http://paloaltoonline.com/print/story/print/2011/01/14/around-town


Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 14, 2011

Around Town

LESSONS LEARNED ... It's been more than a year since Palo Alto officials hastily axed 63 holly oaks on California Avenue, but the fallen trees continue to cast a long shadow over the city's planning process. So when city officials began planning for a removal of 10 ailing eucalyptus trees at Eleanor Pardee Park, they held countless public hearings, received input from at least three different arborists and had a stack of reports on hand when they brought their proposal to the City Council this week. Greg Betts, director of the Community Services Department, told the council that staff had learned from its experience on California Avenue, which led to a public outcry and apologies from top city officials. But some members of the City Council felt staff may have learned the lessons from the California Avenue fiasco a little too well. The council praised staff's massive outreach campaign but rejected its recommendations to remove the trees in two phases, choosing instead to fell them in one swoop. Several council members also said they were concerned that after California Avenue, staff has become a bit too reticent in its proposals. "I believe the California Avenue situation has caused our staff to be more adverse to taking clear but controversial positions in their recommendations," Councilman Pat Burt said. Councilman Larry Klein agreed and said the Pardee Park operation had been "overly influenced" by California Avenue. "California Avenue was a failure of the city's own process," Klein said. "This is a triumph of process."

FOOD FOR THOUGHT ... Palo Alto residents haven't always been on the same page when it comes to library improvements. Though the city's massive library-reconstruction program remains on track, some residents have criticized recent proposals to reduce shelf space at the new libraries and to make more room for e-books, possibly at the expense of traditional books. This week, the council extended a program that should give every bookworm a reason to smile. The council agreed to sign up for two more years of LINK+, a program that allows the library system to share its collection with academic and public libraries throughout California and Nevada. Users can request books from other libraries through the library system's catalogue and have the books delivered to a local branch within days. According to report prepared by Assistant Library Director Cornelia Van Aken, LINK+ gives users access to more than 18 million volumes. The cost of the two-year program will be $200,000, with up to $100,000 contributed by the nonprofit group Friends of the Palo Alto Library. The city joined the program in 2008.

PLANT A TREE ... A Palo Alto nonprofit dedicated to promoting and protecting trees on city streets will team up with Mayor Sid Espinosa this Thursday plant a large Cedar of Lebanon tree at the entrance of the Cultural Arts Hall at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center. The event, sponsored by Canopy, combines the "Jewish Festival of Trees" with the group's annual Mayoral Tree Planting. The free event will take place at 5:15 p.m. on Jan. 20 near East Charleston Road and San Antonio Road. It will be followed by a reception from 5:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Those planning to attend are asked to call 650-964-6110 to RSVP.

DIRTY BUSINESS ... Note to dog owners who let their pooches do their dirty business at Duveneck Elementary School: The neighborhood is watching you. Duveneck Principal John Lents, sent a letter to the neighborhood last week seeking to enlist support and raise awareness about an "issue important to our children." Lents wrote in his letter that the school has been relying on dog owners to pick up their dogs' deposits. "Unfortunately, we've recently been subject to multiple piles of dog waste left on the field ... only to learn of them after they've been stepped in, and/or requiring us to put the field off-limits until we can do a thorough search for additional waste." He also wrote that leaving dog waste on school property is both disrespectful and illegal. "So, as you utilize our school grounds for your own pleasure, please make sure you leave them clean and pleasurable for the next community member(s)."

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