Around Town | March 25, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 25, 2011

Around Town

TAKING BACK THE 'PROCESS' ... The "Palo Alto Process" is a term laced with nasty bureaucratic baggage. Mayor Sid Espinosa summarized it succinctly at this week's City Council meeting: "For anyone who lived here for any length of time, it's synonymous with anything that's unclear and cumbersome with the process," particularly as it relates to building permits. The council is fighting the stigma in two ways. One is reforming and simplifying the city's permitting process — a process that City Manager James Keene kicked off last July. The second way is by focusing on the positive aspects of the city's famous thoroughness, as evidenced at Monday night's four-hour discussion of composting technologies. The council debated the preliminary results of a feasibility study for a proposed waste-to-energy plant, heard from dozens of residents and raised new issues for staff and consultants to explore. Though the city came no closer to making a decision on the project, Espinosa and his colleagues on the council hailed the discussion as an example of everything that's good about Palo Alto. "I think having the kind of engagement on a subject like this is exceptional, and I think it's a good part of the 'Palo Alto Process' and one we should embrace," Councilman Pat Burt said. "What a cool town this is," Keene added at the end of the public-comment period. "It's amazing to listen to this discussion." At least one member of the public agreed. "The 'Palo Alto Process' is pretty darn amazing," said Annette Isaacson, a Midtown resident who is supporting the new plant.

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