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PA may avoid vote on public safety building

Original post made on Nov 20, 2007

Palo Alto city officials are exploring an alternative funding plan that would avoid putting a new public safety building up for a public vote, using a "certificates of participation" loan against future revenues.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 8:38 AM

Comments (48)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2007 at 8:46 am

And now we get no say in it?


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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2007 at 8:59 am

The important thing is that our mayor is trying to speed up the final phase of Byxbee Park. good to see that she is still dealing with the really pressing issues facing our city. No rush on the library issue, crumbling streets, increasing our tax revenue base etc.
It made a nice photo-op in yesterdays PA Daily:

Web Link

(you have to see the rint version to see her photo)


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Posted by Karen White
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2007 at 9:03 am

Though support for library improvements is stronger than for the public safety building, it likewise falls short of the level required for passage of a funding measure. And support levels typically drop off as an election approaches and voters consider the tax impact of any funding measure.

Whatever funding solution is devised for the public safety building should also be applied to the library.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2007 at 10:09 am

Great way to get around the will of the people. Sounds like our president and his "signing statements." Web Link

Maybe the council should just do away with elections and govern by fiat. They seem to know best how to spend OUR money.


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Posted by Dunning
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Nov 20, 2007 at 10:10 am

This is disgraceful...an attempt to get around the requirements of the law - or at least the spirit of the law - forcing votes on expenditures of this sort.

Someone needs to figure out whether this is legal - or if the city would be subject to a lawsuit on this.

It's no wonder our council is held in contempt by so many residents. If they can't get voter support for the police building they say is needed, instead of figuring out a way to convince the public, they look for ways to skirt the law.


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Posted by Karen White
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2007 at 10:19 am

These points are legitimate to consider. But my concern is that where 2/3 voter approval is required, as for city funding measures (only 55% is required for the school district), the minority actually rules. Thoughts on this?


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Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 20, 2007 at 10:40 am

Karen--that is the law in our state--I think the law regarding school bond passage at 55% was decide by the voters in Prop 39 back in 2000. I assume the 2/3 rule for bond measures was also set by the voters. So this "minority rules" is actually the desire of the majority of voters.
I think if you do not like it, you can try to have these laws overturned. For now they are the law in our state, so 2/3 must vote for bond approval.
i do find this end around attempt by our city council disturbing, but not surprising considering the way they operate and the way the "powers that be" in city hall hold us, ordinary citizens of PA, in contemp.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2007 at 10:41 am

I think this is a great idea. Our City government will need to find a revenue stream within the current budget without asking the voters for ever more money to finance their wish list.

I think it demonstrates just how much money is coming into the City that they can consider financing a Public Safety Building without asking the voters for more money. Perhaps now our City government won't waste so much of it's incoming revenue in the future.


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Posted by Karen White
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2007 at 10:48 am

Joe,

Council policy is that new infrastructure, such as a public safety building or library, must be funded through new sources of revenue. So new revenue will need to be identified to fund the certificates of participation, rather than using dollars currently in the General Fund.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 20, 2007 at 10:49 am

A few things:

First, this is a very creative idea that needs a little more diligence prior to moving ahead; private certificates of participation are a standard private equity funding arrangement that makes a lot of sense in this scenario. Palo Alto has an excellent credit rating; this is one way to leverage that.

Second, Karen White's idea is a good one, similar to something that immediately came to mind after reading the above news report about the Public Safety Building.

On deeper reflection into the variables of a private equity drive for the library, one has to consider that the library DOES have a chance to pass at the polls.

Certificates of participation may be a good idea for the library. With that said, there are a few things to consider with that scenario.

1) A public campaign to educate our citizenry about the needs of our library is under way. In fact, most of our citizens are completely in the dark re: the needs that our library has. I think we should continue that public awareness campaign, both to boost the library bond's passing at the polls (if a bond becomes the chosen funding vehicle), OR so that we boost our chances to gain more local participants in a private equity funding play.

2) We have to be careful about certificates of participation as a be-and-end-all for public infrastructure financing *if* we are going to continue the tradition of requesting active participation in project funding from our more wealthy citizens.

If we commit to these private equity funding vehicles, we may lose some participation from *some* private donors, who are on the cusp regarding the real need for their donations.

Of course, there are others who will continue to give anyway - out of pure largesse, or for tax considerations, or both.

Regarding large, private donors, one thing that could be interesting, from a private 'foundation' (like the library foundation) point of view, would be to solicit BOTH private donations AND private certificates of participation.

Finally, one of our more enterprising residents had in the past suggested certificates of participation for public projects, beginning with slowly scaled FTTx, and then for the storm drain problem. We need more people thinking like that citizen. :)

Overall, our City Council must again be congratulated on coming along with a creative idea that will help our city get what it needs, as well as help important institutional entities that are not fiscally attached (in a formal way) to the city. PAUSD comes to mind. The DeAnza/Foothill Community College District also comes to mind.

We're on a nice run of focus and general overcoming of constraint; we still have a lot of work to do on the revenue-generating side, but I have a sense that we are on our way to making good things happen in that arena.


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Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 20, 2007 at 10:51 am

Karen--is that council policy regarding new infrastructure funding actually codified in the city laws or is it just a "policy" that the council can choose to ignore?


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2007 at 10:55 am

I think this a wonderful turn of events - finally, the city council is willing to put some constraints on spending/taxing. This is alot better than some of the shell games that they did in past, where they would move some of the city expenses to our utility bills (e.g. the costs of running the stop lights).

They should do the same with the libraries, and the infrastructure backlog of infrastructure improvements as well.


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Posted by Karen White
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2007 at 11:11 am

Marvin

The "new dollars for new infrastructure" is policy that the Council can change. But if, for example, the City decides to fund a portion of the public safety building and a portion of library improvements from current funds, we'd need to reduce the cost of the services we now provide to shift the requisite $$ to infrastructure. This would be precedent-setting. We'd be restructuring our General Fund, a subject that I believe should be discussed, particularly in today's environment of spiraling construction costs. Delay comes at an increasingly high cost. And we simply must move forward on both of these projects.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 20, 2007 at 11:13 am

Karen White: "These points are legitimate to consider. But my concern is that where 2/3 voter approval is required, as for city funding measures (only 55% is required for the school district), the minority actually rules."

Exactly. Karen and I disagree on a few things, but this is definitely NOT one of them. Palo Alto (and our state) has been suffering from what was originally intended to be a well-meaning law, to protect citizens from over-taxation.

However, add the above to the gutting of infrastructure that Prop 13 has led to, with groups like the Jarvis group thrown in (Prop 13 will probably never be repealed), and we come up with failing infrasturucture that cannot be repaired, because a very small group of people (many of them probably not at all interested in the services that taxes fund) has been able to hold up funding by generating njust over 1/3 of the vote.

So, we have this abberation where the minority rules. I've brought that up in this forum many times. I wish the Weekly would run an exploratory piece in this fiscal outrage.

What's even more bothersome is that our community is generating only about 1/3 of the votes that we're capable of in the various elections that come our way.

Thus, without doing the math in detail, we have a scenario where 1/3 of eligible voters are voting (roughly), and one third of that group has been consistent in voting against the funding needed to generate revenue to keep infrastructure and services at needed levels.

Thus, we have a little over 11% of our voting community (that's 1/3 of 1/3) driving policy as it pertains to needed revenue.

This is an outrage, and an insult to our citizens, as well as a tragedy for future generations.

As stated in many prior posts, we have seen a *determined* minority of residents do whatever it takes to kill anay effort to keep our city sustainable.

Most of the latter group of residents are well-meaning in their goals, and are good people, but this doesn't change the fact that their efforts have severely impacted our city, leading us into a self-reinforcing circle of revenue shortage; that leads to failing infrsastructure; that makes it more difficult to manage our city; that leads to criticism of management; that leads to more "ammunition" against further needed bond efforts, because the claim is made by this tiny minority that we need policy-making or management change, when in fact the dearth of revenue (that, btw, is currently very well managed) we face (that causes these problems) has been largely brought about by the actions of this minority group.

Most of the determined minority mentioned above will not change their minds. Thus, any creative way that can be brought into play to defeat their tactics at the polls, is, in this person's opinion, a good thing.

Of course, one of the great ironies at work here, relative to private equity investment plays (I've encouraged these for some time - incidentally, there are other creative financing possibilities) is that the determined anti-bond minority here in Palo Alto is always praising the superiority of "the market" in determining what services citizens shuold enjoy.

Well, private equity investment is one of the more perfect indicators of whether or not there is a "market" for the supply of available investment funds. Thus, the minority should not have any quibble with these investments, especially if they're paid back from sources of revenue that Palo Alto generates downstream.

Wow! I'm really feeling good about this! Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 20, 2007 at 11:46 am

Karen White: " Delay comes at an increasingly high cost. And we simply must move forward on both of these projects."

Karen is 100% correct. We're talking 15-15% (possibly even higher, based on projected demand for cement and steel) construction inflation costs for *every year* that we delay these projects.

There is no room for further delay. We have to build these projects "yesterday", and build them in a way that is both environmentally sustainable, as well as building in a capacity to scale with change in the future.


Karen also writes: "revenue will need to be identified to fund the certificates of participation, rather than using dollars currently in the General Fund."

This is where the challenge is,, and where some idological battles will be fought. Do we build a diverse community that - along with the region - becomes environmentally sustainable into the future. Or, do we sacrifice this goal for short term revenue gains that have to be committed to private equity compensation?

We have a lot of soul-searching to do about this issue. My concern is that the anti-growth contingent here will do everything it can to sell anti-ABAG goals to policy-makers, in what I believe is a very short sighted vision for what's possible commercially, and residentially (to coin a word) in our community.

We need to be looking for creative development solutions that bridge the straw man housing/revenue argument, ,and aggressively go after new, long-term, sustainable sources of revenue. More on that, later.


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Posted by Karen White
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2007 at 12:03 pm

Building new housing in the numbers desired by the state housing lobby will only exacerbate Palo Alto's current infrastructure-housing imbalance. This was the subject of my guest opinion published on 9/6/07, at Web Link
Mike and I should possibly agree to disagree on the housing issue.

But to the original question: should the City use certificates of participation to fund a new public safety building -- and new/upgraded library facilities? Related: Should the Council rethink its current policy decision that new infrastructure must come from new sources of revenue?


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 20, 2007 at 12:11 pm

"Should the Council rethink its current policy decision that new infrastructure must come from new sources of revenue?"

My question back is this: Does "new sources of revenue" include private equity participation, as per the certificates of participation discussed, prior" OR does that phrase apply to asking City Council to dip into deep reserves to fund infrastructure - or both?



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Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 20, 2007 at 12:20 pm

Post deleted as requested by Palo Alto Online staff (wrong thread).


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Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 20, 2007 at 12:25 pm

Sorry, posted on the wrong thread. Editor, please delete, in order to avoid confusion.

My apologies.


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Posted by Hurray-For-SuperMajorities
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2007 at 12:41 pm

The purpose of the 2/3rds rule was intended to insure that the interests of all of the people were considered--rather than just the "political class". People who complain about the 2/3rds super-majority never manage to deal with the fact that most elections rarely see much more than 35% of the registered voters (not the property owners who have to pay the taxes) making it to the polls. And then only 2/3rds of those are required to pass a spending authorization. That means that only 23% of the registered voters end up voting taxes on their neighbors for decades to come. If the super-majority requirement were removed, that means that as few as 17% of the registered voters would be able to have their way on the vast majority of the community.

Sorry -- but the "minority" is already in control and they dishonestly refuse to admit it.


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Posted by Opine not. Vote.
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Nov 20, 2007 at 12:52 pm

Sorry -- but anyone who is eligible to vote and chooses not to has voluntarily abdicated their control. No sympathies to them. It's a majority VOTE, not a majority community opinion. Opinions don't count. Votes do.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 20, 2007 at 1:22 pm

That's a pretty weak argument for democracy. Citizens count, too - whether they vote, or not. The *results* of stingy minorities is readily apparent all over California. Our cities are struggling with decaying infrastructure, as are our educational institutions.

Again, this is a pure *market* play. I LOVE this idea (which is why I have promoted it for years :), because it makes the pure case for leveraging the latent intellectual and real capital of our citizens, untrammeled by those clever minorities who would manipulate our political system to their own, nefarious, ends.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 20, 2007 at 1:26 pm

btw, "Opine", and "Hooray", let's see you legislate out market incentives to improve municipal infrastructure. You won't get to first base.

This is the new meme we've been looking for; let's get to it!


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Posted by Give-COPs-A-Chance
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2007 at 1:27 pm

> A public campaign to educate our citizenry about the
> needs of our library is under way. In fact, most of our
> citizens are completely in the dark re: the needs
> that our library has.

The rapid changes in the digital distribution of information, as well as fundamental changes in the way we work and play have all but rendered local public libraries as obsolete as a source of reference materials. The advent of Google Books, Microsoft Books and several other archives found on various universities around the world allows anyone to gain access to materials which in the past required association with that university. Now, all one has to do is type: books.google.com and over one million books become available for access. Virtually all of the out-of-date books are available for download. In addition, many older magazines are now available too.

Fewer and fewer people use our libraries because no small library can provide storage areas for very many books to begin with. And new construction often comes to over $1,000/sq foot once all of the costs are factored in.

Local public libraries need to start rethinking their roles in the rapidly evolving digital landscape.


> We have to be careful about certificates of participation as
> a be-and-end-all for public infrastructure financing *if* we are
> going to continue the tradition of requesting active participation
> in project funding from our more wealthy citizens

If the "rich" are only going to get one vote--then they should not be expected to pay any more than the "poor" for public services and facilities via taxes on their property. This does not mean that the "rich" can not continue to "participate" by offering to underwrite public facilities via grants, gifts or other creative activities intended to gain their interest.


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Posted by Give-COPs-A-Chance
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2007 at 1:34 pm

> That's a pretty weak argument for democracy

Outside of the US and Britain--Democracy has never taken root. Democracy has no real definition--other than "rule by the people". If it were not for the US Constitution, Democracy would have resulted in little more than "mob rule" here. Even then, given the history of "democracy" in the larger cities here in the US over the decades, party "machines" (largely driven by immigrant voting) have made a mockery out of the vision of the "Founding Fathers".
---


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Posted by Libraries are necessary
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 20, 2007 at 1:53 pm

Give COPS,

You might read this; it pretty well refites what you say about the "new digitallandscape". Most people who use distributed environments (the Internet), or other means of disintermediation to support their wish for the extinction of various public services, don't know entirely what they're talking about.

Web Link


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Posted by Give-COPs-A-Chance
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2007 at 2:07 pm

Anyone who reads through this article:

Web Link

quickly realizes that the person who wrote the article is not very close to the rapidly advancing digital distribution of information. Most of this article seems to be spent trying to blow smoke on the matter without actually trying to think through the issues.

While some of the problems pointed out in this article are real--most have solutions which will appear in due time. The technology of digital distribution is new, but the path is clear.

By-the-way, what makes you think that an unidentified author writing one article in a magazine "knows" what he is talking about? Wonder if the folks at Google or Microsoft will be shutting down their operation based on this less-than-focused article?

Or what about the Kindle--just announced yesterday by Amazon:

www.amazon.com

We are witnessing a modern miracle vis-a-vis the Internet and the genius of the private sector.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 20, 2007 at 5:19 pm

Give-Cops,

Here's a quote from the New Yorker piece.
"The supposed universal library, then, will be not a seamless mass of books, easily linked and studied together, but a patchwork of interfaces and databases, some open to anyone with a computer and WiFi, others closed to those without access or money. The real challenge now is how to chart the tectonic plates of information that are crashing into one another and then to learn to navigate the new landscapes they are creating. Over time, as more of this material emerges from copyright protection, we'll be able to learn things about our culture that we could never have known previously. Soon, the present will become overwhelmingly accessible, but a great deal of older material may never coalesce into a single database. Neither Google nor anyone else will fuse the proprietary databases of early books and the local systems created by individual archives into one accessible store of information. Though the distant past will be more available, in a technical sense, than ever before, once it is captured and preserved as a vast, disjointed mosaic it may recede ever more rapidly from our collective attention."

That pretty much says it all. People I know at Google and hp Labs agree with this assessment. What do you know that they don't?

Amazon's Kindle? It's another eBook reader. So? We're going to see this stuff continue to get better, until we get into real ePaper arrays in notebooks. This won't change the structural archived data problems described in the article.

To suggest that libraries are obsolete is mind-bogglingly wrong.


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Posted by Jenkins
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2007 at 5:38 pm

Sounds like a good idea...all you have to do is read these postings and see why we should not let this go to vote...these people would rather pay for counseling for Sadam Hussein than give the police a decent, asbestos-free building...Again, you have the cajones to bash the police on this site, but who do you call when the rapist enters your bedroom... lame...


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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2007 at 6:46 pm

Boy, I get dizzy reading that New Yorker stuff. No wonder I always stuck to the cartoons!

While there are many places that libraries may go, the overarching fact is that people do go there, use material, and borrow books and other media. Our libraries are crowded and collections generally well-used. The dogs seem to still be eating the dogfood. Imagine if we had a good library!

We don't have to look any further than the Santa Clara County library (consistently top-rated by their peers) for modern, attractive, well-used facilities with strong collections. I had to laugh when I mentioned to a librarian there that I preferred her library to Palo Alto's - she said she occasionally went to Palo Alto for books, because Santa Clara would always toss out books that were old and over-worn, but you sometimes could find those volumes at Palo Alto. Great.


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Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 20, 2007 at 6:47 pm

To avoid a vote, calling the financing a certificate instead of a bond smells of chicanery foisted on the taxpayers.


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Posted by care about libraries
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2007 at 10:10 pm

Mike, Terry:

The paragraph attempts some sort of abstract painting related to libraries and information, but the basic objection there is: "but a great deal of older material may never coalesce into a single database."

So libraries do this?

No. They don't have anywhere near the "older material" that is currently available on-line. They don't begin to allow searching thousands of books simultaneously for something that hasn't been searched for before. They only allow one or a few people to access its material at the same point in time.


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Posted by a long time resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2007 at 10:21 pm

One good source of new revenue would be to install the new, electronic type of parking meters in all of the retail/commercial areas in town. The streets are public property and should generate revenue. And it would encourage more car turn-over and allow more shoppers a chance to park near where they are going.

Also the police should actually start giving out tickets to red-light runners (hundreds or thousands per day), speeders , trucks running on other than truck routes.

This could generate a few million $$ per month.

Dosen't anyone think over $10 million for just over 1 acre is a bit much? Who really owns the parcel and who is he/they connected to at city hall?

This would/could be a vote on the location as much as the $$ or need. I think it's a terrible location, isolated, easy to isolate by accidents, flooding of the underpass, etc.

The city recently sold a large lot quite close to this location for about $500,000 + - . Isn't that interesting?

The police should be dispersed throughout the city for obvious reasons and just like the fire dept/stations. Hasn't anyone heard about terrorists?

The bulding should be finished to accomadate what is needed now not what is needed 20 years from now, also. Inside.

How about selling the present city hall/police headquarters? It's old and certanily not "green" in any way. If the land along Park Ave can bring $10 million the city hall + should bring $50 million and it has a garage. Maybe a new Hotel could be built there. The city hall could move to one of 50 places the city owns, (baylands,airport, foothills, etc...


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Posted by Senior Blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 21, 2007 at 7:58 am

I see two things here:

First, Taking on sizeable debt against future revenues ensures that the City most raise future revenues. That means new taxes.

Second, The addition of long term debt will effect the "Ratings" of future bond issues by the financial world.That means they are harded to sell.


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Posted by DO like American DO
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Nov 21, 2007 at 9:16 am

FORCE A LAWSUIT. TEACH CITY A LESSON. THIS IS A SURE WIN.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 21, 2007 at 10:35 am

I have recently spoken with two influential individuals (of substantial means) who are tired of certain citizens wasting taxpayer money, as our city is sued - willy-nilly - just because some citizen doesn't like a policy decision, or a zoning change.

Using the law as a club to get one's way has been a favorite tactic of some in our city, and we have seen the result - more policy dissension; the slowing down of process; lost municipal efficiencies; costly delays that lose tax dollars; missed opportunity; forced elections over practically nothing, and so on.

There is some coalescing around an effort to set up a fund to make certain folks *personally* liable, as they sue our city over every little thing - i.e. those who think they can use the letter of the law to violate the spirit of representative democracy.

I think this may be tested very soon, and I'm quite interested to see what happens when individual citizens who have had enough of the legal chicanery that passes for "citizen opposition" around here take it on themselves to sue those who waste our tax money - and threaten the progress that our city needs to make - with legal positioning and lawsuits.

Typically, what results from these sad legal delay efforts is mostly...delay. Some lawsuits coming from citizens do have merit, but it's obvious which one's don't - the latter usually being lawsuits that result from one or a small group of citizen's unhappiness with this or that policy decision around housing or other issues.

Nothingn may come from what I've been hearing, but if something does come out of those conversations, I will be the first to appluad the effort to stop habitual interrupters of city process getting their just desserrts - and learning that *they* have to pay for causing delay, and screwing up process.

This way we may begin to see lawsuits of merit, instead of the careless wielding of the law to create havoc with process.


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Posted by Three cheers
a resident of Monroe Park
on Nov 21, 2007 at 10:53 am

>>I have recently spoken with two influential individuals (of substantial means) who are tired ..
I'm really impressed that Mike knows rich people. But I agree, we really don't want rich people getting tired.

>>There is some coalescing around an effort to set up a fund to make certain folks >>*personally* liable, as they sue our city over every little thing -
195 Page Mill Road is a "little thing"?? It was a very BIG thing.
I was glad to see our citizens asserting that the law matters, even if it interfered with Mr. Hohbach's behemoth. By the way, Mike, it was the judge who ruled that the project violated many laws, not the citizens.


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Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 21, 2007 at 11:11 am

Tort reform is long overdue, but it won't happen as long as the Democrats can block it. We shouold be moving to a system like the British have, in which anybody who brings a suit, and loses, automatically pays all court costs.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 21, 2007 at 3:08 pm

"it was the judge who ruled that the project violated many laws, not the citizens."

Following a 'nudge-nudge' by certain citizens - anyway, 195 will br built, sooner or later, and it will look pretty much the same as it does now. The 'laws' that were not enforced were technicalities that are easily resolved, but the legal action will cost our taxpayers money.

I wasn't referring to 195 Page Mill in my post, above, but now that you mention it, it would be gratifying to see some of the people who tried to hold that project up be held personally responsible for economic damages


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Posted by Karen White
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 23, 2007 at 10:22 am

I'll return to the subject at hand but from a cost and functional perspective, mindful that good facts are prerequisite to good decisions.
One factor not mentioned in the article: In a move to Park Blvd., the police department would vacate a space at City Hall Plaza that will require significant renovation for future use by other city departments. Above this space is additional unfinished mezzanine space of approximately 10,000 sf (if memory serves, yielding nearly 9,000 sf of usable space). Citizens might ask for 1) cost estimates to complete required seismic upgrades and renovation at the vacated Civic Center space, 2) what operations or services that would be housed here, and 3) the revenue source(s) for this work.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 23, 2007 at 11:46 am

Fact are definitely important in decision making. It's always good to have _all_ the facts that make up the components of a problem, and then consider those facts within the context of creative decision making.

For instance, some of the vacated City Hall Plaza might be sold or leased to a developer, as office space. Seismic rebuild could be exchanged for a cut-rate lease, or partial ownership. I'm sure additional options could be teased out.

How about cutting a deal that would permit something like that, or some other option that reduces, or eliminates, potential refurbishment costs?


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Posted by Karen White
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 23, 2007 at 3:35 pm

All revenue options should be considered, when new infrastructure and other costs are skyrocketing the way they are. We should take steps that allow us to move forward with much-needed projects before costs are simply beyond our reach.


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Posted by Not Mike
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 23, 2007 at 10:57 pm

How dare people attempt to enforce laws against the will of the rich and influential!


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 24, 2007 at 10:14 pm

Unfortunately, we have some citizens who see things in terms of 'rich and poor', rather than what's more right for our city's future.

What's ironic about the last post is that (and I will bet hard cash on this) the last poster is probably opposed to BMR units. What about that "Not Mike"? How about helping people who want to live here, and contribute, but currently can't. How "influential" are those who buy BMR units?

It's always convenient to frame the people who build and broker housing and commercial space as 'evil'. The latter has been the favorite straw man of the anti-growth crowd, for years.

That said, this is a different time - and Palo Alto doesn't have the luxury to entertain unlikely Protetarian fantasies and myths any longer.

It's time to get down to work and make our city sustainable, as it scales into the future.
(that's about 80,000+ citizens, by 2030-35)

I know that this is going to be frustrating for some residents, especially those who have been at the center of past anti-housing and anti-growth movements - but they've had their day. The "Delay Game" is losing its patina.

We WILL grow, and we WILL maintain our neighborhood integrity. We WILL make sure that Palo Alto *innovates* as it grows, so that we scale with growth in sustainable ways. That's every citizen's responsibility.

It's time to move on.


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Posted by Adam
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Nov 26, 2007 at 4:29 pm

Certainly a lot of good and irrelevant points brought out in the postings. But let's remember that both a Public Safety Building and Library are definitely needed. How does Palo Alto get this done?

No one likes taxes; some do not like police (until they are needed); some think present laws are good/bad (take your choice); some do not like the way city government is run - but it's the one we have to work with. But we're all in this together. Will the posters please suggest a way or ways to move forward? Endless verbiage wont do it.




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Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 26, 2007 at 5:19 pm

"But let's remember that both a Public Safety Building and Library are definitely needed. How does Palo Alto get this done?"

Adam,

Palo Alto tackles the library/police issues by combining them, and fixing two problems at once. Close the Downtown branch library, and build the police station on that site. We need branch consolidation, and we need a new police station. Save the $10M price to purchase overpriced land that the City does not own.

--

BMRs are just welfare housing, period. They will HURT Palo Alto, not help it. Get over it, Mike/Jeremy/Mod Point.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Periwinkle
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 26, 2007 at 5:24 pm

John, Based on residential polling, and Council directives, your suggestions are more than mildly out of touch with current reality.


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Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 26, 2007 at 7:22 pm

"John, Based on residential polling, and Council directives, your suggestions are more than mildly out of touch with current reality."

Periwinkle,

You are correct, at a certain level. I should point out, though, that "Council directives" and "residential polling" are redundant phrases, under our current leadership. Another way of saying this is that PA process has run amok. A clearly beneficial, 'kill two birds with one stone' solution was abandoned, becasue of loud neighborhood protests.

Palo Alto hired a top-notch head librarian from Pacific Grove, with the promise that it would support her. It didn't, once she told the truth that PA can only have a high level modern library by shutting down the archaic branch system. Now we are faced with a very expensive proposition to rebuild Mitchell Park library, buy new land for the police station, continue spending addional money on branch libraries.

The "How do we get this done" question should be a soul-searching question, but it is not. We continue to live in fantasyland, dreaming dreams of nostalgia and convenience. To continue our branch library system, in the age of the Internet, is foolish.


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