Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - February 14, 2014

Letters to the editor

Find a Dish solution

Editor,

How can we find a solution to the traffic issues on Stanford Avenue without limiting access to the Dish, a resource that benefits thousands of residents every week?

The current proposal asking people to park 20 minutes away will effectively limit access. The Dish loop walk (which can't be shortened) fits neatly into the busy lives of residents, especially working women and mothers. It's not that people don't want to walk more, it's that they don't have more time.

Traffic impacts much of Palo Alto. Every resident who lives near a school deals with traffic-safety issues. So does every resident who lives near freeway access, downtown Palo Alto, California Avenue, playing fields or churches. There are trade-offs in every one of these neighborhoods.

If safety is the most important outcome, the current proposal — cutting half the parking spaces on Stanford Avenue — may well exacerbate the double parking and frenzied search for parking by people with limited time.

Let's step back as a whole community and look for a better solution.

Palo Alto has felt the results of stressed-out families and the impact of spiraling health care costs. Access to the healthful walk of the Dish is something that should be strongly encouraged and facilitated in our community. Yes, absolutely make parking on Stanford Avenue safer for everyone. But access to the Dish makes Palo Alto a healthier community and a nicer place to live. Let's not throw out the baby with the bath water.

Susan Fox

Ramona Street, Palo Alto

Thanks for coverage

Editor,

Heartiest congratulations and deep gratitude go to Sue Dremann and the Palo Alto Weekly for your wonderful cover story on the difficulties of obtaining treatment for people with severe mental illnesses who refuse treatment. This is an issue that profoundly affects million of individuals and families. It also affects the economy, public health and safety in all segments of our society and yet is generally neglected and misunderstood.

As a hospital psychiatric social worker for many years, I know that the situations profiled in the article are all very typical, and the heartbreak experienced by loving families who are powerless to keep their mentally ill loved ones safe and healthy is all too common.

I believe that, as happens in many aspects of American society, laws that were once created to protect individuals and prevent very real abuses have been stretched beyond the limits of common sense, and yet , as the article so well describes, the issues regarding involuntary treatment and lack of compliance with treatment by people with brain illnesses are very complex. Furthermore, any changes in the legal and health care system enabling more available and appropriate treatment must be accompanied by adequate funding by both the public and private sectors; otherwise any "helpful" changes are meaningless.

Clearly a much more vigorous public discussion of this issue must take place, and the first step toward this happening is providing sensitive, balanced and non-stigmatizing coverage in our press. Many thanks.

Judy Lurie

Portola Valley

What do we want?

Editor,

Palo Altans never tire of complaining about traffic and parking, but still cling stubbornly to the suburban, SFR-is-god fantasy. Good traffic planning and more parking garages can only go so far. At some point, to solve that problem, you have to build more dense, well-planned, liveable housing.

The surburban idea of each man having their own little postage stamp over which they have complete control has created a socially, emotionally and spiritually dead culture. We have to chose. Do we want increased stress from traffic and parking and lack of access to arts and culture with the strict adherence to the primacy of SFR, or do we want a culturally vibrant community with much less stress for all by creating well designed, dense development?

I, for one, want the latter and am sickened by a community that seems inclined to chose the misguided perception of comfort of a few over the needs of many.

Deb Goldeen

Birch Street, Palo Alto

Why a density bonus?

Editor,

Density bonus for BMR? Heavens, no!! It's working at cross purposes. Since any piece of land is worth what you can put on it, no more, no less, added density is the same as added value, which is the reason for the dearth of affordable housing. The acre under a million-dollar house in the hills is nowhere near as valuable as the acre with 40 houses on it, or the right to put 40 houses on it. And it pays lots more in taxes, which is why city governments are so willing to give the right to more development, and redevelopment agencies bribed or coerced people into giving up their property.

You've heard the expression "Virtue is its own reward?" Well, the right to add below-market-housing should be the reward — the only reward — for putting in below-market-housing. Any landowner can make money by adding rental units, however modest, to his property; he just can't make as much as if he added office space or luxury apartments. So property owners can still make more money by adding mass or capacity to their holdings, but it would have to be the density added by the below-market-rate units themselves — and let's please not have any of this nonsense about dumping the parking need created on the city or the residential neighborhoods.

Stephanie Munoz

Alma Street, Palo Alto

Obstacle to Alma Plaza?

Editor,

Architect Ken Hayes has been quoted as claiming: "We couldn't put trees in the front (of Alma Plaza) because of utility conflict." So putting the former Miki's market building right up to the property line fit there instead?

Margaret Fruth

El Camino Way, Palo Alto

Residents park free

Editor,

It is an unwritten rule that homeowners have the right to park on the public street in front of their own homes. If I were living in the area of downtown Palo Alto, I'd be very upset about paying for a permit to park in front of my own home. It seems very unfair to tax these Palo Alto residents for the mistakes of our City Councils that have exempted businesses from providing adequate employee parking.

A simple solution would be to institute a permit system different from the one proposed. All Palo Alto residents in the affected areas would be given permits free. The City Council would pass laws and post signs in these residential areas saying: PARKING PERMITTED for RESIDENTS with PERMITS ONLY.

Where would the commuting workers park? The Daily Post's Dave Price has pointed out that the existing city garages have many empty parking spaces. To encourage the commuters to use these empty spaces, allow them to park there FREE for three months. To be fair to people who have already paid for their parking spaces, extend their permits for those same three months.

Council should use this time to determine how many additional parking spaces are really needed and plan accordingly. It should also determine what garage parking fee structure would ensure that the existing garages are at least 95 percent full during the day and plan for new parking based on that fee structure.

Rich Stiebel

Talisman Drive, Palo Alto

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