Congratulations to the merchants of California Avenue and their supporters who refused to succumb to the strong-arm and star-chamber tactics of the City of Palo Alto. First came the removal of the trees on California Avenue to set the occasion for the "need" for the streetscape improvements project.
Fortunately, the perspicacity of Joy Ogawa, Terry Schuchat, Jack Morton, Antonio's Nut House, Robert Davidson and other concerned citizens prevailed, for now, in stalling the project.
Let's hope this outcome continues and the city pays attention to the merchants and residents of California Avenue before there is another attempt to apply for a grant to restructure a business area and thoroughfare that does not need to be modified to two lanes.
Gateway: Look forward
The only thing that is certain about our future is that the population of the Bay Area will grow. To accommodate this growth, preserve our natural environment and avoid car-dependent sprawl, we must have high-density development in existing cities along transportation corridors. For this reason, I support the Gateway development on Alma Street in downtown Palo Alto.
A sustainable future does not include room for every person to have their own car and many parking spaces at their disposal. Current zoning ordinances are backward-looking, since they require that every car has one parking space at home, one at work, one at each store they go to and one at their friends' houses. Driving will inevitably grow more expensive and less convenient. In the future, driving will be replaced by healthy community-building activities like walking, cycling, living near work and using mass transit.
I have been living in downtown Palo Alto for more than 20 years. I chose it and remain committed to it because of forward-thinking ordinances that disallow big-box stores, build bike paths and prioritize preserving the green belt. These types of ordinances have kept our property values high and have allowed people who cannot drive to be independent. I believe high-density development near transit centers will also prove successful.
During this transition period, to encourage the transportation modes that we know are best for our future, we need to ensure that people don't use our Downtown North neighborhood to park their cars. We cannot have people driving around Johnson Park looking for parking spaces while children run across the street. I encourage the City Council to reinstall the traffic-calming measures that we worked so hard to design and implement. If they can't do that, then a neighborhood-parking permit must be put in place before the Gateway development is occupied.
Don't move the shelter
It's inconceivable to me that some Palo Alto City Council members are considering shutting down or relocating the Animal Service Center on East Bayshore Road to make way for an auto dealership. There are a lot of animal owners like me — as well as seniors and disabled pet owners on fixed income who use service dogs — that use their services. Its heavy usage is because it is centrally located.
Lastly, the welfare of animals is more important to me than an auto dealership. Those who agree should contact the Palo Alto Council members and let them know they are against shutting down or relocating the Animal Service Center to make way for an auto dealership. Some council members are more interested in an auto dealership than keeping or upgrading the present Animal Service Center on East Bayshore Road.
Community needs animal shelter
A disturbing story has circulated that Palo Alto Animal Services may close. If this does come to pass without having a replacement shelter built, it would be a disaster for the community.
There are more than 5,000 licensed dogs (and thousands of unlicensed ones) in the area the Palo Alto Animal Services covers (Palo Alto, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills). There are untold numbers of pet cats as well, and a myriad of other animals that people keep as family pets.
When a pet goes missing, the whole family — especially the children — are distressed and turn to the local animal shelter in hopes that their beloved pet was safely picked up. Palo Alto Animal Services provides this and other services vital to the community.
The rescue of animals, adoptions of available animals, licensing of pets to ensure all animals are up to date on their vaccinations, and a low-cost spay and neuter facility are some of the many services performed by the Palo Alto Animal Services. The shelter also serves the community by picking up dead animals and handling situations with dangerous animals.
A staff of professionals with the aid of more than 55 volunteers provides these services and more. Everyone gives 100 percent to meet the needs of the shelter and the community it serves.
As a weekly volunteer dog walker at the shelter I've had the privilege of seeing first hand the dedication and professionalism of the staff.
The shelter is an essential part of the community; it would be too costly to lose it.