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Palo Alto looks to link Main Library, Art Center

Original post made on May 21, 2012

Palo Alto will forge ahead with a plan to link the Main Library and the Palo Alto Art Center with a new driveway despite concerns from some local gardeners who argued Monday night that the planned road would mess up their turf.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, May 21, 2012, 10:07 PM

Comments (40)

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Posted by Paved Paradise
a resident of Community Center
on May 21, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Too bad the council didn't follow the advice of the Parks and Rec Commission that voted 4 to 2 in favor of the bike/pedestrian connection over the road connector through the community gardens. I fail to see how additional auto traffic adds to the campus feeling. What happened to city priorities for biking in our community? So much for prioritizing biking and pedestrian infrastructure in our city. Web Link


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Posted by Cathy
a resident of Community Center
on May 22, 2012 at 5:01 am

Retractable security bollards are the answer for the new $1 million lane between the Art Center and Main Library.

Bollards would eliminate the otherwise-created 24/7 vehicle cut-through between heavily-trafficked Embarcadero and Newell Roads. The bollards could be lowered only during major events at either the Art Center or Library, thus making both parking lots accessible as Council desires. Emergency vehicles would be given a way to always get through, like at Stanford.

Cut-throughs have long been a BIG problem for the Art Center. Unless bollards are installed, cut-throughs could be a City-created BIG problem for BOTH the Art Center and the Main Library.

Nobody wants a BIG cut-through problem plaguing these wonderful new facilities.


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2012 at 6:02 am

$1 million on this car lane; $500,000 (city's contribution) to redesign California Ave; $250,000 to study the bike bridge; no wonder our city's infrastructure is such a mess - there's no focus on prioritizing spending on fixing what's in disrepair.

And later in the meeting, the City Council discussed putting bonds on the 2014 ballot for fixing the infrastructure. They must be hoping we forget all the spending they are doing now on these nice but necessary projects


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Posted by paloaltotreewatch
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on May 22, 2012 at 6:36 am

it all about the cars all of the time
the urban planners have zero creativity
they don't know how to save trees
this road is going to take out roots
of some of the oldest Redwoods in the PA
not to mention two lovely Stone Pines
and there is no fighting for these trees
as the urban forest management function
in this city is broken and compromised


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Posted by Gail
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 22, 2012 at 8:20 am

City Council member Karen Holman is th only member of the council that votes with the wishes of PA residents in mind. She voted against the huge, ugly Gateway project (corner of Lytton and Alma), too. The rest of the city council is out of touch with the residents of PA. Thank you Karen.


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Posted by the fix was in
a resident of Community Center
on May 22, 2012 at 8:46 am

Real estate lawyer Greg Scharff and corporate-tax lawyer Larry Klein both thanked Bern Beecham, business consultant and head of the foundation, for his advocacy for the road.
What else do you need to know?


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 22, 2012 at 9:08 am

It's politics as usual in Palo Alto. Cronyism and catering to special interest groups and vocal minorities. Where is the sense of financial responsibility in all of this? Seriously. Our city leaders and elected officials decry this financial crisis we're in, and outline an ever growing budget deficit, and at the next turn approve yet another expenditure that is furthest thing from essential that you can get.

Even with the grant money, our city can simply not afford this type of frivolous spending. We have vital, cornerstone civic priorities that remain unfunded. There is seemingly no plan in place to accomplish that unless of course you consider another tax increase to be a viable option. I certainly don't. Not after millions have been dedicated, and continue to be dedicated to projects and services that are not essential. Can someone at city hall please demonstrate some leadership and set some financial priorities.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2012 at 9:11 am

> "We wanted to provide a focal point for people to meet and greet in the area between the two buildings and a better configuration for the outdoor spaces," said Phil Bobel, assistant director of Public Works.

Thank you, Phil Bobel and City Council. This is an absolutely essential project for only $1M. Without this plaza, where would the people coming out of the new 100-person program room congregate?


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Posted by Darwin
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2012 at 10:20 am

It seems to me that this proposed plan is better for bicyclists and pedestrians. Cars going in and out of the two driveways looking for a parking spot would be decreased, and the bike lane running northbound on Newell would be safer. There are a lot of kids riding their bikes there and less in and out traffic would make it a bit safer.

This was a good decision.


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 22, 2012 at 10:30 am

It's not a good decision Darwin because we can't afford it. Period. I would like to build a small cottage behind our home, but you know what, we can't afford it. I only wish the city would use the same logic and know the difference between what we want and what is needed. There is a huge difference.


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Posted by Linda Craighead
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2012 at 10:59 am

A committee put together by the Main Library, the Art Center, and the Community Garden worked successfully with architect Mark Cavagnero as he developed the "Joint Site Survey" for the Library and Art Center. It was a terrific process with a vision to create a gathering site for the community between the Art Center and Library, connecting two of Palo Alto's treasures. I am so pleased to see that this will move forward and become a reality.


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Posted by Ugh. Holman had it right.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2012 at 11:05 am

A connection is a good idea, but a ped/bikeway would be much better. There is no reason cars need to intrude on this area. A good walkway would allow motorists to walk comfortably the VERY SHORT distance between the two facilities.

There is a reason obesity is epidemic in this country. Decisions like this create a community that discourages walking and biking...even in a park area. A short walk in a lovely, quiet grassy area is a good thing. We don't need cars there. I am disappointed.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 22, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I live nearby and I am in favor of this new layout. It makes complete sense to me. Change is good.


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Change is good if we can afford to pay for it. And we can't.


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 22, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Ironic how currently on the Palo Alto Online main page there is a headline and story reflecting the city council's desire to float another bond measure and tax increase to pay for essential civic needs that should have already been completed and paid for. And just below it, a second headline and story on how they plan to spend at least a half million dollars on a completely non-essential environmental change to to the art center and main library. That illustrates the problem perfectly. Poor planning, lack of financial priorities, and irresponsible spending at its finest. Like I've been saying, absolutely unreal.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Connecting the buildings within the community complex seems like a great idea -- it will improve the functionality and accessibility of the entire "campus." Wish my town had such a Library-Art Center complex.

Why does Palo Alto fight over absolutely everything? It is a blessed affluent community that has one of the highest park-per-citizen ratios in the country.


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 22, 2012 at 5:19 pm

And something that you may not realize Neighbor is that Palo Alto is in the midst of a significant financial challenge and facing annual budget deficits. Too many of our city leaders and elected officials seem to think that the affluence you mention is never ending. They have spent irresponsibly on a myriad of non-essential projects and services, and have left vital infrastructure and public safety requirements unfunded. The only solution to this problem it seems is another bond measure and tax increase. So for this reason specifically, and many others, yes we must argue these points and plead for some responsibility and reason.


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Posted by Steve Ludington
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 22, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Everyone is fussing terribly about this, but I can't understand what they're talking about. Can someone post a link to a map that shows this driveway? There's no sign of it on the city docs about the library update.


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Posted by Oldbasse
a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Wasteful, indeed often senseless, projects continue to be a specialty of the City Council, the City Administration and, always, a dedicated, but small, minority of vocal interest groups. Recent, misguided projects of that nature include the library boondoggle (probably an $85 million extravaganza); the Adobe Creek/101 overpass ($10 million); and now the Arts Center/Main Library idiocy ($1 million). Thus, the amounts of money involved in those nearly insane projects matter little. Generally, the largely lethargic P.A. citizenry is disinvolved with City affairs and can be counted upon to just pay up. We have the leadership and government that we deserve!


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Marrol --- Make the childrens' theatre self supporting for a start. And maybe you should think hard about raising local taxes/fees before you cut police and fire....most of the local crime reports are starting to come from Palo Alto. Palo Alto is a wealthy community that is stingy when it comes to supporting their city and the people who try to make it run.


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 22, 2012 at 10:52 pm

I agree Neighbor, and I have cited the Children's Theater on numerous occasions as just one example of where city funding should be eliminated. There are a myriad of other non-essential proposals, projects, and services that should also be significantly reduced or eliminated in order to help fund our vital needs in public safety and infrastructure.

Unfortunately this proposed renovation to the art center and main library are equally non-essential. Our city has far too many priority matters to cope with, especially under the current economic climate.


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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on May 23, 2012 at 12:25 am

Nora Charles is a registered user.

Posted by paloaltotreewatch, a resident of the Palo Alto Orchards neighborhood, 17 hours ago

it all about the cars all of the time

the urban planners have zero creativity

they don't know how to save trees

this road is going to take out roots

of some of the oldest Redwoods in the PA

not to mention two lovely Stone Pines

and there is no fighting for these trees

as the urban forest management function

in this city is broken and compromised
________
Beautifully said!


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Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 23, 2012 at 7:19 am

Why do we cater and defer to cars all the time? Why do we need to uproot trees and community garden plots in order to increase the asphalt jungle and make it even more attractive for drivers to stay in their cars instead of walk and bike?


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 23, 2012 at 8:02 am

And why Daniel do our city leaders continue to spend public dollars on non-essential fluff projects, while at the same time trying to increase taxes to pay for our cornerstone needs in infrastructure and public safety? Needs that should have been planned for and funded long ago.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2012 at 8:21 am

Marrol -- The connection between the 2 buildings WOULD improve safety.


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 23, 2012 at 8:25 am

At some level sure, but I don't think many people would describe the current configuration as being hazardous by any stretch. With that said, it's another expenditure that we can't afford. Not with so many other priority matters still on the table.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on May 23, 2012 at 8:53 am

Have you noticed the utilities department has proposed new charge of $6.66 per month for street sweeping?

Why do we have to pay extra for this basic service, which should come out of the general fund? Oh, right -- because we spend tax dollars on nonsense projects like this road/plaza.

The utilities department is just one way to sneak extra payments into the general fund without calling it a tax.


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 23, 2012 at 9:31 am

Exactly Pat, it's this kind of frivolous spending on wants and not needs that has gotten us into the financial mess we're in. If city management had set some financial priorities and planned for our vital infrastructure and public safety needs we wouldn't even be discussing the possibility of a tax increase.

They succumb to the special interest and vocal minority groups that push these non-essential agendas. No vision or forethought, and seemingly incapable of telling people no, we can't afford that project or service until our basic needs are met. I am hoping for a resounding defeat of any ballot measure that will further enable city management following their years of irresponsible spending. We cannot let them off the hook.


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Posted by more waste
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 23, 2012 at 10:33 am

The Planning Dept and City Council are run by the developers. The only thing that makes them blink is a lawsuit. So...


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on May 23, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Can't help wondering who came up with the street cleaning charge of $6.66.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Well spotted Pat, the number of the Beast.


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Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 24, 2012 at 7:31 am

This is not a major expenditure money-wise, it's just totally unnecessary. It will eliminate green areas with plants, flowers and old beautiful redwood trees for the sake of more asphalt and more car traffic.


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 24, 2012 at 8:27 am

Daniel, you believe that this is not a major expenditure, and relatively speaking that might be true, assuming of course this project doesn't get hit with the usual overruns that Palo Alto is so famous for. But I maintain it's precisely that type of thinking that got us into and keeps us in the financial mess we're in.

Rarely if ever is there one solution to a significant budget deficit. No, it involves an accumulation of cuts, decreased funding, and wise expenditures. When you add this non-essential expenditure to the many other city funded projects and services that could be cut, then and only then will we be able to begin to balance the budget.

Our city management must learn to know the difference between what we would like to have, versus what we need to have. They need to identify and set these financial priorities, explain to the community why it is necessary, and have the courage to say no to the special interest and niche groups. Sounds like leadership. A virtue sorely lacking at city hall these days.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on May 24, 2012 at 8:47 am

Daniel -- it's not enough that you agree with Marrol's position against the connection between the Library and Art Center, if you don't parrot her words you are just part of the enemy and need her admonition.

There are lots of interpretations of what is essential. Connecting the Library and Art Center seems to be a pretty obvious need for the park users....rather than the evil project from hell.

Marrol et al: Choose your battles more carefully and your credibility will rise. Ever read the "Chicken Little" story?


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 24, 2012 at 8:58 am

Neighbor, I never said it was evil or anything even close to that. I commented that under favorable financial times I would not be opposed to upgrades like this, but not at the expense of our vital needs. I have to disagree with you however as would most reasonable people on the main point. As desirable as linking the art center and library might be, it is by no means essential.

When I refer to the vital and essential needs the city faces, that involves public safety, road and sidewalk repair, sewage and drainage repair, and flood control just to name a few. The initial price tag for this essential civic work is upwards of 50 million dollars by most estimates. So yes, I'd say a driveway linking the art center and library would take a back seat to these public works, especially when our city management's apparent solution to all of this is another tax increase. I guess you'd have to live here to really appreciate the predicament Neighbor.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on May 24, 2012 at 9:24 am

Marrol -- Though not a resident, I use both the Art Center and Library and am disabled. Many people use both facilities during the same visit, so connecting the two is not crazy.


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Posted by Scottie Zimmerman
a resident of Midtown
on May 24, 2012 at 9:33 am

I am opposed to the road between the Main Library and the Art Center. It is already an easy walk, past pleasant trees and a huge Camelia. The "campus" has been linked for walkers & bikers for a long time. Modifying the arrangement to build an improved walking/biking path is fine, but CARS?

I attended most of the City Hall meetings on the subject. At one, Bob Moss from the LAC said it's not really a road, it's a "path for cars." A two-lane asphalt path. Sounds soothing, eh? If it weren't so sad, it would be funny.

Someone in this discussion commented on how the road that tears up part of the Community Garden would make it safer for children riding bicycles on Newell Road. I approve of making the world safer for children, but there are no statistics that suggest children have been killed or injured biking past the driveways on Newell. I asked. And I can just as easily claim some LOSS of safety for children on foot in or near the Community Garden.

One current traffic problem involves cars who enter from Embarcadero to cut through the existing Art Center parking lot as a shortcut to Newell Road. The "path for cars" is not going to alleviate that inappropriate use of the parking lot as a throughway.

At the various meetings on the subject, people favoring the path for cars predicted that actual automotive use would be "light" except for special events. Really? What Ouija board did that news come from? Some even proposed that if cars don't use the road, the city might let it revert for bike and pedestrian use only. Made me think of snake-oil salesmen.

I do support the suggested use of bollards to prevent ingress from Embarcadero, or for other traffic-dampening purposes. Sadly that won't repair the harm to the Community Garden.


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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 24, 2012 at 9:48 am

And I agree Neighbor, it is an improvement that could out turn out very nice, but it is not something essential. There is a huge difference between what we'd like to have and what we need to have. It's not a crazy notion at all, but it's something that falls way down on the priority list, especially during the difficult financial times we're in.


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Posted by A DRIVE way?! Ugh.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 24, 2012 at 10:42 pm

People need to DRIVE between these two lots? they are so close together! Really! How ridiculaous. A simple walking path between the lots would be just right and less expensive. What a waste of green space and greenbacks. Bad idea.


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Posted by the fix was in
a resident of Community Center
on May 24, 2012 at 11:44 pm

The support for this road comes from the Arts Foundation and the head of the Art center. In other words, the money interests.
Maybe their rich friends want this boondoggle for some reason. Makes parking a little more convenient? who knows. Time will tell what it is really about. Certainly not safety, Certainly not beauty! They have to remove trees.


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