News

City may ask voters to help pay for new parks

Mayor proposes 2018 funding measure to help implement new parks plan

Palo Alto's new plan for improving its popular park system has something for just about everyone.

Its staggering list of proposed amenities includes new dog runs, park bathrooms, natural habitats, sports facilities and green spaces in park-deprived neighborhoods.

All that's missing is a way to pay for these things.

On Monday night, the City Council tackled this problem during a wide-ranging discussion of the new Parks, Trails, Open Space and Recreation Master Plan, a vision document that is now being finalized after about two years of resident surveys, demographic analyses, park evaluations and heavy lifting by the Parks and Recreation Commission. The council lauded the vision document -- the city's biggest recreation plan in half a century -- even as members acknowledged the biggest obstacle to implementation: funding.

To address this dilemma, Mayor Greg Scharff proposed on Monday night bringing a funding measure to the voters in 2018, the next general-election year.

"Parks is something everyone gets behind in Palo Alto and everyone wants," Scharff said Monday, during a joint session with the Parks and Recreation Commission. "There's unlimited demand, almost."

In developing the plan, the commission also wrestled with this problem and proposed several ideas for paying for the proposed improvements. In addition to a bond, the list of options identified in the plan also includes the creation of an assessment district, higher user fees, new public-private partnerships and the creation of an endowment fund fueled by donations.

Commission Chair Keith Reckdahl told the council that the city should also seek more partnerships with local nonprofits (including various "Friends" groups) and with organizations that use the parks, many of which are more than willing to pay for the privilege.

"Groups are willing to do it," Reckdahl said. "If they play soccer and they use the fields, they want good soccer fields and are willing to pay for it."

The city has a long history of funding park improvements with a little help from its Friends groups. The Magical Bridge playground at Mitchell Park was made possible by a contribution of about $3.5 million from a group called the Friends of the Magical Bridge. The playground at Heritage Park and the renovation of Lytton Plaza were also each funded by Friends of the respective parks.

While some capital projects will be funded through the General Fund, the plan also includes a laundry list of big-ticket items that would require new revenue sources. These include the renovation of Cubberley Community Center, which could potentially house a new gym; the construction of Baylands Athletic Center next to the city's newly remodeled golf course; the development of a 7.7-acre parcel in Foothills Park; and acquisition of parks in high-need areas.

"We're not going to get Cubberley built with donations," Reckdahl said. "We have to think about a parcel tax or bond measure to pay for some of these projects."

Scharff agreed and suggested Monday that funds from a potential 2018 measure could supplement contributions from community partners in paying for desired improvements.

"We might be able to raise a lot of money and we can have money to match the funding from the groups you were talking about," Scharff said, referring to Reckdahl's proposal.

Councilman Greg Tanaka was less enthusiastic about the potential measure. He supported exploring other revenue opportunities, possibly by selling naming rights to individuals or companies or by raising use fees for local amenities. One proposal that he said should be considered is charging more for non-residents to visit Foothills Park. Current policy limits visitations to Foothills Park to city residents, though anyone can easily access it without parking near the preserve.

"Before I'd support a bond measure or additional taxes for residents, I'd really like to see that we've exhausted all ideas," Tanaka said.

The council didn't make any decisions Monday pertaining to park funding, though the subject is sure to re-emerge when the council formally approves the plan. Council members gave the document rave reviews Monday, even as they disagreed over some details.

Councilman Tom DuBois urged stronger policies discouraging the renting of public parks for private uses. The topic caught traction last month, when Palantir rented a playing field at Cubberley Community Center and erected a giant tent to host an employee party.

DuBois said the city should have a "high bar" for allowing exclusive private use of public facilities and suggested incorporating that into the plan. The council supported his proposal by a 7-2 vote, with Councilman Adrian Fine and Tanaka dissenting.

Tanaka said renting out facilities could help the city get the needed revenues to fund the projects it wants.

"I'm not supportive of minimizing private exclusive use," Tanaka said. "I think we should think about that carefully."

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Comments

51 people like this
Posted by Nancy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 23, 2017 at 6:43 am

Does "Parks" include the recently agreed upon purchase of a trailer park?


64 people like this
Posted by HMMM
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 23, 2017 at 7:07 am

More taxes for the residents, but, no business tax. So, residents get to pay for parking and other "transportation options" for companies and we get to pay to improve the parks.


56 people like this
Posted by YIYMY
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 23, 2017 at 7:09 am

The Palo Alto formula for funds generation...
Put it up to a vote of all registered voters.
Before the vote, conduct a survey to identify the $ amount of a new tax assessment to be applied only on property owners, with property owners over 65 allowed an exemption.
Conduct the vote.
Everybody wants park, so it passes.
The City council touts city wide support for parks as evidenced by the success of the vote.
Only homeowners less than 65 pay the bill.
Yay !

Re: Buena Vista. Yes. It = a Money Pit


80 people like this
Posted by Sam Beltran
a resident of Barron Park
on May 23, 2017 at 7:31 am

So somehow Palo Alto was able to come up with the money to completely renovate an 18 hole golf course but they dont have the funds to maintain and expand our city parks. Priorities!


33 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on May 23, 2017 at 8:10 am

This is an interesting proposal to push for such a tax on the 2018 ballot. As noted above, just a couple of weeks ago the council majority put off proceeding with a citizens committee to come up with a plan and funding for addressing our critical local transportation problems. The mayor and council members have made clear their philosophical opposition to a business license tax which is common in most cities. Those same council members now support moving forward rapidly with a new tax on residents which would include funding major Cubberley projects which have not begun to be defined.


50 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2017 at 8:31 am

Since Palintir likes our parks, perhaps they should help to pay for them.


42 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2017 at 9:17 am

How about raising the fees for users like the soccer teams, the picnic areas, the dog runs, tennis courts, Foothill Park, etc., especially for non-residents who pay nothing to use our parks?


15 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 23, 2017 at 9:20 am

The word again popped up here relative to Parks - "Non-profits". Suggest that you all go over and look at the sections of the libraries which indicate who contributed for those buildings and amenities. Those names represent the heads of major companies in the bay area that are on the stock exchange and are for-profit businesses. Look at the names of the buildings on SU campus - those names are For-profit businesses. Look at the names in PAMF who have contributed large amounts - they represent major for-profit businesses. It amazes me that we actually have people here dictating policy who are clueless on how major city developments are funded and utilized. There are classes on that if you all are interested.
In Oregon the Nike Founder donates major improvements to the colleges. Our resident Zuck has donated to UC. The Science museum in SF has major private parties for companies in the evening which are gala affairs.
The bottom line here is if you want private donations for improvements those private donations will come from people whose wealth is generated by major corporations. And if they are donating major amounts for improvements then those major contributions should also include the ability to rent the facilities at times for major company parties. Please re-think you business plan approach here or people will work to donate to any but Palo Alto. I have to shake my head at who is making policy decisions and what their background is. People need schooling on facility development and fund raising. Please get some schooling on this topic.


34 people like this
Posted by Ordinary res
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2017 at 10:29 am

@resident,
I think you have it backwards. Palantir got Cubberley for a song and has done nothing but take take take from Palo Alto and manipulate for selfish reasons. I see no sign that billionaires have shown any interest in doing anything to improve the liveability of Palo Alto, restore some if the liveability for teens that has been lost to development, restore some of the open space or environment lost to development, etc. but rather that they want to take advantage of the public investments (including the downtown re Paoantir) for their own private purposes. Los Altos at least had the Los Altos Community Fndn (current name) trying to maintain a virbrant liveable downtown.


51 people like this
Posted by bleeding
a resident of Downtown North
on May 23, 2017 at 10:31 am

The city needs to stop the bleed. They need to step up, maybe people dont get such high raises, maybe the staff starts paying for their parking, maybe they tax the business as they do have the money. We have 2 huge companies in our downtown, A9 and Palantir. They are hiking up our utilities. At one time in PA having our own utilities was cheaper than PG&E not anymore. We now have to pay for parking to park in our area and now they want to charge the shoppers to park. The staff of the city need to be charged!!!


47 people like this
Posted by Bleeding Us Dry
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 23, 2017 at 10:50 am

@ Bleeding is absolutely right about changing the city staff. We also need to change the City Council that continues to force residents to subsidize businesses while refusing to tax the businesses that created this mess or charge them appropriate fees.

Why should I -- a resident -- pay for city employees to commuter here via the TMA plan? Why should I pay for ANY employees to commuter her via the TMA which subsidizes carpooling, public transit and LYFT??

Outrageous. Let businesses pay for the parks. Let every under-parked building pay for the parks.

Palantir not only dominates the PA commissions and our TMA but it also is trying to force the same type of uber-development on Menlo Park via its Imagine Menlo group founded in 2014 after voters REJECTED the type of density PA is getting.

Let businesses pay for the parks. Let every under-parked building pay for the parks.

Wakeup and pay attention.


7 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 23, 2017 at 11:15 am

Ordinary - you are focused on one company. The Google people have donated to the Mitchell Park library - their names are on the outside list of donors. Likewise a play area at Mitchell was donated by a major local family. The major buildings on SU campus are named for the prominent donors.
The problem encountered recently is lack of a clearly defined set of policies regarding the rental of facilities. So a lack of clearly defined policies indicates the need for a rework of that set of requirements. Also a lack of sophistication regarding how donations are generated by local families whose wealth comes from a profit oriented company.
The fact that any set of public buildings that are subsidized by local taxes does not mean that additional profit should not be generated by use of the properties for events. I have attended company Christmas Parties at the SF Museum and ones at the Mountain View Technical Museum. Any additional income from these events helps to fund upgrades for landscaping, kitchen facilities. The City of SF regularly has company events at their museums and city buildings to offset the cost for maintenance.
So there was one experience that did not go well - we should fix that and continue to generate income from our city resources.
If you think we can float this ship on tax payer dollars along you have got it wrong.


6 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 23, 2017 at 11:53 am

I want to make a comment on non-profits. My niece lives in Baltimore which is in the news on a continual basis for bad things happening. Check it out on Wikipedia - use to be the second biggest port on the east coast. People I know who grew up there say that the biggest employer was Bethlehem Steel. But due to many bad decisions the port activity is reduced - no Bethlehem Steel or other large manufacturers. The biggest employer now is Johns Hopkins which is a non-profit organization - meaning that it draws from the tax base - it does not contribute to the tax base. So one half of the population that does not qualify for jobs at Johns Hopkins gets in trouble and breaks things. Those are people that could have worked in manufacturing jobs. Baltimore is a major city but the lessons from that city says it all - you cannot exist on non-profits that pay no taxes. You have to have for-profit companies to add to the tax base.


47 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on May 23, 2017 at 12:00 pm

How about putting staff raises and benefits up to the residents for a vote. These employee salaries, housing and car allowance, retirement, etc are way out of line and taking up most of the city revenues with little left for the benefit of the rest of us. Then we are expected to pay for normally city funded projects with more taxes.


Posted by BH
a resident of Old Palo Alto

on May 23, 2017 at 12:14 pm


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28 people like this
Posted by Barron Park Dad
a resident of Barron Park
on May 23, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Why not take the Drought surcharge proceeds and apply them to parks? My utility bill says Palo Alto is still in a drought, even though the rest of the Bay Area is not.


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2017 at 12:44 pm

And please do not put up fees for parks for people like AYSO, Little League, etc. Those families are always the ones who pay for facilities already! The ones who should be paying are not families who pay sales tax, property tax, school bonds, etc. etc.

If user fees go up then it should be for adult leagues, competitions and the like, who are bringing in outside residents to our parks.

Chili Tasting on July 4th? Who pays for that? Dog obedience classes? Church picnics Other groups that use the parks. But not kids' sports, please. They need to be affordable to families with several children and sports and exercise are healthy in a land of obesity.


13 people like this
Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on May 23, 2017 at 1:04 pm

RE new dog parks: I'm sure dog owners would be happy to donate for the construction of dog parks. Don't ask everybody else to fund such a luxury.

RE funding park renovations: Ask the big corporations who bring the traffic, parking problems and noise to Palo Alto to step up and help fund these costs. Palo Alto's livability is diminishing daily -- these big corporations and their leaders should help keep our city livable.

Last: I agree with the writer who urges the Council and staff to think in terms of strategic fundraising. Special interests can and should help fund our city's needs.


6 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 23, 2017 at 2:42 pm

@ Bleeding. Check again. PG&E rates are still much higher than PAU. I manage my parents' bills...I can tell you that their rates far exceed ours.


28 people like this
Posted by Mike&Ike
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2017 at 3:18 pm

So glad we moved from Palo Alto 2 years ago.
The place is falling apart and the CC is as inept as ever.
You folks need to look at the money you're paying City Hall, Fire, police and School Managers. They're not doing their jobs and the costs are out of control (Home allowances, cars, fat pensions and n*six-figure salaries, voting on their own raises, for petes sake!). We left after the Measure A lie and the travesty of the Maybell fiasco (Measure D). Too many lies and no heart. We couldn't take it anymore.


18 people like this
Posted by Yimbytastic
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 23, 2017 at 3:28 pm

"Palo Alto's new plan for improving its popular park system has something for just about everyone.

Its staggering list of proposed amenities includes new dog runs, park bathrooms, natural habitats, sports facilities and green spaces in park-deprived neighborhoods."

How did we all of a sudden become "park-deprived"? Most (all?) of the parks have been around for decades. I don't recall any of them being bulldozed and repurposed. We are no more park derprived than we were 30 years ago, and nobody complained back then

Natural habitats are an amenity? The urbanized parts of Palo Alto have not been natural habitats in forever. The rural parts of Palo Alto can be left as is to remain natural habitats. Why can't we use the existing park bathrooms? If they need fixing up, then simply do the required maintenance. It might be best to just leave things as they are.


21 people like this
Posted by Yimbytastic
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 23, 2017 at 3:32 pm

"Why not take the Drought surcharge proceeds and apply them to parks? My utility bill says Palo Alto is still in a drought, even though the rest of the Bay Area is not."

Now that the drought is over, will the drought surcharge be rescinded? Or will it be left in place as a rate increase?


18 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2017 at 4:19 pm

And why should we pay for non-residents to use our parks and Rinconada Pool? Parks may be difficult to police, but non-residents should not be allowed to use our pools. Non-residents also use our schools and our taxes are paying for their transportation to our schools.


11 people like this
Posted by What is a "high need area" for a park
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 23, 2017 at 4:19 pm

Just curious where the high need areas are for parks. And I like the idea of opening up Foothill Park to non-residents for a fee that would be dedicated to Palo Alto parks.

@Yimbytastic - I think the park bathroom plan is for parks (like Eleanor Pardee) that don't currently have bathrooms.


16 people like this
Posted by Corruption and abuse of authority
a resident of College Terrace
on May 23, 2017 at 5:16 pm

Councils, have you ever honest with yourself the true motive of your actions?


20 people like this
Posted by midtown resident
a resident of Midtown
on May 23, 2017 at 5:34 pm

when I take a walk , I see non resident groups and families use Hoover Park for gatherings and parties and leave lots of garvage on weekends.
They don't pay anything but use the park and leave the mess, and we , the residents pay for it.

Palo Alto charges for us easily for things, because they think the residents can afford

This new charge for the parks, The city should think of the way to charge for the use charge for the non residents too.
Think of the way to charge use charge for particular sport groups and interests groups.
PA city should budget carefully and don't think to charge to the residents too easily.
Not all residents are wealthy enough to pay for everything.


15 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 23, 2017 at 6:11 pm

When I read the lists here I have to wonder if there are a number of "consultants" that will be paid to offer up plans to tear the existing parks apart and then landscaping crews who are not city employees. From where I am sitting the parks look great and have a lot of usage. I think we have more parks right now than most cities. The only area that is unfinished is the ballpark in the baylands where we are suppose to have some soccer fields. But that space already has a "plan" - just needs to be finished up. I always see an incessant need to spend money here where we don't need to spend money. It is like "make work" for city staff and paid consultants. Yes - we can use working bathrooms at the parks. But that is not rocket science and should be accomplished by the existing staff.


7 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 23, 2017 at 7:33 pm

Before we set up any tax schemes I think we need to all understand what our starting point is as to the overall plan; number of existing staff that is responsible for supporting the parks; what the current budget is for supporting the existing parks; and what will change as a result of the tax plan. If we are going to be hiring more people than say that up front. Paid people on staff gets expensive relative to pensions. Bulking up a department to justify a tax benefit needs to be stated very clearly.

As to Foothill Park I belong to a group that reserves event space twice a year and pays for that. We reserve a specific area that has barbeques. We provide a list of people who will be there for check in at the gate. It is all very organized. And when you reserve an area for an event you are responsible for clean-up.
In the past groups have reserved space at parks and paid for it. That is nothing new. The Parks and Recreation have a whole set-up already so we are not creating something that does not already exist.


2 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 23, 2017 at 10:09 pm

I'm one lucky old guy. We moved here in 1961. I lived thru the growth of many of our parks in PA. I think our city leaders did a great job of creating new parks and upgrading older ones back then. Mitchell Park was relatively new and that's where we spent a lot of our time.

Then we drove up to the Foothills Park dedication and opening ceremony. It was held at Vista Point. We visited the park frequently and we had our church annual picnic there for many years. Later, the younger church members and their families reserved the overnight camping area.

Our little local park, Ramos Park, was developed and we spent many hours there also with our kids, and later our grand-kids. I still walk there and see lots of activities going on, and occasionally see an old friend or neighbor.

We used to go to drive-in movies where Greer Park is now located.

I played hundreds of rounds of golf at Paly, starting from the original layout with chips for roughs, (Pat Mahoney was the head pro and manager in the early 60's) all the way thru updates and re-layouts, until I basically stopped playing a few years ago. I broke 80, barely, with a 79, and I had to get a par and a birdie on the last two holes to do it. I have memories of impossible shots I made, including an uphill bending 75 foot putt on the short par 5, #15, on the back nine, and an eagle on #16. My second shot was with a 5 wood/metal. I hope the new course works out well.

I feel blessed to have had so many parks available for my use, and I support more parks where needed, but I would like to know more details about the survey results and where the biggest demands are coming from.

And just a little historical perspective relating to Cory's questions...the land for Foothills Park was donated by Dr. Russell Lee, with the stipulation that it could only be used by PA residents.

I won't offer any opinions on how to fund the ideas for parks, because I will be excluded from any tax/bond related issues, I think. I'm 80 years old.




11 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 24, 2017 at 2:49 am

@Gale, Foothills Park wasn't exactly donated. It cost us $1000 an acre as I recall. In 1958 dollars, that was not a laughable amount. So expensive in fact, that adjacent towns decided not to contribute, and Palo Alto had to hold a vote on the matter. There was plenty of grumbling and we almost turned it down.

We have busy weekends when even Palo Alto residents are turned away at the gate. After 1000 people enter, the park is regarded as Full, and it's no longer a peaceful place.

Been awfully quiet up there about Los Trancos Trail. Don't know what was spent last summer to refurbish the back side. Great improvement, until last season's rains washed it away again. Closed now since January, and I have doubts about ever reopening. I think Costanoan Trail is also currently closed. And takes some work to keep Steep Hollow Trail clear of downed trees.

Other park expenses unmentioned -- Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center renovations, sort of finished on Earth Day but not quite open for business yet. And plans to rebuild that boardwalk, an old-time favorite; not much public interest at a recent outreach event. Practically nobody showed up at last Monday's City Council meeting either. Around 9pm Mayor Scharff noted that only Gennady was in the audience.


17 people like this
Posted by What is a "high need area" for a park
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 24, 2017 at 9:34 am

Mountain View charges for reservations for their park/barbeque areas and they can only be reserved by residents. Charging a nominal amount to reserve picnic areas would bring in a bit of revenue.

Web Link


14 people like this
Posted by Grumpy Old Guy
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on May 24, 2017 at 11:05 am

I would urge everyone to hold back on approval of any new park taxes until the Comp Plan is approved and then we should have it ratified by a full vote of the city. We shouldn't plan to build until we have a comprehensive direction of housing, traffic and then the parks

The Comp Plan is about where the future of the city is going; and if it's not the direction that this city wants, then we should all say no to the plan, and to the higher taxes that go with it.

If you've watched the latest City Council meetings, the ideas of building high density housing with no parking (based upon the fallacy that the residents promise not to have a car) shows the direction we're headed. ADUs that can go up to the lot lines and looking over the fence are on the hot list because certain members of the CC believe we have to be the next San Francisco tenderloin.

Personally, I'm happy with the parks as they are. The stated improvements and surveys are to not only serve the current citizens, but to also encourage higher density in the city (because we'll need a greater tax basis to fund the expanded park lands, services and infrastructure). The majority city council's hidden agenda is to build a bigger beast - then once it's built, you'll have to feed it with more taxes generated from greater development.

We need to wait until we have a clear roadmap of how Palo Alto will grow. Then we'll figure out how to pay for it then. Everything has consequences.



7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 24, 2017 at 11:12 am

I use Baylands and Foothill quite a lot. Baylands in particular needs plenty in the way of upgrades and maintenance.

Foothill Park spent a great deal of money on keeping the lake full during the drought as well as putting in a flagpole at the interpretation center. I have nothing against patriotism, but was this flag really necessary?

But as for keeping Foothill Park for residents only, I have nothing against opening it to others but I do feel that a strict number of cars should be controlled. As one car leaves, another perhaps should enter. Charging cars who cannot provide residency is fine by me but not PA residents. However a charge for reserving large picnic areas and group areas at all our parks make a lot of sense. Even churches use some of our parks for picnics, etc. as well as schools and other non-profit groups and these should be charged as they take up a lot more space than a family picnic/birthday party.


13 people like this
Posted by jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on May 24, 2017 at 12:46 pm

The parks are fine as they are. The Parcel Taxes are already too much and the last one was to add "touchy feely" unnecessary programs to the schools.
PA has too many employees that have excessive salaries and fringe benefits. Start by reducing PA expenses.

But NO NEW TAXES. The Parks are fine as is, the City Council just loves to spend money.


19 people like this
Posted by Online
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 24, 2017 at 1:53 pm

PA city has no financial sense in spending money. And they always ask the residents to fill the holes. I went to City of PA's planning office on 250 Hamilton Street a few months ago. There were at least three or four staff had no work to do. They even don't know how to answer simple questions. Is it a lot of unnecessary staff on payroll?

PA city should fund and be responsible to keep up our parks. No new taxes


20 people like this
Posted by Brock
a resident of Downtown North
on May 24, 2017 at 2:37 pm

BTW, @GrumpyOldGuy, the update to the Comp Plan is a farce.

It has lowered protecting neighborhoods and also, it reads businesses complement neighborhoods whereas the current 1998 Comp Plan calls for compatibility.

The draft Transportation element is very weak, so do not expect any of Palo Alto's traffic congestion and parking issues to go away.

The draft Land Use element calls for more job growth.

Council and the City Manager doesn't care about the residents, just our money so that we can pay for all the infrastructure and city services to sustain the office growth.


37 people like this
Posted by Just Say No
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on May 24, 2017 at 3:07 pm

I'm so TIRED of the City and City Council approving spending on so many things we don't want -- roundabouts, $1M+ programs with $3142 bikes, parking permit fees for RESIDENTS, etc etc. etc ad nauseum -- and then trying to get us to pay additional taxes for something we DO want.

Tax the businesses. Make them pay for a change. I'm tired of subsidizing billion-dollar companies and all their commuters because they're too cheap to pay workers a living wage. I'm tired of paying for under-parked developments while the current CC refuses to tax the developers.

Enough.


4 people like this
Posted by Yimbytastic
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 24, 2017 at 8:23 pm

"I'm so TIRED of the City and City Council approving spending on so many things we don't want -- roundabouts, $1M+ programs with $3142 bikes, parking permit fees for RESIDENTS, etc etc. etc ad nauseum -- and then trying to get us to pay additional taxes for something we DO want."

I thought the parking permits are only required during the day, no? If so, then most residents are not affected because they will be at work. How about using that newly acquired revenue stream to pay for parking improvements?


Like this comment
Posted by Yimbytastic
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 24, 2017 at 8:26 pm

I meant park improvements.


5 people like this
Posted by Pat
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 25, 2017 at 1:31 am

Could Palo Alto turn Foothills Park into a profitable business?

With some new infrastructure—parking lots, more restrooms, a teahouse and Japanese garden at the lake, a wider Page Mill Road for the tour busses, maybe a tramway to Trappers Fire Road above the Costanoan Trail—with a few more amenities it just might rival Muir Woods; and the dollars would come rolling into the city coffers, property values in Palo Alto would soar, and the sponsoring council members would be honored each Thanksgiving at a turkey shoot in Las Trampas Valley.



7 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 25, 2017 at 6:21 am

^ That's not something to joke about.


13 people like this
Posted by Trash
a resident of Midtown
on May 25, 2017 at 10:45 am

[Post removed.]


22 people like this
Posted by Olenka Villarreal
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 25, 2017 at 11:05 am

As founder of Mitchell Park's Magical Bridge playground, our team raised almost $4 million to create a playground for visitors of all ages and all abilities to enjoy. It took us 7 long years and for those who have been, I hope you agree it is a vibrant addition to our city. Since opening it to the public in 2015, so many cities were eager to have a park like it, we started Magical Bridge Foundation to do exactly that (www.magicalbridge.org).

As a result of our work, it has been interesting to learn how many other Bay Area cities fund wonderful and diverse services for their residents and visitors. Somehow, these cities upgrade their parks, create new community facilities and produce various other benefits to improve the recreational mix - without burdening their residents with more taxes. How? Through BUSINESS TAXES. I am astounded we encourage businesses to populate our downtown, while we don't benefit financially in any way. I'd appreciate hearing from those who support this view.

Hope to see everyone at Magical Bridge playground as we begin another summer of concerts (privately sponsored, as always).


6 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on May 25, 2017 at 1:40 pm

If we're tapping businesses that operate in Palo Alto to donate to help improve and maintain our parks, how about starting with companies who might be able to more directly benefit the effort? AT&T owns land at 3350 Birch St., some of which is vacant and some of which houses aging telecom equipment, that the Parks & Recs Commission recommends pursuing as an opportunity to expand Boulware Park. City Council members are likewise supportive. Let's ask AT&T to do the right thing and donate the property to the City for use as park land. I'd be happy to agree to a prominent sign and other information giving AT&T due credit for their donation. They could get good publicity, a possible write-off, and other benefits, while the City and its residents would benefit from having the kind of park in Ventura that other Palo Alto neighborhoods already have.


19 people like this
Posted by HMMM
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 25, 2017 at 4:10 pm

We don't have the staff to pursue a business tax, we don't have the money to improve local parks, but, there is the staff and money to do this:

Web Link

Looks like a giant marketing blitz for downtown corporations. It may be great, but, I'm afraid I question the motives and the use of City resources to implement.


7 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on May 25, 2017 at 5:01 pm

The concern here is the addition of city staff for any new project. Article today in the SJM concerning CALPERS and that the projections they are using could be argued as incorrect. Jerry Brown is using flimsy data to justify his expenditures and the cities who are dependent on CALPERS for pensions are potentially in trouble. We need to baseline where we are now for the city staff and projects before we commit to additional projects and staff. The parks we have are great - not sure what you would add except for bathrooms.
It looks like everything else is covered. Cubberly keeps floating around as to purpose - if you add more homes then you need more schools.


32 people like this
Posted by put park funds in the budget
a resident of Downtown North
on May 25, 2017 at 11:48 pm

The city council uses our tax dollars to build multi-million dollar parking garages while allowing business to build giant building that are under parked. Then they turn around and tell us we need to tax ourselves again to improve our parks!!!!

We need a dedicated parks fund that money is put into from any new development projects. Even under the old comp. plan we did not have the park space that was called for and this new pro-growth city council is busy watering down the comp. plan to reduce the amount of park space called for.

I suggest that we make city council allocate a certain percentage of the budget to the parks so that residents actually get something for all the taxes we pay. Plus there should be new park land being purchased or planned for. How about a large urban park when the Fry's site is emptied (as has been projected for many years) - instead of the massive developments they are always talking about putting there. We need more close-in park space and another pool and gym.

It is past time for this city to realize that we are overpopulated and need to stop development and building before our quality of life is completely crushed. We will never be able to support everyone who wants to move here and we should stop pretending that we somehow magically can.


15 people like this
Posted by what we do not want
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 27, 2017 at 10:07 pm

Two people listed expenditures by the Manager and Council:
1. need to look at the money you're paying City Hall, Fire, police and School Managers. They're not doing their jobs and the costs are out of control (Home allowances, cars, fat pensions and n*six-figure salaries, voting on their own raises, for petes sake!).

2. roundabouts, $1M+ programs with $3142 bikes, parking permit fees for RESIDENTS, etc etc. etc ad nauseum -- and then trying to get us to pay additional taxes for something we DO want.

I would add
4.5 million$ to refurbish the lobby with huge screens, and council chambers with ugly rugs and upholstry, lobby with cold glass walls, and signs, signs, signs, oversized and expensive. Bad taste, too big, and cold. Not improved: the sound system in council chambers, especially the parts used by the public have poor sound and are unreliable. Nearby cities do better.


14 people like this
Posted by JOANNIE Davis
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 5, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Main Street...I own my home but there are nothing but renters around me..perhaps they can pay your high bills for your fibrant. But I just can not.i am old and retired on a very small limited social security check....I can not pay these new bills the city comes up with every few months to years...come on salisbury nc..take care of your home owners first...we are what made you..if you want to charge anyone....charge the people who beg for your new age fiber optics...not us old timers, we don't need it, we don't want it, and we for god sakes can't pay for it....come on now...set us free from your bills.
And today I recieved my water bill and they have add d it to my water bill..really folks...I go days now without bathing just so I can keep my bill down enough so I will have a chance to get it payed...stop adding bills to my already water bill...this is not right to keep raiding the poor to feed your pockets....stop this...charge the people who have this service...not us who do not. I for one don't have any vibrant service...but I can tell you the city of salisbury is charging me ....I'm ready to get a lawyer..im tired and im sick..I just want a warm bath without the fear of another fibrant raise on my water bill..this is town robbery at its best...town folks beware.....fibrant is working with our water bills now too to squess more pennies from our checks


21 people like this
Posted by PalatirVille
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 5, 2017 at 2:43 pm

@Joannie Davis, I sympathize. I'm disgusted looking at my formerly wonderful toilets that are now permanently stained trying to conserve water by not flushing each time after PA threatened to ration us and then kept raising water rates because we didn't use enough. I'm tired of the hypocrisy that claims on the one hand, we must conserve while on the other hand, they city keeps pushing to add more commuters and residents, all of whom conserve energy.

Let BUSINESSES -- not residents -- pay for what they use. Let Google pay for the bike bridge whose main purpose to to get their employees to work. Let them stop hiring low-paid H12-B Visa employees who then rent 10-to-the house. Let BUSINESSES -- not residents -- pay the transportation costs of their employees and let's start counting how many commuters are invading us each day.

Why are we and Menlo Park letting Palantir employees dominate all of our city commissions? Don't their employees ever do an REAL work?


19 people like this
Posted by Weird Priorities
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 5, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Funny how the city had millions upon millions for a golf course that so few people will use...


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 5, 2017 at 6:37 pm

Yeah, it will always be the same few people playing the 60,000 or 70,000 rounds each year.


8 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 5, 2017 at 7:51 pm

@PalantirVille,
Re: government pushing to add residents while reprimanding us to conserve water, I see the same thing. And I listened to KQED public radio, I think Michael Krasny was hosting, as he and a guest pushed for ADUs in SF Bay Area and decried cities/ towns that attempt to have a minimum size residential lot, etc.
I think green space should be preserved and I'm very concerned about what may happen in our single family home residential neighborhoods. Build up along ECR, fine.


5 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 7, 2017 at 3:43 pm

Is it possible that this rag on improving the parks is a distraction? The parks we have are really nice. They are well kept and segregated out for kids space. Some do need toilets which is not a big deal - should be a minimum requirement for a park. Otherwise what is the point here? Keeping some city staff busy who do not have jobs to do otherwise? Given the bigger concerns we have now I can't imagine why our beautiful parks need to be torn up and changed. And we are not going to hire more people for this. Does someone's child need a summer job?


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 8, 2017 at 10:10 pm

My son worked at the golf course and played on the school golf team. This was a great hang out for the kids. And young girls are taking this up and doing very well. Back in the day our company internally competed in softball, golf tournaments at a different location each time - so tour all of the courses in area. As to the company we competed in large golf tournaments against other large companies and had company named golf items - still have my Ford towels. Most major contractors at government bases focus on golf as a social event.

I am not sure if the current big companies support these inter-company events and compete with other companies - maybe that is a thing of the past. I do know that this consumed a great amount of time and was really fun. And as to children growing up it was giving them really great skills to take to college and later to work. It is a good skill set to have.


2 people like this
Posted by Kya
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 9, 2017 at 7:28 am

Magical Bridge is what I would call a success/disaster. At busy times, weekends, some afternoons it is toooooo crowded and over capacity. Palo Alto builds a wonderful park, then gets over run by too many families. Shouldn't Palo altans be able to enjoy a park with our kids and grandkids? Also, Rinconada Pool used to be a nice summer pool, but completely taken over by non-residents and Camps. Look at other thriving Cities that charge for non-resident use of Theirvfacilities. Greer Park is a good example of a park where we don't go as a family. We are not willing to pay more in taxes here which don't give Palo Altans preference and cap the number of people at certain parks.


4 people like this
Posted by A Real Need
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2017 at 9:20 am

What is really needed are not more parks, but more restrooms in our neighborhood parks. Small children and toddlers have small bladders. They are the ones who use the parks, along with their caretakers.

Too many times I have seen parents direct their small kids to urinate behind a bush or tree!


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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