Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 4, 2012

Around Town

THE NEW DEAL ... Negotiations between Palo Alto and the city's biggest police union had hit a wall in March, when the city declared an impasse after five months of haggling. Now, things appear to be getting back on track. The City Council is tentatively scheduled to adopt at its May 14 meeting a new contract with the Palo Alto Police Officers Association, which represents 82 officers. Marcie Scott, assistant director of human resources, said the city and the union are still working toward an agreement and are now in the "final stages." The city gained major leverage in its negotiations with police officers when voters repealed a longstanding requirement that labor disputes between the city and its public-safety unions go to binding arbitration. While the repeal frees the city to unilaterally impose benefit on the union, Scott said the city is not looking to pursue that route. "We're working toward an agreement," Scott said.

AH, I REMEMBER IT WELL ... Or at least Matt Bowling does. His new book "Palo Alto Remembered: Stories from a City's Past" debuts on Sunday (May 6) at the Palo Alto Historical Association meeting. With chapters on Landmarks (El Palo Alto to the Bol Park donkeys), Long Ago (the '06 earthquake, the Palo Alto Drive-in), Changing Times (Woolworth's opens, Cubberley closes), Conflicts (saving trees, closing the yacht harbor), and Citizens (Anna Zschokke to Greg Brown), the book couples historical photos with vignettes about what makes Palo Alto what it is today. Perhaps Palo Alto historian Steve Staiger sums it up best when he calls the book "a collection of tasty treats rather than a full-course meal." At $25, the book will be available at the 2 p.m. meeting at Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road, as well as at Books, Inc., Bell's Books and The Village Stationers in Palo Alto and at Kepler's in Menlo Park.

NOT-SO-NOISY NEIGHBORS ... College Terrace residents who have been holding their collective breath while awaiting word on what company would replace Facebook are breathing a sigh of relief. Theranos, a healthcare-systems company, will move into 1601 California Ave., one of two locations that Facebook had occupied before moving its headquarters to Menlo Park. Caravans of noisy buses and vans that shuttled Facebook employees up and down the terrace plagued residents. Theranos has another location in Stanford Research Park at 3200 Hillview Ave., and is expected to move around June 1, Stanford Real Estate told the College Terrace Residents Association. The lease would run through the end of 2013, the deadline for Stanford to submit building plans for housing on 1601 California and two adjacent sites. Stanford informed the association that the company is not very large and they do not believe "we will have any of the issues with traffic we had with the former tenant."

OF DOGS AND MEN ... Palo Alto's dog lovers have much to cheer and jeer about these days. On the one hand, the city is considering outsourcing its popular animal-services operation, a proposal that has galvanized intense community opposition. On the other hand, the City Council had recently approved a new dog park at El Camino Park. Though the new dog park would give northern Palo Alto an amenity that just about everyone acknowledges is sorely needed, not everyone is thrilled about the new location. Barbara Millin, an Emerson Street resident, wrote a letter to the City Council commending the council for its decision but suggested expanding the size of the proposed dog area from half an acre to an acre. Ann Pianetta, who lives on La Donna Avenue, was less sanguine. "I think your idea for a dog park is absolutely awful!" she wrote to the council. "We need a walking trail area not a social pen!"

AND THE WINNER IS ... Mayor Yiaway Yeh's inaugural "mayor's challenge" on March 25 proceeded swimmingly, with residents picking up their pingpong paddles and squaring off at gyms throughout the city. The winning neighborhoods (as determined by the number of participants from each neighborhood) were Midtown, Barron Park and Old Palo Alto, Yeh noted at Wednesday's Twitter Q&A. Now, the mayor is looking ahead to the next citywide competition, which will be held on June 3 between 2 and 5 p.m. The "Day in the Park" event will take place at Mitchell and Rinconada parks and will feature bocce, tennis for children and yoga, Yeh wrote.

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