CTRA Observer Reports for January

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. These four observers cover Stanford, the City of Palo Alto, the California Avenue Business District, and the Research Park.

The observers typically deliver their reports at the CTRA’s monthly meetings but, going forward, we’re also going to publish those reports on the website so that they’re more readily accessible to the neighborhood. This month, we have updates from our Stanford and California Avenue observers.


Stanford

Things with the Stanford GUP/Development Agreement have slowed way down over the holidays. No further meetings have been announced. And there have been no updates to the development agreement process website.

Meanwhile, the Historic Resources section of the GUP Application is going to the County Historical Heritage Commission for a second study session on Thursday evening, January 17: http://sccgov.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=11167

Over the past few weeks the commissioners have been touring the campus to view some of the historic and no-longer-historic buildings.

One other new development on campus: the Board of Supervisors will hold a hearing regarding a zoning amendment in the San Juan Hills area of the campus.  They plan to change the land use designation of the area from Academic Campus to Campus Residential-Low Density and to redistribute five housing units from “Campus Center” to “San Juan Hills” under the 2000 GUP. They are also applying for a ten-lot subdivision. The residents in that area generally seem to be furious about it. There’s not a lot of information about it yet but the Supervisors meeting is scheduled for January 29th.

–Pria Graves


California Avenue Business District

Public Safety Building and Parking Garage

The City of Palo Alto is constructing a new public safety building at Sherman Avenue (Park Blvd.) and a new parking garage at Sherman (Ash Street). CTRA board member, Ann Lafargue Balin, (CAL Avenue observer) attended the walk-through with city staff and neighbors on Friday, January 18th. The project will be completed in 2020. Many people asked about the tree removal aspect of these projects. The trees will likely start to be removed during the week of January 22nd and according to the urban forester will be completed prior to the seasonal nesting season.

The city notified the public of the tree removal in mid-November 2018. There were several public, community meetings and hearings at the Architectural Review Board over the past two years of the project’s planning. The city sent out 2000 postcards to nearby businesses and residents to notify them of the September community meeting. Although the trees that are targeted for removal are healthy they will be removed because they would not survive the trauma of construction. The city’s urban forester and the EIR are requiring mitigation for the removal of the trees. There will be 21 new trees planted on the parking garage parcel and thirty five new trees planted on the Public Safety Building parcel. It will take 15 years for the canopy to mature. The urban forester said that native species will be emphasized in the design. They are suitable for our climate and are drought tolerant.

When the trees were removed on California Avenue in 2009 the residents and many merchants were stunned to find the street without the Holly Oaks. The city had neglected to notify the public. Citizens invited the esteemed landscape designer, Barrie Coate, for the Getty Museum to speak on what kind of species would enhance California Avenue. Dave Muffly, now Apple’s chief landscape designer was engaged to create the design for California Avenue. We now have a variety of species that make Palo Alto’s second downtown attractive. 

The scale of the parking garage is six hundred and thirty six parking places. The city staff had recommended a smaller amount, approximately four hundred, but the council voted for the larger quantity of parking spaces.

Go to project page with links to documents including the arborist’s report, Environmental Impact Report and other resources at www.cityofpaloalto.org/psb.

Other California Avenue News

Khoury’s Market has had their soft opening. The dumpsters from the Stanford Hotel have been removed from Oxford Street.

Pastis is now owned by the restauranteur who owns Cafe Brioche.

Barbeques Galore is closing.

Palo Alto Baking Company has closed as of December 31st.

–Ann Balin

Around the Terrace: January 17, 2019

Here are some recent announcements and news stories of interest to College Terrace and the surrounding area.

Khoury’s Market Soft Opens in College Terrace
Khoury’s Market, the long-awaited, family-run replacement for the College Terrace Market, is now open! The inventory is still coming together–although there’s already a beautiful display of fresh produce–but stop by, meet the Khourys, and check it out.

California Ave Garage/Public Safety Building Project Walk-Through this Friday
With construction slated to begin next week on the new parking garage and Public Safety Building, City staff will host a walk-through at the 350 Sherman Avenue parking lot on Friday at 2:30 p.m. The walk-through is an opportunity for the public to learn about the projects, the upcoming tree removals, and the City’s broader commitment to Palo Alto’s urban forest.

Weigh in on the City Council’s 2019 Priorities
Each year, the City Council reviews its priorities for the year at its Annual Council Retreat (scheduled for February 2nd). This survey is your chance to let the council know what you think it should focus on in the coming year. If you’re curious, the 2018 priorities were Transportation, Housing, Budget and Finance, and Grade Separation. In 2017, they were Transportation, Housing, Infrastructure, Healthy City/Healthy Community, and Budget and Finance.

Join the CTRA Nominating Committee!
The CTRA’s annual meeting and board election is coming up on March 23rd and we’re looking for people to join the nominating committee to recruit candidates for election. If you’ve been curious about what the CTRA does, this is a fantastic opportunity to learn more. Contact the CTRA president, James Cook, for more information.

California Avenue Repaving This Friday

As construction on University Terrace nears its completion, Stanford is required by the City of Palo Alto to repave California Avenue along the entire frontage of the project (see map below). That work will take place starting at 7am this Friday, December 14, and will make California Avenue beyond Dartmouth Street inaccessible to vehicles until around 5pm.

Residents living on California Avenue in the affected area are encouraged to park their cars Thursday night on one of the adjacent streets so that they can be used while the paving is underway. If you’re in the affected area, please read the complete Construction Advisory for further details.


Around the Terrace: December 5, 2018

Here are some recent announcements and news stories of interest to College Terrace and the surrounding area.

Escondido Elementary School Community Meeting
Palo Alto Unified School District will host a meeting to review and receive input on the Schematic Plan for a new Multi-Purpose Building and plan for the Escondido Elementary School Campus. The meeting will be conducted by Gelfland Partners Architects (who worked on similar projects at Duveneck, Fairmeadow, and Ohlone) and take place this Friday, December 7, at 8:15am in the Escondido Multi-Purpose Room.

Residents Seek School Funds From Stanford’s Expansion
The Palo Alto Weekly recaps the community listening meeting on the Stanford GUP development agreement led by Santa Clara County Supervisors Joe Simitian and Cindy Chavez. Schools, housing, and traffic concerns were top discussion topics.

Palo Alto Home Repair Program
Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley is administering the City of Palo Alto’s Home Repair program.  Lower-income Palo Alto homeowners in need of assistance with a broad range of health, safety, and accessibility improvements may be eligible for $10,000 grants.  The program is especially helpful for seniors on a fixed income and those with disabilities who might need adjustments made to continue living in their home. 

SunLife Brings Açaí Bowls, Juice to Cal Ave
A new business has opened on California Ave. Sun Life Organics serves açaí bowls blended with different fruit combinations and topped with ingredients such as nuts, fruit, coconut, honey and bee pollen. They also serve juices, smoothies, coffee and tea.

Key Community Input Meetings Next Week

Two projects with potentially huge impacts on our city and neighborhood are having community input meetings in the coming week. These are excellent opportunities to share your ideas and voice your concerns.

Rail Crossing Grade Separation
Wednesday, November 28 at 6pm (Mitchell Park, El Palo Alto Room)
The city is hosting a community meeting to discuss ideas for separating the street from the railroad at Palo Alto’s four existing railroad crossings. This particular meeting will focus on the Charleston Road and Meadow Drive crossings; another meeting on January 23 will cover the Churchill Avenue and Palo Alto Avenue crossings.

For more information on the Palo Alto rail corridor, visit cityofpaloalto.org/ConnectingPaloAlto.

Stanford GUP Community Benefits
Thursday, November 29 at 6:30pm (City Hall)
Santa Clara County Supervisors Simitian and Chavez will host a Community Listening Meeting to hear from the public about community benefits the county should consider in a negotiated Development Agreement regarding Stanford’s application for a General Use Permit for its proposed 2.3 million square foot academic expansion.

For more information on the Stanford GUP Development Agreement, visit www.countystanfordda.org.

And one more thing… on the City Council’s agenda for Monday, November 26, is a series of revisions to the zoning code intended to make it easier for residential developers to get their projects approved. These revisions, which range from new density bonuses to reduced parking requirements for residential projects, are likely to generate a spirited debate. Read the proposal (or at least the Weekly’s summary) and then decide if you want to add one more meeting to your civic/social calendar.

Local News Roundup: November 5, 2018

Here are some recent news stories of interest to College Terrace and the surrounding area.

Guest Opinion: Stanford Is Quietly Buying Up Houses
CTRA’s Stanford observer, Pria Graves, wrote an op-ed in the Daily Post covering the issues surrounding Stanford’s recent home purchases (30, at last count) in College Terrace.

JPMorgan Chase Opening Campus at Research Park
Following its acquisition of WePay, a Redwood City startup, JPMorgan Chase announced it will build a 195,000-square-foot “fintech” campus at the Stanford Research Park that will house up to 1,000 employees.

First Hydrogen Fuel Station in Palo Alto Opening Soon
The Shell station on El Camino in Barron Park will be the first hydrogen fuel station between Mountain View and South San Francisco.

And, finally, don’t forget to vote on Tuesday! If you’re still figuring out your ballot, check out the Palo Alto Weekly’s voter guide (including interviews with all city council and school board candidates), Palo Alto Neighborhood’s City Council Candidates Questionnaire and the League of Women Voters of Palo Alto’s election guide (including pros/cons for all of the state propositions).

Local News Roundup: September 10, 2018

Here are some recent news stories of interest to College Terrace and the surrounding area.

California Ave Public Safety Building and Garage Meetings
A community meeting will be held Wednesday, September 12, to discuss the project and upcoming street and parking changes to the area during the construction. The Public Safety Building will also be presented to the City Council and Architectural Review Board in the coming weeks.

Study: Stanford Can Triple Its Density (September 5)
How big can Stanford truly become? According to a study commissioned by Santa Clara County planners, Stanford can roughly triple its density and expand to 44 million square feet without infringing on the foothills.

Caltrain Launches Construction in Palo Alto (August 29)
After a year of work in other parts of the line, work on the electrification of Caltrain has finally started in Palo Alto. Local impacts include work performed at night (between 7pm and 7am), some weekend service disruptions, and the removal and pruning of trees.

Local News Roundup: July 9, 2018

Here are some recent news stories of interest to College Terrace and the surrounding area.

Local Developer Buys College Terrace Center (July 3)
The College Terrace Center has a new owner, Blox Ventures, who will continue the search for a tenant to replace the failed College Terrace Market. In related news, the $2,000 per day fine for the market being vacant (per the original agreement with the city) is set to begin on July 10.

Sun of Wolf Opens on California Ave (July 2)
Combining “Old World Mexican roots and modern Bay Area flavors,” three cousins whose parents own Palo Alto Sol next door have opened a new restaurant on California Avenue.

More Stanford Housing, But Worse Traffic? (June 29)
The Palo Alto City Council discussed the draft environmental analysis of Stanford’s expansion plans and the potential impact of new on-campus housing on the surrounding community.

Stanford Housing Construction in College Terrace

Representatives from Stanford attended the May 16 CTRA board meeting to give an update on the homes Stanford owns in College Terrace.

While most of the homes Stanford owns in our neighborhood are in the process of being sold or rented to faculty as-is (or with minor renovations), there are nine that Stanford is going to tear down and rebuild entirely. (Only seven will actually be torn down as two of the lots are currently vacant.)

These nine homes are located at:

  • 2040 Columbia St
  • 2070 Columbia St
  • 2100 Cornell St
  • 2035 Oberlin St
  • 2255 Oberlin St
  • 2320 Princeton St
  • 1015 Stanford Ave
  • 739 College Ave (vacant lot)
  • 757 College Ave (vacant lot)

Construction will be staggered and start between May and September 2018, with projected completion dates between June and October 2019.  Construction hours will be 8am to 6pm Monday-Friday and 9am to 6pm on Saturdays (no work on Sundays or holidays).

Questions or comments should be directed to the project manager, David Kirk at (650) 721-5794 or dgkirk@stanford.edu.

Local News Roundup: May 7, 2018

Here are some recent news stories of interest to College Terrace and the surrounding area.

City to Narrow Down Redesign Options for Rail (April 25)
The Palo Alto City Council is hoping to reduce the current list of design options for Palo Alto’s rail crossings from 34 down to about 10 at its May 14 meeting. This includes deciding whether to officially abandon one of the most popular options: an underground tunnel through Palo Alto.

Palo Alto Approves Permanent Office Cap (May 1)
The Palo Alto City Council agreed to make permanent the 50,000-square-foot limit on office and research-and-development projects in downtown, around California Avenue and along El Camino Real. However, there is a separate citizen initiative underway to limit commercial growth citywide and make sure it remains at or below the city’s historical average.

Agilent, HP Companies Strike Back at Stanford Lawsuit (May 4)
Back in February, Stanford filed a lawsuit against HP and Agilent, claiming that the companies  contaminated the property now used for Stanford’s University Terrace development (1601 S. California Ave) with hazardous PCBs and TCE for over 30 years. Now, Agilent and HP have filed a response and counterclaim, claiming that Stanford knew about a chemical spill but did nothing about it.