On Monday tgodzillahe 4th of April, the owners of the Hotel Parmani property near the Fish Market on El Camino came to Council to request a preliminary review of a possible code variance or ordinance amendment to let them build a larger-than-code allows new hotel there. Like the VTA lot proposal, that we helped defeat at the corner of Page Mill and El Camino, this is another Godzilla building.

Becky attended the meeting and spoke.   Karolyn B came in support, urging the Council to signal a negative on the variance.  This issue had been discussed the previous day (April 3) at the monthly meeting of the Association.   Watch Becky’s presentation here at 2 hours and 40 minutes in.  Or you can watch the entire study session here:


Becky summarized for Council the concerns the association had:

  1. Will this set a precedent for the erosion of the 50 foot setback for all of Stanford Research Park?  If this is allowed, future developers will point to this action as a precedent.  It’s a slipper slope.  Why should some businesses be accorded special treatment.
  2. Traffic Intrusion into Ventura is already bad as commuters cut through Ventura to avoid arguably the worst intersection in Palo Alto.  Intrusion will be even more with this larger new hotel.  The owners promise no new net car trips.   How can that be when they are planning two levels of underground parking?  Cut through drivers are usually in a hurry and are not driving in a way that respects our neighborhood quality of life.   As the Parmani and other new developments come on line in proximity to Ventura, the cut through driving impacts will be worse.
  3. Why is the applicant asking for a prelim and not including the entire plans?  They only included the ground floor and underground floors.  What about the three stories that will rise above the intersection and tower above all surrounding buildings?
  4. Collective impacts of all the development in the pipeline in and near Ventura:  Fry’s Redevelopment, the Footlocker building, the parking lot across the street from Footlocker, the corridor along El Camino that separates Barron Park and Ventura, Lambert at Park Blvd, plus the aggregated lots at Page Mill and Ash.  Will all these developments promise no net new trips?
  5. Across the street form the Parmani, it is understood that new housing development is in the works for the Footlocker building.  What about the height restriction of 35/40 feet for developments within 150 feet of residential space.  If the Parmani comprises four stories, how will this be in compliance with the development at Footlocker.
  6.  Finally the new Parmani will dwarf the adjacent buildings north of it on El Camino.  This is against the guidelines for the development of El Camino Real (ECR) to allow for gradual changes in height between structures.

Check out the City Council Agenda.

Check out the Staff Report with plans that don’t show how big the property really is.

Click here to review Plans that do show how big it is.

 Without the variance, they can only build a thin hotel on the property line because there’s a big setback on Hanson, which is part of the research park.  Normally, we might think it reasonable to grant the variance because the hotel is more connected to El Camino than the research park.  But the hotel is huge enough to call into question its compatibility with what’s on El Camino right now.