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Longtime neighborhood leaders looking for help

Original post made on Apr 19, 2013

When the Barron Park neighborhood association in Palo Alto sought to recruit more members recently, board member Lydia Kou launched Celebrate Cultural Diversity, a series of events designed to embrace residents from different backgrounds. More than 100 people attended the inaugural event on Feb. 9, a celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 19, 2013, 9:50 AM

Comments (10)

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Posted by Sally Keep
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 19, 2013 at 11:00 am

Great idea. I wish all neighborhoods would do this. I live in Menlo Park and there
are no Neighborhood get-togethers.


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Posted by Greg
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 19, 2013 at 11:22 am

It seems like the City's new "Know Your Neighbor" block grant program could be a great way for neighborhood associations and block clubs to strengthen and expand.
Check out information for the grant program at the City's web page Web Link


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Posted by Connecting is a two way street
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2013 at 1:25 pm

THANK YOU to all the Neighborhood Association volunteers who work tirelessly to build community, organize community events, address safety and emergency preparedness, help define and balance neighborhood priorities, etc etc.

Regarding this quote in the article:
" a large influx of Chinese, Koreans, Indians and Russians . . .newcomers moved to Palo Alto for a fine education for their children . . . They are under-represented. We don't seem to be connecting with them," she said."

From where I sit, it appears the neighborhood associations are doing a FINE job of trying to connect. But the neighborhood associations can only do so much if someone doesn't want to be connected with. It's a two way street. Coming to this country just for the schools, but not getting involved in the community misses the point of the good ole U.S.A. We are not just educating our children inside walls in school. We're educating our students to be good citizens - active, involved, community minded. Get to know your neighbors! Volunteer at school! Volunteer in the community!It's a wonderful experience I highly recommend.


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Posted by Been there, done that
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Regarding Art Liberman, "In reality there will never be a large percentage of people involved. But those that are represent the thinking of a lot of people."

True. But a "lot of people" rarely speak up, showing support. They're closet supporters, so they're useless.

Regarding Sheri Furman, "You do it because somebody has to represent the neighbors' interests. You always have to be there -- even if they're not."

The biggest problem are the people who refuse to voice an opinion, staying home while others schlepp out, month after month & for years, hard at work meeting on a project that benefits the whole community, & then at the 11th hour, a small but vocal group of complainers surface, undermining everything.

In this community, being part of an organized group is not worth it. It's too much work. It takes too much time. It's not the lack of recognition for said work, it's the constant griping and whining that is annoying, it is the re-writing of history by people that get the city's attention, even if only 10 people speak up. A project 10 years in the making can be gone, in an instant, destroyed by people that never attended one meeting about a project.

So stay home. Be comfortable. Let someone else waste their time on community projects, then complain about it later. That's the way it's done here. Much easier.

Even the Comprehensive Plan in Palo Alto is useless. Going to meetings and giving input into that? A big waste of time. Everyone should just wing it. Let council come up with some ideas, for a change. Is that not their job?


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Posted by Lawyers ignore CompPlan
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2013 at 6:05 pm

>Even the Comprehensive Plan in Palo Alto is useless. Going to meetings and giving input into that? A big waste of time. Everyone should just wing it. Let council come up with some ideas, for a change. Is that not their job?
Yes it's their job but without citizen input the developers would control everything, even more than they already do. There are 3 lawyers on the city council but the Comprehensive Plan gets ignored. That's the problem, the money lies in big development.


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Posted by Former Member
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2013 at 2:46 pm

As a former hard working member of the Green Meadow community, I have to disagree with the article's claim that the membership drop there was because of the economy. The drop in membership was due to the 'leadership' at Green Meadow, a group that bullies associate members and employees, and a president who treats the pool as his own private party facility. An example is his recent jumping the gun on the big community splash which annually celebrates the beginning of the season. He and some friends went in several nights before for their own splash, which took the fun out of it for everyone else. Why would anyone do the heavy lifting when such people are in charge? Why do they continue to blame the drop in membership on the economy?


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Posted by FormerSocialChair
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 22, 2013 at 8:47 pm

I was entertained by this article. I served as the College Terrace Resident Association's (CTRA) social chair for two years. I planned multiple picnics, catered the annual meetings and hosted the opening party for the College Terrace library. I baked countless brownies and cookies, grilled hot dogs, hung posters, and hauled my BBQ throughout the neighborhood many times to ensure the success of these events. My husband and I orchestrated these events with little help from the broader CT community. I am exactly the type of resident that these boards are targeting for new membership. I was 28 years old at the time and "ran" for this position as soon as I relocated here from New York. I knew nothing about the CT neighborhood and simply wanted to get to know the people who live here and to help create a sense of community. Unfortunately, I resigned from the board in late 2011 and would never consider rejoining. My resignation was solely based on many unpleasant interactions with my immediate neighbors and the City of Palo Alto's code enforcement department. Unfortunately, the rental property directly behind my home is managed by Ken DeLeon ("The World's Most Famous Realtor" - and a heavy advertiser of the local papers). Ken caused a very unpleasant situation with regards to our shared driveway and my husband and I spent most of 2011 and 2012 "working" with Larry Perlin and the City of PA code enforcement department to resolve this serious problem. By the time a resolution finally came about in Nov. 2012, I had completely had it with this "neighborhood" and the City of PA. The bottom line is that the more property values rise here, the cheaper the sense of "community" becomes. People are out for themselves in Palo Alto, period. The best part of my board resignation and the finalization of my driveway code issues with Ken is that I now have the time to figure out where my husband and I will move to so that our son doesn't have to grow up in this very special(?) town, as we'd like him to grow up with a good moral compass and compassion. Side note, I am including my comments here as I knew the local paper would not publish my comments or a letter to the editor. I had originally contacted Sue Dremann in Oct. 2012 to cover my story (in the hopes that it would bring about a resolution to my code problems with Ken and highlight the many problems with the City of PA's code enforcement process) but she declined. She did, however, note that it had nothing to do with the fact that Ken DeLeon is a heavy advertiser of this paper.


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Posted by just ask
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2013 at 10:40 pm


OPEN YOUR EYES Greenmeadow and stop hiding behind the 'we are just so wonderful' banner.

-----------------------------------------------

Date: April 21, 2013 2:22:22 PM PDT

Subject: [gmca-discuss] Palo Alto Weekly Article

Hello Greenmeadow friends and neighbors. If you haven't yet seen it, there's an article in this week's Palo Alto Weekly that takes a look at neighborhood associations. I want everyone to know how disappointed I was to see that after talking to the reporter for an hour about how wonderful and truly special Greenmeadow is, the only comments she seems to have included are those involving the issues we are currently addressing. The first being a drop in membership in the last couple years and the second being our desire to reach out to members of our community that may not currently be participating in community events. It even reads as though we have some sort of divided community, which I do not believe in the slightest. I was so hopeful that we would get some well deserved, positive press for a change. I just wanted to communicate to all of you that the message I gave to the Weekly was so much richer and positive that what was written.

-----------------------------------------------

The mass exit that took place last year had NOTHING to do with the economy, nor did it have anything to do with your aging pool, nor the new JCC and new Elks lodge. JUST ASK the 64 families that walked out last year.

Greenmeadow you need to go over to Eichler's Swim and Tennis Club and ask to see the names on their extensive wait list that has grown to about 2 years now. You will see more Greenmeadow associate members leaving soon. Don't take my word for it, go see for yourself. And while you are at it, talk to them about their one tier, everyone is equal structure.

You need to address the real issue and that starts by JUST ASKING THOSE THAT LEFT: "WHY?".


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Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 23, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Fred Balin is a registered user.

FormerSocialChair,

You, together with the support group you generated, did a fantastic job, setting a model for future events, and for which many of us are grateful. This included a myriad of children's events ("olympics," model airplane creation and flying, origami everything, and more), not to mention food and fun for us oldsters.

It is truly unfortunate that you had such a difficult experience with your immediate neighbors, and obviously it still stings badly. Still I would be careful about generalizing beyond the specific; there are a lot of good people around and across the spectrum in PA.

I agree that getting help from code enforcement can be a problem; as I have heard this from others. I do not know if staffing has anything to do with this; I believe they lost a position some time ago. I do think that as this issue cuts across neighborhoods it should be raised to the Palo Alto Neighborhoods (PAN) umbrella organization. Maybe in preparation for that or through that vehicle, additional folks with "case studies" can be accumulated, and plans for a response generated.


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Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 24, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Fred Balin is a registered user.

Good article, and the premise makes sense and is worthy of consideration by every resident.

I do want to add to the section with regard to Palo Alto Neighboroods' (PAN's) efforts in working for increased transparency within city hall.

Here, as in so many matters in search of correction, we return to Alma Plaza as the last straw on the camel.

In arguably the most egregious of many attempts to manipulate this process, after the Planning & Transportation Commission had denied the request to initiate the PC, and just moments prior to the start of the pivotal Alma Plaza city council agenda item in April, 2007, the applicant team dropped a revised project plan on the council dais and at staff places.

No staff vetting. No public release or public review. And almost no time for council members left out of the scheme, to examine.

Regrettably, council went ahead with the hearing, approved the applicant's revised PC, and the impacts have reverberated ever since.

On the corrective side, such as the city council's recent initiative and direction on sidewalk widths, PAN pressed for updates to council procedures and protocols to deal with abuses of the public process and to increase transparency.

This included:
- a successful effort to stop "late submissions" such that substantive changes to an application must now be presented to staff a minimum of 5 days prior to the release of the city council staff report.

- a successful effort to include a prohibition on folks entering the staff area in the council chambers without permission. (With proper enforcement, the days of passing notes and in-session applicant/staff private chitchat will end.)

- efforts to stop private conversations between council members and PC applicants. Here a compromise was developed in which council members are to refrain from such communications prior to completion of PTC and ARB decisions, so commissioners do not feel their work is meaningless because applicants have already spoken to, and counted noses of, council members. (Council still reserves the right to speak privately with PC applicants afterward, and also before the project has been "formulated." (Hello, 27 University.)

- a press for the release of staff reports a minimum of 10 days before the council meeting (as is the practice in San Jose, and in line with one of the mayor's key campaign planks) as opposed to 4 days here. In a proactive (preemptive?) response, the city manager moved the packet release date ahead by a day from Thursday to Wednesday. The council protocols were then changed to have the city "make every effort to release major complex projects two weeks prior to the meeting " (This does not appear to have happened very often.)


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