Congratulations to Melissa, Camille and Heidi as they start a new term on the board.
I supported Ken Dauber for one of the school board seats and think it is worth recognizing that even in losing, Ken's entry to the race brought greater discussion about important aspects of education and governance in the district. With that came much community engagement around these issues and the candidates. Thank you, Ken.
Ken has been committed and outspoken on various issues that have languished in the district for years. His more than 10,000 votes are impressive; in the off-year 2007 election, neither incumbent received as many votes. Ken entered the race late, but his message resonated well to many, especially students. Calling out deficiencies in certain areas of our high-achieving school system and advocating for improved analysis, policies and practices beyond the periphery is not for the faint of heart. Members of the community united with Ken around his assessments on tough issues like unhealthy stress levels, education equity and guidance counseling.
Student organizations overwhelmingly supported him because he understood the issues that affect them most and was willing to go out on a limb to change them. I trust that administrators and the board will take on these issues fearlessly and work efficiently to ensure improvements where needed in these areas.
I envision the proposal for 27 University Ave. being accepted by the City Council after considerable debate. Project heights might be changed and footprints modified, but livability for local residents will be diminished. Moderation in accepting Arrillaga's proposal is not the answer.
Council should direct its attention to preserving the beauty and pleasures that come from living in Palo Alto. For example, the Page Mill/Oregon corridor needs a traffic solution. Why not go to the county and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and get a study and funding to improve traffic patterns in Palo Alto instead of shoe-horning more jobs into our community. Traffic is a virus that is destroying Palo Alto.
Will we wait until elevated expressways will be needed to accommodate future high-rise development?
The Palo Alto Planning Department has recently reinterpreted the Palo Alto noise code, to allow noise levels on residential streets and sidewalks that normally would only be allowed in public areas, such as parks. This was done to permit AT&T to install its noisy Distributed Antenna System (DAS) equipment on telephone poles in residentially zoned neighborhoods.
The residential noise code limits noise to no more than 6 dB above ambient at the residential property line. Four months ago, in an email to me, the Planning Department agreed that this 6 dB noise standard also applied to noise generated on sidewalks and streets in a residential area. Now, because of pressure from AT&T, that decision has been reversed. The Planning Department now says someone can come to the sidewalk in front of a residential property, and they are limited only by the public area noise standard, which is 15 dB above ambient at 25 feet, even when that 25 feet is completely on the residential property.
This new noise code interpretation would allow someone on the sidewalk in front of a residence to make as much noise as a noisy vacuum cleaner. They could do this 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
I find this new interpretation of the Palo Alto noise code unbelievable and completely contrary to the intent of the noise code. If this new interpretation of the noise code is allowed to stand, we can all say goodbye to our quiet residential neighborhoods.