Good – and not-so-good things -- that are happening in Palo Alto | An Alternative View | Diana Diamond | Palo Alto Online |

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By Diana Diamond

Good – and not-so-good things -- that are happening in Palo Alto

Uploaded: Oct 25, 2018

Traffic problems again (not good) -- Residents are certainly not shy in letting the city know about their traffic problems. When Mayor Liz Kniss looked into the TV cameras at a July council meeting and told residents that the traffic problems in this city weren’t as bad as we all were making them out to be, and that the solution was simply to use alternate streets, some residents responded in anger. Crescent Park homeowners, who live on both sides of University Avenue near Highway 101, took it upon themselves to tell the city how bad the traffic is, particularly commuter traffic on late weekday afternoons. They presented last week a 36-page survey they had conducted themselves found it can take 15 to 30 minutes just to reach their homes from downtown. And the besieged residents surveyed clearly stated the city certainly had not done enough to solve this problem, much less pay much attention to it.

I am glad the Crescent Park neighbors had the wherewithal to conduct their own survey and present results to the city. That was good. But I also have to ask why it becomes the responsibility of the residents and not city officials to conduct surveys on the traffic problems?

Maybe it’s because some council members, like Adrian Fine, say we should learn to bike more and not drive our cars, and recently voted against building a new parking garage downtown to discourage cars from driving downtown. But Adrian, some of us have kids and haul big grocery bags to our home, or can’t take kids on a bike to special after-school classes, dentist appointments etc. or are older or are women who simply don’t want to get on a bike when it’s dark, like these late October days.

Telling residents it’s all their fault that we have traffic problems (“You should drive less”) is not the answer. It’s just words from the council dais that lead to no solution. Not good.

Council endorsements – It’s good we’ve cut the city council size down from nine to seven – there will be fewer members that for some reason feel obligated to opine on every agenda item and force the meetings to run into early 1 a.m. hours. But with three incumbents and only two newcomers running, the choice is a narrow one. I heartily endorse incumbents Eric Filseth and Tom DuBois, both of whom are knowledgeable, actually try to solve some problems, and are on top of many issues (like the escalating costs of city employee pensions). I also endorse Alison Cormack, but with a bit of hesitation. She claims she is for slow-growth (this council is now divided 5-4 into more growth vs. slow growth) but she is supported by several pro-growthers and seems to waffle between both sides. Incumbent Cory Wolbach is clearly a pro-growth person (I am not), while Pat Boone, a newcomer, seems like a nice guy but needs to study community issues in more detail to learn the complexities of, say, solving traffic problems.

Measure F and the Santa Clara County Democratic Party – I received a mailing this week from the SCC Democratic Party urging me to vote “yes” on Measure F on the city ballot. That’s the one that promises lower health care costs (good idea) but then requires the City of Palo Alto to monitor each bill from every patient going to Stanford Hospital. Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital, Palo Alto Medical Foundation plus local doctors and dentists – a Herculean task (and a bad idea). This city has no knowledge or expertise in health care costs or appropriate patient charges. The measure was sponsored by the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) and the United Healthcare Workers West Political Issues Committee, two unions with big pocketbooks who are angry at Stanford for not letting them automatically unionize at their facility in Redwood City. I am really surprised the Democratic Party endorsed this measure, particularly since so many Palo Alto Democrats oppose it. Incidentally, the flyer the County Democratic Party sent out was paid for by the SEIU. Surprised?