Around Town | April 1, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 1, 2011

Around Town

DO YOU THINK "I" IS SEXY? ... Palo Alto residents get excited when it comes to schools and libraries. But it takes a much greater effort to keep them awake, much less engaged, about that nebulous something called "infrastructure." Both the Planning and Transportation Commission and the city's recently appointed Infrastructure Task Force delved into the city's capital needs this week and discussed ways to reduce the infrastructure backlog — a $500 million list that includes deferred maintenance projects and new facilities such as a public-safety building and a Municipal Services Center. One idea is asking residents to authorize a major bond project, much like the $76 million library-renovation project voters approved in 2008. That's where the word "infrastructure" creates a problem. "Part of the reason why those (previous bond) efforts were successful was because those are things this community thinks about, cares about and values," planning commission Chair Samir Tuma said Wednesday night. "Then there's infrastructure." Ray Bacchetti, co-chair of the citizen task force, asked Thursday how the city could "make infrastructure assets sexier so that the public can respond to them." He noted that when the city polled the voters several years ago to see if they would pass a bond for a new police building, less than two-thirds said they would. Financial consultant Bob Gamble said that in some communities, including San Francisco, public-safety agencies typically get anything they want and acknowledged that in some cases "fear comes into play" when it comes to wooing the voters. "So we should raise the crime rate in Palo Alto?" joked John Melton, member of the task force.

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