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Around Town: school eyes inclusive playground; potshots

Tidbits collected by the Weekly staff on people, events and other happenings.

SCHOOL EYES INCLUSIVE PLAYGROUND ... If all goes well, Addison Elementary School could become the site of Palo Alto's second inclusive Magical Bridge Playground. The school board discussed Tuesday night a staff proposal to apply for a $300,000 grant from Santa Clara County, which would be matched by the Palo Alto Unified School District, to build the playground, which could accommodate children with varying physical and cognitive abilities. The proposal is part of a major revamp of the Addison campus, to be funded by a private, anonymous donor. (The playground would not be covered by the donor, however.) Board members expressed strong support for the proposal — Todd Collins said he was "wildly in favor" — but said the issue of parity among all elementary schools should be addressed. Will the district plan in its next facilities bond, for example, to build a Magical Bridge Playground at every elementary campus? Board members also raised the question of partnering with the City of Palo Alto to build more playgrounds. The first Magical Bridge Playground opened in Palo Alto's Mitchell Park in 2015, and a second is planned for Redwood City.

POTSHOTS ... Palo Alto's reputation as a left-leaning leader on all things green will be put to the test on Tuesday, June 13, when the City Council's Policy and Services Committee considers a new law targeting the outdoor cultivation of marijuana. The proposed law would apply to both recreational and medical use. It would also ban commercial cultivation facilities, manufacturing facilities, retailers and warehouses, though delivery of marijuana would still be legal. The new law, if approved, would supplement a similar ordinance that the council passed in October, one week before California voters approved Proposition 64, known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. In anticipation of the act's passage, council members agreed that banning outdoor cultivation (the Act explicitly permits indoor cultivation of up to six plants) is the safest way to navigate through a shifting legal landscape. Councilman Cory Wolbach argued at the time the ban would allow the council to "buy ourselves a little bit of time to figure out what the appropriate response is, should Prop. 64 pass." Under his advice, the council also agreed that the ban would sunset in November 2017, when the situation would be less hazy. But now, with legalized marijuana clearly the law of the land, the council will consider removing the sunset clause. And while pot is hardly a burning issue in Palo Alto, staff is moving ahead with a sense of urgency. According to a report from the office of City Attorney Molly Stump, the city's ability to ban pot cultivation will be curtailed after Jan. 1, 2018, when the state will begin issuing licenses for marijuana dispensaries. The new prohibitions, Stump argued, "will give the City more time to consider which, if any, commercial activities should be permitted in the City, and whether to adopt more permissive regulations."

Update: The City Council's Policy and Services Committee by a 3-0 vote supported extending the city's ban on outdoor cultivation of marijuana. Read the update here.

NEW COMMISSIONERS ... The Palo Alto Human Relations Commission welcomed two new members earlier this month: Deepali Brahmbhatt and Steven D. Lee. Brahmbhatt, previously an engineer, is an attorney at Palo Alto-based law firm Progress LLP. She's also an inventor on five patents related to networking, security and multimedia technologies, according to her commission biography. She brings an interest in Palo Alto's diversity and inclusive policies, including online and cyber-related policies and their impact on seniors, adults and children. She replaces former member and chairman Greer Stone, who has joined the Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission. Brahmbhatt's term expires May 31, 2019. Lee is corporate counsel at Farmer's Business Network Inc., a Silicon Valley-based technology startup focused on helping farmers by sharing information, providing unbiased analysis and creating competition for farmers' business, according to his biography on the city's website. He has served on seven other commissions, including Santa Clara County's Housing and Community Development Advisory Committee; the City of Davis Human Relations Commission and Social Services Commission; and the City of Durham, North Carolina's Human Relations Commission. He replaces commissioner Daryl Savage, who left for a job with the FBI. Lee's term expires May 31, 2020.

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Correction: An earlier version of the item titled "School eyes inclusive playground" In last week's column, an item titled "School eyes inclusive playground" contained a funding error. The Palo Alto Unified School District will match funds from a $300,000 Santa Clara County grant to build a Magical Bridge Playground, Principal Amanda Boyce clarified.

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