News

Budget reflects Palo Alto's growing resources, problems

With revenues rising, City Council to spend more on pensions, public safety, parking relief

It's a problem many communities would envy: a sizzling economy that pumps an ever increasing stream of cash into municipal coffers.

But as Palo Alto's newly approved budget suggests, prosperity brings its own problems, including traffic, parking shortages and a growing demand for city services. Also, more tension over development and unplanned citizen uproars over things like airplane noise, basement construction and Eichler design guidelines -- conflicts that inevitably lead to studies, consultants and, at times, policy changes.

As City Manager James Keene wrote in his introduction to the budget: "(The) demands and conflicts emerging from our vibrant economy have heightened the intensity of the 'Palo Alto Process,' with new analyses and data generation demands, and deep dives into complex problem solving within an engaged public process across a wide range of issues."

The budget aims to tackle some of these challenges. It includes funding for two new parking-permit programs, the solution of choice for some residential neighborhoods seeking relief from commuters' vehicles and for an urban-design specialist who would help the city craft guidelines for new homes in Eichler neighborhoods.

Palo Alto's budget for fiscal year 2017 includes $642.4 million in citywide expenses, including a General Fund (which pays for most city services and projects, not including utilities) of $194.1 million.

The General Fund includes a $68.2 million capital-improvement program for 2017, with most of the money earmarked for projects on the council's list of infrastructure priorities: a new public-safety building, two new parking garages, the replacement of two fire stations and a host of biking projects.

Mayor Pat Burt noted during Monday's discussion that various city councils had been talking for over a dozen years about the city's "massive infrastructure expenditure" but had no idea where to find the needed funding.

"What the city has done over the last several years is transform our budget to get to a point where we're investing over $45 million this year in infrastructure -- that's keep-up, catch-up and new projects," Burt said. "That's a major change that has happened. We have worked ourselves into a solution and we have to realize that's a big deal."

The healthy local economy helped, according to city officials. Tax revenues, which have been consistently climbing for several years now, just underwent another upward revision. Property-tax and utility user-tax revenues are each projected to go up by about 11 percent from the prior year, to $39 million and $12.4 million, respectively. In each case, the newest projections from the Administrative Services Department exceed the ones from April by more than $1 million. Sales-tax revenues are projected to grow by 5.5 percent from the prior year, to $29 million.

Expenses are rising just as rapidly. Salaries and benefit costs, which make up about 60 percent of the General Fund, are set to increase by $6.9 million, or 4.3 percent, in the new budget. And eight new positions will be added, including four in Public Works and 2.5 in Planning.

Given the rising costs, Keene had proposed using money from the city's Budget Stabilization Reserve to balance the annual budget, an idea that met resistance from the council's Finance Committee. Instead, the committee and staff agreed to strike from the budget a few capital projects that wouldn't be shovel-ready in the coming year in any event.

Among the more controversial proposals in the budget was a plan to reduce the trimming cycle for local trees from seven to 15 years. The Finance Committee pushed, bringing it down to 10, though Councilwoman Karen Holman lobbied to keep it at seven.

Keene's assurances that the city can always revisit the decision if it has a negative effect on local trees offered Holman little comfort.

"If we lose trees because we're not adequately maintaining them, how do we go back and restore those trees? It's not possible," she said.

Her proposal to retain a seven-year cycle garnered no support. A separate motion, made by Councilman Eric Filseth, to use half of the funds currently budgeted for "sustainability contingency" to increase the frequency of tree trimming faltered by a 4-4 vote, with Holman, Vice Mayor Greg Scharff and Councilman Tom DuBois supporting it.

During the discussion, Scharff marveled at the fact that the council is being asked to cut tree-trimming costs during a time of a thriving economy.

"This is the up-cycle. Things don't get better than this," Scharff said. "And winter is coming. Recession is going to come. If we're cutting the services now, that just concerns me."

The council also agreed to add $750,000 into a trust dedicated to pension liabilities. Burt and Councilman Greg Schmid both talked about the importance of investing in unfunded liabilities, though Schmid also acknowledged that this will mean deferring some infrastructure spending.

The council also agreed to allocate $50,000 for emerging needs in human services and directed its Policy and Services Committee to consider raising the city's spending on grants to local nonprofits. In addition, the committee was directed to explore creating a low-income fee program for adults in the Community Services Department.

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Comments

16 people like this
Posted by Paul Goldstein
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 14, 2016 at 10:15 am

More cash in the coffers while quality of life plummets. Our leaders seem to want Palo Alto to become another Berkeley or Santa Monica. Is this really what a majority of residents wants? If so, why did you move here in the first place?


15 people like this
Posted by Scottie Zimmerman
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 14, 2016 at 10:51 am

No mention of Palo Alto Animal Services?


13 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 14, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Prosperity but empty what rainy day savings exists? Sounds like top rate management that manages things for their own benefit.


21 people like this
Posted by Twenty-one year resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 14, 2016 at 12:07 pm

Twenty-one year resident is a registered user.

Really? Our "quality of life plummets." Do we live in the same vibrant community? I love the quality of life we enjoy in Palo Alto--excellent schools, beautiful parks, bikable, walkable shaded streets, wonderful restaurants, well-educated and interesting neighbors, outstanding libraries, in the backyard of a first-class university, more jobs than most places in the country (while that generates traffic, it also keeps families stable). This is a stimulating and beautiful place to live.

I feel blessed to live here. Look around you. Palo Alto is an amazing community. If you want things to be better, work with your community to make them so.


7 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 14, 2016 at 12:37 pm

@Jeff,
The article was not able to cover all of the aspects of the budget, but it has a Budget Stabilization Reserve, which is our rainy day fund. That fund would be at $41.5 million for our Fiscal Year 2017. This is actually above the upper end of our targeted range of 15-20%. So rather than an empty rainy day fund we have one that is full.


15 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 14, 2016 at 12:40 pm

Maybe the rainy day fund is full because the Utility Dept. keeps raising its absurdly high rates.


Like this comment
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 14, 2016 at 1:36 pm

@Online Name
Sorry, I should have clarified that it is our General Fund Budget Stabilization Reserve (BSR) or "rainy day fund" that is currently above the upper end of our target range. The Utilities each have their own reserves.


6 people like this
Posted by Judith
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 14, 2016 at 2:26 pm

I too feel very blessed and fortunate to live close to California Avenue in Palo Alto.

However, with so many large construction projects already around California Avenue which have construction permit but not yet started, I am wondering what the traffic and parking impacts will be once occupied. Despite some members of the council's "magical thinking" that the city's new "robust TDM" (in the very early planning stages) will be so successfully managed there will be a minimal increase in traffic. But there is as yet absolutely no date to back up these claims. In addition, new developments are encouraged to provide minimal parking for residential units because some council members project a majority of these new residents will not want want or need to own a car at all. So there will be no overflow parking in nearby streets. Moreover, restricting residents' car ownership will be successfully accomplished as a condition of occupancy, so nearby streets will not be impacted. How likely is it that our city staff will be able to monitor and enforce this condition of occupancy? We can only keep our fingers crossed that our council visionaries are right.


10 people like this
Posted by Judith
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 14, 2016 at 2:31 pm

@Pat Burt

You do not mention the millions of dollars that are transferred from our utility bills to the city's general fund. No wonder our utility rates keep jumping up.


4 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 14, 2016 at 8:23 pm

Judith,
I did not mention many elements of our budget. I was only responding to the miss conceptions about our "rainy day fund", officially known as our Budget Stabilization Reserve.
We do benefit as a city and as rate payers from owning our own utilities. As a municipal utility we have for many decades been allowed to transfer annually to our general fund the same amounts from our gas and electric utilities that private investor owned utilities are allowed by the PUC to return to their investors. These funds are used for many of the services in Palo Alto that we have beyond what most cities provide including better parks, libraries, streets, and community services.
These transfers are not the basis for our recent rate increases. This year was the first year since 2009 that our electricity rate has increased and those rates are still more than 30% below PG&E.


6 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 14, 2016 at 8:43 pm

Pat,

You stated - "funds are used for many of the services in Palo Alto that we have beyond what most cities provide including better parks, libraries, streets, and community services."

From what I understood, the capital improvements to the libraries were done by a separate bond passed by the voters, not paid for by the transfer of funds from the utilities.

The "return on investment" transfer from the utilities is just one of multiple sources that the general fund gets money from the utilities. Another is the Utility Users Tax. Another is the city charges the utilities rent sometime at a big markup from what rents land from Stanford. Another is that past city services that use to be paid for by the general fund now gets charged to the utility customers, fore example street sweeping. All of these transfers amount to about $650 - $700 per resident; or for a family of four people, its about $2600 - $2800 per year.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 14, 2016 at 9:10 pm

@common sense, does the math really work that way in your last sentence? If I'm solo in a house and my neighbor has a family of four, are these transfers costing them four times as much? Or are solos being gouged on a per capita basis?

In reality I suspect most of those dollars come from businesses, not residents.


4 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 14, 2016 at 9:25 pm

The transfers the city gets from the utilities are $40+ million, and there are 65,000 residents so I divided the $40+million by 65,000 to arrive at my dollars per resident.

The smaller your utility bill (which has some relationship to household size), the less paid toward some of those transfers.

I have not researched the budget to determine the percentage paid by business versus residents.

Some of the money cannot be attributed by resident versus business. For example, Stanford rents a piece of land to the city for $1/year, and the city turns around and "rents" the land to the Utility department for Hundreds of Thousands of dollars.


9 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 14, 2016 at 9:37 pm

Re the budget, how much did the city spend on their compost pail initiative? It's obviously an ongoing expense since they continue to advertise via the media and statement stuffers telling us how to compost. The people who care about composting have already figured it out and those who don't care will still not care.

We probably could have funded three animal shelters with that money.

Yet when we want something like metered trash cans that will save US some money when we don't use some or all of our 3 cans, the silence remains deafening. Instead, they sponsor crime prevention seminars when all a smart burglar has to do to spot unoccupied houses is to check the streets on garbage pickup day to see who isn't putting out cans.

I'd also like to know why the city gets a PERCENTAGE of the sale prices for our homes under the guise of a "document transfer tax" when it takes the same amount of money to transfer documents for a less expensive property as for an expensive one. A fixed cost for document transfer of $50 or $100 seems right to me.

No wonder the city has a surplus to spend on all sorts of things like [portion removed] bike "education" and unwanted roundabouts, PAYING commuters to come into and leave Palo Alto to reduce gridlock created by all the new office buildings, revisiting things like bike lanes for major streets like Middlefield that were rejected 10 years ago when traffic was much lighter and the streets were safer...


9 people like this
Posted by 45Yrresident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 14, 2016 at 11:47 pm

The City would not have as many traffic and parking problems now if planners for new building took into account the parking and traffic problems that would be created. Traffic and parking solution planning is a disaster.


5 people like this
Posted by Mark Michael
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 15, 2016 at 6:56 am

Compliments to Mayor Burt for constructive comments in the virtual budget discussion in this Palo Alto online forum. Many interested and concerned residents cannot attend the meeting at City Hall. Consequently, the news coverage stimulates a broader exchange of viewpoints and questions. Sometimes this may be just as or even more insightful than the 3 minute statements allowed for people who participate at the live meeting.


14 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 15, 2016 at 8:07 am

mauricio is a registered user.

The sizzling economy is actually destroying the quality of life in Palo Alto. It's like being able to afford to eat lobster lobster every day, which would clog your arteries, destroy your health and eventually kill you.


2 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2016 at 8:23 am

I thought you were moving to Bolinas, Mauricio.

Not sure about you, but my quality of life in Palo Alto is real and spectacular. Except for the hearing the constant complaining of people who wish it still were 20 or 30 years ago. Get over it. The world changes.

I have an idea - for everyone wishing for a specific time period of Palo Alto, you should also deny yourself all of the technological advances since that time period. If life were so idyllic back then, then maybe you should be true to your beliefs and really live life the way it was supposedly better. I'm sure that 1979 Ford Pinto is really the bee's knees.


10 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 15, 2016 at 8:40 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Since you asked, I'm moving to Bolinas at the end of the year, but keeping my house in Palo Alto, so even then, I will feel qualified to comment on Palo Alto issues. If you classify heavy traffic, increased noise, crime, rudeness, dangerous driving, student suicide and ever increasing shallowness as ""spectacular" quality of life, we have very different ideas on what quality of life means. Since when is the desire to preserve high quality of life equated with resistance to technological progress? They are unrelated. I now drive electric cars charged with electricity derived from solar power, my house is energy efficient. trying to preserve what is great and beautiful about Palo Alto and keeping from becoming another Berkeley doesn't mean by any stretch of the imagination a desire to live in the past or missing old technologies.


2 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2016 at 9:38 am

"Since when is the desire to preserve high quality of life equated with resistance to technological progress?"

They are very much intertwined. For example, technology has completely changed the retail landscape - the desire for old long time Palo Alto residents to keep downtown the way was is simply not financially feasible.

If you think beyond the surface level details, you'll find the "good old days" really weren't.


18 people like this
Posted by cm
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 15, 2016 at 11:16 am

What does this budget do for the residents of Palo Alto? The city council claims they are investing in infrastructure but they are only maintaining the status quo. Where are the new parks, new swimming pools, new recreation buildings that should be part of our "growing and vibrant" city? They have added many thousands of people to the city and no new facilities. Just like the overcrowded streets that they are spending money to constantly repave our facilities are also overcrowded. Yet not one saved dime in this budget to one day buy more property for adding more facilities for residents. This city only cares about allowing more development and giving employees massive raises that will keep residents on the hook for massive retirement pensions decades after the employees retire. This budget and negotiation cycle and previous budgets and negotiations are a disservice to the residents who are funding it. I want them to start saving at least 5-10 million dollars a year (out of their 194 million budget - 5%) and put it in a "acquire new public facilities fund". Then maybe in 5 or 10 years we can actually do something for residents. Like buy the Frys property and build a new community center with a pool, park and new animal shelter. Why don't we see visionary plans like this from our city manager? Because he and his employees don't really care about residents of this city. Nor about planning for the long term. They are just in it for what they can score for themselves when they retire in a few years.


8 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 15, 2016 at 11:42 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Flooding an overpopulated town with tens of thousands additional people, making its already overcrowded streets and roads even more more overcrowded is not progress. There's nothing progressive about doing it, or about devoting more and more sources to fixing an infrastructure that over crowding and excessive traffic is destroying. This is at best treading water. where is the talk about acquiring more land for additional parks, for additional open space, for modernizing the animal shelter, for creating more community centers? If wanting all that is living in the past, and if flooding this town with more people, increasing traffic, crime and noise is progress, count me as one living in the past.


8 people like this
Posted by cid
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2016 at 12:08 pm

cid is a registered user.

UNFUNDED PENSION LIABILITIES SHOULD BE THE HUGE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM, BUT THEY SWEPT IT TO THE SIDE.


6 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2016 at 1:29 pm

Tens of thousands of people?

2000 Census - 58,598
2010 Census - 64,403
2014 Estimate - 66,955
2015 Estimate: 66,853 (!)

Wow - we actually lost population between 2014 and 2015 based on Census estimates. Even growth from 2000 is not "tens of thousands of people" - it's not even a single 10,000.

Mauricio - go drive to Foothills Park. You might be surprised at how much green space we have in Palo Alto. Even before you hit the park.


4 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 15, 2016 at 1:51 pm

@Me, how many persons do you think are within Palo Alto city limits at this moment?


Like this comment
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2016 at 2:03 pm

Probably fewer - most residents in Palo Alto who have jobs don't live in Palo Alto.

With FB in Menlo Park, Google in Mountain View, Apple in Cupertino and VCs in Menlo Park and the city, yes, that sounds about right.


Like this comment
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2016 at 2:04 pm

Argh. Fat Finger.

What I meant to say:

Probably fewer - most residents in Palo Alto who have jobs don't *work* in Palo Alto.


10 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 15, 2016 at 2:14 pm

It's been widely reported that Palo Alto's population triples during the day due to the increased number of offices. And that may be an old number given all the new offices and hotels popping up.

65,000 x 3 + 195,000


Like this comment
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2016 at 2:16 pm

Cite please? This sounds suspiciously like what they say about San Francisco. It's too similar that I find that to be suspect.


8 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 15, 2016 at 3:18 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Tens of thousand of additional people in the future, if we bow to even some of the pressure to develop more housing. The proposed San Antonio Rd housing development would add anywhere between 10 to 16 thousand people, even if we assume that one unit would house two people at the most.


9 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 15, 2016 at 3:31 pm

Maybe someone has better numbers but here'one cite from one year ago from Palo Alto Forward so we know the number is even higher a year later. Also, we need to factor in the huge amount of growth at Stanford and factor in additional numbers for commuters to Stanford.

As stated below, we have more than 3 times the number of workers here as we do homes. (They're counting 30,000 residences vs residents which was my figure of 65,000)

Web Link

Palo Alto has the ***highest in-commuting rate in the region and the second highest in the country after Manhattan.* Downtown areas are busy and it’s hard to find parking. On Tuesday, the Comprehensive Plan Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) will be discussing talking about the policies and programs to help address the city’s transportation challenges. As we think about the future of transportation, here are some thoughts for the committee to consider…

Housing as a transportation solution

A big reason we see so much in-commuting is because Palo Alto has many more jobs than homes. There are ~100,000 jobs, and under 30,000 homes in the city. One major option to reduce in-commuting is to provide more places for workers to live.


6 people like this
Posted by 40 year resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2016 at 5:21 pm

To 21 year resident:
Yes we have excellent schools, beautiful parks, bikable, walkable shaded streets, wonderful restaurants, well-educated and interesting neighbors, outstanding libraries, in the backyard of a first-class university, more jobs than most places in the country (while that generates traffic, it also keeps families stable).
But for my family there are 200 planes a day flying over my house and neighborhood. We cannot enjoy our backyard, go for a peaceful walk under the shaded tree lined streets, go for a hike in Foothills Park or even do gardening with our wonderful soil and climate. The degradation of quality of life in Palo Alto is astounding. Also, noticing so many families who are leaving to other cities/areas where the quality of life remains high!!!


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2016 at 5:26 pm

"A big reason we see so much in-commuting is because Palo Alto has many more jobs than homes. There are ~100,000 jobs, and under 30,000 homes in the city. One major option to reduce in-commuting is to provide more places for workers to live."


Good point. So in order to make an actual difference, you're thinking maybe 20,000 new homes, maybe 30,000? Approximately?


10 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 15, 2016 at 5:38 pm

Resident, I was responding to Me's request for a citation re the daytime vs residential population of Palo Alto since he/she found my claim that our population triples during the workday "suspect" since it sounds like similar claims for San Francisco. The similarity is hardly surprising since the SF Bay Area, including Palo Alto, has one of the worst gridlock and longest commutes in the country.

I was refuting Me's claim that Palo Alto's population drops during the workday when it in fact more than triples.

I'm certainly not suggesting we need 20,000 or 30,000 new homes; I was quoting from Palo Alto Forward's 2015 document re residential population vs jobs.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2016 at 8:42 pm

Of the present residents it would've interesting to discover where they work. I expect a reasonable number work at Stanford. Of the remainder I am willing to bet a high percentage work outside Palo Alto.


8 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2016 at 8:54 pm

@me,I'm curious how long have you resided in PA? and by the tone of your post all of us long time residents are neanderthal's ? As a 50 year resident and local business owner the quality of life has deteriated to an unacceptable level unless your a highly paid tech worker I'm going to have to look at Bolinas.


2 people like this
Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2016 at 9:20 pm

Bolinas? Odd that someone who's adverse to growth would want to remain in one of the fastest growing metro regions in the Country... I suppose if you're some kind of glutton for punishment you can join the NIMBY brigade up there and complain about growth in Marin...


2 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2016 at 12:08 am

Online Name - thanks for the cite. The unfortunate thing from the cite is that it doesn't source either, so we really don't know what the composition is. As Resident mentioned above, how does Stanford count in this? And from anecdotal experience, Palo Alto downtown experience is absolutely nothing compared to the experience in the Financial District, where the 3x residents observation has more credence.

Robert - been a homeowner here long enough to observe how conservative Palo Alto really is, especially in mindset. There's definitely a streak of provinciality, which is surprising for a hub in a world-changing region. You just have to read the comments about "foreign money" (code word for Chinese - I bet if UK or French money flee here, no one would even bat an eye), the ongoing fantasy of putting a minuscule grocery store at Edgewood, calling 50 year old firetraps as "historic," and the constant lamenting about no longer being able to ride bicycles on University Avenue.

Don't get me started about bowling alleys.

Yes, Palo Alto is conservative in every way that San Francisco "progressives" are conservative. I see a lot of Aaron Peskin-ist attitudes here.

Does that make you all neanderthals? No. Don't change, but at least be honest with yourself about your viewpoints.


4 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 16, 2016 at 1:02 am

Me, you're welcome but I'm confused about you say the cite doesn't cite and what composition you mean. Maybe my post above is unclear but everything below the web link is a direct quote from the Palo Alto Forward website as of a year ago.

There's no denying that workers outnumber residents at least 3 to 1 as of a year ago so things are worse now.

Stanford counts because their incredible growth contributes to our gridlock and congestion. People work at and commute to/from the University and the growing medical complex; those workers also contribute to the gridlock and congestion as they move through Palo Alto to/from Stanford.

When I was researching your question, I stumbled across something on the city site where it talked about all the resources the city's Fire Dept. commits to Stanford and the increasing demands on the Fire Dept. due to Stanford's growth.

Me, pease feel free to do your own research. There are many many articles on the growth of Palo Alto, the Bay Area, San Francisco, how our commutes are the worst in the nation, how Facebook plans to hire another 6,500 this year, etc. etc.


Like this comment
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2016 at 2:49 am

ON - don't get me wrong. I am not denying that there is growth. In fact, the "growth" in Palo Alto is dwarfed by the boom in other cities in the area. This time is really different - the center of growth is not in Palo Alto, but in San Francisco. And the big growth companies on the peninsula and South Bay? FB growing 6,500? That's in Menlo Park alone, and when you think of Google, think about the impact on Mountain View.

All this impacts us. What I am advocating is a regional view when thinking of solutions. What I typically see here is the ostrich mindset that we can somehow keep everything the way Palo Alto was even 10 years ago. Palantir? That's a tiny speck in the grand scheme of things, but if you ask some residents, it's the end of the world. FB is talking about growing more than 4 Palantirs in Menlo Park.

Our commutes are terrible because we have a 20th century mindset of cars and suburbs. We've just about hit the limits of what you can have with that. We have crappy public transit because we don't have (and refuse to have) enough people per square mile. In fact, we have entered a vicious cycle - our ossification has increased property values to the point where they have become investment vehicles for the world. Don't complain about "foreign" money (Chinese) when the residentialist mindset has contributed greatly to how attractive a 5400 sq. ft. piece of dirt is within our city limits.

Take some responsibility for what you want. Embrace it or do something about it. Don't pretend it's not your fault.


6 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 16, 2016 at 6:00 am

mauricio is a registered user.

The terms conservative and liberal have been so corrupted and misunderstoodin our country, that they ended up depicting the complete opposite of their true meaning. Conservative stems from conserving, conserving what is good, important and valuable, like the eco system, nature, a healthy quality of life, tranquility, the ability to enjoy one's surrounding in relative peace and quiet. Cramming more and more people into a small town, after cramming more and more businesses into it, then demanding it change its identity to correct the "job/housing imbalance" created by overdevelopment, promoting in the process the interest of a very greedy development and real estate complex, is not progressive, it's reactionary. Trying to conserve a good and healthy life style and quality of life is the opposite of conservative.


Like this comment
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2016 at 7:58 am

" Conservative stems from conserving, conserving what is good, important and valuable, like the eco system, nature, a healthy quality of life, tranquility, the ability to enjoy one's surrounding in relative peace and quiet. "

Actually no. The strict definition of conservative is "a person who is averse to change" -- but either definition seems to fit Mauricio for you :-)


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2016 at 9:57 am

We don't have decent public transport because we have transport agencies that think they serve poor people without cars not commuters who want efficient service. We don't even have public transportation to serve 2000 students to our high schools by bus. If 2000 students doesn't make for dense commuting what does?


6 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 16, 2016 at 11:26 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Turning Palo Alto into another depressing sardine can with ever deteriorating quality of life while further enriching big developers is regressive and reactionary, not progressive. I am a progressive, which is why I oppose the destruction of Palo Alto.


Like this comment
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 17, 2016 at 10:44 am

"We don't have decent public transport because we have transport agencies that think they serve poor people without cars not commuters who want efficient service."

There are not enough commuters in Palo Alto that go to similar places for public transit to work outside of San Francisco and San Jose (maybe). No critical mass to support capital infrastructure (buses or light rail), salaries (bus/rail drivers) and maintenance. Not even enough for Apple, FB and Google to support the corporate buses they run to San Francisco.

"We don't even have public transportation to serve 2000 students to our high schools by bus. If 2000 students doesn't make for dense commuting what does?"

That's a PAUSD issue. Apparently we need to keep increasing teacher salaries rather than provide transport for our students.


2 people like this
Posted by Judith
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 18, 2016 at 5:12 pm

"Stanford counts because their incredible growth contributes to our gridlock and congestion. People work at and commute to/from the University and the growing medical complex; those workers also contribute to the gridlock and congestion as they move through Palo Alto to/from Stanford."

I don't believe anyone on this thread included the Stanford Research (office) Park. If you drive along Hanover, Astradero/Deer Creek there are incredible numbers that commute there. Some of whom use 280, but others who commute on 101 and commute through Palo Alto. Have you seen the size of the VM campus?


Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North

on Jun 19, 2016 at 11:34 pm


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