RUBBISH ... Palo Alto officials have long acknowledged that the city's waste-collection policies favor one type of green (the environment) over another (money). For years, people have been throwing away less and recycling more, a service that remains free for residents but costly for the city. Palo Alto plans to change how much it charges residents for waste services, possibly including new fees for recycling, but in the meantime, the city is preparing an interim solution — a series of monthly flat fees to cover the cost of street-sweeping ($6.66), hazardous-waste collection ($1.07) and the annual Clean-Up Day ($2.17). Not surprisingly, many aren't happy. In recent weeks, dozens of residents had sent letters to the council protesting the new refuse fees, along with the proposal to increase water rates by about 15 percent. Richard Placone, a Chimalus Drive resident, called the new street-sweeping fee "a dangerous and disingenuous method of financing legitimate city government expenses." "Street Cleaning is a benefit to everyone who lives in, works in, has a business in, or even passes through, Palo Alto," he wrote. "Therefore, to allocate the expense of this necessary city service to utility users only is unfair." Jo Ann Mandinach, who lives on Middlefield Road, shared his sentiment. She called it "highly offensive" that the city encourages residents to conserve and then charges them more for conserving "too much." "It is both ludicrous and counter-productive; many people I know have stopped recycling in protest," Mandinach wrote. The City Council is scheduled to approve the proposed rate changes Monday night, when it adopts the fiscal year 2013 budget.
HOOPING IT UP ... Palo Alto High School may boast NBA star Jeremy Lin on its list of notable alums, but that doesn't phase its rival, Gunn High School. This week, a group of Gunn students introduced the City Council to their own illustrious hoopster — a gliding robot that specializes in basketball. The Gunn Robotics Team attended this week's City Council meeting and brought their ball-slinging friend along. After introducing themselves and playing a video of their robot making shots, team members loaded up the robot with foamy balls, which it then proceeded to fire into the air inside the Council Chambers. The group got an ovation from the audience and props from Mayor Yiaway Yeh, a Gunn alum. "Thank you for bringing both fun and danger at the same time tonight with the robot, but congratulations to everyone on the team," Yeh said.
DOWNTOWN D-DAY ... Going to downtown Palo Alto this Sunday, June 17? With the confluence of Stanford University's commencement in the morning and World Music Day in the afternoon, be prepared for crowds. University Avenue will be closed starting at 11 a.m. from High Street to Webster Street for the 3 to 7 p.m. music festival as will the area around City Hall. Businesses will be open, of course, but you may wish to walk or hop on your bike to get to them.