If you wish to become a Barron Park Association Member, email the Membership Chair and I'll fax you a form or,
For many, change is very difficult to manage emotionally. Barron Park has recently seen and will be seeing a lot of change over the next few years. New buildings, changing traffic patterns, and new street designs, will affect many in the Barron Park neighborhood. Businesses that we have become used to may close and new businesses may move in. Some of these changes will be exciting and other changes will be inconvenient and will cause regret.
Over the last two years many stories/rumors have surfaced about the fate of All American Market. First, we heard the owner, Tim Jisser, would be retiring to Israel, and intended to lease the market building. Not wanting to see any business other than a market on this corner, we began contacting well known markets to see if they had any interest in our neighborhood. Andronico's and Wild Oats, were among the businesses making inquiries about the site. Their comments, however, indicated that this location would be difficult because of the small size of the building, small amount of available parking, and the amount of rent being asked. Next, we heard that an office supply was interested in the building. This rumor died.
Months passed, and word of the neighborhood concern about the loss of the market spread. Joe Jisser had an interest in doing a facelift on the building based on an example he saw of changes done to a similar style building near where he lives. At about the same time a well-known architect heard about his interest in modifying the design, and approached Joe about improvements to the plan.
Several plans were drawn and finally a hearing was set to review an attractive plan which leveled the roof line of the building and added an arched area in the middle that was in front of the main part of the building. It also included new signs on the building and at the corner of Los Robles and El Camino Real.
After two hearings at the ARB, the plans were approved with a condition to get staff approval on a landscaping design. Only a few months passed, and it was clear that Joe Jisser had no interest in pursuing these plans. He did indicate that he would be putting in a deli instead of spending the money on the outside building improvements, but we saw no work being done. Three months later, the Association heard that someone was checking into lot lines and zoning issues associated with the property. This information suggested that it was a representative of Blockbuster. We had known that Blockbuster was currently in a building that was a use with a time limit that would revert to a residential zone of 15 units per acre. No one was sure what date would be the deadline for this change. Best we could determine, it would be at least three to four years. Based on this information we assumed it was indeed a rumor.
However, it appears that based on our recent research, Blockbuster will be required to relocate by the end of 1998 and indications are that Blockbuster has an interest in the All American Market as a site. If Blockbuster did have an interest in this building, they would be required to submit detailed plans to the ARB for any changes they would undoubtably need to make.
Usually, final approval requires two to three meetings with the ARB to get all the details worked out. Planning construction, and making all the arrangements for the closing of All American would most likely take many months. It is important to know that we have reviewed many plans on El Camino Real in the last five years. At this stage, most projects do not make it to an ARB hearing. Even if such a project makes it past an ARB hearing, few see a start of construction. Thus, this is still a long shot. If Blockbuster were to move forward on the site, they do have the resources needed to improve the building, pay the rent, and make a go of their business.
It would be sad to lose a market. This is an important resource to our community. It doesn't appear that the market has not done well in recent years and it has a lot of competition from many other markets in town. Lucky suggested that they would be building a new market, (assuming approval), at Alma Plaza. This would draw more away from the All American. What would you do if you owned the market? Change is sometimes hard to deal with, but who knows, after the building is fixed up and the video business dies off, maybe another market will move in.
-- Editor's note: The BPA, does not intend to spread rumors, yet we do not want to be guilty of "sitting" on information important to the community. If you have questions or comments, please call Will at 494-6922, or e-mail
Many residents have noticed that there are very few honeybees visiting their gardens. Two types of mites that kill honeybees have spread across the US, and the treatments to protect a hive are expensive. Consequently, many amateur beekeepers have lost their hives, and many wild hives are gone or threatened. Honeybees are prolific and aggressive pollinators and were responsible for pollinating many fruits, vegetable and other crops. Commercial growers are paying increased fees to professional beekeepers to cover the costs of combating the mites. However, backyard gardeners are going to have to rely on native pollinators.
Because native pollinators are not as efficient as honeybees, gardeners will either have to encourage these pollinators, or expect lower yields from their plants. One good way to encourage these natives is to intersperse the native plants that they need throughout your garden. If there are residents with more detailed knowledge of these techniques, I invite you to share them in subsequent newsletters and on our web site.
The native bumblebee is an annual bee -- only a few queens live through the winter, and then they rebuild the population at a rate determined by the available food sources. Thus it is critical to have pollen sources that bloom early in the spring, and then throughout the summer.
Butterflies and various other insects are also good pollinators, but their populations are often limited by a lack of available food for their larvae (caterpillars, ...). Many of these pollinators have very specific requirements for larval food. Gardeners should not only provide these plants, but be prepared to have their leaves eaten (that is what "larval food" means). I am trying to accumulate this information on a web page, which will be posted on the kiosk when it becomes more complete, but I am working from various reference books -- the assistance of a knowledgeable hobbist/professional would be greatly appreciated.
One of the goals of the Bol Park revegetation project is to provide a much improved environment for these natural pollinators -- a core population whose offspring can spread out into the neighborhood.
Mickey turns thirty years old on July 1st, and we are having a birthday party for him at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, June 29th at the pasture in Bol Park.
What would he like as a birthday gift? Drawings of himself to be displayed along the fence, or a gift from Pet Food Depot -- they have a gift registry for him!
Mickey's health keeps improving, and in a few weeks, even his lameness should be a thing of the past, thanks to his twice daily stretching exercises and bimonthly visits from his farrier.
Perry is a young, but fully grown, 3-year-old miniature donkey who's joys in life are his Sunday "walkies" in Bol Park, and being petted by his fans. He is slowly learning better manners, whereas Mickey's manners are deteriorating. Mickey's getting a little crotchety, and enjoys butting anyone who turns his back on him!
Many thanks as always to the donkey handlers: Doug, Edith, Inge, Leland, Pat & Steve, with Eric & Tom in training. Thanks too to Leland for the mangers.
Finally, "thank you" letters will go out this summer to the many Mickey fund donors. The Mickey fund donor book was proudly displayed at the May Fete.
Please visit the donkey's home page on the web at:
Background: why is the BPA planting additional trees?
The bike path follows an old railroad bed and that bed was constructed with dirt that was low or lacking in nutrients, and plants had a difficult time growing there. As part of the flood control project, the BPA got the water district to require the contractor to put the better soil back on top (it is hard to determine if it was actually done). This presents us with the opportunity to have a richer collection of plants along the path. However, the water district needed only to replace the trees and shrubs that were removed as part of the construction. This they did with 14 common (and lower cost) species. Hence, the BPA is pursuing a project to restore a wide range of native plants to the park to improve the aesthetics (more variety and plants that bloom in different seasons), and to support native wildlife (especially birds and butterflies). 22 species have already been planted, and our full list of candidates for planting (depending on availability and donations) currently has 40 species of bulbs and 90 species of other plants (trees, shrubs, perennials, wildflowers, ...). The selection of plants is based upon the results of a survey of the whole neighborhood (sent with the Winter newsletter, results published in the Spring edition).
Natural Habitat Committee Formed:
The Bol Park Revegetation project started as part of the BPA Parks Committee but the size and scope of it and related future projects warranted creating a separate committee. The co-chairs are Jill Beckett, Inge Harding-Barlow, and Doug Moran. Several other residents are becoming deeply involved and additional participants would be most welcome.
The next plantings will be done in the fall, as early as is practical: this will give the plants a full rainy season to become established. During the summer, we will be planning the plantings and acquiring the stock. We also plan to start some plants from seed in late summer to give them a head start (especially over the weeds). We are seeking more volunteers to help care for the seedlings.
There are a number of problems with the work done by the water district's landscaping contractor that the BPA is trying to get remedied. For example, multiple problems with the watering system, contours that created a swamp, trees planted in locations where they would not survive, and last-second substitution of grossly inferior stock (trees in 5+ gallon containers were magically replaced by tiny twigs growing out of small tubes). A big problem is the grass and wildflower mix used. The BPA expected a low-growing mix of native grasses and wildflowers that would be low in both allergens and in fuel content. Instead the contractor substituted a very cheap mix of grasses that produced pollen to which many people are allergic and whose dried stalks present significant fire danger.
In March and April, a small group of dedicated volunteers planted 33 shrubs and trees (representing 22 species). Thanks to Dave Lagomarsino (whose hole-drilling auger made the task possible), Sam Elster, Paul Olmstead, Tom Wagner, Sue Luttner, and Peter Sachs (and Inge, Jill, and Doug). Because these trees were planted so late in the spring, they did not have a chance to become established and will have to be watered throughout the summer. We badly need a volunteer or two to help Inge with this watering: she has been the primary caregiver for the plants in addition to being one of the lead caretakers of Mickey and Perry (the donkeys).
Why didn't we plant last fall? The plants were purchased and ready to go into the ground, but we did not have the expected permissions from the city. The problem was that a series of complaints based upon misinformation were made to city officials, with each one resulting in delays while the official got and verified the correct information. Delay piled upon delay, until the rainy season was over.
Some of these complaints are based on a confusion about who is responsible for what. Some people have attributed to the BPA, problems that are the responsibility of the water district's landscaping contractor, and then turned them into false generalizations about the BPA's activities, thereby hindering the BPA's efforts to get the water district to get these problems fixed.
Some of this misinformation and confusion seems to have taken on a life of its own: If you have questions, please contact any of the committee co-chairs: Jill Beckett, 494-6922, Inge Harding-Barlow, 493-8146, or Doug Moran, 856-3302.
We are seeking donations of additional plants for this project, including trees that can be dedicated as memorials. You can either donate the plants themselves or donate money targeted for the purchase of specific plants. The committee has developed a list of potential acquisitions. Please contact Inge at 493-8146 for further details.
For those with access to the Web: go to the BPA home page (www.bpaonline.org/) and follow the "Bol Park Revegetation" link. Information about donations being sought and what has already been planted can be found on the "Inventory" link.
This information will also be posted on the kiosk (as space permits) and is also available from the co-chairs.
Additional information about wildlife and other issues related to natural habitat can also be found on the BPA web site by following the "Natural Habitat" link.
On April 19, 1997, the Beautification Committee of the Barron Park Association held the Second Annual House & Garden Faire. Five homeowners graciously opened their properties for residents of Barron Park to see the results of recently remodeled and redecorated interiors, as well as two properties that had integrated additions to their existing homes. The original homes had been built from 1936 into the early 1950's. Three of the homes had a wall or walls removed, reconfiguration of existing space, and use of more windows and french doors to bring light and a 1990's look to their properties. Many of the visitors on the self-guided walking tour had admired the transformation of the Kapitulniks' and Robersons' extensive restorations, with integrated additions, while these properties were in process. They particularly enjoyed viewing the beautiful interiors, and admired the owners' personal touches to further enhance the interior design and environment.
A wide variety of garden styles were shown in our eleven open gardens this year. The gardens ranged from forty years of planning, planting, and caring by the homeowner, to a remodeled garden less than one year old. The garden of Judith and Reed Content was transformed by the owners after their purchase in 1991, from weeds and grasses five feet tall, and some existing fruit trees from the 1950's, to a series of gardens providing separate garden rooms: A potage garden providing many fruits and vegetables, an extensive herb garden, a pink, blue and purple floral display with access from the kitchen, a minimal oriental style garden viewed from the artist's studio, and a front garden providing a Cecile Brunner entry arbor, a screen of Nandina, a small apple orchard, and many perennials.
A new large arbor-like gazebo supports a 40-year-old entwined wisteria shading a beautiful dining or entertainment area, with a very large brick grill at the rear of the Silvia and Robert Mazawa property on Orme. The owners took advantage of the Santa Clara County climate with a variety of fruit trees, providing a bounty of fruits and an eye catching blue and lavendar floral garden in the rear of their home.
The gardens of Arlen and Mary Lee Hagen, and Pat Marion and Rick Salazar incorporate lovely walking paths and focal point fountains among a variety of many blooms, shrubs, and fruit trees. Arlen's garden sports many camellias grown from seed that bloom starting in September through May. The camillas are interspersed with eastern dogwood species and many varieties of fruit trees, a vast variety of roses, iris, and azaleas that supply an abundance of lovely colors. A beautiful white wisteria with blooms at least two feet long graced the front of the home and the "Teahouse of the August Moon" carport, for spectacular viewing during April.
Beautiful specimen shade trees are found in the many of the gardens. A Cork and Live Oak, as well as a large Redwood grace the front of the Rulifson's home creating a shade environment for azaleas. There are many species of Japanese Maples in the front and rear of the home. Chinese Tallow Gingko, Persimmons and Raywood ash trees provide a sanctuary of solitude in the garden.
A 30 ft. Tri-Color Beech was the envy of the garden visitors in Mardell Ward's garden as well as an espaliered Japanese Maple and bougainvillea, many bonsai, azalea, flowering shrubs, and a variety of succulents placed strategically throughout a small garden area in the rear. An abundance of colorful perennials grace the small pie shaped frontage garden.
A raccoon-proof Koi pond was a focal point of delight to our smallest Barron Park residents in Harry and Alison Collin's garden. Alison has planned, planted and tended her lovely English-style garden for many years, climbing and pruning her trees herself, and incorporating many species and varieties of perennials to provide color all year around.
Two gardens, side-by-side on Laguna Way, provide relaxing places to pick up your feet and rest on hammocks or chaises, offering a view of mature trees and lovely flower gardens at the homes of Gwen Luce and family, and Leif and Sharon Erickson. Sharon grew up in her home in Barron Park, moved back years later, refashioning the interior and exterior for her family.
We especially wish to thank the homeowners who graciously opened their homes and gardens, and shared their remodeling experiences and horticultural insights with their Barron Park neighbors. Our special thanks to Pat Marion and Rick Salazar, Arlen and Mary Lee Hagen, Mardell Ward, Janet and Jeff Rulifson, Alison and Harry Collin, Silvia and Robert Mazawa, Gwen Luce, Teena and Mike James, Judith and Reed Content, Sharon and Leif Erickson, Julia and Joe Roberson, and Hanna and Aharon Kapitulnik.
The morning program held at Herbert Hoover school attracted at least 250 residents who talked with service providers of home and landscape remodeling, enjoyed the benefits of a plant sale, and gained knowledge from the speakers on the program.
We wish to express our appreciation to the residents of Barron Park for so generously donating lovely plants for the sale and those who purchased plants to help defray the expenses of the Faire.
We appreciate the efforts of the owners of the Frontage of Merit properties we highlighted this year. Out intent was to give residents an opportunity to see what plants grow particularly well in Barron Park, and to draw attention to an interesting feature of the property whether it be a handsome entryway, graceful walking path, attractive fencing, nice landscape design, or a pretty hidden garden behind a fence.
Twenty residents of Barron Park volunteered their time and abilities to help make this a successful event for our neighborhood. Thanks go to Erna Glanville, Chairman of the Beautificaion Committee, Alison Collin, Arlen Hagen, Bryn Homsy, Gwen Luce, Sue Luttner, Merre Jayne McFate, Ken and Lois Prior, Judy Schultz, Clara and Bob Sharpless, Steffie Sussman, Mardell Ward, Joan Silvers, Pat Eldridge, Barbara Sater, Joyce Hoppa, and Maria Gabriel.
We look forward to seeing you at the Third Annual House & Garden Faire in April, 1998.
Except for vandalism, crime activities in Barron Park have levelled off. In the residential areas, vandalism to vehicles has increased. The main target appears to be car windows.
There have been some serious incidents in Bol Park and at the donkey pasture. On Saturday night of May 10, the official signs and the paintings (left by children) on the gate and fences at the pasture were ripped down and burned. Tree stakes along the bike path were pulled up and used as tinder to start the fire in a trash can next to the gate. This is very dangerous as the fire could spread rapidly to the nearby dry grass areas. It was evident that the donkeys were panicked and they were still unsettled the next morning. There were attempts to start another fire with dry grass placed on the bike path near the bridge. The BPA requested that the City have the dried grass areas mowed. Volunteers from Barron Park have cut down the grasses in the more vulnerable areas. If you see or hear anyone committing acts of vandalism in Barron Park, including the bike path and the donkey pasture, call 911 immediately.
Increased surveillance by the Palo Alto Police in Barron Park has resulted in the issuance of about 30 citations per month for traffic violations (mainly for speeding and running of stop signs).
Time to run barefoot through the grass!! (Remember when we actually did that?)
I hope you made it to the May Fete. Even tho' it was a hot day, I saw a lot of you there, in your wide-brimmed hats, enjoying the music, petting the goats, watching the dancers once again weaving their colorful ribbons about the May pole. My personal most unforgettable sight of the day was seeing a little white fluff-ball of a puppy nose-to-nose with a huge gentle giant of a K-9 corps dog -- just saying "Hi."
On another note: the Palo Alto Senior Center has asked me to convey the following notice through our Newsletter:
Independent Living Services for Older Adults
Do you know an older adult who wishes to remain independent in their own home, but may not be aware of the resources available? If so, the Senior Center of Palo Alto can help. Our professional social workers are available to meet with older adults who are living in Palo Alto or Stanford. Services include assessment of need and arrangement of appropriate community services. Meetings can take place in the home or at the Senior Center. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call Del Silverman at (415) 327-2811, extension 16.
Another bit of useful information is the brochure "Where to Turn" -- also available at the Senior Center.
Enjoy your summer, use your sun-block, drink lots of fluids, and stay Healthy!!
My one-and-only personal experience with the Barron Park Volunteer Fire Department came not too long after we moved into our house on Ilima Way. It was on Washington's Birthday, February 22, 1973, the day the Bol's old barn burned down. The barn, which had been used by homeless men (or "bums", as we still referred to them then) for years, had somehow caught fire on that wintry Sunday afternoon. It had been intended that the barn would be used to support a 4-H club "demonstration garden" as part of the new Bol Park to be developed in the back end of their "donkey pasture" that Spring. The barn was located across the creek from, and about 80 feet directly behind my house. It was very unscenic; really just an old shed with a "tin" roof, quite dilapidated.
Verna, my wife, and I had gone to Mt. Hamilton for the day, and as we were returning home at dusk, we turned off Los Robles onto Laguna and into a cloud of smoke. The smoke was thicker as we turned onto Ilima Way and my heart was in my shoes as it got thicker when we approached our house at the end of the block. One of our neighbors was on our roof wetting down the shakes with a garden hose, and behind the house was a bright orange glowand billowing black smoke shot through with red sparks. Our neighbors on both sides were wetting their roofs. Embers were everywhere, as the barn roof had just fallen in. After recovering from the first panic, my first thought was how glad I was that the barn burned. My second thought was to wonder if it had burned thoroughly enough to discourage anyone from proposing to rebuild it. The third thought was that I was very glad to have been away when it happened so that no one would suspect me of the setting the fire!
But this isn't the story...the story is about the Volunteer Fire Department. I will tell it as I remember having it related to me by my neighbors. The Fire Department was called promptly on that day, but they had every trouble they could have had. When the truck first came, no one had remembered to bring the key to unlock the gate to the donkey pasture. So, back to the firehouse, get the key. Back to the pasture, unlock the gate. The truck drove into the pasture and promptly bogged down in the mud (it had been a wet winter and a specially wet February). While the pumper truck was stuck in the mud, they hooked up the hose to a hydrant on Laguna but they didn't have enough hose with them to reach the barn and there was no way to go back to the firehouse to get more. By this time, the barn was burning merrily but there was absolutely nothing anyone could do except stand back and enjoy it.
After the barn roof collapsed and we got home, there was no longer any danger to the houses on Ilima Way. We all hopped the creek and stood around admiring the fire. Finally, a tow truck arrived, but it got stuck in the mud also. Eventually the department got a hose on the embers and cooled them down. A second tow truck rescued the first one and together they got the fire truck extricated. All in all, it wasn't the fire company's finest hour. Personally, I was glad about the mud. I would have been sorely disappointed if they had gotten there in time to save the building.
I must admit, though, it made me wonder if we'd made a good decision when buying a house in Barron park. Subsequently, I heard from many Barron Park neighbors with strong opinions both in favor of and against the volunteer fire department (because of this and other incidents). No one ever doubted the volunteers' enthusiasm and dedication to their neighbors' safety, but there's no doubt in my mind that the professional capability of the volunteer fire department was a major factor in the annexation election two years later, when Barron Park voted 2-1 to join Palo Alto.
I hope you enjoyed this personal reminiscence and I invite anyone to contact me and I will write up whatever you remember about this incident or other interesting stories from Barron Park's past. The articles I usually write are very straightforward, serious, well-researched history, but I'm sure that most people would also enjoy anecdotes and reminiscences of a more personal nature. Wallace Stegner has written, "Local history is the best history, the history with more of ourselves in it than other kinds...It is the record of human living in its daily complexity, and the sense of place is strong in it. Its actors are our neighbors, our families, ourselves. It is history of a handmade kind, homely and familiar, human lives on their way into memory and tradition."
I'd especially like to hear from former fire volunteers, as I am writing a longer, serious article on the BP Fire Protection District, 1949-75. Call me at 493-0689 or write to 984 Ilima Way, 94306, email
We all have noticed marks on the streets all over Barron Park the past few months. Many of them are not on the list of streets planned for repairs this summer. The contract workers who were walking around marking streets said that they were supposed to mark everything they saw that might need repairs, and another crew would come around later and evaluate the seriousness of the damages/repairs. So marks on the street don't necessarily mean something worth fixing soon -- at least in the evaluator's judgment.
The contract for street resurfacing was approved at the May 12 City Council meeting. Total cost is $1,551,616. There are 19 street segments which will have an overlay. The only one in our area is El Camino Way. There are 20 street segments which will have slurry seal coatings. Eleven of them are in Barron Park:
Campana, from Los Robles to Florales; Cass Way; Julie Court; Laguna Court; La Jennifer; McGregor, from Paradise Way to Ilima; Paradise Way, from Laguna to McGregor; Vista, from Verdosa to Goeble Lane.
Slurry seal is a light coating that fills cracks and small holes. It is not a long term repair.
Construction will begin in July and should be finished by November.
[9/30/97 update: Repairs should begin in October -- see the Fall newsletter paper edition]
The 13th annual May Fete, combined with the Dedication ceremony for the Flood Bypass Project and Bol Park reopening, was held on Sunday, May 18th. The event was sponsored by the Barron Park Association and the Santa Clara Valley Water District.
This was the most elaborate May Fete we have produced in quite some time. About 450 people attended the event. We all had a great time.
The Barron Park History Committee and the Palo Alto Historical Society had neighborhood history on display. The Palo Alto Police Department provided free bike licensing, two patrolmen/medics on bicycle, and a demonstration of the K-9 Corps. The Palo Alto Fire Department brought out the Fire Engine from Station 5 for show. The Palo Alto Humane Society provided information on their activities.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District brought out a tent with displays on water and with paints and easels for the children to create images related to water.
The May Pole Dance was well attended. Our local Blue Grass band, The Grass Menagerie, played for the May Pole Dance and for the crowd before and after. Everyone greatly enjoyed their music.
This year there was no hint of rain... It was in fact the hottest May Fete day we've ever had, but everyone enjoyed the day.
As with every year, the event was created by the help of many folks, without whose help the event would never have happened. Thousand thanks from all of us in Barron Park to the following:
Planning Committee: Katie Edwards, Inge Harding-Barlow, Will Beckett, Ken Auerbach, Corinna Shirk, Maryanne Welton, Doug Graham, Paul Edwards, Shirley Gaines
May Pole Ribbons: Sue Brown, Corinna Shirk, Paul Edwards
May Pole Flower Basket and Pole Decoration: Carol Atwood and Susan Ogle
May Pole Dance: Jane Mickelson, Paul Edwards and some neat dad and mom who helped out with the Children's circle
Band liaison: Bill Hamburgen and Sue Brown
Face Painting Tent: Patty Edwards and Stewart Armstrong
Banner Painting: Liz Atwood and Joey Edwards
Posters: Patty Edwards, Cheryl Lilienstein, Corinna and Bob Shirk, Shirley Gaines, Paul Edwards
Lawn Signs and Newspaper Articles: Will Beckett
City of Palo Alto liaison: Inge Harding-Barlow, Doug Graham, Will Beckett
Santa Clara Valley Water District liason: Doug Graham
Donkey and Pet Parade: Inge Harding-Barlow and Shirely Gaines
Electric car display: David Coale, Lee Hemstreet, Herman Gyr, Will Beckett
Paper Airplane Contest: Ken Scholz and Rich Sportsman
Origami Contest: Jill Beckett and Julie Kaufmann Lloyd
Spring Hat Contest: Shirley Gaines
Floral standards at the front of the park: Clara Sharpless, Corinna and Bob Shirk
Construction Crew: Larry Breed, David Moberly, Peter Sachs, Will Beckett, Daniel Lilienstein, Ken Auerbach, Bob Shirk, Larry and Laurie Moore, Dave and Nancy Chalton, Doug Chalton, Paul Edwards
Volunteer Buttons: Paul Edwards, Will Beckett, Silvana Panunzio
Volunteer Coordinator: Katie Edwards
Ticket Booth volunteers: Bob and Harriet Moss, Art Bayce, Martha Terry, Eveline Madsen, Ken Tani
Food and Drink Stand volunteers: Richard Wilde, Shirley Finfrock, Dick and Jeanne Placone, Tom and Pat Sanders, Romi and Mark Georgia, Bob and Angela Street, Jane Marshburn, Lisa St. John, Myra and Doug Westover, Anne and Hank Sturtevant, Joan Truas, Eveline Madsen, Gwen, Christina and Steve Luce, Erna Glanville, Sue Luttner, Annette McGarr, Nancy Hamilton, Sue Benjamin, Jill Beckett
BPA Information Booth: Art Bayce, Inge Harding-Barlow, Doug Graham
See you next May!
The 1997 Palo Alto Spring Garden Tour was a radiant success! Perfect weather for the first weekend in May greeted 2,785 paid attendees. Tour guests came from far and near. Many visitors commented that although they lived in near-by towns, this was their first visit to the Gamble Garden Center.
The gardens on this year's tour were unique and very special. Two gardens in Barron Park located side-by-side on Laguna Avenue, but completely different in concept were greatly favored. The succulents garden was so exciting and stimulating to gardeners that a local nursery ran out of succulents the following weekend. The flowering pink and gray succulents in the hanging baskets at the back of the pristine adobe home contain Kalanchoe Tumila pronounced (Kahl-an-ko-ay). Next door, at the creekside garden, a summer and winter garden on opposite sides of the house was breathtakingly beautiful complete with whimsical table setting for twenty. The homeowner entertained friends for dinner on Saturday eveing with soft lights and glowing candles reflecting the butterfly motif on the banquet table. Three gardens on University Avenue and the Hacienda de Lemos property on Waverly Oaks were also featured on this tour.
Girl Scout Troup #52
Girl Scout Troop #52 out of Herbert Hoover School, painted four bridges crossing Matadero Creek on Wednesday prior to the Gamble Tour. These enthusiastic girls were quite a sight, with their long handled brushes and splattered from head to toe in white paint. We owe the Girl Scouts, their leaders, and parents, a big thank you for painting the bridges in Barron Park.
Note provided by Shirley Finfrock: The purpose of the Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden Center is to restore and maintain the garden and buildings for use as a horticultural center for people of all ages and to provide the opportunity to learn the skills of horticulture through education, observation and participation, within the tranquil setting of an urban garden. The Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden Center located at 1431 Waverly Avenue is open to all from dawn to dusk daily. This property was given to the City of Palo Alto in 1981 for use as a community garden. The formal gardens were designed by Walter A. Hoff to include many turn of the century landscape features such as a rose garden, wisteria garden, the Clock Golf Circle, a Victorian Grotto, and shrub and perennial borders. In 1948, Miss Gamble added the Tea House and surrounding gardens according to a a plan by Alan Reid. These gardens have been restored to provide a window into our horticultural past. Demonstration areas abound of drought-tolerant ground covers; espaliered fruit trees in a variety of designs, and many areas for cutting flowers, and perennials plants for the community to see and enjoy. All City residents are welcome to enjoy these gardens, attend classes and special events, volunteer to maintain the gardens, rent out facilities, and use the services, which include a well stocked horticultural library, and call-in services to Master Gardeners.
For those of you who had the pleasure of seeing the homes and gardens in Barron Park on the day of the Faire, you should have been inspired. After doing the tour, I came away with wonderful new ideas.
Many of us have the tendency to drive the route of getting to our house and rarely take the time to explore and see other parts of our neighborhood. This was a way to see new sights and get an idea of what is out there. (Two gardens on Laguna were also shown in April on the Gamble House Tour)
Lately, I have been noticing more of a sense of pride as our neighbors upgrade their yards. I am not advocating expensive landscaping. Sometimes it means just using a lawnmower for weeds or pruning shears for overgrown shrubs.
The beautification committee thanks all the residents who are participating in the renewed interest of creating many lovely gardens in Barron Park.
Happy vacation time!
Now, at the end of Spring and the beginning of Summer, is a good time to review your emergency preparedness plans. Refer to the "Living With Our Faults" booklet which was distributed to all households in Palo Alto over a year ago (an on-line version is also available on the Web). Check your emergency supplies including food, water, first aid, clothing, battery-operated radios, safety flashlights. A complete list and a guide on how to mitigate potential hazards may be found in the booklet.
If you have not yet completed the Emergency Preparedness Survey in the Winter 1996 Newsletter, please do so now. If you do not have a copy of the form, we have it on the BPA Web page --
This year there have been a number of developments along El Camino. Hollywood Video began construction on the new building at 3901 El Camino, the former La Cumbre. The adjacent El Rancho motel spent $100,000 renovating the lobby and guest bathrooms. A car wash and Chevron gas station at the abandoned Co-opt gas station at 3897 El Camino has not begun construction yet. No firm date was given for development when ARB approval was granted. The former Sizzler restaurant near Fresco's will be replaced by a Boston Market restaurant. The long-vacant Interiors & Textiles store at 3505 El Camino is being renovated and should have a new occupant this summer.
The redevelopment along El Camino should continue for some time. Major players are turning to El Camino because other commercial districts such as Downtown and California Avenue are nearly built out and offer few opportunities for new construction. We expect to see proposals for developments on several vacant or underutilized properties along El Camino within the next year.
H-P has been working with neighbors on the plans to redevelop the site of their original facility at 395 Page Mill Rd at Park Blvd. Existing buildings will be torn down and replaced by an office complex with 215,000 sq. ft. of space in a 3-story building with parking for 650 to 860 cars, a partly underground garage, and a landscape buffer at Ash and Olive. Construction will begin late this year.
A developer bought the small old homes on Goebel Lane (off Vista) and plans to replace them with 12 to 14 townhouses. Construction could begin late this year. Another developer is negotiating to buy the former Cameo Club, tear it down, and build from 17 to 27 townhouses.
One of the owners of Rudolfo's reported that sale of the property is on hold because some of the City conditions for approval of the development have not been complied with. It is unclear which of the 65 conditions which were imposed by the ARB are causing the delay. Unfortunately demolition of the old building and construction of the new 46 apartments cannot begin until all conditions are either approved or waived.
The proposal with the greatest short term impact is the possible move of Blockbuster to the All American site, and subsequent closure of our neighborhood grocery. This also is discussed by Will Beckett in his editorial. It is odd that City staff says that the amortization period for commercial use on the Blockbuster site ends in 1998. A City staff report in March 1993 said the amortization extends to 2005. We do not understand the reason for the different termination of commercial use dates.
The relative good health and improvement along El Camino was supported by recent reports on sales tax revenues. El Camino had a significant improvement in sales and tax revenue last year, up more than 12% from 1995. The percentage increase was much greater than for Stanford Shopping Center, Stanford Research Park, and the neighborhood centers such as Alma Plaza and Charleston Plaza.
Within Barron Park the replacement of quaint old homes with huge houses continues. They often ignore existing patterns of front and side yard setbacks and neighborhood scale. In November 1996 the BPA formally requested the City Council to require tests of neighborhood compatibility and design review to all new homes and major remodels. There has been no reply. Many other neighborhoods also are complaining about the big new homes and how inappropriate they are. Midtown did a neighborhood survey based upon the BPA survey in November 1996, and had similar results. Several other neighborhoods are being asked to join Barron Park and Midtown in asking for rules which will prevent construction of oversized houses which are insensitive to neighborhood character.
Staff proposed that the City Council approve a new ordinance for Coordinated Area Planning (CAP). This will be a special review of specific areas of the city which are considered to be less healthy and where changes in land use are desired. The concept was discussed at length during the Comprehensive Plan review, and was approved conceptually by the Council in November 1995. If the ordinance is approved and funding is committed, the first area studied will be Ventura from Page Mill and El Camino past Lambert and to the tracks along Alma. The study could begin later this year. Staff recommends beginning the Ventura CAP before the Comprehensive Plan is adopted late in 1997 or early 1998. Any changes in land use in the Ventura area could impact Barron Park, both because changes on the Ventura side of El Camino will have impacts on the Barron Park side, and because the next planned study area is El Camino from Curtner to Charleston.
Warning! There is a serious pest loose in our area. If untreated it can kill our Monterey pines and Douglas firs. Apparently this beetle originally was found in Monterey pines, but after killing most of them it spread to other fir trees.
We noticed a dead branch in one of our Douglas firs, and called a tree surgeon. After looking for more than 30 minutes he found some very small beetles which proved to be engraver beetles. We had the tree sprayed once, and probably will have to have it repeated. Several other trees in the area look distressed. We also contacted city arborist David Sandage. This is what he reports about them.
Engraver beetles (Ips paraconfucius) is a common pest of Monterey pine. It attacks stressed pines, homing in on the scent of terpines generated when the tree dehydrates. Controls are limited to preventative sprays of chemical insecticides and are not very effective. Best course of action is to increase the vigor of the tree by means of regular maintenance practices.
Another serious pest of Monterey pines is Pitch Canker, a new fungus that causes bleeding sap. This disease is spreading through the Monterey pine forests of the west coast and is expected to decimate them. It attacks other pines and perhaps Douglas fir, which would cause an enormous economic impact. No control is available for Pitch Canker.
Yet another pest of Monterey pine is the Turpentine beetle, which infests the base of stressed trees, making a few sites where pink frass ("sawdust") and pitch exudes from the hole. This pest can be controlled by injecting each site.
Call or visit the office of the University extension education offices for San Mateo or Santa Clara or the Agriculture Commissioners office for printed information and the most current advice. (Check the County pages in the phone book.)
Also see BPA report on the Web at: BPA home page (Committees, Gardening, then the "Engraver Beetle" link, and City of Palo Alto Arborist's report).
The recent movement by the Palo Alto police to further tighten ordinances regulating massage operations brings to mind the raids in December 1976 that shut down 17 "massage parlors" operating as covers for adult operations, some using professional prostitutes from Nevada. Newcomers may be unaware of this interesting bit of local history. By the time they were closed in early 1977 some shopping areas were crippled by the unsavory operations, customers drawn from miles away created traffic and public drunkenness problems, and Palo Alto spent many thousands of dollars answering calls relating to disturbances and crimes in and near the massage parlors. Actions taken to control businesses such as the "massage parlors" proved useful in preventing opening of an adult bookstore and a card parlor on El Camino several years ago.
The problem began in 1972 with a few adult bookstores, one of which was on El Camino Way where The Hamlet condominiums and commercial development is now. Then an adult theater, the Copenhagen, opened at 3898 El Camino. At about the same time a number of "massage parlors" opened all over the area, in Palo Alto and in other communities. For a variety of reasons, including relatively high commercial vacancy rates, Palo Alto had more than any other city in the area. A few were downtown, in the California Ave. area, and on San Antonio Rd., but the core of the problem was along our stretch of El Camino: four "parlors" in the 3400 block (Fernando to Margarita), and six more in the 3500-4200 blocks.
By late 1974 it was clear that these places were offering far more than just massage. The outfits the masseuses wore were not normal working woman clothes. One merchant near the corner of El Camino and Margarita (which had four massage parlors at one time) told of seeing the women sunbathing on the rear porch wearing only bikini bottoms. They often would walk across El Camino for a fast-food lunch wearing next to nothing.
One interesting factor was a sudden increase in the number of cars, particularly large luxury cars, with Nevada plates in Barron Park. The reasons for this became evident later.
The environment became very unpleasant. Residents were reluctant to walk in the area or patronize local stores because of the massage parlor patrons who often mistook local women for "masseuses" and propositioned them or made lewd comments. Women complained of unwanted comments and attentions while they waited for busses. Parents were reluctant to send children to the store because of the generally unsavory atmosphere along most of El Camino. The situation rapidly went from being annoying to very unpleasant, even threatening at times. Complaints to City Hall and requests for some kind of action began in areas near massage parlors, particularly Barron Park and Ventura, and became citywide.
While it was clear what was going on in these places, figuring out how to get rid of them took time. The city passed ordinances early in 1975 regulating operating conditions of massage parlors and adult-oriented businesses. It established a dress code for the women, and tried to make it more difficult to engage in open prostitution. During the hearings on the ordinance the "masseuses" and business operators turned out in force to protest that everything was perfectly legal and innocent. During one of the recesses a number of the "masseuses" accosted the residents who spoke asking for the parlors to be closed or at least very tightly regulated. They claimed that they were just innocent working women.
In general the laws passed to regulate the operations were ineffective. It was clear that something stronger had to be done. After prodding by merchants, property owners, and many members of the public, including the Barron Park Association and the Ventura Neighborhood Association, the city acted to shut down the massage parlors under the Red Light Abatement Act. In order to make the cases stand up in court it was necessary to collect strong evidence that acts of prostitution were occurring. A team of undercover police from a number of jurisdictions ranging from San Jose to San Francisco was formed to collect evidence on the girls. Local police were too well known to pose as customers or clients of the massage parlors, so outside police had to be used. This required significant training and co-ordination among police agencies.
After several months of undercover work there was enough evidence to justify raiding and closing the "massage parlors". In Dec. 1976 scores of police and sheriff's deputies raided and closed 17 Palo Alto massage parlors in a single evening, basing the raids on prostitution under the "Red Light Abatement Act". The operators and many masseuses were convicted of a number of criminal acts (varying with different operators), and were fined and in some cases sent to jail. The premises used for these so-called massage parlors were locked for a year under the Red Light Abatement Act, unless the owners could prove that they had tried unsuccessfully to evict the massage operations.
During the trials and plea bargaining which occurred after the raids it was determined that a number of the "masseuses" were registered prostitutes in Nevada. Several of the "massage parlor" owners operated or owned brothels which were legal in Nevada. Thus the many cars with Nevada plates.
An undesired aftermath of the massage parlor era was the trashing of the appearance and reputation of El Camino. The shops that were sealed for a year for harboring prostitution often remained vacant for even longer, and gave the appearance of a run-down and undesirable area. Owners were reluctant to improve their properties because the massage parlors did such severe damage to the appeal and appearance of the entire El Camino strip. This contributed to the general poor appearance of the area, and the large number of vacant commercial properties.
A more desirable result of the massage parlor problems was enactment of ordinances to regulate and limit "Adult Businesses". The courts will not allow such businesses to be totally excluded from a city, but reasonable restrictions are allowed. The ordinance was passed after extensive public testimony, and was strengthened as a result of suggestions from Barron Park and Ventura residents. One provision prohibits "adult businesses" within 1200 feet of each other, or within 300 feet of residential property, schools, and child care facilities. This was very useful several years ago when an adult bookstore attempted to open at El Camino and Curtner, where Lee's Comics is today. They were closed in a matter of days because the site is less than 300 feet from housing. When a local restaurant wanted to install poker tables, that also was denied because there are homes less than 300 feet away.
Now that we've had more than 20 years of relief from these adult businesses, we don't want to go through any similar problems in the future. Cleaning up the massage parlors cost the city over $200,000 from 1972 to 1975. We could have used that money in a number of more useful applications.
Recently Palo Alto became concerned about an increase in prostitution in nearby cities using the guise of massage parlors. As a result there is an effort to revise the existing massage parlor ordinance. Many are objecting to the proposals as being too strict and unnecessary. It is unfortunate that legitimate businesses have been put in the position of defending their good names because of past problems with unsavory characters. Our past experiences demonstrate the need for some kinds of regulations able to control adult businesses and prevent blighting El Camino again.
There has been less graffiti in and around Barron Park the past several months. There were 2 or 3 tags within Barron Park, but most of the problems were along El Camino, mainly on bus benches. Recently there was a noticeable increase, particularly on newsracks. We also noted the first graffiti on store walls in almost 6 months. The side of the Digby's store next to Taco Bell had a large tag last week. Warmer weather and summer vacation probably will bring out more of the graffiti vandals. Palo Alto hosted the quarterly meeting of the Northern California Graffiti Task Force at the Cultural Center on May 20. Over 50 people participated from all over northern California. Our efforts were noted and recognized, and the fine work done in and by Barron Park was mentioned often. The major role played by the Barron Park Association to establish the graffiti management program also was noted.
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