Only in Palo Alto will you find "environmentalists" whose main goal is to preserve the city in amber as it was in the 1970s. In the same edition, a letter-writer complained that traffic is a "virus" destroying the city.
Traffic is the byproduct of Palo Alto's desirability as a place to live and do business. The truly environmental approach to reducing traffic would involve increasing density and investing in better transit. This would put more residents within walking distance of shops and amenities, reduce car trips, and strengthen our city center.
How sad, then, that the City of Palo Alto opposed transforming El Camino into a Rapid Transit corridor, and that a proposal to increase height limits has generated such controversy. Those who complain about tall buildings and oppose better transit are short-sighted hypocrites: They won't support improved transit, yet they kvetch about cars clogging our streets. They cling to an outdated vision of their city as a small town when lack of density exacerbates every problem about which they complain.
Careless city spending
I'm writing in response to the article (Palo Alto Weekly, Nov. 16) titled, "Audit: Palo Alto spends too much on office supplies." Quite frankly, the facts reported in this article were a disgrace. Not only does the city waste hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money, they then spend thousands of dollars to audit an obvious problem that any second grader could have discovered on their own. Then they blame the mistake on Staples instead of the people paying the bills. Finally, the auditor concludes with assurances that the city is addressing these problems by putting in more controls, policies and procedures that will likely cost even more taxpayer money.
If this is what goes on in Palo Alto's office supply expense account, imagine how much waste is going into the multi-million dollar projects that the city is involved in.
More importantly, the auditor and the reporter don't address the core issue: Whenever people are tasked with spending other people's money, you can be sure they are not paying attention to how much they are spending. This is a fact of government and explains the huge amounts of waste that occurs in our local, state and federal government.
The only real solution is to eliminate this conflict by taking the money out of city bureaucrats' hands. Any other type of solution will result in more waste of hard-earned taxpayers' money.
A simple solution?
Am I naive? Why not simply designate an existing downtown garage with free parking for lower-paid downtown employees like sales persons, service workers, non-management and non-professional out-of-town commuters who work in Palo Alto? Wouldn't it be less expensive than the costs of more meetings, more studies, more residential parking permit initiatives (not to mention the cost of salaries to plan and police them); planning process costs; the design and then the building of more new garages when those we have aren't being fully used? It strikes this former Palo Altan as both a simple and immediate solution.