I must take issue with Seavan Sternham's letter ("Mitchell Park Problems," Sept. 23, 2011). Our Founding Fathers had more in mind than just protecting individual rights. You can't get more "Founding Father" than the Constitution of the United States, which begins with a statement of goals, including to "promote the general welfare," a common good in which we all share. And to accomplish this, Article 1, Section 8, gives Congress the power "To lay and collect taxes to ... provide for the common defense and general welfare." By extension, our state and local governments also provide for the general welfare, which includes investments in such things as roads, sewers, schools, and libraries which benefit our entire society but which few of us could afford to buy for ourselves.
As for problems with construction at the Mitchell Park library and community center, let's remember that three other libraries have recently been substantially remodeled or refurbished by our same city government without complaint and, indeed, to general acclaim.
One need only note the current circus at HP or the fact that the all-American General Motors was on the verge of collapse and was restored to functionality by federal investment to recognize that all human institutions, private or public, can be subject to poor judgment and bad management.
Of course, we should hold our city government to account for any problems at Mitchell Park. Happily, the Founding Fathers also guaranteed that right.
No condos above lab
In the discussion by the Palo Alto City Council Oct. 3 of the Page Mill project of condos above an R&D lab, councilmember Pat Burt brought up a good point — the potential danger to the condo residents should an accident happen in the R&D lab below. The reply he got was simply that the city had to be strict about the amount of hazardous chemicals used in the lab and the type of experiments conducted. It was suggested that City staff would decide on the restrictions. Like staff includes chemists! This is shocking!
The first floor can be retail. No living units should be above any kind of laboratory. The City has tended to be rather complacent about dangers to residents from industries in their neighborhood. This project is going too far. And this danger is in addition to the toxic plume beneath the site.
No such project should ever be allowed, no matter the zoning. Insist on retail or other harmless commercial on the first floor.
No on D
Palo Alto's "leaders" pit "fiscal responsibility" against binding arbitration.
Public safety employees have no right to strike; if these so-called leaders have their way, they will effectively result in public safety employees having no way to negotiate with the city because they can't have an independent party help resolve the differences.
This is just plain unfair. Public safety employees work hard and are in very dangerous occupations.
And how many of you who signed this letter earn more than these folks earn?
Los Palos Circle
No on E
A wet anaerobic processor may be built on site to replace Palo Alto's outdated sludge burner. Wet anaerobic digestion is safe, efficient, comparatively inexpensive, in general use, already in the plans, and requires no undedication of Byxbee park land.
A dry anaerobic digestor, which does require passage of Measure E, adds the capacity to capture methane from garden trimmings and kitchen scraps. It is not either a safe or efficient way to deal with sewage sludge. It is a marginal proposition at best. It needs careful study by the appropriate authorities, namely the City Council, before any steps are taken in its direction.
Passing Measure E only creates a commitment for which as yet I see little valid justification.
No on E
Forty-one bayside dumps ringed the bay, but awareness rose and they were shut down, mostly converted to parkland. Will Palo Alto, which prides itself on environmental leadership, now be the one city in the Bay Area to re-industrialize its baylands, cannibalizing dedicated parkland to do so?
A primary justification for building our own industrial waste plant is to reduce our carbon footprint by not trucking waste to a regional processing station. Yet our consultant told city council that a regional facility for organics was needed to mitigate the high costs of the project, canceling out the promised benefit. Instead of other cities trucking waste across Byxbee Park, let's convert trucks to bio-fuel use, saving us a pile of money and reducing our carbon footprint without producing greenhouse gases by building a redundant regional plant at the baylands.
The consultant told council that composting waste plants aren't built by towns our size because they are prohibitively expensive and would need uncertain and substantial public subsidies. Adding millions to costs will be the pilot testing needed to determine if the technology will even work, since processing the proposed types of waste has never been done anywhere in the world.
We have no real idea what we're getting into. Just like High Speed Rail, we are indulging in faith-based decision-making. If parkland is lost now, the imperative to justify the loss will increase pressure to build. Stop it now — Vote No on E.
La Para Avenue