THE BLOOM AND THE BOOM ... When Houzz proposed to include a roof deck on a prominent downtown building across the street from City Hall in 2017, some city leaders were more than a little skeptical. While some on the council lauded the proposed amenity as a welcome addition to the downtown area, others noted that it would allow the building at 285 Hamilton Ave., which is already far larger than the zoning code allows, to be even bigger. Now, however, the future looks brighter for roof-deck proponents at Houzz and elsewhere in the downtown area. The issue is heading to the council, where the sentiment has gradually turned in favor of roof-decks since 2017. In late January, the council revised zoning rules to allow new downtown residential developments to meet their open-space requirements by installing roof decks. And last week, as the council moved to eliminate a long-standing cap on new nonresidential development in downtown, several council members talked about their desire to see more vitality and change in the area. Meanwhile, planning staff have proposed broadening the roof-deck policy further, so that it applies not just to buildings that are too tall to meet code but to those that are too dense as well. And it does offer one concession to those concerned about too much noise: It would allow amplified music on roof decks but specify that such music not be audible beyond the property boundaries. Despite noise concerns, John Shenk (whose firm, Thoits Brothers, owns the building at 285 Hamilton Ave.) argued at a planning commission meeting in October that the "vibrancy of the roof-deck is wholly compatible with such environments, and it's something we want to have." On Monday, it'll be up to the council to decide whether it agrees.
'OH THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!' ... The Palo Alto Library has opened three Pop-Up Libraries in the city to help the public dive into a good e-book. The collection includes books from the "Crazy Rich Asians" trilogy by Kevin Kwan and titles by Apple CEO Steve Jobs' daughter Lisa Brennan Jobs and comedian David Sedaris. The pop-ups can be found at the YMCA of Silicon Valley, Cafe Venetia at the Palo Alto Caltrain station and City Hall's first-floor lobby. The project, part of a national experiment run by book distributors Baker and Taylor and their e-book collection, Axis 360, is set to run through April. Users simply connect to the pop-up's Wi-Fi network and download a title that will be on their electronic devices for up to three weeks. It's open to everyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer, regardless of whether they have a library card.
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