Background – In the next two years, we citizens have the opportunity to influence how the large Fry’s site will be developed by the owners, the Sobrato Family.  They own the property and they have their rights as property owners.   However they want to join the community to build something we can all be proud of.

To this end the Sobrato Family is donating $115,000k to go along with a grant of $500,000 from the Valley Transit Authority to create the North Ventura Coordinated Area Plan.  (Think South of Forest CAP from 20 years ago.)

With this funding, the City Council will be forming a working group — including residents of Ventura neighborhood — to help plan the development on the Fry’s site.  Angela Dellaporta of the Ventura Neighborhood Association is heading a VNA committee to collect ideas.  The Committee welcomes your thoughts, ideas and opinions. The site will almost certainly be dedicated to multi-family residential units, and will also include some public open space. So far, we have discussed the following general guiding principals, with more details below:

1. Maximum public green space – sustainable landscape design
2. Transportation-friendly – Pedestrian-Bike path, underground parking, etc.
3. Attractive and Sustainable Building Design
4. Maximum community use of the site – through good design and business curation
5. Consider the development of the Fry’s site in the context of other development in the Ventura Neighborhood and along El Camino

Please note that this list is presented in no particular order (i.e. it is not prioritized), and includes both general guiding principles and a few specific suggestions, distilled down from the feedback collected from Venturans at committee meetings, the ice cream social and Nextdoor:.

1. Maximize public green space.

Sustainable landscape design – Trees for shade and privacy, porous surfaces, attractive drought tolerant and native plants. Preservation of as many already-mature trees as possible Re-naturalize the creek

2. Transportation-friendly Ample underground parking for residents and retail customers.

Encourage nodes of retail on El Camino by connecting the site’s street-level parking to El Camino Bicycle and pedestrian safety and comfort for all ages and users. (e.g., increasing sidewalk and setback widths, minimizing vehicle vs. bike/ped conflict, particularly at vehicle ingress/egress points, intuitive flow of pathways, avoid unsafe or poor connections to surrounding routes (such as disappearing bike lanes)). No through streets. A bicycle-pedestrian path going through the site. Ample, highly-visible, bicycle parking. Easy and secure bicycle parking for residents. Connections to already-established bicycle and pedestrian routes (Cal Ave, Park Ave, Margarita, Matadero, Hansen Way, Stanford Research Park) in conjunction with Santa Clara VTA Cross County Bike Corridor map. Improving and/or minimizing impact on bicycle and walking routes during and after construction Enhanced access to the 22 VTA bus line that goes along El Camino as well as the CalTrain station. Evaluate possibility of shuttle to local schools and possibly – if there is need – to Cal Ave.

3. Attractive and Sustainable Building Design

An inviting, charming style, with a varied roof-line and varied design elements; with a noise-dampening, “broken” facade (visual penetration), set well back from the road; aesthetically pleasing, not fortress-like, not industrial (less like 801 Alma, more like the dwellings surrounding Heritage Park). Meet LEED Silver standards for new buildings. Minimize impact of shadows on neighboring homes. Stepped roof levels. Solar Panels shading any street-level parking.

4. Maximize community use of the site

Encourage community use of the site through design, providing amenities and businesses that will increase neighborhood use and vitality of the public space. Carefully curate and provide support to community-serving cafes, restaurants, bookstores, a small pharmacy and other ground-floor retail that is open on weekends and evenings, with outdoor seating and room for children to play, ride bicycles, etc. Below market rate retail – units owned by business owners. Neighborhood commercial Some specific ideas: – a piazza with encircling retail/dining, shade trees, and strings of overhead lights – could be used for performances, music, community dancing, etc. – kiosks or message boards – Community garden space – picnic tables – art space – creating art, a small museum – historical and environmental information plaques – retail “lockers” for online shoppers (will encourage people to enter) – a community pool A healthy percentage of BMR units – We support housing that is affordable to local teachers, firefighters, nurses, and other community-serving workers.

5. Consider the Collective Impact

How will the development of the Fry’s site affect the community.   In the Ventura Neighborhood and along El Camino – South Palo Alto along ECR is experiencing a building boom.  This affects the nearby residents and business owners.  We want more analysis of collective impacts of these developments on the City’s infrastructure, transportation, pollution, parking, walkability, bikability etc.

If you would like to contribute your ideas, or would just like more information, please email venturapaloalto@gmail.com.  message, and/or come to the next VNA meeting, November 5, 2017, 1:30 pm, at the Ventura Community Center.

If you are on Nextdoor, there is an active comment thread.  Please join in.

Background – A Coordinated Area Plan (CAP)  is “intended to create enhanced opportunities for building a sense of community through public involvement in planning processes that provide residents, businesses and property owners with early and meaningful opportunities to help shape the physical components of  their neighborhoods and community”  (See South of Forest Area, Coordinated Area Plan Phase 1).