EAST PALO ALTO, CA-A vote on March 5 will decide whether Ikea will develop a 320,000-sf store on a 10.5-acre site in the Ravenswood 101 Retail Center at Donohoe Street and University Avenue.

The East Palo Alto City Council voted 2-1 to place a measure on the ballot. Donna Rutherford voted against the measure. Mayor Duane Bay and Councilwoman Myrtle Walker did not vote because they own property within 500 feet of the proposed development.

Voters will be asked to approve the rezoning of the proposed 10.5-acre site from neighborhood commercial and multi-family residential to general commercial and to amend the Gateway/101 Corridor Specific Plan to allow an increase in square footage, floor area ratio, height, design flexibility and multilevel parking. In previous city council meetings, the room has been flooded with people protesting the size of the giant furniture store and the effect it will have on traffic and parking. Those in favor have argued that the store will create excellent sales tax revenue and many jobs ion the area.

Adding further fire to the fuel is the allegations that Walker failed to declare an interest in property within 500 feet of the project until October. This week, Mayor Duane Bay has filed a formal complaint asking the Fair Political Practices Commission to investigate Walker’s possible conflicts of interest on the IKEA project and on a nearby redevelopment site, University Palms. In addition, the commission will investigate allegations that Walker indirectly received money from the IKEA developer.

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