Palm Theater

1705 Palm Avenue,
San Mateo, CA 94402

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Showing 76 - 88 of 88 comments

FJennings on April 30, 2004 at 1:02 pm

Minutes from the City Council meeting held April 19, 2004,in part:

“Motion was made by Lee, seconded by Epstein, and carried unanimously (5-0) to approve PA01-146 Palm Residences, demolition of the existing theater to allow construction of a 2-and 3-story, 19 unit residential building atop below-grade parking at 1705 Palm Avenue.”


FJennings on March 31, 2004 at 8:54 am

The planning commission papers regarding the Palm do mention the idea of modifying the existing structure, but was rejected as being too expensive. And as far as Bay Meadows – the place now looks like a deserted movie set used for a Roman sword and sandal flick. Very much a planned, sterile, empty, Stepford community.

As a native Californian, I’ve seen much of our buildings and farms destroyed for the sake of short term profit. I assure you, if Jesus Christ had been born in California, the spot would now have a mini-mall on top of it. This website is a great way to at least preserve the memory of a vanishing culture.

Bottom line, in the San Francisco bay area, property is over valued, history isn’t valued, governments have no pride nor imagination, and development is driven by greed – not need.

(off my soapbox)

msrobertson on March 31, 2004 at 1:43 am

I’d rather see the exterior of The Palm stay intact and even become something so tacky as a dollar-store, rather than destroy one of the few remaining historical structures that San Mateo has. If we need more low-income housing units in San Mateo, there are plenty of partially-vacant apartment buildings that could be transformed for that purpose. As a 15-year San Mateo resident, I am saddened greatly to see The Palm AND the historic Bay Meadows both on their way out this year, all in the name of more unneeded housing structures.

FJennings on March 29, 2004 at 1:43 pm

Unfortunately, the Palm isn’t an ornate movie palace like the Paramount in Oakland. It’s just a modest little neighbor theater, with minimal architectural interest. However, it does have a marvelous neon façade that bathes the entire street in a wonderful electric glow. I drove by one night after a rain, and it was pure magic. I’m sure the neighbors won’t miss what they must consider the annoying light pollution, and that the addition of 19 low-income rental units far outweighs the lost of a bit of local history they probably never experienced, nor care to preserve.

The new multiplex downtown spelled doom for any consideration of the Palm ever returning to a first run venue, and it took the passion and deep pockets of the Packard family (of Hewlett-Packard electronics) to turn the Stanford Theater, in Palo Alto, into a revival house gem. I don’t think the money or the passion is there for the poor Palm. Sad to see another bit of Americana shipped off to the landfill.

scottfavareille on March 28, 2004 at 11:41 am

One unfortunate problem (re:the last comment) is that Century Theaters recently opened a 12-screener in downtown San Mateo. I don’t know if art house fare would work(the nearest venues now are in Menlo Park and Burlingame). Still, I wonder if as the fact that it was one of the first conversions of a movie house from mainstream into hard porn films(done in April 1972) that it should get historical status on that alone. Persaonally, it is sad to see many of these beautiful theaters(I’m talking about the days of old, not in its current state) go by the wayside.

tribecafilm on March 28, 2004 at 11:04 am

It would be nice if this were given historical status. The theater would as=lso be more likely to be converted back to first run films.

FJennings on March 3, 2004 at 4:02 pm

Update on Palm Theater demolition:

The Planning Commission held a public hearing for the planning application (both the project and the environmental document) on February 24, 2004 and recommended approval of the project to the City Council, which has final decision-making authority on the project.

The City Council hearing for the project was previously noticed for March 15. To give the applicant time to make minor changes requested by the Commission as part of their recommendation (and to give staff time to review them), the hearing before the City Council has been moved to April 19, 2004.

tick – tick – tick

FJennings on February 17, 2004 at 4:16 pm

The body of letter from the owners of the Palm Theater to the Planning Department dated December 8, 2003:

Our company is the owner of the Palm Theatre and has been for almost 30 years. I am writing to explain the condition of the motion picture industry in regards to single small screen operations such as the Palm.

This type of theatre is no longer viable in competing or acquiring film since the market has so dramatically changed in recent years. With the advent of the multi screen theatre it would be impossible to acquire film on a first run basis. ( Which will be needed to sustain a business such as this).

As you can see up and down the peninsula and in the bay area there are almost no single screen operations. In our industry today generally there are no new complexes being built less than 8 screens. Even most 8-screen theatres have fallen by the way side. It is impossible to compete for any kind of film with a single screen theatre. Unfortunately single screen theatres are a thing of the past and are no longer viable in today’s market:

Daniel F. Tocchini
North American Cinemas, Inc
Santa Rosa, CA

Of course Mr Tocchini’s explanation of the Palms failure because the market is moving away from single screen theatres rings false, then you consider that the Palm has been open and showing xxx films for the entire 30 years that it’s been owned by North American Cinemas.

FJennings on February 17, 2004 at 2:56 pm

Update on proposed Palm Theater demolition.

On Feb 24, 2004 the final version of the plan goes before the San Mateo Planning Commission.

On March 15, 2004 the proposal for the demolition of the Palm goes before the San Mateo City Council.

According to the Feb 11, 2004 meeting minutes, there are some weak voices proposing the Palm Theater be declared a historical building. Concerns about increased traffic and parking problems seem to be more important to local residents.

FJennings on January 30, 2004 at 2:39 pm

According to the 1/27/04 San Mateo Planning Department website “Public hearings for the planning application are anticipated in February 2004.”

I’m sure that potential profits behind the proposed housing complex will over-ride any concern about preserving a bit a local history. The theater is pretty rundown (inside and out) and is too off-the-beaten-path for a possible revival house rejuvenation. My guess â€" the developers will win and the Palm will be no more by Summer 2004.

I’ll try and get a photo for posting here. It has a nice green PALM neon sign outside and there are some very interesting etched-glass palm frond motif panels around the front entrance. The inside is pitch black, but I was able to make out some kind of bas-reliefs on the walls. I’m sure the movie projector is gone, since a video projector displays the xxx rated movies. It’s pretty seedy inside, but it’s still sad to see the place go.

stevemcgarrett on January 27, 2004 at 9:04 pm

The theater is still goin but will fold soon…
This floor is kinda hard to describe. The middle section near the screens how should I say slopes…

William on November 25, 2003 at 1:16 pm

The Palm Theatre seated 750 people.

scottfavareille on November 25, 2003 at 9:24 am

Opened in 1949 showing mainstream, first run films. Went to porn in April, 1972 and continues to show porn today. Currently the last operating adult film(now video) theater in the San Francisco Bay Area.