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Palo Alto Weekly

News - September 26, 2008

City View

A round-up of Palo Alto government action this week

City Council (Sept. 22)

The City Council did not meet this week.

Board of Education (Sept. 23)

Student stress: The board discussed a policy to reduce student stress by adding a message to the school calendar discouraging teachers from assigning work during the December winter break. Board members applauded the initiative but disagreed about whether they should adopt an official policy to enforce it. Vote: Scheduled for Oct. 28

Enrollment: The board discussed enrollment, which at 11,431 students is at a 20-year high. Yet the overall growth of 259 students fell short of the expected medium-range projection of 420 students. Growth was uneven, with elementary schools exceeding medium projections and middle and high schools falling short. Action: None.

Parks and Recreation Commission (Sept. 23)

Field-use policy:The commission approved the policy, sending it to the City Council. It added a provision to consider students who attend Palo Alto schools as residents for priority field-brokering and revised priority-status qualifications to distinguish between selective and non-selective youth leagues. Yes: Unanimous. Absent: Joel Davidson.

Smoking in parks: The commission expressed split views on potential bans on smoking in parks, with most agreeing that banning smoking for fire-safety would make sense in Pearson-Arastradero, Foothills Park and possibly the Baylands. Commissioner Deirdre Crommie and possibly others support a complete ban in all parks. Vote: Scheduled for October meeting.

Planning and Transportation Commission (Sept. 24)

Residential basements: The commission held a study session on residential basement construction, prompted by concerns about groundwater pumping and concrete use. It intends to reconsider the issue at a future meeting.Action: None. Open-space zoning changes: The commission held a study session on potential changes to the open-space district, generally agreeing to impose floor-area-ratio requirements and to create a flexible code to accommodate the range of lot sizes. Vote: An ordinance could be reviewed in December.

Public Art Commission (Sept. 18)

Mitchell Park sculpture: The commission voted to budget $800 for a plaque and other expenses associated with a dedication ceremony for the new sculpture in Mitchell Park on Nov. 8. Yes: Unanimous.

Collection inspection: The commission voted to budget $750 to purchase a meter to detect light damage to the city's art collection, as well as to contract with Andrea Antonnacio for collection inspection.

Yes: Unanimous.

Other business: The commission heard two requests: one from the Bay Trail nonprofit for a memorial in honor of the late Bill Bliss to be placed at the Palo Alto Baylands; the other for artistic bike racks in Palo Alto. Action: The commission formed subcommittees for each request and discussed the possibility of the memorial art piece serving as a bike rack.

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