Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - January 22, 2010

Letters

Waste policies

Editor,

I'm writing regarding the new Green Waste fee for private streets in Palo Alto (an extra $15/month), which residents will eventually have to pay, as I'm told by the city that a majority of all affected people have to protest in writing by some-to-be-decided future date.

Streets such as Ellsworth Place and San Carlos in Midtown are easy to serve and we feel that the extra fee is not justified.

This is a citywide policy issue and I think it should be taken up by the City Council and not just decided by Green Waste and city staffers.

Not all private streets are the same and equally difficult to service and not all should be treated the same.

PASCO used really little trucks to service our particular street, at no extra cost, after we ourselves paid to have it repaved and requested the smaller trucks.

The much larger Green Waste trucks now being used do damage to the paving. So we on Ellsworth Place will be required to pay extra for the privilege of having trucks that damage our street and will cost us extra for maintenance.

This is injury on top of injury.

This is a policy question, an issue for the City Council.

Natalie Fisher

Ellsworth Place

Palo Alto

Limiting lawns

Editor,

Limiting homeowners' lawn size is yet another short-term proposal from politicians in the quest to avoid dealing with the real problem of limited water supplies in California.

We've already been asked to reduce water consumption by 20 percent and the kinds of toilets and shower heads we can buy are regulated. Will the next laws cover when we can bathe or brush our teeth?

Unfortunately none of these lifestyle-reducing tactics will help without addressing the underlying problem of our ongoing water shortage. Over-population is the driving cause of water shortages and the ever more draconian proposals to deal with it, from damming free-flowing rivers to turning lawns to dirt.

Forty years ago, California's population was under 20 million. Today it is close to 40 million and in 40 more years it will be over 60 million. This population growth is the intensifier of the many problems that impair the quality of life in this state.

More people means crowded cities and roads, dysfunctional schools, environmental degradation and resource shortages. ...

Isn't it past time for an open debate on a sustainable population size and ways to achieve it voluntarily?

If we don't deal with the real issue ... now, one day instead of mandatory lawn sizes there may well be mandatory family sizes.

Tina Peak

Palo Alto Avenue

Palo Alto,

Sit-lie ordinance

Editor,

My family moved to Palo Alto in 1959 because the city had the reputation of having a strong social conscience and a lot of compassion.

It was not true of all Palo Altans but I still had illusions about my city when I heard that it was considering banning the homeless from University Avenue.

I worked for one year getting grants for the homeless and learned that many were troubled Vietnam veterans who had not received help. One displayed his war pictures next to Walgreens. A member of the City Council, who had a shop across the street, got annoyed by the display and kicked the pictures. Their owner became angry, although not belligerent. Then the woman convinced her fellow council members to ban the homeless from University Avenue with an anti-sit-lie ordinance.

The fact is that there was a Palo Alto ordinance providing for fines and even jail for people who created disturbances. ... So that new ordinance was superfluous. As Victor Frost put it, "They want us out only because we are ugly."

As many as 20 people came to the City Council sessions to protest the ordinance, which was obviously illegal. The streets and sidewalks belong to everybody. ...

The members of a civil rights organization to which I belonged sat on the curb three days in a row but were never arrested. Palo Alto was criticized not only in the Bay Area but in the New York Times.

When I heard that another street was again going to be illegally closed to the homeless I was furious anew. Whole Foods clogs the sidewalk with enormous fruit displays and many homeless who beg there are thin and frail, like shadows. But the commentaries I read online showed that many Palo Altans did not want to have them next to Whole Food only because they, indeed, are ugly!

This time the homeless had very few defenders. But why is the city attorney tolerating that violation of their civil rights? How can the council so brazenly break the law?

Christiane Cook

Emerson Street

Palo Alto

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