Around Town | March 11, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 11, 2011

Around Town

ENERGIZED ... When Palo Alto residents voted last fall to change the city's elections from odd to even years, the shift created a new hurdle for proponents of a local waste-to-energy plant. The Palo Alto Energy and Compost Initiative, led by noted environmentalists Peter Drekmeier, Bob Wenzlau and Walt Hays, is spearheading a petition to "undedicate" a 10-acre portion of Byxbee Park — land that is currently slated to become parkland. The group hopes this land could be used to house a facility capable of processing local food scraps, yard trimmings and sewage sludge and generating energy. The group planned to place the petition on the ballot during a regularly scheduled City Council election this fall, but with the passage of Measure S, which shifts the next council election to 2012, the group now has to hold a "special election" this year to get the proposed undedication on the ballot. That means group members now have to gather twice as many signatures as before. Not to worry, says Carolyn Curtis, member of the group's steering committee. Curtis said the initiative already picked up 5,287 by early this week, almost 1,000 more than what is required, though some of the signatures are duplicates (signature gathering will continue this weekend). The group also inquired with the county registrar as to the possibility of having a "mail-only" election, Curtis told the Weekly during a recent meeting. (Drekmeier, picking up on the "mail/male" homonym, joked: "Women should be able to vote, too.") But the registrar indicated the all-mail balloting would be too costly. Drekmeier predicted an overwhelming victory for the proponents of the new facility. The council is scheduled to discuss the preliminary results of a study for the new facility on March 21.

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