Atherton, which now has no commercial zoning, may soon change that so locals can buy a cup of coffee when the town gets its new civic center.
The plan is far from firm, but City Council members endorsed the idea when they met on May 20, and also gave the go-ahead to exploring a teaching kitchen for the new library.
"I feel strongly that one of the biggest draws for our new civic center is to make a new center to Atherton, for people to come to," said Mayor Rick DeGolia.
"I think the idea of a cafe could be a huge attraction to the civic center," he said. "Personally I'd love to come to Atherton and have my cup of coffee."
Mr. DeGolia said he had visited Ada's Cafe in Palo Alto's Mitchell Park library, which has only a few tables, inside and outside; it also has a very small kitchen. "It was a lovely, lovely experience," he said.
Council member Mike Lempres said, "I would, too, love to come here and have a cup of coffee."
Council member Bill Widmer lent the only note of dissent. "I'm in favor of the teaching kitchen," he said. "I think it would add a lot of value to the library." However, he said, "I'm very cautious about having other commercial or other stand-alone commercial activities."
Atherton planner Lisa Costa Sanders said the town would have to change zoning to allow a cafe. An addition to the environmental report on the civic center master plan might also be required, and an amendment to the town's general plan, but that all could be done in less than six months' time, she said.
City Attorney William Connors said allowing the cafe would not open the town to other business ventures. "There's other quasi-commercial things going on" in Atherton, he said, such as the Circus Club. "It is a little different, but it's not precedential," he said.
The staff report said that most details, including "location, vendors (if any), conditions of use, hours, and land use issues" would be decided later.
In other business, the council continued until next month the discussion of changes to the town's special events ordinance that will allow the town to recover costs of providing police, public works or other services to a special event.
A divided council also agreed to move forward with a plan to transfer the town's planning and building activities temporarily into Holbrook-Palmer Park. Council members Bill Widmer and Mike Lempres voted against the move.
"I am not in favor of putting something next to the city manager's house" in the park, Mr. Widmer said, adding that he preferred to find a place in the town center for the offices.
The offices are currently located in deteriorating temporary buildings that will need work if they are to last through another winter, town staff said.