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Feldman's Books

From: Payton, Paul <"Payton,>
Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2019 22:39:27 +0000

To Whom It May Concern:

I have been a regular (weekly) patron of Feldman's for almost as long as I've been professionally employed. It has recently come to my attention that there are plans in the works to plow the building, eliminating what I consider a Menlo Park cultural mainstay, an icon of your city. I think this is foolishly short-sighted and self-defeating for reasons that will soon become apparent:


1. While much of Menlo Park's property values are due to its prime location to the north of Silicon Valley, a substantial portion of what makes Menlo Park appealing is its fascinating diversity of stores and products. Eliminating Feldman's eliminates a touchstone location, part of what gives Menlo Park its natural 'cultural flavor'. It is no less a gem than Kepler's. The alarming amount of terra-forming being done along El Camino Real is a harbinger of a hastened homogenization into modern 'warehousing-for-people' that is taking place along the Peninsula. Yes, it is important to allocate sufficient living space for the population. Still, this must be counterbalanced by preserving and encouraging those features of the Peninsula that make it an appealing locale. You are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Feldman's, a long-time store, is part of Peninsula history and deserves to endure as a fixture in the city.

2. Feldman's offers a rare commodity in the Peninsula: a used bookstore. We have lost Know Knew Books (Palo Alto) and BookBuyers (Mountain View). Bell's Books (Palo Alto) does not compare to Feldman's in terms of quality and quantity of technical and scientific materials. Aside from Recycle Books, Feldman's is one of the few remaining purveyors of 'universal used books', a trove of materials that cut across all disciplines of study. Just as Berkeley has Moe's Books, so should Stanford have Feldman's; a good used bookstore is the hallmark of an educated environment surrounding a world-class university. Feldman's offers an enduring service that is in dwindling supply; its importance extends up and down the Peninsula and is treasured by patrons coming from within and without the county. I have been a keen and loyal patron for over twenty years, as a resident of Burlingame, Foster City, and now San Carlos. I meet people at Feldman's that come from respectable distances because of the expansive collection of materials available at Feldman's. One glance at Yelp confirms how widely acclaimed and treasured Feldman's is.

3. A personal reason, but one widely-held amongst the educated and discerning reader: I view used books as the conduit of knowledge from the accomplishments of yesteryear to the promise of tomorrow. We must, as proud citizens who are custodians of this legacy of wisdom, encourage and protect purveyors. Feldman's provides an arena for exchange and dissemination of rapidly diminishing skills and techniques. Used and out-of-print books contain depth and breadth of information that contemporary books do not; our 'watered-down' materials edge out such gems of discovery. We must not permit places like Feldman's to be similarly edged out of existence. I have found materials in Feldman's that provided essential knowledge that led to patents and publications. One needs fecund intellectual soil to foster such growth.

4. Lastly, as an engineer, I have learned the wisdom of not making decisions that are irrevocable. Feldman's did not arrive into existence just yesterday. I remember Ed Feldman, the original proprietor of the store. I know Ed's sons, who have inherited the establishment. Feldman's is a generational institution; it possesses an intangible and invaluable bond to the city. It should not be demolished without a thought. It should be evaluated as a key aspect of a city seeking to balance modern-day conveniences with tradition. With Feldman's gone, where is the seeker of knowledge to go? Who and what will replace the heritage so thoughtlessly discarded? Yes, the residency of Menlo Park increases, but at what cost? Shouldn't quantity of life be balanced by quality as well?

I urge you to consider these arguments and lean heavily on the side of tradition, history, and service to the community. Some things in life cannot be replaced or ordered on Amazon. One does not gain the experience of walking amongst ideas and ideals that one has walking through the aisles of Feldman's. I have savored and luxuriated in that sensation for several decades and I do not wish others to be deprived of that. It is part of and befitting of a community like Menlo Park.

Please, do not discard the living history of your city. Menlo Park is a hybrid of the modern and the classic. Equal value must be accorded both. Do not rush headlong into the future, discarding the jewels of the past.

Thank you for your attention,

Paul Max Payton

Paul Max Payton | Chief Systems Engineer
O: 650-432-8262 | M: 650-576-2399 | E: ppayton_at_(domainremoved)
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Received on Mon Mar 25 2019 - 15:35:07 PDT

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