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Commission: Palo Alto parks struggling to keep up with growth

Original post made on Aug 30, 2014

With parking and traffic dominating Palo Alto's debate over a new "community vision," the Parks and Recreation Commission is urging the City Council in a memo to pay more attention to local parks, which commissioners say are struggling to keep up with the city's recent growth spurt.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, August 30, 2014, 9:03 AM

Comments (186)

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 30, 2014 at 9:25 am

I agree that safe access to open space areas is extremely important. Is the city ever going to open a family-safe bicycle route to Foothills Park or even Arastradero Preserve? The bike lane under I-280 is extremely dangerous for children, with speeding traffic coming at you all directions and zero speed limit enforcement.

Year-round access from southern Palo Alto to the Baylands is also extremely important. The current Adobe Creek bike path is only open during the summer, essentially closing the Baylands off to many residents for the rest of the year. I know the city is talking about building a year-round path, but they have been talking about that for more than 10 years and the current plans are taking much longer than they have to.

I'm all for adding more parkland to the city, but safe access to existing parks and open space is just as important and usually much much cheaper.


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2014 at 9:49 am

> "And as vehicle traffic increases, it becomes harder
> for them to get there safely," the memo states.

What gobbledygook! How many people have been killed, or injured, on their way to a Palo Alto park. Those involved in making claims like this should be asked to resign from this commission. Palo Alto does have automobile accidents, but there aren't many deaths involved. And there is no data implying that parks are involved in the accidents we do see.

> The memo notes that between 2000 and 2010,
> the city's population of senior residents has grown
> by 20 percent and its population of school-aged
> children has grown by 22 percent.

So what if there has been an increase in these two groups. Certainly the increase of school-aged children is more concern to the PAUSD than to the parks.

Moreover, without the real numbers, percentages by themselves are meaningless.


> It's not just residents putting more pressure on the
> city's park resources. New companies tend to cram more
> workers into office space, Commissioner Pat Markevitch
> said at Tuesday's meeting, and occasionally set up their
> businesses in neighborhood houses. City officials, she said,
> need to "put our feet down when it comes to square footage
> and how many employees can go in there."

What does any of this have to do with our parks. If startups were forcing their employees to work in our parks, that would be one thing—but there is no evidence that even one company has done anything like that.

Certainly setting limits to the number of business located in Palo Alto is worthy of discussion, but the Park Commission seems to demonstrating a patently anti-business attitude of its members, rather than clear thinking that links the number of business to problems in the parks.

> We're not collecting enough money and the current park
> impact fees are not sufficient,"

Vague, loosey-goosey statements like this are practically meaningless. Listing specific problems, rather than some mindless claims like: "we're behind" demonstrates why so few people trust anything that the Park Commission has to say.

It's a shame we can't vote on the membership of these Council-approved bodies, rather than have to listen to them bang on, bleating for "more money", "more money".

What about some real, provable, facts about what you think you are trying to say.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Civic life
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 30, 2014 at 12:33 pm

@ Don't Need,
Huh? You criticize the parks commission for pointing out how demographics heavily using our parks have increased so much in the last few years and say that's just a concern for the school district or not relevant? Huh?

You sound like Gail Price, whose answer to my open space concerns in the face of overdevelopment was that we already had sooo much open space with the schools concentrated on this side of town, what was I complaining about? Now go eat cake!

The City had the chance to buy, in a noncompetitive situation, the Maybell orchard, and expand that park, for an ultimate price tag of not much more than they are spending on the drapes at City Hall, and maybe zero as the residents offered to try to come up with the money if given the time (the way they footed the bill for the other big nearby park, Bol).

But no, instead of much needed park space and saving the hundred plus established trees from the bulldozer, the City Council would rather try to rig the comprehensive plan with a minimum floor on density in RM-15, and then have another go at trying to upzone that whole neighborhood. Now that they have transformed the nearby area along El Camino into one long out-of-scale hotel and box apartment strip, instead of parks and retail, they figure they'll show us for not wanting our residential neighborhood turned into a high-rise condoville.

I'm voting for Kou, Filseth, and DuBois, and writing in Tim Gray. (Does it have to be written is as Timothy Gray or Tim Gray?) I am leaving my 5th vote uncast, so that it doesn't end up adding to incumbents who already have an advantage. I won't vote against the candidates we NEED on Council if we they are to actually behave like a City Council again and not handmaidens carrying water for developers. (Wish I could mix in a few more metaphors but I'm sure they won't pass the clean police.) We need every last one of the serious newcomers.

If we get a new Council, I hope the parks commission will come out from their chicken coop and stand up for the parks. Had they been less afraid of Council, and more willing to get involved with Citizens, they might actually have more resources and space now. What IS the political situation on the parks commission that they were so silent against all this development -- residents are DUE open space in the City code when there is development. Put out some hard numbers about what we're due so at least the residents can demand the City attend to its duties of civic life.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 30, 2014 at 12:48 pm

It's not just parks. The entire infrastructure is struggling to keep up with the crazy growth our town has been a victim of. The roads are a bloody mess. The utility company needs to buy more energy to keep up. In a terrible drought that could become long lasting or even permanent, we will need to buy more water, possibly the most scarce commodity in California in the upcoming years. Not just residents but many non residents are using and wearing out our parks more and more while residents are left to foot the bill for repairing the damage. People from as far apart as the east bay are driving to Palo Alto on the weekends to use our parks, increasing traffic congestion and pollution, on top of our ever increasing population. Palo Alto has lost its way, because various city councils capitulated to the developers, and every aspect of our infrastructure is under tremendous pressure, including the parks.


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Posted by Civic life
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 30, 2014 at 12:57 pm

@ boscoli,
You write some very intelligent posts. But we need a big, powerful residents' group capable of representing the residents against developers and organizing to force City Hall to basically work for us again. PASZ isn't enough. And we need something lasting. I don't mean necessarily creating a big group, just a (well-funded) leadership group capable of spending the effort to draw together groups like PASZ, various neighborhood groups, and other civic groups. You start the party, I'm ready with my pitchforks and plowshares, whatever is needed.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by stay home
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 30, 2014 at 1:56 pm

too much unnecessary park use. do you really have to play handball at 9 in the morning??! get a life...


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Here is a discussion on what we think a park is from over a year ago Web Link

Parks are multi faceted amenities. For some we want to experience the outdoors. For others we think of playing fields. Others need picnicking facilities or a playground.

While we are at it, does the Baylands boardwalk come into this category? We need to fix this and the interpretive center. Keeping the facilities we have open is as crucial as inventing more space.


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Posted by residdent3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Don't-Need-No-facts,

"the Park Commission seems to demonstrating a patently anti-business attitude" of its members, rather than clear thinking that links the number of business to problems in the parks.

I'm very curious about your concern about the issue of an anti-business attitude.

Would you have some background, data, historical perspective about how any pro-active measures from City Hall in favor of business, have made major contributions to the city?

After living here for 15 years, my recollection about formal City pro-business attitudes have related to the Chamber of Commerce, amidst concerns of a dying downtown at some points. When it was a few small businesses, I could understand the need for pro-actively supporting them, and I still wish some of the smaller shops remained. I am not sure that anything City Hall did caused the revival of downtown but now the nature of the businesses has changed radically. And it's an avalanche of business.

What data is there to say that a City Hall pro-business attitude is necessary?


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Posted by Park Patron
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 30, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Palo Alto has fairly nice, clean, safe parks and playing fields. Which is why so many people form outside Palo Alto use them. Perfectly nice, decent people, who don't pay our taxes but do consume our services. Any solution to the park shortage must account for this.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Road to Ruin
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 30, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Palo Alto as a live able city is definitely on the road to ruin, thanx to our City Council, Planning Commission, and ARB. This town has lost so much of its quaint charm and family attractions, such as spacious parks. We even have restaurants forbidding children here!

This is no longer a nice place to live or a good place to raise children.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 30, 2014 at 8:21 pm

When I used to play in the Palo Alto adult soccer league, we had players living in places like Fremont, Oakland, E. Palo Alto, Redwood City, Castro Valley, Foster City, Hayward, etc. I member how they would comment that their cities didn't have to develop athletic fields and parks because Palo Alto had plenty of them and were allowing them to use them for free. I am as generous as the next guy, but when exactly have we become the willing host of every picnic, outdoor birthday party, soccer and softball game on the peninsula and neighboring areas?


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 30, 2014 at 10:52 pm

This is yet another manufactured crisis in Palo Alto. The local version of xenophobia....and just plain racism lurks underneath it all. This news site relishes in such "frenzies."

Such a manufactured crisis. PALO ALTO HAS ONE OF THE HIGHEST RATIOS OF PARKLAND TO POPULATION in American. AND... Drive past the parks tomorrow (after church). Yes they are used, but no they are HARDLY crowded. Even on Labor Day Weekend.

Your city is changing -- and new residents will be moving into PA and its surrounding communities. Those folks may intimidate you, but they've made your rather unremarkable real estate suddenly worth millions. If you can't deal with this change, take your millions and move.


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Posted by Civic life
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 30, 2014 at 11:07 pm

@neighbor,
Wow, with that attitude toward Palo Altans, one is left to wonder why you have such in interest in our local discussion lists.

As you well know, Palo Alto has an urban area and land off in the foothills that isn't really part of the urban environment. If you take that out of the equation, you can't quite lie with your statistics as easily.

Let's see, the residents are concerned about civic matters, like persistent violations of zoning being granted, overuse of infrastructure, unfettered development without regard to water usage in a drought, traffic that has gotten way worse in the last few years, figuring out how to open new schools because of all the development (not an incremental cost). How you jumped off from these legitimate civic concerns by those impacted by them and a discussion about parks to words like "racism" "xenophobia" "lurks" "manufactured crisis" and "frenzies" is hysterical.

In case you hadn't noticed, the newcomers seem to want to be able to live here without paying the millions, and making those who have sacrificed to live here pay for it.

The real estate in this area has been valuable because its a desirable area. Making the area less desirable will actually hurt real estate values. There are already parts of Palo Alto near some of the overdevelopment that no longer track other parts of Palo Alto that historically went up and down together. Wonder if I can sue Greg Scharff for that...


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Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2014 at 11:20 pm

Neighbor sounds an awful lot like a well known prolific commenter, from another community just up the road. Does Palo Alto Online allow registered user to also post under pseudonyms?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident of 56 yrs
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 30, 2014 at 11:21 pm

@ Civic life - I'm in total agreement with you about the comment by poster "neighbor".
I don't see how any of his comments even fit with the article.
If you are looking to start an issue, please move to another newspaper forum.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident of 56 yrs
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 30, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Sorry - my last comment was meant for "neighbor from another community".


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 31, 2014 at 8:57 am

If you remove the bay lands and foothills, unbuildable, environmentally fragile land, Palo Alto has practically no buildable land left and is very dense population-wise. This has absolutely nothing to do with racism and xenophobia. Why is Palo Alto considered as and expected to be a willing and generous supplier of park space for the recreation of non residents? The wear and tear on the parks and athletic fields is enormous and very costly to repair. Guess who does and who doesn't foot the bill. Residents of streets adjacent to parks and athletic fields struggle to find parking space on their own streets on weekends and holidays, and they are the people who actually own those parks and pay for their repair and maintenance-how fair is that?


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2014 at 9:29 am

> You sound like Gail Price, whose answer to my
> open space concerns in the face of overdevelopment
> was that we already had sooo much open space with
> the schools concentrated on this side of town, what
> was I complaining about?

Palo Alto has over 4000 acres of parks, and open space. Additionally, it has 150 acres tied up in a golf course and airport. The school also occupy somewhere around 150 acres of public space--which is generally available to the public when school is not in session. Stanford occupies around 7500 acres, or so. Although the Stanford lands are not publicly owned—they generally are available to the public for its use.

Did you know that? Your vague, almost uninformed, "concern" about open space would seem to be based on an ignorance of the amount of public land that is owned by, or available to the public in Palo Alto, and adjoining Stanford.

Please let us know why you believe that all of this acerage is inadequate, and how much more you believe the City has a moral (or legal) obligation to purchase, and maintain, for public use.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2014 at 9:38 am

Please do not confuse me with another neighbor posting.
I think Palo Alto parks are so used by those outside the city because Palo Alto is an advertised city. When we resided in Sunnyvale I was impressed with the quality of their city parks. There were great children play areas and water features and grass...and picnicking. Palo Alto goes out of the way to state "we are the best" and so attracts regional visitors. Also, Los Gatos, say has lovely parks...and Los Altos, but I don't think they are used by as many outside persons by any means. This means overcrowding and parking of cars on city streets near Palo Alto parks, I don't have a solution, but I do think neighborhood quality of life should be good near the parks for residents, and I do value parks and want them policed and maintained. Also, Palo Alto Baylands needs renovation, there certainly are many out of area visitors and the visitor center is derelict now.


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Posted by Don't=Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2014 at 9:54 am

> Would you have some background, data, historical perspective
> about how any pro-active measures from City Hall in favor of
> business, have made major contributions to the city?

You ask an interesting question—which can not be answered in this venue. Yes, data exists that would demonstrate the claim. However, please remember that Palo Alto is over 100 years old, and the mindset of the town has not been isolated from the rest of the world, but often reflected the thinking of political trends shaping public opinion through out the country.

The comment about anti-business posturing on the part of the Parks Commission was based on watching Palo Alto politics, and resident rhetoric, over the past couple of decades. One extremely interesting episode was the public hearing regarding a ground-floor retail-only ordinance that came before the City Council some ten years ago (or so). People came out of the woodwork to rant and rail about "business" and "traffic". For the most part, however, few of these people seemed to realize that about 30% of the City's budget at the time came from retail sales tax—generated by "business" and "traffic".

Another example was the hostility directed towards the owners of the Alma Plaza shopping area. Attempts to increase the size of the store to about 40,000 sq. feet was resisted fiercely by nearby residents. Eventually, the last major supermarket owner (Albertsons) tossed in the towel, and exited the stage—closing its two Palo Alto stores. Of course, there were other issues than just "business" in my neighborhood. Traffic and noise were key to the resistance of those opposing a larger supermarket. Many people who attended the last major public hearing made it very clear that 20,000 sq. feet was the largest a supermarket needed to be (or at least in Palo Alto).

Safeway in Midtown has found its attempts to increase its floor space thwarted by Midtowners—who seem to believe also in this 20,000 sq. foot limit for stores, but not for government buildings, unlike the ugly Mitchell Park behemoth that the City has failed to build in less time than it took to win WWII.

It's a shame so many people know so little about the history of this town. While the history is simple, it none the less has its twists and turns. Being hostile to business (at least "corporations") has been a hallmark of that history.


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2014 at 10:07 am

> Residents of streets adjacent to parks and athletic fields
> struggle to find parking space on their own streets on
> weekends and holidays,

This is an interesting premise, but is it true? How hard would it be for a few neighbors to document the parking problems near the parks, and provide car counts, videos, and any disruption to neighborhood life (like trash that has tossed out of the non-residents' parked cars)? A few facts would be helpful in discussions like this one.

> and they are the people who actually own those parks and

Actually, all of the land is owned by the Municipal Corporation that is the City of Palo Alto. The residents have no financial interests in this corporation.

> pay for their repair and maintenance-how fair is that?

Well, at least partially. Much of the City's budget comes for retail sales taxes, hotel taxes, fees and fines, and other revenue that is not directly sourced to the residents.


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Posted by Civic life
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 31, 2014 at 10:48 am

That's right you are No Facts, good to see you admit it.

"which is generally available to the public when school is not in session."

School is in session most of the day. There are after school sports. There are leagues using the overused school fields here. One school is basically a bike path after school and then used by various activity groups, and even when it is available, it's mostly because it's actually a substandard field. No, the school fields are not public open space, at least not on this side of town.

Did you know that? Sounds to me like you don't really live here. The two main parks on this side of town one Bol Park, the residents purchased themselves to save it from development, and the other, the residents had to save from the City turning it into an electrical substation. I suppose you would call us stuck in time for making them put the electrical substation somewhere sensible like near El Camino while keeping a park space in the center of our neighborhood.

We use the Los Altos library and pay $80 / year for it plus fines, while also paying for Palo Alto libraries we don't live near and don't use. I don't begrudge it, Los Altos taxpayers pay for the library in their taxes. I do begrudge Palo Alto having such pi$$y lending policies by comparison when I don't live anywhere near a library and their fines go into the general fund, not to support the libraries.


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2014 at 11:07 am

> No, the school fields are not public open space

Check with the school district. None of the school grounds are fenced and gated.

> School is in session most of the day

Schools are in session about 180 days a year, for about six-7 hours a day. The school grounds are generally available during these off times. The after school sports programs routinely are not school-directed, but are part of various sports programs that are fully the domain of private groups, or the City, or individuals.

> The two main parks on this side of town one Bol Park,
> the residents purchased themselves to save it from development,
> and the other, the residents had to save from the City turning it
> into an electrical substation

And your point is?

> Sounds to me like you don't really live here.

Probably have lived here longer than you have.

> Los Altos taxpayers pay for the library in their taxes.

Actually, Los Altos is a part of the Santa Clara County Library District, which includes libraries in Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Milpitas, Morgan Hill and Saratoga. Funding for this district is through a parcel tax that only applies to these cities. So, yes, Los Altos pays for its libraries through taxes, but that's generally the funding source for all public libraries—one way, or another.

BTW—what does your preference for public libraries have to do with any discussion of Palo Alto parks?




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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 31, 2014 at 11:19 am

I think we need to make a distinction between "parks" and playing fields. We have plenty of park space if you define a park as a place to hang out, picnic, hike, swing on swings, etc. We are short on field space, in part because we allow non-palo alto based groups to reserve the spaces (hence the need to recruit Palo Alto citizens) AND because we have a lot sports competing for space.

BTW - does anyone have a good reason that Heritage Park (downtown) has a bunch of trees planted in the middle of it? If they weren't there, the field could easily be used for soccer, at least for younger kids. As it is, a lot of people play on that field and just work around the trees. And it gets used for corporate team building events.


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2014 at 11:24 am

El Camino park has not been worked on for most 2014. It looks to me as if the installation of the emergency water tank was completed, and now the place looks like a dust bowl. What is the city waiting for? It should be restored to a baseball field & soccer field immediately - or is the city still holding out hope for the 27 University project?

El Camino Park has all the similarity to the Mitchell Park Library project - delay, behind schedule, lack of attention.


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Posted by Civic life
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 31, 2014 at 2:25 pm

@ No Facts,
"Check with the school district."

I have KIDS in SCHOOL now. You're just dead wrong. The school fields and open space are not available for public use when school is in session. Our local school has a policy against people bringing dogs on campus even before or after school when people are walking their dogs even if it's parents walking with their kids because of some incidents. When school is not in session, many of the sites are used by other parties such as camp operators. You are expressing the same kind of ignorant view of how our facilities and spaces are used expressed by our City Council and staff to justify their development desires, not of people who are living here and using these areas. I remember after months of residents showing up in record numbers against upzoning at Maybell, one of the arguments being the need for safety analysis of impacts to the Safe Routes to School, even after the rezoning the City Employee in charge of it had no idea what schools were over there. Sorry, you're just wrong, speaking as someone who uses these spaces, what you are saying is no better than just making it up.

If you don't believe me, I invite you to pull together a picnic with a few dozen of your friends and your dogs, maybe some baseball bats and a ball, and try to set your picnic and your pick-up ballgame at 11am this week in the middle of the "open space" at Walter Hays Elementary, Juana Briones Elementary, or the playing field at Gunn High School.

We're actually promised IN THE CITY CODE that we will get additional open space along with development, and we've had lots of new development but no attempt to create new open space and parks even when a freebie like the Maybell Orchard opportunity comes along. It's not okay to use El Camino Park as a justification for overdevelopment all the way on the other side of Palo Alto.


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Posted by Civic life
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 31, 2014 at 2:37 pm

PS. Don't leave quietly. I'd like to see your arrest in the police blotter.


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Posted by Eric F
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 31, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Just a couple comments in reference to posts above.

On businesses and sales taxes: Greg Schmid (City Council) has an analysis that shows non-resident business employees paying about 10% of retail sales taxes. The majority of retail sales taxes are paid by Palo Alto residents.

The Comprehensive Plan has guidelines for the amount of park space we should have per resident. In my opinion we should follow that. If we think the ratio is wrong or outdated, we should change it in the Comp Plan. The City makes too many point decisions that clearly depart from the Comp Plan and our zoning codes.


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Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Eric F.

"If we think the ratio is wrong or outdated, we should change it in the Comp Plan"

I heard somewhere that the definition of Park has already been amended in the Comprehensive Plan. So before changing the ratio, there is hopefully an agreement about what park means.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 31, 2014 at 4:20 pm

I used to coach a Palo Alto girls soccer team. A city ordinance required the coaches to call a Parks department phone number if it had rained prior to the weekend games and a recorded voice message would inform us if w were allowed to use the field as playing on them after rain would cause serious damage to the turf. One weekend all games were cancelled due to heavy rain during the week, but driving my car on Saturday I was surprised to see that the very field we were prohibited from playing on was full of non residents teams playing pick up games. I called the non emergency police number, explained the situation, gave them the ordinance code and the phone number with the automated message that cancelled all games that weekend. The policeman called me back, confirming that the Park department had indeed prohibited using the fields that weekend, but explained that on weekend and holidays, the playing fields were considered to be public park,s and the police couldn't prohibit non residents from using the public parks. This is another example how Palo Alto residents are actually excluded from parks and field use while non residents are not. Try to reserve a BBQ area in Rinconada, Eleanor Pardee or any other park for a holiday or summer weekend( I tried many times in the past for children's birthdays and such, and you will find out that it's been reserved weeks ago by non residents.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Avoid palo alto
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 31, 2014 at 4:58 pm

These terrible "outsiders". I think they should all be kept out ofpalo alto. We should begin by encouraging visitors to the area to not stay, shop or eat in palo alto. Why spend their money in a city that considers them so bad, as boscoli makes it sound? We need to start a campaign. Maybe call it "Avoid Palo Alto". We should definitely get Stanford involved-- they should convince their visitors to boycott palo alto- considering how Stanford,is viewed by the boscolis in the city


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Park Patron
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 31, 2014 at 6:43 pm

How about coverting some playing fields to more natural spaces? Put in some berms, native plants, and xero landscaping. Add some benches and picnic tables and there would be a new space for residents to enjoy that doesn't require new land.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2014 at 6:50 pm

I think one of the demands on our parks is that so much of all the new housing have no backyards. When there is no space for children to play outside, to host some friends for a barbeque, or even to sit in the shade under a tree on some grass, then it is natural for these people to want to do that in a park.

The fact that so many of the latest townhomes just have concrete patios which are often in full sun and used to store bikes or put in flower planters, make the owners use the parks more.

If you have a backyard you are less likely to use the park for a picnic or even a birthday party.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2014 at 7:07 pm

The case for investing in, and keeping parks up with the pace of growth seems straightforward.

Web Link

from PLAN NYC
"the City committed to ensuring that all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of a park and that 90% of our waterfronts are open to recreation by 2030. This included opening underutilized spaces as playgrounds, creating and upgrading current parks, and incorporating sustainability throughout the design and maintenance of all public space."

Web Link


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Posted by Resident of 56yrs
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 31, 2014 at 11:25 pm

To "common sense" - Our state is in the worst drought on record. Perhaps the city is waiting to finish the El Camino Park fields when the we get some rain to replenish our water supply. It would seem like "common sense".


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Posted by perspective
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2014 at 8:38 am

The role of parks and open space in our everyday life is completely dwarfed by the massive degradation of the urban environment by this City Council majority and staff. That is what we confront each day and dominates our consciousness. Narrow perspectives just don't work anymore in this disastrous downward spiral we are in. We need a totally new integrated
approach starting with zoning,setback requirements, FAR's, design review,
streetscapes. In terms of development control and the urban landscape we
are doing everything wrong.





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Posted by anon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2014 at 9:06 am

Having restrooms in parks increases the use by non-residents and also makes the park a place for organized sports. This is an observation based on the change in park usage at Seale Park in midtown since the restrooms were installed a few years ago.

Separately, it would be great if when in the parks people would refrain from smoking and playing music. Parks are meant to be a place to enjoy nature. Nature has fresh air and creates its own music of bird calls, wind rustling tree leaves, etc.


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Posted by Shawna
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 1, 2014 at 9:15 am

I'm counting the days when we can elect new city council members. The current city council has ruined our city in my opinion and the recovery of a good quality of life for PA residents will now become harder to achieve. This town including our parks are overused and abused. Our city council never looked at the big picture. The growth is disproportionate to what this small city can handle and now the problems are overflowing on so many levels. It's amusing to me that they allow the huge growth and then turn around and ask the residents for input on how to solve the mess they created in the first place. They should have had a solution in mind that the residents would be happy with before they even ok'd any growth. The residents come last and this needs to change!


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by If only
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 1, 2014 at 9:19 am

I would really appreciate it if people would not imbibe alcohol in the parks, and then ignore their children while doing so. People from out-of-town especially do not seem to be aware that alcohol is not allowed in Rinconada or Mitchell Parks.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 1, 2014 at 9:42 am

Our parks should not be allowed to be degraded through overuse by non residents. Our parks exist for the enjoyment of Palo alto residents. Other communities are understandably not motivated to build and maintain public parks and playing fields because their residents use the Palo Alto ones. The insanely irresponsible overgrowth Palo Alto has experienced puts enormous pressure not just on our parks but on every aspect of an infrastructure that is unsuitable for such growth. This a small city, actually a town in all but name that is artificially being forced into becoming a bustling big city. Our quality of life is being degraded in front of our eyes. This is now a tragic mess that was caused by various city council who became obedient facilitators for the developers. Some of them even have the chutzpah to run for reelection.


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Posted by Shawna
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 1, 2014 at 9:58 am

When surveying for input on PA parks, there should be a conscious effort to see what the residents think. This survey is for everyone! Non-residents are going to have an opinion that benefits their needs and use of our parks. Why do we have to accommodate the whole Bay Area? Again, the city is not putting it's residents first...


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2014 at 10:18 am

One of the most telling posts above is an early post by Boscoli who said that playing in a Palo Alto adult league there were players on the team (league) from all over the Bay Area.

We have some excellent recreational leagues for adults and kids. For kids they have to prove residency to join. For adults, obviously not so. For adult leagues some of the players may live in Palo Alto and others may work here, both making sense for why they choose to play in Palo Alto. For others it may be that we just have good teams/leagues. Many businesses in Palo Alto want to encourage healthy living for their employees, but don't even start to think that they should include green/play space in addition to parking spaces for their employees.

We say that parks are being used by non-residents. But how do we know? If you see a gathering in a park, who can tell where the attendees are from? If they reserve a space then the Parks and Rec, may know, but for the rest, it is first come, first served. And yes, I have seen lone people sitting at picnic tables to "reserve" them before 8.00 am on a busy weekend, but I have no idea where these people reside.

The Bay Area is getting more and more impacted by growth. It is not a Palo Alto phenomena, or Mountain View, or any individual City. It is a regional problem. Our infrastructure (parks included) need to be looked at in a regional manner. We obviously need more recreational facilities everywhere. Instead of putting up City boundaries with barb wires, proof of residency, and us v them attitudes, we should be working together to improve amenities, share amenities, and using what we have to the fullest extent that makes sense.

Morgan Hill, Tracy, Scotts Valley, are all growing too, so this is not just a Peninsula growth, but a Bay Area, or Silicon Valley growth. At some stage somebody is going to figure out that the problem is not a piecemeal problem and the solution can't be piecemeal either.

As a suggestion, let's start at the Baylands and see what needs to be done there, then work inland. In improving our boardwalk, our interpretive center, our boat launch, our duckpond, our athletic facilities, our golf course, we are not just improving it for ourselves, but for our region. Shoreline is very different to what we have in Palo Alto and that gives choices which is also a very good thing.

Look beyond the me, me, me, and start seeing the bigger picture.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2014 at 10:33 am

Should San Francisco close Golden Gate Park and all its facilities to non-residents? That would be you.


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2014 at 10:40 am

Resident of 56yrs @ Old Palo Alto - The soccer field at El Camino Park would be an artificial turf field, which doesn't require water.

This project could be & should be finished in a timely manner, rather than be kept in it's dust bowl state.


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2014 at 10:58 am

> On businesses and sales taxes: Greg Schmid (City Council) has
> an analysis that shows non-resident business employees paying
> about 10% of retail sales taxes.

This would be interesting to see, particularly since Stanford Shopping Center is a huge contributor to the Palo Alto sales tax "take". Perhaps Mr. Schmid would be so kind as to publish this information. Many Council Members in other towns actually send out a monthly news letter. Mr. Schmidt doesn't seem to want to share much of this information, in this sort of way, does he.

BTW—sales tax information can be obtained from the Franchise Tax Board, but not at a level that one can deduce how much of the revenue is from residents vs non-residents of a given location. Knowing for certain this ratio would be help for all of us to know.

> The Comprehensive Plan has guidelines for the amount of
> park space we should have per resident.

The Comprehensive Plan does not usually provide any meaningful reasons for its decisions, and never includes the costs associated with its visions. Moreover, the Comprehensive Plan is not a product of a public vote, authorizing its vision.

> These terrible "outsiders".

Outsiders are often the heavy users of Palo Alto amenities, such as parks, libraries and other programs—like those offered at the Art Museum. People living here in the 1970s remember the heavy use of the parks by non-residents to the extent that some advocated closing them to non-residents. The outsiders were often the reason for so many restrictions on park use. Some would bring in small barbeques, cook, and then turn out their hot coals on the grass—resulting in the City's requiring cooking only to be done in designated area. And then there was alcohol use that resulted in confrontations between residents, non-residents and the police.

It's pretty clear that non-residents are a large problem for Palo Alto. Trying to be friendly, and not being abused, is a hard path to follow.


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2014 at 11:02 am

> We say that parks are being used by non-residents.
> But how do we know?

Pleaazzee! The demographics tell the story. Palo Alto's Hispanic population is pretty low. Moreover, the number of people in their 20s and 30s is known from the Census. How many people from every 1000 Palo Altans would you guess are soccer players? At some point, the numbers tell the story.


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2014 at 11:05 am

> I would really appreciate it if people would not imbibe alcohol in the parks

Check with the police, but I thought alcohol was banned from PA parks a long time ago.

There really is not place for alcohol in our parks. If you sense that people are drinking--call the non-emergency number of the PA Police and ask for an officer to check out those in question.


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2014 at 11:09 am

> The policeman called me back, confirming that the Park department had
> indeed prohibited using the fields that weekend, but explained that on
> weekend and holidays, the playing fields were considered to be public
> park,s and the police couldn't prohibit non residents from using the
> public parks.

Ah .. the old Catch 22. This is not the first time that this story has been told. This is a political problem that could be solved by the City Council. Given that this is an election year--why not ask the candidates why it's fair to restrict Palo Alto residents from using these fields, not not non-residents?


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2014 at 12:05 pm

If readers didn't get the SF analogy...

*** Maybe other Peninsula cities should restrict Palo Altans' use of their parks?

*** BETTER YET...Maybe Stanfod should restrict Palo Altans' use of The Dish and other Stanford lands?

This is really an ugly thread. It sounds as if some folks saw Hispanic or Black people in Palo Alto Parks and panicked.


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Posted by Marlen
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 1, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Thank you neighbor, I'd like to point out that it's not only comments such as "Don't-Need-No-Facts" that give Palo Altans a poor reputation, its the fact that they aren't called out and refuted nearly often enough.


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Posted by Park Patron
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 1, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Regarding bathrooms- They do make it easier for non-locals to use our parks, but they are a pretty important amenity for some of us residents too! Please keep them.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Park Patron.....Non-residents are not coming to your Palo Alto parks to go to the toilet.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2014 at 2:09 pm

boscoli,

"Other communities are understandably not motivated to build and maintain public parks and playing fields because their residents use the Palo Alto ones. The insanely irresponsible overgrowth Palo Alto has experienced puts enormous pressure not just on our parks but on every aspect of an infrastructure that is unsuitable for such growth"

I think too many things are being mixed up here - all important, but should be looked at within their own context.

1) Building overgrowth without measures to invest in maintaining existing parks and creating new ones (South Palo Alto appears to be particularly hit by both).

This is a pretty self-evident issue. There has been minimal attention to parks in Palo Alto probably because people think it is a park. While the rest of the world is trying to retrofit parks into their major developments, Palo Alto ignores its assets, takes for them for granted, and undermines the vision that it took to actually create a town with what is NOW state of the art thinking about urban development. You need parks, you need parks, you need parks.

2) Who is paying to maintain and invest in Parks

I've always believed the Scharff data to be true (that Palo Alto residents are the biggest spenders in Palo Alto) just from seeing how much young people spend these days - fashion, yogurts, electronics. And moms (how about those purses). For sure the Lulu Lemon store has sold more yoga pants to PA teen girls and moms than the occasional tourist. Those yoga pants sales benefit city coffers, and the residents are also early adopters of many things that open up here. Banks, and other services have come to open offices in Palo Alto not to catch the weekend traffic, but to be close to the customers in Palo Alto.

I happen to appreciate that non-residents enjoy the parks here. It is a sign of health, and I would be happy for my sales taxes to go to parks, whether I am playing soccer or having a picnic on them or not. Parks are critical to the eco-system for the schools for organizations that promote things like soccer. Parks also need spaces where people can be quite and serene though. Not every park should be a sports field.

3) Which communities are leading or lagging in providing park space for residents? Given the research and obvious knowledge about the importance of parks for the environment, citizen health, and quality of life, this should be a contest.

Palo Alto should be leader on this, instead of downgrading the value of parks, ALL communities should heed to the advice of this Park Commission - we need to maintain and grow parks.

So, what does ABAG think about Parks? Supposedly they are concerned with quality of life, and is there any regional credit for having parks for residents?

I would be preaching to the choir here about the environmental benefits of parks and open spaces but I think there needs to be a more specific strategic plan from the CIty about why parks matter, from environmental contributions, from reducing heat load, to providing flood control, to other things like making healthier spaces for residents. If that is what the City is missing to make it a priority to invest and grow parks.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 1, 2014 at 2:19 pm

I actually wish that living in Palo Alto would be more affordable to people of other ethnic groups and races. The issue of outsiders using our our parks and playing fields has nothing to do with it. It's about other cities not making an effort to provide park and playing space to their own residents because Palo Alto is doing it for them. Our parks exists for the residents of Palo Alto. The absurdity of teams from local soccer leagues prohibited from playing after heavy rain while non residents just show up, play and damage the fields is an example of how wrong this situation is. A few years ago the fields at Jordan were reseeded and covered by orange plastic netting right after the school year ended in order to allow the new grass to take hold. Non resident soccer players would show up, remove the orange nettings and play their games, despite signs prohibiting the use of the field. Large patches had to be reseeded and re-watered.


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2014 at 2:49 pm

"I actually wish that living in Palo Alto would be more affordable to people of other ethnic groups and races. "
Which ethnic groups and races are you referring to boscoli?. Neighbor is right, this is becoming an ugly thread .

"Our parks exists for the residents of Palo Alto. T"
But you have no problem demanding access to Stanford dish etc. and boscoli's statement, in itself, is false.

What is amusing is that in order to bolster the narrative that evil outsiders are, gasp, using our parks we hear anecdotal stories about people saying their cities don't need parks because they can use Palo Alto parks or out of towners using fields after a rain or purposely removing the covers from fields. One has to wonder how the people that made these claims know that they were non residents. And of course no Palo Alto residents were involved in these acts of malfeasance.


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Posted by Kerry55
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 1, 2014 at 2:51 pm

I agree with @anon: putting bathrooms at Seale Park has increased usage of non-residents who set up big volleyball games with 30+ people, lots of increased sport usage to the detriment of residents living here. It used to be so nice to walk through the park, listen to leaves falling, a few children playing in the sand, enjoy the solitude and quiet.......now this happens much more rarely.
Yes, there are now a lot more residents and their families using the park too. When monster houses build out to their maximum square footage, not much space is left for kids to run and play at home. Stop increasing more and more development which degrades schools, parks, parking, shopping and general quality of life.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2014 at 2:58 pm

boscoli,

That's an enforcement issue which really needs to be resolved (yet another City slide), In these days of cameras and what not, a heavy fine would be appropriate.


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Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 1, 2014 at 3:00 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

boscoli, you keep saying that our parks are being used by non-residence... Proof? I mean other than they don't look like you.


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Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Common Sense,

I would like to correct the common misconception that "artificial turf" does not need water. About two months ago I was walking on the Stanford Campus when I came across a hockey field with four giant fire hose sized systems spraying hundreds of gallons of water on an artificial turf hockey field.

I was shocked to see this huge quantity of water gushing into the air given the drought, so I asked the person operating the water controls what was going on. The person at the controls was an assistant coach, and he said they were about to start hockey practice, the field was too hot, and they needed to cool it down, or it would too hot for the girls to practice!

This is apparently a common practice. This weekend I was riding my bike past the hockey field as a game was about to start. As the the two teams took the field, all of the girls began to use their hockey sticks to disperse puddles of water left on the field from a pregame soaking.

Artificial turf also gets contaminated with bodily fluids, blood, saliva, vomit, and animal and/or bird droppings, and apparently needs to be periodically cleaned and disinfected.

"Why do I need to disinfect my synthetic turf?": Web Link




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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2014 at 3:12 pm

"One has to wonder how the people that made these claims know that they were non residents. "

I had a conversation with someone whose San Jose league practices in Palo Alto, for years. Like I said I don't mind except if they are playing on fields when they're not supposed to like rain out days or during repairs. The City should put a big sign with the amounts of the fines for not keeping the rules.

It would be nice to have a comparative report of parks from San Jose to the East Bay.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2014 at 3:19 pm

neighbor, Rupert and PA moderate,

Your suggestion that there is discrimination against different looking people using the parks is kind of funny.

My neighbors and I are all so different from each other, you would have to kick us all out of the parks.


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2014 at 3:29 pm

"I had a conversation with someone whose San Jose league practices in Palo Alto, for years. Like I said I don't mind except if they are playing on fields when they're not supposed to like rain out days or during repairs. The City should put a big sign with the amounts of the fines for not keeping the rules. "
If you do not mind that they are using our fields, then why bring up a conversation you had with " someone"? Hard to believe, though, that a league from San Jose comes all the way to Palo Alto to practice.
I see that Stanford puts signs on some of their fields when they are closed and they do not seem to have a problem. Not sure why palo,alto seems to have such a big problem ( if indeed that problem really exists)

I never suggested that there is discrimination. However when a poster comments about people of different races and ethnicities, one has to wonder. Also seems that some of the comments about " outsiders" is based on their appearance. But there clearly is no discrimination now, based on the comments that " out f towners" are using the parks. That is what sme people are unhappy about.


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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 1, 2014 at 3:58 pm

The City of Mountain View requires reservations for use of park picnic spaces, the fee for most Parks is $75. Reservations can ONLY be made by a MV resident or business and they must be present at the event. Rangers will enforce the rule if needed. Non resident can of course use the parks on weekends, but can't reserve the space or use a reserved space. The "Family picnic tables" at a couple parks can be reserved only on weekends again, only by MV residents.

Web Link


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2014 at 4:30 pm

The MV park fees are for large group events and sports league reservations of the fields. You can take your family for a picnic without reserving.

MV doesn't worry who picnics at their parks, or if some picnickers use the toilets.

If some surrounding cities --- like East Palo Alto --- don't have the same # of parks, it just might be a paucity of financial resources. Duh.

BTW...Palo Alto has one of the highest ratios of parks/per resident in the U.S. It's City coffers are more than full. No need for Palo Alto residents to trespass on Stanford's PRIVATE property to run the Dish.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 1, 2014 at 5:38 pm

"boscoli, you keep saying that our parks are being used by non-residence... Proof? I mean other than they don't look like you."

You cannot be serious.


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Posted by Civic life
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 1, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Just took a drive through the industrial-park wasteland of Milpitas and Sunnyvale, with tons of new and seemingly empty beehive apartment ghost towns (what ARE those square cupola things supposed to be anyway?) and giant office buildings, with a narrow-gage rail running between that couldn't possibly serve even a major fraction of those office workers. Didn't see a single human being walking anywhere. Saw very little signs of humanity at all, except the occasional person leaving the office by car. Went to the "Great" Mall - so jam packed, if we had stayed to buy our 2 t-shirts at the old navy outlet, we would have been in line for 2 hours, so we left them there and went. Took my bag of returns from online purchase home without even returning it, it will be easier by mail. The parking lot had to have been full of people from the nearby beehives, there was ZERO retail anywhere.

I saw not a single park (except of the industrial kind) either.

Just a comment. Gayle Price was so proud to the point of arrogance of having been a planner in Sunnyvale, and somehow thought that would convince me her vision of transforming Palo Alto into something more like would impress.

I pay for my access to Los Altos libraries because the taxpayers pay in their taxes, though I would frankly wish I could transfer the taxes I pay for Palo Alto libraries I don't live near to them instead of paying double. I don't see why parks should be different for other amenities, though in practical terms, how are you going to enforce it?


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Which Sunnyvale and militias were you at? You missed this park:
Web Link
Plus there is plenty of shopping within close proximity of the great mall ( heard of calvares blvd?).
And if there were so many " empty beehive apartment ghost towns" why is there an apartment shortage in the arEA?
And, really, 2 hours to check out old navy?


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Posted by mark weiss
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 1, 2014 at 6:27 pm

I spoke at same meeting and suggested we buy 15 acre land from Sobrato for new park in Ventura district. They are thinking 500 more dense packed homes.
Anybody?


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Civic Life --Maybe a lot of those folks who weren't at home in their South Bay condos were shopping today. Ever heard of Labor Day sales? All of the news stations had stories on the holiday sales. It's also a huge day for movie theaters.

One place they weren't today was shopping on University Ave. in Palo Alto or going to the movies in Palo Alto.

The bottom line to all this nonsense is that Palo Alto is rich with parks, even with its recent population growth. There's lots of homes with nice yards that have home pools too. And, if you don't want to see the masses from out of town, you could go to the restricted Foothills Park.

This was a manufactured article about a manufactured "crisis."


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Posted by Marlen
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 1, 2014 at 6:47 pm

I think what boscoli and others are trying to say, is that there are lot of people who are racially different in our parks, and Palo Alto isn't known for having a lot of racially different residents.


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Posted by Rupert of,henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2014 at 7:00 pm

"I think what boscoli and others are trying to say, is that there are lot of people who are racially different in our parks, and Palo Alto isn't known for having a lot of racially different residents."
I thought Palo Alto had a fairly sizable Asian population. But that is irrelevant. Maybe these " racially different" people are guests of Palo Alto residents. But that is irrelevant also. I suggest that those people claiming that " outsiders" are using our parks, actually provide some proof for,their claims. In the meantime, I would suggest that people like boscoli stop digging themselves into a hole.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2014 at 7:02 pm

So Palo Altans have to go to neighboring cities and pay our sales tax dollars to them. We could have some decent shopping here and then Palo Alto gets the sales tax.

In the past week I have bought some groceries in Palo Alto. I have also visited Target, Kohls, Game Stop, Costco for household essentials and major grocery shopping in Safeway in Mountain View in the same errand run.

I have visited Foothills Park, went to Broadway By the Bay and eaten out in Mountain View. Went to the Y in Ross Road and church in Palo Alto.

We are a region, not a city with barricades.


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Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Mark,

We know Palo Alto is going to need play-fields. The shortsighted 50-year deal PACC made with Stanford for the play-fields at El Camino and Page Mill, in exchange for the PERMANENT development of the giant Mayfield site, only has about 38 years left.

When Stanford bulldozes the play-fields, and turn the site into a giant hotel, where are the kids going to play?


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Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2014 at 7:34 pm

They are gong to kick the Seniors off the golf course and build soccer fields, unless of course it is all under water.


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Posted by Park Patron
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 1, 2014 at 7:46 pm

Boscoli is cetainly right about the presence of non-residents. Anyone who suggests otherwise either doesn't go to the park themselves, or is deliberately dissembling.

Is it nice to welcome these people to use our parks? Yes. Should we expand our infrastructure to make up for other localities' shortcomings? No. Should we exacerbate a local shortage by not prioritizing residents? No.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 1, 2014 at 8:00 pm

There is no real shortage of parks in Palo Alto. To repeat:

The bottom line to all this nonsense is that Palo Alto is rich with parks, even with its recent population growth. There's lots of homes with nice yards that have home pools too. And, if you don't want to see the masses from out of town, you could go to the restricted Foothills Park.

This was a manufactured article about a manufactured "crisis."

*** I hope the general citizenry are NOT represented by Boscoli et al., because that would be very sad for Palo Alto -- a city with a long tradition of community kindness and openness. Sadly, lately it seems that the xenophobes have taken over this website.***

If ANYTHING destroys Palo Alto, it will be the town's phobia about growth/prosperity....and its sadly apparent racism.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2014 at 8:29 pm

neighbor,

I disagree completely with you. You are the only one ascribing phobia issues (I dare say manufacturing them) but you feel so strongly about it that you should make your views known, not just here in TS but take them to prime time. It's election season, and your views and fears may find a home in one of the candidate platforms. They make for good soundbites.

The "general citizenry" can then express how preserving parks and adding more parks is somehow inconsistent with community, kindness and openness.

My hope is that the focus will be on the science, economics, and common sense of maintaining and growing existing parks, and that there is a strategic plan to not reduce the current ratio of parks which have served PA and the region so well. Instead of only zoning for buildings, I'd like to see zoning for more parks.

A word from "Planning" on this issue would not hurt.


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Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2014 at 8:33 pm

Midtown,

The golf course are is not a good place for kids. The EPA has recently released a study of lead emissions at general aviation airports, and PAO is not looking very good:

0.33 ug/m^3 (San Carlos, CA)
0.17 ug/m^3 (McClelland, CA)
0.12 ug/m^3 (Palo Alto, CA)
0.09 ug/m^3 (Reid-Hillview, CA)
0.07 ug/m^3 (Gillespie, CA)
0.07 ug/m^3 (Merril, AK)
0.06 ug/m^3 (Van Nuys, CA)
0.06 ug/m^3 (Auburn, WA)
0.04 ug/m^3 (Deer Valley, AZ)
0.03 ug/m^3 (Brookhaven, NY)
0.03 ug/m^3 (Stinson, TX)
0.02 ug/m^3 (Harvey, WA)
0.01 ug/m^3 (Republic, NY)

At 0.12 ug/m^3 Palo Alto Airport is only 0.02 below the EPA's limit of 0.15 ug/m^3. A Duke University study found that children attending schools within one kilometer of an airport, had elevated levels of lead in their blood.

EPA Airport Lead Monitoring Program Update: Web Link


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 1, 2014 at 9:53 pm

@Ahem, looks like a direct off-topic cut & paste from Jetman.


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Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Musical,

The info is available in another thread, but is relevant to this topic if we are including play fields in the discussion of parks, especially if anyone is considering Midtown's comment about building soccer fields on the site of the current golf course, which is right next to the airport.


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Posted by Noreen
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 1, 2014 at 11:21 pm

@Rupert
Sunnyvale's Baylands Park is a Santa Clara COUNTY park, managed by Sunnyvale. The land does not belong to that City. If it did, Planner Gail price would have built it. She did all she can to mold Palo Alto's landscape into Sunnyvale's boring pattern.

Palo Alto City Parks could greatly benefit from less manicure and more habitat for birds and butterflies. All the wonder has turned to turf.


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Posted by contrarian
a resident of University South
on Sep 2, 2014 at 1:00 am

Palo Alto's parks biggest obstacle is its city staff. Staff's priority is more buildings. Parks get in the way. Land for parks is land that is not available for development.

You want a new park, you got to fight a big, big fight with city staff, who BTW do not live in Palo Alto.


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Posted by Park Patron
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 2, 2014 at 8:49 am

Thank you Noreen, that's like what I said in suggesting some playing fields be converted to more natural spaces.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Kate Downing
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 2, 2014 at 9:48 am

Just wow! You guys are now going to begrudge kids from East Palo Alto coming to play in our parks?? How miserly can this group get?! Let's put up big fences around the parks, station some people with rifles from border patrol, and make every 8 year old hand over their papers before they even think about kicking around a soccer ball....We're so poor here in Palo Alto, you see, that we need to clutch close to our hearts every scrap of grass! Of all the cities in the Peninsula, we are just the least resourced and the saddest and we should go about greedily hugging all our resources as close the chest as possible! I'd love to see all your faces when you get turned away from the Presidio and Golden Gate park! Residents should come first, right?

We have HUGE open space reserves all around us - Foothills Park, the Dish, Arastradero, Baylands, and DOZENS of fields and smaller parks throughout the city. Should we maintain them well, yes? Should we put them under lock and key or kill off more housing because we apparently need EVEN MORE open space at the expense of giving people a place to live? No. Having parks is great. It's wonderful. But what you're talking about - not building homes and driving up the rents even more - means driving people, even long-time residents out of our community...for the sake of yet another park. The priorities of the people in this city indicate that this is a city with no compassion for anyone but themselves, and really, only for the richest members of this city, not those that are living on the edge here and who will end up being pushed out by your decisions.

I go to the parks here all the time- Baylands, Mitchell, Seale, Foothills, Rinconda, and Arastradero. I have yet to see any sign whatsoever of overcrowding, trash, etc. As far as I'm concerned, these are trumped up concerns that have no basis in reality that are being used as yet another weapon in the war of "us versus them."


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Posted by minor points
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 2, 2014 at 10:31 am

Kate

I agree with you - however -

1. Non-residents are already not allowed in Foothills - that includes Stanford homeowners with kids in PAUSD who are assigned homework to study the parks.

2. The dish does not belong to Palo Alto


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Sep 2, 2014 at 10:32 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

As Kate points out this does get silly at times. By the way I do not think most residents feel this unwelcoming as opposed to people who post here.

But here's a thought. We could impose a residents only policy at Stanford Shopping Center or at Lucie Stern theater or in our restaurants.

Oh wait, we want those visitors and no one ever makes mention of their racial composition.

Sounds to me like there is some very selective thinking going on here. And by the way our kids were enormous users of our parks and sports facilities and yes there were non resident users back then, but so what. That was not a bother to us.

And I hope readers will support the hotel tax increase that is on the ballot so we can make more investments in amenities and public facilities.


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2014 at 10:44 am

> You want a new park, you got to fight a big, big fight
> with city staff, who BTW do not live in Palo Alto.

And where in the world (or wherein Palo Alto) would you find empty space for a new park? Several people have pointed out that Palo Alto is "maxed out". We could perhaps build parks for people in other towns, but that is not likely to fly with the taxpayers.

The City could exercise its right of eminent domain to seize properties around town, tear down those houses, and build parks on the properties. Anyone think that this is a good idea?

> transfer my taxes to Palo Alto Libraries

You are already paying quite a bit for the Palo Alto libraries. A portion of the property tax that Palo Alto receives goes for the libraries, and then the add-on assessment for the Measure N library bond you are also paying. (Unless you are renting, and not paying any of these taxes directly.)


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Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2014 at 10:46 am

Kate,

The title of the article is "Commission: Palo Alto parks struggling to keep up with growth". It is easy to criticize all of the "racists" in Palo Alto, but what is your solution to the park problem outlined in the article.


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Posted by Green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 2, 2014 at 10:46 am

Good for you, Pat Markevitch.


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2014 at 11:00 am

> How would you know that someone is a non-resident

Aside from the obvious of a family speaking some language other than English, we now have tools that could help understand where people live who are visiting Palo Alto. Automated License Plate Readers could be used to determine the city where a vehicle is registered. The Palo Alto Police have these tools, although it might be better from a political point-of-view to hire an outside contractor to do some surveys (using these new tools) of the parks, parking lots, and traffic around town, to provide us with some real data about the cities where the vehicular traffic is originating.

Anyone interested in actually knowing the truth about who is using our resources?


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2014 at 11:05 am

> And I hope readers will support the hotel tax increase that is on the
> ballot so we can make more investments in amenities and public facilities.

All of these sorts of taxes go into the General Fund, with virtually no evidence that past increases in TOTs have resulted in "investments" in anything but higher salaries, and benefits, for employees. With hundreds of millions of dollars just committed to higher salaries by the City Council, and hundreds of millions of dollars lurking just over the horizen in unfunded post-retirement pension and health obligations that need more tax money to fund--it's really difficult to believe that very many dollars from any hotel TOT increase will ever be spent on infrastructure.

But there are those in town who continually post in discussions like this one to mislead voters to think that higher taxes are a good thing.


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Posted by Get it straight
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Sep 2, 2014 at 11:06 am

Kate -

It may seem counter-intuitive, but building more homes drives up rents. It doesn't drive down rents.

That's because building homes drives up property value, most obvious if you look at price/sq ft.

Increased property values result in increased rents.

Look at rents in Manhattan, relative to suburbs or rural areas to help keep this understanding intuitive.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 2, 2014 at 11:11 am

@minor points -- non-residents are indeed allowed into Foothills Park, when accompanied by a resident. Also when hiking in from Arastradero Preserve or Los Trancos Open Space.


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Posted by Fact
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2014 at 11:15 am

I have lived in midtown literally across the street from Hoover Park for almost 20 years.

Fact: For the 20 years I have lived as a permanent resident across the street from Hoover Park it has become increasingly used by families from outside Palo Alto (I know because I politely ask where the group is from). This is not a racist or socioeconomic observation, just a fact. Every weekend, large parties from outside the city of PA come very early in the am, park all along my street, set up camp, and stay there all day. Sometimes, they leave trash behind. I know because I have picked it up myself. This has made it difficult, if not impossible, for families in their own Midtown neighborhood to host BBQs, birthday parties, picnics, etc. at Hoover Park.


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Posted by grandmakk
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2014 at 11:27 am

I'm glad to see a conversation about this topic. We live very near Hoover Park -- I generally love to see it being used, though the playing fields do create clogged street parking on weekends. However, my greatest gripe is with the lack of enforcement of laws that I believe already exist.
One weekend, a very loud-music group took over a section of the park for the whole day, complete with alcohol. The music was blaring, and then they brought a pony for the kids to ride! When we tried to get the police to help, they ignored us. The same has happened when kids set off concussion devices in the park late at night. We call and are ignored by the police.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2014 at 11:44 am

Stephen Levy, and Kate Downing,

Selectively reading the posts to change the subject of the thread?

I have posted frequently on this thread, and have made it clear that I think the fact that Palo Alto is a regional park resource is positive.

This historical vision of having built a town with parks as a priority deserves stewardship and should serve as an example to other communities. Park space is something every city in the world is and will be scrambling for because of the benefits it has, environmentally and for community, all with scientific basis.

But since you are getting silly with fantasies of "We could impose a residents only policy at Stanford Shopping Center or at Lucie Stern theater or in our restaurants."

I would propose instead to have an office building moratorium. Buildings are far more pressure on the parks than soccer or picnics. I would also have a Park tax (big fat one for new commercial building). I would also impose a tax on any new higher income housing like condos.

Anyone who thinks that park space cannot be found in Palo Alto hasn't looked (not as hard as looking for office space or condo space). Not every park has to be a soccer field or have picnic space for parties. It's time to consider smaller spaces for parks, and to not allow the ratio of parks to deteriorate as it will if something is not done.

The population of Palo Alto for park space purposes should not be a resident count, but the one estimated to be when all office spaces are filled during the week and considering also the weekend traffic which is considerable.


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Posted by Neilson Buchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 2, 2014 at 11:46 am

Thank you, Commissioners

I really appreciate the thoughtful, deliberate, proactive stewardship of our parks. Johnson Park is a national treasure to Downtown North Neighborhood. Please consider special stewardship if and when permit parking is ever initiated in any neighborhood.

For example, all-day non-resident permit parking in neighborhoods must be permitted on residential street faces adjacent to any city park.


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Posted by Citizen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2014 at 11:46 am

The current, inept and arrogant city council has shown no regard for its constituents. Some of the incumbents up for re election are now trying to placate the voters, in the hopes of salvaging their political careers. Have you noticed how syrupy sweet the mayors voice has been lately at city council meetings.
So phony and disingenuous. I, too, cannot wait for the current council to be voted out of office. They have done irreversible damage to Palo Alto. The town is no longer a peaceful place to live.


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Posted by PaloAltoBill
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2014 at 11:47 am

My wife and I are retired and are regular neighborhood walkers. We walk nearly every day of the week from our home in Old Palo Alto to Downtown Palo Alto and back. Moreover, we do this in the morning AND in the early evening, twice a day, close to seven days a week.

We can tell you that Heritage Park and Rinconada Park are GREATLY underused. Yesterday, Labor Day afternoon at about 5 pm, for example, Heritage Park had at most two (2) users and who knows if they were even Palo Alto residents. The park's playground was totally (i.e. completely) empty! Two people in the entire park! This number of people is fairly close to what we see, night after night, month after month.

What is this claim of "parks struggling to keep up with growth"? Is there anyone in Palo Alto who can confirm from personal observation that Palo Alto parks are regularly crowded and struggling to keep up with population growth. This is your chance to tell the rest of us about your observations. Is there anyone with actual data, i.e. samples, who can share these with us?

I will continue to watch this space to see what my fellow Palo Altans report re: park usage.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2014 at 11:53 am

grandmakk,

"the lack of enforcement of laws that I believe already exist.
One weekend, a very loud-music group took over a section of the park for the whole day, complete with alcohol. "

This is a sign of how the City ignores and undermines Palo Alto's parks.

They are too busy redecorating City Hall lobby.

There should be new ways to enforce the rules that preserve and maintain parks and heavy fines are a very good way to do that.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2014 at 11:58 am

PaloAltoBill,

"Yesterday, Labor Day afternoon at about 5 pm, for example, Heritage Park had at most two (2) users and who knows if they were even Palo Alto residents."

Long holidays are not usually when the regular park weekend traffic happens (it happens on regular weekends), and yesterday was so HOT nobody was outside.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2014 at 12:00 pm

PaloAltoBill,

5 pm is also not the peak hour for park use.


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Posted by alongwell
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Sep 2, 2014 at 12:09 pm

About languages: I was born 79 years ago in what was then the Palo Alto hospital, and I have seen a lot of changes, some good, some not so good, in this area. Even then there were plenty of Palo Alto Residents that did not have English as a primary at-home language, even though the city was a lot smaller (Mayfield still existed) Many Stanford Profs lived in Paly, because the amount of faculty housing SU has now was not available, and still spoke their native language at home. I played with kids who responded to their parents in another language, while they themselves were fluent in English as well.
Now, I hear my grandson's soccer team being cheered in French, Norwegian, Spanish and Japanese, and playing on Palo Alto turf. I really dont care if they are residents or not, but I will not employ language as a surrogate for residency, and would not advise any one else to do so.


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Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 2, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I think that Eric F has brought up the key point. Based on some cursory research (ie., I definitely could be wrong, so others feel free to doublecheck my figures) Palo Alto has a goal of 2 acres of parkland / 1000 residents (Web Link). We currently have 162 acres of URBAN park (not counting our ~4k acres of openspace Web Link). With our population currently at 66k, it seems that we are above our own goal for parkland/resident.

From an anectdotal perspective, I used to live directly next to Ramos Park, and today I live near Johnson Park. Ramos Park was almost completely empty almost always (except for weekend morning soccer time) and Johnson Park normally has a healthy buzz of activity after school and on weekends, but never feels unpleasantly crowded. Given its location, I would guess that Johnson Park is one of the more intensively used parks in the city, so for those who are concerned that our parks are overcrowded, this is probably the "worst case". The neighbors that I know who love Johnson park love it in part because of the very high probability of running into their friends there-- the fact that it is used by a lot of people is a net positive to them.

It doesn't SEEM like we have a crisis of park overcrowding, but as I said, I'm no expert in this area (and I recognize that some people may have a different definition of what a crowded park looks like). If residents like Neilson were to repeat the "parking capacity" exercise (counting #s of cars on each block) on our parks, I suspect that most hours of most days in most parks, there would be a small handful of people in the parks.

Maybe the problem is just with peak capacity times for booking athletic fields?


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Posted by Sheri
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2014 at 12:37 pm

I think the report is spot-on. What we don't need are pseudo-parks like the one in Alma "Village" that make people feel that they can't use them because they belongs to the those living in the homes there. As we don't have open space for more neighborhood parks, at least we can provide funding to properly maintain those we have. And by using parks as playing fields, we've introduced a massive influx of parking issues into neighborhoods, ala Seale Park.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Reading through the posts there is no agreement as to the purpose or definition of a park.

We have some great open spaces for nature and hiking. These are more rural settings and not what we would normally expect to find in neighborhood settings. The fact that the main parks of these types are east and west, on the Bay and in the hills make them suitable for their purpose. For many they need to be accessed by car, or possibly a bike. They are for half day types of activities.

We then have some larger parks, Mitchell and Greer for example, where sports and larger gatherings are more suitable. They have some designated parking as part of their acreage but often parking overflows into streets. For larger gatherings, people will invite families and friends from out of town who will need to park and their plates will show that they are non residents, but the fact that they are guests of Palo Alto residents means little to those who check plates for registered addresses.

Next come some smaller neighborhood parks. These are still used for large gatherings and sports and would again attract cars needing to be parked. Have you ever tried to carry a dozen soccer balls even one block for soccer practice? Once again out of towners, grandparents, etc. will want to come to these parks for some of these gatherings.

Lastly come the postage sized parks in some developments. There is one beside the Mikis/Grocery Outlet parking lot. I can't believe that these small grass areas with perhaps a bench can be called a park.

Our parks are not all the same because their uses are very different. Some, like Mitchell Park, can't be differentiated between school playing fields and parkland. Some have dog runs, others don't. Some have children's play areas, others don't.

For those who want more nature, it is sad to think that you don't want to see the parks used for healthy athletic activities in a country where there is so much obesity. And if youth are involved in an organized sport, they are less likely to be getting involved in gangs and petty crime.

Please continue to improve our parks, not just Palo Alto parks, but throughout the region. When my kids were preschoolers we had favorite parks outside Palo Alto which we enjoyed because they were different to Palo Alto parks.

If nothing else, our park department should be encouraging other cities to improve their parks too. But please, let's stop some of the negativity that is in this thread.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Thanks to all who tried to inject some rationality and kindness into the discussion. Clearly they understand the messages they hear every weekend when they attend religious services.

The basic one is "Love Thy Neighbor" -- but the folks that are hard to love these days are the historical and racist commenters. Hopefully, they are a small fraction of local citizens.

NOTE TO THOSE FOLKS: Palo Alto is still beautiful, it is not being taken over by hordes of outsiders, and the City workers are not overpaid and asleep at their desks. AND, even tho the town has some significant problems like all cities do, the sky is not falling.

FURTHER...electing new City leaders will not stop the city's inevitable growth. Whomever is elected can only guide it. ALL OF THE CANDIDATES for office know this, but are drawn to maximizing their political careers anyway. They are willing to be loved on election day, then vilified the day afterwards and for the rest of their terms.

It is harder to solve the physical and social problems that prosperity has dumped on PA. Many other towns are saying "We should all have such problems" because they are not so fortunate to be at the center of Silicon Valley.



BTW: to the person who wrote "We could impose a residents only policy at Stanford Shopping Center...." PA DOESN'T OWN STANFORD SHOPPING CENTER. It belongs to Stanford -- Just like the Dish belongs to Stanford. They let you, and people from all over the Peninsula, use it BECAUSE IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.


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Posted by Civic life
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 2, 2014 at 1:04 pm

"Just took a drive through the industrial-park wasteland of Milpitas and Sunnyvale, with tons of new and seemingly empty beehive apartment ghost towns (what ARE those square cupola things supposed to be anyway?) and giant office buildings, with a narrow-gage rail running between that couldn't possibly serve even a major fraction of those office workers. Didn't see a single human being walking anywhere. Saw very little signs of humanity at all, except the occasional person leaving the office by car. Went to the "Great" Mall - so jam packed, if we had stayed to buy our 2 t-shirts at the old navy outlet, we would have been in line for 2 hours, so we left them there and went. Took my bag of returns from online purchase home without even returning it, it will be easier by mail. The parking lot had to have been full of people from the nearby beehives, there was ZERO retail anywhere.

I saw not a single park (except of the industrial kind) either.

Just a comment. Gayle Price was so proud to the point of arrogance of having been a planner in Sunnyvale, and somehow thought that would convince me her vision of transforming Palo Alto into something more like would impress. "

Since Rupert of Henhaus likes to criticize sight unseen, I would like to invite everyone to start at the Great Mall this Saturday and drive across the freeway onto Tasman, and drive Tasman through Cisco-ville, following the light rail, as far as you can go. There are giant, beehive-like housing developments going up, many that don't even look inhabited. They're all on light rail, so it's really not like it's all that difficult to reach jobs in Mountain View, Palo Alto, and parts on rail. This is an unbelievably long drive of nothing but industrial park and beehive housing, as I said, with virtually nary a person in sight, and no retail, no parks, nothing but industrial park and beehive housing that looks almost ghost-town like. No wonder the mall (that you pretty much have to drive to) is wall-to-wall people.

Rupert, you're missing the point that if labor day is such a busy economic day and all this high-rise-high-density development is so smart, why were there essentially ZERO retail businesses near all that housing and jobs, and ZERO people out shopping, walking, and recreating near all that housing?

Kate Downing, you should direct your friends down there, since you seem to like to talk about East Palo Alto but not to like to live there to find something affordable as many of my friends have (and still do). It appears there may be bargains to be had in Milpitas and Sunnyvale, and community to create.

I'd like everyone else to take that drive just so you can really understand: This was where Gail Price was planner, and this is what she thinks is a good vision for Palo Alto. And now you know why people want to live in Palo Alto and not have to pay for it.


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Sep 2, 2014 at 1:19 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ neighbir

Thanks for your post. I was being sarcastic in suggesting a residents only policy at Stanford, It was in response to posters arguing that we should exclude non residents from our public facilities. Freedom IS the right thing to do. I agree. We ARE fortunate in Palo Alto.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Civic Life:
Your drive south doesn't mean much because actually the parks are there .... but just not adjacent to the freeways.

Town parks are rarely located next to major highways....it's not good planning practice. (An exception is that sometimes dog runs are next to freeways on adjacent easement land)

Better make friends with Urban Planning...uncontrolled growth is really ugly and this region is going to grow.


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Posted by works in milpitas
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 2, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Civic life-- I am not sure what Rupert knows, but I am intimately aware of the area you are talking about-I work there. As neighbor pointed out there are parks in that area. But how is that area different from Palo alto--there is little in the way of useful retail in Palo alto, that is why I and others shop in MV or MP. Your claims about "beehive" apartments is overblown. But you seem to have a thing for beehives. Were you traumatized by a bee when you were a child.
Anyway, what does any of your posting have to do with the actual subject of this thread????


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Posted by PaloAltoBill
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2014 at 1:58 pm

I am sure that you are right, that 5 pm is not the time for peak usage of Palo Alto parks. I will agree that it was hot yesterday at that time. I am still shocked that there were only two (2) people using Heritage Park. Wouldn't that surprise you too? If this park were really struggling to keep up with Palo Alto's growth, how many users would you have expected to see yesterday at 5 pm (@ 85 degrees F)? 50? 100? 200? More? What would your expectation of usage be if that park were really struggling to accommodate Palo Alto's growth?

Please let me know what you think.


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2014 at 2:22 pm

> What we don't need are pseudo-parks like the one in Alma "Village"
> that make people feel that they can't use them because they belongs
> to the those living in the homes there

This little strip of land is so small that it is cruel to call it a park. The trees are too young to provide any shade, so the few tables there are generally in the sun, and are uncomfortable to sit in on sunny days.

Let's hope that this public benefit of the PC zoning given McNellis, et. cie., is not a model for any future parks in Palo Alto.

> Provide adequate funding ..

Looking at next year's budget—

Web Link

Palo Alto was recently named the 2014 most livable U.S.
city due to its economy, climate and natural beauty,
parks and recreational activities

Page 171 –

The expenditures for parks, open space and golf are about $8.3M. This seems like a lot of money to keep the urban parks well-kept, and to provide whatever other tasks are needed. The question becomes—how effective are the SIEU workers, and how could this money be better spent in the private sector?

What's not clear from this presentation is whether all of the operating costs are considered in the $8M number. Also, this is just an operating budget; the capital budget also needs to be referenced.

Capital Budget (2015):
Web Link

There are a goodly number of references to parks in this year's CIP budget.

Sadly, we can't find a simple line-item that provides the total costs of the parks.


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Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 2, 2014 at 2:39 pm

ChrisC is a registered user.

Is there any mention of increased dog use? It is my impression that there are many more dogs and dog owners in Palo Alto. And they like to take their dog to the park, any park. I love dogs, but this does represent an increased use of parks. PA has talked of special dog parks, but nobody is going to go out of their way for that when they can just go down the block to a neighborhood park and let their dog run around. Also, the Mormon Institute of Religion and Palo Alto Single wards use Cameron Park like their own backyard. I would not be able to schedule a party in my neighborhood park in fear that the churchgoers would take it over. Can't say the use has increased, but it's a major use of a tiny neighborhood park, complete with parking problems and noise.


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Posted by anon
a resident of Monroe Park
on Sep 2, 2014 at 2:40 pm

well Rinconada was well used at some point over the weekend. When I arrived tiw swim around 8:30 am yesterday (Labor Day), workers were gathering trash and a truck was emptying three overflowing dumpsters. Multiple full recycling bins were nearby.

I usually swim early on Saturday and/or Sunday mornings. In good weather many of the tables have already been staked out by the time I leave the pool.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Who has suggested that outsiders be excluded from Palo Alto parks? Nobody. Suggesting that outsiders comply with park closure rules (this applies to the playing fields which are under the jurisdiction of Parks) the same way local teams comply with field closure is not racist or xenophobic. Suggesting that locals should have priority over outsiders in reserving picnic areas is not racist either. Throwing "racist" and "xenophobe" into the conversation each time you disagree with someone is quite childish.

In response to some ridiculous comments:I personally don't use the Stanford Dish. For a casual walk in open space I much prefer Arastradero preserve which is much more bucolic and less crowded. Since I'm opposed to Stanford's(an otherwise great university) orgy of overdevelopment, I make it a point not to use any Stanford amenities such as the Dish, shop at Stanford Shopping Center or go to Stanford events.


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Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2014 at 8:49 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

"I make it a point not to use any Stanford amenities such as the Dish, shop at Stanford Shopping Center or go to Stanford events."

Or, I presume, any of the Palo Alto services that receiving funding from taxes that are generated by Stanford or their properties?


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Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2014 at 8:50 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

... or maybe you should leave Palo Alto, because it was established by Leland Stanford?


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2014 at 10:43 pm

PA moderate,

"... or maybe you should leave Palo Alto, because it was established by Leland Stanford?"

I'm afraid the most recent comment from boscoli will get the neighbor, Rupert and PA moderate "treatment." Oh no! Palo Alto, wants to secede!


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2014 at 9:42 am

> Or, I presume, any of the Palo Alto services that receiving
> funding from taxes that are generated by Stanford or their properties?

Stanford enjoys a $7.4B tax exemption for all of its properties that are dedicated to education. The buildings in the industrial park are not owned by Stanford (although the land is). All of the taxes on these properties is paid by the companies leasing the properties. Stanford's property areas are very small.

It's not clear if Stanford pays any State/Federal income taxes--since the University has never made its tax returns available to the public on a yearly basis.

Stanford Shopping Center is no longer owned by Stanford--so the retail sales tax generated is not related to the University, in any way.

Property taxes on the homes owned by Stanford employees are paid by the home owners (although Stanford legally owns the land where the homes are located).

Salaries generated by employees of Stanford, of course, are taxed. But these taxes are not paid by the University.

It's hard to believe that Stanford pays much in the way of any kind of taxes.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2014 at 10:04 am

Don't-Need-No-Facts,

"The buildings in the industrial park are not owned by Stanford (although the land is). All of the taxes on these properties is paid by the companies leasing the properties. Stanford's property areas are very small."

If the companies on Stanford property only pay property taxes on the building itself, and furniture and stuff like that, and Stanford doesn't really pay property taxes on the land, allowing the few PA residents who use the Dish (many more drive in from outside of Palo Alto), sounds like an even trade, I guess.


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2014 at 10:16 am

> If the companies on Stanford property only pay property
> taxes on the building itself,

The companies pay all of the taxes.

When the companies move out of a site, and Stanford is not able to qu8ckly replace them, it moves aggressively to have the Assessor reduce the tax liability to $0.00--so that it is not paying taxes on properties that are intended to be commerical, but are not currently engaged in that designation.

Stanford spends a lot of money every year insuring that it does not pay much in taxes--just like most very big corporations.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2014 at 11:25 am

PAmoderate is a registered user.

Distinction without a difference, as lawyers like to say.

The Stanford-owned developed property is generating tax revenue. Period. It doesn't matter who is directly paying for it, it's generating tax revenue. Whether it's paying property taxes or employees buying something after work and paying sales tax.

The other option - the opposite of boscoli's "orgy of development" is to leave the land unused. Bucolic, but in that case, no one is paying tax revenue for using it.

Maybe if long-time Palo Alto owners paid their "fair share" of property taxes, perhaps Palo Alto wouldn't have to rely on commercial development for tax revenues. Yet another unintended consequence of Prop 13.


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2014 at 11:35 am

> The Stanford-owned developed property is generating tax revenue. Period.

Please read the posting sequence. The original post said that "people were enjoying the benefits of the taxes Stanford pays". Reality is that Stanford doesn't pay any taxes (or very little). Taxes paid by others should not be seen as generated by Stanford.

Language has a purpose--and that is to describe situations as accurately as possible.

The industrial park is not really "developed" by Stanford, as it has been by those who have located there. Stanford doesn't build the buildings, it just leases the land.

> The other option - the opposite of boscoli's
> "orgy of development" is to leave the land unused.

The bulk of the Stanford lands are undeveloped. It remains to be seen what Stanford will do in the coming decades. It's really hard to believe it will not slowly increase its size eventually--using these undeveloped lands for that purpose.


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Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2014 at 11:39 am

PAmoderate is a registered user.

"The industrial park is not really "developed" by Stanford, as it has been by those who have located there. Stanford doesn't build the buildings, it just leases the land."

So, is this land generating tax revenue or not?


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2014 at 1:02 pm

BTW to "Just the facts" who doesn't have the facts

Stanford never sold the Shopping Center, but hired an outside management company to manage it via a 50-year contract.


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Posted by The candidate I want is....
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2014 at 2:50 pm

I have lived in Palo Alto for more than 20 years. I don't think that things are so awful. I have seen plenty of change. Most good. Some not so good. This is a wonderful place to live.

I am looking for Council and School Board candidates who can collaborate--because that is how things get done in a democracy. Contrarians do not make good elected representatives. They create polarized, ineffective voting bodies that get nothing done. Look at Washington.

I am looking for candidates who have a demonstrated record of public and/or community service. Actions speak louder than words.

I am looking for candidates who understand policy and the democratic (note the small d) mechanics of implementing it...because that will be their job. It is not easy.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2014 at 3:01 pm

I wouldn't be surprised at all if Stanford doesn't generate any net tax benefits for Palo Alto. In my opinion, the wear and tear on Palo Alto's infrastructure caused by the Stanford's development orgy is actually a financial net lose to Palo Alto.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Boscoli
Stanford is the main asset of PA. Otherwise Palo Alto would be called Burlingame.

BTW: Stanford generates its own power (CoGen) and has a separate water system using Hetch Hetchy water, and the University contracts with the County Sheriff for police services. But it does pay Palo Alto for the fire personnel & vehicles located at the 2 fire stations it built.

Wear and tear on the streets -- give me a break. Your PA infrastructure is wearing out because (1) it's old (2) the city's growth puts more pressure on the old system.

But the city coffers are full thanks to that growth, so you could use some of your budget surplus on the streets.


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Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Sep 3, 2014 at 3:44 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Palo Alto has added $2 million dollars a year to street maintenance, speeded up the cycle of resurfacing and increased the share of our streets in good and excellent condition.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Palo Alto was a fantastic place to live in before the growth. It would never be called Burlingame (I just love your snobbism)because of the wonderful and nice citizenry. It was a much nicer place to live in, because traffic was a fraction of what it is now, the air was much cleaner, it was quite, civil and quaint. Crime was almost non existent. The quality of life was much much higher even if real estate values were lower.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Boscoli -- Real estate values in PA haven't been low for 30+ years...and now they are so ridiculously high that it is really obscene.

The city is changing because it is a center of Silicon Valley. Period. And, it will change more. The only way to handle it is to handle it....YUP the "P" word: PLANNING. That's the deal.

But..if you can't stand any change you can always move. Auburn is nice.

Finally, where did your comment about "Snobism" come from? Wow, I didn't see that coming. I can't afford Palo Alto or any town near it!!


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Boscoli-- Stanford provides plenty of tax revenue to Palo Alto. Neighbor is correct in his analysis of what Stanford means to Palo Alto. But, boscoli, you must have never been to an orgy considering your misuse of the term over and over again.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Boscoli -- one more suggestion: RE-READ the perfectly reasonable comment from the poster who called him/herself "The candidate I want is"

Don't want to scroll up? HERE IT IS COPIED AND PASTED FOR YOU.

I have lived in Palo Alto for more than 20 years. I don't think that things are so awful. I have seen plenty of change. Most good. Some not so good. This is a wonderful place to live.

I am looking for Council and School Board candidates who can collaborate--because that is how things get done in a democracy. Contrarians do not make good elected representatives. They create polarized, ineffective voting bodies that get nothing done. Look at Washington.

I am looking for candidates who have a demonstrated record of public and/or community service. Actions speak louder than words.

I am looking for candidates who understand policy and the democratic (note the small d) mechanics of implementing it...because that will be their job. It is not easy.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2014 at 4:46 pm

The idea that Palo Alto has high home prices because of development, is just backwards.

Compare home prices in Hillsborough, Atherton, Palo Alto, Mt. View, and Sunnyvale. The more development, the lower the home prices. Development is not increasing home prices in Palo Alto, it is actually suppressing them.

The idea that Palo Alto has high home prices due to development is pure developer PR. Unfortunately it seems like a small minority of homeowners are drinking this PR cool-aid, or more likely the people regurgitating this theme are really developers.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2014 at 4:52 pm

AHEM -- Real estate prices are high because of location, location, and also location. Period.
You are 1/2 way between SF and SJ, you are the center of Silicon Valley innovation, you have Stanford University. People want to live here...location, location, location.

No Kool Aid. No conspiracies hiding from you.

It's just basic economics and healthy capitalism at work. But we like that, right?


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Neighbor,

Location, location, location... and if the location is less densely developed the home prices are higher.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Woodside is further away from Stanford than Palo Alto but real estate prices are higher. They are higher because density is lower, air quality is much better, it's quieter, etc. Eventually, the population density, traffic, noise, increasing crime and pollution will cause the Palo Alto real estate value to drop.

Unlike 'residen't, I have lived in Palo Alto for 40 years and I know how much better this town used to be before the avalanche of senseless and unnecessary development ruined it.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by We'll, duh
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 3, 2014 at 5:35 pm

S/B obvious: limit growth and the city won't have to find room for more parks.

California and the Bay Area in particular already have far more residents than the water supply and average rainfall can support.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Palo Alto,has no desire to be woodside. Woodside is a small town with a popuLation of about 6000. Palo Alto wants, visitors, shoppers tourists etc. nothing has been ruined in palo,alto and the development has not been " senseless and unnecessary". Times change, people change and places change. The fact that a few people constantly complain about everything in palo,alto does not mean that it is true. Palo,alto is just fine.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2014 at 6:05 pm

You mean you don't have any desire to have the quality of life of Woodside. You want crowds, shoppers, traffic. What you want, in my opinion, most of Palo Alto residents don't want and they are getting progressively alarmed about the very unnecessary and greedy overdevelopment. This a small town, geographically and in any other way, and greedy people and their enablers are trying to turn it into a big city, smelly, polluted, traffic congested, tense and ugly..


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Rupert,

It is really pretty simple. More development is better for, well... developers! Less development is better for homeowners.

The surrounding communities (Atherton, PV, WS) with lower density have a higher quality of life, and higher home prices. The successful developers enjoy the quality of life in these communities, and want to continue running Palo Alto as their own little development plantation, to support their lifestyle.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2014 at 6:32 pm

neighbor,

People who have bought homes in Palo Alto over the recent years have done so mostly because of the schools.

Neighborhood schools and surrounding facilities for sports.


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Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 3, 2014 at 6:37 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

I don't know what to say, boscoli. Cities and towns change over time. In an economically vibrant location, it is unreasonable to expect that things remain as they were, especially 40 years ago.

I bet 40 years ago, people wondered why people are getting rid of the orchards. And 40 years before then, wondering why the heck there are so many orchards.

I would think the opposite would be worse. Just look at Detroit and how they're having to pull back on city services because of the shrinking tax base.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Boscoli -- The cat is out of the bag in Palo Alto. Like it or not, you cannot bring the old days back.

When all is said and done, your home in Palo Alto was the best investment you ever made or could make. It's hard to feel sorry for you. When it comes time to sell your property, I'll bet you'll want the best offer. It will be at market value.







Woodside's land use plan is completely different. From the get=go, they zoned for large-lot residential including horse properties, and very little and very confined commercial land use.

You can't bring the old days back to Palo Alto.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Well, duh
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 3, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Actually, I grew up here, and 40 years ago people were glad to get rid of the orchards because of all the allergies they caused when the fruit and nut trees flowered in the spring.

Just sayin'


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Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Well Duh,

How did that work out? We have over development busting the infastructure, and allergies are still horrible!


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2014 at 7:09 pm

neighbor,

"The cat is out of the bag in Palo Alto. "

The cat I see out of the bag is the fact that people want the same things anyone wants.

Good schools, parks, quality of life.




 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2014 at 7:13 pm

"You mean you don't have any desire to have the quality of life of Woodside. "
Comparing woodside ( or portola valley or atherton) to Palo Alto is apples and oranges. They are bedroom communities with little to no retail/ business. And I do not think the quality of life in any worse in palo,alto

"You want crowds, shoppers, traffic. "
Me and many many people in the city. The city depends on crowds and shoppers ( and the traffic that comes with it) for revenue. And I have no problem wth it. In fact, I do not consider the crowds, shoppers or traffic to be a problem. Palo,alto,for years has marketed itself as a destination,

"What you want, in my opinion, most of Palo Alto residents don't want and they are getting progressively alarmed about the very unnecessary and greedy overdevelopment. "
It may be your opinion, but it is held by few.

"This a small town, geographically and in any other way, and greedy people and their enablers are trying to turn it into a big city, smelly, polluted, traffic congested, tense and ugly.."
Palo,alto is a city, not a town. Palo,alto,wants to be considered as being at the center of innovation etc. the term " greedy" is thrown around a lot by people who have no clue as to its proper usage. Palo,alto wants to be a " big city", but it is far from being smelly, polluted, congested or ugly.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Rupert

"Palo,alto,wants to be considered as being at the center of innovation etc. the term " greedy" is thrown around a lot by people who have no clue as to its proper usage. Palo,alto wants to be a " big city", but it is far from being smelly, polluted, congested or ugly."

Palo Alto doesn't want to "be considered" at the center of innovation. It already IS at the center of innovation, at least most recently, and maybe (maybe) will continue to be. I have my doubts though because when you have hallowed "retail" coming in, buildings for accountants, plastic surgeons, and yoga pant innovators, it may just be game over.

The big problem is not that the term "greedy" is thrown around a lot, but that the term "innovation" is thrown around in connection to cheap developments (looking to capitalize on PA's most notorious past).

Are you sure Palo Alto wants to be a city - as in SF or NY? We need to alert the masses, downtown Palo Alto is not even the size of five block in Soma. Ok three block maybe. Best to call it like it is, a town.

That's what I call it. Small town, 60,000 + people - smaller than Redwood City and bigger than Menlo Park.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2014 at 8:30 pm

And sorry this thread is about Parks.

I'd call Palo Alto a great town with a lot of parks. It's green not just because it recycles, it's actually the color green.

It should be the highest priority to preserve, maintain, and keep growing Palo Alto parks.

The biggest and the best of cities and towns are looking to have parks for the environmental and health benefits to communities.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2014 at 8:44 pm

neighbor,

The funny thing is that with all the obsession with Palo Alto, other communities that could take things that have worked for Palo Alto - the parks, could be making the same work for them. I posted earlier an analysis of how property values go up directly with the proximity of the property to a park.

Web Link

Why don't more communities have parks, and increase their property values that way. Add a few good schools and bingo -

Imagine, instead of trying to reform us here neighbor, you have the secrets to PA's success. You may be just minutes away, you can be first.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2014 at 9:30 pm

"Resident 3" Not trying to REform anyone -- I'm not even sure what that means, other than it's a remark that is meant to silence someone who disagrees. However, I have written notes hoping to INform and remind people how cities develop.

Some of the emotional writers on this thread + those who want to impact City Hall's decisions might take some steps work within the system, rather than rant or be emotional and defensive. Think about reviewing Econ 101 or taking an urban development course. As you know, Stanford is just up the road and has a good Continuing Ed program.

Mourning the past -- however loudly -- isn't going to work.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2014 at 9:49 pm

Neighbor,

Thank you for the tip for educating myself.

It sounds like you may have taken Econ 101 in the urban development department. You may want a refresher yourself.


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Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 3, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Neighbor,

The days of out of control development are coming to a close in Palo Alto, and you are the one desperately trying to clinging onto the recent past. You had a good run, but Palo Alto homeowners are tired of living on your plantation.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2014 at 6:02 am

According to Rupert's logic, Woodside, Atherton, Portola Valley and Los Altos Hills should be poor and desperate places, as they have almost no retail and shopping. Shockingly, they are doing alright, and their quality of life is far superior to that of Palo Alto. Also, according to Rupert, Palo Altans want big crowds and lots of traffic, because they mean big revenues for the city. According to him, Palo Altan want Palo Alto to become a big bustling city. I don't think I need to comment any further.


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Posted by Rupert of Henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2014 at 6:28 am

[Portion removed.] As I said you cannot compare woodside,atherton, PV and LAH with palo alto. Those cities do not rely on business tax revenue, palo,alto,does. Nowhere do I state that those ctiies should be " poor and desperate". [Portion removed.] And yes, as i stated earlier, palo alto wants visitors and businesses in town. The reasons are rather obvious. And with business and visitors, you get traffic and crowds sometimes. From boscolis comments it sounds like he wants palo,alto to be Detroit or Gary, Indiana. Times change, people change and cities change.
[Portion removed.]


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2014 at 6:46 am

"You want crowds, shoppers, traffic. "
Me and many many people in the city. The city depends on crowds and shoppers ( and the traffic that comes with it) for revenue. And I have no problem wth it. In fact, I do not consider the crowds, shoppers or traffic to be a problem. Palo,alto,for years has marketed itself as a destination,

"What you want, in my opinion, most of Palo Alto residents don't want and they are getting progressively alarmed about the very unnecessary and greedy overdevelopment. "
It may be your opinion, but it is held by few.

"This a small town, geographically and in any other way, and greedy people and their enablers are trying to turn it into a big city, smelly, polluted, traffic congested, tense and ugly.."
Palo,alto is a city, not a town. Palo,alto,wants to be considered as being at the center of innovation etc. the term " greedy" is thrown around a lot by people who have no clue as to its proper usage. Palo,alto wants to be a " big city", but it is far from being smelly, polluted, congested or ugly."

This taken from your comments from yesterday. On top of that, you claim to know that Palo Altans want this town to become a big city, although I have to meet yet even one. Have you conducted a poll? If you you don't think that Woodside, Portola Valley, Atherton and Los Altos Hills have a much better quality of life, based on lower density, more peace and quite, more nature, cleaner air and less pollution, so be it.

Palo Alto does not depend on shopping, it was a fantastic place to live in when it was a small town, which in essence it has always been. It had been a center of innovation many years before the massive growth, and a much better place to live in. The revenues from retail aren't probably high enough to even repair the damage to the infrastructure that the traffic caused by shoppers is causing. Those who love big cities have two within less than an hour drive. Palo Alto isn't a big city, can't become one-not nearly enough buildable land, insufficient infrastructure, geographically impossible, It shouldn't become one, and it will never become one.

One last thing, if Woodside, Los Altos Hills,etc are bedroom communities, so is Palo Alto. The vast majority of Palo Altans work in the Valley and San Francisco.


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Posted by Rupert f Henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2014 at 7:10 am

Boscoli-- please go back and retread my comments more carefully-- nowhere did I say that palo Altoans want palo,alto,to become a big city. I just stated that they want the business and the visitors, for,obvious reasons.
Have you conducted a poll to prove your claims about the city? There has never been widespread complaints about drawing businesses and visitors to the city. Recent complaints have focused on what some call over development. I think most people in the city want businesses, shopper and visitors. But you would prefer a closed Stanford shopping center, empty downtown streets with no restauarnts and businesses?
Palo alto derives plenty of,revenue from the Stanford shopping center, frys, the auto dealers and the hotels in town. That is why the city is concerned about frys leaving, about making sure that auto,dealers stay in the city and pushed for an expansion of the Stanford shopping center. Claiming that palp alto,does not depend on tax revenue is false.
Palo,alto,has never been a bedroom community-- a bedroom community would never have had Facebook, HP, Sun etc. palo alto does not wantbto be a bedroom community.
Perhaps, boscoli, you would be happy if Stanford shut down and palo alto reverted to being like Detroit. How much do you think the city takes in on a Stanford football weekend? Do you think that the residents are unhappy with that ?


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2014 at 7:59 am

>One last thing, if Woodside, Los Altos Hills,etc are bedroom communities, so is Palo Alto.

I'm just curious as to what your definition of "bedroom community" is, because by all historic definitions, more jobs than residents, inbound commuters, etc., Palo Alto is the complete opposite of a bedroom community, more so than any city in the area.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2014 at 9:21 am

Robert,

It's a surprise that Palo Alto has a community when the office buildings and stores shut down?

The "bedroom" part of Palo Alto is by the way, the source of the property taxes which sustain the city. It's not Fry's, it's not the hotels, HP or the Shopping Center. If you ran a survey and asked why did you choose Palo Alto as the place to live, they would not have Fry's, or the hotels at the top of the list.

The single biggest driver of housing are the schools, and then after that are the surrounding facilities to raise a family - like Parks.

As everyone has explained, you can also drive or take the train to Mountain View, Redwood City, San Jose or San Francisco for amenities.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2014 at 9:23 am

Rupert,

Detroit?

I detect a connection to the City or Council here.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of Henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2014 at 9:36 am

Resident 3- you can check out this link for 4Q 2013 tax info:
Web Link

Of,course people,will not say they live here because of frys or the heels. But they know you need tax revenue from them to maintain the city.

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2014 at 10:18 am

> Palo Alto has added $2 million dollars a year to street maintenance,
> speeded up the cycle of resurfacing and increased the share of our
> streets in good and excellent condition.

Many years ago (maybe around 1998 when the first 100M Infrastructure problem was "discovered" during the June Fleming days) the City claimed that it needed about $30M to fix the streets. Since that time, some work has been done—but due to the lack of transparency where P/W works are concerned, the number of dollars spent on the streets, and the current condition of the streets, is not readily available to the public.

Before former City Auditor Sharon Erikson left for San Jose, she published an audit of the streets, but it was a little confused, and didn't really clarify the situation very much.

Also please remember, that the money spent on the streets is subject to change on a year-by-year basis. Just throwing out some number, and claiming that the streets are in good, or excellent condition, is not something most people would like to see as the basis for evaluating our streets on a yearly basis.


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2014 at 10:26 am

> The "bedroom" part of Palo Alto is by the way, the source of
> the property taxes which sustain the city.

Actually, the City only receives about 9% of the property tax generated by all Palo Alto properties. The PAUSD receives a whopping 46%, which comprises about 70$ of its yearly revenue.

The City does not usually make an effort to publish the ratio of property taxes generated from commercial properties vs residentail properties. This information can be obtained from the SCC Assessor.

The assessed value of Palo Alto is about $22B. Tax rates are 1% and Palo Alto would receive about 9% of that 1%.

It would be a good thing if the City did publish the revenues generated by both commercial properties and residential properties--to help people better understand the contributions of each property type's contribution to the General Fund.


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2014 at 10:31 am

> Palo,alto,has never been a bedroom community

This is simply not true. Palo Alto, originally called University Park, was created by Timothy Hopkins as a bedroom community for the newly build Stanford University.

Businesses have been pretty much restricted to the downtown, and El Camino Real, zones.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2014 at 10:56 am

Don't-Need-No-Facts,

"It would be a good thing if the City did publish the revenues generated by both commercial properties and residential properties--to help people better understand the contributions of each property type's contribution to the General Fund."

I agree.

According to the link Rupert posted- while the retail revenues are very good, they would still not be in the order of magnitude of housing property values.

Exhibit 2 – Palo Alto's Sales and Use Tax Revenue by Geographical Area
For the Year Ending December 2013
(Amounts include tax estimates and exclude pool allocations)

Stanford Shopping
Center
$5.6 million, 23%

Downtown/
University Ave
$3.1 million, 13%

California Ave/Park
Blvd/Lambert Ave
$1.6 million, 7%

El Camino Real
$1.0 million, 4%

Town & Country
$0.6 million, 2%

All Other Areas
$12.6 million, 51%

Especially when you think about the costs of these areas to the city in terms of traffic, parking, and safety compared to bedrooms.

If there was a relative analysis of how Parks contribute to the $22B assessed value of PA, I would also think that the return on parks is greater than the return on Downtown/University Ave.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2014 at 11:09 am

"Perhaps, boscoli, you would be happy if Stanford shut down and palo alto reverted to being like Detroit."

How does Rupert even come up with this stuff, it's hilarious. Detroit is in the situation it is because blue color jobs have been outsourced to 3rd world countries by corporatists of Rupert's political persuasion. Palo Alto has been a greta place to live in ever before Silicon was discovered. It was a desirable place to buy a home in because of its good public schools, parks, tree-lined street, tranquility, good air, little traffic, wonderful weather, the proximity to San Francisco, the pacific coastline, redwood forests, hiking trails, a great university. It never needed grossly overpriced retail and heavy traffic to be viable, desirable and livable, and still doesn't. The energy and corruption going toward enabling the developers should go toward more parks , trees and open space, reducing traffic and population density, and this town will become even more desirable to live in.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Rupert of Henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2014 at 11:23 am

Boscoli-- what is my political persuasion and what does that have to do with the discussion. You claim that palo alto does not need Stanford, the Stanford shopping center, all the tax generating businesses and hotels, the visitors etc. do you know what palo alto,would be without all of those?
Palo,alto remains a desirable place to live. But the vast majority of,people understand that in order to maintain that desirability, there are trade offs- businesses In town,, visitors and traffic. A few people, on this forum, constantly tell us how horrible it is in palo alto, but they do not represent a significant number of residents.
It is still desirable because of the good schools, parks and tranquility. Some things have changd over the years, but that is to be expected and most of the changes have been for the better.
But, if you have evidence of corruption, boscoli, I suggest you present to,the proper authorities.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2014 at 11:34 am

Rupert,

"It is still desirable because of the good schools, parks and tranquility."

I agree 100% with this Rupert.

Schools
Parks
Tranquility

All are core to Palo Alto's, which makes the threshold of a "good" commercial development very high. It's not personal, it's a pretty straightforward concept. What people describe as horrible is the wholesale idea that "all" development is good. It's certainly not when it eats away at what you have in hand, and very short sighted and irresponsible if you give up on the necessary investments in your core value.

Schools
Parks
Tranquility


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2014 at 11:59 am

> According to the link Rupert posted- while the retail
> revenues are very good, they would still not be in
> the order of magnitude of housing property values.

On the aggregate .. no. But please remember that Palo Alto only receives 9% of the property tax generated by Palo Alto properties. This percentage could change (via modifications to AB8 by the Legislature), but such changes are not likely.

So—the retail sales tax is generally about 30% of the City's revenues, compared to about 9% attributed to property tax.

> Especially when you think about the costs of these areas
> to the city in terms of traffic, parking, and safety compared
> to bedrooms.

This is an open question. The City does offer glimpses of where the various departments spend their time (and dollars), but localizing the activities by residential vs commercial is not readily available.

For instance, burglaries tend to be residential in Palo alto. Bank robberies happen, but these are typically handled by the Feds. Fires tend to be in public areas (the foot hills), commercial properties and residential properties. But most of the fire department's activity these days is in ambulance callouts, and inspections (which tend to be commercial, but as fee-based). The police claim that 2/3rs of the tickets issued in PA are to non-residents, but they don't publish the data to back up these claims.

The City has routinely issued data claiming about $2500/resident in costs—but never gotten around to look at costs associated with business, and their non-resident workers.

So—it's a bit difficult to claim that businesses are costing more than they bring in.

> If there was a relative analysis of how Parks contribute
> to the $22B assessed value of PA, I would also think that
> the return on parks is greater than the return on
> Downtown/University Ave.

Not exactly certain what you are saying. If you are saying that parks drive up the cost of housing, which increases the property tax revenue—it would be a hard sell to push that point. Every time the PAUSD wants more of our money—all of the education proponents start bleating that the PAUSD is responsible for maintaining the high housing costs. The parks don't even get an honorable mention.

It would be hard to believe that very many people in Palo Alto actually spend 10+ hours a week in the urban, or non-urban parks. So—it's difficult to guess how many hundreds of thousands of dollars people are willing to pay over the intrinsic value of a Palo Alto home in order to use these parks as a resident.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by loschpa@gmail.com
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 4, 2014 at 12:04 pm

I was on the Parks and Rec Commission for 9 years, ending in December, 2012.

The point of this story is that PARC is taking a more assertive approach in dealing with PA City Council, which is a good thing. Will it affect Council behavior? Time will tell, some of it may have to do with who gets elected in two months.

There so many comments on this thread that I will humbly describe as misinformed, I don't have the time or inclination to comment on them.


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Posted by Don't-Need-No-Facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2014 at 12:14 pm

.
> There so many comments on this thread that I will humbly describe
> as misinformed, I don't have the time or inclination to comment on them.

So much for the value of having these sorts of boards and commissions--or education for that matter. Refusing to even call out five acts of "misinformation" would be a benefit to this discussion.



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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 4, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Do you go to the meetings? Do you provide your points of view in writing for the packets? Do you talk in person or on the phone to articulate your thoughts? And have an exchange with someone who can affect outcomes?

I don't know who you are, but you appear to like anonymous pontificating as opposed doing the work that can influence the thinking of City policy makers.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Don't-Need-No-Facts,

"If you are saying that parks drive up the cost of housing, which increases the property tax revenue—it would be a hard sell to push that point."

I am exactly saying that parks drive up the cost of housing. I don't see it a hard sell at all.

Web Link

And the value of parks are not necessarily correlated to actual use of a park. Not everybody uses Central Park in NYC every day, or at all, but if you live near the park, your property value is higher.

This topic is certainly worth looking at more closely.


"So—the retail sales tax is generally about 30% of the City's revenues, compared to about 9% attributed to property tax."

The retail revenues 2013 per the link appear to be in the range of $25 million. That's 30% of total city revenues? So property taxes only add up to $7.5 million??


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Jerry Underdal-The Maybell project was never about affordable housing for seniors, there's no such thing as affordable housing in Palo Alto. It was a clever little sweetheart scheme, enabled by the city council, to enrich developers and allow them to bend zoning laws while making huge profits.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2014 at 3:15 pm

"But the vast majority of,people understand that in order to maintain that desirability, there are trade offs- businesses In town,, visitors and traffic. A few people, on this forum, constantly tell us how horrible it is in palo alto, but they do not represent a significant number of residents."

No they don't. You never conducted a poll, and neither have I. However, From conversations with friends, neighbors and acquaintances. I have yet to meet one who isn't extremely concerned about the direction and future of Palo Alto vis-a-vis development, urbanization, traffic, pollution, noise and the crime that the gross urbanization has attracted. They would all forgo the visitors, shoppers and traffic for a return to tranquility, peace and quite. Woodside, Los Altos Hills. Palo Alto Hills, Portola Valley are doing just fine without hordes of shoppers, and we would be much better off without them as well. And stop with the "boscoli wants to close down Stanford" nonsense if you want to be taken seriously.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Boscoli-- not sure who you are talking to, but now you throw in another red herring-- crime. I doubt most residents would forgo as you put it, visitor, shoppers and traffic. And ther is plenty of " tranquility,, peace and quiet" in Palo Alto. Anyway, what you are demanding will never happen. Palo Alto long ago,decided to have business, shopping and visitors in town. The city depends a lot on the revenue generated from these enterprises. Remember " destination Palo Alto" from a few years back-- not much opposition to that. And today there really is not much opposition to business! shoppers and visitors in town.
Comparing woodside, PV, LAH to palo,alto ( Palo Alto hills is part of Palo Alto) is a bogus comparison- they are bedroom communities . Palo Alto is not. Palo,alto long ago,decided not to be a bedroom community. And you can not turn back the clock now .
But to,achieve what you want would involve closing stanford-- without Stanford the number of visitors to,the city would decrease. Traffic would decrease and many businesses would bail for a more welcoming climate. So claiming that you want Stanford to go away is not nonsense.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 4, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@boscoli

Did you want me to speak to this here or in the "Palo Alto admits mistakes in negotiations with developer" thread? If there, please repost and I'll comment. Thanks.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2014 at 5:26 pm

What is a bedroom community? Palo Alto never decided to be anything. It was forced to urbanized by corrupt city councils acting as front men for the big developers. Most Palo Altans don't work in Palo Alto, so if there's such a thing as a bedroom community, then Palo Alto qualifies. You would be hard pressed to find Palo Altans at this juncture who are not extremely concerned by the gross urbanization. You will find out now that any development project will meet with stiff and public opposition. Most Palo Altans would love it if we go back to peace and tranquility, they are sick of the noise, traffic and density. It's pro development folk like you who have tuned the clock, and what you caused is not progress, but regression into noise, gridlock, bad air and diminishing of our life quality. We just want to return to where Palo Alto should be, and we will.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 4, 2014 at 5:40 pm

"What is a bedroom community? "
See Roberts posting above for a definition

"Palo Alto never decided to be anything. It was forced to urbanized by corrupt city councils acting as front men for the big developers."
Which councilmembers specifically. Please provide names and dates. Also,identify the big developers you are referring to

" Most Palo Altans don't work in Palo Alto, so if there's such a thing as a bedroom community, then Palo Alto qualifies. "
Date for this claim, please.

"You would be hard pressed to find Palo Altans at this juncture who are not extremely concerned by the gross urbanization. "
Poll results please. With the exact questions asked

"Most Palo Altans would love it if we go back to peace and tranquility, they are sick of the noise, traffic and density. "
Poll results please. Most parts of PA are "peaceful and tranquil". Certain areas, such as downtown may not be all the time, but that is the nature of a " downtown".

"It's pro development folk like you who have tuned the clock, and what you caused is not progress, but regression into noise, gridlock, bad air and diminishing of our life quality. We just want to return to where Palo Alto should be, and we will."
Noise is not that bad in palo,alto. There is little to no gridlock. Quality of life is not diminishing. Most people are happy with the state of Palo Alto. Of course, the recent development issues have inflamed some passions, but for the most part people here are not miserable. They do not see the residents of PV, atherton and woodside having a significantly better quality of life. And the vast majority of,people understand the need for a healthy tax base and what that means in the way of visitors, shopping and traffic.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 4, 2014 at 6:02 pm

This discussion has got completely off topic.

Whether or not this is a bedroom community is irrelevant to this discussion. As a fairly typical Palo Alto family, we moved here for proximity to work (in Mountain View) at the time. Subsequently, work has since been in another Mountain View office, Palo Alto and two Sunnyvale offices. Jobs and even places of work change more often than people change homes. Even in two employed families, the jobs are probably in two separate cities.

This is suburbia because it is not a big city like San Francisco, Detroit, or London, and it is not a rural area. People choose to live here for many reasons but are likely to stay because it is much easier to stay and commute rather than move each time the job changes.

We like to be able to visit open space parks for nature and hiking, and have neighborhood parks for shorter walks and other recreational visits. Our kids need to have places to run around and play sport. It is good to be able to host a birthday party, church picnic, family get together or yes a company bonding activity, in a park. Whether we work in Palo Alto or not, for those of us who live here, we like our park space here in Palo Alto and have probably visited other parks in other cities also.

We need to stop this city by city piecemeal idea and start thinking of regional amenities. We do not have city walls and need to be neighborly rather than blinkered.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by solution
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 4, 2014 at 6:11 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 7, 2014 at 9:56 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@boscoli

"The Maybell project was never about affordable housing for seniors, . . ."


Maybe not in your mind, but on the ground, in the neighborhood, this was very much about affordable housing (as well as other matters such as bicycle safety, traffic, saving the orchard, setting an example to scare the city council about Jay Paul and 27 University, and more). Go back and look at the threads from a year-and-a-half ago.

"there's no such thing as affordable housing in Palo Alto."

There's no cheap housing, but there is affordable housing. PAHC has provided hundreds of units of housing over the decades whose rent is specifically tailored to income level. The Maybell project would have provided 60 units for very low and low income people, guaranteed to keep that status for at least 55 years.


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Posted by resident 3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 7, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Jerry Underdal,

"The Maybell project would have provided 60 units for very low and low income"

I don't recall that it was for very low income.

Would you have details/numbers for what low and very low income would mean, and the break down between both that was planned for Maybell?


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 7, 2014 at 11:35 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@resident 3

"Would you have details/numbers for what low and very low income would mean, and the break down between both that was planned for Maybell?"

Gennady Sheyner's Oct. 11, 2013 piece "What's measure D really about?" reported as follows:

--The Palo Alto Housing Corporation was able to get funding for the purchase through the state's tax-credits system precisely because of the project's density and its ability to devote 20 of 60 units to the lowest-income seniors, who make 30 percent or less of the area median income (monthly rent here would be about $500). The other 40 units would serve seniors who earn up to 60 percent of the area median income and generate higher rents (up to about $1,000), making it financially feasible to run the housing complex.--

During the campaign the statement was often made that these units would only help seniors who make from 30-60% of area median income. That was incorrect, yet it was not effectively challenged. One third of the units would have been for seniors with very low incomes, ranging from 0-30%. Their very low rent would have been subsidized by the higher rent paid by seniors who fell in the 30-60% band.

I couldn't quickly ascertain how many dollars those percentages (apart from 0% = $0) represented when last calculated, but they were part of the discussion.

Hope this is helpful.



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