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Palo Alto to experiment with less-frequent street sweeping

Original post made on Apr 29, 2013

Residents of certain Palo Alto neighborhoods may notice their streets and sidewalks get a bit leafier in the coming months as the city cuts back on street sweeping.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, April 29, 2013, 9:40 AM

Comments (45)

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2013 at 9:55 am

Let's see .. it wasn't that long ago that the City started charging us for sweeping the street in front of our homes--adding that charge to our utility bills.

Now, (perhaps) less than a year later--the City wants to reduce the frequency of the sweepings--even though they have received increased revenues from the residents paying utility bills.

So--what accounting is there for this increase in the City's revenue through the addition of a "street sweeping" charge? How come the Weekly seems to have forgotten this increase, and does not mention it in its reporting?

If this were the private sector, we could probably find some way to sue a vendor that increases the cost, and decreases the service level.

This is another example of paying more for our utilities--and getting less in return for the higher prices!


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2013 at 10:02 am

I think that there should be tickets placed on vehicles parked on the street on street cleaning days. The money collected from these tickets may help us to get our streets cleaned regularly and also ensure that the streets actually get sweeped. Several of my neighbors have cars parked outside their homes every day and those parts of the street never get swept.


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Posted by Ed
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 29, 2013 at 10:54 am

To James B--what on earth is wrong with PAOnline web design? It's clean, copy is readable and always informative. This isn't a circus, it's an online newspaper which communicates effectively.

I'm always impressed by the content, the well-written and comprehensive reportage. Who has the time and resources to do this any more? Palo Alto Online--keep it up, and congratulations.


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Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 29, 2013 at 11:01 am

They street sweep? I think I've seen one street sweep in the last decade.

I'm beginning to think all government is useless.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 29, 2013 at 11:02 am

The dreaded camphor trees are erratic re: the leaf dropping. The 'year of the flood' is was early February which caused a big problem. with flooded streets. This year it is April, and the awful camphor leaves are still coming down. But I guess the money has to come from someplace to pay all the $175K 'managers' and "directors' that Keene and the council are hiring. And the city recently started line-itemizing and charging for street cleaning. Enough.


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Posted by Chris
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 29, 2013 at 11:15 am

They could do with getting rid of the Green Machine they use on the downtown sidewalks. It is entirely useless and a waste of civic dollars.


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Posted by Cindy Costell
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 29, 2013 at 11:18 am

Here's a thought -- if leaves pile up in the street in front of your house, rake them up yourself, put them in your City-provided wheeled lawn debris container, and let the City pick the leaves up on your next trash day. You will get good exercise in the effort. Or if you can't do the raking yourself, advertise for a local teen ager to do the job. Supports the community, gives a youth the good feeling of an occasional job.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 29, 2013 at 11:21 am

It amazes me - the City raises our rates for street sweeping and now they are decreasing our service - where's my refund? And the City is talking about raising our water rates. Is this to offset the new employee's salary of $175,000? The City always has and always will jump into something before doing any actual research. They have on occasion HIRED a consultant because the people who work for the City aren't smart enough.


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Posted by j99
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 29, 2013 at 11:39 am

The city added a cost for "street sweeping" onto my utility bill and my streets are never swept. That's because they need more money for public worker pensions. What the city does for us in Barron Park is build endless apartments for "affordable income" food stamp people and illegal aliens.
Stop sweeping the streets, just stop the building in Palo Alto and the streets will look fine.


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Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 29, 2013 at 11:55 am

"Is this to offset the new employee's salary of $175,000?"

+ benefits, including, but not limited to, health insurance, pension, vacation, and other related expenditures.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jayne
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 29, 2013 at 11:56 am

Resident says: "I think that there should be tickets placed on vehicles parked on the street on street cleaning days. The money collected from these tickets may help us to get our streets cleaned regularly."

OK on the surface this looks like a great idea, but who pays for the people hired to issue the tickets, their salaries, pensions and benefits?

The City has already figured out it would cost more to issue the tickets than they's get back from residents who had to pay them.


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Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 29, 2013 at 11:57 am

"I think that there should be tickets placed on vehicles parked on the street on street cleaning days."

Agreed.

Long done in certain areas of Los Angeles, this is a very effective method to ensure maximum efficiency at the least possible (street sweeping) cost.


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Posted by Sucker
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 29, 2013 at 12:02 pm


Well, once again the city is playing us for suckers and insulting our intelligence.

Each City Council member should stand up at the next meeting and give a GOOD reason if they refuse to reduce the rip-off street sweeping charges.

They had better cut the monthly charges for street sweeping in half, if there is this reduction in service.

They should also give my neighbor a ticket each street-sweeping day, since he always parks in front of my house that morning, leaving HIS curb free to be swept.

I am so fed up...!


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Posted by Solon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Yes, I think voluntary street raking, brushing up, putting in green bins is a good community idea, all VOLUNTEER, offer to help the neighbor, who may be older, discouraged, traveling, etc.

The need to SWEEP is based on another ARBITRARY unscientific but possibly necessary need to reduce particulate flow via storm drains to bay. this can be accomplished many different ways.


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Posted by Possible solution
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 29, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Sucker says "give my neighbor a ticket each street-sweeping day, since he always parks in front of my house that morning, leaving HIS curb free to be swept.
Suggestion-Put a notice at eye-level on a nearby tree that says
NO PARKING
on (sweeping day)
or you could be more gentle and post
Please DO NOT PARK here
on (sweeping day)
Might work and no police no tickets no big deal but the offender knows he's been seen.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gardeners' Fault
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2013 at 12:57 pm

I see many gardeners using electric leaf blowers who blow the debris into the street, presumably expecting the city street sweepers to clean up after them. Why not require these gardeners to clean up after themselves and not leave rows or piles of leaves or other debris by the curb?


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Posted by Question-For-City-Manager-Keene
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Why doesn't the City outsource this activity? The City is paying about $107K (salary and benefits) for SIEU-types to drive up and down our streets in these street sweepers. This is not really rocket science. As long as the private-sector company provides insurance coverage for its drivers, then its very likely the City could save a significant amount of money providing this service, and reduce its long-term pension obligations/post-retirement health care costs too.

City Manager Keene—are you paying attention to these blogs? The residents are not at all happy with your extravagance, and the lack of accountability of your "Administration". Maybe it's time for you to "get with the program", and look to the private sector to downsize this bloated City government.


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Posted by SEriously
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Apr 29, 2013 at 1:12 pm

FOR ALL YOUR INFORMATION THEY TICKET YOU IF YOU ARE PARKED ON THE STREET DURING STREET CLEANING HOURS.

reference: it has occurred twice in my case.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JoJo
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2013 at 1:22 pm

poster Joew clearly does not review what he writes before he clicks 'submit': "If this were the private sector, we could probably find some way to sue a vendor that increases the cost, and decreases the service level."

roflmao.

Cable companies? Cell phone companies? Heath insurance companies? Newspapers? PG&E? Garbage companies? Airlines?

Have you completely lost your mind? Take yer blinders off, man...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ustah B.
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 29, 2013 at 2:08 pm

The slow, downward trend of PA continues.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by bob
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 29, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Sucker: Why don't you park your car in front of his house on street sweeping days?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 29, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Interesting! If it will save so much money, put ALL the neighborhoods on bimonthly street sweeping and save even more! Then reduce my utility bill so I can pay the new electric rates!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2013 at 3:32 pm

> roflmao.
> Cable companies? Cell phone companies?
> Heath insurance companies?
> Newspapers? PG&E? Garbage companies? Airlines?

> Take the blinders off ..

Sigh .. does one laugh, or cry, when trying to make sense out of these postings?

There are so many newsfeeds these days that it is hard to keep up with the daily news, and do your job, too. In addition, Google provides us a very simple tool to look into our collective past. The following links provide pointers to reports of class action law suits against some of the large companies that the poster seemed to suggest were "unsuable"--

Law Firm Files Class Action Suit Against Atlantic Power:
Web Link
Class Action Suit Filed Against PG&E:
Web Link

Class Action Suit Filed Against AT&T:
Web Link

And if anyone were to take the time to Google: "class action law suit against Verizon" – you'd see a goodly number of results documenting a number of different suits that have been filed against this servive provider.

We can't easily determine the outcomes of these suits, unfortunately. But sometimes the winner does reveal the settlements.

How anyone can live in a bubble that he doesn't know that large private sector companies are sued via class actions all the time is difficult to believe. But this is Palo Alto—where people live in a bubble, and don't even know it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JoJo
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2013 at 3:43 pm

poster Joe: narrow down the list to successful lawsuits under the terms YOU identified, not just a bunch of unsuccessful class action lawsuits over other allegations (for example: not Atlantic Powers "...its 10% payout with unsustainable cash flows"")

Joe said: "...sue a vendor that increases the cost, and decreases the service level."

I'll wait.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2013 at 4:05 pm



> I'll wait.

You do that.

As we all know, some suits are successful, and some are not. Many settle out-of-court, putting money in the ligants' pockets, but often not as much as they would like.

While we're talking about "failed law suits", do you remember that Enron fiasco that the Utility managed to orchestrate a few years ago?

Creditors of Enron Sue Lay For $70 Million in Transfers:
Web Link#

In two of the other suits, the Enron companies sued the City of Palo Alto, Calif., for a total of $48 million for amounts due under contracts the city ended early.
---

In this case, Palo Alto's Management (City Manager and City Council) illegally terminated a contract to purchase power from Enron. Enron sued, and, if memory serves, Palo Alto ended up settling for $40M. No one on the City Council could explain why the City terminated the contract, nor could they explain why they folded so quickly.

This might not have been a "class action" suit, but it was filed against the City of Palo Alto, and the City lost, paying Enron at least $40M.

Given how badly managed the City is—there would seem to be lots of room for class action law suits against it. As the costs continue to escalate, and the services diminish—no reason not to expect more suits to challenge the City Manager and the Council.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JoJo
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Obfuscate and offer straw man examples of unrelated lawsuits all you want. You CANNOT defend your silly statement:

"If this were the private sector, we could probably find some way to sue a vendor that increases the cost, and decreases the service level."

Indefensible.

But I'll wait as you try one silly example after another.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Herb Borock
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 29, 2013 at 7:08 pm

The staff says the Finance Committee approved the trial program, but the Finance Committee only has the authority to make recommendations to the City Council.

Monthly residential refuse bills now include a charge of $6.66 for street sweeping.

Nobody can be charged a higher refuse fee than the cost of the service they are receiving. If $6.66 per month is the cost for weekly street sweeping, then customers in the trial area should be charged only $3.33 per month for street sweeping.

Public Works is wrong if they believe that the new street sweeping schedule will save the city $675,000 a year. If the cost of street sweeping is reduced by that amount, then the customers bills must be reduced by that amount.

Of course the refuse bills can always stay the same if $675,000 is need for some zero waste project.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Apr 29, 2013 at 8:04 pm

The street I live on gets swept once a quarter - 4 times a year.

All cars parked on the street are ticketed.

How do I get my street swept more often?


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Posted by Exasperated
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 29, 2013 at 9:25 pm

I'm surprised to learn some neighborhoods are ticketed for cars in the street on cleaning days. In our neighborhood there are no signs posted which require cars to be moved. Many houses/cottages don't have any driveway at all, and others have converted their driveways to landscaped areas, so there is nowhere else to park except in front of someone's home. To make matters worse, many home owners rent out their converted garages and so have 2-3 cars per parcel with no useable driveway. These cars then necessarily spill over into the area in front of neighboring homes. Alternate side of the street parking would work on sweeping days, but then the neighborhood would have to be swept twice a week.


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Posted by WilliamA
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 29, 2013 at 10:16 pm

I don't think they can really ticket you for parking on street sweeping day unless they have signs indicating when that time actually is. I have lived here for 15 years and I have no idea when street sweeping day is! I personally don't want to see street signs all over the place indicating the street cleaning time. In that case the cure is much worse than the actual disease.

For my particular street, autumn is not the leaf time. We have a tree that sheds leaves in spring. So I pay the full street sweeping fee and I get to rake up all the leaves too? Prior to putting streets into these trial areas, was there any consideration given to what trees were actually on those streets? I am guessing no.


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Posted by jake
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 29, 2013 at 10:36 pm

A study of the experiment to find out the optimal sweeping schedule would run another 250K.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 30, 2013 at 6:30 am

In Los Angles cars have to be off the street between certain hours on street sweeping days. Car owners who don't comply get fined. It's absurd that we allow vehicles to be parked on street that's being swept because then the sweepers just don't do their job although we are being charged for the service.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Apr 30, 2013 at 6:50 am

The city puts up temporary paper signs. They do one side of the street on a given Wednesday, then the other side a week later. Hours are always 8am-10am. Then repeat every three months.


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Posted by minor in comparison
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2013 at 7:51 am

The sycamores are so distressed that the first leaf drop is in May but I guess the City hasn't noticed this. The street sweeping change
is irritating and symbolic in light of new hiring as people point out,but is really minor in comparison to the destruction of the
neighborhoods, streetscapes, quality of life in general from everything else being done.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 30, 2013 at 10:12 am

I have been thinking that this is an unneeded service for a long time. Other regions of the country that deal with sand and salt in addition to leaves get this service only once a quarter (and those are comparable communities to Palo Alto).

It would be great if this savings could be used instead of the water increases but it doesn't sound like that is going to happen.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MadamPresident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 30, 2013 at 10:41 am

what's the impeachment procedure for City Management?


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Posted by Rosemarie
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2013 at 10:43 am

I have lived on a one block long, narrow width street for 30 years and have seen a Street Sweeper "once". The Gardeners that take care of our landscaping blow the leaves to the curb, where they collect them in Burlap and take them away for recycle.

The Neighborhood pays for the service. We have 9 Buildings. I am a Senior, but on the days that the gardeners are not here and the leaves are really bad, I sweep the leaves up myself, and put them into my "yard trimming" tote (and use those of my neighbors if they have room). So what is it exactly, that my neighbors and I are paying for on our Utility bills?

Mr. Keene has gotten rid of some valuable employees who were helpful and knowledgeable, added to "his" staff, and spent money on Contractors to replace those employees.

I wonder who hired the person who came to paint our Intermittent curbs red and then sat in his truck all day to watch the paint dry (two days in a row) and talked on his cell phone?

What a town this has become.


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Posted by Tension
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2013 at 10:51 am

We are a three-generation family. Between six people, we have five cars. There are many people like us in PA who do not have adequate garage or driveway space, or simply have a lot of cars.

In our case, we share a driveway with three other houses, two of which are also three-generational. None of us have room in our garages for cars because none of our houses have adequate storage space. The house behind ours is so close to our garage, which is attached to the back of the house, that there is not enough room to drive a car into the garage, making it useless for cars. Even so, as it is a one-car garage, there would still be four cars on the street.

There are a lot of houses in this town without adequate off-street parking and multiple cars. There is a huge mansion on our street occupied by FOUR related families, all from China. The mansion includes a three-car garage, but they have NINE cars, six of which are parked on two streets ( the house is on a corner)! They were ticketed once, screamed racism, and it has not happened to them again. Oddly, only their cars that were parked on the side street were ticketed, not the ones in front of their house!

In fifteen years of living here, we have never once seen signs posted regarding a street cleaning on our street.





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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 30, 2013 at 1:28 pm

I have lived here for a number of years and thought the street sweeping was regularly done once per week (both sides of the street). In leaf drop time periods, I think it is a useful service, but not worth the very high pay the streetsweeping person is paid by the city.
I don't like it when hired gardeners blow leaves and dirt right out into the edges and middle of the street, though - seems lazy and creates more of a mess.


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Posted by Paco
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Apr 30, 2013 at 3:48 pm

City Council and City Manager Keene have created two new management positions and hired two new managers in the past two weeks costing resident taxpayers in excess of $400,000 per year in salary and benefits! Raising taxes/fees is what City Manager Keene refers to as the "trickle down" policy to pay for the dozens and dozens of management positions created by his office in the past two years. City Manager Keene has created a "shadow organization" of managers who have no specific duties and no responsibilities. The cost for this "shadow organization" of managers has now reached "unsustainable" levels and is a "ticking time bomb" on city revenues and "ballooning" city deficit budgets and has a direct effect on the reduction of city services. Perhaps the print media in Palo Alto might choose to report facts instead of simply releasing city sponsered News Releases.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jayne
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 30, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Neighbor from Palo Verde says: "I have been thinking that this is an unneeded service for a long time."

The problem is if you don't sweep the leaves and other junk up from the streets it goes directly to the storm drains and into the creeks, then on into the Bay.

It's easier to clean the streets than the creek beds and the Bay.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2013 at 4:49 pm

This is a crazy situation from reading all these posts. Some of us get regular street sweeping and some of us don't. Some areas appear to get tickets and others don't. I looked at the map and it is pretty difficult to work out some of the boundaries because the writing is illegible.

Personally, for most of the year I don't care how often the street sweepers come. Since most of the time there are cars parked at various places (same places each week) it is irrelevant as some parts of the street never get swept anyway.

What point is there in the street sweepers sweeping the midpart of the street and leaving piles of debris to get blown into the storm drains under the same cars each week. If the sweepers can't do their job then they are wasting time and money regardless if they do it each week or every other week.

It is about time the rules were enforced and if we are going to get our streets swept we have to make sure the job is done properly. It doesn't matter how often they get swept, we are being charged to get the job done and at present, on my street anyway, it is a poor job. We have to get the cars moved to do a good job, otherwise the effort is just a waste.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Yes, the impoverished city regrettably has to cut services.

Heads up, the Bond Issue push is in full motion. We got the phone survey today: "if we put a bond issue on the ballot next year, what would you support us spending it on?"

Interestingly, sweeping the streets was not one of the choices, though nearly everything else was. Actually they didn't mention public pensions or more expansion of Jim Keene's executive staff either. Guess those are entitlements ...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 30, 2013 at 7:13 pm

I'm not sure it is important (though it is nice) to sweep the streets every week during the spring and summer. But if they don't do it every week in the fall and winter, it will definitely cause street and sidewalk flooding.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by DC
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 1, 2013 at 12:06 pm

How about NO street parking 7pm-7am for anyone, anywhere? Not only could street sweepers clean up to prevent backup of drainage thus creating flooding, or cyclists from being thrown asunder when their wheel catches a fallen branch they failed to see because they were texting, but fire trucks would have a better chance of getting to the scene more quickly (seconds matter). I'd like to see one move fast down Byron St where everyone seems to park on both sides of that small street. And bicyclists of all ages wouldn't have to ride out into traffic lanes to go around parked vehicles.

Perhaps we could even safely see oncoming traffic w/o pulling part way into the lane because a vehicle parked close the the corner is obstructing our view!

Re neighbor parking in front of your house, have you ever considered actually TALKING to the guy instead of complaining anonymously online?


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