Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - October 31, 2008


Flawed hospital plans


I have seen a lot of advertisements lately from Stanford Hospital about the wonders of its medical care. A not-so-subtle reminder that we should support plans for their new expanded "regional" hospital.

I believe that Stanford should place a new community hospital on its current site and move the new 2-million-plus square-foot regional hospital somewhere else.

Due to the historical placement of Stanford University, access to a new regional mega-facility is limited except to those who live nearby.

The current and proposed facility is not close to a major freeway. Also there is no direct route from the freeway to the hospital and incoming ambulances have to navigate through ever more crowded neighborhood streets. Helicopter flights cannot avoid flying over the surrounding neighborhoods. Currently the Stanford facility cannot provide workers with nearby housing, and this issue will only worsen with the addition of 3,000 new employees.

The new regional medical center that Stanford is proposing should be situated in a more accessible location for all potential users. Stanford should be looking at areas nearer the 101 freeway for easy emergency access. Stanford claims that the proposed facility would work in times of disaster but it is easy to see that a major earthquake could easily close down all routes for delivery of supplies.

A location closer to an airport would facilitate delivery of emergency supplies during a pandemic or major natural disaster, plus have the added advantage of allowing quicker transfer of patients that are flown into the hospital for specialized treatment.

If Stanford wants to provide regional cutting-edge medical services it should be willing to evaluate not only the size and design needed for this endeavor but also the most successful placement of the proposed facility. The Stanford campus, while certainly convenient for the current staff and faculty, is not the best location for the proposed regional hospital. Perhaps Stanford should start discussions with NASA and the Moffet field people, that would be a good regional location for all.

Tina Peak

Palo Alto Avenue

Palo Alto

Once-in-a-lifetime vote


Thank you Alison Cormack for piecing together the importance of the library facility bond (Oct. 24), Measure N. Yes, it has been a long time since the community has rallied for public infrastructure improvements and the City Council is rightly putting the bond to an up-or-down vote on the current measure for our libraries.

It moves the issue of calculating Palo Alto's culture of a branch-library system versus the cost of maintenance to the voting public and takes council policy through the public ratification arena. And yet this process continues to be flawed, and possibility frozen in this election, for a very simple reason.

Richard Placone points to a very important fact in his argument against Measure N. He claims that with real leadership and public education to its benefits a single library bond may receive a large majority of approval. We need to remind Placone that a large majority is not enough to vote a facility bond measure into existence. You need a super

majority, more thantwo thirds of voters voting yes to approve a bond.

So, Measure N will only win approval if every no vote is matched by two yes votes, exceeded by one more yes vote. This is a very high threshold, almost unachievable, perhaps maybe, even a once-in-a-lifetime chance that this community will have a supermajority voting yes on Measure N.

So let's get going and vote yes twice as much for modernizing our libraries.

Nancy Shepherd

Madrono Avenue

Palo Alto

Sputnik-era libraries


In Alison Cormack's guest opinion (Oct. 24), she says, "We've got Sputnik-era libraries in the age of the iPod and Google."

Since there is no library technology plan, even if Measure N passes, we could still end up with Sputnik-era libraries.

Cormack tells us the Palo Alto Library Foundation will raise money to pay for books, furniture and computers. Can anyone guarantee that private donors will provide enough to pay for all the things the bond cannot? Without a technology plan, can anyone guarantee that donors will pay for 21st century technology — including upgrades and support, consultants and staff over the next 10, 20, 30 years?

Cormack also says the City Council will use general funds — our tax dollars — to pay for additional staff and utilities costs. "The Council understands this budget challenge and has repeatedly supported this plan unanimously."

Just what budget does the council understand? Consultants hired by the city reported that "further evaluation and analysis" is needed to determine actual staffing and operating costs. Meanwhile, the city has a $550 million infrastructure backlog and is looking for $5 million/year to pay for a public safety building we didn't vote on. Where will all this money come from? A parcel tax? More increases in our utility rates? Cuts in other city services?

The City Council was irresponsible when it put Measure N on the ballot without knowing all the costs. Vote No on N.

Pat Marriott

Dennis Drive

Palo Alto

Where dreams are born


The letters from opponents of Measure N show a wide range of errors and misunderstandings. Smokey Wallace claims the cost for Mitchell Park Library and Community Center is $1,022/square foot. Wrong! It is $455/square foot including a 17 percent inflation factor per the City Council meeting of Feb. 4.

Those who claim we can't afford to approve the bonds now due to market turmoil overlook the fact that bonds won't be sold for more than a year when markets will be far more receptive and interest rates will be modest. This is a great time to upgrade our libraries as construction costs are dropping. Recently bids for public works projects came in 30 percent under estimates. Contractors are hungry.

As for the "high cost" of branches, the only incremental costs are utilities, maintenance and $45,000 for inter-branch materials transfer, totaling under $140,000.

Our branch system has served us well for more than 70 years. The branch system must remain. Without it students at JLS, Fairmeadow, Nixon, Escondido, Hoover and seniors from Stevenson House and Channing House would have no library within walking distance. College Terrace and Downtown would lose library and community spaces.

Technology planning is underway. Link+ starts in January. An expanded Mitchell Park will have 40 public computers, versus the current 11. Plans for more technology are futile if N fails as there is no place to install it.

It is said libraries are where dreams are born. We need Measure N for our and our children's dreams.

Bob Moss

Orme Street

Palo Alto

Just plain wrong


According to the recent library audit, Palo Alto spends nearly twice as much per-capita for our library service compared to neighboring cities. In addition, we have nearly twice the number of staff per 1,000 cardholders compared to neighboring cities.

By voting "yes" on "N", Palo Altans are saying they agree with the built-in redundancy and inefficiencies of the current library system. Indeed, a "yes" vote on this bond also tells the council that you agree to increase our annual library budget by between $750,000 and $1.1million with the corresponding decrease on other services to fund this.

If this bond passes, nothing will change. We will continue to outspend our neighbors for no appreciable gain.

Don't try to sell this bond as a choice between modernization and continuing deterioration. That is just plain wrong.

James Walsh

Alma Street

Palo Alto

Vegan diet benefits


A study of 16,000 people in 52 countries in the current issue of Circulation found that eating meat, fried foods, and salty snacks raised the risk of a heart attack by 35 percent. Conversely, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables reduced the risk of a heart attack by 30 percent.

Again, a 24-year study of 88,517 female nurses in the April 14 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine found that those who ate lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and plant-based protein were 24 percent less likely to have a heart attack and 18 percent less likely to have a stroke than those addicted to a more typical American diet.

With the cost of medical care becoming a national crisis, it's high time for each of us to assume more responsibility for our own and our family's health by becoming more selective with our food dollars.

Page Wilson

Clarke Avenue

Palo Alto


Posted by unrealistic, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 31, 2008 at 11:18 am

"Recently bids for public works projects came in 30 percent under estimates. Contractors are hungry."

So we only need a bond for $50,000,000 now? Are you guaranteeing this? No? Thought not!

Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2008 at 5:27 pm

Bob Moss says that the cost for Mitchell Park Library and Community Center is $455/square foot, not $1,022.

According to information I received from the city, the per square foot building costs at Mitchell, Main and Downtown are $1,022, $748 and $422 respectively.

If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields