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Palo Alto rises to the 'Cool Cities Challenge'

Original post made on Oct 23, 2012

Palo Alto's next green program won't rely on tough energy standards or strict building codes but on hundreds of volunteer teams preaching the gospel of conservation to their friends and neighbors.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, October 23, 2012, 12:46 AM

Comments (23)

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Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 23, 2012 at 7:28 am

PA Online is the online arm of the PA Weekly, which in the last couple years has become a massive advertisement for 2500-5000ft2 $4-20M homes each with carbon footprints the size of a small town.

I think it only appropriate, then, that the PA Weekly immediately stop taking advertising dollars from real estate agents advertising homes bigger than 2000ft2, or impose a 2-4X advertising surcharge, fees from which are applied to Cool Cities Challenge outreach. Maybe if we stop putting images of global warming-inducing McMegaMansions in front of our community, we can start to get advertising from energy efficiency solutions.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2012 at 7:30 am

Wish the City would strive to top the "most improved infrasture and facilities" challenge.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2012 at 8:23 am

These politicians are joking, right? Have you tried to get a rooftop solar permit from the City of Palo Alto?


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Posted by Enez
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 23, 2012 at 11:09 am

Zaharias, dont cast stones...you live in a 2200sf home. Isnt that the pot calling the kettle black? LoL


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Posted by J99
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 23, 2012 at 11:09 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Judith Schwartz
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 23, 2012 at 11:17 am

It's great that our Palo Alto civic leaders want to be perceived as early adopters but when it comes to leading-edge energy practices, we are laggards. It would be good to just catch up to what is happening across the country and around the world.

Palo Alto has had a fiber optic ring for over 20 years but don't use it to enable a smart grid. Take a look at what is happening in Chattanooga, TN and how their municipal utility, EPB is on the cutting edge.

Silicon Valley Power in Santa Clara is well-ahead of Palo Alto in terms of grid modernization to support their many data centers. They've offered free wi-fi as part of the smart meter installations to residential consumers.

Salt River Project in Phoenix, AZ (another municipal utility) has a 30 year track record of successful time of use pricing programs and excellent methods to allow people to choose the plans that work for them. While Palo Alto doesn't have the extreme weather and AC load of Phoenix, we are likely to be one of the epicenters for electric vehicle adoption.

It is wonderful the City Council is embracing a green grassroots program. However, a little modesty and willingness to learn from others might be warranted here.


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Posted by YIMBY
a resident of University South
on Oct 23, 2012 at 11:36 am

YIMBY is a registered user.

First the council takes away an exemption allowing reduced parking for downtown developers [News - Friday, October 19, 2012: Palo Alto beefs up rules for downtown parking - City halts parking exemptions for new developments downtown, near California Avenue, by Gennady Sheyner
Web Link]
- requiring developers to provide more on-site parking which will result in more driving for the buildings' occupants, and now we rise to the "Cool Cities" challenge. Does anyone besides me see the irony?


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Posted by No change
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 23, 2012 at 11:38 am

"However, a little modesty and willingness to learn from others might be warranted here."

Not our city council-- we are the leaders not the followers. Everyone has to learn from us. We have to become the leading biking city in the ciuntry, for example, therefore we need a $100 million bridge over 101. Costs be damned.
Otherwise how will our city council be able to stand around patting each other on the back and congratulating themselves foir a job well done. No point in dealing with infrastructure and finance needs--leading the world is more important.

And don't think that things will change after this election--two incumbents will probably be re-elected and Liz Kniss will probably regain her old seat (and I fail to understand how a person like herself can get re-elected to the council). Plus we are still stuck with Klein, Holman and the rest of the self-congratulaters.


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Posted by Silly
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 23, 2012 at 11:52 am

Don't ring my doorbell with this. Let our bloated Utility Dept. work on infrastructure and cutting utility rates.


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Posted by janis
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 23, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Would be wonderful if the Palo Alto Housing Corp made sure their properties that they are selling /renting for low income housing were eco friendly. Some are all electric and the winter bills exceed the rent or mortgae


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Posted by Ken - Inhabiture
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm

We at Inhabiture are going to do our part. We designed our new store to use LED lighting, passive air and daylight harvesting. It is all about redesign and if business want help to reduce their carbon footprint we can help.


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Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 23, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Enez - you're absolutely right. The thing is, I was trying to be ironic, in pointing out that the anti-global warming initiatives of our elected officials fly smack! in the face of the way we Palo Altans live. For my part, I already know that anthropogenic GW is a farce, which is why I like pointing out the irony here.


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Posted by Jan H.
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm

When we were planning to re-roof our house in 2009, we wanted to add rooftop solar. But the City gave our roofer such a hard time about the permit: they kept him waiting at City Hall all day every day for over two weeks-- coupled with the fact that it would take thirty years for it to pay itself off-- that we decided to go ahead and re-roof without it.

Solar needs to be easier to get a permit for, and cheaper to install so that a majority of homeowners can afford to do it. Only then will it make a real difference.


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Posted by anecdote annie
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm

"they kept him waiting at City Hall all day every day for over two weeks"

I find this hard to believe for two reasons:
1) that the city would keep someone waiting all day for two weeks
2) that the roofer would actually sit and wait for two weeks, all day, every day.

An anecdote for every occasion


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Posted by Jan H.
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 23, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Well, they did. The roofer was furious but anxious to get started on the job so he could get paid. By the end of the first week he asked who he had to bribe at City Hall. The city workers went on strike for a month after that, including the building inspectors. So our roof, started in September, did not get signed off until early November.

I envy you, Annie, that everything goes so smoothly and perfectly in your life. So few people can achieve that.


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Posted by anecdote annie
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 24, 2012 at 7:02 am

"By the end of the first week he asked who he had to bribe at City Hall. "
How do you know that he asked this? Did you report him to the police?

"The city workers went on strike for a month after that, including the building inspectors."
BAck in 2009???
Is this the strike you are referring to:
Web Link
"Just under 60 percent of the city employees represented by Palo Alto's largest labor union took an unpaid "furlough day" today, which the city administration is calling an illegal one-day strike."

Jan, don't you realize that when you tell us these "whoppers", that there are ways to check the accuracy???

Really, Jan.


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Posted by Jan H.
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 24, 2012 at 12:47 pm

No, Annie, that is not the strike. My roofer himself, who had never done a job in PA before, told me that the City Inspector told him about the strike when it was being planned. He was shocked at how difficult it was to get a permit for anything, compared to Los Gatos, Campbell, and SJ, and asked who he had to bribe. He told me he was only half-joking.

My roofer was not allowed to finish the patio roof until after the strike, when the inspector was back on the job.

Obviously, you have never had any construction work done....it is a three-step process:
Inspection and permit, mid-project inspection, final inspection.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by anectode annie
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm

"No, Annie, that is not the strike. "
Then which strike was it. That was the only "strike" in 2009.
There was no month long strike like you originally stated,

"My roofer was not allowed to finish the patio roof until after the strike, when the inspector was back on the job."
Whoops, looks like you did it again, Jan--made up a story to bloster your latest tale of woe. but guess what, it is false. There was a one day strike in 2009. The city of Palo Alto went to court for an injunction barringtheunion from striking--so no 1 month strike, as you claim.

"Obviously, you have never had any construction work done....it is a three-step process:"
That is irrelevant and you are off on one of your tangents/backtracks as you try to resist the fact that you have been exposed again

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jan H.
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Corina
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Rather than the piddling examples given, how about the city tell my landlord to insulate this place, or change the roof from dark to light, or put solar panels up there? But no, that would violate their sacred property rights. So the city will just keep nagging us about full loads in the dishwasher.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by HelpTheAir
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 25, 2012 at 12:14 am

Solar options really should be the upmost need!
Our environment will not hold up if we don't.
Folks that do buy and use it, should be happy, AND should have some money off for solar.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ducatigirl
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 25, 2012 at 12:32 pm

ducatigirl is a registered user.

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by anecdote Annie
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 25, 2012 at 12:41 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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