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Palo Alto ponders a digital billboard

Original post made on Oct 24, 2013

When Palo Alto leaders talk about building a "leading digital city," they're usually talking about open data and high-speed Internet, not flashy billboards. Monday night will be an exception.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, October 24, 2013, 9:06 AM

Comments (68)

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2013 at 10:33 am

Is this City owned parcel of land part of Greer Park, or part of the utilities substation near Loma Verde?

Knowing which parcel of land we are talking about would help.

Posted by moi, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2013 at 10:37 am

Lady Bird Johnson is spinning.

Posted by Naphtali, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 10:53 am

I find digital billboards distracting, garish, and useless. Drivers should keep their eyes on the road, and most digital messages are on for such short intervals, they are hard to absorb. I can't believe we will add another distraction to our jammed highways. It is SO un-Palo Alto.

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 24, 2013 at 10:59 am

Horrible idea -- these billboards contribute to driver distraction, slowing traffic and contributing to accidents. Does Palo Alto want to invite lawsuits?

As a Palo Alto resident, I sure wouldn't want this... billboards themselves are bad enough, let alone these electronic ones.

Posted by Stuart Berman, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 24, 2013 at 10:59 am

On the face of it this sounds like a really bad idea. It is bad enough that we have to deal with the sight pollution created by the billboards in East Palo Alto and at the former site of the Circle Star Theater in Redwood City. Let's not use it as justification for building a similar eyesore in Palo Alto.

Posted by mutti, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 24, 2013 at 11:01 am

NOOOOO!!!! These are a distracting eyesore. It's not worth the revenue, and it's against the city's sign ordinance. The digital billboard at Paly was declared illegal after it was installed, and they had to only use it as a static sign as a compromise. But, I guess someone forgot, because it's been flashing all kinds of stuff lately.

And don't get me started on the 'temporary' banners on the side of the Jewish Community Center building at Charleston and San Antonio. I guess they are exempt from the sign ordinance because they can be taken down? They get changed every few months, leaving even more unsightly holes in the big yellow wall.

Why do we have a sign ordinance at all?

I know, I'm venting.....

Posted by Paula, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2013 at 11:17 am

Disgusting. All billboards are eyesores.

Posted by Slippery Slope, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 24, 2013 at 11:47 am

I'm opposed. If we start with one run by the city, we have set a precedent for installing billboards. It's opening a door that leads to a very a slippery slope.

City Council, please say no. This is a bad idea.

Thanks for listening.

Posted by Blatt, a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 11:49 am

So sleezy--definitely NOT Palo Alto imagery.

Posted by 35 year resident, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 24, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Why don't the so-called "Palo Alto Leaders" ask the citizens what THEY want for the city and not just assume that everyone wants something like this. If they really want to raise revenues for infrastructure, etc. why don't they start by cutting out some of the bloat and excessively high salaries for city employees.

Posted by No thanks, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Well, it is an opportunity for the staff to write more Requests for Proposals, hire consultants, and bloat the bureaucracy.
This is a specialty of our City Manager. Maybe he will also need to hire yet another manager to keep track of it all. And enlarge his power.
Someone doesn't have enough to do.

Posted by Katy, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 24, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Dear City Staff and Council: Stop with all the crazy schemes that cost the taxpayers millions of dollars every year. Focus on providing basic services that we need and you will have enough money. Make things simpler and do a better job of fewer tasks.

Billboards are visual pollution. They degrade the natural environment.Stop this insanity now!

Posted by Debbie Mytels, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Oh NO -- what a horrible idea! These things are SO tacky and garish -- and actually a distraction to drivers. It's bad enough we have them at Paly and Gunn -- I hope Palo Alto doesn't sink so low. We can find revenue elsewhere rather than selling off our visual image -- or let's find some cost-reducing efficiencies. Also is anyone considering the environmental cost of electricity to run the thing -- or the impact of flickering bright lights at night on wildlife that live in the Baylands just on the opposite side of the proposed site?

Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 24, 2013 at 12:42 pm

No, this is crazy, and PA is not Las Vegas - yet, although downtown PA is on that slippery slope. City Council, please 'mind the store'. Repair the streets - like Forest! which is a car hazard,. Fix the traffic at Town and Country. HOW MANY TIMES DO RESIDENTS HAVE TO PLEAD FOR THAT? This flashing billboard will make our town look cheap and sleazy. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING???

Posted by Bru, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Bru is a registered user.

Palo Alto and Palo Altans need to look at the 311 system they use in New York. It is like a non-criminal 911 system that can report and analyze over time. Potholes, traffic problems, animal issues, parking problems, questions, ideas, etc. I just read about it yesterday while walking in the Baylands in Steven Johnson's new book Future Perfect. With all the techies in Palo Alto this would be a real natural and a huge benefit to the city.

For starters, here's the Wikipedia entry for 3-1-1:

Web Link

Posted by Bru, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Bru is a registered user.

A billboard, digital or otherwise means that one needs to be in eyesight of it to be useful ... not a good idea, and as others have mentioned a distraction in a time and place where distractions are plenty. It is also top-down, unicast which I think the citizens of Palo Alto have had enough of from their city government.

3-1-1 has been implemented recently in many major cities of the United States with some very interesting results, and lets citizens alert and conduct a two-way conversation with their city.

Posted by cannot make a highway any uglier, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Can't believe that people are complaining about billboards being eyesores. Come on, this is Hwy 101 we're talking about. The entire length of the highway from San Francisco to San Jose is already an eyesore. Billboards aren't going to make it any worse. As long as these signs are pointed at the highway and not easily visible from residential areas, then I am fine with the city making some money this way instead of raising taxes.

Posted by Mr.Spock, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 1:21 pm

> I am fine with the city making some money this way instead of raising taxes.

False dichotomy . black-and/or-white thinking, the either-or fallacy, the fallacy of false choice, the fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses, the fallacy of the false alternative or the fallacy of the excluded middle) is a type of informal fallacy that involves a situation in which limited alternatives are considered, when in fact there is at least one additional option. The opposite of this fallacy is argument to moderation.

Posted by Kim, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2013 at 1:44 pm

This is a terrible idea. Just because the rest of 101 has billboards doesn't mean Palo Alto needs to join in. The digital billboards are especially tacky - we don't need them on our stretch of the highway.

Posted by 311, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2013 at 2:38 pm

San Francisco has a 311: systemWeb Link

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 24, 2013 at 3:19 pm

"When Palo Alto leaders talk about building a "leading digital city," they're usually talking about open data and high-speed Internet, not flashy billboards. Monday night will be an exception."

Instead of providing us with the facts regarding this matter ( exact location etc) we get inane comments from ace reporter ( and city council cheerleader) gennady. Will gennady be getting us the facts at Monday's meeting or will he be busy leading the cheerleading( rah, rah, rah. Swiss boom ah, go Greg go.....)?

Posted by anon, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 3:22 pm

why don't we just turn back the clock..... remove seat belts from cars, encourage people to smoke, and tolerate littering.......this is the most ridiculous retro/dumb idea i ever heard of.....
chump change for chumps!

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 24, 2013 at 3:23 pm

I don't think a flashing billboard matches the Palo Alto image. I think it would be harmful to that image, and it risks contributing to driver distraction and crashes/injuries on 101. I think rules on signage are important, and if this one were permitted, I don't see how they could forbid more - why should a special approval be given to this one sign, someone would likely argue in future. Find ways to better budget and manage city money, don't seek to nickel and dime us every possible way to raise ever more and more money for city coffers, AND don't sink to a cheapo image, either.

Posted by Midtown resident, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2013 at 4:23 pm


Everytime I pass the one at 101 and AMC Mercado center, I get blinded by the rude in-your-face brightness. Its a distraction to drivers. Don't do it.

Put a tax on the ballot. If it doesn't pass, Palo Altans don't want the improvement or if you want to look at it another way, don't deserve it. But at least, we're not doing something foolish like rezoning parcels and selling off palo alto's suburban feel to developers, or erecting driver-distracting, billboards around a busy freeway.

Posted by Chrisc, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 24, 2013 at 4:26 pm

The city can bring in the same amount of money by ticketing red light runners. I really want to know what all the cameras are for. Operating some "stings" each month, or even weekly, could bring a lot of revenue. I do not think PAPD cares, A's I'm seen them just sit there while drivers blatently run red lights.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 24, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Midtown resident-- just checked out the mercado n google earth--- no sign of any electronic billboards on 101. There is the entrance sign-- but that is separated from the highway by a 3 -4 lane frontage road. So what rude, in your face brightness are you referring to? Do you see it during daylight hours also?

Posted by Katy, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 24, 2013 at 5:27 pm

@Midtown Resident - Are you talking about the one near Ikea in EPA or the one by the old Circle Star Theater in RWC?

Posted by Driving hazard, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 24, 2013 at 5:30 pm

This is a tacky idea, and if it is visible from any roadway, a driving hazard, too.

Whatever happened to " beautify America"? Billboards were supposed to disappear in the sixties!

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 24, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Or are you referring to the Great America sign down the road from the mercado?

Posted by Joe Giraffe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 24, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Raising money is good. Causing 'distracted driving' and the resulting accidents and injuries/deaths is bad.
How about putting the digital billboard on the side of that prison-like wall on Alma near Hamilton? The billboard could be a lot bigger than a sign along 101, and its target audience would be train passengers who would welcome the distraction! And, as parking downtown gets worse and worse, train ridership will go up and up, so more eyes on the ads and more money in our pockets!
With properly focused lights, cars on Alma wouldn't even see the billboard.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2013 at 6:55 pm

This billboard fits in perfectly with the new Palo Alto- sign clutter,
banner signs draped on buildings, heavily marked crosswalks,ugly buildings
completely out of scale with their surroundings, parking overflow
clogging residential streets, traffic gridlock and pollution. Go ahead
and put in this billboard, it will prepare visitors for what awaits
them when they come into town so they won't be shocked. Send it through
the ARB just to make sure we are on the right track here.

Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 24, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Another bad idea from the clowns that govern.

The electronic signs recently added on Alma are terribly distracting and extremely annoying. Even when driving several mph under the speed limit they start flashing to slow down. It's distracting, distressing and pulls eyes away from traffic for the experience.

What moron came up with that idea?

Posted by susan q, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 24, 2013 at 10:20 pm

yes! palo alto should always follow the leadership of cities such as East Palo Alto, San Jose and Sacramento. There lovely cities are the most aesthetically pleasing cities in northern California, no?

Posted by Jane, a resident of University South
on Oct 25, 2013 at 12:27 am

For decades, we've been proud of the good taste to NOT have billboards on the freeway in Palo Alto.
Somehow both the staff and the Council are currently short of people who uphold the values that we have respected and lived by.
A digital billboard on 101 is still not a good idea, in poor taste, and a dangerous distraction.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 25, 2013 at 12:59 am

SILLY ... it's not dangerous and its not a distraction ... at least a major distraction ... these things are all over, one in Redwood City, one in Santa Clara, one in EPA ... why do we have to be followers ?

What is the need ... is there a real need? Or is this just another way to set up a meal ticket for a few more of the Palo Alto elite?

Do something useful, invest in something that will bring a return in community, civic involvement ( like the 311 system mentioned earlier ), redesign some traffic intersections to make them work better ... how about left turn lights at Newell and Embarcadero?

How about sending our city government to six sigma quality improvement classes so they know how to prioritize and look at ROI?

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2013 at 7:44 am

I am not as against this idea as some of the above posters. I am all for raising city revenue without raising property taxes or sales taxes in some way. I am also strongly in favor of the city getting their financial act together and being more responsible with the money they get. I want infrastructure taken seriously as a priority and upkeep of community assets, the Interpretive Center and Boardwalks in the Baylands which are in bad condition, being given more consideration than parks which are in fine fettle.

In my mind the reason so many of the electronic billboards are distracting is because they change so often. I would much prefer that they would hold the same digital impression for longer before changing. It is the changes that are distracting to me, static ones would be less so.

I am more concerned about the placement of the sign and what it would be like to live near it. Do these things hum? Do they produce much light on the ground? Do they need constant care at their base which may cause traffic or other problems? Are they likely to cause vandals and graffiti taggers using them as a target?

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2013 at 8:32 am

This City is becoming uglier,tackier every day.Our City government has absolutely no sense of aesthetics, doesn't care and doesn't even understand
what it's all about. The legacy values of this community are being
completely lost and destroyed. This is a different place folks, and
"it's not pretty".

Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 25, 2013 at 9:28 am

SteveU is a registered user.

As I get older I find that bright and flashing are hard on the eyes at night and are defiantly a distraction away from traffic, even during the day.

Any flashing (signage) should only be used for official, emergency usage when is clearly visible from a "highway".

We have enough 'static' cautionary/advisory signs to deal with already on 101

Posted by Local, a resident of another community
on Oct 25, 2013 at 10:31 am

Be careful what you wish for....
Web Link

Posted by Midtowner, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 25, 2013 at 12:08 pm

This city government is going from bad to worse. What next?

Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 25, 2013 at 12:48 pm

We already have 50? 100? electronic blinking signs on Middlefield that compute your speed. How about signs that thank you for being stuck in ridiculous traffic tie-ups because the city can't fix the traffic lights?

We already have more color-coded green bike lanes with arrows as if people are too stupid to know which way the traffic flows. How about installing blinking, beeping signs for bikes? Pedestrians? Dogs? Squirrels?

And how about the early morning airplane flights? They should blink, too.

Posted by Good Grief, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 25, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Yet another failed idea from a city manager grasping for straws to keep his job. Posting advertising billboards on freeways was a great idea in the 60's, but I would have thought we outgrew this simplistic uneffective form of advertising and moved on. The Palo Alto City Manager has a wage and benefit package exceeding $500,000 a year and this is the best he can come up with? As a mature and educated community, it would seem we should expect more. Good Grief!

Posted by Annette, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 25, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I am totally opposed to any digital signage in Palo Alto
Here are my reasons:
1) no notice to Midtown Residents Associations (or residents)
2) dangerous to drivers
3) total visual blight
4) signage 1 block from residents
5) unknown effect on wild life

I would encourage all folks are interested to write a note to city council <> expressing your views or come on Monday night at 7PM ish. Letters really do make a difference.
Staff report at Web Link

Posted by Head of glans, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 25, 2013 at 2:05 pm

So the main reason that Annette is against the digital signage is that she did not receive notice on a silver platter from the city??? Sounds like an ego issue to me
If you look at the map contained in the staff report, you will notice that there are no residents adjacent to the sign and that there are actually a limited number of residents within 1000 feet of the proposed sign.
Don't you think you should wait to hear what is being proposed before starting with the typical negativism???

Posted by Marc Vincenti, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 25, 2013 at 3:48 pm

I would strongly prefer that this billboard not be put up. Too many drivers are too distracted already, and are going to become more distracted, with the advent of wrist-watch-sized digital devices. I believe the number of "distracted" deaths on U.S. highways is now up in the thousands. A billboard like this is not a useful idea.
Marc Vincenti

Posted by Linus, a resident of another community
on Oct 25, 2013 at 5:49 pm

"Yet another failed idea from a city manager grasping for straws to keep his job."

Maybe you got it backwards. Maybe the city manager is trying to find a way to get his severance pay.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 25, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Palo Alto has been so damaged by this City Council and staff, that they
have lost all credibility. They have lost the trust of the residents.
This is the result of years of trampling the residents, and making a farce
of planning, zoning and design review, and destroying the qualities of the City. It is in this context that all new proposals such as the digital billboard are received. This is where we are in Palo Alto.

Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 25, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Is Palo Alto trying to compete with the East Palo Alto IKEA billboard for trashiest sign of the century award?

First the city sells us out to developers through PC Zoning and now they want to sell us out to advertisers.

Instead of one more uglification project, has the city council ever considered SAVING money to pay for essentials?

Maybe they could start with rejecting the $2.1 million the city manager wants to spend to remodel just the first floor of City Hall.

Posted by Midtown Resident, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 26, 2013 at 3:41 pm

The citizens of Palo Alto must stand up and rise against their politicians. Another ridiculous idea on top of all the other mistakes.


Posted by Jason, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 26, 2013 at 3:43 pm

What's the next step? Looks like there is a lot of anger about this. Should we start a Facebook page to fight against this and/or figure out how to impeach the council?

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 26, 2013 at 4:20 pm

You cannot impeach the council-- you can organize a recall. You cannot elect " your own" mayor. You need to change the city charter. And before you run to do anything, do not take the comments on this forum to be an accurate determinant f how residents feel. Just remember that sme people come out against everything-- there is a feelingbthatnpalo alto needs to be frozen in time because " things are so wonderful X years ago.

Posted by Spot, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Another in your face example of our city council run amok. Guess what leading edge digital city, the digital billboard has been done, what, two decades ago. Is this your idea of "leading"!?

Another annoying distraction on hwy 101 for what? so city council can stroke their collective ego and think they have accomplished something useful?

Please stop with these ridiculous pet projects and do something useful! How about that botched Mitchel Park Library contract? What about all the deferred infrastructure maintenance that needs to be done, you know, stuff that everyone uses and benefits from? How about that swelling pension debt problem? For example.

Posted by Vote AGAINST D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 26, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Vote AGAINST D is a registered user.

A methane and fertilizer plant next to 250 Hamilton would raise far more...

Posted by Vote AGAINST D, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 26, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Vote AGAINST D is a registered user.

An yet a place like Prince Edward Island manages to have laws about small signage and how beautiful telephone poles need to be, and they seem to be doing just fine without all of our wealth.

We need to stop electing slick people with political resumes to City Hall. Or, we should fill half the council with people like that, and the other half (the majority), with people whose families and quality of life are at stake from their decisions, who will act as a balance. Maybe they would stop thinking about selling off the City's character so they can spend $2.1 million on beautification of Council chambers.

Posted by Bike Commuter, a resident of Ventura
on Oct 27, 2013 at 9:52 am

Ugh, what a terrible idea!
Energy wasting, ugly, dangerous to drivers.

Palo Alto DOES have a 311 system:

Web Link

Maybe the new Chief Communications Officer should promote it some more?

Posted by Bob/Mary Carlstead, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 27, 2013 at 11:39 am

To: City Council ---- and staff

STOP spending our money on hair-brained ideas and stick to basics. Fix the downtown side streets, fix Forest Avenue!!, and FIX the traffic mess on Embarcadero at PALY, Town and Country, and El Camino. It doesn't take a "rocket scientist", but it does take COMMON SENSE!!

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 27, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Woohoo -- could have kept the old nearby drive-in screen to show info-mercials all night!

(Bob/Mary -- I was within a hare's breath of commenting on "hair-brained")

Posted by Wondering, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 27, 2013 at 1:24 pm

This is such a bad idea, and it is so predictable that we won't like it, I wonder what is the real reason for proposing it.

Posted by Crazies, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 27, 2013 at 1:28 pm

This is a scheme that could only have been concocted by crazies. The cost of such a billboard would be $200,000+. That is money better spent on improving and widening existing roads, improving our crumbling sewer system.

What a stupid, stupid waste by stupid, stupid people with stupid, stupid priorities!

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm

I need new glasses -- just realized the headline says "ponders" not "panders".

Posted by Fred Balin, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 27, 2013 at 5:24 pm

An Email to the council, :

"I don't want to see inflatable gorillas at 101 in Palo Alto."
-- Palo Alto Mayor Jim Burch on a proposed auto row near 101, July, 2005

Signage along 101 was a bad idea when it came to the council in 2004/2005 as part of a package designed to help auto dealerships cope with the rise of Internet sales and maintain a physical presence in Palo Alto. Today, some dealership have moved or consolidated, but the folks up the food chain at corporate are here either innovating new paradigms for auto travel or opening offices to make connections to help them better incorporate leading technologies into their products.

The economy is up, the city's budget picture is healthier, yet this time it is the city that wants the advertising signage, and big time.

We don't need to capture eye balls with gaudy signs, and we should be long past the stage of considering Palo Alto signage on the Baylands corridor. As trying as travel on 101 can be, It's always a renewed pleasure for me on the final leg home to have a clean, undistracted view of what is truly valued.

There will be no community consensus behind this proposal, and it should be put permanently to bed next to other cost-benefit, but misguided efforts, such as ending the branch library system.

Keep signage off 101.
People know who we are, where we are, what we do, and what this town offers.

And maintain the current signage code throughout town.
In its hey-day, Fry's was jam packed with cars despite limited El Camino visibility and poor circulation. Everyone who needed to know, knew where it was. And it will likely end its lucrative engagement with Palo Alto, not because of inadequate signage, but because the market and competition has changed, and they have not. Our signage code works quite nicely. Let it be.

Tommy (i.e., Tommy Fehrenbach, Economic Development Manager) and Company, thanks for the suggestion; now let's move on to something else.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2013 at 9:17 pm

We have a lot of smart people in this town. If City Council does this, I saw we hack it and put it in the Mayor's back yard...

Those people have no shame. (And no sense of pride in place.)

Posted by Birdtracker, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 27, 2013 at 9:17 pm

We are against anything that interferes with the natural migrations and habitats of the Bayland wildlife. A digital billboard will not be in concert with the Bayland bird flight paths or surrounding environment.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2013 at 9:56 pm

The Council and staff are just driving the City into the gutter. They have
no appreciation or even understanding of aesthetics, scale, design. They have no time for it. The proposed digital billboard is just symbolic of all this.

In the Council's upside-down world when market forces demand strong
development control they have done the opposite and given bonuses, exceptions and exemptions. When they should be downzoning they are upzoning. The congestion, ugliness, sign clutter and tackiness are spreading over the entire city but are punctuated by a number of
large-scale really bad projects.

Posted by Helene, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 27, 2013 at 10:48 pm

In one word.............TRASHY. Is this the image Palo Alto wants? Fire anyone who proposed this and all who support this
What is happening to Palo Alto?

Posted by LocutusOfBorg, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2013 at 10:53 pm

> What is happening to Palo Alto?

Palo Alto is being assimilated by the BORG! Every new house and building will be modeled on the BORG hive from now on. Assimilate or die! ;-)

Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm

WHAT ARE THEY THINKING? This City Council continues to make a fool out of Palo Alto. What can we do about this bunch?...and the City Manager? Enough already. Off with their civic heads!!

Posted by Henry, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 28, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Staff is also proposing a land swap between the city owned Municipal Services Yard (utilities, truck parking, mechanics, etc) along Hwy 101 and the Honda dealership on Emmbarcadero Rd. This is an old failed idea from 2005 that died because it was just as stupid then as it is now. The yard does need some investment and modernization. There is a safety benefit to getting the service yard out of the flood plain and west of Highway 101 so it won't be cut off in a flood or earthquake. However, the land on Embarcadero is in the flood plane and on the wrong side of Hwy 101. All this plan does is guarantee the Honda Dealership a better location and lock the city into an equally bad location that we will require investment of tens of millions of dollars.

This folly had died in 2005 and was brought back by the Infrastructure Commiission. They also want to monetize other city assets including selling Cubberley Community Center and renting out City Hall to generate revenue to fund construction of a new facility.

This is all way beyond the professional competencies of the current staff and city council. If you look at how they have managed several recent projects, they simply are not able to analyze, review and implement successful projects.

The public works department forgot that they needed to segregate the $6 million reserve fund to cap the landfill after it's closure, so the refuse fund was left with an immediate deficit of $6 million when they set it in a reserve fund. Rate payers were forced to dig them out from that deficit during the last two years.

Mitchell Park Library is a relatively small, simple structure and the project keeps failing inspections, is late and mired in law suits. If the staff can't manage budgetiing for closing the dump or building a simple library, how can they they possible analyse the costs and benefits of land swaps and build a services yard?

Just say no!

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