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Palo Alto moves to protect retail on downtown block

Original post made on Apr 9, 2013

Palo Alto officials turned back the zoning clock on an eclectic downtown block Monday night when they passed a law requiring property owners to devote ground-floor space to retail.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, April 8, 2013, 9:33 PM

Comments (17)

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Posted by cynical and not feeling very civically "engaged"
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2013 at 1:06 am

...rezoning happy so-and-so's ... grrr ... Alma Plaza ....

Maybe we should make a rule that if city council wants to rezone ANYTHING they should have to get out of their offices and knock on doors in the area. And listen. And actually care about what those affected by the changes think.

NOW they want to save retail? How about putting some high density housing there? isn't that the most important thing of all in Palo Alto, more important than quality of life for existing residents, more important than safety, revenue, open space, daylight, property values, traffic jams, environmental degradation from the traffic jams, keeping services local. I thought the only thing that mattered was foisting higher density anywhere possible. Retail? Why not a whole bunch of 100 square foot apartments where we can shoe-horn in as many people as possible? I know, let's make it a senior development so no one can argue with it! Yes! Go high-density!

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2013 at 6:33 am


Oh, you mean more ice cream stores and nail salons.

What about some decent affordable retail? What about a decent, full service supermarket in Palo Alto. What about affordable children's clothes and household items? Why do I give most of my sales tax $$$ to Mountain View and elsewhere?

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Posted by Developers influence some
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 9, 2013 at 9:25 am

Big developers Chop Keenan and Roxy Rapp were against it so of course Klein, Price, and Shepherd were against it too. No surprises there.

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Posted by MadamPresident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2013 at 10:38 am

@Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

what, you want socialism? :)

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Posted by Somethings rotten in Denmark
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 9, 2013 at 10:38 am

City council members Price, Shepard and Klein lick the boots of developers. These three city council members need to be investigated
for possible kickbacks, favors, etc. by developers. Something doesn't smell right. They do not have the best interests of Palo Altans at heart, by virtue of their voting record.

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Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 9, 2013 at 12:05 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

It's high time to have an independent auditor examine the backgrounds and ALL ( not just reported ) income of Price, Shepard and Klein.
If improper income or behavior is found, THEY get the bill for the audit.

A grand " experiment " has failed and the zoning should reflect the wants of RESIDENTS and not profiteers.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Rapp and Keenan are generals in the War on Residents. Anything those guys oppose has to have some merit.

One maybe-less-obvious problem with the explosion of office space in Palo Alto is: it makes it harder to argue with ABAG (a train wreck in its own right) about overdevelopment in housing, at the same we're overdeveloping ourselves in office space.

As for Price and Shepard ... what would those two do if we ever had an issue pitting developers against public-employee unions?

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Posted by Whassup
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2013 at 6:40 pm

It often appears like there is an ulterior motive to turn Palo Alto into one big urban center, rather than a nice residential suburb.

It is becoming less and less appealing as a place to live, as it gets more and more urbanized. far more people now work here than live here. More and more of the people who live here are crammed into undesirable high-density condos, townhomes, and apartments. Even the single family detached dwellings are on teeny tiny lots. New commercial and residential buildings get more and more drab, ugly, and in your face, for that closed-in canyon-like feeling. Less landscape and green space, more concrete and steel.

Not a place to raise children, or even walk a dog.

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Posted by dismayed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Roxy Rapp's Cheesecake Factory on University Ave is nearing it's 10-year anniversary. Almost exclusively found in malls it found its way unfettered onto University Ave, agendized originally by the staff as a "facade remodel" for ARB review and approval.That pretty much sums it up. It replaced a retail use, Copeland's Sports in the "downtown core".

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Posted by Tina Peak
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 9, 2013 at 7:40 pm

It's laughable that Chop Keenan and Roxy Rapp are complaining about "spot zoning" when they are the major beneficiaries from that form of "spot zoning" known as "planned community". As usual follow the money, the truth is that they can get more dollars from an office building and stick residents with the increased traffic, parking and overall lower quality of living in Palo Alto.

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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2013 at 7:41 pm


I know right? Its almost like Palo Alto is smack dab in the middle of a large urban center. And clearly nobody wants to live in high density housing, that's why it never gets built, because it will just sit empty.

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Posted by SS
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 10, 2013 at 9:59 am

I don't enjoy walking around Palo Alto downtown anymore, it's so much traffic, construction, hectic....... Los Altos downtown is much nicer for lunch & walk around instead.

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Posted by Dismayed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2013 at 11:16 am


I don't think there's anything ulterior at all about the motive.

Planning Department officials have consistently been open about their vision to "urbanize" (their word) Palo Alto, with high density housing, higher-rise development, and "new urban" style projects unencumbered by parking and sidewalks.

Never mind this is completely contrary to the vision of Palo Alto residents and voters, to zoning laws, as well as to that annoying "Comprehensive Plan" thingy.

The City Staff thinks they've outgrown Palo Alto, and are Regional people now. Besides, it looks better on their resume that they put up an Arillaga-plex, as opposed to fixing potholes in the streets.

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Right now office space is hot, the need for office space is huge, yes controls are needed. Can't have everything turn into office space, but can't have empty buildings waiting for retail tenants. Unless you want nail shops, check cashing, tanning salons. I have been some strip malls where those 3 kinds of stores are popular.

Only allow a percentage of offices to fill up space on any given retail block. Ground Floor.

If retail shops want to relocate to the 2nd floor, allow that to happen too.

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Posted by lazlo
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Oh Well.....The City Council, City Manager, and Senior Management staff have long ago sold out to developers and commercial land owners with "their" vision of an "urbanized " Palo Alto. This council action will surely follow what the city manager calls "a need for a blue ribbon committee action" with months and months of outsourced contractor studies to examine what other cities are enforcing and followed by more studies and inaction. Maybe the only real purpose of city management and city council is to decide which flag to fly at city hall or if we should use plastic bags. We currently have a city manager with no leadership skills and a city council oblivious to resident needs. What a pity!

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Posted by Dismayed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm

That's not completely true. Karen Holman gets it. The rest ...

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Posted by liberty
a resident of University South
on Apr 10, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Isn't Anna Eshoo's office on the ground floor of that block?

I think Karen Holman should let her know that "There's a place for offices, but in these kinds of locations it's not in the best interests of the community."

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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