I attended the city-wide budget meeting last Saturday morning at Lucie Stern. I appreciate the chance to participate in the process.
Youth well being is top of mind for many of us and it's encouraging to see that it's top of mind for the City Council as well. The proposed cuts that, in my mind, undercut our efforts to promote youth well being include anything that affects our kids' ability to be independent, healthy, safe, eager to learn and well-nourished emotionally. I would be devastated to see cuts to our crossing guards, the traffic safety team or our libraries.
The crossing guards and traffic safety team work hand-in-glove to make it possible for our kids to move about town independently, taking cars off the roads and fueling their ability to be healthy and independent. My son crosses El Camino Real at Stanford daily to get to Escondido and before we had the guard cars would cut in front of us to turn left just as we were entering the intersection. It was nerve wracking and dangerous. The guard makes it possible for the kids to get across without tears (from the bikers or the drivers). The traffic-safety team makes it possible for the crossing guards to do their jobs.
I know the city faces difficult decisions. I urge the city to prioritize spending in line with our goals and especially the priorities as they relate to the health, safety and well being of our youth.
Height limits and "Manhattanization"
It is unfortunate that Councilman Scharff and some of his colleagues are even considering the prospect of raising height limits for new buildings in Palo Alto (Weekly, May 14). If the current dilemma has taught us anything, excessively tall buildings in communities create a series of problems that cannot be undone. University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto has been transformed into a canyon that blocks out sunlight and scenery, creates significant traffic congestion, and engenders a grim and cold ambiance. A further "Manhattanization" of the city is completely unacceptable and must be rejected.
Don't change 2/3 rule
Even Rich Gordon, your choice for 21st District Assemblyman on the Democratic ticket, comes out in favor of revoking the requirement for a 2/3 majority to pass any tax or budget measure. Does he not realize that because any fool can craft a spending proposal which directly favors at least a third of the population — albeit a different third each time, that only 25.4 percent of the rest of us who will have to pay for his or her largesse need be convinced in one way or another for the measure to pass? So instead of enjoying what is effectively a 50-50 pass point for spending measures we are to be faced with one which is effectively 25-75.
I don't think that's at all a fair or wise change to promote, especially in the spendthrift state that is California.
Preserve safety funding
I understand that our city is facing very difficult budget decisions, but I am writing to urge the city council to preserve funding for the Palo Alto Police Department Traffic Team and the Adult Crossing Guards. Together, these enforcement resources have been crucial to the safety of thousands of Palo Alto children, including my own.
I am a mom of two children, one with special needs, who will attend two different PAUSD schools in the fall. It is impossible for students to safely cross Arastradero to get to Terman without a guard. When we ride bikes or walk to Briones in the mornings now, and drivers make illegal U-turns, park in front of fire hydrants, and drive through a do-not-enter sign the wrong way — it is a danger to my whole family — we cannot safely walk or bike to our neighborhood school without the traffic officers there to enforce the laws.
PAUSD's 11,565 school children are walking/biking to school in record numbers. This is no time to reduce commute safety. As the city has developed housing, requiring us to expand our schools, it is increasingly important that we maintain safety for all residents, and especially our school children.
I strongly encourage you to prioritize public safety in your budget deliberations and support funding the adult crossing guards and PAPD Traffic Team.