Attendees: Ken (moderator), Rangu, Gary, Susan

Topics discussed:

  1.  ‘Greenway’ proposal for Fry’s redevelopment site/overall what Ventura neighborhood residents would like to see in Fry’s redevelopment. A proposal to request a ‘Greenway’ element on the Fry’s redevelopment site was presented to a small group of VNA residents, including Angela, on Wednesday, September 6, by a retired architect who lives in Palo Alto. The proposed greenway path would span diagonally from the corner of Park and Olive to Boulware Park and allow bikes and pedestrian access alongside gardens and landscaping. Buildings containing housing, office and retail would run along Park and Lambert with underground parking. A parking lot perpendicular to El Camino Real (ECR) would provide parking for visitors to the greenway. Angela asked Ken for interested Ventura residents to write down what we would like to see at the Fry’s site, including, but not limited to, the greenway idea. Angela plans to solicit ideas at the Ventura Ice Cream Social on September 17th as well as reaching out to the VNA email distribution and holding a meeting (not yet scheduled) or similar. Goal is to have a prioritized brainstorm list to discuss at next month’s VNA meeting on Sunday, October 1.
  2. Ventura Ice Cream Social to be held September 17, 2017 from 4 to 6 pm at Ventura Community Center. Flyers have been distributed and posted on neighborhood poles. Social chair Pearlin needs a couple more check-in people, tables/chairs for check-in and one or more ‘greeters’ to help people write down ‘what would you like to have’ on the map of the neighborhood. Ken plans to do a preparedness table. Other booths will include a butterfly information booth with plants for your yard to attract butterflies. New this year will be a dog show.
  3. PA Housing proposal on El Camino Real at Wilton (‘Wilton Court’) (where the coin shop, bridal boutique and Euromart are currently located). The Palo Alto Housing proposal for Wilton Court has been written up in the PA Weekly (7/21/2017 edition located here.) and impacts our neighborhood. It includes low income housing and some ground floor retail. The developer would like to attend a VNA meeting for our input as the design is still evolving. As for the potential impact on traffic on ECR, per Ken, PA Housing has good data on actual number of cars owned by low income housing residents and the parking in the Wilton Court building would be based on this data.
  4. Bike boulevard. Ken provided a Bike Boulevard update:
    • Planned Park Blvd & Wilkie Way improvement $ in the budget have been deferred to next year’s budgetb.
    • VTA held a meeting and discussed a countywide bicycle map. Interested in:
      •  i. Getting across Alma from Loma Verde to Park Blvd and Barron Park
      • ii. How to get from El Camino Real and Hansen (Foot Locker corner) to Park Blvd
  5. Compadres site proposal scheduled to go before PA City Council on September 18, 20176.
  6. Parcel at 470 Olive is requesting zoning change to CS (Community Serving); the proposal is scheduled to go before PA City Council on October 2, 2017. This building is off ECR on the north side of Olive next to the Verizon building and across Olive from the Mike’s Bikes location.
  7. Preparedness update. Ken will have a booth at the Ice Cream Social on preparedness. Susan asked about any plans for an earthquake alert app such as the one used in Mexico last week being implemented in our area; Ken said he would inquire about this at the next NPC meeting.
  8. Other topics discussed today:
    • High density issue in Ventura neighborhood with regard to increasing affordable housing. Becky had forwarded an email to VNA from Council member Lydia Kou who asked for input on this topic. Ken noted that there are differing opinions on possible solutions and we should keep discussing the issue within the community. Ventura neighborhood is seen as an ‘underdeveloped’ neighborhood, especially by those outside the neighborhood. Proximity to Caltrain station, buses on El Camino Real makes developments in the area advantageous compared to other PA neighborhoods. Say Ventura does provide more housing, what mitigation do we receive to keep our neighborhood functional and traffic flows reasonable? Many of us have a desire for the City Council to step back and take a comprehensive view of the neighborhood, and not just focus on individual developments on a one-off basis. Proposals such as the greenway on the Fry’s property may lead to a more comprehensive, big picture view of development in Ventura.
    • Status of converting overhead power lines to underground in Palo Alto? Per Rangu, conversions have taken place in some PA neighborhoods. Approval of a tax assessment on the neighborhood requesting it is likely required. Does anyone know more on this subject?
    • Fostering/supporting viable retail in our community. Rangu noted that a new retail business has gone in where VAM used to be (next to the Coupa Café warehouse) and they are charging higher prices. It’s really tough to set up a retail business that attracts sufficient community patronage to make a go of it – due to high rents, Amazon option, etc. Do California Ave businesses cater more to the lunch crowd (workers) than to actual residents? It was also noted that the Alma Plaza Grocery Outlet store seems to be succeeding despite the unwelcoming architecture. Would a package delivery center in the proposed greenway on the Fry’s site act as a draw—especially given the potential that the greenway courtyard would be hidden behind office/housing structures along Park Blvd? Would a requirement for low income retail—similar to low income housing help? For example, owner-occupied retail (that can’t be converted to something else)?
    • Mayor Scharf holds office hours the 2nd Wednesday of the month, appointments via City Clerk’s office (more info) .

Submitted by Susan.

Minutes – Association Meeting – 9/10/17

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