Palo Alto Weekly

News - February 5, 2010

New Palo Alto priority: Youth well-being

City Council expands list of priorities for 2010

by Jay Thorwaldson

In a day-long retreat last Saturday marked by thought-out comments and respectful listening, the Palo Alto City Council named five issues as its top priorities for 2010.

Council members retained economic/financial health and environmental sustainability from their 2009 list, while adding collaboration for youth well-being and land-use/transportation planning and resurrecting a past priority of emergency preparedness.

The nine-member council, which added five new members in January, quietly dropped civic engagement for the common good, a 2009 goal that had been criticized as being too vague and confusing. City staff said civic engagement would be incorporated into city activities generally.

Current hot-button issues facing the city, such as completing the Stanford Medical Center expansion process and addressing high-speed rail and housing, were subsumed under the land-use/transportation priority. Council members agreed that because those issues were not initiated by the city they should not stand alone as priorities, as the library-bond priority did two years ago.

Another hot item, continuing talks with employee unions over salaries and benefits, would fall under city finances because of the critical long-term implications of the negotiations.

Saturday's decisions were unofficial "straw votes" and will need to be ratified at a regular council meeting, City Manager James Keene said.

He said the priorities would be vetted through the council's Policy and Services Committee at its Feb. 9 meeting, then sent on to the full council either at its Feb. 22 or March 1 meetings.

The retreat, held in the Palo Alto Unified School District headquarters, was attended by about 30 persons in the morning, swelling to nearly 50 in the afternoon — of whom about 15 were city administrators or staff members. About 20 people addressed the council regarding its priorities.

Staff background reports on financial trends and staffing limitations, presented in the morning, warned of serious budget shortfalls this fiscal year (ending June 30) that will become more acute next year and the year after, according to staff projections.

Keene cautioned the council that setting too many priorities could over-extend his staff. He said an internal survey done last year showed there are only 65 manager-level staff members who would be involved in implementing city priorities. They already spend time maintaining city operations, which he likened to the below-the-surface portion of an iceberg.

During its discussion, the council agreed by consensus to keep economic issues as a leading priority, which each member had listed as a top consideration in the morning discussion. They informally added emergency preparedness and land use/transportation planning as the next two issues of importance.

The council then voted 5-4 to stay with three priorities rather than expand to five. But Councilman Larry Klein, in the only sharp disagreement of the day, said he would vote against all priorities unless environmental concerns were included, by any term.

"In good conscience I cannot support what we've just done," Klein declared.

"It's absolutely insane for a city that's been a leader in environmental protection to suddenly drop that as a priority," he said. And it would give a terrible message within the city and beyond, he added.

He also said that the importance of the well-being of children and youth should be addressed, referring to the community's struggle with teen suicides in the past year.

New Councilwoman Nancy Shepherd then said she wanted to switch her vote to limit the priorities to three because she thought there would be more discussion about the third alternative.

Keene added that he felt the three priorities left some gaps, based on the council's earlier discussion, and given the choice he would support five priorities. He cited an expanded role of the council's Policy and Services Committee, discussed earlier in the day, as being helpful to the staff in dealing with the larger list of priorities.

The council then wrapped up the day by agreeing on the five priorities.

Editor Jay Thorwaldson can be e-mailed at jthorwaldson@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by george browning, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 31, 2010 at 5:24 pm

I was at the retreat all day and enjoyed every minute. Why? Compared to previous retreats this one was focused and collegial - all were trying to do the "right thing". I even agreed with the priorities chosen which is unusual for me.

Pat Burt ran the meeting extremely well - keeping everyone on track and making sure that any ambiguities were resolved before a vote was taken on an issue. The new council members seemed to be in touch with the issues and made thoughtful and germane comments.

Thanks to the staff for their support during the day. They were represented by the managers of the Utilities, Police, Fire, Planning and Transportation, City Clerk, etc. All were available for questions during and after the proceedings.

I wish more residents had attended to learn how the new council may function during the tough days ahead.


Posted by a parent, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 31, 2010 at 9:22 pm

I wonder if any of the members who attended the retreat know what an asset the Gamble Garden has been to families with small children in this community. Many thanks to those who won the debate on behalf of our community.

I am glad to hear of youth wellbeing as a focus. Given how autonomous the school board is, and how important school issues are to well-being of youth, I don't know how much they can accomplish. (Small suggestion: How about a permanent stage in the MP room of the new community center at Mitchell Park? A portable stage is NOT the same thing, and will not provide the same access to performance that a permanent one would. Kids in South Palo Alto have either to drive way across town -- which can be unrealistic given the time commitment of plays, for example -- or they don't have the same opportunities with this amazing children's theater resource.)


Posted by TC, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 10:05 am

So the old guard, Larry Kline, gets his "Environmental Sustainability", but the new guy on Council Greg Scharff doesn't get "Infrastructure Repairs" I know which one I support!!

This is a pity, but the first one will only cost the salary of the new Sustainability Coordinator, and give her something to do. The second one Infrastructure Repairs will cost the city mucho bucks which Council doesn't want to spend.

So, don't expect those dangerous bumps caused by tree roots down San Antonio Road between Middlefield and H101 to be removed any time soon.


Posted by Video-Public-Events, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 1, 2010 at 11:40 am

> I wish more residents had attended to learn how the new council
> may function during the tough days ahead.

In this day of the Internet, and streaming video, there is really no reason that anyone should have to attend these events (presumably by driving). While video productions can cost a few thousand dollars to record and to add "production values"--these sorts of events don't need those sorts of bells and whistles. The video needs to be in focus, and the audio needs to be audible. Add a "leader" and a "trailer"--and we're "good to go". The video streams could be archived on any server in the cosmos (that is connected to the Internet), and people can review any, or all, of these proceedings at their convenience.

In this case, the Board room at the PAUSD has a place for a camera that covers the dias, and it wouldn't take much to develop a remote control so that this camera could be controlled from off-site, or from inside the room. You really don't need to pay someone to stand there at $75+ an hour to do what electronics can do.

Palo Alto City Government is so far "behind the technology curve" that the voters should outsource the whole bloody operation to the private sector.


Posted by jardins, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 1, 2010 at 12:01 pm

GREAT that the well-being of children and youth is now an official city priority!

So now let's get down to working out how to provide safe and fun places for them to be--especially for youth on Friday and Saturday evenings. Basketball at the YWCA, a bowling alley, coffee-bars, films, table-tennis--the list goes on. I wish that the city would buy up the old Arco station in Middlefield in Midtown (we don't need yet another office building), and make that into a youth center: ice-skating is next door to that, and pizza could be ordered in from nearby Fandango/Pommards.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 1, 2010 at 12:40 pm

We've got plenty of public spaces in the city: libraries, art center, Cubberly, school buildings -- and homes. There are lots of movie theaters and lots of coffee bars. I don't understand why kids don't have plenty to do and plenty of places to go.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Pat

Libraries, art center, etc. are not open Friday/Saturday evenings. Cubberly? School buildings, well if there happens to be a school basketball game. Movie Theatres in Palo Alto do not show the movies teens want to see. Coffee Bars? You are showing your age - kids don't hang out in coffee bars anymore. Homes, yes they can go to friends' homes, but is that what going out has to be?

No, we need activities, bowling, trampolining, paint ball, mini golf, etc. for the kids.


Posted by Brendan, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 1, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Jardins,

I definitely support the acquisition and usage of the old Arco station. I'm not sure but I would imagine the cleanup fee(s) would be a big factor in any acquisition plans...


Posted by Video-Public-Events, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 1, 2010 at 1:44 pm

> Libraries, art center, etc. are not open Friday/Saturday evenings

And why not? Certainly no one goes to these places on Friday nights. But simply funding 2-3 hours of addition staff time would make them open. Are all of these wonderful teen activities that you are suggesting have adult supervision? And where do you think that money is going to come from?

> we need activities, bowling, trampolining, paint ball,
> mini golf, etc. for the kids.

And how would having these activities actually prevented the five kids who killed themselves from killing themselves? Please be specific in your answer. You will need to include details about the last youth, who was not a Palo Alto resident, not in school, and who was undergoing medical treatment at two world-class hospitals (we are told) at the time of his death.

Interesting that the City of Palo Alto just killed off its only private-sector bowling alley, and now we are being told by "a parent" that the taxpayers need to pony up maybe $20M-$30M to build a public-sector bowling alley. Wonder how often this "parent"'s kids actually used the private-sector business in the past?



Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 1, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Resident,
And who's responsible for providing kids with activities? Just curious. Who's going to ensure they have "bowling, trampolining, paint ball, mini golf, etc."? Do these things have to be in Palo Alto? Should taxpayers bear the cost?

I'm sorry to be showing my age by not realizing that coffee bars are passι. And what's so awful about hanging out in homes? The presence of parents?

Back in the day parents and kids themselves were responsible for figuring out how to have fun. From everything I see and read about kids, they're very mature and creative. There used to be a break-dance night at Mitchell Park, seemingly run by the kids themselves, which was chock full of really talented dancers. And the experts were generous in showing the new kids how to dance.

Why not maximize the use of public buildings like the art center and the libraries – which we are rebuilding at great expense to create public spaces – by having parents and organizations responsible for those spaces in the evenings?

There's a new aquatic center at Gunn and a Theater coming up at Paly, paid for by the last school bond.

I think there's a heck of a lot of opportunities in this area. Check out the Enjoy! catalog. How about all the soccer, softball, etc. teams? Or are sports passι, too?


Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Palo Alto
on Feb 1, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

Paul Losch from the Parks and Recreation Commission here. I hope to be re-appointed by Council, so I may or may not be on the Commission depending on their decision in its upcoming meeting.

The Commission also has this matter as one of its priorities, and some of the "operational" ideas brought up in above postings are the sorts of things where the City's Community Services Division can add value.

By way of information, there is a task force of community leaders from the school district, the City, and private entities that are working together to evaluate what is the root of the youth at risk problem and what approaches can be taken to prevent the 5 tragedies that took place this past year. This is a very hard working group, and the complexity behind it does not lend itself to simplistic comments in a forum like this.

I will offer up an insight that my son, a PALY alum who graduated from college last year, now is teaching English in Korea, and aspires to be a school teacher when he comes back to the US, gave me last fall. Despite the many programs available to younger kids, and the great programs available at Gunn and PALY for those with a passion, be it a sport, journalism, drama etc., adolescents who just want to have fun and not be expected to excel in an extra-curricular activity lack options in Palo Alto. He's right, and his observation has had a profound impact on how I think about this matter.

We need a "recipe" which consists of many moving parts to get our youth at risk issue addressed effectively. We do not yet have it, it likely needs to be dynamically adapted over time, but nothing around this matter deserves sound bite solutions. And, importantly, it will serve many other people in that age cohort who are not at risk, but are not able to take part in high school programs that select only the high achievers.

Our community should be grateful to those involved in addressing this matter for their work, and as they develop a "recipe" for creating a safer environment for our youth, we should support that effort.

I, for one, would prefer that the next NPR report about Palo Alto be something other than teen suicides on our railroad tracks.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 1, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Paul,
I appreciate your comment and your son's, but I'm sincerely struggling to understand what more the city is expected to give teens to enable them to have fun. I completely understand that they need a break from all the pressures in their lives. But I don't think there's a "recipe" that will serve everyone.

Do kids want something to DO or just a place to hang out? I suspect both.

There's been a hue and cry over the loss of the bowling alley. How many kids (pre-teen, high school) went bowling? For that matter, how many senior citizens went bowling? If this is such a hot activity, why isn't some developer opening a bowling alley?

How much is the city supposed to provide vs. directing kids to places where they can play pee-wee golf (Redwood City), paintball (Sunnyvale), whatever. Yes, someone would have to drive them there. Isn't that what parents do?

Someone said that the movie theaters in PA don't show movies that kids like. What about The Century?

There's a teen drop-in place at Mitchell Park with a pool table and Foosball. I'm there two nights a week and see very few kids there. As I've already mentioned, there are scores of fun classes – arts, dance, etc. – through the Enjoy! catalog.

In any case, how many of Palo Alto's youth are "at risk"? Do we even know what caused the 5 tragic suicides?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 7:24 pm

The first and most important priority at this retreat was City finances. In a couple of year the City is anticipating a $10 Million deficit. If you want help entertaining your children after school don't look to it costing any money at all.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Pat

I don't expect the City to provide all these fun activities for our teens, but I do expect them to encourage these type of businesses.

Whether it is zoning or something, I am not sure, but there are plenty of empty office spaces along Bayshore near where the new gym that was Kikis that was PA Joes. I know of rock climbing places, trampolining places, that have used old business park spaces for their businesses. Why can't we get some of them here in Palo Alto.

The Century theatres are in Mountain View and are very difficult to get to by bike in winter (it is a little easier in summer because of the pedestrian underpass) and even then it is still a long ride. Why do you say that parents should drive their kids everywhere they want to go? Many parents want their kids to be independent and not need to have rides everywhere. And for an hour's time at the trampolining place in Santa Clara, that can be a 30 minute drive so a parent has to hang around and wait for an hour for the kids to finish. Believe it or not, some parents do have lives of their own and don't expect to be at their kids' beck and call on a Friday or Saturday evening.

Yes, there are many sports leagues, but once kids get over 12 there are very few sporting opportunities for those who are not the very best at sport. And kids often are really scheduled with classes and other activities and they do like to be able to go somewhere just to hang out.

My kids do enjoy bowling and were there several times during winter break and the ice rink also. But these tend to be specials in their routines and not hangouts. They do hangout at friends homes, but that is not the same as "going out" somewhere, and a few hangout places that are open til 10.00 pm would be great for them. Even Starbucks closes at 7.00 pm and the libraries close at 6.00 and I don't think other patrons would want teens hanging out there having fun even if they were open later.

Mitchell Park, the Drop, as far as I have seen is after school hangout for middle schoolers, but apart from the dances, is not open Friday or Saturday evenings. If it were, I feel sure it would be popular.

I don't expect all this recreational stuff to be provided by the City, but I would like to see the businesses attracted here. It would be much nicer to have these activities in Palo Alto rather than 30 minutes drive away.

If the City could start thinking "family friendly" or "teen friendly" and encourage family and youth friendly areas rather than always getting housing or high end restaurants and boutiques here it would be a great start.


Posted by Wha?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 7:46 pm

I am very disappointed that Generating Revenue wasn't the number one priority. If the City is going broke, why isn't this the number one issue? Can someone answer me that?


Posted by Video-Public-Events, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 1, 2010 at 8:12 pm

> community leaders ..

And just who elected these "leaders"? Keep in mind that generally fewer than 30% of the community actually votes in any Council/School District election. And groups like PAN don't seem to have elections for their "leaders" at all. Sorry .. but most people in this town really are not represented by anyone at City Hall, the School District or any of the other "groups".

> Our community should be grateful to those involved in
> addressing this matter for their work, and as they develop
> a "recipe" for creating a safer environment for our youth

Most communities up and down the CalTrain line (and most likely the rest of the US) don't seem to have this problem. Palo Alto spends about $45-$50M on public safety (fire and police). Throw in Community Services and the bill goes up to about $80M. Now, add in the cost of the PAUSD, which is about $160M a year, and we're talking about $250M for public safety, community services and education==> most of which is for making this a "SAFE" community for our kids (and ourselves). (Oh, and the County and State also is spending about $4K per person for other "services" too. And then there is the Federal spending .. but most of that is a little far away. A few dollars go to the School District, and a few to the City .. but not enough to shout about.)

I wonder how many of these so-called (and unelected) "community leaders" have the slightest idea that this kind of money is on the table? I wonder how many of them are prepared to explain why spending $250M a year (and actually there are other City dollars being spent, but not in this number) is also NOT BUYING us "a safe place to live for our kids"?

Sorry .. but there isn't much logic in what this guy is talking about. Wonder if he actually lives in Palo Alto? This problem is not a "community problem" as much as it is a "school" problem and a problem with some families in town.



Posted by Misha, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 1, 2010 at 9:26 pm

I am very disappointed by the mean spirit displayed in some of the comments. With the tragedies wracking our community, how can anyone object to trying to do something to effect positive change?

The ideas for alternative recreational activities for kids who just want to hang out and have fun are constructive suggestions. In addition to giving our kids some options to get outside, active and interacting with each other in person, there are opportunities as well for ensuring identification and support of youth at risk, and for critically assessing other means to address unecessary causes of stress.

Let's not get fixated on something we do not agree with and instead see the larger picture and come up with some better ideas.

As for "generating revenue" and other budget/finance concerns, know that the City Council unanimously agreed this is priority #1. The City Council did not abdicate its fiscal responsibility to focus soley on our treasured youth but wisely decided both were important issues for immediate and long-term plans.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 1, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Misha says, "Let's …. Se the larger picture and come up with some better ideas," but doesn't propose anything. Just exactly what do you want? Do you have the "recipe" that Paul Losch and others are searching for? If so, let's hear it.

Resident, exactly how you suggest the city encourage businesses "that will provide fun activities for our teens."

Businesses, by definition, exist to make money. How should the city encourage a property owner to build a bowling alley/paintball place/whatever instead of a housing development/office building/retail space? Should the city subsidize "fun activity" developers? Please be specific.

Should the city tell the local theaters to show movies that kids like because The Century is too far away?

You ask why I suggest "parents drive their kids everywhere." I said parents could drive kids to activities outside the city if that's what a kid wants to do. But I mentioned several activities within the city.

I'm glad you say, "Many parents want their kids to be independent and not need to have rides everywhere." If kids are truly independent, they will figure out how to create fun activities and how to get to them—bike, bus, train, friends who can drive, friends' parents who will drive them.

If it's a hardship to make "… a 30 minute drive so a parent has to hang around and wait for an hour for the kids to finish" at a trampolining place, do you think it's the city's responsibility to provide a trampoline so the poor parents don't have to waste all this time with their kids?

Should the city "be at their kids' beck and call on a Friday or Saturday evening" because their "parents do have lives of their own"?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Pat

I am not arguing with you but I don't think it is as cut and dry as you think.

At present, there are evenings where I could and have been driving non stop to get my kids to their various activities. Yes, I can and do carpool, but the parent who drives for an outside town activity often stays and waits because that is what makes sense. Why do kids want to go that distance for fun activities, because they are fun and there are no corresponding activity closer to home. And asking friends who can drive for rides is now illegal until the driver has had a year's experience - that basically means high school seniors. There are a lot of teens who can't get a high school senior to drive them around.

Of course the City can't provide any or all of the activities mentioned, but I haven't seen any sign of them showing interest in family or teen activities until this present priority list. I am delighted to see it and look forward to seeing how they implement it.
There have been ideas about the city planners wanting to put offices and retail at the old midtown gas station. Well how do they do that? Do they hang a carrot for some developer to build it and then hope that someone will want it? Well in the same way can't they say that they want some recreational facilities in a certain place and provide a similar carrot for someone to develop it? Office space is not obviously in great demand as there is a great deal of vacant office space in such places as Bayshore north of the Kikis/PA Joes site and also the new office development at the old Scotts site. I don't understand zoning and planning issues, but I feel that there must be incentives of some description to attract recreational type businesses to open in Palo Alto.

Buses to get anywhere are few and far between in Palo Alto, but my kids have used the bus for shopping expeditions and do use the trains to get to sporting events, but they can't get to a movie by bus. I know that the City can't say what movies a theater shows just like they can't build a bowling alley.

I am just saying that if the City really wants to put family/youth activities in their list of priorities then that is a good thing. I am just encouraging them in their endeavour while I am not really sure why you are seeing problems with it.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 1, 2010 at 11:03 pm

Resident,
What I'm having problems with is the vagueness of "youth well-being."

You say it's a good thing that the city is interested in teen activities and are "…delighted to see it and look forward to seeing how they implement it." Exactly! What does it mean? How is it measured? What should the city do to achieve it? How will we know when it's been achieved?

It's like "civic engagement."

I also have problems with the whining in some posts. We live in one of the most affluent areas of the country, where kids have more places to go/things to do than many kids. So I'm hard pressed to understand exactly what the city is expected to do.

You say, "I haven't seen any sign of them showing interest in family or teen activities until this present priority list."

Have you been reading the papers about plans for the libraries and community center with rooms specifically for teens? And I'll mention the Enjoy! classes – again.

How about the parks? Is it not cool for kids to play a game of pickup basketball/soccer/baseball? I know there are hoops at Greer park.

And let's not forget the Children's Theater, which cost the city $1M/year.

Are you aware of all the resources available at the schools? If school facilities aren't available evenings and weekends, what are you—as a parent—doing about it? Is the new aquatic center at Gunn available to all the kids or just the swim team? Could the PTA take responsibility for opening gyms/multipurpose rooms/whatever outside of school hours?

Regarding the old Midtown gas station property: I don't know if the city did anything to attract a developer. But I'm told by people in local government that it's easier for a developer to get funding (from banks) for residential units than for anything else right now. I don't know how eager banks would be to fund a bowling alley.

Can you now better understand why I'm "having problems"?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2010 at 8:05 am

Pat

Your last post makes a lot more sense to me now than some of your earlier comments.

Many parents are working our socks off trying to get facilities for our kids to use. Whether it is coaching youth sports, volunteering for PTA and other school functions, or getting involved in other youth activities in town we are trying hard. But, it is often an uphill task. With all the additional homes being built and the increased number of residents, the amount of say sports facilities hasn't grown. For a pick up game of say soccer, there is always someone in any park who complain that the ball is being kicked too close to the barbeque area, or the playground, or the baseball game in progress, for example. For a pick up game of baseball, even when the diamond is not in use, there are signs up saying that the grounds are closed except for organized games. These complaints are justified of course, but it shows that it isn't easy for the kids to just go to the park for a pick up game. Basketball hoops in the parks do exist and are well used. Paul Losch could probably understand this dilemma. As park users don't want dogs running loose in the parks other park users don't want to be hit by fly baseballs or soccer balls and rightly so. Pick up games just don't seem to work well.

Schools are afraid of vandalism or liability about allowing some of their facilities, but the sports fields seem to be well used by organized groups which also limits the amount of time at weekends for pick up play.

I have no idea about swimming pools, but I believe getting lifeguards is one of the limits on having pools open outside school summer break.

Once again, there are some great camps and classes in Enjoy, but I also know that some of those are just babysitting. Also there are a great deal of things for children, but not much for teens like say photography/video classes which teens may be attracted to which would attract different kids to those classes in secondary schools.

I am pleased about youth priorities by our council. I am also interested to see how they implement it. I agree it is not going to be easy, but at least their acknowledgment that they should consider it must be a good start. I hope that this is not just nodding an agreement to a need with nothing to follow up. I would like to think they as individuals have some ideas of where this is going. I am just optimistic that something good will happen.


Posted by Grandma, a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 2, 2010 at 9:21 am

Wow, I'm disappointed when I read the lack of parenting skills demonstrated in these blogs.

My kids were always involved in the music programs at school. Orchestra, marching band, jazz band. These kept both my sons busy after school and socially interacting. At age 16 both boys got jobs for 2 hours after school. My younger son designed a robot for Lockheed, and got paid for it.

You don't have to lean on the City for ideas to entertain your children. If you haven't looked into it, the Campus for Jewish Life is coming up with some wonderful after school programs for teenagers, and the kids can get there on their bicycles.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2010 at 10:46 am

Resident: Thank you. I appreciate your specific comments about some of the problems parents/kids face when looking for activities. You are also making a lot more sense to me.

There has to be a way to use school facilities outside of school hours. Otherwise, we're all paying for expensive and useful spaces that are open less than half the year – and for limited hours! This means a lot of duplication of efforts, money and staff, e.g., the new libraries that the city is building while the school libraries sit idle.

Paul Losch: Isn't this something the city/schools/your committee could "fix"? I understand legal liability issues, but if a responsible group is on hand to monitor the kids, there must be a way to resolve this. When signing up for an Enjoy! class, one has to sign a liability waver.


Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Palo Alto
on Feb 2, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

Pat,

There are several formal groups that consist of City and School District officials who communicate about regularly about issues of mutual interest and concern. That said, I think there is room for more improvement in both the communication and coordination between the two.

It has gotten better the last couple of years. We now have someone from the Parks and Recreation Commission who particiipates in City/School discussions.

There still is room for more improvement. Some of it is a "bandwidth" issue for people with many responsibilities. Some of it is that the agendas between the two are not always in alignment, which is true in any situation along these lines. Those of us who are involved have to keep up the effort to make it better.

To your point about how the schools are used after hours, I have a couple observations. I distinctly remember growing up in Houston Texas being at my high shcool for club meetings and the like in the evenings, so conceptually this can be done. If it can contribute toward youth safety nets and youth well-being, it ought to be seriously considered. I dn't know what the legal or logistical challenges would be, I am sure there are many. But, I'm with you Pat, it seems like something worthwhile to investigate.


Posted by Bon Bons and Valium, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 2, 2010 at 12:53 pm

'Youth well-being'

This is too funny. All the kids in Palo Alto are brought up to concentrate on is working hard to go to a big name university. Individuality isn't encouraged because that might lower VITALLY IMPORTANT things like test scores.

Keep their noses stuffed in books, keep applying the pressure to fit in, break their backs if you have to, keep up with the Jones' - make sure they score well!!!

Palo Alto is a great city, clean, safe and full of (certain) opportunities - why should 'youth well-being' be an issue, people have it pretty good here, has anyone really explored that?

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]



Posted by Video-Public-Events, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 2, 2010 at 1:47 pm

> There ought to be a way to use school facilities ..

The following comes from the PAUSD Facility Master Plan:

----
PALO ALTO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
FACILITY MASTER PLAN

Community Use of Space

We expect our community to increase use of school facilities. Our plans to improve facilities must include ways in which the community can use them without detracting from our purpose: the education of children. We anticipate our sites being used during non-school hours by children, their parents and other adults (particularly senior citizens) for sports, classes, meetings, social gatherings, business and health services.

Most community use will occur in the common areas of the school: the
MP Room, the LRC (library), the Flex (Messy) Room, and outdoors.
However we recognize that there also may be increased use of the
classrooms for educational purposes.

We will need lockable storage for school and classroom property, as
well as storage for organizations like the PTA. Our teachers need
access to classrooms until 6:00 PM. Safe access becomes an issue
after dark. We should consider lighting, parking and restroom use after
school hours. Extending site use makes maintenance more complex.

Community Use for K-5 Students

Students need access to the school before and after school hours
for a variety of activities:

• breakfast before school
• Scout and other club meetings
• classes in art, dance, science, writing, foreign
languages, photography, etc.
• tutoring and other enrichment activities
• play area
• library, computer access, a quiet place to do homework
• sports groups using fields, black top, and/or multi-purpose rooms
• theater productions
• vacation camps

Community Uses for Adults and Children

• Site Council, and school committee meetings
• health services: inoculations, some health exams
• family services: access to community resources
• adult education classes, particularly parenting and English
as a Second Language
• community centers for local seniors: meeting places, classes,
and opportunities for service
• folk or ballroom dancing
• business opportunities: off-site training areas during
School vacations
• community clubs, include some social gatherings
• election forums and polling places
• access to LRC after hours: include on-line capacity
• fields: facilities for league or drop-in activities
• kitchen facilities (may be same as used by food service for
student meals): refrigerator, stove
• general security for public use areas
• access during evening hours should include concern for
lighting of paths, parking, and restrooms use
• ease of custodial and administrative care
---

While many of these ideas about community/dual-use of school space make sense, and would probably help to integrate the schools into their respective neighborhoods better than they already are integrated; unfortunately, the PAUSD has done nothing to implement these ideas in terms of active policy.

So .. all Palo Alto has to do is to execute the approved PAUSD Facilities Master Plan on "dual use" of its facilities.


Posted by Misha, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Pat ~ I would be very interested to hear anything you have to contribute besides questions for others. Got ideas?


Posted by Well Being, a resident of Southgate
on Feb 2, 2010 at 5:14 pm

The Youth Well Being suggestion was Nancy Shepherd's. She probably hasn't figured out yet that she isn't on the PTA anymore.
My guess is they voted for it because if they didn't, it would appear they weren't concerned about the recent teen troubles. The education of Ms Shepherd unfortunately will take time, and comes at the city's expense.


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