Palo Alto Weekly

News - December 20, 2013

Around town

BOUNDLESS CHOICES ... Local bookworms with independent streaks and digital leanings now have a new library at their disposal. Palo Alto City Library just added enKi Library, an e-book platform that offers about 10,000 titles purchased from publishers, many of them independent. The addition of this service raises the library's existing e-book collection to more than 130,000 titles, according to an announcement from the city. The books can be read on the library's Chromebooks or on visitors' personal computers, tablets, smartphones or e-book readers. The new service is being unveiled at a time when e-books are enjoying a boost in popularity. Though they make up just a small fraction of the local library collection, e-book circulation jumped by more than 40 percent, library officials reported. The new platform aims to feed the trend. "We're excited to support this new model for library e-books," Library Director Monique le Conge Ziesenhenne, said in a statement. "enKi library offers an ownership model that works for libraries while bringing independent publishers' collections to our audience of readers."

COVERING PALO ALTO ... More than 100 families in the Palo Alto school district signed up for health insurance last week at a session sponsored by the PTA, Covered California and the Palo Alto Unified School District. Certified enrollment counselors were on hand to help families, who were required to bring paperwork, identify their best options, either through Covered California or the expansion of Medi-Cal. A second enrollment-assistance session was to be held Thursday at Jordan Middle School. The families of about 800 Palo Alto schoolchildren reported at the beginning of the school year that they did not have medical insurance, according to Palo Alto Superintendent Kevin Skelly. "We're anxious to see our families get that kind of quality health care that they want," Skelly said.

COMPLETED ASSIGNMENTS ... Three days after Palo Alto officials approved a large, illuminated sign for the Grocery Outlet store at Alma Village, the city's architecture board granted sign exemptions to a local company whose brand is all too well-known. Tesla Motors drove away Thursday morning with the approval of the Architectural Review Board for two signs in its shiny-new showroom at 4180 El Camino Real. One would be an illuminated wall sign and another would be a freestanding "monument sign" (a modest title) along El Camino Real. The board voted 5-0 to approve two exemptions for Tesla. Members agreed that an exemption pertaining to the size of the wall sign wasn't even necessary because the sign's 7-foot-4-inch-wide aluminum background would wrap around an existing wall. The real sign, board member Randy Popp said, is the Tesla logo, which would only be 32 square feet. The freestanding sign, meanwhile, would be neon red and 8.5 feet tall by 4 feet wide. It would feature a Tesla logo in white acrylic and internally illuminated with LEDs, according to a staff report. The only exemption that the company needed, the board ruled, is the one granting it the right to have two signs. Collectively, they would exceed the allowed square footage in the city's signage code. But the board swiftly granted the electric-car company its wish. Board member Lee Lippert was one of several members to speak in favor of Tesla's proposal, framing the vote as an effort to support local businesses. "Our community is served well by having an active, busy, prosperous merchant versus an abandoned automobile showroom, which is what we were faced with as soon as three years ago," Lippert said. "When you look at adjacent towns, they're struggling as they're losing their automobile usages."

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