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Alameda Daily Argus - Sat - Nov. 12, 1904

The San Francisco Examiner - Mon - Aug. 1, 1910


Threatened Advent of Base Commercialism Splits Residents Into Rival Camps, Is Piedmont on the Heights, the exclusive residence district of effete and elite society on the eastern side of the bay, the stamping ground of the wealthy and the refined, to be subjected to the indignity of harboring In its midst such plebeian things as grocery stores, butcher shops, drug stores, haberdasheries, notion stores, and the like?

Is the Burlingame of Alameda county to be demoinated by a coterie of newly arrived wealth, who are attempting to dominate and to say what is to be done there in the way of civic progress--in opposition to the will and the wishes of the older (and also wealthy) residents?

The foregoing questions, in addition to their Oakland annexation troubles, are causing sleepless nights and anxious days to the inmates of the 450 exclusive homes that comprise the hillside municipality.

They bid fair to cause a political, factional, personal and disgraceful war in that heretofore peaceful hamlet. And all of the trouble seems to have been caused by a lone woman. The latter is Mrs. A. Hendry. She belongs to the "newer residents" faction, the faction which is willing to aid in the commercial invasion of the exclusive district.

Mrs. Hendry Is Tartar.
Mrs. Hendry has dared to "stand up in meeting" and say mean things about some of the leaders of the Piedmont Improvement Club, which has never before had an internal disruption, She has accused Adolph Uhland Oscar Sutro and Henry Hume and several other men of having tried to use the club to benefit their own ambitions.

A eucalyptus believed to have been planted by Walter Blair in 1878 once grew in the inters

For several years the Piedmont Heights District has been known as a district free from the taint of shops. Tradesmen who supplied the homes in the town carted their wares out there every day, the residents telephoning their orders to the tradesmen's places of business in Oakland.

Mrs. Hendry owns property at the corner of Vernal and Oakland avenues. She proposes to erect a building which shall be occupied by a drug store, a grocery store and a butcher shop. These evidences of commercial life will have to be seen by all who pass that way. Their installation is the beginning of a commercial center in Piedmont.

But the thing that is causing a deal of giggling among the citizens up there on the hill is the fact that the men who objected most strongly to her establishing the shops right next to the projected new city hall have admitted that they intended a commercial center of their own but one block further down the street. This was to have been a Co-operative Stores Company and located at the gore just north of the entrance to Piedmont Park.

Uncomplimentary Persiflage.
An intimation of the coming storm was given at a meeting of the Piedmont Improvement Club, held at Mowbray Hall two weeks ago. The last meeting was enlivened by uncomplimentary personalities engaged in between Mrs. Hendry and her sister and their friends, on one side, and Messrs. Uhi, Sutro, Hume and others, on the other side, and which exercised the shrewd ingenuity of Hugh Craig, mayor of Piedmont, to the utmost to keep from being dragged into the controversy.

The notices sent out by the secretary to members, which include practically all of the prominent residents of the town, announced that the questions to be discussed would be "The Location of Stores in Piedmont," "Annexation to Oakland" and "The Preservation of Trees Along Vernal Avenue. The first subject was enough to occupy the whole time allotted for the meeting and since.

Every one in the district is busy discussing the matter and all are looking forward to the next meeting of the club on August 12th. The subject will again come up for debate. Uhl and his friends and Mrs. Hendry and her supporters are priming themselves for the fight.

Residents Take Sides.
Among those who are members of the club and who are taking sides pro and con in the controversy are H. C. Capwell, Frank A. Leach Jr., H. E. Robbins, Rupert Whitehead, Phil Walsh, Walter Logan, Adolph Uhl, Melvin Samuels, Miss Florence Blair, Morris Stewart, Henry Hume, Oscar Sutro, Ignatius Dienstag, Beech Soule, H. W. Thomas, W. Barnard and H. M. Tenny. The members of the Town's Board of Trustees, Hugh Craig, George W. McNear, William F. Vickery, H. F. Farr and William J. Munson, are also members of the club. They are carefully refusing to take sides. The Hendry faction, however, believes that it has the support of the board of city fathers, because of the general suspicion that Uhl and his friends have attempted to gain control of the town and to dictate its future policies in civic matters.


Oakland Tribune - Thu - Aug. 8, 1912

Land to Be Bought by Corporation for Mercantile and Church Purposes.


Residents of Piedmont are invited to become members of a corporation for the purpose of securing a site for an interdenominational church and for the location of the future stores of the city, which are to be erected and controlled by the corporation.


The property selected is known as the Loring tract, containing about two acres and located on Highland avenue, opposite the entrance of Piedmont park. It is owned by Frank C. Havens, who has offered the property for this purpose for $25,000.


The tract is divided by the street car track into two portions. The acre and a half east of the track is to be given to the interdenominational church on which to erect a church and parish house, with spaces for a tennis court and open-air gymnasium.


The crescent shaped portion west of the car tract and fronting on Highland Avenue is to be used for a business block. This has a frontage of about 400 feet, capable of accommodating a dozen or more stores.


Recognizing the fact that sooner or later stores will invade this exclusive residence district it is the idea of those originating the scheme to restrict business to a definite section and to protect the city from the invasion of cheap and unsightly stores, Jutting out to the sidewalks, spoiling lawns, cutting off the view and filling the street with litter.


According to this scheme any one desiring to do business in Piedmont can arrange with the directors and have a suitable building erected. Attention is called to the fact that a reasonable investment will secure to the investor a fair financial return. It is proposed that the church site shall be deeded intact, and that the remainder beretained by the corporation, composed of the subscribers, who shall develop it according to their own inclination and receive the profits on their investment, this portion to bear the whole cost of the $25,000, which with the grading and the erection of the first stores will make the total investment about $33,000. Those back of the movement are W. M. Alex ander, R. J. Tyson, M. L. Requa, J. B. Richardson, L. H. Norris and Rev. J. E. Stuchell,

Oakland Tribune - Sat - Nov. 29, 1913:

Men who non-chalantly handle hundreds of thousands of dollars daily are preparing to sell "staple groceries" to their neighbors and themselves through the medium of a co-operative grocery.

Of course it is not to be known as & grocery store. It is to be the "Piedmont Commercial Center." Probably the finest home that an egg ever had in this world is to house the "Piedmont Commercial Center," No, it is to be no common ordinary grocer's store. It is to be a $10,000 villa. Albert Farr is the architect. He says that it will rival in tone and architecture the enormous mansions which are to surround it on every side.

Probably in no other place in the world is there such a grocery store as Piedmont is to have in about two months. Just glance down the list of names of the men who are to conduct its affairs:

Wallace M. Alexander, millionaire sugar man, president; J. B. Richardson, wealthy attorney, secretary; Mark L. Requa, millionaire mining man; Robert J. Tyson, banker; Harmon Bell, corporation attorney and clubman; Lucien Norris and Will Robertson, capitalists, directors.
On the list of stockholders are such men as Samuel Taylor, Henry Adams and Harry Knowles, social favorites: James K. Moffitt, banker; Frank C. Havens, president of the Peoples Water Company; Wickham Havens, wealthy realty operator; State Senator Arthur H. Breed: Adolph Uhl, millionaire merchant; W. L. Sharon, capitalist.

The villa grocery is now being built. It is to be erected on the gore made by the Oakland Traction Company's tracks, Magnolia and Highland avenues. The ground was purchased several months ago with the understanding that any portion not used for the villa grocery is to be donated as the site for Rev. Stutchell's interdenominational church, which is to be of open-air construction.

Piedmont, with its beautiful mansions, the homes of millionaire business men of the bay cities, has long been known as the storeless city. No store of any kind has heretofore existed there. The city is rapidly growing, and one of the reasons for organizing the Piedmont Commercial Center is to discourage any future attempt to locate a grocery store within the city limits.

Through this plan the Piedmonters hope to keep commercialism out of the city's business life; they will confine the business activity to a villa instead of permitting untidy and commercial-looking places to exist; and last, but not least, they will direct a terrific blow at old man "High Prices."

San_Francisco_Examiner -

Sat - Nov. 29, 1913



Appellate Bench Upholds Decision of Judge Murphey in 2 Year Fight Over Business Area Characterizing Piedmont's zoning law as a monopoly on behalf of already existing business, the Appellate Court of California yesterday handed down a decision affirming the judgment of Superior Judge J. D. Murphey of Oakland which rules out the zoning ordinance.

The Appellate Court decision was rendered in the action brought by Jessie E. Wickham against officials of the city of Piedmont. The plaintiff, as owner of premises on the northerly corner of Grand and Linda avenues, wanted to erect two stores on the property, but was refused a permit under the city's zoning ordinance, which declared the premises were not in the district restricted to business enterprises.


The suit was brought two years ago and was the first of a long series of actions against the Piedmont zoning law, and it is expected that Piedmont will have to reconstruct its entire zoning plan as a result of the Appellate Court decision affirming Judge Murphey's judgment.
The Appellate Court in its characterization of the city's zoning ordinance as "monopoly" declared, in part:

The record reveals that in creating the so-called business district the city selected two distinct areas situate in different sections of the city. Together they contain less than one acre of land. One parcel, the smaller one, is situate on the southerly corner of Grand and Linda avenues, directly opposite plaintiff's property. It has a frontage of only 75 feet on Grand avenue and 125 feet on Linda avenue, and at the time of the enactment of the ordinance was completely occupied by two stores, a general market and a drugstore, leaving no available space whatever for the development of future business.

The other or larger area includes both sides of a portion of Highland avenue at its junction with Magnolia avenue. However, the entire westerly side of Highland avenue, within said area, is owned by the city, and consequently cannot be utilized for private business purposes; and the entire easterly side, within said area, with the exception of a single lot having a frontage of 50 feet and a depth of 70 feet, was entirely occupied at the time the ordinance was passed by four established places of business, namely a grocery store, a drug
store, a candy store and a gasoline station,
the vacant lot lying between the gasoline station and one of the stores, and which at the time of trial, so the trial court found, was being held by the owners thereof for speculation at an exorbitant price.

Obviously, therefore, at the time of the adoption of the ordinance there was no available ground left within either area for future business development, except said vacant lot; and from the dimensions thereof (50 by 70 feet) it cannot be reasonably said to constitute "adequate provision" for the building of apartment houses, flats, theaters and the other various kinds of business enterprises which the
zoning ordinance purports to permit.

The plain effect of the ordinance is, therefore, to prevent all business within the city except and save that that of the favored places already established and to grant to such places a business monopoly; and upon that ground the trial court was correct, in our opinion, in declaring said ordinance void in so far as it affected plaintiff's property.

Oakland Tribune - Sun - Oct. 6, 1929

Question of Stores Along Grand Avenue Section to Be Settled.

Voters of Piedmont will go to the polls on Tuesday to settle the zoning controversy which centers on a short section of Grand avenue, at the Piedmont-Oakland boundary line.

To decide whether stores shall be permitted on the east side of Grand avenue between the Oakland boundary line and Oakland avenue, as well as on the west side, as now permitted, the municipality will spend something like $3500 in learning the sentiments of the voters. That is the estimated cost of the election. The total registration is 5735. In the presidential election last November 4430 votes were cast in Piedmont. Ballots will be cast at seven polling places, which will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p. m. The issue, in which the Upper Grand Avenue Improvement club urges extension of the business area and the Piedmont Civic association and the West Piedmont Improvement club stand with the city council in opposing such extension, took form after the appellate court had decided that the old zoning ordinance, known as 196, was invalid because insufficient area was devoted to business, considering the population of the city.

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Oakland Tribune - Sun - Oct. 6, 1929

A subsequent ordinance, known as 315, also is held to be invalid, and the proponents of the new coning ordinance claim that Piedmont is now without any zoning Ordinance, This disputed zoning ordinance, adopted by the council last March, permitted business on the west side of Grand avenue between the Oakland boundary line and Linda avenue, and opened the east side to business between Wildwood and Fairview avenues.


The proposed new ordinance which, if approved by the voters on Tuesday, would supersede that adopted by the council last March, extends the business area on the rest side of Grand avenue from Linda avenue to Oakland avenue and opens up the east side to business between Fairview and Oakland avenues.

Opponents of the proposed new ordinance charge that it is modeled after ordinance 196, which as declared invalid by the court, instead of after 815, drafted by the council to correct the errors of the earlier document. It is also charged that it omits provisions or apartment houses.


As to this, the Upper Grand Avenue Improvement club, in its statement sent to voters, has the following to say:

“Statements that it will throw the city wide open to business are groundless. It is modeled directly upon the ordinance under which the city lived for years and which was satisfactory except for the feature of insufficient business area now criticized by the courts. If that ordinance otherwise was safe, this one is especially so.


"Grand avenue, from the Oakland city line to Oakland avenue, where this ordinance proposes to put the business area, lies at the
very edge of the municipality. It has become a traffic artery through economic force, which cannot be legislated away: its traffic now exceeds an average of 1500 vehicles per hour. Its residence values have already been largely destroyed. Business has not only crowded upon Piedmont from the Oakland side; It has been admitted by the council into Piedmont,' in this very section, but in part only."

The club's statement charges the zoning ordinance adopted by the council last March is invalid because a charter amendment restricts the zoning power to the vote of the people. The city council's view on this point is that the charter gave it the power to adopt a new original ordinance, which that adopted in March was, but that the city charter's restriction as to zoning power applies only to amendments to an ordinance, "The council is not opposed to proper and reasonable store area for Piedmont," reads a statement sent voters by the council; "but It is opposed to a wholesale opening of the residential zone without justification. Piedmont is essentially a residential city and should be preserved as such." Elimination of the apartment house area in the new ordinance will make it subject to attack in court, the council members believe. "Why go back to an old ordinance enacted in 1925, which will, if adopted, entirely supersede the present ordinance, and render abortive some of its most important enactments" the council's statement asks.



"The city council has consistently," its statement concludes, "ever since it members have take office, sought to preserve the traditional status of Piedmont as an ideal home city. It has resisted as far as it could all efforts to break down the barriers which have been set
against unnecessary business excess if backed by the vote of the electors. The crisis is now here."

The Upper Grand Avenue Improvement club's ordinance experts charge that the apartment provisions of the present ordinance constitute "Illegal spot-zoning," being designed only to meet the situation created by apartment houses already erected on isolated parcels of property. They point out that apartment houses are still not permitted in Grand avenue,

Taking up the challenge of the city council that "the crisis is now here," the improvement club drives home its final argument with
"By voting YES you will provide a legally valid zoning for the entire city, giving it, as required by the courts, an adequate business area, and at the same time restricting that aren to the portion of the city where economic pressure demands it."


Oakland Tribune - Wed - Oct. 9, 1929

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Oakland Tribune - Fri - Jun. 5, 1959:

The council acted last night on a recommendation from the Planning Commission.

In a letter to the council, Traylor W. Bell, president of the Piedmont Commercial Center, said that tenants of the Highland Ave. shopping center have expressed a desire to have one or two additional small businesses at the center to maintain a more complete service and retain some of the business that is being drawn to other shopping areas.

He said that the names of World War I dead inscribed on the memorial are included on a plaque at the new Veterans Memorial Building “and the old memorial is serving no useful purpose."

Three residents along the west end of Piedmont Park last night objected that the "lower" end of the park is a "hazard," "a dust bowl," and has been subjected to "pure neglect and lack of supervision."

Registering their protests were L. S. Timpson, 1 Prospect Road, and Mr. and Mrs. John H. Phillips, 314 Wildwood Ave.

Timpson told the council that a bridge across the creek which bisects the park had collapsed two years ago and has never been replaced. He said that lack of a bridge is hazardous and that residents on the west end of the park can not use safe trails to gain access to the east end.


Promising an immediate investigation and prompt action to correct the situation, Mayor Roy Milligan pointed out that "the park was put there for people to enjoy, the paths to walk on and if they can't be used there's little sense in having a park."

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