Would you really feel any pity if one of those dot coms stopped moving forever?

edit to add: I later decided not only to run for City Council but to double down and apply for ARB; meanwhile I happened on to Rita Varell working on her garden and she added her name to the list of my endorsers, about 20 to 25 by September 24, 2014; I also spoke out against the cellphone tower at Little League Park and although Rany Popp had recused himself, he was watching he meeting on his computer and said he had :no comment: to me–Mark Weiss

385 Sherman, partial view, at Ash

385 Sherman, partial view, at Ash

When Palo Alto ARB members Clare Malone Prichard and Randy Popp talk about “property rights” I’m not sure they are not talking about this post-Citizen’s United, post-McCutheon phenomenon of “corporations are people”. Are they saying that they believe that Property per se has rights, like if there is a $10,ooo pile of gold somewhere we have to honor its rights to self-determination and self-actualization and not get in the way of it becoming a $20,000 pile of gold?

I don’t get it.

Steve Levy said the same thing at a meeting, and workshop. He said government and We The People have to be super, duper careful not to tread on Property Rights.


I sat thru two-and-half hours of a meeting Thursday about 385 Sherman, where the developer, a slick young guy in a suit, wants to tear down a perfectly good and fully-leased building, down the alley from Cali Ave and it’s triptych mural, to build a super-sized uber-building, with that many more workers and four little pied-à-terre overlooking Sarah Wallace Park. Meanwhile there is a group of homeowners from the 40-member condo association next door, Birch Court, about 19 of whom are pretty vehemently against the proposal. Or at the very least, they want to make sure the project is well-vetted before it proceeds (in this climate of give a developer and inch and he’ll reach for 44 feet).

The board to my mind is likely to let Minkoff be Minkoff and is basically telling the residents “tough titties.” Popp actually said something to the effect of buyer beware if you move into an underdeveloped area, which makes sense if you are talking about a former chicken farm in East Palo Alto or you are a member of the Donnor Party or something, but again in this case these people have lived there for 30 years in some cases and so has 385 Sherman.

Maybe I am too influenced by the fact that one of the homeowners, at the meeting but did not speak — although she told me she was influential in moving the HOA towards what become hiring Bill Ross as council — is my favorite Buddhist-Capitalist, Norzin Lama of Norzin Collections boutique, who came here as a refugee from Tibet in the 198os, sent two daughters to Gunn, Paly and or dental school, and if her English is not perfect (it’s better than my Tibetan, you can bet on) has a way of emoting the meaning of things. I’m encouraging her to speak up at the next round of things, for her sake, her more-in-the-firing-line neighbors and for  all of us.

I worry that America and frankly all of the developed world (sic), are indeed losing our spiritual bearings and beyond confusing corporations (or capital) with people, seem to have forgotten the Seven Cardinal Sins.

Maybe we should rename Sherman, Grant and Sheridan for Wrath, Lust and Gluttony?

I see Palo Alto as first of all a vacuum of non-participation in Democracy, following by a huge push from, in this case, the real estate industry, such that leadership is basically compromised — not necessarily completely corrupt, as is indicated by the Grand Jury report of 6/6/6 I mean 6/6/2014, which references one developer and two of his deals or near-deals — such that yeah, the architects ask about types of Magnolia trees, and types of lighting but never say the obvious:

why do we need the building in the first place?

(which reminds me of my other post last week about the architects on the HRB, historic resources, and the proposal to turn a historic theatre into more office space and they guy said it would not bother him at all if a theatre he designed as a theatre was used as an office. And I wished I had asked him if he hears back from his residential clients that they find themselves shitting in the living room and therefore want him to come back and tear out the bathrooms. I actually referenced, in real time, Howard Gossage and David Brower and their ads to save Grand Canyon from development: Would you flood Sistine Chapel to help tourists better see the ceiling).

The coldness and callousness of the applicant, his attorney (making little jokes every ten minutes to his crony — his name is David Van Atta) and leadership reminds me of Harry Lime in “The Third Man”:

how many of those little dots disappearing before it bothers you? (he was a post-War drug dealer sitting atop a ferris wheel looking at the people, commenting on his disregard for shipping bad drugs to hospitals).




Anne Steinle Birch Court homeowners board
It does not give us much privacy.
build for common good, not developers.
massive, not respect scale of neighborhood, mit neg, mitigation monitoring plan

arborist report not current (march)

six trees, only 1 high chance of surviving

magic photos , esp of birch

decks across from us, problem already

please remove any decks and walkways facing our residences

contaminated soil near eating establishments? Mary Ryan

1,700 pages of documentation??
44 days of excavation
(proximity to, but not at, toxic plume…)

72 percent higher than state standard on toxicity (in 2009? study of toxics)
the residents are pretty convincing, to my ears

Brenda Lowen
lives on second floor, of CC2 picture
privacy screen of trees

Pat Baty
(works at PA clinic — lives in next building)
(PAHC condos, nearby —her neighbor — )
asks about Comp Plan on office versus res (although mostly Downtown cap)

Peter Holland
scale, privacy, zoning
too massive for small site it sits on
misleading diagrams, height of 4-story building
trumpets gain of 4 market rate at expense of 19 existing homes (inc BMR??)
CC2 next to rm-40? 40 percent of project next to Sarah Wallis Park — loophole
city is giving away public benefit of the park to private developer

Kevin Kiser
challenges the rush nature, the 1700 pages, and the 30 day period
72 percent above legal limit, on soil
demolition releases asbestos and lead paint?
parking issue alone should be enough to put the brakes on this project

Sue Kiser 30 years resident

(Sherman v. birch:)
(burning atlanta vs a tree grows in brooklyn)
(immune compromised)?

(where does matt live?)
canary in the coal mine (song by Police)

Bob Moss at 935
hazardous material report is inadequate
based on work at barron park and moffeit field
TCB in groundwater
mitigation is inadequate

Rita Varell
lives outside area
lives near a noisy church??
mention GJ report, and asks about disclosure (3 board members said they met with applicant)
pump out of private residents water, where does the water go?

Bill Ross at 945 — 24 minutes of time

260 Cali as comparable case: do neighbors really get the chance to enforce CeQa aspects of adjacent new projects?

Cara Silver, city attorney, responds
(“weak response” bill says privately during break, around 1025; i had moved my car, 1020)
1035 reconvene
spoke to rita varell during break…

randy popp asked about materials. material board…or was that lew?
title 24 and soft lighting regarding energy???

clare and randy mention “property rights”
people should expect that whatever is around them will get built up someday. (spoken like an architect or the fountainhead)

11 am i gotta go, concerts i s more in my wheelhouse. follow up with some of the people and do right about this.
(do write, i mean)

(later I walked the block, including Sarah Wallis Park, and did run into my friend Matt who lives on Grant; I also traded voice mail with one of the residents that I know personally and left a note at the door)

(in between I had an excellent Tri-Tip sandwich from John’s downtown on Lytton, which I took to the Brown Bag concert at Cogswell Plaza, featuring Tony Lindsay and Spang-a-lang (including Bryant Mills on drums, and a bass player on lunch break from UPS, wearing his uniform, for three songs; and met Sgt. Steve Savage of PAPD, and said hello to Russ Cohen of PAD and Ali Williams of the City who spearheaded the resumption of the series after a 5-year hiatus; I will return to this post or a further post to organize my reaction to 385 Sherman proposal — classic case of values clashing in Palo Alto — I would tend to side with the residents of Birch Court, who have hired former Council candidate Bill Ross to represent their views, while Minkoff has hired John Paul Hanna and Dave Van Atta, I believe their names are, he Van Atta spoke at the meeting).

edit to add, Aug. 21, 2014 reporting direct from ARB, then posted to PAW:
I spoke out against 385 Sherman proposal just two minutes ago, at ARB, as did Bob Moss, Bill Ross and a dozen others.

I wrote up my notes of the earlier ARB hearing here

Web Link

Too massive, too disruptive, not in keeping with our General Plan…protect neighbors first!


About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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