Around TownFLOCK OF BICYCLES ... Residents don't have to walk (or bike) too far from City Hall to get a glimpse of Palo Alto's accelerating obsession with bicycle improvements. Its latest project isn't a new bike lane or a network of signs, but a green box painted on the road in front of Coupa Café on Ramona Street, half a block from City Hall. The box is the city's new "Bicycle Corral" and it occupies what was once a parking spot. The new corral includes a 10-bicycle rack and is one of myriad improvements recommended by the city's recently released Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, a document that aims at making the city America's top biking destination. City officials celebrated the new bike-parking spot with a special ceremony on Aug. 1. "If we want people to bike downtown then we need bike parking that is readily available and visible," Mayor Sid Espinosa said in a statement. City Manager James Keene publicly announced the new bike corral at last week's City Council meeting. "Those who know this section of Ramona know it's been very difficult to find a place to park one's bicycle when you're on that part of the street," Keene said.
TO SHAVE OR SHAVE NOT ... Laurie McHugh's quest to help African children will get intensely personal next month, when she learns whether she has to exchange blond locks for a pink Mohawk. McHugh, an associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto, is putting her hair on the line to raise money for African children with cancer. As part of the "Shave It or Save It" campaign, the church has accepted a grant from an anonymous donor to support the "shave it" option. Congregants and other contributors will be trying to "save" McHugh's hair over the next months by trying to match the "shave it" grant. According to a statement from the church, proceeds from this competition will be divided between the congregation's local mission and the Treating Childhood Cancer Program of IMA World Health in Tanzania. "My hair is not long enough to donate to Locks of Love," McHugh said in a statement. "So finding another tie to a mission addressing cancer seemed appropriate given the visual association of losing my hair for a good cause." The moment of truth will come on Sept. 18, when McHugh either shaves her hair or doesn't. More information about the campaign is available at www.firstpaloalto.com/give.
PARKING WOES ... Palo Alto's transportation officials have been busily gathering data and brainstorming ways to improve parking options in downtown Palo Alto and surrounding neighborhoods. On Aug. 24, they are scheduled to present their findings at a Planning and Transportation Commission meeting. For residents of the Professorville neighborhood this moment cannot come soon enough. Many of them have long complained about downtown workers who park their cars in Professorville to avoid downtown's two-hour-parking restriction. On Aug. 1, they reasserted their position at a City Council meeting and asked city officials to create a residential-parking program in their neighborhood. The program would allow residents to buy permits and put stickers on their cars. Visitors and drivers who don't live in the neighborhood would be subject to parking restrictions. The city had recently established a similar program in College Terrace. Ken Alsman, who lives in Professorville, told the council that the city shouldn't sacrifice the neighborhood's values to subsidize downtown businesses and property owners who don't provide adequate parking. "We think it's essential that we get going with RPP," Alsman said. The council is scheduled to consider the issue on Sept. 19.
CREDIT BLUES ... The American stock market has been gyrating wildly since last week's decision by Standard & Poor to downgrade the nation's rating from AAA to AA+. And it's not just the feds who are feeling anxious about credit ratings. Palo Alto City Manager James Keene said at the Aug. 1 meeting of the City Council that the credit-rating agency Moody's has announced that it will review 162 local governments with perfect credit ratings for a possible downgrade. The news is pertinent for Palo Alto officials, who take pride in the city's AAA rating. So far, at least, the city's perfect rating doesn't appear to be threatened, Keene said. "Moody's has informed us that the City of Palo Alto would not be included in that list and our current AAA rating continues," Keene said.