LettersContinue walkway upgrades
I love the new colors and the paint job on the walkways from El Camino Real to downtown Palo Alto. Hopefully, the job is not finished. The automobile tunnel should be painted to match, plus the whole structure needs to be made safer with improved lighting and video cameras. As a minimum, replace the burnt-out bulbs. Let the downtown merchants and the city council know if you agree with me.
Cart in front of horse
Councilperson Karen Holman said "the process (for 27 University Ave.) has been somewhat upside down." I would say it is totally upside down, putting the cart of project design firmly ahead of the horse of needs definition and analysis. It is advancing a solution without first agreeing on the problem to be solved.
The city should break the process into two steps. First, create a statement with public support defining the needs the project is to satisfy and the adverse impacts it is to avoid. Then and only then, open the door to multiple proposals, to be evaluated against established criteria of need satisfaction and impact avoidance.
Doing it this way might redeem the city staff and city council of the sins they have committed by carrying this project forward in an inept and secretive manner.
William H. Cutler
City lacks transparency
Most Palo Alto citizens were amazed and upset by the revelations related in the Palo Alto Weekly about the secret meetings and negotiations between city staff and the Arrillaga 27 University project. The fact that more than 100 citizens attended the City Council meeting was a vivid display of community concern, not only about the project, but about the secrecy and lack of transparency of the process.
Unfortunately, this isn't the only example of a lack of transparency with respect to major city development policies. For those of us impacted by the commercial employee invasion of our neighborhoods, on both sides of University Avenue, the close relationship of city staff to downtown development interests, and lack of transparency in their relationship, has become very clear.
Among the more blatant examples are the monthly Downtown Parking Committee meetings between downtown development interests and City Economic Development, Planning and Transportation staff. There are no published agendas, nor minutes of the discussion, and all of the meetings are closed to the public. This group sets parking policy for the city — all to their own benefit with no concern for the surrounding neighborhoods that must pay for this corporate subsidy.
And City Council apparently supports this approach.