BY BRADEN CARTWRIGHT
Daily Post Staff Writer
The city of Palo Alto is settling a dispute with the Stanford Shopping Center for trying to stop the installation of a natural gas line that the city had approved earlier, but then changed its rules.
A natural gas line was installed to a new restaurant building on Jan. 21, 2021, at a cost of about $120,000, according to Simon Property Group, the company that operates the shopping center on a long-term lease from Stanford University.
The natural gas line was intended to serve the kitchens of Dumpling Time and Zaytinya, a high-end Turkish, Greek and Lebanese restaurant helmed by celebrity chef Jose Andres.
But since then, Palo Alto City Council banned natural gas in new buildings, effective at the beginning of this year.
When Simon asked for an updated building permit to provide more space for Zaytinya, the city said a natural gas hookup wouldn’t be allowed, even though the line had already been installed.
Attorney Anna Shimko, representing Simon Properties, said in a letter to the city on April 28 that the ban is “legally defective and unconstitutional.”
“Without a gas connection and appliances, Zaytinya would be forced to alter its signature five-star menu, which it is unwilling to do,” Shimko said.
Council discussed the letter in a closed session on May 8 and took no reportable action. City Manager Ed Shikada signed the settlement on Monday.
“Except for this one-off situation, Palo Alto’s all-electric requirement is being implemented for all new projects and substantial remodels,” the city said in a statement.
The city banned natural gas in new buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Before this year, the ban only applied to new homes.
Nov. 6, 2019: Simon, the mall’s operator, turns in plans for redeveloping the Macy’s Men’s building.
Feb. 20, 2020: The city’s Architectural Review Board approves the plans, which show a new natural gas line.
Nov. 5, 2020: The city approves a building permit allowing for the natural gas line to go in.
Jan. 21, 2021: Simon installs the gas line.
March 2021: Zaytinya expresses interest in signing a lease but asks for a larger space.
May 19, 2022: Simon submits new plans with a larger space.
Sept. 12, 2022: The Architectural Review Board approves the plans.
Oct. 17, 2022: Palo Alto City Council votes to ban natural gas in all new buildings, effective Jan. 1.
Early 2023: City workers tell Simon that the ban applies to the restaurants, because Simon hadn’t applied for a new building permit yet.
April 28: Simon threatens to sue.
May 3: Simon submits a building permit application, which includes a natural gas hookup.
May 15: The city agrees to approve the permit.
Wonder how many more exceptions the city will make?
Ever questioned whether there was corruption in your community? Here’s a perfect example. If you’re famous or have money, or both, the government gives you what you want. The government covers it up, and tries to make it sound like something else is going on. But this is corruption.
I believe the Daily Post urged that PA residents/taxpayers be allowed to vote on the forced conversion to electricity when the city still hasn’t answered questions on how it will cope with increased demand, when they haven’t upgraded the grid, when we suffer constant outages from balloons and birds and where they haven’t made it a priority to underground wiring that will reduce the outages.
[Portion deleted because of Terms of Services violation. Links aren’t allowed. The commenter wants people to sign an online petition at change.org titled “Rescind Palo Alto’s ban on gas appliances”]
Funny how they didn’t hold a public hearing or a public council vote on this “one off” exception. They did it as quietly as possible. Very suspicious!
Glad our natural gas ban won’t be a problem if Gordon Ramsay, Guy Fieri or Martin Yan were to come here.
If this is all about saving the planet, and averting a climate apocalypse in eight years, why is the city making exceptions?! Think about the children! Our planet won’t be inhabitable in a few years if we don’t crack down on people with gas stoves!