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'Destination Palo Alto' to get $240,000 a year

Original post made on Apr 15, 2008

Without a one-stop visitors' bureau, Palo Alto misses out on revenue from the thousands of people in town for business or for Stanford University, according to organizers of a "Destination Palo Alto" project. The City Council agreed.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 2:59 AM

Comments (16)

Posted by Not so fast, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 15, 2008 at 8:42 am

Another waste of money by the city.
Meanwhile at the bottom of the story is this quote from our mayor regarding infrastructure maintenance:

"I don't know where we're going with this other than to face that it's a huge problem,he said. "I think as a community we're going to face some very tough decisions.""


Wow, I wonder if he figured that out himself or he hired some consultants to come to that conclusion. I think we all know that it is a big problem and that we will have to make tough decisions. But as mayor, shouldn;t he have thought of some way to approach the issue?
And who will make the tough decisions?? Not our city council--that may cause conflict.

Anyway, Larry, has to have another carbon footprint test done on his house.


Posted by Revenue waste, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2008 at 10:56 am

Another huge waste of money. Our CC at it's worst.


Posted by Jessica, a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 15, 2008 at 11:14 am

Destination Palo Alto is a great idea. I support it all the way! One thing that needs to be addressed is the Palo Alto/University Ave. road sign off highway 101. It is not visible until you are all ready at the fork in the road and often find yourself in the wrong lane and end up in East Palo Alto. This sign has been an issue for years and still seems to be misleading to many out of town people. Do you remember how many times they had to reposition the arrow on the sign before it was clear which way to go? University Ave. is a great road to enter into Stanford University and allows tourists to see the downtown area which is great for marketing purposes. Besides making the highway sign better visually they could add a bit more Stanford appeal with additional signs. Colleges like Stanford are appealing to tourists and I think it holds alot of marketing power in terms of why Palo Alto is a destination.


Posted by Tom, a resident of Professorville
on Apr 15, 2008 at 1:26 pm

This has possibilities. People streaming to Palo Alto could drop by Stanford while they're in the area.


Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of Community Center
on Apr 15, 2008 at 2:51 pm

Palo Alto needs a revenue strategy. It does not have one, and with the major costs we are facing, as referenced in other articles around the infrastructure challenges now looming, Palo Alto must figure out ways to bring as much money into the community as it can.

I have been saying this for a few years now, and I was encouraged when City Council obliquely included it as a priority this year, with its priority around the economic health of the City. I still don't think it has been taken far enough.

The crude analogy I use is that we sometimes act like a company that has no sales or marketing, and we wonder why our revenues aren't growing. Shouldn't we putting some talented resources and other capabilities behind Palo Alto's top line? Other municipalities do it in various ways, leading to companies locating operations there, people patronizing the retail and other consumer oriented attractions, etc.

It is all well and good to disparage this tiny sum of money that has been allocated around revenue in Palo Alto. In my opinion, it is not nearly enough to create some bona fide stick to the ribs sources of revenue that we need above and beyond what is and once was in place. The crude analogy again is that we are paying someone minimum wage part time to do inside telephone sales while others have talented feet on the street that are developing accounts at a strategic level.

Sometimes a little bit of money to test something out or to develop some ideas is well spent. But if a tiny little bit of money is being spent in the hope that it will lead to huge revenue boosts for the City coffers, there needs to be some re-thinking about the expenditure. The stakes here are extremely high, and to play them with a genuine expectation of success requires a willingness to ante up the capabilities that enable a meaningful opportunity to play the game.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2008 at 5:24 pm

This is a luxury we cannot afford. I think almost $1/4 could be much better spent on things we need, particularly getting crime down. If we could guarantee that this money would increase revenue, then it would be one thing, but unless we can find some serious ways to increase City coffers then this idea is not on.

In our own housekeeping at home, we don't splurge on niceties until the essentials are paid for and until we have saved the money to improve the basics, then we have to wait until such time as we can update our cars and bathrooms. Yes, we need both, but robbing Peter to pay Paul is not going to work. If I can do it in my household budget, then the City must be able to prioritise spending until such time as they have funds to cover it.


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 15, 2008 at 6:23 pm

There is a difference between marketing and business development. Destination Palo Alto is more the former, when in fact we need more of the latter. Our city is a destination for whom? Visitors? How about making it a destination for new companies that drive the engine known as economic sustainability. We are resting on laurels that many neighbors are easily beginning to claim as their own.

There is nothing wrong with marketing Palo Alto in more robust ways, but we need to do far more in the way of creating *deep*, *new* business opportunities that will sustain PA well into the future.

One thing: it is refreshing to see metrics tied to this effort. My hope is that they will be rigidly applied, and that failure to achieve important milestones is seen as a signal that something needs to change, with consequences to follow if they don't.


Posted by Citizen of Palo Alto, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 15, 2008 at 7:54 pm

What tourist attractions do we have? Let's be honest: not much. We're a suburb--a high tech one--but a suburb nonetheless. Unless you're visiting Stanford or happen to be good friends with Steve Jobs, there's not much to see here. That's why I think the city should focus more on creating exciting attractions rather than trying to put a spin on something that doesn't really exist.


Posted by Tim, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 15, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Destination Palo Alto? For whom? The locals shop elsewhere and many avoid "Downtown" due to the panhandling, homeless lying on benches, etc. and high priced stores and restaurants. With all there is to do in the Bay Area, visitors on a one-week vacation have far better things to see. Non-city residents from the Bay Area coming for Stanford football games, come in cars, buses, or trains, see the game and leave. I guess this money will come out of the money siphoned out of the Utility Fund to the General Fund. What is this naive Council thinking?


Posted by Abating, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 16, 2008 at 9:51 am

This might make sense. The papers reported substantial revenue for the city because of the one-day Tour of California cycling event. Local hotels are fairly well booked during the week because of business traffic but are relatively empty Thursday through Sunday. A modest increase in room bookings on the weekends could make this a good deal for city revenue because the city gets 12% of every booking. It's worth finding out.


Posted by Suzie, a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2008 at 11:16 am

Downtown Palo Alto is DISGUSTING. Sidewalks are filthy dirty. Pan- handlers are agressive....often following and yelling.
Send tourists to Los Altos....it has lovely shopping and it is CLEAN.


Posted by tom, a resident of The Greenhouse
on Apr 16, 2008 at 8:37 pm

We do need new businesses, but have made it very difficult to settle or grow here. Grocery stores have a 20,000 maximum square footage limitation; we've blocked big box stores from locating here; after losing several car dealerships we are painfully finding a way to keep the Toyota car dealership; business taxes are increasing, etc. I'm impressed that a few still try to open a business.

Whatever happened to the two efforts headed by Bern Beecham to attract new business? Both committees quietly folded, and I never saw a report on their efforts. Maybe they should have tried to retain the ones we had. (Will HP move?)

I agree that efforts should be made to increase our revenue, but I don't think this will do it. What do we have to offer a visitor? Some fine restaurants (take 2 hours to eat and be ready to sight-see) and Stanford University to visit.

Interesting that this is the amount we are spending over two years to improve the environment. Next year I'd like to see the annual report by the director of how this money was spent and on what.


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 16, 2008 at 9:33 pm

Tom: "Next year I'd like to see the annual report by the director of how this money was spent and on what. "

Tom, we agree. However, I would add "results" to your list. This allocation requires FIRM milestones.

Whoever moves into this position should be aware that it is NOT a "soft marketing" gig, but rather a focused effort *with a business plan* that will achieve results.

Compensation - a LARGE part of it - should be based on RESULTS, with extra compensation awarded for exceeding plan.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 17, 2008 at 9:47 am

Downtown Palo Alto has way too many people begging for money and following you down the street if you don't hand some over to be a "destination" for anyone. Get that under control first. Also, lets stop pretending that University Avenue is a commercial-only route into Palo Alto. It is lined by homes until you reach a six or so block area that we call "downtown". Don't funnel more traffic onto University Avenue, they have too much already and would also like to enjoy the quality of life they thought they were going to get by living in Palo Alto. It's ridiculous on University Avenue already and this type of city involvement would only make it worse for some of the local residents.

The downtown area of Palo Alto is not going to save us from the misuse of taxpaper funds. Instead, we as a city should be trying to attract businesses onto the El Camino corridor of Palo Alto. There's room for real upgrades and new business interest. University Avenue is small and not the right spot for future revenue growth for the city of Palo Alto.

Lastly, we shouldn't funneling money into a "Destination Palo Alto" black hole. Spend it on real infre-structure issues that have been screaming for attention for many years.


Posted by Nouveau Riche, a resident of University South
on Apr 18, 2008 at 3:28 pm

The tourists can visit Foothills Park and the Children's Theater.


Posted by R Wray, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 18, 2008 at 4:09 pm

And they can visit our Color of Palo Alto display.


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