According to the web page promoting AT&T's wireless plans for Palo Alto: "AT&T addresses community needs where we — and our customers — live and work." So why hasn't AT&T addressed the community need for peace and quiet by putting adequate sound enclosures around screw compressor chillers on their Birch Street switching station roof?
Since 2008 these chillers have made frequent humming noises reminiscent of the plastic horns that annoyed many during World Cup soccer games. We hear the chillers inside our house (200 feet away) with all windows shut and outside several blocks away. An HVAC industry paper explains that screw compressor chillers produce "pure-tone" noises that are particularly annoying to the human ear.
After two years of complaints to AT&T, the police, code enforcement, City Council and a petition signed by 18 neighbors, a small step was taken — turning off the chillers at night. Then, sometime last year the sound mysteriously went away. That was lovely, but now the sound is back on and off, all times of day and night.
Is it a coincidence that AT&T turned off the noisy chillers while they were seeking approval for the first phase of a proposed city-wide cell phone antenna network (with potentially noisy fans) and then turned them back on after the precedent-setting first phase was approved? If AT&T wants Palo Alto residents to view the company as respectful of community needs, it is time for a permanent solution to this annoying problem.
Reduction lacks support
I have repeatedly spoken out against reducing the number of lanes on California Avenue.
I am a property owner of a three-story office building on California Avenue and a real estate agent handling most of the office/retail leasing on the avenue. I have participated with the merchants in sponsoring advertisements opposing the lane reduction and yet this only seems to slightly slow down efforts to reduce the number of lanes rather than to veto the idea once and for all.
I appreciate everyone's thoughts and concerns as the California Avenue district is a vibrant and vital part of Palo Alto, but let's make changes that are needed rather than chasing down this "requirement" that lacks popular support. Reducing lanes will harm the vibrancy of this district. Please consider applying funds to where they're really needed such as general improvement along the existing streets and sidewalks and building up funds to provide more parking (e.g., new garages like what was done in downtown Palo Alto) to encourage patronage.
Mike L. Meffert
Alhouse Deaton Management & Leasing, Inc.
Restore sane priorities
California has plenty of money and has no need to raise taxes further. That truth was demonstrated by last week's vote to commit $380 million per year for interest payments on high-speed rail bonds. What's needed in Sacramento is not more money but more responsible prioritization of spending.
Decades of democratic control in Sacramento have steadily driven California to the brink of disaster by Democrats abandoning their traditional role as guardians of the people and wasting taxpayers' money on boondoggle projects like high-speed rail.
To fund high-speed rail, Democrats have plundered the budgets for education, public health and safety, local infrastructure, public parks and key social services, to say nothing of damage to our environment, and destruction of farms, businesses and homes along the route.
I'm a registered Democrat, but I now believe that the only way to save California is to vote "NO" on any tax increase, and to restore sane priorities by replacing Democratic legislators with Republicans one by one. Doing so will indeed cause the pain that the Democrats have built into the current budget in order to force voters to approve more taxes for Sacramento to waste.
Once the Democrats' hammerlock in Sacramento is broken, they can then return to their traditional role of looking out for people instead of special, big-money interests. To quote a line from the movie "Network," "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."
California has plenty of money; it's only short of common sense.