Around TownLESS IS MORE ... One of Palo Alto's main strategies for helping downtown residents deal with parking shortages is adding more parking facilities. But another strategy, ironically enough, is removing parking spots. The city last year began converting parking spaces at various downtown locations into "bike corrals." Each corral is a green zone the size of one car parking space and can accommodate up to 10 bicycles. The city unveiled its first bike corral in spring 2011 near Coupa Café on Ramona Street. Since then it added five more and plans to introduce two more near the new Apple Store on University Avenue and one at Lyfe Kitchen on Hamilton Avenue, according to a new report by Chief Transportation Official Jaime Rodriguez. The city sees bike corrals and bike-sharing programs as key components in its broad strategy of easing parking congestion and is offering to install corrals for free upon request, provided adjacent businesses support it. The city also expects to get some information later this year from the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority about a proposed bike-share program, which will bring 100 rental bicycles to Palo Alto. The City Council is scheduled to discuss parking — presumably for both cars and bikes — at its meeting Tuesday night.
GUNS AND HASHTAGS ... You won't need a badge or a vest to ride along with Palo Alto police officers Friday night, just a Twitter account. The Palo Alto Police Department is holding its first-ever "virtual ride-along" on Friday, Nov. 9, from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. According to the announcement from the department, a Public Information Officer will be riding with a patrol officer during this time and "live-tweeting calls for service, crimes in progress, arrests, vehicle accidents, and anything else that may come up during the course of the officer's shift." The goal of the activity, according to the department's statement, is to "give our community insight into realities of law enforcement in Palo Alto." All tweets will include the hashtag "#PAPDvra" and could be tracked by following the department's official Twitter account, @PaloAltoPolice. Twitter users will also have a chance to ask officers questions during the ride along by attaching #PAPDvra. The department estimates it will send between 50 and 150 tweets during the eight-hour event, depending on the volume of calls and level of public engagement.
AS IF BY MAGIC ... When Nicola Keating moved from Cupertino to Los Altos six years ago, she kept all of her important belongings, but lost her six-year-old cat, Magic. The orange tabby had lost his collar in a fight, and Keating had scheduled a veterinarian appointment the day he disappeared. After putting up fliers, talking to locals and canvassing the neighborhood, Keating thought she would never see her cat again. Fast forward six years to this past Tuesday, Nov. 6. That's when William Warrior, a Palo Alto Animal Control officer, made the call to Keating telling her Magic had reappeared and a microchip identified him. "First she said, 'How have you got my cat?'" Warrior said. After Warrior's call, Keating drove over to the shelter and reunited with the tabby she had presumed was dead. The cat arrived at the shelter a little dehydrated and rough around the edges, but without any signs to suggest that it had been living alone on the streets for six years. "He has clearly been cared for ... I don't know if somebody nearby is mourning an orange cat," Keating said. After six years away, Magic seems to fit right in with the Keating family again, she said. "We are super happy to have him home," she said. Warrior put a video up on YouTube titled "Magic Repatriation" for those interested in seeing Magic at the shelter.
LIEBER TO THE RESCUE ... Former California Assemblywoman Sally Lieber might not have won the State Senate race on Tuesday, but she assumed the role of rescuer on Oct. 30, after she stopped that evening to help a young woman who had been grabbed on the Stanford University campus. Lieber was traveling on campus at about 10:30 p.m. when a woman ran screaming out of the darkness toward her car. The assemblywoman stopped and opened the car door to let the hysterical woman into the passenger seat. As they were driving, the woman pointed out a man who fit the description of a person who had grabbed her while she was jogging. Lieber called 9-1-1, but the distraught woman then jumped from the car and fled. The assemblywoman stuck around and kept in contact with police until they arrived and she was able explained the situation to police. The victim later contacted police to file a report, a Stanford Department of Public Safety spokesman said.