Planning Commissioner Michael Alcheck correctly noted that lighting was left out of California Avenue Streetscape discussions since September 2009, when "The Project" was proactively and publicly vetted by the city and stakeholders. I, too, wondered when lighting would be brought back and am glad it might again be included.
New lighting was the California Avenue Area Development Association Board's No. 1 priority, when the Streetscape Concept Plan was completed. Anonymous poster "Full Circle" was correct in his/her comment in the Town Square: Discussion Forum stating that fact. But it is a shame the comment disparaged Commissioner Alcheck for his pertinent observation, and reported other false information, and the Weekly featured the comment in Spectrum, on Feb. 1.
Palo Alto Weekly would be wise to follow the Daily Post, a publication that for the past year has made a concerted effort to provide provable facts and even well-researched, detailed timelines on local stories of interest for readers.
By doing so, the Post serves as a helpful catalyst for fact-based community dialog, creating an environment where trust might again be restored, choosing to be part of the solution, via journalism, rather than being part of the problem.
Prior to putting print to paper, the Weekly editors should ask themselves: Is this true? Is this kind? Is this necessary? "Full Circle's" comments were partly true, unkind and not necessary.
California Avenue Area Development Association board of directors president, 1989-2010
Residents pay for benefits
Why isn't downtown parking working? One reason is the council's largesse in granting parking exceptions for "public benefits." A 10,000-foot waiver eliminates 40 spaces, a gift of $2.4 million to the developer. For one pending project, the subsidy exceeds $4 million but provides no new parking spaces for the employees.
A hidden gift? How would you respond if the council directly granted $2.4 to $4 million dollars from the general fund to build a project? Likely: "You are what? No! Isn't that a gift of public funds?"
So, who pays for the parking? Obviously, if the entire community "benefits," the general fund, grants from a magnanimous benefactor (not asking for anything in return), or another community-wide resource. Right? No, only a few citizens, in this case approximately 1,500 residential downtown property owners and their families, pay for the developer's extra profit with the deterioration of their neighborhood integrity. Leases in downtown are among the highest in the nation. Yet, other towns with much lower rates demand that development provide or pay for needed parking.
Yes, the developers are still granted these subsidies, these entitlements, these gifts, and guess what? They have grown to expect them, to demand them. Amazing.
The point: Developers benefit financially and a few residents, but not all, pay for "public benefits" with their neighborhoods' lost values.
Eliminate level crossings
I liked (Chris Kenrick's) article about railroad crossings in Palo Alto.
For (her) next article on this topic, I have a suggestion: Watch the Churchill crossing around the time high school students head home in the afternoon. I have done this several times. On the Palo Alto High School side of Churchill Street, there is not enough room for bicycles and pedestrians between the tracks and Alma. Sometimes kids are squeezed when they become trapped by the closing of the gates as a high-speed Caltrain approaches.
Of course, they know this and try to carefully gauge how much room there is before crossing the tracks. For cars, there is an "escape-cycle" programmed into the stoplight sequence that allows cars on the tracks to move. For pedestrians and bicyclists, there is no such "escape-cycle," and I think this arrangement is quite dangerous.
In the long run, there will be increased traffic of all sorts and level railroad crossings such as this one must be eliminated.
El Verano Avenue