The Palo Alto Weekly was honored April 27 as best large newsweekly in California and, for the fourth year in a row, PaloAltoOnline.com was named best news website in its category in an annual journalism competition.
The prestigious General Excellence award and a dozen other honors were bestowed to the Weekly by the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA).
A panel of 35 journalists from states outside of California selected the winners, who were chosen from among journalists with daily, weekly and school newspapers.
"This is a clear winner," wrote the judges who selected the Weekly for the General Excellence award. "The depth and range of its coverage is impressive. ... The editors obviously take seriously their public service obligation."
The competition judges reviewed more than 4,000 entries and chose 450 award winners in the Better Newspapers contest.
Overall, the Weekly received a company record of six first-place and seven second-place honors, competing against other weekly papers of its circulation size of 25,000 or more.
In addition to group awards for its news and design departments, individual honors went to Gennady Sheyner, Chris Kenrick, Veronica Weber, Jay Thorwaldson, Carol Blitzer, Sue Dremann and Rebecca Wallace.
In addition, the Weekly received honorable mentions in the categories of editorial comment, investigative reporting, sports section, sports story, special sports section, coverage of the environment, coverage of business/technology, coverage of education, news photo, artistic photo, feature photo, sports photo and photo essay.
Regional housing projections: 'excessive'
Palo Alto, like other Bay Area municipalities, is now in the final stages of reviewing Plan Bay Area, a state-mandated vision document filled with strategies for reducing carbon emissions by 15 percent by 2040 and providing adequate housing to accommodate job growth. The goal is to make sure each community in the Bay Area provides its "fair share" of housing, thereby reducing the need for sprawl and the number of vehicles on state highways carrying just one person.
The plan, which was released in March by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, seeks to accommodate a projected increase of 2.1 million residents and 1.1 million jobs in the Bay Area in the period between 2010 and 2040. Members have consistently disagreed with the regional agencies about the growth projections, arguing that they are overstated and that the housing mandates cannot be reasonably met.
On Wednesday night, May 1, the Planning and Transportation Commission took its own crack at Plan Bay Area and voiced similar concerns. The commission voted 5-0, with commissioners Alex Panelli and Greg Tanaka absent, to approve a letter from the city to ABAG challenging the agency's approach for allocating housing and calling its projections "highly unrealistic and excessive."
Palo Alto, under the plan, would have to build 2,860 housing units over the next decade, growth that council members have long argued cannot be accommodated in a city with astronomical real estate prices and a shortage of undeveloped land. The city's letter argues that expecting Palo Alto to increase its housing supply so significantly is "entirely unrealistic, and using such an assumption as the basis for growth scenarios and transportation investments will likely result in failure of the planning effort."
"What Plan Bay Area seems to be designed to do is make it impossible to drive in communities like Palo Alto, so people will be forced to essentially take transit that doesn't exist," Commissioner Arthur Keller said.
"We're forced to shoehorn into the techniques of the region instead of getting credit of what we're actually accomplishing," Keller said, adding that the plan's process "doesn't necessarily work for us."
Traffic delays expected on Foothill, Alma
Those heading north on Foothill Expressway this weekend will be detoured at Hillview Avenue to make way for heavy equipment work on a gas line replacement in the area between Hillview and Page Mill Road.
Both northbound lanes and the bike lane on Foothill will be closed starting at 9 p.m. on Friday, May 3, and ending at 5 a.m. on Monday, May 6, while workers using heavy excavation equipment install a transmission pipeline segment under Matadero Creek.
Northbound traffic will be rerouted through Hillview and Deer Creek Road during the construction, but drivers should expect increased traffic in all directions in the area.
Miranda Avenue, which runs parallel to Foothill in that segment, will remain open, but there will be extra traffic controls and flagmen directing cars in and out of the road's entry points.
In mid-May, workers will begin street-valve replacement work on Alma Street, slowing northbound traffic and causing some sidewalks and driveways to be dug up in the area between Colorado Avenue and Oregon Expressway.