In the latest Around Town column, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital celebrates its expanded facility, East Palo Alto police get into the holiday spirit and the city holding to hopes of bringing high-speed internet to every home.
CARING FOR KIDS ... Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford held a grand opening on Nov. 30 for the hospital's recently completed expansion, which doubled the size of the campus to 844,000 square feet. Taking a tour was the Watson family — mother Jennifer, daughter Effy, 6, son Harry, 5, and father James. Effy was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 2, but after care at the hospital, she is now cancer-free. Jennifer said she appreciates the homey touches in the patient rooms, including pull out beds for parents, a private TV-watching area and bathtubs for kids. "It's just incredible and beyond imagination. Now top-notch doctors and nurses have a top-notch place to work," she said.
(Read more about the new hospital from our June cover story here.)
PIE GIVEAWAY ... Some were shocked and others were humbled when they received a pecan pie from the East Palo Alto Police Department during traffic stops on Thanksgiving Day. At least seven unsuspecting drivers were pulled over by Sgt. Nua Lualemaga for a variety of vehicle violations, including rolling past a stop sign and traveling with a broken taillight. In a video posted on the department's Facebook page, Lualemaga approaches the motorists and asks them for their driver's license and vehicle registration. Moments later, he returns with the sweet treat and lets them go with warm Thanksgiving wishes. "They were stunned, there was a delay in processing it all," Lualemaga said. In one instance, he gave a gentle warning to a young woman who didn't have her driver's license card before handing over the edible gift. "That's pretty awesome," she said. Additional pies were handed out to people on the street during the day, Lualemaga said. The purpose behind the random acts of kindness was to encourage people to obey traffic laws, police Cmdr. Jeff Liu said. "They were given a stern warning with some incentive," Liu said. The desserts were donated to the agency from Menlo Park's SusieCakes.
MAKING CONNECTIONS ... Palo Alto's recent adoption of its Comprehensive Plan after a decade of discussions was a special moment for the City Council, which marked the Nov. 13 occasion with Champagne and self-administered applause. But while that epic planning process has finally concluded, the city remains entrenched in another one that is just as complex and, for many, just as frustrating. The city hasn't abandoned its "Fiber to the Premise" project, which has been in discussions for about two decades (take that, Comp Plan!) and that aims to bring ultra-high-speed internet to just about every home. In recent years, the city has amassed a library of consultant studies and business plans on the proposed expansion of the city's dark-fiber network, only to see these plans become obsolete with the advent of new technologies. Monday's discussion between the City Council and the Utilities Advisory Commission suggested officials aren't ready to pull the plug on the project. They are, however, willing to rethink it. During the joint meeting, several council members expressed frustrations about the lack of progress and interest in expanding the fiber network. Vice Mayor Liz Kniss, who traveled to Kansas City in 2014 to survey fiber networks, asked the utilities commission if they're willing to return to the topic. "It seems like it's just doomed to never be carried through," Kniss lamented. And Councilman Tom DuBois said he was interested in partnering with a private entity to manage the network (which would be owned by the city) and using it for various "smart city" initiatives. Commissioners, however, had some concerns about rapidly expanding the fiber network. Commissioner Judith Schwartz said the community's affluence encourages incumbent telecoms to offer cutting-edge services to local residents, making it harder for the municipal service to compete. Commissioner Arne Ballantine suggested expanding the network to specific users and for particular purposes like health care and education. If the user's interest is just streaming movies faster, fiber is "really not the way to do it, Ballentine said. "Getting a faster computer is the better way to do it," he said.