http://paloaltoonline.com/print/story/print/2008/09/26/around-town


Palo Alto Weekly

News - September 26, 2008

Around Town

MISSING MEETINGS ... According to its formal schedule, the Palo Alto City Council is only slated to meet on the first three Mondays of any month. Yet excluding its August vacation, two weeks without a council meeting is rare indeed. But thanks to the cancellation of a Sept. 22 meeting, the council is off until Oct. 6. Mayor Larry Klein said new City Manager Jim Keene would be away for this week's meeting and that not very many issues were on the agenda.

WILKIE PARKERS BE WARNED ... If you have any thoughts of parking on Wilkie Way, or other nearby Charleston Meadows streets, be forewarned: Nearby neighbors may track you down to figure out why, exactly, you are parking on their street. Carlin Otto and other concerned neighbors have spent six months checking license plates, leaving notes on vehicles and scoping out driveways and garages in Arbor Real to pinpoint the source of the cars. They've found that 32 cars that belong in Arbor Real park "routinely" on neighboring streets such as Wilkie Way. Parking has been a hot issue in Charleston Meadows for years, as neighbors successfully shut down attempts to link a bike or pedestrian path to new developments on El Camino Real due to fears of parked cars would eliminate space for Charleston Meadow homeowners and their guests. Otto has been attending recent public meetings sharing the results of the investigations. "This is a permanent thing," she said.

GETTING GREEN POWER ... Palo Alto has earned huge accolades for its high participation in PaloAltoGreen, its renewable-energy electricity program, which adds about $10 per month to the average residential customer's bill. But some council members, particularly Vice Mayor Peter Drekmeier, asked the Utilities Department to study the implications of designating PaloAltoGreen the city's primary source of electricity, requiring customers to opt-out if they wanted cheaper power. That wouldn't be the best way to reduce the city's greenhouse gas emissions and probably wouldn't go over too well with businesses, which use the most electricity in the city, utilities analysts responded in a recent memo. In addition to PaloAltoGreen, the city also intends to use renewable energy —solar, wind or geothermal — to provide more than 20 percent of its general electricity supply. The city could merge the PaloAltoGreen program into its general supply and create more challenging renewable goals, or it could even redefine "renewable" to include large hydropower, which is where the city gets more than half of its electricity in most years. But now probably isn't the best time to require everyone to pay more, the memo states. Recently fewer customers have enrolled and some have even dropped out of PaloAltoGreen, citing economic pressures and rising energy costs, it states. And on another renewable energy front, Palo Altans have installed 239 photovoltaic systems since 1999, earning $2.5 million in rebates.

RULE BREAKERS PAYING MORE ... It just got more expensive to break some rules in Palo Alto. In particular, getting caught with an unleashed dog in Foothills Park will now earn a $250 ticket, up from $100. Repeat violations of no-parking or time-limited parking zones will now cost $33 rather than $32. And the new law against allowing several teens to consume alcohol on private property, the "social host" prohibition, will cost $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second and $1,000 for any other violations.

LANDFILL FIRE COST ... The July 24 landfill fire damaged some of the pipes, wells and other equipment that supports the landfill's gas and drainage systems, according to a recent city report. A city contractor arrived the day after the fire to fix the systems, which cost $22,500. To prevent damage from potential future fires, Modesto-based SCS Field Services will return to install six new gas wells at a cost of $10,000.

ICE CREAM AT MITCHELL PARK ... Yes, it just might have something to do with that $75 million ballot measure, Measure N, but on Sunday, Sept. 28, from 1 to 5 p.m., there will be an ice cream social at the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center, featuring Rick's Rather Rich Ice Cream, dancing, jazz, magic and stories.

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