Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - August 22, 2014

Letters to the editor

Goodbye, downtown CPK

Editor,

I raise my glass in honor of the excellent staff at California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) in downtown Palo Alto. The restaurant is closing after 16 years, but the fond family memories from there will last a lifetime. Thanks to the CPK team for always making our family feel welcome, for serving delicious food every time, and for providing us with a go-to family night out in the neighborhood.

Michele Lew

Dana Avenue, Palo Alto

Smiles, tears, memories

Editor,

I just attended our Paly High Class of 1974 reunion and am still excited about seeing everyone. What a lot of fantastic things have happened to our class in the last 40 years. There are doctors, scientists, entrepreneurs, musicians, architects and even teachers in the Palo Alto school district. The best thing is that everyone seems happy with their life choices. It was so great to connect again with all these amazing people. I am proud to say I'm from Paly High. The education we received provided the foundation for these life experiences.

Thank you to all the teachers we had back in the early '70s. It was also very sad to hear of all the classmates who had passed away. Their presence was truly missed.

I hope it is not another 20 years before we meet again. And thank you to the organizers and those who called and emailed to get us together.

Kathy Hall-Boyer

Orangeburg Avenue, Modesto

City Hall remodeling

Editor,

What a terrible waste of $4 million! There was absolutely nothing wrong with what we had except the carpet needed stretching. The large open space of the lobby was an adequate party space and could have been used for conferences and even as an emergency shelter in case of an earthquake — but a life-size way-finding indicator?! Good grief! With that much money we could have fixed every broken asset in town, or built a homeless shelter, or first-class teacher housing. Or, saddest of all, if we were looking for more visual gratification, we could have put the $4 million with parks and recreation money to secure the priceless orchard on last year's cause célèbre, the Maybell property, restoring the Betty Wright Swim pool, adding daycare and cutting the price for those will-o'-the-wisp 60 senior units in half.

The Council claims to want citizen input on decisions. Is this the way to start?

Stephanie Muñoz

Alma Street, Palo Alto

Who's paying?

Editor,

I no longer live in Professorville but continue to read about Palo Alto, the shuttle idea, costs for changes to the parking garages, etc. Four years ago I gave the City Manager and planning staff my list of "50 plus Ways" to address the parking problems being generated by the downtown development, a list that included each of these "new ideas." But my question isn't why it took so long, but: Who is paying for the studies and the implementation? Is it the public, the General Fund? I hope not since the property owners and developers have been given a $400 million subsidy over the past decade (the value of parking they were not required to provide under any logical zoning policy.)

The parking garages are managed by a closed-session (no minutes, no public involvement) group of private property owners out primarily to continue past policies and build even greater profits for themselves. Anyway, who will be funding these efforts, these projects? Isn't it time for some payback? Meanwhile, the city continues to approve more projects with inadequate parking, and the hole gets deeper.

Ken Alsman

Sharon Road, Menlo Park

Palo Alto is a city

Editor,

In last week's issue (Aug. 15), Pat Marriott addressed the youth in her letter "Ask the youth." As a 30-year-old renter whose husband works in tech, I'd be delighted to answer:

Q: Why do you think Palo Alto — or any of the surrounding suburban cities — will still be a great place to live with taller buildings, unending traffic congestion, lack of parking and crowded schools?

A: When people drive an hour to work in Palo Alto because they can't afford a house that's closer, that's not a suburb, that's a city! But as long as Palo Alto denies this by refusing the residential and infrastructure increases that a city needs, our crowding problems will only get worse.

Q: If you have children, will you still want high-density housing or might you want a back yard? Won't you need a car then?

A: My child has made more friends at the park than she ever could in an isolated back yard. And with the right bicycle attachments, I don't need a car to take her on errands. The suburban lifestyle didn't make my parents happy, so why would I want it for my family?

Q: What makes you think new housing will be affordable?

A: Supply and demand. The new housing may not be cheap, but it might lower prices enough for people to live slightly closer to their jobs.

Q: If developers don't build affordable housing, will you subsidize it?

A: If slow-growth restrictions were lifted so that developers could profitably build for anyone who wants to live here, specially designated affordable housing wouldn't need to exist.

Q: If you change jobs, will you move?

A: It doesn't matter because another family with similar needs would quickly take our place.

Elizabeth Lasky

Waverley Street, Palo Alto

Pause and ponder

Editor,

While many in the Palo Alto community look forward to visiting the new Mitchell Park Library, it is hard to turn a blind eye to the screw-ups that have characterized the planning and management of its construction. Well, hard for us tax-paying, book-loving citizens. Apparently not so hard for some municipal officials.

Upon completion, the grand opening will take place two-and-a-half years behind schedule, and the enterprise will cost some $3 to $4 million beyond the initial bid. Additionally, the city will pay untold legal fees — and potential penalties — due to claims initiated by Flintco, the original contractor eventually terminated for poor performance and now alleging fraud and breach of contract.

City Manager Jim Keene is confident that "the struggle to construct the building will fade into history" once the public gains access to the facilities. Not so fast, Mr. Keene! This would seem an opportune time for City Council and staff to identify flaws in the process and make necessary improvements. To paraphrase Santayana, learn from your mistakes or be destined to repeat them.

Jaclyn Schrier

Alma Street, Palo Alto

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