Palo Alto Weekly

News - September 24, 2010

Around Town

PICKING SIDES ... The Palo Alto City Council will scratch its collective head on Monday as it ponders the city's stances on California's November ballot measures. Some stances are straightforward. The council plans to pass resolutions supporting Proposition 22, which limits the state Legislature's ability to "borrow" local revenues; opposing Proposition 23, which would suspend implementation of Assembly Bill 32, a 2006 bill that mandates greenhouse-gas reductions; and opposing Proposition 26, which restricts local governments' abilities to adopt new fees. Others are trickier — none more so than Proposition 19, which would legalize and tax marijuana. Though the proposition could bring in more revenues, the League of California Cities has recommended opposition because city officials were "concerned about the potential increase in crime, the unsatisfactory experience with medical marijuana, and the measure's breadth and poor drafting." Councilman Greg Scharff, who traveled to Amsterdam last month, said he was "very skeptical" about the measure for another reason — he doesn't want Palo Alto smelling like pot.

PRICEY DIGS ... If you're looking for a four-bedroom, two-bath home, Palo Alto is second priciest only to Newport Beach, Calif. , nationally, according to the 2010 Coldwell Banker Real Estate Home Listing Report. Newport Beach's $1.83 million topped Palo Alto's $1.48 million. At the bottom of the list was Detroit, Mich., with average listing price $68,007. The national average is $353,032. Other Northern California cities ranked in the top 20 included San Francisco, fourth at $1.33 million; San Rafael, 11th at $956,654; the Monterey Peninsula, 12th at $926,616; Pleasanton, 14th at $896,488; San Mateo, 15th at $890,961; and Santa Cruz, 17th at $868,217. The Coldwell Banker listings covered February through August 2010 in about 300 U.S. markets. According to Rick Turley, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in the Bay Area, "We remain among the higher priced markets in the nation because of our strong, diversified economic base, relatively good job market and outstanding quality of life in our beautiful communities."

HAIL TO THE DEPUTY CHIEF ... When it comes to thinking regionally about emergency preparedness, Deputy Fire Chief Roger Bloom walks the walk. Bloom, the department's soft-spoken master of logistics, was selected this month as Santa Clara County's fire-training officer of the year. Bloom was selected for the award by fire officials from across the county for demonstrating "leadership and work ethic to improve regional fire-training efforts," City Manager James Keene said Monday night. "Roger was the unanimous choice for this award for his efforts," Keene said. Bloom was honored for his leadership on the Santa Clara County Fire Training Officers Association between 2007 and 2010; his efforts as director of the county's high-rise training exercise in 2009; and his work in promoting a regional approach to training throughout the county, Keene said.

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE GYM ... Two months ago, Palo Alto's police officers, recreation managers and hyper toddlers were dismayed to learn that someone had burned down a play structure at Hoover Park. The play structure, which is located next to Keys School on Cowper Street in the Midtown Palo Alto area and includes a jungle gym and a slide, was found completely engulfed in flames and deemed a total loss. Earlier this month, members of the Palo Alto Rotary Club and the Kiwanis Club of Palo Alto armed themselves with power drills to restore the play structure. The new structure officially opened for business — or play — last week.

ENERGIZED ... Palo Alto's heated debate about the future of local yard trimmings and food waste will officially escalate Saturday at 10 a.m., when a coalition of local environmentalists launches its "Palo Alto Green Energy and Compost Initiative." The initiative, spearheaded by former Mayor Peter Drekmeier, seeks to "undedicate" a 10-acre portion of Byxbee Park so the land can be used for a new composting and electricity-generating facility. The coalition will kick off its drive at King Plaza, in front of City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave. The event will feature a presentation about anaerobic-digestion technology and its potential benefits to Palo Alto, along with entertainment. The proposal to undedicated the parkland has been blasted by another coalition of local environmentalists, which includes former City Council members Emily Renzel and Enid Pearson. Opponents, including a bare minority on the current council, have called for the land to be restored to parkland, as promised, when the landfill closes.

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