Palo Alto Weekly

News - February 5, 2010

News Digest

$1.85 million Greer Park renovation begins

Renovation work began in Greer Park in Palo Alto Tuesday after a delay of nearly two months, following the holiday season, recent severe weather and a dispute over the landscaping contract.

Fences were erected around the 22-acre park's borders this week. They will remain until the work ends in September, according to fliers posted by the City on Amarillo and Colorado avenues, which border the park.

The $1.85 million renovation includes replacing the park's current irrigation system and water pump station. In addition, the existing children's play area will be refurbished with nautically themed structures, and picnic areas and general landscaping will be improved, according to a December City Manager's report.

The work was supposed to begin in November, but a construction company lodged a protest with the Palo Alto City Council after not being awarded the renovation contract, said Chris Rafferty, a landscape architect from the City's Public Works division.

The delays will not increase the project's costs, Rafferty said.

Plans to phase the construction — to open certain portions of the park while others are renovated — would cost more and would offer "no substantial benefit with regard to athletic field accessibility," the flier states.

The park-renovation plan can be viewed at www.cityofpaloalto.org.

Tesla Motors, Inc., of Palo Alto to go public

Tesla Motors, Inc., of Palo Alto is going public.

The electric-vehicle maker filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission last Friday in which it details its intent to raise as much as $100 million through the initial public offering of stock.

Tesla stated it plans to sell shares of the company "as soon as practicable."

The company is well-known for its slick but pricey Roadster. Introduced in 2008, the $109,000 electric car can travel 236 miles on a single charge of its battery. Tesla sold 937 Roadsters by the end of last year, according to the SEC filing.

Tesla is banking, however, on consumer interest in a lower-priced sedan, the Model S, which would retail at $49,900 and is currently under development, the company stated.

The Model S would have a range of between 160 miles to 300 miles on a single charge, and production would begin in 2012, with an annual production of up to 20,000 cars per year.

Since Tesla's incorporation in 2003 through the third quarter of last year, the company generated $108.2 million in revenue. It had an accumulated deficit of $236.4 million over that same period.

Last week, the company announced that it is receiving a $465 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Energy to build its planned power-train production facility in Palo Alto's Stanford Research Park.

The loan will also be used to build an assembly plant in Southern California for the Model S.

The manufacturing facilities are expected to generate an estimated 1,600 jobs.

The Palo Alto site will assemble electric-vehicle battery packs, electric motors and related electric-vehicle control equipment both for Tesla's own electric vehicles and for sale to other automobile manufacturers.

The filing lists Goldman, Sachs & Co., Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank Securities as underwriters.

Tesla, headed by CEO Elon Musk, operates 10 stores in North America and Europe and has 514 employees.

Palo Alto votes to fight PG&E 'power grab'

Palo Alto will battle a PG&E-backed statewide ballot initiative that would make it more difficult for public electricity providers to expand service areas and buy new infrastructure.

The City Council voted unanimously Monday night to oppose the PG&E initiative, calling it a "power grab" by the giant utility. It could threaten the well-being of the city-owned electric utility, council members warned, echoing earlier concerns of the city's Utilities Advisory Commission.

The city-owned utilities for more than a century has provided power to Palo Alto residents and businesses

The initiative, which on Monday officially became known as Proposition 16, would require public electricity providers to obtain two-thirds voter approval before expanding their service areas or purchasing new facilities.

If the initiative passes, Palo Alto would need two-thirds voter approval from both existing and new customers before it could expand its electricity service into new territory.

Other California cities, including Redding, Roseville and Lodi, have recently passed similar resolutions opposing the initiative, which this week qualified for the June ballot.

John Melton, chairman of the Utilities Advisory Commission, said the proposed initiative could hinder the city's ability to acquire new sources of power and could make it more difficult for the city to expand economically.

— Gennady Sheyner

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