This week's Around Town column looks at results of Caltrain's poll for new seats in its upcoming electric trains, a planned management shift at Palo Alto Animal Shelter and a new Stanford Jewish Center.
CYCLING FORWARD ... After selecting new seats for its upcoming electric cars last month, Caltrain is now focused on what bike racks will be used on the new trains. The agency is holding community outreach events up and down the Peninsula, with one scheduled at the Palo Alto station on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 4:30-7 p.m. Commuters can choose from two options. The first one, labeled the "stacking" option, would allow up to 72 bikes per train car and increase capacity by 12.5 percent. It would be similar to current bike storage on the trains and have sufficient space for different types of bikes, but other bikes may have to be moved as cyclists board on and off. The second option, known as the "hybrid," would only take up to 68 bikes at a time and increase capacity by 8.3 percent, but wouldn't shuffle bikes around during trips. Surveillance cameras will be installed at low- and mid-level heights on each bike car. Both choices have 32-inch-wide aisles, which is required under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Online voting ends at midnight on Sept. 1. For additional information, visuals of the options and online ballot, visit calmodtrains.com.
PET PEEVES ... Palo Alto's effort to preserve and improve its cramped but popular Animal Shelter will hit a milestone on Monday, Aug. 21, when the City Council considers a new partnership between the city and the nonprofit Pets in Need. According to a letter of intent between the two parties, which the city released this week, the nonprofit could take over operations at the existing shelter as early as March 2018, even as it moves along with a capital campaign to build a bigger, better shelter on city-owned land. "The city desires a modern and adequate Animal Shelter facility while stabilizing funding and achieving long-term financial sustainability for the shelter's programs and services," the proposed letter of intent states. "PIN seeks to expand its mission to advance the no-kill movement, reduce pet homelessness and find every dog, cat and animal a loving home." The new agreement aims to fulfill both goals — though some major details remain unresolved. The Services Employees International Union Local 521, has expressed concerns about the change and what it would mean for the five city employees who would be impacted. The city is required to offer these employees priority hiring for any City vacancies for which they are qualified. The union, for its part, plans to propose severance options that management says are "above and beyond" what is currently outlined in the contract. The city's hopes resolve these issues early next year, according to staff.
EXPANDING JEWISH LIFE ... Stanford University alumnus Tad Taube is cementing his name on the sprawling campus at the new Stanford Jewish Center, which will be named the Taube Chabad House. The building will be constructed with help from a $1.3 million contribution from his organization, Taube Philanthrophies. "We enormously appreciate this latest manifestation of Taube Philanthrophies' extraordinary commitment to Jewish life at Stanford," Rabbi Dov Greenberg, executive director of Stanford Chabad, said in a press release. "Tad Taube has made a career of sowing seeds that will grow, flower and bring joy, learning and enlightenment to people for generations to come. He has done countless mitzvot — good deeds — not only at Stanford and in the Bay Area, but in Poland and Israel, where he also has made a tremendous impact." Taube's more than $100 million contributions to Stanford has been used to support construction of the football stadium, Institute for Economic Policy Research and other projects. His donations have also supported the Taube Center for Jewish Studies, Taube Hillel House, Taube Family Tennis Stadium and additional school services. "It is a privilege to share the good fortune I've had as a Jewish immigrant who came to the United States as a child from Poland," Taube said in a press release. "It is most satisfying to be able to support organizations that bring people of common interest together. Stanford Chabad, in its new home, will continue to provide a venue for the spiritual and material needs of Stanford's Jewish community for generations to come."