CTRA Observer Reports for July

The College Terrace Residents Association has a group of board members known as “observers” who monitor relevant public meetings and news in their assigned area and then report back to the entire board on pertinent local actions and issues of interest to College Terrace. This month, we have updates from all three observers.


GUP/ Development Agreement

The Planning Commission completed their hearings on the Conditions of Approval and forwarded their endorsement, but with the proviso that Stanford must construct about four times as much housing as they originally proposed and that 70% of it be located on campus.

County staff reviewed Stanford’s boast that they are providing community benefits worth $4.7 billion and pointed out that many of these so-called “benefits” are actually either part of the initial application or legally required mitigations! Only $166 million is a more realistic value. This includes $130 million offered to Palo Alto Schools and $30 million offered for bike projects and other improvements.

On the traffic front, the 3-hour peak period counts in addition to peak hour was a win but it was disappointing that the Commission caved in on Stanford’s insistence that nothing can be done to prevent additional reverse commute trips or to avoid exceeding the Average Daily Trips count. They recommended scrapping those requirements and reverting to the standard CEQA mitigation which is a monetary contribution to “fixing” affected intersections when the traffic level is impacted by all those new residents who simply must drive everywhere.

One interesting issue that was raised by the Commission concerned the construction workers who come from long distances to work on Stanford projects. They questioned whether these folks park in the neighborhoods (I said I hadn’t seen them in ours…) or whether they are amongst those parking along El Camino Real. According to the article in last week’s PA Weekly, there are, in fact, a number of workers doing just that. The Commissioner questioned whether such workers would benefit from a designated overnight parking area on Stanford lands so they could make the drive from home less frequently. Clearly the answer is “Yes”!

Stanford continues to claim that the County is requiring an “unbuildable” project and is pulling out all stops with propaganda everywhere (online, radio, etc.). I remain concerned as to whether the Board will be able to stand up to the barrage of folks who insist that Stanford can do no wrong. Supervisor Simitian’s term as President of the Board ends in December. I believe this is why he’s anxious to have the GUP process wrapped up by then.

Finally, the Development Agreement process is still on hold. As Deputy County Executive Sylvia Gallegos pointed out to the Planning Commission, the GUP process is a permit application and they will not negotiate away the Conditions of Approval.

There is a good summary of the Commission’s decision on Palo Alto Online.

San Juan Neighborhood

At the request of the HLUET, staff prepared a proposal for a survey and evaluation of potential new development standards and zoning amendments for the San Juan Residential District. This will include:

  1. Preparation of a Historic Survey
  2. Evaluation of Existing Neighborhood Design
  3. Consideration of new Development Standards/Zoning Amendments (to bebased on the results of the first two steps)
  4. Public outreach and hearings.

It is also intended that they will create a limited-duration advisory group to work with the county on key decision points during the process. This group will consist of representatives from key stakeholder groups including leaseholders within the district as well as Stanford staff and other. Supervisor Simitian also mentioned that in addition to this special, limited duration advisory group, it might be appropriate to create a more permanent group representing Stanford stakeholders, perhaps akin to the Community Resource Group but specifically focused on Stanford issues.

Staff wanted to delay this process until after the completion of the GUP but Supervisor Simitian pushed back and suggested that this should be started sooner. Staff agreed that this process could start this fall.

–Pria Graves

California Avenue Business District

  • Adam’s Pantry is a new business slated to open on California Avenue between Terun and Country Sun. Besides a “Coming Soon” sign, we don’t know anything about this business yet.
  • diPietro Todd salon is leaving its beautiful, mid-century modern space on Birch Street due to escalating rents. It’s unclear what will replace it.
  • Construction of the new California Avenue Parking Garage is well underway and is expected to be complete in early 2020.
  • As noted in the Weekly, construction will begin this Fall on a new three-story building to replace the existing buildings between 378 and 410 Cambridge Avenue. Most of the current tenants, including the Cambridge Barber Shop, have already left.
  • Work is underway in front of Khoury’s Market to replace the dark storefront windows with clear ones so it will be easier to see into the store from the street.

–Ann Balin

City of Palo Alto

Things are relatively quiet as the City Council is currently on its summer break. The council’s first meeting after the break will be on Monday, August 5.

The City will start rolling out changes to the downtown and neighborhood parking programs next month in an effort to make them more uniform. We don’t yet know how this will impact the College Terrace Residential Permit Program, but we will update the neighborhood once we know the full extent of the changes.

–Margaret Heath

One thought on “CTRA Observer Reports for July

  1. Margaret Allen says:

    To Ann Balin,

    Adam is the guy who started the Backyard coffee place. He is related to the team that runs Med Wraps. He’s been making (pretty good) food out of a truck on his premises, and his plan is (or was, when I last spoke to him) to expand into what appears will be called “Adam’s Pantry”.

    Best wishes,


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