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Departure of Fry's Electronics leaves Palo Alto with a zoning dilemma

Original post made on Jun 11, 2021

The City Council has a rare opportunity to exercise some power over the future of 340 Portage Ave. site for potential housing after 15 years of helplessly watching commercial uses occupy it and leave.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 11, 2021, 6:59 AM

Comments (7)

Posted by Yo
a resident of El Carmelo School
on Jun 11, 2021 at 7:39 am

Yo is a registered user.

The City Council should confirm for Sobrato what the zoning code states in regard to the discontinued nonconforming retail use of the site. The site is zoned for housing and since the retail use was discontinued for one year or more it shall not be resumed.

If Sobrato was really serious about continuing the nonconforming retail use they could have leased the entire building to a hot dog stand for a $1 per year until they got their act together.

City Council: Send Sobrato the clear message that the ship has sailed on retail use of the site so they can either plan to develop housing or sell to someone who will. Sobrato: No more empty threats about leaving the site vacant to become a blight upon our community.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 11, 2021 at 8:20 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Sobrato postures itself as the Newsome / Pelosi groupies for the state, attending events where they get celebrated. If they cannot conform to the latest directives from the Gov for more housing then take the property by eminent domain. Eminent domain uses the tax base of a property to pay-off the owners. The tax base on this property must be extremely low. Sobrato will not come ahead. Shame on them.

SU has a housing project in process at RWC, Woodside Road and Industrial - a huge piece of land which is similar in size which has now been cleared of buildings and is starting to be built. There are existing local projects which have been approved as examples of mixed use development. No one needs to start from scratch here. Use existing local projects which have been approved and tweak them to fit the property size.


Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 11, 2021 at 5:14 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

First of all, it puts my teeth on edge how often commenters on Palo Alto Online misspell the Governor's name. It's Newsom, Not Newsome. I could give you all the benefit of the doubt that it's auto-correct doing it, but I'm not feeling that generous. I get hit with false auto-correct a lot, but I read my posts before clicking the "submit" button.

And second of all, my heartfelt thanks to Gennady for the excellent, clear reporting on this complicated zoning matter.

I hope the site and the area can be developed as housing, with a reasonable amount of low-income housing included. 20% would be great. If Sobrato continues to be difficult, maybe the eminent domain idea by another commenter would push housing forward. In any case, I sincerely hope our City Council and Planning Department don't cave at the first hint of a lawsuit to force the city into letting them build more office space. This is the very last thing Palo Alto needs more of.


Posted by Samuel Jackson
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 11, 2021 at 6:50 pm

Samuel Jackson is a registered user.

Just build more housing.

I work at 380 portage and run past the whole site regularly. I can't say I've seen rigorous efforts to prepare and market the site... It's even taken a long time to fully clear the Fry's detritus.

We need housing. City Council should act with all haste to make it so. Easy choices.


Posted by PST
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2021 at 3:48 pm

PST is a registered user.

The city just spent $23 million to install a more expensive bridge than necessary over 101 this weekend. Time for the city to step up for housing, Acquire all the land through purchase or eminent domain. Accommodate current residents into future housing. Build Extremely Low Income and Below Market Rate housing, parks, and perhaps some retail. No offices! Structure it so the newly built housing stock will remain ELI or BMR housing upon change of ownership. It’s a question of priorities and the will to do something for real.


Posted by Diane Reklis
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 14, 2021 at 3:26 pm

Diane Reklis is a registered user.

Please don't settle for the "least-worst solution" here. Good people worked on this and did not reach a conclusion that works for our future. Members of the committee should be invited to continue and the committee should be expanded to include more city residents. The next round of meetings should invite new ideas. This is too important to just settle. Keep looking and a really good solution will emerge. Palo Alto needs to get back to the creative thinking that built this wonderful city.


Posted by Clifton DePaul
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2021 at 3:44 pm

Clifton DePaul is a registered user.

Just build high-rise apartments with underground garages and add a small shopping mall with a grocery store, gas station, pharmacy, and maybe a Round Table Pizza or some other small dining option. Done deal.

Why so much debate over trivial matters?

If you build it, they will come...providing everything is reasonably priced.


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