Some 967 new housing units and 352,000 square feet of planned new office, commercial and community center space will draw users from the entire Peninsula to the current VTA 88 bus service area in south Palo Alto.
The Jewish Community Center alone will add about 4,000 member visits per day to a site that has been vacant for nearly a decade. (Visit http://tinyurl.com/2h9cyp for a snapshot of 88 route development.) Environmental impact reports for the largest of those approved projects, Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life (TKCJL)/ BUILD and the former Hyatt Rickey's, cited VTA 88 as traffic mitigations for their projects. Previously, VTA had expressed interest in relocating Route 88 to serve TKCJL better. Instead, just as these projects are approved and beginning construction, VTA reverses itself and proposes eliminating the 88 route portion that would have served these regional destinations.
This is the wrong time to reduce or eliminate a Charleston/Louis route. VTA should wait at least until the projects are built and the Charleston/Arastradero Plan trial is complete.
We expect VTA will work with the city and community stakeholders to
make it a priority to provide adequate bus and/or shuttle capacity to meet future demand throughout the day, especially during peak hours and school commute times, and to develop programs to encourage use of the 88 bus as developers add 4 percent of all current Palo Alto households to this area. Concerned citizens can email Bill.Capps@vta.org and copy Gayle.Likens@cityofpaloalto.org.
El Capitan Place, Palo Alto
Earth Day inspiration
Thanks to Don Kazak for his excellent column on the Greenlight Earth Day Film Festival and the filmmakers' winning entries. However, Kazak gives me credit where credit is definitely not due. The inspiration for the festival belongs to the wonderful people in the City of Palo Alto's recycling program, along with those at the Midpeninsula Community Media Center. Take a bow Amanda Cox, Julie Weiss, Wendy Hediger, Danielle Fairbairn, Annie Folger, Karen Adams and Jesse Norfleet, plus many other wonderful volunteers.
Hemlock Court, Palo Alto
What is 'smart growth'?
Alma Plaza should remain all retail. The Palo Alto City Council continues to change zoning in order to overdevelop Palo Alto. Although excessive development is not what is best for the environment, I am guessing that one or more of the council members uses "smart growth" as an excuse.
The theory of "smart growth" includes walkable retail. Alma Plaza is currently all retail, yet the council has chosen to have the area developed primarily for housing. What happened to the theory of "smart growth"? For the slower-growth advocates in Palo Alto, perhaps you can work on a growth-control initiative. Other communities have done it successfully; perhaps we can, too.
Ortega Avenue, Mountain View
Black in Palo Alto
It's Saturday night, about 11p.m., and I'm driving home from a movie at the Aquarius. A cop is turning left as two black boys on a bicycle approach from the opposite direction. He cuts them off and tells them to pull over as I drive by.
I'm sure there's some law that makes it illegal for two people to be on the same bike, but I'm curious so I turn around. I park nearby and walk slowly past the officer as he questions the two kids (they look to be about 16). I decide to stand close enough to overhear the interrogation. The cop (white, looks to be about 18) couldn't be friendlier. I hear laughter. Some casual questions: Ever been arrested? Got any weapons on you? Any drugs? Within minutes, another car arrives. The cop (white, looks 17) gets out. Both boys are thoroughly searched. More friendly discourse.
After 10 minutes or so the boys are sent on their way with a kindly warning to "stay out of trouble." I intercept them as they walk by and ask why they got pulled over.
"For riding a bike."
Is that really why you got pulled over?
"It's called being black in Palo Alto."
What do you think about that?
That's what I think, too.
Spencer Lane, Atherton