Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 11, 2011

News Digest

Man dies at El Camino Real bus stop in Palo Alto

A man died on El Camino Real, near California Avenue in Palo Alto, in a collision with a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) bus Tuesday afternoon.

The male pedestrian was discovered at about 1:30 p.m. by the driver of the VTA Rapid Transit 522 bus, which was in the process of pulling out from the stop between California and Cambridge avenues, said Brandi Childress, VTA spokeswoman. The driver, she said, felt a bump near the rear wheels of the bus.

"The operator was pulling out from the stop, and he immediately pulled over the coach," Childress said. "He felt something."

Daniel Montalvo, who was crossing El Camino Real around the time of the incident, said he saw the body of the victim lying prone in the middle of the block, his body perpendicular to the curb and his legs on the sidewalk. Mondalvo described the victim as a male, possibly in his 40s.

Montalvo said he saw a parking-enforcement officer drive up to the body and stop to examine it. Minutes later, officers pulled up in a cruiser and covered the body with a yellow tarp, Montalvo said. No one made any attempt to resuscitate the victim, he said.

The police department's Specialized Traffic Accident Reconstruction (STAR) Team is investigating the incident and is asking any witnesses to call agents Craig Lee or Jason Jenkins at 650-329-2413. Witnesses can also send anonymous emails and text messages to paloalto@tipnow.org.

Parents launch annual PiE 'Donation Days'

Parent volunteers will be out in force from now until Nov. 18, drumming up donations for Palo Alto Partners in Education (PiE), an independent foundation benefiting Palo Alto public schools.

This year's PiE fundraising goal is $3.9 million, the highest ever.

Several families have teamed up to offer a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $250,000 for any donations received between Nov. 9 and Nov. 18.

PiE raises money district-wide, and proceeds are allocated on a per-student basis to each elementary, middle and high school. The foundation also awards grants to teachers for classroom projects.

Last year, the record-breaking $3.4 million PiE raised from 4,000 donors was targeted to a range of school needs, including elementary classroom aides and science enrichment, middle school counseling and electives and high school guidance and career-technology electives.

PiE's "suggested donation per student in family" this year is $800. That compares with a $500 to $2,000-per-student "ask" from other local foundations.

PiE's $3.4 million contribution makes up about 2 percent of the school district's $162.4 million operating budget for 2011-12.

Mountain View dumps Palo Alto animal control

Mountain View decided to break off its 18-year relationship with Palo Alto Animal Services, with City Council members voting unanimously Nov. 1 to approve a contract with a cheaper and more attractive Santa Clara-based agency.

The council decision left Palo Alto on the hook for an estimated $7 million cost to renovate its East Bayshore Road animal shelter. Palo Alto officials say facility is dated and in need of seismic retrofitting. While Palo Alto had promised Mountain View would not have to pay that cost, Mountain View council members were skeptical and its staff estimated that it could cost Mountain View as much as $2 million. Mountain View also pays Palo Alto more than $400,000 a year for the services the animal shelter provides, but the move to Santa Clara would save $50,000 a year on average after a $300,000 investment in new equipment and facilities is paid off in five years.

Palo Alto Police Capt. Bob Beacom said Mountain View's decision represents a significant revenue loss for Palo Alto, where officials will now consider new partnerships, changes in services or both. He said Mountain View is obligated by its contract to give Palo Alto a year notice before it withdraws from the partnership. He also said the facility, while dated, remains fully functional.

"We're going to scramble," Beacom said. "We'll go quickly and work through a lot of the issues and study and evaluate them."

Mountain View council members noted details about Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority that had won them over, such as a website feature that allows people to go online if they've lost an animal and see pictures of the animals that have been picked up and where they were found, mentioned by Mayor Jac Siegel.

The only drawbacks noted about Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority were the costs for some services, such as a $150 adoption fee, which is higher than Palo Alto's $100 fee.

Palo Alto's animal shelter also services Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

— Daniel DeBolt and Gennady Sheyner

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