News

Palo Alto strikes ban on nonresidents at Foothills Park

City Council abolishes 1965 policy restricting access to popular nature preserve

By a 5-2 vote, the Palo Alto City Council eliminated a policy that limited city residents and their guests inside Foothills Park. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Seeking to settle a lawsuit from the NAACP and ACLU and resolve a decadesold community debate, the Palo Alto City Council agreed on Monday to abolish a contentious policy that excludes nonresidents from visiting Foothills Park.

By a 5-2 vote, with council members Lydia Kou and Greg Tanaka dissenting, the council abolished a 1965 policy that bans nonresidents from visiting the 1,400-acre nature preserve off Page Mill Road unless they are accompanied by a resident. In a report recommending the change, City Attorney Molly Stump and City Manager Ed Shikada noted that such a regulation is "extremely rare" and that city staff is not aware of any other California municipality that limits access to parkland to residents and their guests.

The council vote will have two near-term effects. It means that anyone will be able to enter Foothills Park as soon as mid-December. It also means that the city will probably be able to settle the lawsuit from a coalition that includes the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union and a group of residents that includes former Council member LaDoris Cordell, former Parks and Recreation Commissioner Don McDougall and former East Palo Alto Mayor Laura Martinez.

But as several council members observed Monday, the decision will also settle a contentious issue that has split residents for decades and that has forced Palo Alto to defend itself against accusations of racism and elitism.

"This is history in the making," Council member Liz Kniss said shortly before the vote.

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Kniss predicted that the council will end up being "delighted that we have a park that we'll be able to share with our neighbors, wherever our neighbors come from."

The council voted after hearing from about 20 residents, with most saying that they favor expanding access to Foothills Park. Many of the proponents of the new policy pointed to the city's history of racial exclusion, as described in the Sept. 15 lawsuit, which calls Foothills Park a "gated paradise that unconstitutionally excludes non-residents."

"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 suit lists a number of policies that illustrate the city's history of housing discrimination in the middle of the 20th century, including the creation of racially restrictive covenant in deeds, restrictions on mortgage insurance for residents in non-white neighborhoods ("redlining") and efforts by realtors to incite "white flight" from East Palo Alto and to encourage African Americans to settle there (a campaign known as "blockbusting").

Most of the speakers at Monday's hearing supported the lawsuit's contentions and argued that opening Foothills Park to the general public would be the right thing to do. Others argued that the city's prohibition on nonresidents visiting the park has nothing to do with racism and that limiting visitors is necessary to protect the park's sensitive habitat.

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"I don't think the lawsuit should be settled in a way that implies that the plaintiffs against Palo Alto are correct," said resident Joe Hirsch. "Palo Alto is not in my opinion a racist town or community."

He called the specific examples of racist policies "ancient history" and argued that the city — unlike the market — does not restrict who gets to live here.

The suit, however, contends that the effects of the discrimination are still felt to this day. Palo Alto has a far lower proportion of Black residents than neighboring communities such as East Palo Alto and Menlo Park, the suit states. According to U.S. Census data, African Americans made up 1.6% of the city's population in 1959, when the city purchased the land. As of 2019, it remained at 1.6%.

"The Ordinance perpetuates this historic exclusion and violates the constitutional rights of individuals who are not Palo Alto residents. 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."

Some residents welcomed the abolition of the policy as an important milestone. Aram James, a longtime police watchdog, said the best job he'd ever had was serving on a city crew that cut the park's original trails in 1968.

"For me personally, this is like bringing down Palo Alto's Confederate flag," James said. "It's like bringing down Palo Alto's Robert E. Lee statue. … Let's go for it, let's pass it. Let's open the park up."

Council member Eric Filseth suggested that the lawsuit's account of Palo Alto's history of racism in housing policies is valuable and advised people to read it. He also said, however, he does not believe that opening up the park to nonresidents is a direction that most Palo Altans enthusiastically support.

"I also don't believe that the majority of Palo Altans would agree that this is a racist, segregationist or human rights issue," Filseth said.

"I think most Palo Altans believe we passed the hat, no one was interested and that's how we got there," he added, alluding to the fact that neighboring cities declined to chip in for the purchase of Foothills Park in the 1950s.

Filseth ultimately joined the council majority in supporting the settlement, which includes as a key condition a permanent court injunction banning the city from reinstituting restrictions on nonresident access in the future.

Some council members balked at this condition. Vice Mayor Tom DuBois said he'd rather expand access to Foothills Park without the injunction and proposed stripping it out of the settlement. While Stump cautioned that excluding the injunction from the council's approval would add "substantial uncertainty" to the potential settlement, DuBois called the proposed remedy "a black mark on our city."

"It suggests that we opened up because of this legal agreement, because of the NAACP and ACLU, versus us as a council deciding to open the park," DuBois said. "So, I'd prefer for it to be our choice and that we manage it that way."

His proposal to reject the injunction failed by a 4-3 vote, with only Kou and Tanaka joining him. Mayor Adrian Fine, who strongly supported opening up Foothills Park, noted that the council had an opportunity to open the park before the lawsuit was filed but had opted not to do so.

"We had that chance and we chose not to take the gracious path," Fine said.

Fine also suggested the lawsuit's main argument — that the ban on nonresidents at the park violates their constitutionally protected rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly — resonate with him. His family moved to Palo Alto from South Africa in the late 1970s in protest of apartheid, he said. His parents visited Foothills Park once, saw the "residents only" sign, and have not been back since, he said.

"This is deeply personal," Fine said. "I think the obviously right thing for us to do is open it up and be a good neighbor."

In making a motion to change the policy, Fine included provisions that would limit the number of visitors who can be at Foothills Park at one time decreases to 750 in the first 90 days after it goes into effect. After that, the park would go back to its current limit of 1,000 visitors.

The new policy would also give residents preference on reservations of recreational facilities at the park.

The council's Monday vote accelerates a process that some members were hoping to roll out slowly and gradually over the coming months. On Aug. 3, the council took up after months of delays a proposal from its Parks and Recreation Commission for a pilot program that would allow up to 50 nonresidents to purchase permits and enter Foothills Park daily.

Council members also specified as part of their August approval of the program that the expansion of access needs to be revenue-neutral. And they decided to send the issue of permanently abolishing the restriction to the voters in 2022 — a decision that the Monday settlement renders moot.

Kou and Tanaka, who are each seeking reelection to fresh four-year terms on Tuesday, both argued against settling. Each suggested getting an additional legal opinion and alluded to surveys that they had conducted showing strong resident support for keeping the restriction on nonresidents in place.

Kou called the lawsuit "a bully maneuver" and that the NAACP, by joining the suit, is "discrediting themselves and jeopardizing their reputation."

"This whole lawsuit circumvents the democratic process," Kou said.

Tanaka also urged his colleagues to slow down and suggested that members of the public aren't as engaged in this issue as they would normally be because of the national election.

"I think we should tread carefully here," Tanaka said. "I think there's quite a few members in the community who are concerned about this."

Others felt the action is long overdue. Council member Alison Cormack said that over the past two years, many people she knows have changed their minds about Foothills Park and now support expanding access.

"I say to my colleagues: We can too. We can change our minds also and come to a new conclusion. Some of us may make that decision for different reasons and that's fine," Cormack said.

One person who did not waver from his position was former Mayor Leland Levy, who over the years has repeatedly urged the council to open Foothills Park to nonresidents and who did so again on Monday. Levy said he disagreed with the lawsuit's allegations that the city is acting illegally in banning nonresidents from the park.

"I believe over the years we have acted legally," Levy said. "But I also believe that it's not sufficient to do only what's legal. We should do what's right. And what's right is opening Foothills to all."

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Palo Alto strikes ban on nonresidents at Foothills Park

City Council abolishes 1965 policy restricting access to popular nature preserve

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Nov 3, 2020, 12:06 am

Seeking to settle a lawsuit from the NAACP and ACLU and resolve a decadesold community debate, the Palo Alto City Council agreed on Monday to abolish a contentious policy that excludes nonresidents from visiting Foothills Park.

By a 5-2 vote, with council members Lydia Kou and Greg Tanaka dissenting, the council abolished a 1965 policy that bans nonresidents from visiting the 1,400-acre nature preserve off Page Mill Road unless they are accompanied by a resident. In a report recommending the change, City Attorney Molly Stump and City Manager Ed Shikada noted that such a regulation is "extremely rare" and that city staff is not aware of any other California municipality that limits access to parkland to residents and their guests.

The council vote will have two near-term effects. It means that anyone will be able to enter Foothills Park as soon as mid-December. It also means that the city will probably be able to settle the lawsuit from a coalition that includes the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union and a group of residents that includes former Council member LaDoris Cordell, former Parks and Recreation Commissioner Don McDougall and former East Palo Alto Mayor Laura Martinez.

But as several council members observed Monday, the decision will also settle a contentious issue that has split residents for decades and that has forced Palo Alto to defend itself against accusations of racism and elitism.

"This is history in the making," Council member Liz Kniss said shortly before the vote.

Kniss predicted that the council will end up being "delighted that we have a park that we'll be able to share with our neighbors, wherever our neighbors come from."

The council voted after hearing from about 20 residents, with most saying that they favor expanding access to Foothills Park. Many of the proponents of the new policy pointed to the city's history of racial exclusion, as described in the Sept. 15 lawsuit, which calls Foothills Park a "gated paradise that unconstitutionally excludes non-residents."

"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 suit lists a number of policies that illustrate the city's history of housing discrimination in the middle of the 20th century, including the creation of racially restrictive covenant in deeds, restrictions on mortgage insurance for residents in non-white neighborhoods ("redlining") and efforts by realtors to incite "white flight" from East Palo Alto and to encourage African Americans to settle there (a campaign known as "blockbusting").

Most of the speakers at Monday's hearing supported the lawsuit's contentions and argued that opening Foothills Park to the general public would be the right thing to do. Others argued that the city's prohibition on nonresidents visiting the park has nothing to do with racism and that limiting visitors is necessary to protect the park's sensitive habitat.

"I don't think the lawsuit should be settled in a way that implies that the plaintiffs against Palo Alto are correct," said resident Joe Hirsch. "Palo Alto is not in my opinion a racist town or community."

He called the specific examples of racist policies "ancient history" and argued that the city — unlike the market — does not restrict who gets to live here.

The suit, however, contends that the effects of the discrimination are still felt to this day. Palo Alto has a far lower proportion of Black residents than neighboring communities such as East Palo Alto and Menlo Park, the suit states. According to U.S. Census data, African Americans made up 1.6% of the city's population in 1959, when the city purchased the land. As of 2019, it remained at 1.6%.

"The Ordinance perpetuates this historic exclusion and violates the constitutional rights of individuals who are not Palo Alto residents. 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."

Some residents welcomed the abolition of the policy as an important milestone. Aram James, a longtime police watchdog, said the best job he'd ever had was serving on a city crew that cut the park's original trails in 1968.

"For me personally, this is like bringing down Palo Alto's Confederate flag," James said. "It's like bringing down Palo Alto's Robert E. Lee statue. … Let's go for it, let's pass it. Let's open the park up."

Council member Eric Filseth suggested that the lawsuit's account of Palo Alto's history of racism in housing policies is valuable and advised people to read it. He also said, however, he does not believe that opening up the park to nonresidents is a direction that most Palo Altans enthusiastically support.

"I also don't believe that the majority of Palo Altans would agree that this is a racist, segregationist or human rights issue," Filseth said.

"I think most Palo Altans believe we passed the hat, no one was interested and that's how we got there," he added, alluding to the fact that neighboring cities declined to chip in for the purchase of Foothills Park in the 1950s.

Filseth ultimately joined the council majority in supporting the settlement, which includes as a key condition a permanent court injunction banning the city from reinstituting restrictions on nonresident access in the future.

Some council members balked at this condition. Vice Mayor Tom DuBois said he'd rather expand access to Foothills Park without the injunction and proposed stripping it out of the settlement. While Stump cautioned that excluding the injunction from the council's approval would add "substantial uncertainty" to the potential settlement, DuBois called the proposed remedy "a black mark on our city."

"It suggests that we opened up because of this legal agreement, because of the NAACP and ACLU, versus us as a council deciding to open the park," DuBois said. "So, I'd prefer for it to be our choice and that we manage it that way."

His proposal to reject the injunction failed by a 4-3 vote, with only Kou and Tanaka joining him. Mayor Adrian Fine, who strongly supported opening up Foothills Park, noted that the council had an opportunity to open the park before the lawsuit was filed but had opted not to do so.

"We had that chance and we chose not to take the gracious path," Fine said.

Fine also suggested the lawsuit's main argument — that the ban on nonresidents at the park violates their constitutionally protected rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly — resonate with him. His family moved to Palo Alto from South Africa in the late 1970s in protest of apartheid, he said. His parents visited Foothills Park once, saw the "residents only" sign, and have not been back since, he said.

"This is deeply personal," Fine said. "I think the obviously right thing for us to do is open it up and be a good neighbor."

In making a motion to change the policy, Fine included provisions that would limit the number of visitors who can be at Foothills Park at one time decreases to 750 in the first 90 days after it goes into effect. After that, the park would go back to its current limit of 1,000 visitors.

The new policy would also give residents preference on reservations of recreational facilities at the park.

The council's Monday vote accelerates a process that some members were hoping to roll out slowly and gradually over the coming months. On Aug. 3, the council took up after months of delays a proposal from its Parks and Recreation Commission for a pilot program that would allow up to 50 nonresidents to purchase permits and enter Foothills Park daily.

Council members also specified as part of their August approval of the program that the expansion of access needs to be revenue-neutral. And they decided to send the issue of permanently abolishing the restriction to the voters in 2022 — a decision that the Monday settlement renders moot.

Kou and Tanaka, who are each seeking reelection to fresh four-year terms on Tuesday, both argued against settling. Each suggested getting an additional legal opinion and alluded to surveys that they had conducted showing strong resident support for keeping the restriction on nonresidents in place.

Kou called the lawsuit "a bully maneuver" and that the NAACP, by joining the suit, is "discrediting themselves and jeopardizing their reputation."

"This whole lawsuit circumvents the democratic process," Kou said.

Tanaka also urged his colleagues to slow down and suggested that members of the public aren't as engaged in this issue as they would normally be because of the national election.

"I think we should tread carefully here," Tanaka said. "I think there's quite a few members in the community who are concerned about this."

Others felt the action is long overdue. Council member Alison Cormack said that over the past two years, many people she knows have changed their minds about Foothills Park and now support expanding access.

"I say to my colleagues: We can too. We can change our minds also and come to a new conclusion. Some of us may make that decision for different reasons and that's fine," Cormack said.

One person who did not waver from his position was former Mayor Leland Levy, who over the years has repeatedly urged the council to open Foothills Park to nonresidents and who did so again on Monday. Levy said he disagreed with the lawsuit's allegations that the city is acting illegally in banning nonresidents from the park.

"I believe over the years we have acted legally," Levy said. "But I also believe that it's not sufficient to do only what's legal. We should do what's right. And what's right is opening Foothills to all."

Comments

.
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:04 am
., Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:04 am
43 people like this

The policy was unnecessary in the first place. They didn’t enforce the “you must be a Palo Alto resident or be accompanied by one” rule, so there wasn’t any point to having it.
Besides, Foothill is a PUBLIC park. Could you imagine if other public parks started banning people from visiting just because they aren’t residents or accompanied by one?


Rebecca Eisenberg
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:37 am
Rebecca Eisenberg, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:37 am
32 people like this

The exclusionary policy has damaged our reputation, and not only that, it has harmed the well-being of people outside our community as well as inside our city limits.

One of the most compelling comments tonight was given by a woman who had suffered significant abuse in her childhood at the hands of a trusted adult, which adult has escaped judgment or punishment (and actually may be subjecting other young people to risk - I hope that the City follows up with this comment!!). This woman said that one of the few things that has been successful in helping her with her PTSD is time she is able to spend in nature, where she can feel safe. Foothills Park was literally a lifesaver for her for many years, but when she recently moved to Menlo Park, Palo Alto's irrational policy of excluding people residing outside our city has resulted in her experiencing severe emotional pain. This was a poignant and brave testimonial of the harmful unintended consequences of Palo Alto's exclusionary policy. It is hard to imagine listening to her story without being truly moved. Yet (as usual) none of the City Council members acknowledged her story -- proving her point that Palo Alto City Council acts in callous disregard of others. That was shameful.

When I spoke I told of the woman Maria, whom I met while campaigning for my candidacy for city council in one of city's few subsidized housing developments. Maria has two children who attend one of our (excellent) public elementary schools, and during weekends, Maria has taken her children to Foothills Park to enjoy the natural beauty we are all so fortunate to have surrounding us. Maria told me, however, that as a Latina woman, entering the park has never been easy. Even though Maria is a full citizen, having been born in the United States, and has lived in Palo Alto for much of her life, the guards at the gate of Foothills Park always double-check, and sometimes even triple-check, her proof of residency. The guards make Maria provide extra information, while other visitors are forced to wait, and they do so in front of her children. This experience has been damaging to Maria's self-esteem, and often she wonders of the impact of this distrust on her children, who have been silent observers of this disrespect towards their mother.

Why would we treat other human beings in this manner? Why would we allow our selfishness to harm the self-esteem of children, or of a victim of abuse who is doing all she can to recover and re-enter society?

Our city council needs to recognize that its actions impact many more people than it perceives. Palo Alto is one of the most educated cities in the country, and our elected officials should know better than to rely on false stereotypes and fear. We must strive to be the best versions of ourselves. We must commit to taking care of each other.

Opening the park is a welcome change, that hopefully bodes much positive change in the future. Go Vote!


Granny B
Registered user
Midtown
on Nov 3, 2020 at 5:44 am
Granny B, Midtown
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 5:44 am
52 people like this

Lydia Kou's real estate interests are obvious. Real estate agents benefit from preserving a snobby Palo Alto reputation. As an example, I received a brochure, actually a book, in the mail from DeLeon Realty that dedicated an entire page with color photos describing the exclusive nature of Foothills Park. So self-serving.


merry
Registered user
Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 3, 2020 at 6:26 am
merry, Palo Alto Hills
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 6:26 am
108 people like this

Such a pity. [Portion removed.]
The magic word is lawsuit.


xSIpar
Registered user
College Terrace
on Nov 3, 2020 at 7:36 am
xSIpar, College Terrace
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 7:36 am
145 people like this

Several takeaways from watching last night's city council meeting:
- So proud of Lydia Kou for not backing down.
- Nasty political move by Adrian Fine chastising Lydia Kou prior to the open comments (and prior to a general election). (Constructive note to Adrian: Please watch your condescending tone and micro-aggressions towards women on the Council.)
- Was expecting an honest debate discussing racial, free speech, and environmental issues surrounding opening of the park. What we got, was a breakdown of the democratic process to expedite settlement of a law suit and its associated costs, kicking the financial catastrophe down the road to future city council members. (Thank you Greg for your clarifying questions regarding long term budget.)
- Environmental issues were give short shrift, with Adrian Fine not caring about the consequences and others not doing their due diligence. Every high school science student knows that to study change, one needs a baseline. We do not nor will have that for Foothills Park's environment.
- City staff are beholden to the mayor and do not provide unbiased information. Interesting, how the staff were conveniently unable to come up with information requested by Lydia Kou and Greg Tanaka during the question and comments period.
- The city attorney's office has a serious conflict of interest surrounding this issue.
- There was substantial new information released to the public during the meeting (not before). Even some of the Council members had not time to review it. The city attorney's office made it clear that there's much more information regarding the lawsuit that has not been disclosed to the public.
- The results of Lydia Kou's and Greg Tanaka's citizen surveys were not disclosed, nor even mentioned. Something fishy going on here.
- Eric Filseth barely said a word, yet cast the deciding no vote on the permanent injunction amendment.
- Adrian Fine's "speech" before introducing the measure smacks of white saviorism as so eloquently described Layla Saad. (Constructive note to Tom DuBois: "black mark against Palo Alto" really? please watch your language if you are going to take the moral high ground.)
- Cornel West described a radical democratic tradition over 25 years ago--this isn't it.

Lastly, and this is from the heart, I've been a proud liberal, fighting for gender and income equality, racial and environmental justice all my life. Sure, the decision to rush the opening of Foothills Park is disappointing. But what shakes me to my core is when Mitch McConnell-style procedures and maneuvers are used for political expedience under the guise of social justice.

City Council: Using liberal values to subvert the democratic process is insulting to both.


CovidKid
Registered user
Mountain View
on Nov 3, 2020 at 7:57 am
CovidKid, Mountain View
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 7:57 am
9 people like this

[Post removed.]


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Nov 3, 2020 at 8:16 am
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 8:16 am
16 people like this

Well... I guess I'll be allowed in after all. I grew up in Palo Alto, my husband and I still own our home in Palo Alto, but we're currently living in "another community." Which meant Jennifer can't come. Things change...


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Nov 3, 2020 at 8:54 am
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 8:54 am
56 people like this

Hmm...a potential increase in the usage of Foothills Park (i.e. more outside visitors) will require substantial parking, assuring traffic safety + a need for additional park maintenance & security.

Has the PACC addressed these issues/concerns as it will amount to increased park operating expenditures...at PA taxpayer expense.

Opening up Foothills Park as a 'freebie' outdoor experience to alleviate perceived Palo Alto racist mindsets is all fine & dandy but even state parks (i.e. Portola State Park) charge a $10.00 daily use fee regardless of one's ethnic or socio-economic background.

Would charging a general park entrance fee (to ALL visitors) at Foothills Park be acceptable or considered by the NAACP, ACLU, & progressive liberals as a racist policy implemented to deprive the poor & people of color of a Palo Alto 'Patagonia' experience?


Lindsay Joye
Registered user
Ventura
on Nov 3, 2020 at 9:37 am
Lindsay Joye, Ventura
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 9:37 am
29 people like this

As a Docent Naturalist with Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District I have enjoyed sharing the beauty of our preserves with visitors from all over the world.

Midpen has 65,000 acres in 26 preserves that are paid for by parcel taxes in portions San Mateo and Santa Clara counties but are open to EVERYONE.

I am happy that Foothills Park will be another preserve for ALL visitors to enjoy.


Becky Sanders
Registered user
Ventura
on Nov 3, 2020 at 9:50 am
Becky Sanders, Ventura
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 9:50 am
52 people like this

Panic Trumps Process or Is There a New Sheriff in Town?

Running Rough Shod Over Process

The City had already voted YES, remember? But that wasn't good enough or speedy enough for the fast and the furious, those who just couldn’t wait another second to storm City Hall.

The City had a process, developing a blueprint for transitioning the park to an open-to-all policy. But the fast and the furious shouted over that message to push forward their corrosive message sowing divisiveness. Why is waiting a bit longer racist? Who is being damaged by a considered process? No one. Who is hurt by waiting a bit longer? No one. If someone can’t wait to get in there, like they are on their deathbed, hit me up.

Agreed, It’s Time to Share
Yes, it's time to share this asset with the rest of the world, even though the Little Red Hen is bearing all the costs. When they go low, we can go high. This is a gift Palo Alto can extend to neighbors, but wouldn't it have been better to not shred process?

Rhetoric Over Reason
Some misguided fellow in public comments at Council last night said opening the park up was like removing Palo Alto's Robert E. Lee statue. Really? That is some twisted rhetoric if I ever heard of it. And all the fast and the furious speaking about Palo Alto's racist history. Gosh. Darn. Distilling all of Palo Alto’s core values down to racism, it’s some kind of twisted synecdoche.

So Racism is Over Now?
If you really want to do something about Palo Alto/California/America’s racism, don’t stop now. You could take a look at preserving a precious piece of Chinese history: The Bayside Cannery building in North Ventura. Thomas Foon Chew, a Chinese-born businessman, established a thriving company, built a personal fortune, provided employment for hundreds of people, including a Stanford engineering graduate who couldn’t find employment because he was Chinese, and all this during the era of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Thomas Foon Chew was a maverick. His daughter was the first person of Chinese descent to graduate from Los Gatos High. If we could put teeth in our talk about racism, racism, racism, then let’s see some movement in preserving and telling the stories of all our population.

Racist/Classist Housing Policies
Alternative M, a development proposal for the Fry’s site submitted by members of the NVCAP Working Group, which no one really got to see because it was unpopular with the planning department, preserves the Cannery and creates housing for low and moderate income plus at-market rate housing, creating a new and vibrant neighborhood where anyone could live, no matter their income.

Why does the City continue to shy away from using the tools it has at its disposal to slow commercial development and encourage housing? Racism? Maybe it’s not racism alone. Maybe it’s classism. The housing that is being built is for rich people, for the most part. I would invite the indefatigable Retired Judge Ladoris Cordell, the ACLU and the NAACP to take a look at Palo Alto’s housing policies and see if they are racist. Why was the President Hotel let go, providing modest housing for, what, 75 people? Now we get another high-end luxury hotel! When the residents advocate for affordable housing, why does the Council continue to approve more commercial development?

Office Trumps Mom and Pops
And now this latest blow to people of modest means: folks who might own and operate a mom and pop shop, or those of us who would patronize them will have to drive further to get the goods and services we want. The City intends to roll back ground-floor retail protections so that places like South El Camino Real, for example - which we Venturans view as our downtown — can now become tech offices. That’s another kind of “ism” there. I think.

What happened to a business development officer for the city? Remember Tommy Fehrenberg? When he left, his job was cut. There is supposed to be someone who is working to make sure the city has the correct balance of retail service to serve ALL residents not just some. Maybe this is “commercialism” trumping “residentialism.” A business tax, which we don’t have but practically every other city in the Bay Area does, could support this vital link between businesses and residents.

MY CLOSING STATEMENT
If crying “racism” was only used as a device to whip up the fast and the furious into a frenzy in order to pry open the flimsy gates of Foothills, then shame on us all. But if the crusaders really want to fight racism tooth and nail in Palo Alto, and if this is only the beginning, then I can totally get behind that.


TimR
Registered user
Downtown North
on Nov 3, 2020 at 10:00 am
TimR, Downtown North
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 10:00 am
56 people like this

Rebecca Eisenberg, well I'm white and a PA resident, and once when I had an expired CA driver's license (due to production delays of the hologram thing on new licenses) and a paper extension, the ranger at the entrance took extra time to scrutinize it, and asked me for an explanation. So apparently, by your logic, they're racist against whites, too!


Stepheny
Registered user
Midtown
on Nov 3, 2020 at 10:26 am
Stepheny , Midtown
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 10:26 am
65 people like this

So, Palo Alto CC caves to the dictates of NAACP and ACLU. It seems to me, we should countersue these self-righteous entities to support the necessary increase in maintenance fees for this added usage.

I didn't vote for Trump, but this rushed and ill-advised decision by the CC makes me understand a bit better why people do.


Eric Filseth
Registered user
Downtown North
on Nov 3, 2020 at 10:31 am
Eric Filseth, Downtown North
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 10:31 am
24 people like this

>> - Eric Filseth barely said a word, yet cast the deciding no
>> vote on the permanent injunction amendment.”

I think most Palo Altans don’t see this as a racial, segregation or human-rights issue. Certainly some do see it that way, and their views deserve respect; but I think they represent a minority. For a majority, I believe this is purely about the First Amendment. Since no legal issue can be known with certainty without actually going to court, our job is to use the best information we have to weigh the totality of the circumstances, benefits, risks, exposures and costs of all the scenarios. I believe that in that totality, the best interests of a majority of Palo Altans were served by the action we took last night. I apologize for the excessively-conceptual language here, but this does remain pending litigation.

In that context, I voted against the injunction amendment for two reasons:

First, I believe it would have been a dealbreaker. Suspicious Plaintiffs would hypothesize, rightly or wrongly, that the City might intend to reverse itself in the future, after their coalition had been disbanded and their Legal resources were tied up elsewhere. The injunction is their insurance against that.

Second, and more philosophically, I believe the legal substance of this issue revolves entirely around the First Amendment. Since there’s no reason to expect the First Amendment to change in the future, the best course of action last night will presumably continue to be so in the future. That implies the injunction itself is largely immaterial.


Not forgetting History is part of our defense against repeating it. Here’s the link to the Complaint itself; the historical discussion starts on page 3, section 6.

Web Link

It details some truly reprehensible behavior by realtors, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Federal Housing Authority, and makes for bracing reading.


Kevin
Registered user
Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Nov 3, 2020 at 10:43 am
Kevin, Greendell/Walnut Grove
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 10:43 am
17 people like this

Good. Finally.


execfolkie
Registered user
Mountain View
on Nov 3, 2020 at 10:46 am
execfolkie, Mountain View
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 10:46 am
30 people like this

City officials should get ready for the crowds. They may need County Sheriff help on weekends.

A very small great open space. I lived in Palo Alto for 20 years, I now live in Mt. View. My first camping trip with my son was at the Park with his elementary school classmates and parents.
I would hate to lose that because of the crowds.

If I had to vote, I would say yes, with very strict conditions. And then Palo Alto should charge out of City residents a much higher fee to engage there. And give PA residents a first choice on making reservations, like schools.

To be so close to your home, for your first tent camping experience must be very smooth for the kids to enjoy it. If anything goes wrong, you are only 20 minutes away from home. That is a security blanket that very young children need to know. And parents as well. I lived it. Thank you.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2020 at 10:55 am
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 10:55 am
9 people like this

Hurray!!!! Bad on Kou and Tanaka. Get them out. Now NAACP and ACLU please go after Palo Alto’s massive, ingrained rental housing discrimination. Apartment rents have hidden costs such as 100’s of $$ dollars for monthly HOA’s or require signing a contract that rents will i crease by $1000 after one year. Not up front costs and for a $4 thousand dollar 1100 square foot apartment require a $14,000 deposit for a sub standard apartment. This is not FAIR housing and is red lining against people of color .


Paly Mom
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Nov 3, 2020 at 11:04 am
Paly Mom, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 11:04 am
100 people like this

My votes today will go to Lydia Kou and Greg Tanaka, who have the courage to dissent. There was a poll that indicated that Palo Alto residents wanted to keep the park closed to non-residents. Most of the City Council members don't care about its residents.

Rebecca Eisenberg [portion removed] posts ignorant and uniformed comments on the Paly Parents Facebook page. Harvard grad? Maybe book smart only, typical of many elite school grads. Our city will be as bad as San Francisco if she wins. [Portion removed.]


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 3, 2020 at 11:16 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 11:16 am
31 people like this

"Now NAACP and ACLU please go after Palo Alto’s massive, ingrained rental housing discrimination. Apartment rents have hidden costs such as 100’s of $$ dollars for monthly HOA’s or require signing a contract that rents will i crease by $1000 after one year. Not up front costs and for a $4 thousand dollar 1100 square foot apartment require a $14,000 deposit for a sub standard apartment. This is not FAIR housing and is red lining against people of color ."

You do know that Kuo has supported affordable and BMR (Below Market Rate)housing, don't you? Unlike those YIMBYs and others backed by the real estate interests who shut down the largest PAC in Silicon Valley sfor their racist smear campaigns?

Would your lawsuit target the REAL perpetrators who charge high rents to EVERYONE or just those charging high rents to minorities? Trying to follow your "logic" here.


PAReader
Registered user
Midtown
on Nov 3, 2020 at 11:24 am
PAReader, Midtown
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 11:24 am
66 people like this

Personally I felt that misogyny was on full display when Adrian Fine spoke to Lydia Kou. I also noted that the decision was rammed thro with very little disclosure to the public, no financial plan - not even the most basic idea of park costs, no baseline studies, no monitoring plan, no fire safety plan in place, no traffic management plan, and the park short-staffed. A recipe for disaster.


What Will They Do Next
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2020 at 11:27 am
What Will They Do Next, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 11:27 am
80 people like this

Gutless City Council members with the exception of Kou and Tanaka. The majority of tax paying residents want the park to remain exclusive to Palo Alto residents and the most recent survey results were not revealed at this meeting. If you haven't yet voted, you may want to consider your council choices before going to the polls. The lawsuit would not have been successful.


Barron Parker Too
Registered user
Barron Park
on Nov 3, 2020 at 11:40 am
Barron Parker Too, Barron Park
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 11:40 am
72 people like this

@Eric Filseth

Eric, I've always been impressed with your ability to make good, reasonable decisions, and your focus on things that are important to quality of life in Palo Alto, such as your understanding of the importance of financing the city properly, and your opposition to SB50 which would badly urbanize Palo Alto.

But in this case, I am dumbfounded. You were actually the swing vote that nixed the amendment that would at least have given us a chance to evaluate the opening and, if it was ruining the preserve, re-evaluate it. But you didn't. You caved to the social justice mob. You panicked at the threat by the almighty ACLU to charge us with 1st amendment violations and racist behavior. You gave in to Stump and Shikata, to Fine and his hectoring of Lydia Kou, the true hero of the day. You ignored the will of the vast majority of Palo Altans, and you helped the NAACP, the ACLU and several of the candidates for City Council label Palo Alto as a racist city. This is terrible, and it is un-doable.


Jonathan Brown
Registered user
Ventura
on Nov 3, 2020 at 11:43 am
Jonathan Brown, Ventura
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 11:43 am
52 people like this

Thank you xSplar and Rebecca Sanders for eloquent summaries! Just when you think this issue can't get more bizarre and procedurally bereft, Adrian Fine comes out as African American, wow! I predict (sadly) that the Preserve will quickly become overrun, hiking on its very narrow trails will become more contentious, and the special character of the place will be lost forever. Nice going, City Council!


William Billiam
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2020 at 12:06 pm
William Billiam, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 12:06 pm
11 people like this

I'm glad this stain on the city's history is now in the past. There is still a lot of work to be done to keep the park special and thriving, but exclusion wasn't the way to do that. I'm thrilled that everyone can share in the beauty of nature now.


Be accurate
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Nov 3, 2020 at 12:09 pm
Be accurate, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 12:09 pm
74 people like this

Disgusting.
This is not even about the park but how this CC treats the will of the citizens. The surveys ignored, the ill will rammed through.
Fine always worked against the city residents. Smug, arrogant, cowardly, and not very smart.
Filseth, you are now the same. Congratulations, good going. Your names are now in the history of this town. Enjoy.


Joel
Registered user
Barron Park
on Nov 3, 2020 at 12:25 pm
Joel, Barron Park
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 12:25 pm
11 people like this

A wonderful win for the Bay area and Palo Altans. Thank you City Council members, for your compassion for all, to the rights of the Foothill Nature Preserve. The earth belongs to all creatures not just the landowners.


Diana
Registered user
Community Center
on Nov 3, 2020 at 12:25 pm
Diana, Community Center
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 12:25 pm
62 people like this

I do not disagree with the decision, and it has been incredible to enjoy the space for the past 10 years in its pristine beauty, but the way this was handled was not transparent and PA residents did not have enough of a voice here. I wish that at least there had been some restriction, like usage fees, etc, to try to minimize environmental impact. Thank you to Kuo and Tanaka for at least soliciting input from residents on this, you will have my vote today!


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Nov 3, 2020 at 12:34 pm
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 12:34 pm
26 people like this

>'...Palo Alto CC caves to the dictates of NAACP and ACLU."

^ The PACC is apparently more concerned appearing 'politically correct' than reflecting the best interests of its tax-paying residents.


> "The majority of tax paying residents want the park to remain exclusive to Palo Alto residents and the most recent survey results were not revealed at this meeting."

^ The PACC oligarchy is in full swing & oblivious to practical realities.


> "Now NAACP and ACLU please go after Palo Alto’s massive, ingrained rental housing discrimination...This is not FAIR housing and is red lining against people of color."

^ Now that the Foothills Park issue has been settled, next on the agenda...'open range' options for anyone who wishes to reside in Palo Alto?

If all of these outspoken progressive social reformist/out of towners have their say the term 'Palo Alto resident' will eventually give way to Palo Alto 'Comrade'.


>"City officials should get ready for the crowds. They may need County Sheriff help on weekends."

> " I predict (sadly) that the Preserve will quickly become overrun, hiking on its very narrow trails will become more contentious, and the special character of the place will be lost forever."

^ Park Rangers will also have a tougher task enforcing park rules and guidelines...something is going to give.


Gale Johnson
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 3, 2020 at 12:58 pm
Gale Johnson, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 12:58 pm
24 people like this

I'm not sure what Adrian's attack on Lydia was all about but I think this will all work out in the end. More people of all races and ethnic backgrounds will use the park, even though those were never exclusionary criteria. Residency was the only criterion, but the ACLU, NAACP. and LaDoris Cordell had to elevate it back up to a racial issue. Sad! I am anxious to see how the city manager, his staff, and CC deal with the additional costs involved. I think an entry fee for non-residents is warranted if that's what it takes to make it cost neutral.

I won't use the park any more, or any less, than I have in the last decade or so. However, I have many fond memories of going there when I was younger...with my family, neighbors, and friends. I have hiked every trail in the park. We used it a lot when we had out of town friends come to visit and we proudly showed it off as a benefit of living in PA, and our church youth group camped out overnight there many years ago. I've seen rattlesnakes, king snakes, lizards, bobcats, deer, and a fleeting glimpse of a mountain lion, while on the trails or driving up the road from the Interpretive Center to Vista Hill. I had the pleasure of seeing my grandson, Ryan, reeling in a big bass at Boranda Lake.

My wife and I had the pleasure of attending the ribbon cutting grand opening ceremony at Vista Point. That was many mayors ago. Memories...oh those sweet memories!


Gale Johnson
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 3, 2020 at 1:15 pm
Gale Johnson, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 1:15 pm
18 people like this

@Be accurate,
I agree with your description of Fine but please don't compare Filseth...put them in the same bag... with Fine.


Eric Filseth
Registered user
Downtown North
on Nov 3, 2020 at 1:42 pm
Eric Filseth, Downtown North
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 1:42 pm
18 people like this

@BP2

Believe me, if I’ve been influenced, it’s been as much by Lydia’s and Roger’s polls as anything else.

I’m sorry I don’t feel comfortable with much detail about this: it’s still pending litigation. But as I said above, in the Totality, including weighing the pro’s and con’s of attempting to eliminate the injunction, I believe that what we did last night was the best path open to us in terms of a majority of residents. I know that’s frustrating to many people.

Especially as part of this is frankly symbolic: FHP in practice is already open to everybody on weekdays, the Pilot Program got rid of the silly (and never enforced) misdemeanor classification, and in reality the new weekend users are as likely to be from next-door Los Altos Hills and Woodside as anywhere else. Meanwhile, in another six hours, over 40% of Americans will have voted to retain arguably the most incompetent and corrupt president in the history of the union. I long for a world in which Foothills Preserve is the most important initiative on the ACLU’s docket.

As for how racist Palo Alto is or was, I think people should read the history.


Anon anon...anon abib
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Nov 3, 2020 at 1:52 pm
Anon anon...anon abib, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 1:52 pm
11 people like this

I understand all the frustration. I guess this is the forum for venting that feeling. The fact is the City is in a fiscal crunch. Having watched the meeting last night, it's clear that the legal advice they are getting in closed session is that the City will lose if they don't settle. Settlement involves a permanent injunction, or else the plaintiffs will not settle. So, the Council - as the adults in the room - have to take the choice of two not so great options. Settle now but save untold $$$, or lose later with an uncertain outcome (which could be worse for the City than a peacefully negotiated settlement). So, please ventilate your sads here. Kou did not aquit herself well last night. Either she didn't understand, or didn't read or listen to the advice of outside counsel and city attorney. That's fine. If she DID understand that advice, then all the performance last night was a Trumpy way to gin up her base. Kudos to her. The PACC has to balance risks here. Many of you seem to think we would prevail in litigation - professionals disagree. Kou and Tanaka seem to be hoping for some sort of citizen led initiative to put this ordinance on ice. None of that would stop a bad outcome in litigation. Think of the optics of the signature-seekers at the Farmer's Market "please sign up for our initiative to keep those people out of our park". The international press would have a field day. And, we would still probably lose the case. So, feel your feels, Nimby Palo Alto. For the elite, you don't always get your way.


Name hidden
Downtown North

Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:00 pm
Name hidden, Downtown North

Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:00 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Anon anon...anon abib
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:00 pm
Anon anon...anon abib, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:00 pm
8 people like this

@Eric Filseth You were swayed by Kou and Tanaka's survey? How in heaven is an email poll sent to their campaign email list in any sense a survey? I remember getting a Trump fundraising email that started with a poll question that was something like "Do you think Trump is the best president (a) Ever. (B) Of the last 100 years.?"

Surely you and the bright citizens of Palo Alto are not so gullible as to believe that the campaign surveys of Kou and Tanaka represent anything other than electioneering?

Tanaka mentioned something like 60% of respondents agreed with him or something. Give me enough time, I could probably goose that up to 90%.


cmarg
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:04 pm
cmarg, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:04 pm
18 people like this

Hopefully this means it will be turned over to Santa Clara County so Palo Alto residents don't pay for the park.

Sad that it was a lawsuit that pushed this decision and that the race card was used. Quite unfortunate in my opinion. This kind of response both pushes more lawsuits and undermines race issues. Disappointed!


Green Gables
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:12 pm
Green Gables, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:12 pm
12 people like this

Wow, look at ALL the Palo Alto volunteers who will be up at Foothills on Sunday morning to help MAINTAIN the park. There's lots of work to do.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:47 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 2:47 pm
15 people like this

" The fact is the City is in a fiscal crunch. Having watched the meeting last night, it's clear that the legal advice they are getting in closed session is that the City will lose if they don't settle."

Sorry, mot clear to me at all but unfortunately consistent with the city's aversion to lawsuits and/or defending PA's interests -- which was their ONLY reason for not opposing ABAG's ridiculous housing targets. Now -- with the numbers of jobs and commuters down dramatically -- they've got no LOGICAL excuse for not suing.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 3, 2020 at 3:18 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 3:18 pm
31 people like this

"As a Docent Naturalist with Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District I have enjoyed sharing the beauty of our preserves with visitors from all over the world.

Midpen has 65,000 acres in 26 preserves that are paid for by parcel taxes in portions San Mateo and Santa Clara counties but are open to EVERYONE.

I am happy that Foothills Park will be another preserve for ALL visitors to enjoy."


Thank you, Docent. Good points. So maybe EVERYONE's parcel taxes should pay for Foothills Park and not just PA residents. Seems fair and consistent, no?


Anonymous
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 3, 2020 at 3:46 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 3:46 pm
16 people like this

Let’s face it: some on our City Council are unwilling to use logic and stand up for common sense and the practical history of this preserve and its rural situation; they’d rather publicly virtue-signal as some other persons (including Los Altos Hills, of all places!) screech and make (illogical) demands on the City of Palo Alto, pulling the race card.
I really do not believe the history of this park situation was racist, nor is current policy racist. I do not support racism.
I think the park and ongoing associated costs of operation and maintenance, Public Safety, road/traffic enforcement, Fire prevention and response MUST now be transferred to Santa Clara County.
This is California: realize the next thing will be some kid will trip there on a tree trunk and the parents will be cleverly advised to sue the (perceived deep pockets) of the City of Palo Alto.


Be accurate
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Nov 3, 2020 at 3:51 pm
Be accurate, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 3:51 pm
27 people like this

Eric, Eric, Eric ...
Really? That is your clarification?
"I believe that what we did last night was the best path open to us in terms of a majority of residents."
--- ?? You believe? Given the polls (70% against), you are still a believer, I see. If you do not trust polls by others, why did not you set up a citizen poll like a decent politician would do?

"in another six hours, over 40% of Americans will have voted to retain arguably the most incompetent and corrupt president in the history of the union."
-- Distractions is not what the people who voted for you (not any more) need. And is that your crystal ball showing over 40%? How much over?

"As for how racist Palo Alto is or was,"
--- Really? This is how you justify your vote? By how racist Palo Alto "is or was"? That is an OK to step over people who voted for you?

I have been of a better opinion of you.


What Will They Do Next
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2020 at 4:01 pm
What Will They Do Next, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 4:01 pm
32 people like this

It may be appropriate to begin thinking about enacting recall measures. This decision was a total fail and disrespectful to every tax paying citizen in Palo Alto.


Anon anon...anon abib
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Nov 3, 2020 at 4:10 pm
Anon anon...anon abib, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 4:10 pm
2 people like this

You all make some good points. In order to prevail, we must litigate them in court. It will cost the City. No estimate was given in open session. You can rest assured that Munger, ACLU and NAACP don't come to play. They come to win. So, again - feel your feels, but game this out - is this worth the blood and treasure to make a point about keeping a few non-PA residents out? We'll still have the entry cap. Probably charge an entry fee. The only thing changing is the make-up of WHO is coming in. A maximum of 1000 Palo Altans a day can enter the park now. Soon it will be 1000 humans. This is the hill you want to die on? Not me.


Lennie
Registered user
Barron Park
on Nov 3, 2020 at 4:20 pm
Lennie, Barron Park
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 4:20 pm
50 people like this

The perpetrators of the lawsuit created a racist strawman and then destroyed him. Great job! Nowadays, it seems that every issue can be reduced to one of racism. When was anyone excluded from the park because of their ethnicity? I have lived in Palo Alto since 1984 and I have never heard of such an incident. The real issue is one of finances. Who is going to pay for the maintenance of the park? My wife and I have been using the park since 1984 and we have seen many contractors working in the park including in the past week or two. Who is going to pay for these contractors? Now that this decision has been made I will be attending the future CC meetings to find out where the money will come from. I will be easy to recognize since I am the only Hispanic/Jamaican man who lives in Palo Alto. Long live Lydia!


PaloAltoCitizen
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Nov 3, 2020 at 6:45 pm
PaloAltoCitizen, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 6:45 pm
43 people like this

For me it is not the opening of Foothills Nature Preserve to the world that is the main problem.
It is the destruction that is going to take place due to over use. In the last 20 years, this 1,400 acres has averaged 416 visitors per day (152,000 per year). Now it will very likely fill up to its maximum, 1000 per day (365,000 per year) which is a 250% increase. No more sightings of deer, or fox, or bobcat, or coyote, or mountain lion. Just lots of humans ! With all their noise, garbage, trail destruction, BBQ smoke, soil trampling, etc. The Palo Alto City Council obviously does not give a damn about nature. Ms. Cormack said to me personally that Arastradero is "lovely". I consider that Preserve completely destroyed and beyond repair. It is a recreational open space, but NOT a nature preserve. Here goes Foothills !!!


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Nov 3, 2020 at 7:02 pm
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 7:02 pm
31 people like this

I don't understand why our CC isn't dedicated to doing all that it can to protect Foothills, regardless of the restriction issue. Four examples:

#1 - if a cap of 750 visitors is the right # of visitors to protect Foothills for the 1st 90 days following the elimination of the restriction, how is it that a 1,000 person cap is better after that?

#2 - not approving the name change so that it is officially known for what it really is: a preserve. Disappointing that CC turfed that back to Parks and Rec; hopefully they will do what CC failed to do.

#3 - following Stumpf's advice and approving the permanent injunction against reinstating restrictions; it would have been smart to retain the latitude to take steps to protect Foothills if doing so is needed.

#4 - only sometimes staffing the fire station, even during times of fire warnings.

Foothills isn't just another city park; it is an open space preserve that requires a different approach.


Gunn Papa
Registered user
Greater Miranda
on Nov 3, 2020 at 7:12 pm
Gunn Papa, Greater Miranda
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 7:12 pm
7 people like this

Open up the park to the public, all the public.


Bystander
Registered user
Mayfield
on Nov 3, 2020 at 7:17 pm
Bystander, Mayfield
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 7:17 pm
32 people like this

I'd like to know if the City Council intends to publically censure Mr. Fine for his unwarranted and bullying attack on Ms. Kou. Fine's behavior displayed incredibly poor judgement, particularly in view of his historical and well-known personal dislike of Ms. Kou. This was misogyny, racism,, and bullying, pure and simple, and his smarmy later comment that it was "nothing personal" made me want to reach through my monitor and slap a recall petition on the table.

What about it, City Council? Can you rein this guy in, or do we recall the bully -and- the silent witnesses?


Name hidden
Downtown North

Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 7:19 pm
Name hidden, Downtown North

Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 7:19 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Bystander
Registered user
Mayfield
on Nov 3, 2020 at 7:20 pm
Bystander, Mayfield
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 7:20 pm
33 people like this

I'd like to know if the City Council intends to publically censure Mr. Fine for his unwarranted and bullying attack on Ms. Kou. Fine's behavior displayed incredibly poor judgement, particularly in view of his historical and well-known personal dislike of Ms. Kou. This was misogyny, racism,, and intimidation, pure and simple, and his smarmy later comment that it was "nothing personal" made me want to reach through my monitor and slap a recall petition on the table.

[Portion removed.]


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Nov 3, 2020 at 8:05 pm
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 8:05 pm
21 people like this

Dear Bystander: don't hold your breath. CC accepts bad behavior; some obviously even engage in it. Planning Commission meetings offer additional examples. Commissioner Alcheck once criticized a member of the public attending the meeting (woman, senior citizen). He has also been rude to Commissioner Summa (a woman). And I am told that at a recent meeting a Commissioner questioned why we celebrate Veterans Day.


Longtime Palo Altan
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 3, 2020 at 9:08 pm
Longtime Palo Altan, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 9:08 pm
3 people like this

[Post removed.]


Longtime Resident
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2020 at 11:38 pm
Longtime Resident, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 11:38 pm
15 people like this

[Post removed.]


Longtime Resident
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2020 at 11:55 pm
Longtime Resident, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 3, 2020 at 11:55 pm
14 people like this

As a native born resident since the 50's, the battle over a relatively small parcel of undeveloped land shows how over-populated the area has become. Foothill Park was rarely used in the 70's and 80's. We have exceeded the bioburden capacity of the area. We must reduce the numbers of people moving into the area permanently.
[Portion removed.] Local people have worked hard for decades to protect this area for future generations since the 70's. Now the children of these tax paying, hard working families are suffering from uncontrolled population increase - something which was not discussed back in the 70's and 80's. Education is being used as a way to gain a foothold into this area. And not all are the best and brightest.
We can't support all of the people moving here [portion removed.]


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Nov 4, 2020 at 3:27 pm
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Nov 4, 2020 at 3:27 pm
18 people like this

>"Our area simply cannot support all the foreign tech workers, foreign immigrant students (H1-B's/OPT's) and EB-5's who have added their huge families to this area."

^ All things considered...the majority of these individuals are highly skilled, educated, & well paid which is why they can afford to reside here.

The recently arrived immigrants from India & China are also well represented in the health care fields.

The demographics of the midpeninsula is changing.


relentlesscactus
Registered user
another community
on Nov 4, 2020 at 9:24 pm
relentlesscactus, another community
Registered user
on Nov 4, 2020 at 9:24 pm
13 people like this

I believe the park should be opened up; I read much of the lawsuit, and it doesn't hold water, it sure makes Palo Alto sound terrible though. I don't think the fear is losing, I think the fear is losing money and face. Good-ish outcome, terrible, shameful process by all parties. This could have been handled so much better.


relentlesscactus
Registered user
another community
on Nov 4, 2020 at 9:27 pm
relentlesscactus, another community
Registered user
on Nov 4, 2020 at 9:27 pm
28 people like this

Maybe we could get the ACLU and NAACP to figure out why railroad crossings are racist -- this might finally get the City of Palo Alto to stop dragging its feet and suddenly decide on a final plan to separate the roads from the tracks. All it takes is the threat of being called 'racists'


Nayeli
Registered user
Midtown
on Nov 5, 2020 at 1:15 am
Nayeli, Midtown
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2020 at 1:15 am
48 people like this

This was a terrible decision. Terrible. This was a result of the politics of hysteria.

This policy was never racist. The city should be ashamed for cowering before the threat of a frivolous lawsuit or the unwarranted accusations of "racism" by agitators.


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Nov 5, 2020 at 8:04 am
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2020 at 8:04 am
30 people like this

Just guessing but affordable housing reform in Palo Alto attributable to blatant & inherent racism will be next on the ACLU & NAACP agenda.


xSIpar
Registered user
College Terrace
on Nov 5, 2020 at 9:13 am
xSIpar, College Terrace
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2020 at 9:13 am
10 people like this

@Eric Filseth
Thank you for providing the link to where the historical context of racism is described. This should be hopefully old news to those well versed with this issue.

What the Complaint leaves out is that the land that is Foothills Park was originally stolen from Muwekma Ohlone people and whose ancestors have neither representation in Palo Alto city government nor the political connections to engage a high-power law firm. Our discussion of local racism always seems to conveniently focus on the period after colonization and associated ethnic cleansing.


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Nov 5, 2020 at 10:48 am
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2020 at 10:48 am
12 people like this

>"What the Complaint leaves out is that the land that is Foothills Park was originally stolen from Muwekma Ohlone people and whose ancestors have neither representation in Palo Alto city government nor the political connections to engage a high-power law firm."

^ All things considered, 99% of America was stolen from indigenous peoples.

Maybe the Ohlone descendants could petition for a Palo Alto-based casino to correct a past wrong & rejuvenate the city coffers.


Leslie York
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 5, 2020 at 3:35 pm
Leslie York, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2020 at 3:35 pm
39 people like this

I have never seen such entitlement.

People feel it is their Constitutional right to use the park while contributing nothing to the cost of its upkeep, letting others bear that expense. They weren't the least bit shy about playing the race card to get their way.

The City of Palo Alto crumbled like a house of cards rather than put the issue to a referendum.


PaloAltoCitizen
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Nov 7, 2020 at 8:19 am
PaloAltoCitizen, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Nov 7, 2020 at 8:19 am
5 people like this

Palo Alto could sell Foothills Nature Preserve and thus get rid of the expense and the liability. The land could be used for housing. Then, the people who love the land will not be tortured by watching its destruction over years since it will be destroyed in a very short period of bulldozing and construction time. All this would take is a citizen lead referendum on the next ballot !

Ironic that the citizens can vote to sell what they have purchased, but CANNOT vote on who is allowed to use it. Isn't this taxation without representation, the most basic reason for the revolution of 1776


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 7, 2020 at 8:46 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Nov 7, 2020 at 8:46 am
7 people like this

If you look at maps of the total area FHP is part of a bigger area of preserves. WE should sell it to the Mid-Peninsula Open Space Trust so it can be managed along with the other Open Space areas in that specific location. That will move the political onus off the city and there fore reduce the number of issues that you know will be going on forever. It will also reduce the budget assigned to the park which will now have to be increased greatly. The city will be required to increase their insurance liability for that property because they are now changing the rules regarding the number of people and cars.

We are a sitting duck now for multiple new issues including increased fire protection, increased available water for fires, increased personnel management, etc.

WE can use the relieved budget for other issues in the city - Caltrain improvements at crossings - example. Beautification of our main streets - University, El Camino, City Hall, FRYS location, etc. Housing in that location would be very limited and not worth the time and effort required to lay-in the sewer and water lines. The cost for the underpinnings would be serious money. That area is already zoned for preserve space.


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2020 at 10:23 am
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Nov 7, 2020 at 10:23 am
15 people like this

Given this recent development...maybe the city should consider renaming Foothills Park to People's Park (of Palo Alto).


Leslie York
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 8, 2020 at 7:34 am
Leslie York, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 8, 2020 at 7:34 am
Like this comment

Good point about relieving the city of liability.

For that matter, relieve the city of all obligations regarding upkeep, staffing, insurance, fire prevention, garbage removal, etc. Sell the park to a consortium of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties and spread out the cost of keeping the park open among the people who use it. Now that the park is open to all comers it doesn't matter if CPA owns it or not. Apply the sale proceeds to railroad grade separation — you're going to need it.


Sell it to MIdPen Open Space
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2020 at 1:38 pm
Sell it to MIdPen Open Space, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Nov 9, 2020 at 1:38 pm
4 people like this

It's a liability. Sell it to MiPenn Open Space, a charity I happily support, and use the money to improve in-town parks and rec facilitiues that badly need an infusion of cash.

We are not a rich community. We are a community that has a cluster of supremely rich people in it. Almost half of us are renters and many more are dual income mortgage holders who are struggling to pay the bills. Stop treating PA taxpayers like we can afford a bond measure for every outrageously expensive project staff dreams up.


Money is tight everywhere
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Nov 10, 2020 at 8:28 am
Money is tight everywhere, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Nov 10, 2020 at 8:28 am
2 people like this

Since money is tight everywhere, no open-space group would buy Foothills Park. Why would they spend their limited budgets on a property that is already preserved? They would much, much rather spend their money buying some of the many properties that are on the verge of becoming developed.

Like it or not, Palo Alto is "stuck" with a beautiful park in the foothills. Let's just hope the City Council doesn't sign a restrictive settlement agreement that prevents the City from properly managing the park. Protecting the natural environment while allowing public access will be challenging, but voluntarily agreeing to additional constraints could make it much more difficult.


Franc123
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Nov 10, 2020 at 11:37 am
Franc123, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Nov 10, 2020 at 11:37 am
1 person likes this

@LeslieYork

“I have never seen such entitlement.

People feel it is their Constitutional right to use the park while contributing nothing to the cost of its upkeep, letting others bear that expense.”

Surely you are familiar with state and county parks, which are open to the public regardless of “who pays for them”? Even your neighbor Menlo Park has a municipal park, Bayfront, which we generously share with others.


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Nov 10, 2020 at 12:07 pm
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Nov 10, 2020 at 12:07 pm
20 people like this

>"Surely you are familiar with state and county parks, which are open to the public regardless of “who pays for them”?"

^ County parks are open/free to the public but there is a day fee for access to state parks (including the local Portola State Park just up the road).

Just charge a day fee (to everyone) entering Foothills Park...with a discount to PA residents.

That should settle the debacle along with any localized socialist agenda.


Mark J.
Registered user
College Terrace
on Nov 12, 2020 at 10:16 pm
Mark J., College Terrace
Registered user
on Nov 12, 2020 at 10:16 pm
11 people like this

Disappointed to see a local treasure shared with those who may or may not know how to respect it and treat it properly. I had just moved to Palo Alto in part for the increased quality of life compared to other neighborhoods. I hope Foothill doesn't go downhill.


iconoclast
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2020 at 4:05 am
iconoclast, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Nov 15, 2020 at 4:05 am
7 people like this

Oh no! I still see "Must be a Palo Alto Resident (driver’s license or vehicle registration)"
on Palo Alto's webpage regarding disposals at our Household Hazardous Waste Station off Embarcadero Road. Where are the headlines and protests?


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Nov 15, 2020 at 7:09 am
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Nov 15, 2020 at 7:09 am
16 people like this

> "Must be a Palo Alto Resident (driver’s license or vehicle registration)"
on Palo Alto's webpage regarding disposals at our Household Hazardous Waste Station off Embarcadero Road. Where are the headlines and protests?"

^ The ACLU & NAACP have not addressed this issue to date...then again, is the 'resident only' city mandate regarding the restricted disposal of household hazardous wastes considered yet another example of systemic racism?


YP
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 1, 2020 at 1:15 pm
YP, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 1, 2020 at 1:15 pm
4 people like this

I support the referendum.
Palo Alto is a very diverse city and woke liberals will always play the race card when they don't have better arguments
Has anyone ever been prevented from entering Foothills Preserve because of the color of their skin ? I doubt it


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