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on Nov 19, 2013
How absurd! More environmental nonsense.
With houses costing $1M-$4M around town, any money saved by having this electric service forced on the new home owners isn't going to save them any significant money.
Got to wonder if anyone at City Hall ever things these sorts of things through?
Why does this new requirement only apply to single family homes? With all the massive projects being approved by the City Council, shouldn't this be a requirement for them as well?
Some of us work hard for our money and don't buy $500 doormats. Sven Thiessen should refrain from making value judgements with other people's money.
We have found it very expensive, vis-a-vis our utility bill, to charge our EV and plug-in hybrid at home, so we go elsewhere to use public charging stations. EVs are really not as green or economical as once thought: we could easily spend more to recharge our EV cars than we would have spent to gas up two traditional cars. That is why we use public charging stations as much as possible, although PA does not have too many, unlike Berkeley and Santa Monica. They have dozens, if not hundreds, and the are for use for free. Some charging stations require payment in Palo Alto--that does not encourage people to drive EVs.
>We have found it very expensive, vis-a-vis our utility bill, to charge our EV and plug-in hybrid at home, so we go elsewhere to use public charging stations. EVs are really not as green or economical as once thought: we could easily spend more to recharge our EV cars than we would have spent to gas up two traditional cars.
So, some people are beginning to figure out that there is no energy free lunch. Also, where do they figure those vibrating electrons get vibrated? The simple answer is coal or natural gas (fossil fuels)vibrate the vast majority of them. EVs are a displacement strategy in Palo Alto, because PA gets cleaner local air, while other regions get dumped on with fossil fuel emissions. Solar and wind are not base load (think charging your EV at night)...that would be nuclear, and large hydro, if one is thinking about new sources. We are not going to build any more large hydro, so that leaves nuclear. Do our current EV owners support nuclear?
Thank you, EV Owner for chiming in on this. After the discussion on the last PA Weekly article, it became clear that having everyone recharge EVs at night would mean that power costs would go UP and night, not down like they currently do. Makes me glad I primarily ride a bike and take transit instead of investing in an electric/hybrid vehicle.
So the politicians can claim they've made Palo Alto a leader in alternative energy, every new house has to provide a $500 circuit to provide expensive electricity for a car they probably don't own. I'm glad they didn't have require internet wiring that would be quickly outdated.
Why not condos? Maybe parking exemptions make it so that new condos won't have their own parking spot. ... State of the art puzzle parking in the new El Camino development.
Piece meal policies to make statements is very poor planning.
Ev Owner, you must be entitled to put the cost of charging your EV onto the rest of us. Are you in the Romney clan? At 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour, it is cheaper to drive an EV. If you are a PG&E customer, a Prius, for example, would be cheaper to operate.
Craig Laughton, I hope you are not talking about nuclear power as they have been built to date. More Fukushimas any one? There are alternate nuclear fuels, Thorium reactors, that are safer, scalable, and offer more siting choices. Natural gas is still a hydrocarbon fuel and extraction is an environmental disaster.
"We presume that Palo Alto also already has one of the highest concentrations of electric vehicle owners in the United States,"
Why is it that staff never does it's homework to obtain the facts before recommending policy?
Jeff is absolutely right....piecemeal policies to make a statement is poor planning and just another example of progressive ideology being forced on people who may not want it.
>Craig Laughton, I hope you are not talking about nuclear power as they have been built to date. More Fukushimas any one? There are alternate nuclear fuels, Thorium reactors, that are safer, scalable, and offer more siting choices
I agree. I am talking about the newer modular versions of nuclear. Even so, many environmental hard liners are opposing them. The recent support from some top line climate worry people (e.g. Pandora's Promise) might begin to erode the resistance. I hope so.
pure BS. City has no compelling argument to require something that is currently unnecessary for the great majority of people so the extra $$$ cost is really not relevant. Public charging stations should be metered and require payment. Someone needs to pay the electricity costs ... should be the EV owner. I don't see too many free public gas stations around... even "public transit" requires a fare payment, not sure why people think electricity is free.
I don't think there's even one supportive comment here yet.
Some comments are that the additional $500 is too much. Sven's reference to a doormat refers to $500 being a tiny amount relative to the price of a new house (that would be 0.02% of a new $2 million house, so he's right). Compare $500 with the $2000 or more to add a EV charging circuit to your electrical service panel (double that if you need a larger-capacity panel). It's a good deal if you consider that there may be a lot more EVs in our future.
Other comments relate to the price of driving an EV. It's not hard to compare EVs with gas cars, if you use cents per mile. An electric Nissan Leaf gets about 3.5 miles per kilowatt-hour (kWH), so if your electricity costs 13.5 cents per kWh, you're paying a little under 4 cents per mile for "fuel". At $4/gallon for gas, a guzzling 10 mpg car goes 10 miles on $4 dollars, which is 40 cents per mile. A 20 mpg car costs 20 cents/mile. A 40 mpg car costs ten cents/mile. You'd have to have a 100 mpg car to cost the same as an EV, and you'd be spewing CO2 all the way.
Regarding CO2, it is important to think through where the electricity is coming from that's powering EVs. Palo Alto's utility supplies us with 100% green energy, including enough solar coming online soon to power all PA residences. There are no coal plants in Arizona or Utah that are poisoning their residents in order for us to drive our EVs.
Maybe there were similar arguments a century ago against wiring new houses for electricity, and in their day for indoor plumbing, for phone lines, for networking cables. In the future people will probably complain about preparing for fiber optic cables, or for solar panels, or for battery storage, and whatever else seems new and strange. Too bad we weren't proactive about putting all the wiring underground back in the day. Now we have telephone poles everywhere and "retrofitting" them underground will cost a fortune.
EVs are clean, green, cheap to operate, Leafs and no doubt others are cheap to lease. They are a joy to drive, far better suited in every way to city driving than gas cars. Way to go, unanimous city council committee.
I have an EV. Whenever I've tried to charge it downtown in the 3 parking garages, there are cars occupying the EV parking places. I think the same people (mostly Teslas) charge there all the time and never leave when the 3 hours is up. It would be interesting to do a study and see if the same people are always there - I presume they live close by and it's very convenient (and also saves on their energy bill). We EV owners can never count on using a charger when we are downtown for shopping, movie or lunch. I hope they will warn and then ticket users who stay too long.
Thank you, thank you, Doug.
If our city officials cured cancer, the cranky folks here on Town Square would feel required to post their displeasure that their tax funds were somehow being wasted that way. It's so predictable. Any article that indicates that city officials have done anything at all results in the mean spirited coming out of the woodwork.
>Regarding CO2, it is important to think through where the electricity is coming from that's powering EVs. Palo Alto's utility supplies us with 100% green energy, including enough solar coming online soon to power all PA residences. There are no coal plants in Arizona or Utah that are poisoning their residents in order for us to drive our EVs.
Wrong, Doug. Our electrical supply comes from the grid, period. The fact that over half of our Palo Alto contracted generation comes from large hydro is not only not renewable (thus not 'green'), but it also means that we have simply taken away from other regions that could not afford to contract it, before we did. The coal plants on the Indian reservations, near Four Corners, is an example of dumping pollution. If you say solar contracts are about to come on board, where will those solar farms exist...Foothills Park, Baylands or some wild desert somewhere? Please name the source, Doug.
I think you are in denial, Doug. There, truly, is no free energy lunch.
Do you support nuclear, Doug?
> I don't think there's even one supportive comment here yet.
And if someone doesn't approve of something, why would that person (presumably rational) write anyting supportive of that which he disapproves?
> Compare $500 with the $2000 or more to add a EV charging circuit
> It's a good deal if you consider that there may be a lot
> more EVs in our future.
Well, as long as you are prepared to make improvements to your new house intended to reduce the cost of owning that house for future owners, then maybe this is a good thing. But if you have no interest in EVs, you are being forced to buy residential infrastructure that you won't use. Wonder if this guy would be as enthusiastic about having to put in a pool so that people would not need to drive to the beach in the future?
> An electric Nissan Leaf gets about 3.5 miles per kilowatt-hour (kWH),
> so if your electricity costs 13.5 cents per kWh, you're paying a little
> under 4 cents per mile for "fuel".
With Palo Alto's having tiered electrical rates, it makes no sense not to expect that an EV will drive the home owner's electrical rates into the highest tier--and don't even for one minute not believe that the cost of electricity will won't go up every year, forever.
One key point that we all need to remember is that EVs have a very limited range, and then, if there isn't a recharging station, they STOP! Moreover, even if you can find a charging station, there is NO WAY to charge these vehicles as quicly as you can gas up with your internal combustion engine.
As to PA having "green energy"--while that might be true in the broad strokes, unless PA has its own power sources, and is not tied to the grid, then CO2 will be generated by any/all non-nuclear legacy power sources. Power utilized by PA comes from any source tied into the grid.
EVs are not realistic for powering a great nation--at least not for another 50 to 100 years. It's really difficult to see any sense in driving up the cost of local housing in order to fuel such unrealistic goals as these.
This is just more silly posturing by the Palo Alto City Council.
If I understand some comments correctly, it is cheaper to charge your battery at a public station than at home. I presume that the charging pushes the home electric bill rate into the next tier or beyond, thereby triggering a much higher bill. I do realize that at some point, the smart meters will be able to charge less during off times, but I don't know if that will offset the tier upgrade. Perhaps a second meter just for the car? After all, it's just a little bit more, and all those little bits are making our homes unaffordable.
Electric cars do indeed move pollution from one place to another, and that can be a good thing. If the pollution is being moved from a heavily populated area to a sparser one the move benefits public health.
> it is cheaper to charge your battery at a public station than at home.
It depends. The City of Palo Alto installed a couple of free charging stations, but there is no reason to think that every charging station in the country will be free. The providers will have to buy power from the local grid, so it's possible that it might be cheaper in one plane than in another.
> smart meters ..
Technically, this is true. However, the City of Palo Alto Utility claims that they don't want to install smart meters, for a number of hard-to-understand reasons. However, before the smart meters can actually help to reduce one's electric bill by shifting to a lower cost power, based on time, the Utility would have to implement an Time-Demand pricing scheme. In the past, the Palo Alto Utility has come out against this sort of pricing.
So--a lot of changes would have to go on at the Utility before any thing meaningful might happen.
>Electric cars do indeed move pollution from one place to another, and that can be a good thing.
Right, then wrong. Displacement means just that, but CO2 is a universal gas that gets spread all over the atmosphere, throughout the world...can't hide from it. It terms of hydrocarbons, yes they can be somewhat localized to rural areas, and rural peoples...having come from a rural area, I think that is an elitist and amoral concept [portion removed.]
I think modular nuclear offers the best solution, when all variables and values are considered. Do you agree, Donald?
I own a LEAF. This is overkill, as long as there is a power source in the garage for a charger that should do. What the world needs is a bunch of quick chargers at all Gas Stations. They don't have to be free, just there. In order to sell gas the stations should be required to have a quick charger or two or three. Current EV's go about 60 miles in the real world. Big Oil really doesn't want them to be useful so this is going to be a hard sell to them.
If the council had any b---s they would REQUIRE EVERY GAS STATION IN TOWN TO INSTALL QUICK CHARGERS. That would help solve a real problem.
And check out the TESLA web site to see an EV get charged in 90 Sec, twice as fast as a gas car. Quick chargers do it in 20 min.
>And check out the TESLA web site to see an EV get charged in 90 Sec, twice as fast as a gas car. Quick chargers do it in 20 min.
Midtown, what is your opinion of the free (for the first hour) charger at Mollie Stones in Palo Alto?
Craig said "I think modular nuclear offers the best solution, when all variables and values are considered."
Untested technology is always cheaper and more reliable than things that have actually been built and whose faults are well known. I cannot pass judgment on modular nuclear because I don't believe that all variables and values have been determined yet. I am not opposed to doing the tests to see if Craig's opinion is correct, but I think it is too early to declare this the best solution.
"And check out the TESLA web site to see an EV get charged in 90 Sec, twice as fast as a gas car. Quick chargers do it in 20 min."
The 90 second "fill" is a battery swap, not a battery charge. If batteries are standardized this method is workable.
Most batteries have reduced lifetimes if they are charged fast, so there is a tradeoff to be made there.
>I am not opposed to doing the tests to see if Craig's opinion is correct, but I think it is too early to declare this the best solution.
That is a fair criticism. However, the only way they will get field tested is to allow them to be field tested. Yet many hard core environmentalists oppose this. Do you oppose the environmentalists that oppose the test? My opinion is based on the research/development that has already been done, and I eagerly await the permits to allow the field tests. Do you support the field tests?
OK, so to extend the argument, if the field tests do (finally) take place, and they are up to required standards, would you then embrace modular nuclear?
Swapping batteries is a possibility, but the Tesla battery fires causes one to ask about just how safe a swapped in battery might be, and who is liable for a swapped battery that blows up, or catches fire.
That's pretty comical. Making our homes EV friendly while making our roads vehicle unfriendly.
Another point about battery swapping, is that Tesla batteries are a little on the pricy side, so having an inventory of them in order to provide instant refueling of an Tesla would likely be prohibitive:
How much does a Tesla Battery Pack Cost:
The price the consumer pays for a 300 mile range battery pack? Using back-of-a napkin, we think it's somewhere around $42,860.
That's a bit of cash to be swapping in an out of your vehicle every 300 miles, or so. Moreover, it's not likely that every EV would use the same battery, so the swapping stations would have to be able to handle all of the batteries on the market, which seems like a tall order.
If this were to become a viable strategy, all EVs would have to be designed to provide quick, and reliable, all-weather, battery swapping. It's really hard to believe that anyone is going to be able to swap a battery when its 30-50 degrees below zero in 90 secords.
All-in-all, this battery swapping idea has a long way to go to get beyond the realm of concept, and into the world's transportation systems.
This is another sad example of city "leadership" run amok. This has to be one of the most ridiculous regulations city government is wasting time with.
Attention city leaders! Guess what? People who buy electric cars will make their own arrangements, to suit their needs, at their cost, when they buy an electric car to charge the darn thing. To require this extra bit of wiring to nowhere so city council can boast about another meaningless nanny regulation that cost people dollars that need not be spent is absurd beyond description. Why stop with EV charging wiring? why not require all new roofs have studs implanted because you never know, you might want solar panels in the future, city government knows best. Why not install tall towers in every yard, because, you never know when you might want a wind powered generator, or better yet, require that new landscaping be preceded by digging up your entire yard about 10 feet deep, laying hundreds of feet of water tubing in the hole, and burying it, because you never when you might want to install a geothermal heat pump. City government knows best.
When will the city hall insanity stop?
Just another $500 here, Another $400 There.
How about FEE LESS permits for all these feel good/fringe case regulations?
Note: I do agree that it would be smart to include provisions for a future charging station...
What if you needed to do Time of Day (rate) charging?
Would the prewire to the Main (panel) meter still BE useful? No! Unless CPAU is willing to SELL ALL electricity consumed at the residence after X O-CLOCK AT THE CHEAP RATES
I object to EV Owners info.. As far as I know BERKELEY,CA has no free charging stations for EVs there are 2 free PARKING places that are often full with city vehicles. You can PAY to park and charge, but there is usually an SUV in the place.
Palo Alto USED to be a center for EV development but some of the best moved out-of-state.
Still, after suffering a PG&E smart meter explosion and fire, I took the opportunity to have another "dryer" outlet installed near the garage door. IT took me .5 sec to reach that decision. I hope to have adequate solar installed to support power needs.
Perhaps PA needs to get homeowner credits for HAVING EV outlets, perhaps even additional credits for multiple outlets, that way apartment owners would be motivated to design them in as well.
Having EV outlet access is a no-brainer, the cost is minimal at the time of construction. This also supports local electrical engineers.
for the record My EV costs $120. year to keep charged. I do not use public outlets as they do not support my connectors.. someday!
I think the more charging stations the better- houses ,apartment complexes, schools, shopping malls, gas stations. Even better if they are powered by solar panels. We need to think of the 7th generation or at least of our grandchildren.
If you can afford a new construction in Palo Alto, you can afford to help solve
the planetary crisis. The typhoons in the Phillipines are the canaries in the coalmine and we don't want to admit our complicity.
Thanks for reading this.
I think it is terribly misdirected to burden the residential building code with rules designed to influence EV adoption. At best, such rules are a "non-issue" for those people that have ALREADY embraced EV's and can afford to build a new home.
The downside is that it begrudges all those that get blindsided by a municipality tinkering with building codes, delaying their project, costing more money, and generally tarnishing the idea that EV's are a "good thing" -- quite the opposite result that the sponsors intend to achieve.
I don't live in Palo Alto, but, it has a well known reputation for being one of the more onerous municipalities to build in. This would is yet another reason why this reputation exists.
If Palo Alto wants to be helpful and encourage EV usage, they should focus on making it simple, cheep, and efficient for the vast majority of
new EVSE installs to be done in the homes that have ALREADY been built.
Building code should be about safety. Please don't burden the building code with requirements that have nothing to do with building safety.
John -- an avid EV enthusiast and EV driver for the last 2 years
We have an EV. I'm glad we have it. We are saving money with it.
HOWEVER, why once again should the government (PA in this case) be mandating what is built into a house so that someone "may" use a feature some time in the future? If a person with a house wants an EV they can add a circuit to their garage (as we did). The need to add a circuit was in NO WAY a deciding factor in the purchase of an EV car. Given the cost of an EV, the circuit cost was minuscule. Let each user pay the costs.
That brings me to the EV user who charges his car at (free) public stations because it is too expensive for him at home. What a hypocrite! Sell your EV and go back to gas. But don't be a leach on the rest of us!
@ govttoointrusive. You state that you are saving money with your EV. I'm curious what you mean. I understand that your per mile operating cost is less than what it would have been in a comparable gas powered vehicle. But does your per mile savings ever offset the extra $20k for the purchase price of the vehicle? When I do the math the savings from operations never offset the purchase price of the vehicle nor the cost of new batteries five or ten years out. Did I miss something? Is that $20k investment in the EV just written off as entertainment value?
If one puts solar panels on the roof to generate the electricity, the cost of that is in excess of the cost savings achieved during operations, so where is the savings coming from?
This is all separate from the environmental arguments. I'm looking at this from a rational economic purchasing decision.
Not only does it shorten EV battery lifetimes to use quick-chargers, it also shortens battery lifetimes to undercharge them, as well as to charge for one hour in one place, two hours in another. The battery is the most expensive and heaviest part of an EV.
I can understand providing specific locations for PUBLIC charging stations.
BUT why is the city GIVING AWAY electricity? That is not right.
Electricity is consumed, not lent like the space which is returned after the charge.
Public chargers should have a time limit so that others might use them. 30 minutes to move your car after the Charge completes seems reasonable.
The key word is PUBLIC, not a publicly provided perk.
Why not first require new home construction to conform with ADA compliance?
Are we putting vehicles ahead of people?
There is a Tesla owner who parks his or her car EVERY day, seven days a week, at a free EV charger in the parking garage on Cambridge Ave, behind Country Sun. A few other people besides myself have checked the license plate, and it is the same car every time.
Surely, if this person can afford a Tesla, they can afford to charge it! On top of that, this is a three-hour parking zone, and this car is parked there five hours or more EVERY single day!
No more free charging stations!
BTW, CPAU claims that they have a reduced rate for charging EVs at night, but how can they tell, with the current meters that we have, that someone is charging an EV or using electricity at night? I have asked them this, and they refused to say how they do it, citing "security" reasons!
Will the city extend an outlet to the Digital Egg in downtown? That stupid idea makes as much sense as making home owners add wiring to nowhere because it makes city council feel good.
Is the city really allowing EV owners to charge their cars for free, or more accurately, at the expense of every rate payer in Palo Alto? Recall, this is the same utility outfit that overcharged rate payers for years, and suddenly out of nowhere, they 'discover' millions of dollars. Those dollars, which should be refunded to cheated rate payers, is now being directed at the much touted 'dark fiber' project, another example of a city govt with way more money than they really need.
What the ****!? Is PA run by a bunch of half wits?
I applaud the city council action. This extra circuit will surely cost less to install during original construction when the electrical contractors are already putting hundreds of feet of electrical wire and dozens of outlets into the framing of a new home. In my home the main panel is only two feet from where the EVSE is mounted, so the wire cost was next to nothing. The extra breaker was only a few dollars, but if there is no room for another breaker after the construction, then costs go way up. No one complains because their kitchen is wired for an electric stove or oven or that their laundry room has an outlet for an electric dryer. These are very similar to the requirements of an EVSE unit.
On the topic of pollution, no one has mentioned the inherent energy efficiency of using an electric motor over any form of internal combustion engine. That difference alone makes an electric car cleaner -even when using coal generated electricity.
On cost savings, I replaced my gas guzzling 21 mpg car with an electric. The gas car cost more than the electric car new. In the 14 years that I operated that car I spent over $2000 on oil changes, $1000 on brakes, and $23,000 on gasoline. None of those expenses apply to electrics. I'm spending less than $300/year on the electricity to charge at night (TOU) so even if I have to replace the battery after 8 I'll be well ahead. I thoroughly enjoy driving electric. I hope that more of us will kick the foreign oil habit.
Why not also make it a requirement to install solar panels ?
Good for Palo Alto. The cost is minimal and it encourages EV and PHEV ownership.
In looking over the proposed ordnance, posted below, it seems that what would be required is a main electrical panel that has additional capacity for a dedicated 50 amp EV charging circuit, a conduit (pipe) that can handle a 100 amp circuit running from the panel to a good spot for an EV charger, and an electrical box at the end of the conduit. The wires (the expensive part) are not required as part of the ordnance and would be installed as needed.
Given the concrete slabs and finished walls built into most new garages, this minor additional investment saves thousands of dollars and much disruption if one should choose to add this circuit later. For those of us that feel electric vehicles have a significant place in our city's transportation future, it seems this is a good mandatory investment.
If only our federal government would stop subsidizing the oil and gas industries and/or institute a carbon tax or cap, we would see a level economic playing field for environmentally friendly forms of energy to compete more advantageously and then the adoption of electric vehicles would become much more widespread in a very short period of time.
The Proposed Ordnance:
SECTION 2. Section 16.14.370 of the Palo Alto Municipal Code is adopted to read as follows:
16.14.370 Section A4.106.8 Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging.
Section A4.106.8 of the California Green Building Standards Code is added and
amended to read:
A4.106.8 Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging. New detached single-family dwellings shall comply with the following requirements for electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE):
(a) The property owner shall provide as minimum a panel capable to accommodate a dedicated branch circuit and service capacity to install at least a 208/240V, 50 amperes grounded AC outlet (Level 2 EVSE). The raceway shall terminate in close proximity to the proposed location of the charging system into a listed cabinet, box, or enclosure. The raceway shall be installed so that minimal removal of materials is necessary to complete the final installation. The raceway shall have capacity to accommodate a 100-ampere circuit.
(b) Design. The proposed location of a charging station may be internal or external to the dwelling, and shall be in close proximity to an on-site parking space. The proposed design must comply with all applicable design guidelines, setbacks and other code requirements.
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