News

Will Palo Alto's open space preserves stay open? City hints at restrictions at scenic spots

Officials indicate they may take measures if crowds don't ease up

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Palo Alto announced plans to close parking lots near three of the city's open spaces, Foothills Park, Arastradero Preserve and the Baylands, starting Friday. Read the story here.

---

With more people flocking to the Baylands and Foothills Park for fresh air and exercise, Palo Alto officials are preparing new restrictions to limit crowds during the coronavirus pandemic.

City Manager Ed Shikada said the city, much like other parts of the state, has seen a surge in visitors to open space preserves in recent days. As a result, staff planned to impose "access limitations" that started Tuesday morning, including shutting down bathrooms and restricting the use of water fountains at Foothills Park, Shikada told the council Monday.

Shikada's action follows even stricter measures in other jurisdictions, where state and Santa Clara County leaders have taken steps to reduce crowding in popular parks and nature preserves. On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom closed parking lots at parks and beaches throughout the state, including some in San Mateo and Marin counties, in a bid to limit crowds. All parks in Marin County, including city, county state, federal destinations such as Mount Tamalpais and Point Reyes National Seashore, are now closed.

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Palo Alto hasn't closed off access to nature preserves to date, though officials indicated Monday that they may go that route if crowds don't ease. The city has already shut down local playgrounds and tennis courts and has previously closed libraries and community centers.

Given all the facility closures, nature preserves present an obvious and attractive opportunity for residents to exercise and look for recreational opportunities. The county's March 16 order to shelter at home allows residents to go outside for exercise, provided they stay at least 6 feet away from others. While that "social distance" guideline hasn't always been followed, Councilwoman Liz Kniss said that she was "very impressed" by the behavior she witnessed during her stroll on the Stanford Dish earlier in the day.

Kniss said people walking the loop were reinforcing to one other the need to stay at least 6 feet away.

"Perhaps it's not always appreciated, but I noticed frequently people were saying, 'You're not 6 feet apart. Go single file.' While I think it does offend some people, I noticed people really comply and pretty quickly," Kniss said.

But council members also expressed concerns about the crowds in peak nature areas. Mayor Adrian Fine observed that the Baylands were "pretty swamped" over the weekend.

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"Obviously, we do want recreational opportunities and fresh air for our residents in the community. … But how do we make that decision on potentially closing parks?" Fine asked.

Shikada said the city's current philosophy calls for reducing access, rather than closing open spaces entirely. But he called it an "incremental step," and suggested that the city could go further if the crowds persist.

"If that's unsuccessful in terms of managing the crowd, then closure would presumably be the next step, unless we can come up with any strategies in between," Shikada said.

Vice Mayor Tom DuBois wondered if the city can relax some rules for tennis, a sport that has distancing built in. But Shikada and Kristen O'Kane, director of the Community Services Department, noted that tennis and pickleball matches are considered "gatherings" under the county's shelter-at-home order, and thus banned at least until April 7.

There is also some concern, from the public health perspective, about people touching the same tennis ball or the same equipment during the pandemic, O'Kane said.

"With respect to having activity in parks, it's really difficult to maintain that social distancing in any situation," O'Kane said. "So we're trying to focus on virtual programming right now."

While the city has been quick to shutter facilities to comply with recent state and county orders, it has not been aggressive about enforcing the order, opting for an educational approach. When Kniss asked Police Chief Robert Jonsen whether the city will follow the lead of places like San Jose, where police are planning to enforce the stay-at-home order, Jonsen indicated that his department isn't there yet.

Palo Alto officers have responded to some of the violation complaints by deploying officers. When possible, the department has tried to mitigate these concerns over the phone. To date, the department has been "strictly trying to educate residents and community members" about social distancing.

"We don't want to get into the enforcement of social distancing," Jonsen said. "But if people don't start complying, we may have to at some point."

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

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Will Palo Alto's open space preserves stay open? City hints at restrictions at scenic spots

Officials indicate they may take measures if crowds don't ease up

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Mar 24, 2020, 3:07 pm
Updated: Thu, Mar 26, 2020, 10:12 am

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Palo Alto announced plans to close parking lots near three of the city's open spaces, Foothills Park, Arastradero Preserve and the Baylands, starting Friday. Read the story here.

---

With more people flocking to the Baylands and Foothills Park for fresh air and exercise, Palo Alto officials are preparing new restrictions to limit crowds during the coronavirus pandemic.

City Manager Ed Shikada said the city, much like other parts of the state, has seen a surge in visitors to open space preserves in recent days. As a result, staff planned to impose "access limitations" that started Tuesday morning, including shutting down bathrooms and restricting the use of water fountains at Foothills Park, Shikada told the council Monday.

Shikada's action follows even stricter measures in other jurisdictions, where state and Santa Clara County leaders have taken steps to reduce crowding in popular parks and nature preserves. On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom closed parking lots at parks and beaches throughout the state, including some in San Mateo and Marin counties, in a bid to limit crowds. All parks in Marin County, including city, county state, federal destinations such as Mount Tamalpais and Point Reyes National Seashore, are now closed.

Palo Alto hasn't closed off access to nature preserves to date, though officials indicated Monday that they may go that route if crowds don't ease. The city has already shut down local playgrounds and tennis courts and has previously closed libraries and community centers.

Given all the facility closures, nature preserves present an obvious and attractive opportunity for residents to exercise and look for recreational opportunities. The county's March 16 order to shelter at home allows residents to go outside for exercise, provided they stay at least 6 feet away from others. While that "social distance" guideline hasn't always been followed, Councilwoman Liz Kniss said that she was "very impressed" by the behavior she witnessed during her stroll on the Stanford Dish earlier in the day.

Kniss said people walking the loop were reinforcing to one other the need to stay at least 6 feet away.

"Perhaps it's not always appreciated, but I noticed frequently people were saying, 'You're not 6 feet apart. Go single file.' While I think it does offend some people, I noticed people really comply and pretty quickly," Kniss said.

But council members also expressed concerns about the crowds in peak nature areas. Mayor Adrian Fine observed that the Baylands were "pretty swamped" over the weekend.

"Obviously, we do want recreational opportunities and fresh air for our residents in the community. … But how do we make that decision on potentially closing parks?" Fine asked.

Shikada said the city's current philosophy calls for reducing access, rather than closing open spaces entirely. But he called it an "incremental step," and suggested that the city could go further if the crowds persist.

"If that's unsuccessful in terms of managing the crowd, then closure would presumably be the next step, unless we can come up with any strategies in between," Shikada said.

Vice Mayor Tom DuBois wondered if the city can relax some rules for tennis, a sport that has distancing built in. But Shikada and Kristen O'Kane, director of the Community Services Department, noted that tennis and pickleball matches are considered "gatherings" under the county's shelter-at-home order, and thus banned at least until April 7.

There is also some concern, from the public health perspective, about people touching the same tennis ball or the same equipment during the pandemic, O'Kane said.

"With respect to having activity in parks, it's really difficult to maintain that social distancing in any situation," O'Kane said. "So we're trying to focus on virtual programming right now."

While the city has been quick to shutter facilities to comply with recent state and county orders, it has not been aggressive about enforcing the order, opting for an educational approach. When Kniss asked Police Chief Robert Jonsen whether the city will follow the lead of places like San Jose, where police are planning to enforce the stay-at-home order, Jonsen indicated that his department isn't there yet.

Palo Alto officers have responded to some of the violation complaints by deploying officers. When possible, the department has tried to mitigate these concerns over the phone. To date, the department has been "strictly trying to educate residents and community members" about social distancing.

"We don't want to get into the enforcement of social distancing," Jonsen said. "But if people don't start complying, we may have to at some point."

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

parent
Midtown
on Mar 24, 2020 at 3:29 pm
parent, Midtown
on Mar 24, 2020 at 3:29 pm
15 people like this

Locking the bathrooms is a good way to keep women, children, and senior citizens out of the parks. That will thin out park usage quite a bit. Why not close the parking lots as well? Limit park usage to people who can walk or bike there.


Newbies
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 24, 2020 at 3:37 pm
Newbies, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 24, 2020 at 3:37 pm
11 people like this

IMO people simply don't know where else to go. They're not used to "Going outside" and have little knowlege of places so they stick to the big 3: Rancho, Foothills and Baylands.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2020 at 3:38 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2020 at 3:38 pm
8 people like this

The city is right to consider such measures, but, people need to get exercise as well for their health. Let's be careful to preserve the ability to get healthy exercise, while maintaining the physical distancing necessary for the good of both the individuals and the public.

I'm very aware that some people were raised/socially conditioned to be very close to others when conversing. They were taught to hug and kiss acquaintances and strangers. They feel that people who are not close to them are being somehow hostile. This is a good time for everyone to learn to be flexible in this regard, and learn to greet people and carry on a conversation from 10 feet away.

"Back off!"


foothill
Barron Park
on Mar 24, 2020 at 3:39 pm
foothill, Barron Park
on Mar 24, 2020 at 3:39 pm
32 people like this

Consistently having someone to check IDs and confirm that cars entering Foothill Park contain Palo Alto residents would ensure that the park does not become overcrowded with i.e. rowdy teenagers from neighboring cities and can continue to be enjoyed by residents seeking outdoor recreation.


Mary
Mountain View
on Mar 24, 2020 at 3:47 pm
Mary, Mountain View
on Mar 24, 2020 at 3:47 pm
20 people like this

Why close the golf courses? Golf is the perfect social distancing sport as long as you don’t go in golf cars (far better for your health to walk the course anyway). You don’t touch the same equipment, you can walk and stand a lot more than 6 feet from each other as well the whole time. As I understand it, the private golf clubs (country clubs) are still open. What’s the difference from an infection risk point of view between those and public ones really?


Hiker
Palo Verde
on Mar 24, 2020 at 4:50 pm
Hiker, Palo Verde
on Mar 24, 2020 at 4:50 pm
43 people like this

I’ve been hiking daily in the parks. Everyone is maintaining proper distance. There’s no reason to close them. Closing bathrooms would reduce exposure to contaminated surface area, and also reduce the amount of time people spend in the park at one time, so that makes sense.


Hiker
Palo Verde
on Mar 24, 2020 at 4:52 pm
Hiker, Palo Verde
on Mar 24, 2020 at 4:52 pm
21 people like this

We are early hikers at Foothills Park and the Park was very empty while we were there on an early drizzly morning hike last weekend.

Closing the restrooms is most likely just going to force people to pee in the bushes.


JR
Palo Verde
on Mar 24, 2020 at 6:06 pm
JR, Palo Verde
on Mar 24, 2020 at 6:06 pm
43 people like this

Who exactly is authorizing these closures? Who is accountable for these actions? There is near zero risk of catching any virus in Foothills Park, it is 1,400 acres! Even if 1,400 people packed in the park, each could have an acre to themselves.

The irony is that these closures will likely cause MORE people to be afflicted with the virus. Close 1,400 acres at Foothills and people will cram into their local 10 acre park.

STOP the park closures immediately. Closing parks is coronavirus theatre, it does nothing to stop the spread of the virus.


Palo alto elitism in the time of the plague
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2020 at 6:08 pm
Palo alto elitism in the time of the plague, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2020 at 6:08 pm
25 people like this

Foothill - what are you talking about? Have their been any reports of "rowdy teenagers" in the park?. No. Now is not the time to enforce Palo Alto's exclusionary policy regarding the park. You do not see stanford excluding non Stanford people from the dish.


Donald
South of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2020 at 8:56 pm
Donald, South of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2020 at 8:56 pm
9 people like this

I went for an early hike in Foothills Park on Sunday. No problem when we entered, but upon return the place was swamped with people not obeying the rules. I saw dogs (not allowed on weekends), people going off trail with small children walking into areas covered with poison oak, etc. There was a ranger near the entrance, but not checking ID, and the parking lots were overflowing with people parking in places clearly marked as No Parking. If this continues people will get hurt. Palo Alto should shut down the parking lots before that happens.


Adam
Barron Park
on Mar 24, 2020 at 10:11 pm
Adam, Barron Park
on Mar 24, 2020 at 10:11 pm
14 people like this

Everything went smooth today. stop with the drama.


Helen
Downtown North
on Mar 24, 2020 at 10:26 pm
Helen, Downtown North
on Mar 24, 2020 at 10:26 pm
20 people like this

@JR

You are always posting that there is a near zero chance of catching the virus at some event (eg. Chinese new Year) or some place (the park in this case). Yet you produce no evidence to support your quantifications, and time and time again are proven wrong when the cases pile up. I believe you are not from our community and your advocacies are meant to harm people. Please stop spreading misinformation and let the professionals do their jobs. You are not helping.


David
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2020 at 10:47 pm
David, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2020 at 10:47 pm
3 people like this

I’m not shocked that the parks and open space areas are getting flooded by summer holiday volume crowds. Many people are not taking this seriously and are disregarding the orders and recommendations of social distancing. They are treating their time off as a vacation or holiday. The spread of the virus will continue rampantly until manny many many people get sick and die. You are not invincible.


TimR
Downtown North
on Mar 24, 2020 at 11:16 pm
TimR, Downtown North
on Mar 24, 2020 at 11:16 pm
8 people like this

The problem is the parking situation at the parks, not the people once they're in the parks (the Dish is a different story). I rode my bike past Arastradero OSP on Sunday, and cars were parked all along the road, like they do for Wunderlich. Except it's not allowed along Arastradero. and it creates more of a hazard for cyclists, that's for sure. So some traffic enforcement might me more in order than closing the parks.


Charles Ovid
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 25, 2020 at 12:14 am
Charles Ovid, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 25, 2020 at 12:14 am
35 people like this

If you close parks it is pretty obvious what will happen - people will cram in the remaining open spaces that are hard to close. Leaving them open will reduce crowing. For example, close Stanford Dish and 2x people start heading to the Matadero Creek trail.

Plus, if we are all overweight and diabetic mortality rates will be higher.


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Mar 25, 2020 at 12:48 am
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Mar 25, 2020 at 12:48 am
50 people like this

This is an example of authority being heavy-handed and counter-productive.

The Baylands is about the only place in Palo Alto where you will be far more
than 6 feet distant from anyone else who is there.

The restrooms can be a problem there, but mostly because the lazy and
incompetent company Palo Alto has hired to maintain and clean then has
not done a decent job for over a decade now - and no one has done a thing
about it despite my, and probably many others complaints.

Last time I made it up to Foothills Park the bathrooms were a citywide
disgrace. Over and over I hear how great America is and what a *hole
some other countries are, but from my travels overseas in most places
the worst restrooms and the greatest lack of price in public places is
right here at home - and we need to fix that!

If the restrooms were maintained there would be no reason to worry about
it because people could wash their hands. Even a drinking fountain probably
has little change of infecting anyone if used properly.

The only time I ever have a chance to get within 6 feet of anyone at the Baylands
is when I get out or into my car, or at the restroom but that is extremely rare.

City of Palo Alto has been totally remiss and incompetent in making our parks
safe and hygienic, or hiring people who can get that job done. How can our
city government maintain such constant ineptness over such a long time -
and give us so little for our tax money?

When the City refuses to staff security people in the Baylands, then do not
allow dogs if you cannot police them. I would say the same thing about
bicycles, at least in certain places having been run into 3 times out there
by rude people who think they own the trail.

Why can't our City government seem to govern efficiently and appropriately?
What on Earth is going on with these people?

I am a total stickler for the social distancing, but a blind man could see that you get much closer to other people walking on a sidewalk, or through the aisles of a supermarket, or filling your gas tank up and touching the pumping nozzle than you ever would in one of our wonderful spacious parks.

What to do something useful - renovate the restrooms and put back in paper towels and trashcans and fire the people who currently fail to maintain them.
How about some 21st century technology ... and I do not mean the air-dryers or Dyson virus aerosolized hand-washers like they have over at Shoreline Park that throughs germs in the air at high velocity.


YP
Crescent Park
on Mar 25, 2020 at 6:50 am
YP, Crescent Park
on Mar 25, 2020 at 6:50 am
23 people like this

The more places you close the less space available to get outside for a walk etc, simple math.

Unless you strictly stop people going out for exercise ,people will still go out and now all going to the same fewer venues leading to pressure to close those, repeating the cycle. Keep the parks open, but strictly enforce parking areas to keep volume down would be a good idea (and money generator- write a ticket for illegal parking)


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2020 at 8:15 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2020 at 8:15 am
11 people like this

Even in times of working from home, people still want a weekend. The weekends will generate more people at the Dish, Foothills Park and the Baylands.

People are going stir crazy stuck at home. Even our local neighborhood parks are not going to allow all those who live close by to go for a walk if everyone goes at the same time.

Therefore, how about doing something different. What about suggesting cars into Foothills Park with odd plates in am and even in pm. What about suggesting people with last names at first half of alphabet in am and second half pm.

There may be better ways of doing this, but spacing the time people can use these facilities rather than closing them might make more sense.


bemused
East Palo Alto
on Mar 25, 2020 at 8:52 am
bemused, East Palo Alto
on Mar 25, 2020 at 8:52 am
9 people like this

My understanding was that we are not allowed to drive to other places to get outdoor exercise. I thought we were only allowed to walk/bike in our immediate neighborhood.


Get creative
Evergreen Park
on Mar 25, 2020 at 8:57 am
Get creative, Evergreen Park
on Mar 25, 2020 at 8:57 am
18 people like this

You know that if you REALLY want to exercise - and not just go out for a trip - there are many ways how you can exercise at home, even without official fitness equipment, right?


Helen
Downtown North
on Mar 25, 2020 at 9:01 am
Helen, Downtown North
on Mar 25, 2020 at 9:01 am
10 people like this

The only reason the parks are being closed is because people are being selfish and ignoring the common sense Requests that health professionals made that people maintain social distance. It is people’s arrogance and selfishness that forces the authorities to close the parks.

If, as a result of the closure, selfish and arrogant citizens congregate in some other place as YP and JR seem to say is just an expected outcome, then those people should be arrested and shipped off to the burning man site where they can run and exercise and interact all they want without messing things up for the rest of us who are trying to save lives.


Helen
Downtown North
on Mar 25, 2020 at 9:15 am
Helen, Downtown North
on Mar 25, 2020 at 9:15 am
6 people like this

@ JR : “Foothills Park, it is 1,400 acres! Even if 1,400 people packed in the park, each could have an acre to themselves”

JR’s statement is beyond moronic.

Per his example, you’ll have at least 700 cars in the parking lot and people shoulder to shoulder on the trails. Good luck getting people to spread out one per acre.,


Palo Alto Parent
Midtown
on Mar 25, 2020 at 9:34 am
Palo Alto Parent, Midtown
on Mar 25, 2020 at 9:34 am
35 people like this

Please don't close the parks!

Exercising at home is not the same as getting out in nature, and when people have been asked to give up school, jobs, and in person contacts with friends, it's important to allow access to nature for our mental health. Some people need less activity and social contact than others - for those who need more, the parks are a vital resource.

We were at Foothill two days ago and while there were more people than usual, everyone was keeping a safe distance.


bemused
East Palo Alto
on Mar 25, 2020 at 9:55 am
bemused, East Palo Alto
on Mar 25, 2020 at 9:55 am
3 people like this

@Palo Alto Parent,

I had been hiking in some less crowded areas this past week until I read further clarification that we are supposed to stay in our own neighborhoods. I am looking at San Mateo County's health order, because I am in SMC, but my understanding is all the neighboring counties are following the same order. And recently what I read is:

"As for outdoor exercise, people certainly need to get out, but do this in your own immediate neighborhoods. Do not drive except to provide or obtain an essential service. Do not go into other neighborhoods for recreation."

I am a person who does not need much face-to-face social interaction. But it's staying home this much is not easy for me either. And it certainly is not easy for the teens in my family, and some of them do struggle with depression and this quarantine is making it worse. However, we are not supposed to be going to parks/outdoor areas as a way to interact socially. Many people are trying to find ways to use various online conferencing platforms to interact with friends. I know it's not the same as face-to-face interaction by a long shot, but it's really what we are being ordered to do.


Chris
University South
on Mar 25, 2020 at 10:46 am
Chris, University South
on Mar 25, 2020 at 10:46 am
19 people like this

Please keep the parks open. Most people practice appropriate distancing. When we walk as a family, we either move to the side or walk in line to give others six feet to pass. Let’s work together to get through these difficult times.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2020 at 10:55 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2020 at 10:55 am
1 person likes this

We shouldn't try to get the police to do this. Somebody, somewhere, e.g. Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, could put their heads to together and come up with some simple rules for spacing "out" times so that everyone is not out shopping or hiking at the same time.

I also agree about the restrooms. I don't understand why super-clean public restrooms are not a priority right now.

But, I also wonder how long the dangerous aerosols last after someone has a coughing fit in one of those restrooms. Most don't have any kind of strong air changing ventilation and effective air filtration. Could be a major hazard. Anyone have any links to what public health officials and researchers are saying about restroom aerosols?


S_mom
Community Center
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:05 am
S_mom, Community Center
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:05 am
16 people like this

The fields at Rinconada have a new sign (as of today, March 25) saying they are closed too. Playgrounds have been closed for a while, but the field closing is new. Sad for us -- we live right by the park and have never seen more than a few people there at once, all very far apart. We went there today and were forced onto the paths, which means negotiating other walkers a bit (though still, usage at this park is very low, we saw 3-4 other people there total). Backyards aren't big enough for real exercise for kids, we're all going to come out of this a lot unhealthier!


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:09 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:09 am
10 people like this

The *fields* are closed? That sounds wrong and stupid. We need an explanation from the city ASAP.


Helen
Downtown North
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:20 am
Helen, Downtown North
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:20 am
5 people like this

The city, county and state did not arbitrarily decide to close these parks and spaces. They were closed because the were becoming overcrowded IN SPITE OF REQUESTS that people not crowd places. The parking lots we’re overflow onto the streets, people gathering in groups and not passing respectful distances on trails. If people cannot behave like adults and be good social citizens , then the government steps in. The park goers (including myself) have no one to blame but themselves for this.


S_mom
Community Center
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:22 am
S_mom, Community Center
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:22 am
9 people like this

@Anon, yes, fields are closed. I found this on the city's website: Web Link

No idea what the thinking is on closing "playing fields," maybe they thought organized sports were still using them? I haven't seen anything like that at Rinconada, they've been mostly empty for days. We just used them to play catch or frisbee with 2-3 people in our own family.


S_mom
Community Center
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:37 am
S_mom, Community Center
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:37 am
10 people like this

@Helen - yes I'm sure they just decided to close everything based on problems at particular locations. Like if it's true that people were hosting youth soccer practices at Mayfield, maybe they just closed all fields at any park. I'm sure it's hard to figure out what's happening at each park, but it's just a bummer for us because I think the fields at Rinconada were hardly used, but were really useful for us to get a break for little kids.


S_mom
Community Center
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:40 am
S_mom, Community Center
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:40 am
18 people like this

Also, the catch-22 of it all is that the more you close, the more you force people into closer proximity at what's left until everything is closed at we're all permanently stuck in our homes. We were using the field, but now we'll probably take walks on the sidewalk and we encounter a lot more people that way. Doing our best to give a wide berth or cross streets to avoid, but I do think the fields were a safer spot for us.


Chrisf
University South
on Mar 25, 2020 at 12:02 pm
Chrisf, University South
on Mar 25, 2020 at 12:02 pm
2 people like this

Why is it so hard for people to exercise in your own neighborhood? The level of sacrifice being asked is pretty minimal.
Stop putting your own desires above the health of the community.

No matter how big a park is, there are always people coming within 6 feet of each other at some point. Exercising near home keeps people from different neighborhoods from mixing and continually respreading the virus across geographies.


Gale Johnson
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 25, 2020 at 12:18 pm
Gale Johnson, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 25, 2020 at 12:18 pm
16 people like this

@bemused,

I live within an 8 minute walk from Ramos Park. I walked there recently and sat on a bench, far away from the main activity and the walkway leading around by the basketball court. There were couples walking together, people walking their dogs, and kids frolicking, running around, kicking balls, and laughing. I stayed 100 feet away from them. I soaked up sun, which warmed me up, and breathed in the fresh air with a blue sky with a few fluffy white clouds overhead. I video recorded on my iPhone some of the activities going on. I sent it to friends as an email attachment. I'll try to post it on Facebook. I never felt the urge to pee but if I had I could have made it back to my house in 8 minutes. Please don't take this away from me. I closed my eyes, meditated, and felt at peace for a few moments. I was in a thoughtful mood and told myself "This too will pass"! And it will!


Pied Piper
Gunn High School
on Mar 25, 2020 at 12:24 pm
Pied Piper, Gunn High School
on Mar 25, 2020 at 12:24 pm
5 people like this

@CrescentParkAnon.
You really expect tax payer dollars to be used to maintain restrooms and park facilities? In Palo Alto? What are you smoking?

Don't you understand that taxpayer dollars are intended for generous retirement benefits, pension spiking and lifetime health coverage for council members, city employees part time workers, and their dependents?

And you're complaining about your pesky bathrooms and tax dollars? Go pee in a bush and appreciate your good fortune in supporting a public servant. For life.


S_mom
Community Center
on Mar 25, 2020 at 12:47 pm
S_mom, Community Center
on Mar 25, 2020 at 12:47 pm
16 people like this

@ Chrisf But the local parks with "playing fields" (which just means the grassy areas of any of the local parks) are in most Palo Altan's neighborhoods. That's part of why it seems so unnecessary to close them -- these local parks haven't been very crowded now that the playgrounds are closed. They could consider closing the parking spots (except maybe the disabled parking) to make it more difficult for people in other neighborhoods to come, though I guess realistically people could park on the streets. I just haven't been seeing crowds, at least not at Rinconada or Pardee Park, so it's unfortunate to lose access to those neighborhood grassy areas. As I said above I understand that it may be hard to make distinctions if there is abuse at some locations so I'm not up in arms or anything, just stating that I am disappointed to lose access to Rinconada's grassy area when it has been so nice to use it with kids and we haven't come near anyone when doing so, and haven't seen anything close to abuse by others.


Helen
Downtown North
on Mar 25, 2020 at 1:03 pm
Helen, Downtown North
on Mar 25, 2020 at 1:03 pm
6 people like this

Sure. You could only close the heavily abused parks. But all you have to do is read the above posts to see that the abusers will simply relocate to the other parks and spaces and feel just fine about their sociopathic acts.

Whether it be toilet paper or open space, the citizens have demonstrated a clear inability to behave responsibly and respectfully. Now none of us have access to the open spaces. I’ve never been more disappointed or discouraged by my fellow Americans. I always thought Americans would pull together in situations like this, but the behaviors I’ve seen (and posts in threads like this) leave me hopeless.


Midtown Local
Midtown
on Mar 25, 2020 at 1:13 pm
Midtown Local, Midtown
on Mar 25, 2020 at 1:13 pm
14 people like this

How about just metering use of the parks, rather than closing them down completely. Decide how many cars each can accommodate, and close them as "full" until someone leaves. There might also need to be some enforcement of not parking on roads right outside the parks. This is not rocket science. There's probably no problem for most of most days; this metering might only need to be implemented for a few hours on weekend afternoons.

Yeah, it might take a little bit of staffing. But I hear there are people available for pick-up work.


Helen
Downtown North
on Mar 25, 2020 at 1:44 pm
Helen, Downtown North
on Mar 25, 2020 at 1:44 pm
3 people like this

@ Midtown Local

Most people on this thread don’t even agree that Palo Alto and County have the authority to do this. Do you really think some minimum wage guy in a blue Polo that says park security on the breast is going to stop these people ? They don’t believe in social distancing, they’re not responsible, and most of them are sociopaths. No parking monitor is going to stop them from just parking on the street and walking right in. Look at JRs posts for example.


Wand3r3r
Community Center
on Mar 25, 2020 at 2:31 pm
Wand3r3r , Community Center
on Mar 25, 2020 at 2:31 pm
4 people like this

@Pied Piper, I needed that today. Thank you. :^)

@Helen and chrisf, What you said. It’s not forever. It’s not the end of the world. (Not yet, anyway.) And it’s a fantastic way to teach your children about serving others and sacrificing for the greater good. Be responsible and do the right thing.

@bemused, That said, I am one of the inadvertent scofflaws who has gone out to the Baylands a few times to meet a friend or walk a dog, while still keeping my distance. I did not realize until you provided the text that we were to stay in our own neighborhoods for our exercise. (Although, if we all stayed in our own neighborhoods, that place would be pretty much closed as there aren’t very many residences out by the duck pond or Byxbee Park. Just sayin’.) Now that I know the official ruling, I will stop my forays out there. Mea culpa and thanks for the reminder/correction.

Here’s the deal: most people in Palo Alto don’t live in apartments. Most people even if they do live in apartments have access to some sort of outdoor play area. It’s true that the average backyard isn’t as good as Foothills Park for kids to run around in. But like I said above, it’s temporary and we can handle this. Life is full of doing things that we might not want to do. But in this case following this one simple rule will probably end this horrible situation a lot faster than otherwise. I don’t understand the kvetching, the constant moaning and intentional scofflawing. I really don’t. And it definitely isn’t going to make it any better.


Common sense
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 25, 2020 at 4:15 pm
Common sense, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 25, 2020 at 4:15 pm
2 people like this

Other countries have locked down completely: India, Spain, New Zealand, Italy, etc. Their restrictions are to only leave their residence for food or medical treatment. No exercise outside at all. I've been told that parts of India have a shoot on site order for those out after the 6pm curfew.

Please use common sense and try to stay in your local neighborhood as much as possible to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and avoid further lockdown. Everyone has a responsibility to do their part.


Old Palo Alto
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 25, 2020 at 5:26 pm
Old Palo Alto, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 25, 2020 at 5:26 pm
14 people like this

The more open spaces close, the more crowded other areas become.


Helen
Downtown North
on Mar 25, 2020 at 6:10 pm
Helen, Downtown North
on Mar 25, 2020 at 6:10 pm
4 people like this

@old Palo Alto “ The more open spaces close, the more crowded other areas become.”

QED.
These people are sociopaths.
Closing all parks and open spaces was the only option left to the City and County.


Wise decision
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2020 at 6:11 pm
Wise decision , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2020 at 6:11 pm
9 people like this

Again another Palo alto crisis that just demonstrates that nothing will get in the way of their sense of entitlement. We are in a crisis. Surely people can do their hiking in their back yard or around the block. Can you imagine the outcry when stanford closes the dish?


Linda Smith
Professorville
on Mar 25, 2020 at 6:56 pm
Linda Smith, Professorville
on Mar 25, 2020 at 6:56 pm
9 people like this

I am also dismayed by the closing of the parks, but want to remind everyone in the Professorville area that the Stanford Campus is a very pleasant place to walk, although there are no hills or views of the Bay. With the students absent, the broad thoroughfares are spacious enough that anyone can feel safe. There is history and beautiful architecture.


Local
Barron Park
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:22 pm
Local, Barron Park
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:22 pm
8 people like this

I suggest we just ignore the parks being closed signs - i played tennis today with my daughter and it was great. We both got some exercise. Other couples were playing in other courts - all of us apart, nobody infecting anyone else they don't already live with.

I suspect this closure movement is all driven by legal reasons - anyone gets sick they can't sue the city. The medical rationale is to keep getting exercise - death rates for obese people with hypertension and diabetes is far higher, and getting fat and out of shape at home will do that to all of us.

So for the sake of reducing the death rates ignore the lawyer signs and use the parks with common sense.


kb
Barron Park
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:37 pm
kb, Barron Park
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:37 pm
11 people like this

So I can be 3 feet away from the cashier at Safeway, but I can't be 30 feet away from my wife playing tennis? Talk about overbearing, uninformed government. No wonder no one believes or obeys the government; they can't even get basic stuff like this right.


dm
Community Center
on Mar 26, 2020 at 8:32 am
dm, Community Center
on Mar 26, 2020 at 8:32 am
12 people like this

This is not a great decision. My family was at the Foothills last weekend and people were doing an excellent job of maintaining more than 6 feet of distance at the park - one family at a time on the docks, etc. By doing this it's just heavy handed and ensuring that there are less opportunities for little ones to get outside and much needed reprise from being confined at home.


Weiner Is Developers Want Even More Density
Mountain View
on Mar 26, 2020 at 9:17 am
Weiner Is Developers Want Even More Density, Mountain View
on Mar 26, 2020 at 9:17 am
12 people like this

Remember this after this crisis blows over and Weiner and cohorts come back with their push for more density. Remember this and vote accordingly.

We need to take back our communities on a local basis, don’t let Sacramento (and developers) tell us what is good and not good.


JR
Palo Verde
on Mar 26, 2020 at 9:23 am
JR, Palo Verde
on Mar 26, 2020 at 9:23 am
4 people like this

I apologize in advance to all the cars stuck behind my 3 speed Huffy on Page Mill this weekend. Please send your complaints directly to the city manager.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2020 at 9:34 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2020 at 9:34 am
3 people like this

Posted by Weiner Is Developers Want Even More Density, a resident of Mountain View

>> Remember this after this crisis blows over and Weiner and cohorts come back with their push for more density. >> Remember this and vote accordingly.
>> We need to take back our communities on a local basis, don’t let Sacramento (and developers) tell us what is good and not good.

One item to add to the list of requirements for higher-density developments: Contagion limitation measures.

Examples:

- Air filtration for elevators, foyers, and other enclosed spaces, that removes all traces of virus-containing aerosols
- Large buttons on all shared doors, elevators, etc., that can be actuated by people with their elbows, and/or, wearing gloves
- Prohibition of ingress/egress controls that require finger-touch
- Encouragement of townhouses with separate outdoor entrances per-unit
- Each dwelling unit to require effective air filtration to prevent circulation of virus-containing aerosols, within the unit, and, designed to prevent spreading to other units.
- Public restrooms also with effective air filtration, also designed so that public finger-touch not required to use; hand washing and drying to be done without touching fixtures (water, soap, drying/towels). Restrooms designed to allow complete cleaning.
- Accommodations and features for the disabled to be fully compatible with the above.

(You add to the list).

Corona virus is not the first such virus. It isn't the first such virus in the U.S. -- some of us are old enough to have been through the polio era. Corona virus will not be the last such virus. Design for corona virus prevention will help with the next such contagion as well.


Weiner and developers want even more density
Mountain View
on Mar 26, 2020 at 10:59 am
Weiner and developers want even more density, Mountain View
on Mar 26, 2020 at 10:59 am
11 people like this

Or maybe just realize that there are OTHER PLACES TO BUILD.

Shocking I know. But how many more times does it need to be said, we are OVERBUILT. we do not have the resources to support more but THERE ARE MANY OTHER PLACES THAT DO.


So Glad I Cycle
Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 27, 2020 at 6:34 am
So Glad I Cycle, Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 27, 2020 at 6:34 am
4 people like this

I ride a bike for exercise and am loving the empty roads. I tried out a section of the Stevens creek trail in MV and quickly exited when I saw how many people I'd need to negotiate around in that tight space.
Once I got back onto Shoreline it was very nice.

Riding in the hills is great too, but as the day goes on I do notice more riders on (again) the more known roads like Page Mill and Old La Honda. I'd avoid those. Who wants to be slow climbing behind anyone these days?
I can start from my garage, ride around on beautiful and empty roads for a few hours then back into my garage with zero contact with anyone or anything.


Brian
Charleston Meadows
on Apr 13, 2020 at 4:11 pm
Brian, Charleston Meadows
on Apr 13, 2020 at 4:11 pm
4 people like this

Keep the parks open! People need to get outside to keep their sanity, and city sidewalks are no substitute for nature. We hiked in Pearson-Arastradero Preserve over the weekend. It was no more crowded than usual, and people observed social distancing.

Closing the parking lots is questionable, as well. Doing so just makes illegal street parking more prevalent.

Getting outside is vital. Parks should be viewed as open space overflow for when people need to get out, not a resource to limit, because limiting them just causes more crowding on city sidewalks and in the parks that remain open. Signage and patrols aimed at prohibiting gathering in the lots is a better way to enforce social distancing.


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