News

As referendum drive falters, Palo Alto prepares to open Foothills Park to all

Petition sought to nullify City Council's vote to remove residents-only restriction at nature preserve

Palo Alto will expand Foothills Park access to residents outside of the city starting Dec. 17. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Palo Alto's scenic and exclusive Foothills Park will officially open up to residents from other cities on Thursday morning after a referendum petition failed to get the needed signatures to maintain the park's long-standing "residents-only" rule.

Resident Irina Beylin, who spearheaded a referendum petition, told this news organization that her group has been unable to get the nearly 2,600 signatures that would be required to move the effort ahead by Wednesday's deadline. She and other supporters of the referendum were looking to overturn the City Council's vote on Nov. 2 to scrap a 1965 law that bars people who live in other cities from entering the 1,400-acre preserve unless accompanied by a Palo Alto resident.

Beylin said the effort was hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic, which made it virtually impossible to gather signatures in person. Recent regional restrictions kept the petition circulators from collecting signatures in front of stores, schools and other public places.

Beylin said that she had requested the city allow for electronic signatures or to extend the 30-day deadline to allow the creation of a secured website, but City Attorney Molly Stump said Monday that changing the process for a referendum petition would require a revision of the City Charter, which requires a public vote.

Had the petition advanced, Palo Alto would have suspended its plan to open the park to nonresidents on Dec. 17. Instead, the current policy would remain in place while the City Clerk and the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters offices verify the signatures, City Manager Ed Shikada told the council Monday.

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"It would not be prudent for us to open and then have to reclose," Shikada said.

If the signatures were verified, the council would've faced the choice of either repealing the ordinance to expand access to the park or sending the issue to the voters in 2022.

The council agreed to repeal the long-standing policy on Foothills Park in response to a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP and a group of residents from Palo Alto and other cities. The suit argued that the policy of restricting access to Foothills Park is rooted in the city's history of racial discrimination, which includes practices such as redlining, blockbusting and including racially restrictive covenants in deeds. The Foothills Park policy, the suit argues, continues to exclude people who were "denied the right to reside in the city during the era of outright racial exclusion."

The suit also claimed that the policy violates the constitutionally protected rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. While most council members rejected the idea that banning nonresidents constitutes a racist policy, they had determined that the city is unlikely to prevail in a lawsuit over First Amendment rights. On Nov. 2, they voted 5-2, with council members Lydia Kou and Greg Tanaka dissenting, to repeal the ban and to limit the number of people who can be at Foothills at one time to 750 in the first 90 days after the park opens (after that, it would revert to its current limit of 1,000 visitors).

The council also requested at the time that staff return to the Parks and Recreation Commission and the council with proposals for fees to be charged at the park, capacity limits and studies on park management and ways to preserve the park's environmental integrity. In addition, it is preparing to kick off a process for changing its name to Foothills Natural Preserve.

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Supporters of expanding access to Foothills Park have long maintained that removing the policy is a fair and decent action, noting that no other California city has policies banning nonresidents from a park. Those in favor of retaining the 1965 policy counter that the access restriction is needed to protect the nature preserve's sensitive habitat. They also note that at the time that Palo Alto was establishing Foothills Park, other jurisdictions declined to provide funding for the park's creation.

Prior to the lawsuit, the council was preparing to open Foothills Park to residents outside of Palo Alto on a more limited basis, through a pilot program that would allow up to 50 nonresident permits per day. The council had approved that program in August, when it also indicated that it planned to send the issue to the voters in 2022.

By instead repealing the residents-only requirement, the city was able to settle the lawsuit. On Nov. 16 they officially approved the settlement, which included a court injunction barring the city from reinstituting the ban on non-residents at any time in the future. Had the referendum petition moved ahead, the settlement would have been nullified and the lawsuit would have resumed.

Beylin said that she supported the pilot program that the council approved in August, which would have slowly expanded access with greater buy-in from the broader public. By its Nov. 16 decision, the council circumvented the democratic process, she maintained.

"The current changes to Foothills Park Ordinance were approved by City Council behind closed doors without input from the public," the referendum states. "The measure to open Foothills Park to the General Public should be put on the ballot and details should be openly discussed with constituents."

Beylin said Wednesday that the petition received about 1,200 signatures, close to half of what was needed. But with Santa Clara County imposing new restrictions against COVID-19 earlier this month and with the city not allowing electronic signatures, she conceded Wednesday that her group would not reach the needed signature threshold and notified City Clerk Beth Minor that she would not be submitting the petition.

Beylin said she was encouraged by the outpouring of support from residents nonetheless. She said many are as concerned as she is about the council's decision to veer away from its August vote because of a lawsuit.

"People are very involved. They are really motivated. They want what's best for the city," Beylin said.

With the referendum drive fizzling, proponents of expanding access to Foothills celebrated the policy change. William Freeman, senior counsel at the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, said in a statement that the plaintiffs are "delighted that we could arrive at a constructive settlement with the city that recognizes the fundamental rights of all persons — not just the most privileged — to freedom (of) speech and enjoyment of public land."

The Rev. Jethroe Moore II, president of the NAACP of San Jose/Silicon Valley, said he looks forward to "seeing youth groups from East Palo Alto and the surrounding communities freely enjoying the beauty of the park — youth groups that have not had an equal opportunity to experience nature preserves and to understand what they are."

LaDoris Cordell, a retired Santa Clara County Superior Court judge and former member of the Palo Alto council, said she was "heartened that five members of our city council did the right thing by courageously voting to accept the settlement agreement that will finally open Foothills Park."

"The fact that there weren't 2,500 Palo Altans willing to sign a referendum petition is great news," Cordell, a plaintiff in the suit and a longtime proponent of expanding park access, said in a statement. "It means that, as we come to the close of a very dark year, our community has chosen inclusion over exclusion. I am thrilled to know that the park's entry restrictions are now a thing of the past."

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Gennady Sheyner
 
Gennady Sheyner covers the City Hall beat in Palo Alto as well as regional politics, with a special focus on housing and transportation. Before joining the Palo Alto Weekly/PaloAltoOnline.com in 2008, he covered breaking news and local politics for the Waterbury Republican-American, a daily newspaper in Connecticut. Read more >>

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As referendum drive falters, Palo Alto prepares to open Foothills Park to all

Petition sought to nullify City Council's vote to remove residents-only restriction at nature preserve

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Dec 16, 2020, 4:20 pm

Palo Alto's scenic and exclusive Foothills Park will officially open up to residents from other cities on Thursday morning after a referendum petition failed to get the needed signatures to maintain the park's long-standing "residents-only" rule.

Resident Irina Beylin, who spearheaded a referendum petition, told this news organization that her group has been unable to get the nearly 2,600 signatures that would be required to move the effort ahead by Wednesday's deadline. She and other supporters of the referendum were looking to overturn the City Council's vote on Nov. 2 to scrap a 1965 law that bars people who live in other cities from entering the 1,400-acre preserve unless accompanied by a Palo Alto resident.

Beylin said the effort was hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic, which made it virtually impossible to gather signatures in person. Recent regional restrictions kept the petition circulators from collecting signatures in front of stores, schools and other public places.

Beylin said that she had requested the city allow for electronic signatures or to extend the 30-day deadline to allow the creation of a secured website, but City Attorney Molly Stump said Monday that changing the process for a referendum petition would require a revision of the City Charter, which requires a public vote.

Had the petition advanced, Palo Alto would have suspended its plan to open the park to nonresidents on Dec. 17. Instead, the current policy would remain in place while the City Clerk and the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters offices verify the signatures, City Manager Ed Shikada told the council Monday.

"It would not be prudent for us to open and then have to reclose," Shikada said.

If the signatures were verified, the council would've faced the choice of either repealing the ordinance to expand access to the park or sending the issue to the voters in 2022.

The council agreed to repeal the long-standing policy on Foothills Park in response to a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP and a group of residents from Palo Alto and other cities. The suit argued that the policy of restricting access to Foothills Park is rooted in the city's history of racial discrimination, which includes practices such as redlining, blockbusting and including racially restrictive covenants in deeds. The Foothills Park policy, the suit argues, continues to exclude people who were "denied the right to reside in the city during the era of outright racial exclusion."

The suit also claimed that the policy violates the constitutionally protected rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. While most council members rejected the idea that banning nonresidents constitutes a racist policy, they had determined that the city is unlikely to prevail in a lawsuit over First Amendment rights. On Nov. 2, they voted 5-2, with council members Lydia Kou and Greg Tanaka dissenting, to repeal the ban and to limit the number of people who can be at Foothills at one time to 750 in the first 90 days after the park opens (after that, it would revert to its current limit of 1,000 visitors).

The council also requested at the time that staff return to the Parks and Recreation Commission and the council with proposals for fees to be charged at the park, capacity limits and studies on park management and ways to preserve the park's environmental integrity. In addition, it is preparing to kick off a process for changing its name to Foothills Natural Preserve.

Supporters of expanding access to Foothills Park have long maintained that removing the policy is a fair and decent action, noting that no other California city has policies banning nonresidents from a park. Those in favor of retaining the 1965 policy counter that the access restriction is needed to protect the nature preserve's sensitive habitat. They also note that at the time that Palo Alto was establishing Foothills Park, other jurisdictions declined to provide funding for the park's creation.

Prior to the lawsuit, the council was preparing to open Foothills Park to residents outside of Palo Alto on a more limited basis, through a pilot program that would allow up to 50 nonresident permits per day. The council had approved that program in August, when it also indicated that it planned to send the issue to the voters in 2022.

By instead repealing the residents-only requirement, the city was able to settle the lawsuit. On Nov. 16 they officially approved the settlement, which included a court injunction barring the city from reinstituting the ban on non-residents at any time in the future. Had the referendum petition moved ahead, the settlement would have been nullified and the lawsuit would have resumed.

Beylin said that she supported the pilot program that the council approved in August, which would have slowly expanded access with greater buy-in from the broader public. By its Nov. 16 decision, the council circumvented the democratic process, she maintained.

"The current changes to Foothills Park Ordinance were approved by City Council behind closed doors without input from the public," the referendum states. "The measure to open Foothills Park to the General Public should be put on the ballot and details should be openly discussed with constituents."

Beylin said Wednesday that the petition received about 1,200 signatures, close to half of what was needed. But with Santa Clara County imposing new restrictions against COVID-19 earlier this month and with the city not allowing electronic signatures, she conceded Wednesday that her group would not reach the needed signature threshold and notified City Clerk Beth Minor that she would not be submitting the petition.

Beylin said she was encouraged by the outpouring of support from residents nonetheless. She said many are as concerned as she is about the council's decision to veer away from its August vote because of a lawsuit.

"People are very involved. They are really motivated. They want what's best for the city," Beylin said.

With the referendum drive fizzling, proponents of expanding access to Foothills celebrated the policy change. William Freeman, senior counsel at the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, said in a statement that the plaintiffs are "delighted that we could arrive at a constructive settlement with the city that recognizes the fundamental rights of all persons — not just the most privileged — to freedom (of) speech and enjoyment of public land."

The Rev. Jethroe Moore II, president of the NAACP of San Jose/Silicon Valley, said he looks forward to "seeing youth groups from East Palo Alto and the surrounding communities freely enjoying the beauty of the park — youth groups that have not had an equal opportunity to experience nature preserves and to understand what they are."

LaDoris Cordell, a retired Santa Clara County Superior Court judge and former member of the Palo Alto council, said she was "heartened that five members of our city council did the right thing by courageously voting to accept the settlement agreement that will finally open Foothills Park."

"The fact that there weren't 2,500 Palo Altans willing to sign a referendum petition is great news," Cordell, a plaintiff in the suit and a longtime proponent of expanding park access, said in a statement. "It means that, as we come to the close of a very dark year, our community has chosen inclusion over exclusion. I am thrilled to know that the park's entry restrictions are now a thing of the past."

Comments

YP
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 16, 2020 at 4:35 pm
YP, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 4:35 pm

Thank you Irina for a valiant effort, sad day for Palo Alto , sadder even for the Foothills Park.


TimR
Registered user
Downtown North
on Dec 16, 2020 at 5:24 pm
TimR, Downtown North
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 5:24 pm

Such a sad day for the park. I was there today, and contemplated the bicycle tire tracks in the muddy trails as a portent of things to come. I wish I could say I had faith in the city's ability to keep things nice, with rules enforced. But alas, I go by facts, which indicate City Hall is too aloof and even too lazy for such pedestrian matters. But that's the dysfunctional nature of politics today. All ideology, no results.


Terrace Antelope
Registered user
College Terrace
on Dec 16, 2020 at 5:34 pm
Terrace Antelope, College Terrace
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 5:34 pm

I fear the park is going to get trashed. I hope I'm wrong.


Jennifer Landesmann
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 16, 2020 at 5:41 pm
Jennifer Landesmann, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 5:41 pm

Tim R.

“But alas, I go by facts, which indicate City Hall is too aloof and even too lazy for such pedestrian matters. But that's the dysfunctional nature of politics today. All ideology, no results.”

Staff and PACC politics do control the city’s priorities; weekly agendas, and any follow up (or lack thereof) of residents’ concerns. If we want better we need to change the way priorities and agendas are set.

Suggest people come up with ideas and we crash the party at the upcoming PACC priority setting meeting usually January.


GeoffPaulsen
Registered user
another community
on Dec 16, 2020 at 5:48 pm
GeoffPaulsen, another community
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 5:48 pm

It’s about time! An exclusionary policy was never the intent of my grandmother Dorothy Lee when she refused to sell her share of our ranch for development, and ended up selling 1,400 acres to the City at a greatly reduced price.

I’m proud to be a member of the the family that, among other things, ran a house on the Underground Railroad, fought for the North in the Civil War, designed Medicare, desegregated every American hospital that received federal funds, and built a 4,000-unit senior housing complex in downtown Palo Alto.

I’m also proud to have been born and raised in Palo Alto, a city whose elected leaders can now look to a truly inclusive future.

As a former Foothills Park ranger, and a former planner for the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, I can assure you all that ecological issues arising from increased visitation will be negligible compared with the damage caused by City-caused erosion, the 12-acre mowed turf, and the lake that is artificially filled with water from a valley in Yosemite National Park that is flooded by the Hetch Hetchy dam.

And - the ranger who used to be in the entrance station turning away nonresidents will now be free to patrol the park, greeting visitors, enforcing rules, and picking up litter.


Name hidden
Downtown North

Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 5:52 pm
Name hidden, Downtown North

Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 5:52 pm

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


Name hidden
Downtown North

Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 6:00 pm
Name hidden, Downtown North

Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 6:00 pm

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


rsmithjr
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 16, 2020 at 6:45 pm
rsmithjr, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 6:45 pm

While I didn't support the referendum, I do appreciate that Ms. Beylin has handled this with dignity.


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 16, 2020 at 7:04 pm
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 7:04 pm

The die has been cast & only time will tell if opening Foothills Park was a good call.


Alex
Registered user
Barron Park
on Dec 16, 2020 at 7:44 pm
Alex, Barron Park
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 7:44 pm
Juan Carlos Tud
Registered user
Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 16, 2020 at 7:47 pm
Juan Carlos Tud, Palo Alto Hills
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 7:47 pm

As a member of the Palo Alto Community I was appalled by the notion the only residents of Palo Alto are willing and capable of using this gorgeous park in a respectful manner. I found the referendum disingenuously elitist and condescending.


Douglas Moran
Registered user
Barron Park
on Dec 16, 2020 at 8:01 pm
Douglas Moran, Barron Park
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 8:01 pm
Paul
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Dec 16, 2020 at 8:24 pm
Paul, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 8:24 pm

I support what the city has done. If we want to limit access, do it on an overall basis (and that is actually being done, with 750 limited in the park at a time, versus the normal 1000 ... if someone wants to lower that number, then get the signatures and put it to a vote). Palo Alto residents are as capable of messing up the park as anyone, and prolonging feuds with adjacent cities is stupid, in my opinion. The fact that the people who live closest to the parks (Los Altos Hills) can't use it is also stupid. Instead we limit to people who are mostly going to go there in cars. How is that preservative of the environment?


Jennifer Landesmann
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 16, 2020 at 8:28 pm
Jennifer Landesmann, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 8:28 pm

@Alex,

"What a monumental waste of time and potential waste of money for no reason other than to be petty."

I suggest that the biggest waste of time were all the years that strings of councils and staff meetings failed to bring this for residents to have a say. Instead of languishing in commissions and back room whispers, it should have been on the public (actually public) agenda, PACC vote, etc.

Residents never voted to put a ban based on residency and a PACC closed session decided to let the ACLU rule on that.

If all this had ever actually been put to residents, it probably would not have involved a lawsuit and unjust shaming.


[email protected]
Registered user
Mountain View
on Dec 16, 2020 at 9:01 pm
[email protected], Mountain View
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 9:01 pm

Just saying this.

I understand Palo Alto's position, I am not going to go to that area without an invitation.

I pray that out of towners do respect and take care when visiting it.


Douglas Moran
Registered user
Barron Park
on Dec 16, 2020 at 11:07 pm
Douglas Moran, Barron Park
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2020 at 11:07 pm

RE: my deleted comment above (responding to Juan Carlos Tud).

Deduced rule: It is OK to smear people using a disingenuous rhetorical device (which used "disingenuous"), but it violates guidelines to *identify* that particular tactic.


Balance
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Dec 17, 2020 at 12:25 am
Balance, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 12:25 am

"Rev. Jethroe Moore II, president of the NAACP of San Jose/Silicon Valley, said he looks forward to "seeing youth groups from East Palo Alto and the surrounding communities freely enjoying the beauty of the park—youth groups that have not had an equal opportunity to experience nature preserves and to understand what they are.""

Interesting reaction ... Does he imply that the Foothills is the only nature preserve within a car ride from East Palo Alto?

Palo Alto needs to prepare for further lawsuits. I'm serious. For instance, an obvious one could demand that PAUSD and Ravenswood School District (East Palo Alto) are unified. After all, the narrative that East Palo Alto was segregated from Palo Alto due to racial considerations has been already voiced.


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2020 at 9:06 am
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 9:06 am

>"Does he [Rev. Jethroe Moore II] imply that the Foothills is the only nature preserve within a car ride from East Palo Alto?"

^ The Palo Alto Baylands saltwater preserve is geographically closer to EPA but perhaps the reverend was referring to a different ecosystem & environment?

>"...one could demand that PAUSD and Ravenswood School District (East Palo Alto) are unified."

^ Since the Ravenswood School District is within San Mateo County & the PAUSD is in Santa Clara County, is a merger of this type even possible?

Then again there would be certain advantages for students of both districts...kids from EPA could transfer to Palo Alto schools and be exposed to PAUSD curriculum while students residing in Palo Alto could be shuttled into EPA & fulfill their educational experiences in another community.

A similar program was implemented awhile back with students from Ravenswood High School in EPA transferring to & attending Menlo Atherton High School...reviews were mixed.


Holly
Registered user
Midtown
on Dec 17, 2020 at 10:34 am
Holly, Midtown
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 10:34 am

To Geoff Paulson - thank you for sharing some history of the land as I am new to the Palo Alto area. Thank you to your family for their generous offer of the 1400 acres. I appreciate it and believe it should be shared by all. It is all of our responsibility to take care of our beautiful open spaces and respect this unique and awesome gift that's why I always stay on the paths/trails and take a bag with me to pick up any trash I may see along the way. It's my way of doing my part. I look forward to enjoying the natural beauty of the Paulson ranch!


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2020 at 10:45 am
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 10:45 am

>"...that's why I always stay on the paths/trails and take a bag with me to pick up any trash I may see along the way. It's my way of doing my part."

^ The question is...will ALL of the new park guests follow suit?

That remains to be seen.


Franc123
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Dec 17, 2020 at 10:47 am
Franc123, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 10:47 am

^ “A similar program was implemented awhile back with students from Ravenswood High School in EPA transferring to & attending Menlo Atherton High School...reviews were mixed.”

Since 1976, Ravenswood School District has only gone through 8th grade. For several years now, all EPA students have attended Menlo-Atherton High School, frankly making for a much healthier environment than what you find at Paly or Gunn.

Palo Alto’s history of redlining, and other exclusionary policies like the Foothills Park rule, have been very effective. But at least in the case of the high schools, where a pressure cooker atmosphere has led to significant mental health issues, they are good examples of you have to be careful what you wish for.


Mark Dinan
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Dec 17, 2020 at 10:55 am
Mark Dinan, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 10:55 am

I happened to bike through Foothill Park on Tuesday, starting from my house in East Palo Alto. There were maybe 25 people in the park when I was there, and this may be a generous estimate. The idea that people from EPA will somehow overrun and destroy Foothill Park is laughably racist. If you want a comparison point, look at Huddart Park in Woodside, which is equally distant to EPA. The truth is that the prime beneficiaries of Foothill Park opening are my friends in the Los Altos Hills on Altamont, who live in $10M homes, pay a ton of property tax to Santa Clara County, and are within a 5 minute walk of the park entrance. I am going to guess that a few years from now, opening the park to non-residents will benefit all Palo Alto residents, as they can have birthday parties for their kids at the park and invite their friends and family from surrounding communities like Woodside, Menlo Park and yes, East Palo Alto.


Ferdinand
Registered user
Barron Park
on Dec 17, 2020 at 11:16 am
Ferdinand , Barron Park
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 11:16 am

Am I wrong to be disappointed by the opening paragraph of this article (and its hopefully unintended aim to polarize)? The quote "a referendum petition failed to get the needed signatures to maintain the park's long-standing "residents-only" rule" seems false based on Ms. Beylin's statements in prior articles. My understanding of what instigated the petition was a desire for our city council to develop a long-overdue plan to open up the FH park to everyone using a lens focused on modern strategies/values for preserving the natural resources while also balancing that with fairness for all (residents and non-residents alike). This could have included the valuable voices of people such as Geoff Paulsen, nearby LAH residents, Acterra, Youth Community Service, YESS (EPA based Youth Empowerment Strategies for Success), and other local or regional organizations. Let's hope any environmental fears--largely coming out of a process which didn't seem thoughtful, specific, nor inclusive of community input--are unwarranted. And let's hope some of these voices will still be sought after.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 17, 2020 at 11:16 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 11:16 am

Mark - many people have birthday parties at FHP and invite their friends. They make a reservation for a number of people, leave the names at the gate and PAY THE PRICE for the invitees. That is not new. Any resident could always do that. Even the person who thought this all up - have a party with your friends. JUST THINK.

A sports club I belong to has been doing this for years. And when we are there lots of parties for graduates in process.


Gunn Graduate
Registered user
Gunn High School
on Dec 17, 2020 at 11:18 am
Gunn Graduate, Gunn High School
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 11:18 am

The idea of a restricted access "public" park is idiotic to begin with, and really just a pretense for a small percentage of Palo Altans to perpetuate their delusions about exclusivity. Of course, OUTSIDERS (poor people) could never be as respectful and responsible as tax-paying Palo Altans (rich people), right?

Just like the Trumpers refusing to acknowledge the election, we have this small but vocal group of Palo Altans trying to obfuscate their actual motivations by wrapping every discussion in false rhetoric about due process.

Every single public open space in the region is in high demand right now, and all of them are crucial to helping the public bide its time until conventional gatherings and activities can resume...if that ever even happens.


Jennifer Landesmann
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2020 at 11:18 am
Jennifer Landesmann, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 11:18 am

@Mark Dinan,

"The idea that people from EPA will somehow overrun and destroy Foothill Park is laughably racist"

That was the ACLU's thinking.

I see it another way. When access goes from a universe defined by the population of 1 city - to a universe of all cities, the concern is not "who" the users are but how usage will change.

Am glad that now the focus can go to the care of Foothill and I sincerely hope that all who have campaigned for expanding access will also chip in to support it.


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2020 at 11:26 am
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 11:26 am

>"The idea that people from EPA will somehow overrun and destroy Foothill Park is laughably racist."

^ Though the ACLU/NAACP might beg to differ, I don't think park visitors from EPA were being singled out as a potentially destructive eco-unfriendly force.

>"I am going to guess that a few years from now, opening the park to non-residents will benefit all Palo Alto residents,"

^ That remains to be seen...unless crowds are considered to be a desirable aspect of an outdoor park experience.

Visiting Yosemite National Park during the late 1950s through 1960s was a whole lot different than it is today.


Be realistic
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Dec 17, 2020 at 11:41 am
Be realistic, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 11:41 am

Of course, the park/preserve will keep being trashed, as it was happening for a while. It will get worse in the coming months because even those who would not even think of going there will go now simply because they can.
The CC, if it still exists in the city, needs to limit access and enforce the rules - for all, it has nothing to do with the place of residence. The best way to go is to convert it to an actual preserve and give it back to wild life. Visitors can be allowed - docent guided, in limited numbers - regardless of the city they live in.


Joel
Registered user
Barron Park
on Dec 17, 2020 at 12:09 pm
Joel, Barron Park
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 12:09 pm

The song "Oh, Happy Day" comes to mind as our city becomes "inclusive" of all.
Finally, after 50 years of my Palo Alto residency the Foothill Nature Preserve becomes a reality.


Jennifer Landesmann
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2020 at 12:23 pm
Jennifer Landesmann, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 12:23 pm

@Joel,


"Finally, after 50 years of my Palo Alto residency the Foothill Nature Preserve becomes a reality."

Just wondering from your 50 years of residency what you think failed about all your efforts to get this to the public agenda sooner instead of desperate measures of a lawsuit. As an only 20 year resident, I have never seen this rise to any attention until recently.

Really - how does something like this languish for 50 years in the minds and hopes of residents and PACC does nothing until they are sued?


Joel
Registered user
Barron Park
on Dec 17, 2020 at 1:19 pm
Joel, Barron Park
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 1:19 pm

The issue has come up at least twice in my life in Palo Alto. Once when I was Parks and Recreation Commissioner around 2007. The Councils always used the excuse that neighboring communities chose not to join in on the cost of purchase and running of the park. I found that to be an elitist attitude and detrimental to our neighbors and their children surrounding Palo Alto. It was similar to the Stanford University wanting to build housing in the Dish area which many Palo Altans fought to keep open for 25 years. We have many people that can now visit the Dish area for hikes for all.
My suggestion for those that are concerned about keeping the Foothill Nature Preserve pristine is that we find student groups or individuals to get extra class credit for working there.


Carol Li
Registered user
College Terrace
on Dec 17, 2020 at 1:24 pm
Carol Li, College Terrace
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 1:24 pm

What a sad day for the Foothill Park! Sad for the animals and environment!
We wish we knew the petition earlier, we have 6 signatures to oppose the opening of the park to the public. We went to the park recently, the park is full no parking space. People are loud there trashes here and there alreay!


Carole
Registered user
Community Center
on Dec 17, 2020 at 1:25 pm
Carole, Community Center
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 1:25 pm

Park animals do not like the over crowd many cars and people loud!


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2020 at 1:26 pm
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 1:26 pm

>"It will get worse in the coming months because even those who would not even think of going there will go now simply because they can."

^ Curious...what will traffic along Page Mill Road amount to during crush hours?

More automobile accidents (i.e potential head-ons, driving onto the shoulder of the road, bicyclists getting hit by cars etc.)?

While park access was addressed (to a certain extent), did anyone at PACC or traffic engineering consider a potential increase in traffic coming & going from the park along with estimates of peak traffic hours?

There are public safety issues to contend with in addition to addressing social injustice/alleged racism, constitutionality issues, environmental preservation,
potential increases in garbage, and 'open range' debates.


Leslie York
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Dec 17, 2020 at 1:43 pm
Leslie York, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 1:43 pm

How much will the taxpayers of East Palo Alto and Menlo Park, both in San Mateo county, contribute to the upkeep of the park? The answer is "nothing". Palo Alto taxpayers will be left holding the bag. There are costs involved in maintaining the landscape, insurance, picking up trash/litter and having emergency services at the ready and others.

Congratulations, residents of surrounding communities, you get something for nothing! Enjoy the park that Palo Alto taxpayers are subsidizing for you.


jc
Registered user
College Terrace
on Dec 17, 2020 at 2:43 pm
jc, College Terrace
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 2:43 pm

Much as I have loved and used the Foothills during the last almost fifty years, I think it is time to ask ourselves if we can maintain the fragile nature of Foothill Park using the existing funding? Indeed, usage may settle down and there may not be much additional wear and tear. However, Foothill Park has been operating on a shoestring for a number of years, and if not what then?

The question that should be asked is, if increased usage does requires substantial additional funds to maintain the park in its current state how does that stack up against other city priorities? With a budget already cut to the bone, city services slashed, and an economic recovery that will take years, from what other city services would the council need to siphon off funds? What further cuts to other city services to do so?

Should Palo Alto even be in the business of running a fragile preserve when other open space preserves are funded by county-wide taxes? Especially since the city already generously funds three other unrestricted preserves (Astradero, Bay Lands, Edith Clark) without any county funding.

Foothill is no longer quite the unique resource it originally was. When Palo Alto residents stepped up to stop the property from being sold for development and buy the land, this represented a particularly unique opportunity. Only the more distant county and state parks existed. The Mid Peninsula Open Space District (MPOSD) did not exist. Astradero Preserve was still private land. Even the Dish wasn't open to the public. However, beginning in the 1980's we have been fortunate to have access to numerous and continually expanding open space preserves. Times have changed.





Be realistic
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Dec 17, 2020 at 2:46 pm
Be realistic, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 2:46 pm

I suggest we stop already with social injustice and racism nonsense. [Portion removed.]
Why don't we focus now on how to protect the preserve the way it needs to be done? We the PA citizens will have to keep forking up the funds but what do you do? We are "rich", right?

Where are the rangers who are supposed to enforce the rules - count the cars, check if parking is still available, speeding, biking on trails, etc.? Laid off, my guess is. CC, that is on you but - hey - keep forgetting ...


Be realistic
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Dec 17, 2020 at 2:50 pm
Be realistic, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 2:50 pm

jc,
our comments came in simultaneously. So what is the answer to all the questions? Get rid of it?
If some entity buys it and restricts access for preservation, I'd be fine with that.


PST
Registered user
South of Midtown
on Dec 17, 2020 at 2:51 pm
PST, South of Midtown
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 2:51 pm

Delighted this petition effort to block positive change failed. If PA does not want responsibility sell it to POST or someone like that. Use the money to build extremely low income housing. While I thought the lawsuit was bogus overreach, it is good to have the space accessible to all provided it is properly overseen.


jc
Registered user
College Terrace
on Dec 17, 2020 at 2:52 pm
jc, College Terrace
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 2:52 pm

@ Lee "did anyone at PACC or traffic engineering consider a potential increase in traffic coming & going from the park along with estimates of peak traffic hours?"

The answer is yes. PACC discussed preparations for opening the park and had a plan which was then preempted by the lawsuit.


jc
Registered user
College Terrace
on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:08 pm
jc, College Terrace
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:08 pm

"So what is the answer to al the questions? Get rid of it?"

All options should be carefully explored, thought through, weighed. During the original council debate, support from various other environmental entities were put forward. There may be other sources of funding. We won't know without asking the question. Or turn it into a true nature preserve by closing the existing entrance to the public but keep the entrance from Astradero Preserve open.


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:22 pm
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:22 pm

>"...spinelessness and lack of aptitude of the CC on the other. PA voters are not off the hook; they need to think who they vote for."

^ A good point except that voting in a PACC election is akin to having to order from a limited restaurant menu offering either liver or brussels sprouts as the main course.


Anonymous
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:27 pm
Anonymous, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:27 pm

@Be realistic wrote:

"lack of aptitude of the CC on the other. PA voters are not off the hook; they need to think who they vote for."

Indeed, Kou and Tanaka will never, ever, get a vote from me, whatever offices they run for in the future.




Duveneck
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:33 pm
Duveneck, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:33 pm

The Parks and Rec department should be concerned about the #1 danger in the park. Fire. To help preserve the park, ALL fire pits and BBQs should be removed. Dry conditions and dry lightning sparked the devastating fires throughout CA this year. It could happen here. Sparks from any man-made fires in camping or picnic areas could cause a major catastrophe.


Time to close this thread.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:42 pm
Time to close this thread. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:42 pm

Time to close this thread...though I agree with the concern about fire danger. Stay on that City Council and staff, please.


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:45 pm
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:45 pm
Green Gables
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:48 pm
Green Gables, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:48 pm

East palo Alto has always been in San Mateo County. When houses were built in 1950 EPA, those who bought those houses were caucasian.
It was rumored many years ago that the City of Palo Alto would manage EPA if San County would hand over some industry to offset the cost. San Mateo County said it would not.
Years ago there were many "sneak-ins" from EPA to attend PA schools. Mrs. Tingsley sought out fairness in education so there are a number of low-income kids who attend PA schools.
Non Palo Alto residents have entered Foothills Park during the week for many years. The only difference now is that they can now enter on the weekends. Big whoop.


GeoffPaulsen
Registered user
another community
on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:52 pm
GeoffPaulsen, another community
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:52 pm

jc, you bring up a good point that I did not discuss - budgets.

I've spent my entire career working for Bay Area city, county, regional, state and federal governments, I have a masters degree in public administration, and have served for 14 years on city commissions - so I know a thing or two.

First, you're right that Foothills Park in is no longer unique. What if the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District followed the lead of the East Bay Regional Park District and became the "Peninsula Park District" with more picnic areas, parking, multi-use trails, connectivity, etc.?

The ecological impacts would be mitigated by building a support base of active users (and therefore voters willing to support taxes for open space). We would all benefit, and Foothills Park could fit into this concept.


Leslie York
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:57 pm
Leslie York, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 3:57 pm

Why can't Rev. Moore take his East Palo Alto youth groups to beautiful Huddart Park? We used to go there in the '60s — just as much nature there as at Foothills Park. Only $6 per vehicle and they're already paying taxes to San Mateo county. No lawsuit needed to gain entry.

Come back here after the pandemic and see if people are complaining about littering, speeding and drinking in Foothills Park.


Lee Forrest
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2020 at 4:52 pm
Lee Forrest, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 4:52 pm
Leslie York
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Dec 17, 2020 at 5:38 pm
Leslie York, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 5:38 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 17, 2020 at 5:57 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Dec 17, 2020 at 5:57 pm

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