News

Palo Alto faces lawsuit over 'residents-only' policy at Foothills Park

ACLU, NAACP among groups involved in challenging 1969 law that limits entry to residents and their guests

A lawsuit was filed against the city of Palo Alto on Sept. 15 claims its "residents-only" policy at Foothills Park violates nonresidents' right to free speech. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

A group of civil rights organizations and residents filed a lawsuit against the city of Palo Alto on Tuesday in a bid to repeal a contentious law that bans non-Palo Altans from visiting Foothills Park unless accompanied by a city resident.

The lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday, Sept. 15, by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California and the law firm Munger, Tolles & Olsen, calls the 1969 law discriminatory and unconstitutional. It violates nonresidents' right to free speech by preventing them from expressing their opposition to the ordinance in the park and it violates their freedom of assembly by barring them from peacefully gathering in the preserve to address these matters, the suit argues.

"The ban on non-residents traces its roots to an era when racial discrimination in and around the City was open and notorious," the suit states. "It is long past time to relegate this unlawful exclusion to the dustbin of history."

The plaintiffs in the suit include the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People of San Jose/Silicon Valley and 10 individuals who are residents of Palo Alto and surrounding cities. These include LaDoris Cordell, a retired Superior Court judge and former Palo Alto city councilwoman who has led the charge to repeal the prohibition on nonresidents at the 1,400-acre nature preserve. It also includes former East Palo Alto Mayor Laura Martinez, who attended Palo Alto schools.

In a statement, Martinez said that she currently works in nonprofit organizations in Palo Alto and has spent much of her career in public service.

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"Yet I am barred from entering the public grounds of Foothills Park," Martinez said. "It is time for Palo Alto to end its exclusionary policy and welcome all members of the surrounding community to Foothills Park."

View a copy of the lawsuit here.

Alysa Cisneros, a Sunnyvale resident who is also a plaintiff in the suit, cited an incident this past Fourth of July when she took her daughter to Foothills Park to protest the law. The ranger turned them away at their entrance because they don't live in Palo Alto, she said.

"On this most American of holidays, we were reminded of the inequities that still exist in our own backyards," Cisneros said in a statement. "I want to show my daughter that it is important to face the things that are wrong in our communities, and to work to do something about them."

The lawsuit escalates a community debate that has been going on in Palo Alto and that has taken on a new life in the past year, with both the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Human Relations Commission recommending a pilot program to allow a limited number of nonresidents to visit the park. With the recent nationwide uproar over racial injustice in the aftermath of the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, many residents have pointed to the Foothills Park policy as an example of the city's legacy of discrimination.

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The council has proceeded with caution on the subject. After delaying action on the issue multiple times, the council approved the pilot program in August but stipulated that the program needs to be revenue-neutral, a requirement that the city has not imposed on any other park or open space. The council's motion also directed a non-binding direction to a future council to bring the issue of whether nonresidents should be allowed to Foothills Park to the voters in 2022.

During the Aug. 3 meeting, some residents and council members firmly rejected the notion that barring nonresidents from the park is in any way discriminatory. The restriction, they argued, is necessary because allowing more people to enter the preserve would diminish the pristine natural setting. Others pointed to the unwillingness of other cities to help Palo Alto buy Foothills Park in the 1960s, decisions that prompted the city to institute the ban.

Roger Smith was among those arguing against relaxing the policy. He noted that expanding access would require more expenditures by the city at a time when the budget is tight and the council is focused on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also suggested that letting more people into the park would harm its "fragile and unique" ecosystem.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, alleges that the restrictions violate both the United States and California constitutions and entail needless spending of city resources for enforcement. The ban, it argues, "harkens back to a shameful era in the city's history" — a period in the middle of the 20th century when lending institutions, government agencies and private individuals worked to prevent Black individuals from buying homes in Palo Alto.

It cites a resolution passed by the Palo Alto of Chamber of Commerce at the time calling for a "segregated district for the Oriental and colored people of the city," the placement of racially restrictive covenants in deeds for the sale of homes and practices such as "redlining" and "block busting," which respectively prevented Black residents from obtaining mortgage insurance for their homes and encouraged "white flight" out of East Palo Alto so that realtors could encourage Black residents to buy homes there.

"The Ordinance perpetuates this historic exclusion and violates the constitutional rights of individuals who are not Palo Alto residents," the suit states. "It bars non-residents from entering a public park that occupies nearly 10% of the land in Palo Alto. And it transforms this vast space into a preserve for the fortunate few: for people who were not systematically denied the right to reside in the City during the era of outright racial exclusion, and people who are wealthy enough to afford to move into the City today, as it has become one of the five most expensive places to live in the United States."

William S. Freeman, senior counsel at the ACLU of Northern California, said in a statement that the city "cannot threaten to arrest and fine people who want to enjoy a public space."

"Palo Alto's exclusion of its neighbors violates the civil rights of communities who too often still find those rights under threat: Black and brown communities."

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Palo Alto faces lawsuit over 'residents-only' policy at Foothills Park

ACLU, NAACP among groups involved in challenging 1969 law that limits entry to residents and their guests

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Sep 15, 2020, 1:45 pm

A group of civil rights organizations and residents filed a lawsuit against the city of Palo Alto on Tuesday in a bid to repeal a contentious law that bans non-Palo Altans from visiting Foothills Park unless accompanied by a city resident.

The lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday, Sept. 15, by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California and the law firm Munger, Tolles & Olsen, calls the 1969 law discriminatory and unconstitutional. It violates nonresidents' right to free speech by preventing them from expressing their opposition to the ordinance in the park and it violates their freedom of assembly by barring them from peacefully gathering in the preserve to address these matters, the suit argues.

"The ban on non-residents traces its roots to an era when racial discrimination in and around the City was open and notorious," the suit states. "It is long past time to relegate this unlawful exclusion to the dustbin of history."

The plaintiffs in the suit include the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People of San Jose/Silicon Valley and 10 individuals who are residents of Palo Alto and surrounding cities. These include LaDoris Cordell, a retired Superior Court judge and former Palo Alto city councilwoman who has led the charge to repeal the prohibition on nonresidents at the 1,400-acre nature preserve. It also includes former East Palo Alto Mayor Laura Martinez, who attended Palo Alto schools.

In a statement, Martinez said that she currently works in nonprofit organizations in Palo Alto and has spent much of her career in public service.

"Yet I am barred from entering the public grounds of Foothills Park," Martinez said. "It is time for Palo Alto to end its exclusionary policy and welcome all members of the surrounding community to Foothills Park."

View a copy of the lawsuit here.

Alysa Cisneros, a Sunnyvale resident who is also a plaintiff in the suit, cited an incident this past Fourth of July when she took her daughter to Foothills Park to protest the law. The ranger turned them away at their entrance because they don't live in Palo Alto, she said.

"On this most American of holidays, we were reminded of the inequities that still exist in our own backyards," Cisneros said in a statement. "I want to show my daughter that it is important to face the things that are wrong in our communities, and to work to do something about them."

The lawsuit escalates a community debate that has been going on in Palo Alto and that has taken on a new life in the past year, with both the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Human Relations Commission recommending a pilot program to allow a limited number of nonresidents to visit the park. With the recent nationwide uproar over racial injustice in the aftermath of the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, many residents have pointed to the Foothills Park policy as an example of the city's legacy of discrimination.

The council has proceeded with caution on the subject. After delaying action on the issue multiple times, the council approved the pilot program in August but stipulated that the program needs to be revenue-neutral, a requirement that the city has not imposed on any other park or open space. The council's motion also directed a non-binding direction to a future council to bring the issue of whether nonresidents should be allowed to Foothills Park to the voters in 2022.

During the Aug. 3 meeting, some residents and council members firmly rejected the notion that barring nonresidents from the park is in any way discriminatory. The restriction, they argued, is necessary because allowing more people to enter the preserve would diminish the pristine natural setting. Others pointed to the unwillingness of other cities to help Palo Alto buy Foothills Park in the 1960s, decisions that prompted the city to institute the ban.

Roger Smith was among those arguing against relaxing the policy. He noted that expanding access would require more expenditures by the city at a time when the budget is tight and the council is focused on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also suggested that letting more people into the park would harm its "fragile and unique" ecosystem.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, alleges that the restrictions violate both the United States and California constitutions and entail needless spending of city resources for enforcement. The ban, it argues, "harkens back to a shameful era in the city's history" — a period in the middle of the 20th century when lending institutions, government agencies and private individuals worked to prevent Black individuals from buying homes in Palo Alto.

It cites a resolution passed by the Palo Alto of Chamber of Commerce at the time calling for a "segregated district for the Oriental and colored people of the city," the placement of racially restrictive covenants in deeds for the sale of homes and practices such as "redlining" and "block busting," which respectively prevented Black residents from obtaining mortgage insurance for their homes and encouraged "white flight" out of East Palo Alto so that realtors could encourage Black residents to buy homes there.

"The Ordinance perpetuates this historic exclusion and violates the constitutional rights of individuals who are not Palo Alto residents," the suit states. "It bars non-residents from entering a public park that occupies nearly 10% of the land in Palo Alto. And it transforms this vast space into a preserve for the fortunate few: for people who were not systematically denied the right to reside in the City during the era of outright racial exclusion, and people who are wealthy enough to afford to move into the City today, as it has become one of the five most expensive places to live in the United States."

William S. Freeman, senior counsel at the ACLU of Northern California, said in a statement that the city "cannot threaten to arrest and fine people who want to enjoy a public space."

"Palo Alto's exclusion of its neighbors violates the civil rights of communities who too often still find those rights under threat: Black and brown communities."

Comments

Racist? Cough Cough
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Racist? Cough Cough, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 15, 2020 at 5:00 pm
114 people like this

While I do enjoy a reveal of the Chambers historic sins on housing and civil rights here, it must be noted that this lawsuit points its bony finger of rightousness only at Palo Alto, nary mentioning that the Chamber promoted it's disgusing recommendations in other peninsuala towns and nationwide. And banks, the federal government, etc. did the same.

Restrictive covenants were on some deeds here, and not all - like other towns. And such covenants have been illegal since the 1960's, along with redlining and blockbusting. You can get your pants sued off doing any of them since then.

So has our fair city really kept non-Palo Altans out of Foothill Park due to their race/ethnicity? A liberal town that is only 54% white anglo? No way. It keeps non-Palo Altans out based on location, with the main people to "suffer" from this police being the very white demographic, Los Alto Hills.

As far as I am concerned, we take some time to figure out the ins and out of what needs to be done, then open it to everyone but with good regulations in place - maximum number of people per day still in place (perhaps even lower it if we are serious about habitat, trails and wildlife) to ensure Foothill remains the unique preserve we always intended it to be among our 37 open space perserves and parks. No - lowering it isn't racist.

We should also charge a per-car fee with non-residents paying slightly more just as is done for our Enjoy Classes. The city doesn't have any money after cutting nearly 40 million from our budget this year and we need to make some parking changes, etc. We need to adjust some policies - for example to ensure Silicon Valley Corporations don't take over use of the picnic areas, etc. This is akin to the one year trial the the Council alreadly approved.



This would mean that sometimes Palo Altans could not get into to their own park - yes, we will exceed the cap in the futue.


Donald
Registered user
South of Midtown
on Sep 15, 2020 at 6:28 pm
Donald, South of Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 15, 2020 at 6:28 pm
143 people like this

"The ban on non-residents traces its roots to an era when racial discrimination in and around the City was open and notorious," the suit states.

This is a very weak argument akin to guilt by association. Just because a law comes from an era when racism was prevalent does not necessarily mean that is is racist. You need to look at the details and the intent on a case-by-case basis.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 15, 2020 at 7:20 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Sep 15, 2020 at 7:20 pm
97 people like this

This is offensive beyond belief. At the time that this whole transaction took place PA was not as big as it is now and the surrounding cities were just emerging from fruit tree commercial farming. The comments are extreme and have no relevance to reality. What is worse we just had the PACC candidates speak and the ones most aligned with this cause - in theory by association were pleasant, well spoken, and not screaming radicals. The people behind this are are alienating the general population and hindering the advancement of a candidate that could benefit by good will. There is no good will here. You are not advancing any benefit to the city which is paying for all of this. You are just costing taxpayer money which could be put to better use.


TimR
Registered user
Downtown North
on Sep 15, 2020 at 7:35 pm
TimR, Downtown North
Registered user
on Sep 15, 2020 at 7:35 pm
78 people like this

The last time I was running in the park when it was crowded (a couple weeks ago, due to the smoke), I encountered three large groups of "Orientals" (to use a term from this story) on the Los Trancos trail. So clearly, it's now desegregated. And I doubt any resident of today's Palo Alto wishes to exclude visitors based on race. Many, however, wish to limit the number of visitors, regardless of race. Opening the park up to more people will have nothing but negative effects on both the wildlife, and the trails themselves. So how about a lawsuit from an environmental group, to argue for keeping the number of humans limited?


Racist? Cough Cough
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2020 at 9:49 pm
Racist? Cough Cough, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 15, 2020 at 9:49 pm
90 people like this

I forgot to say - It's so odd that Don MacDougall is a plaintiff in this lawsuit. He had to resign from the Parks and Rec Commission cause he move up the peninsula to Burlingame or somewhere like that. Now he's suing us cause he can't get into Foothill Park? Hey Don - good to hear from you.

Also - To Palo Alto's credit, our town's residents voted against Proposition 14 in 1964 when Californians voted 2-1 to legally allow owners to deny selling and renting housing to people on the basis of their race. Residents in town and at Stanford organized an education campaign against Prop. 14, saying no to apartheid. A few years later our state supreme court overturned it as unconstitutional. Palo Alto proud.

And out of that struggle came the founding of Midpeninsula Citizens for Fair Housing, the first fair housing office in the country that investigated cases of housing discrimation, working with attorneys to bring lawsuits. MCFH developed the investigative method called "testing" that got an OK from the U.S. Supreme Court and became the gold standard for all sorts of discrimination investigations - bank and car loans. Palo Alto was innovative not only in tech but in advancing civil rights. So we see that this lawsuit cherry picked our race history, making our town sound like a particular hot-bed of racism.

We do have racism in our past and present and need to acknowldege and work to be rid of it. Unfortunately racism is too often systemic and widespread so most every institution and town has been touched by it. We have an obligation to confront it where it is, rather than where it isn't, and it isn't, in this instance, at Foothill Park.


Iyanuo
Registered user
Stanford
on Sep 15, 2020 at 11:10 pm
Iyanuo, Stanford
Registered user
on Sep 15, 2020 at 11:10 pm
29 people like this

Looking at the comments left by many Palo Altans has deeply saddened me. I believed I lived in a more or less forward-thinking area. Perhaps I was wrong. Foothills Park was purchased in 1959 by Palo Alto and sold by residents Russel and Dorothy Lee. It was sold by the previous owners with the hope that it would be open for everyone to enjoy its many offerings.

The first argument I hear in many places is that "other communities refused to pay, therefore they should not get to use the park." Let it be known that the county of Santa Clara offered to pay a sum of 500,000 towards the purchasing of the park. This money was turned down, as accepting the money would have forced Palo-Alto to open the park for all (specified by Santa Clara County). This shows that from the very beginning, Palo Alto had no intention of opening its park doors to the public. Up until the 1950s, Palo Alto housing deeds read messages such as, "No person not wholly of the white Caucasian race shall use or occupy such property unless such person or persons are employed as servants of the occupants…” 9 years later when the park was sold to Palo Alto, the city was still 94% white. When we look at these facts, I implore anyone to consider the following: Do you really think closing a 94% white area to anyone outside the city, only 9 years after notes were written on deeds forbidding people of color to buy houses, has nothing at all to do with race? Many claim that though the sale may have come from an era of racial inequality, the act of closing the park’s doors was not at all racially motivated. I would hope that anyone with a semi-functioning brain can see the obvious connection between the two.

Ignoring every single one of these facts, let us pretend for a second, that the closing of the park's doors had nothing at all to do with race. The bottom line is closing the park off in itself is unconstitutional. Even though it was bought by the city of Palo Alto, Foothills Park is still public land. Under California law, all parks are considered public forums, meaning anyone is allowed to express their first amendment right. Closing off a public forum is taking away one's constitutional rights to exercise free speech, a right that is at the core of American values. I will finish this by saying that I acknowledge that the city of Palo Alto does not keep the park doors closed solely based on race anymore, however, that being one of the main reasons they were closed in the first place, there is not much of a reason to keep them closed anymore. It is way past time to open the gates.


Less admission, not more
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Sep 15, 2020 at 11:10 pm
Less admission, not more, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Sep 15, 2020 at 11:10 pm
120 people like this

A great comment from "Racist? Cough Cough". The park has peaked at 137% capacity from residents during COVID. This leads to increased erosion of trails and disturbance of wildlife and flora - literally the destruction of the park itself. The solution is to clamp down on access and enforce caps on visitors, not open the park up to the entire peninsula.


DTN Paul
Registered user
Downtown North
on Sep 16, 2020 at 12:18 am
DTN Paul, Downtown North
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 12:18 am
79 people like this

I don't understand this argument that public spaces / property cannot be restricted to residents. Isn't that what happens when a city requires that you be a resident to borrow books at the library, or drop off items at the hazardous waste collection site?

And if one of these restrictions was put in place coincident with other unrelated racially motivated laws, then they are tainted and unjust by definition?


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 16, 2020 at 7:35 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 7:35 am
15 people like this

Reading the lengthy article concerning the park in the SJM it is like a soap opera. I am always amazed by the difference in perception between government employees and employees of companies on the stock exchange. The understanding of how projects are financed and paid for shows the difference in comprehension - government employees think money grows on trees. The reality is that the city is paying for the maintenance of the park and that is not a cheap ticket. Given the liability and cost of maintaining the park and personnel required to provide the required services that is a budget item on the city books.

Given the long standing hassle I suggest that the park be given to any one of the organizations that run parks and relieve the city of the ownership and budget allocation for the park. Let one of the professional park organizations do the heavy lifting - that includes liability insurance, forestry personnel, fire protection personnel, and legal services when things go wrong. And things are going wrong all over the state. That includes arsonists that get their tickets punched as "climate change'.

Let Gavin worry about how to address "climate change" for the state and include this in his bucket of potential problems. He and the ACLU then can rest in a victory and we can - as a city - be free from the continual hassle. Given all that is going on that is a win for us - we have plenty of parks that appear free of people. They do not want to go to free parks.

[Portion removed.]


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Sep 16, 2020 at 8:40 am
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 8:40 am
32 people like this

A possible solution might be to (1) limit daily entrance to a set number of visitors which would ideally minimize adverse environmental impacts, and (2) charge non-residents a usage fee.


Me 2
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2020 at 9:16 am
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 9:16 am
58 people like this

This suit will lead to the closing of Foothills Park to everyone.

We can't afford the increase in costs in this economic climate. As a PA resident, I will be forcefully against paying more in taxes to support virtue signaling that does absolutely nothing to change racism to make life better for Los Altos Hills residents.

Shame on the PA residents supporting this foul effort that are wasting our money that needs to go to our libraries and city services. I think we should be transparent with not only the costs of opening up Foothills Park, but the costs of responding to this suit.

And bill those PA residents directly for the additional costs.


William Billiam
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2020 at 9:32 am
William Billiam, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 9:32 am
18 people like this

I think this is a great step forward. Palo Alto residents have shown no desire to fix this issue to the point that they refuse acknowledge it is even a problem. If you really are worried about the park and the traffic then place strong limits on the amount of people allowed.

The time of segregating those who are privileged to live in Palo Alto and everyone else is ending. Pretending there isn't a problem because you different people in the park or some city statistics is wrong. Get with the times Palo Alto and end the only private "public" park in the state.

Also adding a fee for non residents is just asking for another lawsuit.


Midtowner
Registered user
Midtown
on Sep 16, 2020 at 9:54 am
Midtowner, Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 9:54 am
6 people like this

@DTN Paul

Fun fact: you don't have to be a resident of Palo Alto to borrow a book from a PA library - any resident of California can: Web Link. And while non-CA residents can't borrow books, during normal times they can certainly go to the library and read them on site and use all the resources the library offers.

Other libraries have similar policies. Any CA resident can get a San José library card, and anyone with a US address can get a Santa Clara County library card.


Duveneck
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 16, 2020 at 10:44 am
Duveneck, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 10:44 am
61 people like this

Mentioned before, but not in these posts, is the reality that narrow Page Mill Road is the only route in and out of the park. Fire is a reality. Fire crews and wide fire trucks coming up this road would meet cars attempting to leave the park, a disaster. This is not a place for crowds.


What Will They Do Next
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2020 at 10:48 am
What Will They Do Next, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 10:48 am
29 people like this

This lawsuit won't stand a chance unless the city caves on the issue. Given the councils' proclivity toward issues of social justice when warranted or not, and this is not, my guess is they would cave.


Chris
Registered user
University South
on Sep 16, 2020 at 10:48 am
Chris, University South
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 10:48 am
26 people like this

I don’t think this suit has a prayer at the Supreme Court.


Sells the land to MidPeninsula Open Space
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2020 at 10:58 am
Sells the land to MidPeninsula Open Space , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 10:58 am
39 people like this

Unload it. Sell it at a reasonable price to MidPenn Open Space with some restrictions on the deed as to numbers of visitors and care of the preserve for posterity and fire safety. It is going to be expensive to keep this land as a preserve and fire safe if it is completely opened up. The city doesn't have the skills or staffing or resources to open this for the whole Peninsula without help. This is what MidPenn does.

Use money from the sale to update playing fields and community service space in town. Cubberley needs work as do other sites.

The conflict is not with people of color. The conflict historically and is still with Palo Alto's rich, mostly white neighbors in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills who continue to refuse to help though they benefit handsomely from the preservation of this space and can afford to help.

Let's make bread. Help me sow the wheat. NO.
Let's make bread. Help me harvest the wheat. NO.
Let's make bread. Help me grind the wheat. NO.
Let's make bread. Help me bake the bread. NO.
Mmmmmm, bread. I want some. Give it to me.


Stop population growth
Registered user
Downtown North
on Sep 16, 2020 at 11:07 am
Stop population growth, Downtown North
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 11:07 am
44 people like this

Another example of deep pocketed, bored lawyers looking to get their names in the paper. They mention the work "racism" in any context - even one involving trying to preserve an open space and somehow they get press and are legitimized.

It is clear that all of our open space and natural areas are in short supply with the massive overpopulation in this area. This point has been driven home by the recent pandemic and people trying to get outside and being denied access to open spaces everywhere.

Palo Alto bought and paid for this park and we can reserve it for our residents. Racism had
nothing to do with it. It was based on surrounding communities not wanting to contribute.

These law groups, that are suing, should be ashamed of themselves. Rather than find a legitimate cause to pursue, to try to add value to the fight against racism or get better education or job training for poor and disadvantaged areas, they go for publicity and a pointless case that will do little for their "stated" cause. Too bad the city will likely cave to them since they won't want to waste our money fighting these bored, trouble making lawyers with time on their hands.

My hope is that we start charging to get into the park, to help preserve it and also to buy more park space in Palo Alto, which is obviously sorely needed.


banes
Registered user
Greater Miranda
on Sep 16, 2020 at 11:16 am
banes, Greater Miranda
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 11:16 am
2 people like this

Who pays $$$ for the Park? Maintenance,


Stepheny
Registered user
Midtown
on Sep 16, 2020 at 11:17 am
Stepheny, Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 11:17 am
23 people like this

Anything that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) want --which is automatically not granted-- is pinned on racist opposition. If one is not a person of color (the preferred modern nomenclature) and/or LGBTQQX and does not agree with their arguments for Palo Alto to provide even more services for their under privileged selves. Pity is different from Respect. Pay your way into our city funded park.


banes
Registered user
Greater Miranda
on Sep 16, 2020 at 11:26 am
banes, Greater Miranda
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 11:26 am
34 people like this

William Billiam: its not about segregation or privilege. Its about infrastructure implementation by those who "own" and care for it. Land Costs, Maintenance Costs, Bathroom infrastructure water & cleaning Costs, Rangers Costs, Wildlife vet services costs, Salaries for caretakers cost, LIABILITY INSURANCE COSTS!! Let the City TAX PAYERS VOTE - those who could get sued and have other City services compromised or eliminated due to a LAWSUIT by an out-of-towner guest whose kids drowns or gets bit by someone else's dog, or wildlife, gets lost or hurt....
Human nature: If you don't pay for it you don't take care of it: you're just a visitor passing thru.


Rose
Registered user
Mayfield
on Sep 16, 2020 at 11:28 am
Rose, Mayfield
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 11:28 am
16 people like this

I agree with Resident 1 - Adobe Meadows: "The reality is that the city is paying for the maintenance of the park and that is not a cheap ticket. Given the liability and cost of maintaining the park and personnel required to provide the required services that is a budget item on the city books.

Given the long standing hassle I suggest that the park be given to any one of the organizations that run parks and relieve the city of the ownership and budget allocation for the park. Let one of the professional park organizations do the heavy lifting - that includes liability insurance, forestry personnel, fire protection personnel, and legal services when things go wrong. And things are going wrong all over the state."

However, I would add: SELL the land to The Midpeninsula Open Space District.

I agree with others who say this is not a racist issue. People of all races enjoy the park now and for people who aren't residents, they can drive a bit higher on the hill and enjoy the unrestricted parks nearby. We should either keep things as is or sell the park.


Pause...
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2020 at 11:33 am
Pause..., Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 11:33 am
9 people like this

Tim R, I know you didn't just refer to a group of asians as "orientals" hahah I'm weak. And sorry but seeing some asians walking around foothills park doesn't dissolve the racist bi-product of palo alto's redlining.


Jonathan Brown
Registered user
Ventura
on Sep 16, 2020 at 11:53 am
Jonathan Brown, Ventura
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 11:53 am
26 people like this

The lawsuit complains about exactly what it's causing: "the illegal and wasteful expenditure of public funds." Stating that the Foothills Park non-resident policy is "racist" and "unconstitutional" doesn't make it so. These are incredibly weak, unproven legal arguments. Yes, the City will likely cave, but this is nothing short of a selfish publicity stunt during a time when our resources are urgently needed to address the real, pressing problems we're facing. Travel over publicly owned lands is restricted all over the country. A better question is why public easements along our creeks and utilities are not opened for bikers and pedestrians. In Palo Alto this no-brainer opening would expand safe bike and pedestrian access tremendously and benefit our least well-off neighbors who come here for work and school much more than a symbolic opening of a far-away park.


hcc2009
Registered user
Los Altos Hills
on Sep 16, 2020 at 12:01 pm
hcc2009, Los Altos Hills
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 12:01 pm
63 people like this

Oh please, that policy has NOTHING to do with race or ethnicity or class. The 5th-most-wealthy town in the nation -- Los Alto Hills -- located literally *across the street from Foothills Park* also are banned from entering. Also Portola Valley & Woodside, very wealthy communities, banned from entering.

I for one am SICK of having EVERYTHING interpreted through the lens of race. It's become mass hysteria and it's not helping anybody's cause. After decades of building good will between the races, in a few short years we're seeing it all wiped away.


LawsuitWontHelp
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Sep 16, 2020 at 12:20 pm
LawsuitWontHelp, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 12:20 pm
42 people like this

I agree with hcc2009.
There is movement taking place. Now others are coming along trying to use a big hammer - touting unconstitutional and first amendment and race.
Really just another form of intimidation.
I'm going to tell the City to fight it.
Then I want to counter sue to make them pay our expenses (of course, that will never fly).


resqpro911
Registered user
Midtown
on Sep 16, 2020 at 12:21 pm
resqpro911, Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 12:21 pm
11 people like this

Wow! this seems so incredible that we are really spending time on this. Now the city is being sued??


Midtown Resident
Registered user
Midtown
on Sep 16, 2020 at 12:40 pm
Midtown Resident, Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 12:40 pm
65 people like this

As a longtime Palo Alto resident, I urge the Council not to settle on this lawsuit, and to defend the right of City residents and taxpayers to carefully study the issue, including the safe carrying capacity and use of the park, while still preserving the land as natural, conserved habitat, its most important and essential use.

Giving in to aggressive hotel developers who ousted and displaced dozens of Palo Alto residents has encouraged other groups to bring spurious lawsuits against the City.

Throwing doors open at Foothills Park without careful consideration as to how and what limits to place on visitation will result In a ruined park with Palo Altans footing the bill for this unneeded destruction. Instead of being appreciative to Palo Altans for beginning this process of careful consideration for fair use while carefully conserving the land, folks who want Palo Alto to foot the bill for careless overuse of pristine lands mustered their forces, aggressively labelling Palo Altans as racists, taking advantage of a time when the City is short of funds to press for a settlement. And that's too bad because City funds, now tied up in legal defense, could have been used to prevent racism in law enforcement, provide services for mental illness crises, and even subsidize some entrance fees to Foothills Park. Additionally, the aggressive nature of this suit and lack of consideration for careful process is creating bad feeling and resentment.


jim s
Registered user
Midtown
on Sep 16, 2020 at 1:05 pm
jim s, Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 1:05 pm
30 people like this

Please include relevant access rules in this article.
Specifically ,
Anyone(Palo Alto residents and non residents ) can legally hike into Foothills Park from Enid Pearson-Arastradero Preserve or Los Trancos Open Space Preserve.


EmmaP
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2020 at 1:32 pm
EmmaP, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 1:32 pm
4 people like this

I will note that many non-residents of Palo Alto do pay taxes to Palo Alto via sales taxes (e.g., buying stuff at the Stanford Shopping Center or downtown) or hotel taxes; these make up a hefty proportion of the town's income.

The wording for the exception allows non-Palo Altoans to be on the Bay to Ridge trail. It does not allow them apparently to enter via that trail then leave the trail and wander around Foothill Park. From the Municipal code Web Link
"Foothills Park may be accessible to the general public for the purpose of using the Bay-To-Foothills trails"
Admittedly you aren't likely to be caught unless you are involved in an accident, fall ill, or misbehavior attracts attention (e.g., drunk).

I note the city ordinances already set a cap on how many can be in the park "No more than one thousand people shall be permitted in Foothills Park at any one time."


First
Registered user
another community
on Sep 16, 2020 at 1:48 pm
First, another community
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 1:48 pm
36 people like this

I don't understand all this. When purchasing the land, Palo Alto asked other cities to chip in but they declined. If Palo Alto owns the land and pays for maintenance, then Palo Alto should make their own rules.

This is like accusing someone of discrimination because they won't let you use their car.


iSez
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Sep 16, 2020 at 2:00 pm
iSez, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 2:00 pm
21 people like this

It's our taxes that care for the park but we have to allow others to use it? That's like telling someone their backyard should be public property. Our parks and Rinconada Pool are already being used by non-residents, why do we need to share? This has nothing to do with racism, it's crowd control. When the pool and our parks are being used by others, it's unavailable for us or the pool is too crowded. It's our taxes, we own it.

Hey, let's change the name of Stanford University, as the founder was a racist too. ACLU?


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Sep 16, 2020 at 3:06 pm
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 3:06 pm
7 people like this

Another option...issue park entrance tickets (based on environmental considerations with maximum daily capacity/usage guidelines) exclusively to Palo Alto residents upon request and in advance.

Residents can then sell or gift them to non-residents at their option...kind of like passing on or selling one's season's tickets to various sporting events.

This should eliminate any unfounded complaints/concerns based on racial & socio-economic inequalities...unless some PA residents resort to ticket scalping or selective gifting measures.








Resident here
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2020 at 3:07 pm
Resident here, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 3:07 pm
14 people like this

When Los Altos passed a bond to support renovation of their library, for a couple of years they required anyone not living there to pay $80/year to use the library, even though it is part of the Santa Clara County Library system which we all pay for. They felt this was only right because they were paying for it. It's the height of hypocrisy that Los Altos Hills residents have been leading the charge because we all know the result will be increased access by white, wealthy people.

So, to satisfy everyone, Palo Alto should open access. They should decide how much it will cost to maintain and require that visitors make a reservation and buy an annual pass to attend on the weekends (access is not restricted during the week). Given that Los Altos decided $80/year was appropriate for the library for non-residents, given the greater costs to maintain the park, I'm guessing $120-$150/year for anyone in surrounding wealthy communities. Make the pass free for residents who pay for it, and for racial equity purposes, make it cheap, like $20/year for residents from less well-heeled parts of the Bay Area with an opportunity for income-based waiver. A reservation system will make it possible for people to buy their passes which support the park, and to keep the park from being overrun on any given day. It could also help engage volunteers to care for the park, students to sign up for learning programs, etc.

Every city's rec department has a different cost for residents than non-residents. The national and county parks charge entrance fees for parking and attendance to help support the parks even though we all pay through our taxes. An annual pass purchase helps avoid the park rangers having to handle money or be out there with cash. Surely our neighbors in Los Altos Hills who stand to be the major beneficiary of this would be willing to pay their fare share at least of maintenance?

(My own preference would be for them to help pay for the inflation-adjusted cost of the park, too.)


N
Registered user
Ventura
on Sep 16, 2020 at 3:08 pm
N, Ventura
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 3:08 pm
4 people like this

There's an incredibly simple answer to all of this: Just charge a reasonable fee allowing non-residents to visit the park.

As an example, Sunnyvale's Baylands Park charges $6 per car. Given the context and history of this park, i.e. the natural beauty, limited capacity, and that all neighboring cities refused to contribute, how about a fee for non-residents of $10 per car and call it done?

At $10/car, this should generate some revenue to preserve the park, avoid massive crowds, and hopefully resolve the lawsuit without spending $$$ from both the ACLU and CPA. And if crowding does become an issue, the city can always raise the fee.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 16, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 4:00 pm
12 people like this

Every desirable location in this state and others requires a pass and payment to offset the huge cost of protection of the environment and facilities. That is a huge cost and the more people you put in the mix the higher the risk for costly environmental damage.

The corporation that manages Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows / Mammoth just announced that they would not be selling tickets on a daily basis for sale that day. Entry will be by season ticket holders and people who have reserved ahead of time for a specific day on their site. The goal is to open the mountains for skiing but reducing the number of people on any day to a manageable amount. Everyone recognizes that we cannot keep doing business the same way as we have in the past but changes are based on the carrying capacity of a location and are not divvied up by race. Please apply common sense to these issues.


Nayeli
Registered user
Midtown
on Sep 16, 2020 at 8:56 pm
Nayeli, Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 8:56 pm
42 people like this

Who did NOT see this frivolous lawsuit and egregious attempt to goad judicial activism coming?

The current "systemic racism" hysteria is founded upon ignorance and myth. It is motivating millions of voters to stand up to the unbridled demands of those who coerce the gullible to believe that they are a victim of never-ending victim-hood.


Nayeli
Registered user
Midtown
on Sep 16, 2020 at 9:06 pm
Nayeli, Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 9:06 pm
52 people like this

The notion that this is "racism" is absolutely stupid. I've been to the park quite a few times. I'm not "white." I'm brown and speak with an accent. Yet, I've never been prevented from entering the park.

I just hope that our bleeding heart would-be city leaders don't continue to milk the current hysteria and riots to suit their own sociopolitical aims.

There is nothing wrong with limiting Palo Alto schools, libraries and, yes, nature preserves to individuals who reside or work within the city.


Aram
Registered user
Barron Park
on Sep 16, 2020 at 11:18 pm
Aram, Barron Park
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 11:18 pm
6 people like this


9-16-2020

Dear Folks :

It’s past time that Palo Alto is sued to open up Foothills Park to all members of the public.

Congratulations to those who are bringing this suit and to those who support this law suit. Past time to end racial and economic segregation at Foothills Park.

I personally hope this lawsuit costs the city in the millions —as a lesson to all re the costs of old school institutional racism and white supremacy.

Next step is for the city to rid the PAPD of all racist cops under threat of defunding the entire department. [Portion removed.]

As a tax payer in Palo Alto- whose knows our tax dollars could be better spend on education, low income housing, universal
health care, for all low income residents of Palo Alto, reparations, etc., I still hope that Palo Alto is hit hard in the pocket book re this suit to open up Foothills Park.

This potentially budget busting law suit will deter Palo Alto from future acts of systemic racism and white entitlement.

Sincerely,

Aram James



Sent from my iPhone


Racist? Cough Cough
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2020 at 12:57 am
Racist? Cough Cough, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2020 at 12:57 am
40 people like this

Today Mayor Adrian Fine was quoted as saying during an interview that, "he did not know whether the city would comment on the pending litigation given standing policy not to do so". But he chose to ignore that policy and instead went on to speak for himself, saying "the residents-only ordinance is a “policy which has had discriminatory effects". I'm sure the opposing lawyers are happy to hear this, Adrian.
Web Link

And there is the difference between a responsible Mayor who represents his City and its elected Council first and foremost, and Adrian Fine who represents himself first and foremost. What a way to go out of office as a quacking lame duck, burning bitter bridges.


Hiker
Registered user
Greenmeadow
on Sep 17, 2020 at 7:46 am
Hiker, Greenmeadow
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2020 at 7:46 am
8 people like this

One solution is to keep it simple. Charge an entrance fee for every one wishing to enter Foothill Park. Exact ticket price needs to be adjusted to accomplish two things, cover the cost of a full-time ranger and then all the other expenses to maintain the park. Those who value this pristine park will gladly pay to keep it this way.


Neil
Registered user
Gunn High School
on Sep 17, 2020 at 9:46 am
Neil, Gunn High School
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2020 at 9:46 am
25 people like this

I grew up in Palo Alto, and my father still lives there. I still live in the Bay Area, but not Palo Alto so I cannot go to Foothills Park. I have many find memories of growing up and going to Foothills Park with family and friends.. i love that park.. the facy that I can't use it now is totally fine and within the rights of Palo Alto. I find this lawsuit offensive on so many levels. Their arguments are weak and based on false premises. Just where and when does this madness stop? Let's just be clear, they are saying that is bars people from assembling. In my opinion, this is private property. Yes, it is a municipality, but still.. Do people have the right to assemble in your house or yard? What about Palo Alto schools? Are they discriminatory too? Only Palo Alto residents can attend them, isn't that just some race based law to keep POC from attending their schools? I am sorry to see this and like others have said the city council and the mayor will probably cave, because that is the tone of the day. We have been ruined by lawyers and lawsuits in this country.


William Billiam
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2020 at 11:04 am
William Billiam, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2020 at 11:04 am
11 people like this

Oh cool the privileged folks said it isn't discriminatory so it must not be. What a joke. The ACLU isn't dropping lawsuit in a whim.

Again, the only private "public" park. If you're so worried about cost then sell it to someone better equipped to handle the upkeep and cost. The park deserves better.


Nayeli
Registered user
Midtown
on Sep 17, 2020 at 1:48 pm
Nayeli, Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2020 at 1:48 pm
37 people like this

@ William Billiam - "The privileged folks..."

You've lost me right there. For one, this overused phrase is so cringe-worthy that it immediately lets readers know that you're given to inflammatory rhetoric.

I am an immigrant from Mexico. I spent my childhood as a migrant farm worker. Our family worked before the sun rose until long after it set. We took showers with a water hose behind the trailer. In this sense, almost EVERYONE ELSE in this country (including you and people living in "affordable housing") were "privileged."

That said: THIS IS NOT RACISM. There is no evidence of it being racism. There is absolutely no viable logic behind this claim.

It is a shame that the hysteria-driven activists are ready to turn their attention to yet another symbol of their "victimhood." There is no end to the appetite of the bleeding heart zealots who are sure that there is a racist behind every bush in Palo Alto and the notion that there is "systemic racism" in every policy of every organization or agency in town and city in every state in this country.

If you want access to Foothills Park (or the PAUSD, Palo Alto Libraries, etc.), then you can move to Palo Alto. This is true no matter your race or income level.


Anonymous
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 17, 2020 at 2:48 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2020 at 2:48 pm
15 people like this

As I write this, KGO radio host Pat Thurston spews hate and misinformation about PA and this park. She makes no mention of the costs and trash and liability PA budget will incur if this isolated dry spot must allow huge crowds. Disgusting.


jc
Registered user
College Terrace
on Sep 17, 2020 at 3:41 pm
jc, College Terrace
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2020 at 3:41 pm
18 people like this

Seems like few people are informed about what is involved in having the park used by more people and/or watched the staff report and discussion at the council meeting when the pilot program to allow non-residents to use the park was approved.

Palo Alto has four nature preserves, Baylands, Astradero, Clark, and Foothills Park and turns out because of various budget cuts over the years is now down to precisely four rangers to patrol and staff all of them from sunrise to sundown seven days a week.

The position of head ranger has remained unfilled for quite some time and with $40 million in budget cuts and plunging city revenues and there were no plans to spend the $150K plus (salary and benefits) that it would cost to fill. At present the only time the front gate at Foothills is partially staffed is during the higher use weekends in the summer when temporary staff are hired for this as needed.

In addition, repairs are badly needed at Foothills Park. At a minimum the restrooms at Foothills Park are hardly able to cope with the existing usage. At the main Orchard parking and picnic area a new septic system is overdue and badly needed, and both the other restrooms are in need of repairs. Trash collection and restroom maintenance is contracted out and with increased park use the schedule will have to be increased. Also, parts of the road are in bad shape and long overdue for repaving.

From what I remember the start up costs to open up Foothills to increased use will cost Palo Alto residents upfront about $500,000. Plus the ongoing cost of a head ranger and increased costs for trash collection and bathroom maintenance. If anyone has more accurate information please feel free to correct me.

With the current financial situation and so many cuts to the fire department on down, and the Baylands, Astradero, and Clark preserves open to non-residents, siphoning off such a large amount of upfront money, plus ongoing costs, may not be such an overall high priority balanced against other city services that have been cut. At least not until the city's revenues recover and then some to catch up with all the deferred city maintenance necessitated by the budget cuts.

While there are many that recommend the city charging a fee to non-residents, a reasonable amount won't be close to covering the additional costs. Sadly, it may be that the ongoing costs to open up Foothills to non-residents may be something that the city cannot justify. If Foothills is to be opened to general public use, perhaps at that point the city should seriously consider transferring ownership to a more appropriate entity to shoulder the cost of general public access.


PST
Registered user
South of Midtown
on Sep 17, 2020 at 3:46 pm
PST, South of Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2020 at 3:46 pm
4 people like this

Open it up to all.
Charge enough at entrance to properly maintain it.
Enforce occupancy limits 7 days a week.
Or let some other entity that deals with open space have it or buy it.
Move on to more pressing matters that will have greater impact than this issue ASAP.


Palo Alto Patriot
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Sep 17, 2020 at 4:29 pm
Palo Alto Patriot, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2020 at 4:29 pm
2 people like this

Can't we kill two birds with one stone by charging an entry fee?


jc
Registered user
College Terrace
on Sep 17, 2020 at 4:40 pm
jc, College Terrace
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2020 at 4:40 pm
10 people like this

"Charge enough at entrance to properly maintain it"

To do this, including the extra staff position, would mean a very high entrance fee which would then be subject to charges of "discrimination."


PST
Registered user
South of Midtown
on Sep 17, 2020 at 5:23 pm
PST, South of Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2020 at 5:23 pm
1 person likes this

jc there is no discrimination if the fee is the same for everyone. And, yes, it takes money to properly care for Foothill no matter who goes there. The suit against city does not seem to argue for a change in the current maximum attendance at one time.


Nayeli
Registered user
Midtown
on Sep 17, 2020 at 7:32 pm
Nayeli, Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2020 at 7:32 pm
24 people like this

"Systemic racism" is to cryptopsychology as to what Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster are to cryptozoology. The notion that it is "racist" to limit a city park's access to RESIDENTS of that city (no matter the race or ethnicity) is absurd.

This is not racism. To try and assert it as racism despite the fact that it is clearly NOT racism will be as successful as trying to use hot air to blow out the sun.


Ardan Michael Blum
Registered user
Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2020 at 10:49 pm
Ardan Michael Blum, Downtown North
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2020 at 10:49 pm
19 people like this

Generally the ACLU advocates support of real people and real needs. This time it is NOT the case! Here they just had extra credit with their lawyers to try to win money from a (usually) cowardly city council. Do not let them win! Private land is a right still in our nation!


Be accurate
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Sep 17, 2020 at 11:09 pm
Be accurate, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2020 at 11:09 pm
13 people like this

Ardan Michael Blum,

Thanks.
The vitriol of many posters here aside, what is ACLU doing? Is this the time when all the political, social, and legal ills in the country are cured and this one is the only one left for all to spend time and money on? While the federal administration is eyeing the CA wilderness for development, oil drilling and logging, the access to this park is what we want to fight over? There are much bigger problems that can make this one disappear very soon. One of them can make it go up in smoke - literally - within days.
ACLU lawyers will walk away with bags of cash, all others will lose.


casey
Registered user
Midtown
on Sep 17, 2020 at 11:26 pm
casey, Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2020 at 11:26 pm
19 people like this

Don't feel bad Palo Alto, the lawsuit just offered a peculiar interpretation of selective facts. As evidence of the continuing effects of past discrimination, the lawsuit stated that "Palo Alto has a far lower population of Black residents than neighboring communities such as East Palo Alto and Menlo Park." So, the Census tell us that the percentage of Black residents in Palo Alto is 1.6%. What if the lawsuit picked a different set of neighboring cities? Sunnyvale (1.7%), Cupertino (0.8%), Mountain View (1.8%) and Los Altos (0.4%). Some accusations backed by serious cherry picking of facts.


DTN Paul
Registered user
Downtown North
on Sep 18, 2020 at 12:14 am
DTN Paul, Downtown North
Registered user
on Sep 18, 2020 at 12:14 am
7 people like this

This topic is like one that photo of a dress, and you either see it as black and blue or gold and white. Having the park closed for non-residents is either a discriminatory, racist, unconstitutional affront to justice (I don't really see it at all) or it's just a park that a city doesn't feel like letting non-residents into.

I fall into the latter camp, and I find the "it's an affront to justice" camp's arguments pretty lame. And furthermore, I think the fact that this one small park is what they want to spend their time on dilutes and undermines the real legitimate issues that we should all be fighting for. Systemic racism is real, Black lives do need to matter, there is lots of work to do. Congratulations for wasting all of our time on municipal parks policy.

That said, I agree with those who say let's just charge a per car fee (lets just make it expensive) for the park, and call it a day. The high school kids from Los Altos Hills and Woodside agitating for this can get their merit badge,the ACLU, can find someone whose civil rights really do need defending (I guess this is a slow month for them) and we can all get back to blaming greedy developers for everything that is wrong in Palo Alto.


HS parent
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Sep 18, 2020 at 9:48 am
HS parent, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Sep 18, 2020 at 9:48 am
11 people like this

First of all, non-residents are welcome to go to Foothills Park on weekdays currently. I don't agree to open up to everyone because of the wildlife and the trails are narrow, so that it's not safe if it becomes a Disneyland on weekends. If people insist to open it up for everyone, lets charge a fee for park maintenance. State and Federal parks charge for parking and entrance.

I think it's fair.

Btw, I don't think any racism is related. Don't blame this here.


wildlife is my concern
Registered user
Midtown
on Sep 18, 2020 at 11:23 am
wildlife is my concern, Midtown
Registered user
on Sep 18, 2020 at 11:23 am
12 people like this

I grew up in Palo Alto and I live here now. I am also a minority and I don't think this is anymore racist than saying only Palo Alto residents can use our schools, or a gated community having tennis courts and pools for their residents. It is crazy to say that something we pay property tax for our residents is racist. I have never been told I cannot be at Foothill Park because I my ethnicity.

Furthermore anyone can walk into the park or ride their bike.


JB
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Sep 18, 2020 at 3:13 pm
JB, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Sep 18, 2020 at 3:13 pm
17 people like this

I’m furious that this has resulted in a lawsuit, an unnecessary expenditure when our city has a large budget deficit. We already have a plan in place to admit non-residents next year on a trial basis. Why are these people suing when we haven’t even seen the results of this upcoming trial next year? I normally love the ACLU, but I think they’re way off base with this lawsuit. Of course there was racism in housing in Palo Alto in the past. In stepped Eichler, with stipulations that home ownership could not be denied to persons of color. I really worry about the effects of overcrowding in Foothills Park. Where else can you regularly see large groups of turkeys and quail? When the park opened up after the pandemic started, it became very crowded in the park, especially on the weekends with so many open spaces unavailable. It was no longer a haven for wildlife or a quiet place for escape from stress. Arastradero became way too crowded, but Montebello still remained relatively uncrowded (although we knew not to try on weekends). As mentioned above, this park has only Page Mill Road as an escape route. It’s obvious that fire has to be considered in any discussion of opening the park and increasing the number of people in the park. On a side note, it’s very hard to get lap lane reservations at Rinconada Pool since it’s open to the public. You have to stay up until midnight to make lane reservations one week in advance, and many Palo Alto regular lap swimmers and swim team members can’t find enough availability. You can now only swim 4 times per week. I was fine with sharing with non-residents when only a few pools were open, but I’m just bringing this up to illustrate what can happen when you open Foothills Park up to anyone (right now anyone can enter Foothills Park during the week since they can’t apparently afford to hire rangers at the entrance station during the week days). City council, please stand up to this unnecessary lawsuit and help to protect the wildlife and peacefulness of Foothills Park!


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
13 hours ago
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
13 hours ago
10 people like this

I made a previous comment that this was like a Soap Opera. WRONG - my Soap Opera is General Hospital that has a mixed cast of all ages and they all act like "normal" people. They get along and work together.

I have had it with the protests and all and everything being related to race. That is not normal. The people heading up this fiasco are not normal people. And the ACLU are not normal people.

No - everything is not related to Race. Running a city is about budgets, manpower, allocation of existing funds, and prioritizing where that budget is going. The city is trying to put the available funds to the right problems in the city and Foothill Park is nice - but it just a park. A park is not a major budget issues. The city cannot get caught up in additional maintenance cost and manpower costs at this time. And the park is in a fire zone! Have you all noticed that we have a lot of fires in process?

Common sense has gone out the door. And these people are now creating a forced budget item that will be allocated to legal costs - not the park. Shame on them - we have more important issues to spend money on.


Be accurate
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
11 hours ago
Be accurate, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
11 hours ago
12 people like this

Resident-1,

"Never let a good crisis go to waste".
Do you seriously think that the plaintiffs, or their lawyers - ACLU - believe for a minute that the park access is based on racial bias? There was no bias BTW when other towns were asked to join in on this purchase.
This is driven by entitlement. In this area, there is enough parks. Some people just cannot get over it. "How come I can have as much as I already have but not that?" They won't set a foot in that park. And if there is a chance to kick the hated Palo Alto ... cannot ask for more.

ACLU is disappointing. They have done a lot of good work for the people. Now they are either on a power trip, or being led by lawyers because there is money where Palo Alto is involved.


TimR
Registered user
Downtown North
11 hours ago
TimR, Downtown North
Registered user
11 hours ago
4 people like this

For a change of pace, I ran Windy Hill today. It was a mob scene, and I stopped counting the number of people I passed on the trail after 30 (lots of groups). HOWEVER, I didn't see a single black person. So...why is Windy Hill allowed to remain segregated like that? Shouldn't it be part of this lawsuit, too?


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