The approval of plans for the new Jewish Community Center (JCC), plus the openings of the Opportunity Center and the new soccer-fields complex are all positive milestones in our community. They also have common threads that may serve as learning points for other matters that appear intractable.
They all were controversial. Fortunately, a positive attitude and hard work by public officials and others involved have resulted in outcomes that will improve our community.
There are some interests in each case that feel that their specific issues were not addressed to satisfaction. This is unavoidable for anything to happen in town, and while differing opinions were heard, the greater good for Palo Alto prevailed.
Are there lessons we can learn here that could have been and -- perhaps still could be -- applied to the likes of the Rickey's Hyatt property, Alma and Edgewood Plaza retail plans, car dealership retention and attraction, Mandarin immersion in the schools, etc.? I think so.
Specifically, I believe that all too often there are people in our community who take a zero-sum game view of possible new initiatives. In our community there is a "domino effect" for any major project, and some of the consequences have a degree of negativity to certain interests. These "negative consequences" must not be allowed to trump what in the overall balance are healthy outcomes for Palo Alto.
To put a twist on an over-used phrase, it does not have to "be in your backyard" for it to enhance Palo Alto, and in turn all of us who live here, even if it is indirectly.
Yes, things can get done in Palo Alto. It is a matter of attitude.
[Published in 9/20/06 Palo Alto Weekly]