $920.

Presumably this is a yearly fee—but the Weekly article does not make this point clear.

Noticing clear violations of the permitted encroachments by California Ave. restaurants, I asked for some information about the program (via a Public Information Request) of the Public Works department a couple of years ago--
Sent: Tuesday, August 09, 2011 7:13 PM
To: French, Amy
Subject: Re: encroachment permits for downtown and cal ave

Ms. French:

Thanks for the list of permits.

This opens a few questions, for me, however:

1) Are Encroachment Permits issued only once?
2) Are there any yearly fees associated with these permits?
3) How many feet of a sidewalk does this permit authorize a business to use?
4) If a business uses more, how does one file a complaint against that business?


wayne martin


Amy French answered my email, sort of:

Thank you, I am referring you to the Public Works Engineering Services group who issue such permits. Mr. Nafziger, Sr. Engineer, can request his staff prepare an answer to your questions.


No subsequent information was made available—even though Ms. French, and the City Council, was reminded of this failure to provide the requested information.

One question I am interested in having answered is what is the total “take” the City is exacting from the restaurants, and where is this money going? At $1,000 a year per permit, and fifty to fifty-five restaurants (say)—this would bring in 50,000 to 75,000 dollars a year. Every ten years—this could easily generate upwards of $1M—which would go a long way to paying for the California Street debacle, or other downtown street/sidewalk maintenance. If the money goes into the General Fund—then “poof” .. it’s gone!

It’s a shame we don’t have a City Auditor that has a clear vision of how to use the resources of that office to help provide insight into the problems of City government. This is one of those areas that should have been audited a long time ago.

While the City did provide a list of permit holders, but never answered any of my questions about the list, or the money it generated.

Posted by Nancybee, a resident of College Terrace
on May 2, 2014 at 10:25 am

The restaurants on Cal Ave and the surrounding streets need to be informed of the encroachment permit. Thanks.

Posted by Bob, a resident of College Terrace
on May 2, 2014 at 10:53 am

Cafe Riacci actually IS a public "park: squeezed in between buildings as a "public benefit" city scam allowing the surrounding buildings to have more space or height or something. In return the building/s builders got more goodies in the building design. The corner by 'newer' St. Michael's Alley was deemed a little park on which St. Michael's Alley promptly put tables and made it their own. What a farce.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 2, 2014 at 10:55 am

Ok, but let's be reasonable. Outdoor seating adds ambiance to the character of the city. It's great and healthy to sit outside, watch and be watched... we need more, not less of this. Yes, of course we need free and clear access for wheelchairs and strollers... but let's not arbitrarily enforce rules just because they're on the books. Expensive permits and citations are not an incentive to creating additional outdoor space... Outdoor seating provides a community service. Let's take advantage of it!

Posted by Judith, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 2, 2014 at 11:02 am

Seating is fine - ditch the A frame signs, and do it in midtown also.

Posted by David Pepperdine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2014 at 11:04 am

@Wayne Martin:

Where is the money going? Easy: employee benefits, perks, spiked (and double dipped) pensions... isn't that where most of the city's money goes?

Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on May 2, 2014 at 11:07 am

" The corner by 'newer' St. Michael's Alley was deemed a little park on which St. Michael's Alley promptly put tables and made it their own. What a farce."

The farce is in city hall. The ordinance that created the PC spot zoning for 800 High established that plaza as a "public benefit" that could be assigned to the exclusive use of whatever business occupied the designated adjacent retail space, which was also called a "public benefit."

How's that, spots fans?

Posted by Chris Zaharias, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 2, 2014 at 11:09 am

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

PA City Govt: I think you should allow & encourage *more* outdoor seating, and instead focus your energies on getting all the beggars [portion removed] once and for all off of University. This is MY city, OUR city, and far and away the greatest infringement of University Ave sidewalks is their constant, annoying, anti-retail presence and behavior.

Posted by John, a resident of Barron Park
on May 2, 2014 at 11:16 am

There's good ambiance and there's bad ambiance.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 2, 2014 at 11:50 am

Hmmm is a registered user.

LS - who needs an alarm clock when the y have a cell phone w/alarms?

These restaurateurs claiming to be ignorant of the law are ridiculous.

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 2, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Has closing off the street of University from High to Cowper (or perhaps a smaller section) from cars and turning University into a pedestrian outdoor area been considered? We recently moved from Boulder, CO where this is done downtown and it works very well. It creates a beautiful area to stroll, dine outside without breathing car exhaust and makes a beautiful outdoor space even better. Parking there, as it is here, is always a concern in the city, but University Ave would be perfect for this. Palo Alto is such a wonderful pedestrian-friendly community, and my husband and I think of this every time we're downtown.

Posted by parent, a resident of Downtown North
on May 2, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Closing University Ave to cars for at least part of the day has been proposed many times in the past. Each time, Stanford shoots it down because this is the main route for their delivery trucks and other Stanford traffic.

Posted by Mike, a resident of Mountain View
on May 2, 2014 at 1:22 pm

there must be an app for that....oh, wait, I just wrote one....

Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2014 at 1:23 pm

>It creates a beautiful area to stroll, dine outside without breathing car exhaust

Got to wonder if this poster has any idea how much money it takes to keep all of the businesses on University going? It’s really hard to believe that this person’s view of all that strolling, and dining outside, is going to generate much in the way of business for the people who are dependent on customers who drive to where they want to do business. Not to mention the loss of hundreds of parking spots on University that will drive those cars into the neighborhoods—or to other towns where they can find parking near the businesses they want to frequent.

Palo Alto has four thousand acres of parks, and open space, for all this strolling, and clean air. But that’s never enough for some people—they not only want more, but they seem willing to drive what business exists in the downtown area away!

University should never be closed! It’s the main artery to the downtown area.

Posted by Neilson Buchanan, a resident of Downtown North
on May 2, 2014 at 2:39 pm

I hope City Staff will examine and report publicly on the impact on parking from the additional seating on the sidewalks. Or is this another exemption from parking requirements of commercial properties in the two commercial cores? Since exemption from a parking space is worth $40,000 to $60,000 then these downtown merchants are getting tremendous benefits at no cost. Another loose end for City Staff and Council to address!

Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 2, 2014 at 3:10 pm

I'm highly skeptical that a restaurant putting a few tables out on the sidewalk places any real burden on pedestrians, even to those families with double wide strollers. Slow down, and walk around.

Posted by S.W., a resident of JLS Middle School
on May 2, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Re Sidewalk Encroachment! I walk on a designated Walk and Bike to School Route-East Meadow between Middlefield and El Camino Way. I fully support this. However, the City and Homeowners have forgotten the original Guidelines of Sidewalk access. Trees, shrubs, and cars need to keep the 2 squares of concrete sidewalk free for the intended use. The City and the Homeowners need to keep trees and shrubs trimmed to allow sidewalk travel. In some areas there is hardly room for one person to pass or to pass without being hit in the face with branches. Let's all try to keep our passages open and welcoming to our Friends and Neighbors!

Posted by Someone, a resident of Mayfield
on May 2, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Personally, I'd be more likely to go to University Avenue if is WAS pedestrian. As it is, I don't enjoy it and almost never go, maybe 3 times a year at best even though I live in Palo Alto!

Posted by Illuminato, a resident of another community
on May 2, 2014 at 7:32 pm

What's really rude is when I'm trying to relax and have a peaceful meal at a sidewalk table, and some people insist on walking down the sidewalk, walking within mere inches of diners trying to get some space.

Posted by Lamotta, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 2, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Mr. Fehrenbach forgot one more of the stipulations on an encroachment permit and that is the chairs and tables that a business sets up within the public space of the sidewalk must not limit the seating to their own customers but allow any person of the public to sit there.

Posted by Sheldon Kay, a resident of Menlo Park
on May 2, 2014 at 8:41 pm

I predict that: In 50-100 years from now, University Ave will be car free, except for cross traffic; Lytton & Hamilton will be each one way; special turn lanes would let autos on/off the one way streets without traffic lights; and pedestrians would cross the one way streets on walkways over or under them.

Posted by ex-boulder, a resident of Midtown
on May 2, 2014 at 8:50 pm

I too used to live in Boulder....the main street was closed to cars,
the side street to either side was made one-way to time the lights.
It made the drive around the downtown area faster not slower. The closed street has been an incredible success. Many, Many people spending money.
I lived in Boulder when it happened, and lots of people talked the doomsday of the idea, but time has proven it was a huge rejuvenation of the down town where property values were significantly increased

Posted by Anneke, a resident of Professorville
on May 3, 2014 at 9:40 am

Beautiful blue skies and sunshine, people enjoying some cold white wine, a nice meal, a coffee, watching people go by. A little bit of Paris in Palo Alto. We are so blessed. Let's enjoy!

Posted by Midtown, a resident of Midtown
on May 3, 2014 at 11:14 am

My greyhounds are hungry, think I will take a stroll downtown.

Posted by Casa de Cerveza, a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 3, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Casa de Cerveza is a registered user.

Thanks Lamotta for pointing out that "the chairs and tables that a business sets up within the public space of the sidewalk must not limit the seating to their own customers but allow any person of the public to sit there."

Posted by Pedestrian , a resident of Downtown North
on May 3, 2014 at 5:22 pm

When's the crack down going to start on transients sitting or lying on the sidewalk?

Posted by 800 High started it, a resident of Community Center
on May 3, 2014 at 7:03 pm

The reference to the corners (plural) of 800 High bring back recollections. Not only were both corners supposed to be public gathering spaces, but the developer promised 57 parking spaces free and open to the public under the building. Anyone know what happened to them?
But he had a "insider" lawyer, a former council member, and she worked deals. The corners have have concrete planters and the public doesn't pass them, it looks like private property.
And at the last minute she, the lawyer, reduced the number of Below Market apts. from eleven to ten.
800 High was the beginning of a really corrupt use of the PC zone and the city continuing to ignore so many zoning laws.

Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 4, 2014 at 5:40 am

I listened to a discussion on this topic on the radio while driving up to the city yesterday. The discussion was specifically pointed to Palo Alto. The points being made were:
1. The restaurants are the business tax paying entities in the city. They are the reason that people are coming into the downtown area. The people want to be out on a beautiful day and the restaurants show off their foods plates in the process. They generate interest in being downtown. It also says to passer by walkers to come into that restaurant next time downtown. I was up there on a beautiful day with my son and we walked by a number of restaurants and looked at the food to try a new place.
2. If you are penalizing the tax paying entities for doing business in the city they will go to a different city to do business.
3. People with children who come to the downtown are confronted with homeless people occupying the benches put out for people - like outside Starbucks. Also in the park - people want to bring their children there and have a downtown experience with fun and food. The benches are occupied by homeless people and all of their stuff.
4. If the city is penalizing the tax paying, business generating entities in the city but allowing the homeless people to flourish in that same general location then that is a losing situation for the city.
5. This conundrum had a lot of callers-in - the callers-in(who had cell phones and were out enjoying the weather) all voted for the tax-paying entities who help generate ambiance and festivity in the downtown area.
6. This takes you to the next topic of creating more density in the downtown corridor. What is it going to be? More density which creates more outside activity? People who live in very small spaces spend their free time outside in restaurants. That is their gathering place for friends and family.
7. The reason you see large family gatherings in the larger parks is because that is a way of living in the city for large families. If you are going to penalize the very things that the city is trying to promote then you are not going to win this popularity contest.
This topic had a lot of callers-in. So Palo Alto is now on the map for being difficult for the tax paying entities in the city.

Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 4, 2014 at 11:10 am

The big question here is who thought up this whole action by the city? I think it is time to assign a name and city organization to who thinks this type of activity up. We have had a number of ideas which cost time and money to investigate - who on staff is doing this? Examples: An electronic sign by 101; mass parking on Embarcadero east of 101 with shuttles; parking in church parking lots during the week. There may be competing organizations behind these activities and the city population should understand the competing groups that propose these ideas. I am sure the shuttle companies are working this lobby activity to come up with some of these ideas.

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on May 4, 2014 at 12:18 pm

The question should be what the policy and law should be, not what it is.

I have advocated for a University Ave. along the lines of Pearl Street in Boulder for many years. Many similarities. And anyone who tries to drive along University to get to Stanford is poorly informed.

We can close University for the annual May Fete Parade the World Music Day, and the Arts and Wine Festival.

How about making a pedestrian only University on weekends as a trial? If a candidate for City Council took that as a part of his/her position, it would likely get my vote.

Posted by John R., a resident of University South
on May 4, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Does this mean that the city is going to also get rid of all the panhandlers, too?

Posted by RAdesousa, a resident of University South
on May 4, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Close down University Avenue and make it a pedestrian only street. Reroute traffic to Hamilton (east bound) and Lytton (west bound).

Posted by John R., a resident of University South
on May 4, 2014 at 5:27 pm

@RAdesousa, that would only be moving the traffic problem, not resolving the sidewalk space issue. It could potentially make the overall situation worse. It would not only involve rerouting Eastbound and Westbound traffic, but also Northbound and Southbound traffic for all streets intersecting University downtown.

An alternate solution, perhaps more feasible, would be to eliminate curbside parking on University Avenue in downtown. Extend the sidewalks to the boundary of the tree planters farthest from the buildings. There would be additional space available for pedestrian traffic, even with the current outdoor seating. That would eliminate the need to reroute traffic. The barriers around the trees could then be declared to be part of the sidewalk. That would largely get rid of the homeless presence, as they would not be able to panhandle along the most trafficked thoroughfare. Bench space now being used as a campground would be available for the rest of the public to use. It would be beneficial to patrons of restaurants with limited seating, such as Yogurtland and Cream.

And what about the lost parking spaces in a very parking-challenged downtown Palo Alto? Why not add an additional level to each of the downtown parking garages? Yes, it costs money. So does the library reconstruction, but it did not stop that project from going (sort of) forward. The electorate watching the city council like a hawk should help prevent cost overruns.

Posted by John R., a resident of University South
on May 4, 2014 at 5:39 pm


"What's really rude is when I'm trying to relax and have a peaceful meal at a sidewalk table, and some people insist on walking down the sidewalk, walking within mere inches of diners trying to get some space."

No, the pedestrians are not being rude at all. What on earth do you expect to happen when you are blocking pedestrian traffic? The pedestrians are just trying to get some space. After all, it is a sidewalk not a dining room. The best way to avoid foot traffic is to eat inside.

Posted by Mike, a resident of University South
on May 4, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Is the no bike riding on University sidewalks also going to be enforced?

Posted by Rich, a resident of Downtown North
on May 5, 2014 at 9:54 am

Good start. When will the city get to the numerous homeowners who have treated the sidewalk as an extension of their property? Bushes, plants, and low hanging trees have made walking in Downtown North an adventure, especially at night. A quarter, half, and sometimes more of the sidewalks are unusable. Do these homeowners pay additional property tax?

Posted by Marie, a resident of Downtown North
on May 5, 2014 at 10:16 am

Why can't someone start a petition to close down University Ave??
The City wont look twice at these recommendations because it's got a lot of inertia.

Posted by Larry Cohn, a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2014 at 3:30 am

Why has the city been subsidizing certain businesses with free retail space? A business tax is not a lease for retail space on public property. There are plenty of restaurants paying the same business tax which don't have sidewalk seating. If a restaurant wants to have outdoor seating, they should pay monthly rent for every square inch their tables, chairs and signs take up, just as any business pays rent for its retail space, rather than the city letting them have something for nothing. The space they occupy should be confined to allow for passage of pedestrian traffic, the putative purpose of a public sidewalk. There are non-restaurant businesses paying that same business tax and you don't see them setting up business on the sidewalk. The owners of these rent-free sidewalk cafes are squatters pure and simple.

Suppose a sidewalk diner falls off his chair and breaks his pelvis, or a passer-by trips over a restaurant's sign and breaks his leg. Who's liable? Is it covered by the city's insurance or the restaurant's (if any)? The restaurant will claim it was on city property, the city will claim it was the restaurant's chair/sign and it will get dragged through the courts at the expense of Palo Alto taxpayers as the city defends itself.

Good luck closing University ave. to auto traffic. Business owners will howl that their businesses are being made less accessible.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2014 at 6:55 am

When the weather is right, I choose an eatery quite often because it has outside seating. I think it is fair to allow the restaurants to do this but only if they have the space outside to do it. Tables have to be situated so that those seated have enough space for sitting and also that those walking past can do so easily.

It is another reason to think of closing University but "they" say businesses won't like it. I tend to doubt that it would lead to less business but could possibly be an attraction to downtown.

But, it is the parking that makes a difference and trying to find somewhere to park can be tricky - particularly if you want to have lunch and also do shopping or personal business. Sort out the parking by putting in some pay per hour meters in all lots and garages with some high tech gadgetry to show where there is space would be a much better option than cruising the streets looking for an empty parking space.

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 6, 2014 at 8:27 am

> A business tax is not a lease for retail space on public property.
> There are plenty of restaurants paying the same business tax
> which don't have sidewalk seating

Huh? If you are talking about Palo Alto, then you need to come to terms with the fact that Palo Alto does not have a "Business tax"--at least not at the moment.

As to restaurants paying an encroachment fee for outside dining--it's not clear if restaurants pay this fee once, or yearly. My attempts to obtain that information from the City Planning Department has been thwarted by the Planning Department's refusal to make that information know. So--it's quite possible that some/all Palo Alto restaurants are not paying any kind of yearly encroachment fee.

Posted by KP, a resident of South of Midtown
on May 6, 2014 at 9:39 am

After reading all these comments...I agree with closing University, but maybe only from Cowper to Emerson - that would give the Stanford traffic a side route on either Hamilton or Lytton, and the ability to come back to University before the underpass.
I think this would still leave our crazy parking issue to deal with, but since it isn't good anyway, lets look at it after closing University and deal with a whole picture.
Has anyone been to the City and seen the "elevator style" parking? This could be done in a few of our parking lots. It would take care of the long term parking employees of downtown (put them in the air-for a fee) and the short term shoppers (they go on the bottom!-still free). The employees of downtown are constantly moving cars every 2 ot 3 hours to avoid a ticket.
I think people would enjoy shopping and eating on a street they can freely walk down without tripping over signage and chairs.
I love to go to a place that has outdoor seating, but I hate the feeling that I am blocking the sidewalk. It REALLY is a problem. The sandwich board signs are just as bad.
Come on city council, use your collective heads on this one and do something that makes sense for once!!!!

Posted by KP, a resident of South of Midtown
on May 6, 2014 at 9:59 am

BTW...Embarcadero seems to make more sense for Stanford deliveries...Less lights and less stop and go traffic. I would have MY delivery drivers take Embarcadero if I had that choice!

Posted by Mike, a resident of University South
on May 6, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Who in the city takes complaints about restaurants overstepping the sidewalk boundaries?

Posted by P.A. Native, a resident of Mountain View
on May 6, 2014 at 4:28 pm

This thread is painful.

I wish you all had something worthy to be outraged about. There's plenty out there if you look beyond your sidewalk.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Menlo Park
on May 6, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Why doesn't Palo Alto do the same as Mountain View and allow seating in the parking space in front of the store. This really adds to the ambiance of the downtown and the loss of a few parking spaces shouldn't cause too much anguish given that the city reams the developers millions of dollars to build a new parking structure.

Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2014 at 10:53 pm

“The electorate watching the city council like a hawk should help prevent cost overruns.“

Oh sure. Where was the hawk-like electorate when the Homer Tunnel went from its $2.3M estimate to $5.4 M? Or the CA Ave. streetscaping, which has gone from $1.7 million in 2011 to about $7 million today Or the current Mitchell Park Library debacle, 3 years late with flying lawsuits.

Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on May 6, 2014 at 10:55 pm

Today's Daily Post reports that the Left Bank restaurant in Menlo Park my get 2 parking spots in which to put tables. No charge to the restaurant.

Posted by Mike, a resident of University South
on May 18, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Has anyone noticed any enforcement?

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2014 at 9:11 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by a, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 23, 2014 at 11:11 pm

As far as I know, tables and chairs on a public street are open to the public and are not reserved for a particular restaurant use even though they are put up by a restaurant. I sat down at a able to find something in my purse near O Sushi House restaurant (the place is always empty) because all the street benches were occupied by homeless, the restaurant women ran out to yell at me an kick me out of what she said were her restaurant's table for customers only.

Who can we contact for enforcement of public street encroachment. I know that people have been threatened a fine if their shrubs encroach on a public sidewalk, why are restaurants allowed to do this. I enjoy outdoor dining, especially in Paris, but PA is not well build for that, unfortunately. I agree about getting rid of parking on Univ. Ave. We have an upcoming election, make this your political stand and you get my vote.

An even bigger Issue I have is with Avia valet parkers. They put up poles in spaces outside the reserved valet spaces or simply don't let people park in non-designated spaces near the restaurant - these are public spaces and these guys are bullies. Next time I encounter one of these aggressive Avia valet parking guys stopping me from parking in a public spot that is not restricted or designated for valet, I will call non-emergency PAPD. Is this the best place to call for such issues or could someone suggest a better contact number.

Posted by abc, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 31, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Today, a 90 year old man injured six people trying to park on Univ. Ave.
90 year old persons should take yearly driving tests

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One more week to vote!

Don't forget to cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 29th. Stay tuned for the results in the July 21st issue of the Palo Alto Weekly.