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Palo Alto Weekly

News - July 13, 2012

News Digest

Palo Alto Chamber names MacKenzie interim CEO

The Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce has selected local businessman David S.G. MacKenzie to serve as its interim president and CEO while the organization searches for a permanent replacement for MacKenzie's predecessor, Paul Wright.

The chamber's board of directors announced that it has chosen MacKenzie, an accountant, because of his knowledge and understanding of the Palo Alto community. According to the board's announcement, MacKenzie has been working with Wright in recent months to improve the organization's administrative and management functions.

Wright resigned last month after six months on the job.

"It is the board's opinion that David's blend of business acumen, familiarity with the Chamber and knowledge of the Palo Alto community will provide the Chamber with sound organizational leadership as we conduct our search to fill the permanent position," board Chair Rebecca Teutschel said in a statement.

In announcing its selection, the Chamber touted MacKenzie's more than 35 years of experience on executive teams of various startups, large companies and nonprofit organizations. He is past president of the Palo Alto/University Rotary Club and has served on boards at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and the Cantor Arts Center.

"Palo Alto is where I was born, have lived, worked and volunteered," MacKenzie said in a statement. "I look forward to working more closely with the business community and other organizations to ensure it continues to be the kind of city I am very proud to say I've been associated with as a resident, family member and business person my entire life."

Pinterest moves HQ from Palo Alto to San Francisco

On Monday, July 9, growing social-networking giant Pinterest moved its headquarters from Palo Alto to San Francisco, the company announced.

Employees vacated the company's headquarters at 635 High St. after CEO Ben Silberman signed a lease for the new building in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood, citing the appeal of reasonably priced office space and the city's available technology talent as reasons for the move. The neighborhood also houses the headquarters of social-games juggernaut Zynga and Airbnb, an online room-rental service.

According to Pinterest spokesman Barry Schnitt, the company has officially signed a short-term lease for 572 7th St. at Brannan Street and has plans to expand that space in the future.

The company has been headquartered in Palo Alto since it was founded in 2010. Pinterest allows users to collect photos online and "pin" the images into categorized collections, or boards. Users can create multiple pinboards, which can be shared with followers.

Though the site currently requires an invitation for access, it has experienced rapid growth in recent months.

PG&E work may affect traffic through July

Commuters experiencing traffic delays on East Bayshore Road near Embarcadero Road should expect slowdowns for the rest of July. PG&E crews are excavating a gas-transmission line to test for hazardous conditions.

The corrosion inspections are part of an extensive testing project the utility must conduct on parts of its aging infrastructure. The state ordered PG&E to test parts of its network after a segment of Line 132 in San Bruno exploded, killing seven people and injured scores of others in September 2010.

Sections of other pipelines — including Line 101, which runs through Palo Alto along the U.S. Highway 101 corridor — have come under scrutiny because of a pipe-seam weld that is similar to one implicated in the San Bruno blast.

A PG&E study considers 239 of its natural-gas transmission lines to be at risk of a similar failure, including segments of Line 101 on the Peninsula, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on June 6. PG&E identified more than 500 spots on those lines throughout a 48-mile area that are at risk.

The stretch of Line 101 in Palo Alto is 2.5 miles long and includes no fewer than five different pipe types, ranging from 20 inches to 36 inches in diameter, according to PG&E. Because of its complexity, testing the pipe has been difficult.

PG&E in November announced it would replace parts of Line 101 in Palo Alto. During a routine inspection June 28, a leak requiring immediate repair was found and fixed, according to the City of Palo Alto.

PG&E plans to install a permanent station for launching pipeline-inspection devices adjacent to East Bayshore to allow ongoing inspections of the line. Construction of this facility is delayed until 2013.

The public can check the status of the work and other PG&E projects in town by visiting the city Utilities Department website at www.cityofpaloalto.org/utilities.

— Sue Dremann

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