CTRA Observer Reports for April

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 an update from our Stanford observer.


Stanford

GUP/Development Agreement

The big news this month is that the Development Agreement negotiations between the County and Stanford have been suspended indefinitely. This is in response to the announcement of a “school funding and mitigation agreement” arranged separately but contingent on the eventual approval of the Development Agreement.

Meanwhile, the GUP process continues to be a moving target, with meetings constantly being scheduled/cancelled/rescheduled/etc. The current County Planning Commission meeting schedule is tentatively set as:

  • May 9 – 2nd study session
  • May 23 – 1st Public Hearing (Palo Alto)
  • June 13 – 2nd Public Hearing
  • June 27 – 3rd Public Hearing

The Board of Supervisors discussions will begin after that.

With regard to the Historic Resources section of the GUP, I was unable to attend the April 10th special session of the Historic Heritage Commission due to a Caltrain meltdown. As far as I can understand, however, the staff is recommending that the GUP EIR be approved but with the inclusion of a recommended condition of approval to require ongoing evaluation of all resources over 50 years old. This would provide some protection for the buildings excluded from the Historic Resource Report as written without requiring too much finely detailed discussion at this point. They’re scheduled to vote on it Thursday evening. I can’t be there but expect that it will be a good result and I will share my thoughts on it with the County Board (including Supervisor Simitian) and with the County Planning Commission.

The San Juan neighborhood continues to be very contentious, with discussion of requiring a full historical analysis of the neighborhood and a request for legislative tools to ensure that the board can protect the character of the neighborhood. The next meeting to discuss this is the HLUET (Housing Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee) on Thursday morning. One item under discussion is the possibility of forming a special advisory committee for development of the area.

Fireworks

A reminder that Stanford has both a baseball game and a softball game scheduled for Saturday, April 27th. The games are to be followed by a fireworks show. I have not been able to verify but I anticipate that a County Fire Marshall will be on hand with the authority to cancel the fireworks if we’re experiencing high winds as we have recently.

Please note that the Stanford University noise hotline can be reached at (650) 724-4900. This hotline was implemented as a condition of approval under the 2000 GUP but unfortunately has not had much effect, largely because folks don’t know about it, can’t be bothered to report noise, or have given up. It can be used to report any annoying noises emanating from Stanford such as the never-ending sports announcements or loud music.

Stanford Development in College Terrace

I have submitted a code enforcement request to the City regarding the use of 757/739 College Ave as a storage yard. They have inspected it and have notified Stanford that it needs to be cleaned up.

–Pria Graves

CTRA Observer Reports for February

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 our Stanford and California Avenue observers.


California Avenue Business District

Khoury’s Market

The city has approved a permit application for exterior improvements to the building that include new paint, new storefront glazing, new lighting, and new planters to an outdoor seating/gathering area. The application was submitted in September and approved earlier this month.

The September application also included a proposal for exterior signage, however a decision was made to remove that item and re-submit it as a separate application. That occurred on February 8. It calls for the installation of two “Khoury’s Market” signs: one above the El Camino Real entrance way, and one on Oxford Avenue. The plans also show a horizontal illuminated, vertical projecting, “parking here” sign (i.e., a “P” within a circle above an arrow within a circle) just past the garage ramps.

Senior planning staff also informs us that:

  • The planner assigned “is working expeditiously with the applicant towards an approval, but there are no guarantees the application will be approved in March.”
  • Code Enforcement is looking into the bins that have replaced the dumpsters on Oxford Avenue across the street from the market.
  • While the roof globe lights were part of the original permit, the prior property owner had made a commitment to turn the lights off after the grocery store closes at night. Once the new owners get a building permit, they will be free to remove them.

Inside the market itself, grocery carts have been delivered and an Italian coffee machine is on order. Stop by and let a member of the Khoury family know your suggestions.

–Ann Balin


Stanford

Now that the holidays are over, things have picked up again! 

First, the County Historical Heritage Commission is continuing to look at the Historic Resources section of the GUP Application.  The County has hired a second peer review firm, JRP Historical Consulting, to address various questions about Stanford’s methodology for determining which structures are “historic”.  The HHC’s next meeting was pushed out from February 21st and is now scheduled for March 6 at 6:30 p.m. 

In addition, Supervisor Simitian approached PAST Heritage, requesting them to weigh in.  They have agreed to step up and craft a letter which will go initially to the HHC and then most likely to the County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.   

At a Community Resources Group meeting last fall, Stanford staff made the point of telling us that they had presented their historic analysis to Palo Alto’s Historic Resources Board.  But at the PAST board meeting last week, one of the HRB members expressed disappointment that this “presentation” was only a study session and they were not given the chance to make any recommendation to Council concerning this important item.  

On the main GUP path, the first two County Planning Commission study sessions have been scheduled for February 28th and March 14th, both at 1:30 p.m.  Supervisor Simitian continues to support full mitigation for impacts and a group of Stanford students have launched a petition requesting this too. 

Finally, regarding the zoning amendment in the San Juan area of the campus, the Board of Supervisors felt that there was no ground for them to deny the application.  Everything about it was consistent with the General Plan and Stanford Community Plan as they currently stand.  And since it was actually a down-zoning (from Academic Campus to Campus Residential-Low Density), they had to allow it.  However, Supervisor Simitian added an amendment directing staff to investigate possible changes to these overarching plans to give the Board tools that would allow them to deny future similar applications in the San Juan neighborhood.

–Pria Graves

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