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Council Candidates: Will You Keep Foothills Park for Us?

Original post made by Tom, Palo Verde, on Oct 17, 2007

It is a simple question. Will Palo Alto citizens continue to enjoy exclusive use of Foothills Park, as promised?

Comments (22)

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Posted by Jenny
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 4:07 pm

It is naive of Palo Alto residents to think that Foothill Park is being kept exclusively for them. I used to live near the entrance to Foothill Park in Los Altos Hills and we walked into the park and drove into the park all the time. In fact it becomes a game; how easy it is to get into Foothill Park. Also, those living around the park in other neighboring towns can easily get in.

While the gatekeeper is checking the driver's licenses of PA residents on the entrance side, it is very easy to drive in through the exit gate.

When I was up there this Summer I watched as bicyclist came down Page Mill Road and swept into the park through the exit gate, no one stopped them.

Unless you put a 12 foot high chain link fence around the park you will never keep people out.

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Posted by Tim
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 17, 2007 at 5:23 pm


PA Hills was willing to pay some significant money to gain access to FH Park. It didn't happen, becasue of the outcry from PA citizens, who remember the covenant. Dr. Lee sold the property to Palo Alto, with the understanding that it would remain a nature preserve. Other cities were begged to come in on the deal. They refused, even though they understood that they would not be able to use the reserve in the future. Palo Alto stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. It is ours, period.

If the issue is enforcement, then get some of the homeless Downtown Team members to patrol the property.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 17, 2007 at 5:39 pm

The last thing I want for Foothills Park is to have it populated by boom-box-toting, riotous crowds that plague every other open park in this area. This will happen if we open it up to other communities.

In fact, it IS open, as long as one is accompanied by a Palo Alto citizen whose TAX DOLLARS bobught it, and have maintained it all these years.

It's a NATURE PRESERVE. Let it be.

There are LOTS of other open spaces in this area.

The whole argument about "exclusion" is a red herring, and insulting to all those who brought Foothills Park into existance.

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Posted by Jenny
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2007 at 11:51 pm

Yes, Los Altos Hills offered to pay a significant sum to Palo Alto to allow LAH residents access to Foothill Park. Palo Alto chose not to accept the offer. However, that does not stop residents who live near the park from walking or driving into the park whenever they want.

Just saying Foothill Park is exclusively for PA residents and their guests, does not make it so.

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Posted by Been There
a resident of Southgate
on Oct 18, 2007 at 11:27 am


Allow me to assure you that NO-ONE without a Palo Alto address on their driver's license is allowed to drive into Foothills Park on busy weekends.

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Posted by Kevin
a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2007 at 6:28 am

When I was a kid it used to be easy to get into Foothill Park; we just borrowed a utility bill from friends who lived in PA and showed that when we went through the gate.

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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 20, 2007 at 8:35 am

Mike, you must be going to the wrong parks, dude ;=) Windy Hill, Huddart, Wunderlicht, almost all of Rancho Sante Antonio, PA's own Arestradero Preserve (just look at a map for more) don't have any of that - they are basically lightly developed nature preserves.

A city-private park is pretty nutty - it is Palo Alto-exceptionalism at its highest. Find another private municipal anywhere in CA - good luck I think. And the idea that our gem would be over-run - huh? Take a look at any of those other parks. And if you want to address the numbers issue - charge admission (as we did until a few years ago) and limit the number of cars.

If every city and county did what we did (kept their own parks private), the world would be much worse off. So why do we get to be free riders? And don't say "but we paid for it" - every city pays for its own parks, swimming pools, golf courses, etc.

So I am very much in favor of making FHP public, and getting back in step. And yeah, I do go there a lot. It's a nice place - lets be good, normal people - and share our toys.

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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 20, 2007 at 11:30 am

What if we charge admission for non-residents, limit the number of cars and use the revenue to clean up the other parks after Mike's "boom-box-toting, riotous crowds" at all the other parks. Over the weekend - at least at Pardee Park, the garbage cans are often overflowing making it hard for residents and non-resident alike to clean up after their parties.

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Posted by Mark Nadim
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 22, 2007 at 9:29 am

I support keeping the Foothills Park exclusive to Palo Alto residents, the main issue here is fire prevention. The more people we allow into the Park the higher the probability of an accidental (or sometimes intentional) fire. If we open it to the public we will need to have a larger fire station, and more park rangers etc. If Jenny lives close by, and can walk in to enjoy the Park, she is welcome to do that.

I was at the council meeting when a council member from LAH presented his proposal. The problem with opening the Park to LAH, is it will be looked upon that the Park is for affluent cities, and will open the door for legal action against the City of Palo Alto. Basically it is either open to everyone or to no one. Bottom line my position is "No to Opening the Foothills Park".


Mark Nadim

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Posted by Tom
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 22, 2007 at 10:10 am


That is a big plus for me, when I go to vote. If other candidates do not agree to keep the covenant (or they remain silent on the issue), I will not vote for them.



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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 22, 2007 at 7:25 pm

Good, we need some litmus-test issues! Why vote rationally, what's the fun in that?

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Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 22, 2007 at 8:51 pm

I agree that Foothills Park should only be open to Palo Alto residents and their guests. This is the way that Mrs. Lee and her grandchildren wanted it.

I would be more interested in knowing how Mr. Nadim feels about projects that would affect the majority of our city's residents -the people who live in the flat lands - the people who will be affected by his decisions on high density housing, hotels, and massive traffic jams.

It doesn't seem fair when the majority of Palo Alto's citizens are stuck down here to deal with decisions made by a wealthy developer who resides in the solitude of the Palo Alto Hills.

I would like to hear from candidates other than Mr. Nadim on the protection of Foothill Park.

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Posted by Kyle
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Oct 28, 2007 at 2:45 pm

I live in Los Altos Hills about a mile away from foothills park. I've been able to drive in there on weekdays without being hassled to present identification and it is truly a remarkable park. I was excited to hear that LAH was offering money and their Fire Station No. 8 to try to get their citizens access to the park. I would love to be able to go and walk some trails and spend some time there without having to worry about being asked to leave. I was, however, appalled to learn that Palo Alto declined LAHs proposal to allow us access to the park. The park literally borders LAH and it is asinine to tout it right in front of our faces and not allow us access after we agree to pay a proportionate amount of the operation fees.

I understand that when the original owner of the land sold it no other community stepped up to help pay for the operation costs, but how long can you hold a grudge? Let LAH into Foothills Park, PLEASE!

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Posted by Gene
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 28, 2007 at 2:56 pm



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Posted by Kyle
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Oct 28, 2007 at 3:55 pm


I'm just saying it was one thing when Palo Alto was paying 100% of the operation costs. Now that other communities are offering to step in and pay a proportionate amount towards these costs, it just looks selfish of the city of Palo Alto to deny such proposals.

I feel this is a very selfish attitude to have, especially with regards to access to a nature preserve (you don't own nature!)

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Posted by Kyle
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Oct 28, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Long Time Resident,

I believe Mr. Lee's wishes were only that the land be made into a natural reserve. I would imagine he would have wanted everybody to be able to enjoy his truly remarkable piece of land. It is Palo Alto who wanted to keep the trove exclusively for its residents because they were upset that no other communities wanted to help pay for the parks upkeep when Mr. Lee first endowed it to the city.

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Posted by Gene
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 28, 2007 at 4:05 pm


FHP needs a very light footprint. Leave aside, for the moment, that PA got a slap in the face when it begged for help, way back when. If we open it up to LAH, then we will also need to open to it to everyone. No deal.

Kyle, sell your house and move to PA Hills! You will be welcome.

No more whining, now, Kyle.

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Posted by Kyle
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Oct 28, 2007 at 4:25 pm

I guess I'll have to continue walking over to the park and using it for free while you Palo Altans foot the bill. Good luck with that.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 28, 2007 at 4:36 pm

If all the high density housing projects are approved, this would open up Foothills Park and all the amenities in our city to these new residents.

Often the programs offered through the Parks and Recreation department fill immediately.

We have one child and live in a tiny old decaying house.
We pay $2,000 a month in property taxes. Yes, it is true.
We also give PIE $500 a year, and give generously to the PTA, volunteer at our school, and our church too.

We cannot afford most of the programs offered by The City Park and Recreation Department - especially Foothills Fun Camp.

Before we purchased our home, we rented while we were house hunting. At that time we could afford one session of camp, but it filled immediately.

We love Foothills Park, but our child would have loved to have had the experience of camp shared with other children.

I think that the cost of programs through the Recreation Department is lowered for families with more children. Some of these families have roughly the same income as our same family, but they rent and qualify for lower income housing since they have many children (4+).

I feel this is a punishment for having only one child.

The citizens of Palo Alto pay a lot for Foothill park - at least we do.

People who vote and want to save our Park for Palo Alto residents only, should also consider voting for candidates who will go easy on high density affordable housing projects.

It is possible that the families who will fill the affordable housing units would put more of an environmental strain on Foothills Park than Los Altos Hills Residents.

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Posted by Gene
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 28, 2007 at 4:43 pm

Go ahead and break the law, Kyle, if you feel comfortalbe doing so. Just don't complain when other people break other laws.

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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 28, 2007 at 6:12 pm

The elitism in this town never fails to impress me! Kyle, please use the park with my blessing. And I hope many others join you. It is truly a shame that PA won't share its toys.

Eventually Palo Alto will return to Planet Earth and make our park open to all, like, umm, every other park in just about the whole world. And if we want to keep the "footprint" light, we'll charge admission (like we did up to a few years ago) and limit number of cars (since we have people at the gate anyway).

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Posted by human
a resident of Mountain View
on May 26, 2008 at 5:36 pm

If the park caught on fire the fire department would welcome help from the other communities without checking their ID's to see if they had a PA address. Too bad they can't just open it up to everyone. Remember that old Cracker Jacks commercial where the grandfather asks the kid - "What did you learn in school today?" and the kid answers 'sharing'. Well, Palo Alto, what are you teaching your kids?

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