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By Steve Levy

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About this blog: I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to the area in 1963 when I started graduate school at Stanford. Nancy and I were married in 1977 and we lived for nearly 30 years in the Duveneck school area. Our children went to Paly. We moved ...  (More)

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I Like Downtown Palo Alto

Uploaded: Aug 26, 2012
I have worked in downtown since 1969 and we have lived downtown since 2006. So downown is a big part of my life on daily basis.

Mostly what I read on Town Square is complaints and mostly from people who do not live and work here.

I don't understand the complaints that downtown has changed for the worse unless people are hoping downtown returns to the anti-war bustle of my generation in the 1960s.

Downtown (and Stanford) have continued to grow and evolve as central and critical parts of one of the world's innovation centers.

Seeing all the enthsiastic young folks smiling and happy and working hard gives me hope for the future. They and I generations apart share a connection to this small area where I live and work.

Yes, downtown will grow and if the current plans for the corner of Hamilton and High don't work out, something else will becasue people want to work in downtown. Posters can complain about evil plots by developers and council people (anyone have any proof?0 but buildings get built because investors think there is demand and my work certainly supports that. The Bay Area has added mroe than 100,000 during the past 12 months, far above teh 33,000 annnual gains we projected for ABAG in the long term.

If the business owners want to provide input, i think it should be carefully considered.

And if posters want to about how a building looks (in a neighborhood far away from where they live) please send me your name and address and a picture of where you live so I can see if it offends me.

There are plenty of shopping choices in the area and i think what goes into downtown retail should be the choice of the owners and the market. I am happy with what is available to me and think further growth will expand my choices. I am happy to see empty stores being filled as the economy recovers and more people work downtown.

I would think most residents would agree with planners that growth as much as possible should be focused in existing centers.

As I walk down University each art festival weekend and whenever the street is used for a community event, it reminds me that I live in a vibrant part of our community and region.

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Anon., a resident of ,
on Aug 26, 2012 at 2:26 pm

It's the character of the city and the nature of the people that have changed over time - a lot.

If you think about it, our time here is so different from anything any previous era of human being has had to live in and process. Time would have to slow down to sync up with a roller coaster - it's a wonder people are not more ... uhm ... "dazzled"

What I do not like about downtown is simply when I am there and there are a fair amount of people they act like rutting bulls or something, even the women ... it's dash in front of people, blow smoke in their face, ask for money, sidewalk chicken, littering, loud cellphone talking, bad drivers, aloof, unfriendly and unsmiling ... not all Palo Altans, not even most, but just enough to always bring it to mind and make it seem like it is always on the uptrend - and there is rarely any public condemnation of bad behavior I think because people are scared of that one insane violent confrontation we read about in the news. I think Freakonomics talked about these unrepresentative samples that humans statistically process incorrectly.

The weird thing is that time goes by so fast I don't think people perceive it, and if there do there is not much critical mass to bring it to public consciousness other than as general negative complaints that provoke emotional reactions from people who really do not want to think about it or acknowledge it or don't notice it or don't care.

Anyway, my days or wandering around downtown to World's Indoor Records or Chimera Books or Liddicoats or the many movie theaters or Borders or World Wraps or Macheesmo Mouse or Pizza A-Go-Go, 31 Flavors or many other places long gone - are over.

There is still many nice places in downtown Palo Alto, it's not so bad, just different with different people.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of ,
on Aug 26, 2012 at 2:32 pm

I enjoy downtown Palo Alto too - although I would like to see more of a mix of retail. The things I do not like:

New offices and business building should provide a REALISTIC amount of parking for their employees. A building that has room for 200 employees should provide more than at least 100 spaces. And the fact that a building just exists is not a public benefit unless you are a hospital.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sharon, a resident of ,
on Aug 26, 2012 at 9:01 pm


University Ave and side streets now has the quality of a Strip Mall.

Lots of temporary businesses -like the proliferation of foot cosmetic salons.

It is a disaster-a result of poor planing-poor oversight and greed.

stephen levy champions this disasters



We need some new- younger - members in city planning, economics and politics

Who can make the trade-offs explicit and honest

Do we want a strip mall or do we want quality?

Menlo Park went for quality and it is profitable.

We now have a strip mall on University Avenue


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Palo Parent, a resident of ,
on Aug 26, 2012 at 9:10 pm

You know you're in trouble when the temporary Halloween shops can freely rent space in prime downtown University Ave. locations year after year.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy, a resident of ,
on Aug 27, 2012 at 6:13 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Yes University Avenue does have a number of personal care businesses and sometimes stores filled with seasonal trade.

On the other hand I don't know of any strip malls that get $6/sq ft per month for office space and have bustling restaurants and bars or the daytime walking traffic of downtown. Not to mention a brand new state of the art Apple store.

I think the negative posters must think only about retail and have some vision of Los Gatos or California Avenue or a street they like in Menlo Park.

But the downtown I live and work in and like is a bustling tech innovation center attractive to people who come from north and south, many of whom use CalTrain.

And it is much more than University Avenue with new buildings and businesses on many adjacent streets.

If you don't like it, please stay away. That is your choice.

But downtown Palo Alto is anything but a place "in trouble".

And i think it will continue to evolve and for better or worse in the future there will be fewer businesses that require a low rent environment.

My own business is caught up in the tide of rising rents. Even so downtown works for me and I love to see the variety of faces and ages of our new workers and visitors.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sharon, a resident of ,
on Aug 27, 2012 at 6:38 pm



When we have senior executive clients from Europe or Asia to visit we take them for dinner to Menlo Park--because

When they see University Ave in PA they are horrified by the vagrants,drunks and beggars.

They note that there is not one book store-just a vanity Apple store-that's it

These executives would never stay in Palo Alto-they stay in Menlo Park-because they feel safe and they do not feel safe in downtown Palo Alto.

stephen levy should declare any and all financial interests and conflicts of interests-
Why has he never done the decent thing?



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