News

As visitors flock to Foothills Park, city plans to restrict access

City will temporarily close entrance gate when preserve reaches maximum capacity

Buckeye Creek is located on the far edge of Las Trampas Valley at Foothills Park. Palo Alto is considering new measures to limit visitation to the park, which has surged since the resident-only restriction was lifted on Dec. 17. Embarcadero Media file photo by Veronica Weber.

Concerned about the recent surge of visitors to Foothills Park, Palo Alto leaders are planning to restrict access to the once-exclusive nature preserve by closing the entrance gates when the open space reaches maximum capacity on a temporary basis.

The City Council also is preparing to consider additional measures to limit visitation, including charging a parking fee and reducing the number of people that could be at the park at one time from the current limit of 750.

Starting on Saturday, Jan. 9, the entrance gate at the park closed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends and holidays when the number of visitors exceeds the park's current visitation limit, according to the city. The 1,400-acre preserve, which has long been restricted to Palo Alto residents and their guests, has reached its 750-person limit several times since the city officially opened it to the general population on Dec. 17.

The busiest time at the park has been between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on the weekends, according to the city. This "creates safety concerns and road hazards, and large numbers of visitors have been turned away."

"This temporary measure is to help manage the number of visitors in the park and provide a safe, enjoyable and consistent experience to parkgoers," the city's announcement stated.

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While the city's initial announcement on Jan. 7 had indicated that the entrance would be closed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends and holidays, officials clarified on Saturday that the restriction would only be put in place on those days when the capacity limit is exceeded. This could also mean restricting access on weekdays when there is high visitation, according to Meghan Horrigan-Taylor, the city's chief communications officer.

"Generally, staff has seen high visitation resulting in the cap being reached on the weekend and holidays though the temporary closure could go into effect on weekdays too," Horrigan-Taylor said in an email.

According to a report from the Community Services Department, visitation to the park has spiked since the Dec. 17 policy change, with the park reaching its 750-person limit several times each day. On the weekend before Christmas, 4,081 visitors came to the park, a roughly six-fold increase from the prior year, when there were 688 visitors.

The main reason for the change is the council's decision in November to abolish a long-standing ordinance that limited access to Palo Altans and their guests. The council made a move to expand access to Foothills Park in response to a lawsuit from a coalition that includes the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP and a group of residents from Palo Alto and other nearby cities.

With the number of visitors rising, staff is pointing to potentially unsafe conditions during peak hours for pedestrians and bicyclists who use the park roads, which are too narrow to safely accommodate them when cars are driving in both directions. The report also notes that the majority of visitors try to park near the entrance area, Boronda Lake, Orchard Glen, the picnic area and Vista Hill. This results in people "parking and walking in inappropriate locations causing damage to natural areas and creating potentially unsafe conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists."

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To limit visitation, city staff is proposing lowering the capacity limit from 750 visitors (or about 280 vehicles) to 500 visitors (or about 185 vehicles). Traditionally, the park had a limit of 1,000 visitors at any one time, though the council had agreed to limit it to 750 for the first 90 days after expanding its access policy.

The council will consider this proposal on Jan. 19. It will also decide whether — and how much — to charge visitors who drive to the park. A proposed ordinance calls for a $6 parking fee, in line with other parks in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties that charge for admission. The proposal also includes an option for a $50 annual pass for city residents and $65 for nonresidents.

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As visitors flock to Foothills Park, city plans to restrict access

City will temporarily close entrance gate when preserve reaches maximum capacity

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Jan 8, 2021, 9:42 am

Concerned about the recent surge of visitors to Foothills Park, Palo Alto leaders are planning to restrict access to the once-exclusive nature preserve by closing the entrance gates when the open space reaches maximum capacity on a temporary basis.

The City Council also is preparing to consider additional measures to limit visitation, including charging a parking fee and reducing the number of people that could be at the park at one time from the current limit of 750.

Starting on Saturday, Jan. 9, the entrance gate at the park closed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends and holidays when the number of visitors exceeds the park's current visitation limit, according to the city. The 1,400-acre preserve, which has long been restricted to Palo Alto residents and their guests, has reached its 750-person limit several times since the city officially opened it to the general population on Dec. 17.

The busiest time at the park has been between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on the weekends, according to the city. This "creates safety concerns and road hazards, and large numbers of visitors have been turned away."

"This temporary measure is to help manage the number of visitors in the park and provide a safe, enjoyable and consistent experience to parkgoers," the city's announcement stated.

While the city's initial announcement on Jan. 7 had indicated that the entrance would be closed from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends and holidays, officials clarified on Saturday that the restriction would only be put in place on those days when the capacity limit is exceeded. This could also mean restricting access on weekdays when there is high visitation, according to Meghan Horrigan-Taylor, the city's chief communications officer.

"Generally, staff has seen high visitation resulting in the cap being reached on the weekend and holidays though the temporary closure could go into effect on weekdays too," Horrigan-Taylor said in an email.

According to a report from the Community Services Department, visitation to the park has spiked since the Dec. 17 policy change, with the park reaching its 750-person limit several times each day. On the weekend before Christmas, 4,081 visitors came to the park, a roughly six-fold increase from the prior year, when there were 688 visitors.

The main reason for the change is the council's decision in November to abolish a long-standing ordinance that limited access to Palo Altans and their guests. The council made a move to expand access to Foothills Park in response to a lawsuit from a coalition that includes the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP and a group of residents from Palo Alto and other nearby cities.

With the number of visitors rising, staff is pointing to potentially unsafe conditions during peak hours for pedestrians and bicyclists who use the park roads, which are too narrow to safely accommodate them when cars are driving in both directions. The report also notes that the majority of visitors try to park near the entrance area, Boronda Lake, Orchard Glen, the picnic area and Vista Hill. This results in people "parking and walking in inappropriate locations causing damage to natural areas and creating potentially unsafe conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists."

To limit visitation, city staff is proposing lowering the capacity limit from 750 visitors (or about 280 vehicles) to 500 visitors (or about 185 vehicles). Traditionally, the park had a limit of 1,000 visitors at any one time, though the council had agreed to limit it to 750 for the first 90 days after expanding its access policy.

The council will consider this proposal on Jan. 19. It will also decide whether — and how much — to charge visitors who drive to the park. A proposed ordinance calls for a $6 parking fee, in line with other parks in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties that charge for admission. The proposal also includes an option for a $50 annual pass for city residents and $65 for nonresidents.

Comments

sunnypa
Registered user
Gunn High School
on Jan 8, 2021 at 9:51 am
sunnypa, Gunn High School
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 9:51 am
139 people like this

Great news. The crowds have become unmanageable and caused havoc on neighborhood streets and the park itself, throwing trash around and parking in undesignated spots. The rangers can only do so much and the park likely has a reduced staff. The park is what it is because of its pristine condition. Opening up to large crowds will destroy it.


Be realistic
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:23 am
Be realistic, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:23 am
53 people like this

Why cannot the rangers give parking citations?
Is chaos not what many here said was going to happen?
Convert the park to a nature preserve (which it already is, read the documents, for once) and limit to docent/ranger-guided tours. FOR ALL.


Donya
Registered user
Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:29 am
Donya, Barron Park
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:29 am
71 people like this

Thank you for further limiting the number of visitors. We were there a couple of times recently and it was hard to believe the change. We had to be careful with impatient drivers speeding away and there were folks having picnics in random areas that were not marked as such.
We talked to 2 women from Sunnyvale who were hiking and they said that the best part of Foothills Preserve is that there is "infinite" parking. They said Rancho San Antonio is closer to them but parking issues don't make it easy for them to use that park. So Rancho has found a practical way to limit visitors.


Alice Schaffer Smith
Registered user
Downtown North
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:35 am
Alice Schaffer Smith, Downtown North
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:35 am
85 people like this

The paths should be one way. When I was walking with my daughters earlier this week, people passed us going both ways; I had to tell 2 people to put on masks. Children were dangerously near the edge of the lake. Trash (masks) on the side of the road. I saw no deer for the first time in months of going to Foothills Park during the pandemic; the bird population was essentially coots, gadwalls and turkeys. Midweek I had never seen the numbers of cars that were there. It looks more like an urban park than a wildlife refuge. Very sad for me. It was not quietly rustic.


Tina
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:49 am
Tina, Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:49 am
62 people like this

So...they open it up to everyone so everyone can have access, and now no one can? Seems like major mismanagement to me :-( 10-3 on weekends is really the only time when my family and I could go (and prob most people can), so this seems like a lose lose situation. I know it's probably taboo to say this, but wasn't it better when it was limited to one city only and we could at least invite visitors from other cities?? Hopefully they will figure this out because closing it seems like it defeats the purpose.


hcc2009
Registered user
Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:50 am
hcc2009, Palo Alto Hills
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:50 am
115 people like this

What a cluster-you-know-what this stupid ill-advised and ill-considered policy flip-flop has turned out to be. Dangerous amounts of traffic on a twisty-windy road filled with bicyclists and bad drivers. People WALKING on the wrong side of Page Mill Road. People PARKING on private roads and driveways.
[Portion removed.]


Entrance Fee for Non Residents Only
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:54 am
Entrance Fee for Non Residents Only, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:54 am
139 people like this

Palo Alto residents are already paying for the park out of our taxes, which should also cover our entrance fee. Only non-residents (who aren't already paying for the park) should be charged an entrance fee.


Be realistic
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:58 am
Be realistic, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:58 am
68 people like this

Entrance Fee:
That would be logical but is explicitly prohibited in the "settlement" of the lawsuit. The CC has sold us out right then and there.

hcc2009: although the situation is a little more complex than that, I agree with your major point. It is utterly stupid. And destructive.


JB
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Jan 8, 2021 at 11:01 am
JB, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 11:01 am
42 people like this

This is really welcome news! The overcrowding during the holiday period was out of control. The park needs money for maintenance, and the annual fee seems like a good idea. I recommend that one-way trails be clearly marked with even larger signs and that people not familiar with the park be given current trail maps that show which way you can hike on the trails. Newcomers seemed confused about the trail system. I would also like a large sign at the park entrance, stating NO BIKES ON TRAILS. I was almost run off the Chamise Trail once. This is such a dangerous situation on a trail that is often only about 2-3 feet wide. I hope they also post signs saying DON'T CHASE WILDLIFE at the entrance station. I have seen people running after the turkeys and harassing them. Let's hope that these changes help to preserve our precious nature preserve!


JB
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Jan 8, 2021 at 11:25 am
JB, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 11:25 am
18 people like this

I really like the idea of decreasing the visitor limit from 750 to 500, a much more reasonable limit. Since parents may have a hard time getting their kids to the park before 10 AM, maybe the park's entrance gate can be closed from 11 AM to 3 (or maybe 11 AM to 2?). This is just an idea. I'm pretty sure that changes are temporary now and may be tweaked in the future.


Noel
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jan 8, 2021 at 11:38 am
Noel, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 11:38 am
20 people like this

I have greatly enjoyed the extreme privilege of being able to enjoy this park in almost solitude over the past 20 years. I miss that solitude but I recognize it as having been a privilege and not a right. It is fair to now manage this park to serve the entire Bay Area community as best we can. This means adding staff, possibly expanding parking, maybe adding restrooms and maybe even widening roads. It would seem fair to pay for these additions with a parking fee. If the previous maximum limit was 1000, then perhaps we should be building out resources so that the 1000 limit can be maintained. Obviously having 1000 people once a year is very different than having 1000 people every Saturday, Sunday and holiday, but we should try to accomodate those who wish to use the park.

Another unfortunate side effect of opening the park is the danger posed to cyclists on Page Mill by significantly heavier traffic including many who are not acclimated to narrow, winding roads with lots of bicycles. This issue needs a lot more thought, though personally I would not cycle on those roads as they have always been dangerous. One possibility might be to create parking for cyclists to drive to the park and start their ride uphill from there so as to avoid the heavy traffic down the hill.

We need to work together as a community to make this new reality work for all as best we can.


rita vrhel
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jan 8, 2021 at 12:00 pm
rita vrhel, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 12:00 pm
69 people like this

I am so glad FINALLY steps are being taken to prevent the continued destruction of Foothills Preserve. Council-members Filseth and DuBois, in their Weekly Opinion piece, seemed to assure residents that the number of people allowed into the Preserve was under City control; so let's have some control!

While an increase from 688 visitors to 4,081 is a 6-fold increase (as the article above states) the damage inflected on this fragile land was geometric. I hope he CC reduces visitor limits to the actual per-settlement numbers/day.. 420????? 370?????

Limiting parking is an excellent idea...it has always been limited. But now it needs to be enforced. And please keep track of all the costs so they can be shared by all "visitors". And please keep sending your photos, videos, emails and social media posts about what is going on at Foothills Preserve to the City Council and City Manager. They help keep the City and the public informed; also establish the background for future decisions.
Thank you.


john guislin
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jan 8, 2021 at 12:05 pm
john guislin, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 12:05 pm
55 people like this

We in the US decry the devastation of the forests in the Amazon, Indonesia and elsewhere. We humans are literally destroying viable habitats for species other than ourselves. This is shameful and could contribute to the end of life on our planet.
Let's stop only thinking about ourselves and preserve safe, intact habitats for the other creatures that share our planet. A good local start would be to make Foothills a safe place for wildlife and greatly restrict human access. Would I miss access to the park? Yes. But I will miss the planet more if it comes to that.


Mark
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jan 8, 2021 at 12:11 pm
Mark, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 12:11 pm
65 people like this

It was chaos when I rode up. I was on a bike and with people hunting for parking, it was like navigating University. Cars were parking everywhere which was causing particular damage because the ground was wet and soft. The trails too were muddy, with many tramping off trail. There aren’t many trash receptacles, and I did see trash left on the ground.

Parks should be for everyone. But this park is not set up for intensive use, and I just don’t think it can or should be. It should have been converted to lower impact open space years ago, open to all, but with more environmental protections.

I just wish Palo Alto had dealt with this before it’s hand was forced. It’s probably too late, but what I saw benefits no one, including the plaintiffs.




TimR
Registered user
Downtown North
on Jan 8, 2021 at 12:57 pm
TimR, Downtown North
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 12:57 pm
24 people like this

I've been complaining a LOT about the opening, and criticizing those responsible. But I can also give credit where credit is due, and these new limits are the responsible, humane thing to do, driven by facts and reality instead of ideology. In this time of chaos, it's good to see the city doing the right thing.

I'll be running in through Arastradero on Sat, and look forward to a little peace and quiet.


merry
Registered user
Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 8, 2021 at 1:22 pm
merry, Palo Alto Hills
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 1:22 pm
61 people like this

Been there done that. Years ago there was an entry fee. Residents could buy an annual entry permit. That turned out to be too expensive to manage. Hope we will not repeat
That exercise.
It was a mistake to open the park to all.
Now to figure out how to fix this mess, Certainly reduced capacity is a start.


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Jan 8, 2021 at 1:31 pm
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 1:31 pm
63 people like this

Fully agree with hcc2009, Be realistic, JB, and Mark.

It's been only 3 weeks since Foothills was opened to all and already there are problems. Talk about a Pyrhhic victory. Maybe those who threatened the lawsuit and crafted the terms of the settlement can put their heads together and recommend some solutions that address the new problems created by the action that was initiated in a rush and apparently w/o a management plan. I think former mayor Fine wanted to be able to say forevermore that Foothills opened on his watch. Fine, Fine. Now do what should have been done before the grand opening and figure out how to manage and protect this beautiful area and the animals that live there. CC, the City Attorney, and the City Manager should be solving problems, not creating them.

And please make fire safety part of the plan. The station at the park is usually closed and just today there is a report about Station 2 on Hanover being browned out. I think this means that the closest apparatus is at the station on Arastradero. And per this article, the big trucks, no matter where they come from, may be slowed down due to new traffic on Page Mill and then full parking areas once at Foothills. Not good.

Please, make Foothills protection a priority.


Ramona Fernando
Registered user
Professorville
on Jan 8, 2021 at 2:54 pm
Ramona Fernando, Professorville
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 2:54 pm
21 people like this

I would like to see some pictures of what Foothills Park looks like now with increased visitors and cars. The picture accompanying the article is what it used to look like, with the lovely deer, unafraid in the meadows.


Jerry Underdal
Registered user
Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2021 at 3:58 pm
Jerry Underdal, Barron Park
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 3:58 pm
4 people like this

This quick response to evidence of the need for enhanced management of Foothills, taking into into account the impact of eliminating the non-resident access regulation is an example of Palo Alto at its problem-solving, values-aligned best. On this thread we already have many thoughtful suggestions with varying approaches to addressing the challenges of maintaining the park. What's new, and positive, is that discrimination based on resident status will not be a legitimate part of the debate, thanks to the settlement.


Hsin Mei Liu
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jan 8, 2021 at 4:14 pm
Hsin Mei Liu, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 4:14 pm
51 people like this

Foothill Park was private city property. Someone sued the city for not sharing with other cities and towns. So we are now handling the result of sharing with multitude of visitors, cost to be burdened to the city and its residents. Does this sound like having a swimming pool on your home property and being sued for not sharing with your neighbors? Then having to deal with the burden of sharing the pool with hundreds of stranger swimmers? Perhaps the resulted cost should be shared by the visitors coming from outside of Palo Alto, but not the Palo Alto residents? What about the safe quiet clean neighborhoods near the park? sorry, but it is leading me to think about some people have big houses with extra bedrooms, should they be considering sharing those extra bedrooms with those who don't own them?


Tempe Javitz
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Jan 8, 2021 at 4:22 pm
Tempe Javitz, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 4:22 pm
2 people like this

I don't see why you can't set up an apt basis entrance, just like at a museum. No problem, charge a fee. Put the sign up online and visitors will sign up, pay their fee, and have a 2 hour window or less to be in and out of the park. That would solve a lot of problems.


cmarg
Registered user
Palo Alto High School
on Jan 8, 2021 at 4:37 pm
cmarg, Palo Alto High School
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 4:37 pm
32 people like this

Great to hear that there are challenges. It was a rash decision to open it to all and fold when a lawsuit was presented. Oh well, I hope that the animals and preserve are not destroyed at this point.
Hopefully good learning for the council!


Jerry Underdal
Registered user
Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2021 at 5:19 pm
Jerry Underdal, Barron Park
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 5:19 pm
Like this comment

The city is a government entity. What it owns is *not* private property.


Eyemax
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2021 at 6:41 pm
Eyemax, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 6:41 pm
33 people like this

The new "open to all" policy is a lie. I am handicapped and cannot use the park because there are no handicapped parking spaces next to the only ADA-compliant bathroom. My Black and Latino neighbors cannot use the park because by the time they get off work, it's at capacity. The people who have replaced us are almost all wealthy, healthy nonresidents who pay nothing to use the park. Meanwhile, my neighbors and I--many of us longtime PA residents--continue to pay for the increasing maintenance costs through our taxes despite being excluded! What kind of "social justice" is this? This is simply economic exploitation of lower-income, vulnerable people to service the rich.


eileen
Registered user
College Terrace
on Jan 8, 2021 at 8:16 pm
eileen , College Terrace
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 8:16 pm
52 people like this

Thank you, Palo Alto, for closing this "nature preserve", for now! You need to figure out a way to protect the wildlife and pristine beauty of this park. Please DO NOT add more parking or widen the natural trails!! :-(


Irina Beylin
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:16 pm
Irina Beylin, Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:16 pm
48 people like this

The Foothills Park (FHP) was opened to general public on 17 December 2020 without measures in place to protect the habitat and environment. Now FHP is overcrowded, it never experienced so many people before, wildlife is driven away and nature preserve is in great danger.
City of Palo Alto Parks and Recreation Commission (PRC) responsibility is “to protect, preserve and to expand the parks and open space to residents”. PRC should fulfill the direct duties and CC and Manager should ensure it is done before FHT destruction becomes irreversible.
The pilot program was agreed upon, but CC and especially previous mayor Fine did everything, including participation in demonstration to “desegregate” and NOT PUTTING final vote for pilot program vote on the agenda, for lawsuit and resulting settlement to succeed. We should specially thank city attorney Molly Stump who derelict her duties to warn CC and PA about First Amendment issue as it is related to parks, so FHT would be open on conditions favorable to PA residents (e.g free access as Palo Altans has already paid for the park purchase and continue paying for upkeep).
When Referendum was run to prevent the disaster, councilmen Eric Filseth and city manager Ed Shikada published misleading article that everything is under control and FHT will be in great shape, and that Referendum will result in great expenses for the city, resulting in Referendum not getting enough signatures. HOW MUCH CURRENT SITUATION COSTS and how much will it cost to correct?
In addition to current proposal for FHT problem, the following should be done:
1. City lawyer Molly Stump should work to allow residents to write off local taxes the annual parking permit cost so residents do not pay twice for the park upkeep and maintenance.
2. Ensure handicap parking spaces, proper bathroom and garbage collection stations.
3. Clear accountability for ALL city resources as relevant to the park maintenance and other direct and indirect costs, - establish website for everybody to see the costs, use the info to adjust fees accordingly.
4. An Environmental Impact Review must be conducted bi-weekly? and posted on the same website
5. Post park rules and fines for breaking the rules (do not feed wildlife, no parking in undesignated spaces, no walking off the paths, no mountain biking, no dogs off leash, no loud music, no cooking using open fire except at campground, etc).
6 Remove fire pits and BBQ, except at the campground.


lulu
Registered user
Los Altos
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:35 pm
lulu, Los Altos
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:35 pm
23 people like this

I seems the opening was not well thought out. A better solution would have been to open the park for general public use just 1 or 2 days a week to start, and to charge a parking fee. Entrance could be limited to before 10am or after 3pm so that cyclists know to avoid those hours. It is obvious that general public use is going to require additional staffing, clean up crews, trail maintenance etc and that comes at a cost. Parking regulations also need to be strictly enforced. A free for all is going to lead to the same issues that Mission Peak in Fremont has had.


Environmental Advocacy Group
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:44 pm
Environmental Advocacy Group, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 10:44 pm
34 people like this

Would an environmental advocacy group please sue Palo Alto to actually protect the park?


greg schmid
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Jan 9, 2021 at 12:06 am
greg schmid, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Jan 9, 2021 at 12:06 am
15 people like this

Wait a minute. The City wants to block new entrants between 10-3 on weekends and holidays. That means the park will be filled well before 10 on those days (and maybe actually closed before 10am). The average family probably spends a couple of hours enjoying the park. This means that on prime days of use the park will be half empty between 12 and 3 (and maybe 10 percent full at 3pm-- (with a hundred cars parked on neighboring streets waiting for the 3 o'clock opening (and maybe another closure at 3:15). This might mean that the park will have its fewest visitors at the hours most convenient to those who live in the densest part of town!
Have you heard about reservations?


Hal
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 9, 2021 at 9:23 am
Hal, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Jan 9, 2021 at 9:23 am
18 people like this

Communities can restrict non resident parking on public roads paid with gas taxes but we can't restrict access to a park maintained by community taxes?


Per Day Cap
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2021 at 9:37 am
Per Day Cap, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jan 9, 2021 at 9:37 am
30 people like this

Greg Schmid and others - this is now a temporary emergency rescue effort of Foothill Park Preserve and I support it. Everyone should. I supported opening the Park with strict controls in place. They were not. We need to put them in place now.

Enact stricter visitor caps and significant fees, bike and trail use policies clarified, better signage, more trash cans, parking controlled and enforcement all around. If more money is needed, find it. Wildlife, rare plants and habitat must be protected.

Instead of a “at-any-one-time” cap of 750 (now), should there be a maximum per-day visitor cap, to prioritize the health of Preserve, not the desires of visitors?

A goal should be keeping the Preserve low key, calm, and a place of serenity - it’s historic essence. All of us need such a place now more than ever. There are many other preserves we can all visit right up Page Mill Rd.


Mark Dinan
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jan 9, 2021 at 10:17 am
Mark Dinan, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jan 9, 2021 at 10:17 am
18 people like this

I went biking through Foothills Park on Tuesday on a ride with a friend from Menlo Park. Park was not anywhere near full, and there were 3 cars at the entrance. At the bottom of the hill, parking was easily available and I saw many deer strolling about. Freaking out about a lot of people heading to the park on the first few weekends after being "forbidden fruit" for a generation is an extreme over-reaction. People who had a private park nearly to themselves for decades need to get over themselves and chill out - park visitors will plummet in the next month as the new shine wears off.


Donald
Registered user
South of Midtown
on Jan 9, 2021 at 11:06 am
Donald, South of Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 9, 2021 at 11:06 am
15 people like this

A 2 hour time limit for use is not reasonable. The Los Trancos Trail is 7.5-8 miles long and takes most people 3-5 hours. Yes, you could have a picnic lunch and be in and out in 2 hours, but many visitors go for other reasons.


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Jan 9, 2021 at 11:18 am
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Jan 9, 2021 at 11:18 am
15 people like this

I think Mark DInan's prediction is probably right. Even so, less is more when it comes to Foothills, so a visitor limitation that is enforced is probably for the best.

Over the years most of my visits to Foothills have been spontaneous and there was never a problem getting in. Those days may be over unless interest in visiting the preserve levels off to prior levels. Given the preserve's location the city probably should look at an app for reservations so that unnecessary trips up and down Page Mill are not realized. This would avoid the emissions associated with wasted car trips, maintain usual traffic levels on Page Mill, avoid parking issues, and avoid disappointment at the gate.


TimR
Registered user
Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2021 at 1:29 pm
TimR, Downtown North
Registered user
on Jan 9, 2021 at 1:29 pm
45 people like this

Mark Dinan,

"...[P]ark visitors will plummet in the next month as the new shine wears off."

Clearly you have no idea what you're talking about. Because the other nearby parks--like Arastradero, Windy Hill, Wunderlich--are always overflowing on nice weekends, complete with illegal parking galore. I was just at Arastradero and Foothills today, and man what a difference. Given a chance, the crowds would be just as regular at Foothills.

So please, stick to facts and not false, ill-informed statements.


JB
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Jan 9, 2021 at 4:26 pm
JB, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Jan 9, 2021 at 4:26 pm
25 people like this

I, too, hiked this past Tuesday afternoon in Foothills Park and was so surprised to see how uncrowded it was. However, my husband hiked Tuesday morning and said it was much more crowded then. I think I was just lucky since kids are now back to school. In the future, I wouldn't be surprised to find it crowded after kids are let out of school (if their parents can take them to the park before it gets dark). This past Thursday, my husband hiked in Foothills again in the late morning and said it was much more crowded than on Tuesday. Things are in flux now, so it's hard to predict weekday usage. I can only imagine the lineup of cars starting at 3 PM on weekends and holidays! That sounds dangerous.

This is just my opinion, but I think that most residents of Palo Alto can afford $50 yearly (in the past, the yearly fee was per car) for an entrance fee to the park. If not, then people can contact city council members (I list most of the city council emails below, but I didn't see the email for Greer Stone, so maybe it's [email protected]) to see if there will be a low-income exemption allowed for Palo Alto city residents. The park has needed upkeep and maintenance, as well as money to pay for park rangers. These annual fees could really help. Of course, it would help to know if the park is full (especially on the weekend or holidays) before driving up to the park!

Does anybody know a reservation system that might be used on weekends and holidays? Does Eventbrite or the system that is used for Rinconada pool (Mind Body Online) work for this?

I definitely don't want parking lots or widened roads in the park! This is a nature preserve, not a place for the convenience of cars. I hope that 500 people is the maximum limit for people in the park. I would hope that it could even be lower than that, maybe 420-450? I agree that fire danger is a real concern in the park. Having only one exit road, which will also be used by residents in the area, could be a real danger with our frequent drought years.

Eyemax, I'm so sorry that you can't use the park. Is the only ADA compliant restroom at the visitor center? Is it possible to enter through the back parking lot or the door on the side of the building (now maybe only used for employees to enter)? Your concerns should be addressed.

I appreciate the ideas put forth by Irina Beylin and appreciate her hard work trying to put together the referendum on time. I was so angry when I read that Eric Filseth was behind the article that tried to persuade people not to vote for the referendum. On another Palo Alto Online post about Foothills Park, he wrote several posts about the park opening. He came across as a thoughtful person who wanted to support the referendum but decided not to just to save the city money on legal fees. This is just my opinion, but I don't trust him now. I voted for him because he said he was an environmentalist, but I question that now.

Here are the Palo Alto City Council email addresses that I found so far:

[email protected] Vice Mayor
[email protected] Mayor
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]

Let's hope we can all work together to protect our precious park and still allow visitors to enjoy its serene beauty!


Novelera
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 9, 2021 at 5:17 pm
Novelera, Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 9, 2021 at 5:17 pm
6 people like this

You can send an email to all Council members using this:

[email protected]


Resident
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2021 at 5:22 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jan 9, 2021 at 5:22 pm
32 people like this

Nobody can say it’s not inclusive now. All Woke should be proud.



Jim H
Registered user
Community Center
on Jan 10, 2021 at 11:50 am
Jim H, Community Center
Registered user
on Jan 10, 2021 at 11:50 am
47 people like this

This entire fiasco is very upsetting. I don't mind that the entire Bay Area can visit, but Palo Alto completely folded to this group that sued.
We should have agreed to nothing more than a fair system for all to enter with the ability to build the rules as we get experience.

I'm particularly annoyed about Palo alto essentially accepting the argument that the park was closed to Palo Alto for racial discrimination reasons. While there may be systemic racism throughout the country. This was a local decision based on the fact that no one would step forward to share in the cost of the park or its upkeep. The suing group should have been forced to acknowledge this before we settled completely on their terms. We gave access to the park. What did Palo Alto get from this settlement?


1. Track the number of people (or cars) currently in the park by counting entrance and exit.
2. Have an entry fee( tbd)
3. Have a yearly entry pass (tbd).The pass could be equal to maybe 10 entry fees. This would allow people that truly enjoy the park to be able to afford to come without paying high entry fees. People that are just interested or come once in a while could easily afford $12/car entry.


Jim H
Registered user
Community Center
on Jan 10, 2021 at 11:55 am
Jim H, Community Center
Registered user
on Jan 10, 2021 at 11:55 am
6 people like this

forgot the most important part after the counting of cars entering and exiting
4. Have a reservation system online and realtime to insure that when someone drives to the Park, they can get in.


Name hidden
Downtown North

Registered user
on Jan 10, 2021 at 8:06 pm
Name hidden, Downtown North

Registered user
on Jan 10, 2021 at 8:06 pm

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


Me 2
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jan 10, 2021 at 9:20 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jan 10, 2021 at 9:20 pm
26 people like this

Just shut the thing down. Close Foothills to everyone and let go all the rangers and staff managing it. We in a pandemic-fueled economic crisis, after all.

If you really care about the environment, leave it alone.

If you love something, set them free...


Leslie York
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jan 11, 2021 at 12:25 am
Leslie York, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jan 11, 2021 at 12:25 am
39 people like this

With their grand sense of entitlement, freeloaders who contribute nothing to the upkeep of the park have strong-armed their way in, with Palo Alto taxpayers footing the bill.

Sadly, Palo Alto taxpayers never had a say in the use of the land they own, with out-of-towners acting all along as if it's THEIR park and the city owes them access to it. The city simply caved like a house of cards, but it warms the cockles of my heart to know that the poor, underprivileged residents of Los Altos Hills can now enjoy the park and trample the vegetation.

How long before the park — excuse me, nature preserve — becomes a campground for RV dwellers?


Leslie York
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jan 11, 2021 at 1:03 am
Leslie York, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jan 11, 2021 at 1:03 am
16 people like this

Huddart park charges $6 per vehicle per visit to enter the park regardless of residency. What's wrong with that?

Palo Alto residents should be exempt from an entrance fee because they already pay for the upkeep of the park with taxes.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 11, 2021 at 10:24 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Jan 11, 2021 at 10:24 am
44 people like this

So much of what is happening was totally predictable. The city conceded for all of the wrong reasons with no plan in place to manage the finances of protecting and supporting the services of the park. I think the PACC that is now out the door had a lot to do with that. Hopefully the new PACC will exercise some common sense and issue a plan to control the number of cars, people, and charge some money to support the park services. Who are the Park and Rec Commissioners? A lot of this started with that group that then spun out of control.

From this point on I think that the residents of this city who are the taxpayers need some monthly - or quarterly updates on what the Commissioner groups are working on. It appears that they are working undercover then pop up with some plan as though everyone should agree with them and how they approach their topics. A lot of people sign up for Commissioner jobs with the intention of building their resumes for future political jobs which are supporting the "higher' political goals at state level vs what is happening in a suburban city. Mismanaged goals, mismanaged end results, mismanaged alliances with other cities which are supporting their issues vs our issues. Lots of noise from MV that is oriented to Google goals are popping up. Not our job here to turn our selves on our heads to service other city goals driven by their main economic tax driver.


Pat Markevitch
Registered user
Downtown North
on Jan 11, 2021 at 3:41 pm
Pat Markevitch, Downtown North
Registered user
on Jan 11, 2021 at 3:41 pm
2 people like this

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows: Every Commission meeting is televised. It's a great way to see what's going on. They aren't woking undercover and are subject to the Brown Act like all other elected or appointed bodies in California. The Commission meets on the 4th Tuesday of every month.

You can sign up for agenda notifications by following this link: Web Link


Curious Parent
Registered user
Community Center
on Jan 11, 2021 at 4:10 pm
Curious Parent, Community Center
Registered user
on Jan 11, 2021 at 4:10 pm
17 people like this

I'm still perplexed about why Palo Alto continues to own Foothills Park. There is a reason cities build and maintain parks within city limits. But why should a city want to own a park on the outskirts of the city that is closer to the residents of other cities like Los Altos Hills? Can't Palo Alto donate the park to the Peninsula Open Space Preserve, Los Altos Hills, or another group to allow for better management and avoid the headache and expenses of owning and maintaining this park?


Donald
Registered user
South of Midtown
on Jan 11, 2021 at 4:11 pm
Donald, South of Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 11, 2021 at 4:11 pm
3 people like this

Some San Mateo County Parks, like Huddart Park, charge an entry fee of $6 per vehicle but allow free entry for those over 62 years old on weekdays. I hope that Palo Alto considers a similar exemption for seniors.


YP
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jan 12, 2021 at 4:15 pm
YP, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jan 12, 2021 at 4:15 pm
45 people like this

Liberal hypocrisy at it's best. Put in a corner for "racism", the woke city council caved even though they also push a green agenda. The result, a trashed pristine area overrun by people. Our city council should be embarrassed for their ineptitude.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 13, 2021 at 7:30 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Jan 13, 2021 at 7:30 am
7 people like this

Pat - thanks for the info. My take here is that most people would like to know what the agenda topics are that the Commissions are devoting their time to. Not our job to micro-manage what they are discussing since they are probably bouncing ideas around and spending time gathering data to support their projects. Since every one's time is valuable - especially the time they put in - just some updates on what the topics are and where they are headed on those topics.

At the PACC meeting this week there were outside city commentators who appeared to be directing traffic on what the city focuses on. Given the challenges we have right now putting the city back together there has to be a priority as to what the city is focusing on. The how's and whys these commentators popped up is questionable - why now? Who are they working with? The fact that they pop up and interject their agendas on our list of projects raises questions.


resqpro911
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 13, 2021 at 12:23 pm
resqpro911, Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 13, 2021 at 12:23 pm
29 people like this

This will cost way more than defending the cities right to have a private park. Cleaning, managing parking, managing maintenance, trash pick up and all the non-resident people who do not care about the park. This is going to cost us lots of $ to open this up. Traffic flow, more accidents on Page Mill Road. It would be prudent to open fire Station 8 for medical calls and traffic accidents.


Pat Markevitch
Registered user
Downtown North
on Jan 13, 2021 at 3:00 pm
Pat Markevitch, Downtown North
Registered user
on Jan 13, 2021 at 3:00 pm
Like this comment

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows: A lot of what the Commission looks at is based on the City budget. All city parks are on a schedule to be "refreshed". Let's look at a hypothetical situation. Say in 2021, Johnson Park shows up in the city budget for it's turn for an update. This can be anything from new landscaping, to updating the children's play yard to fixing the internal park walkways. The P&R Chair will meet with the head of the Parks and Recreation Division to set the monthly agendas so that the park will come up for discussion in a timely fashion in order to let the public and the Commission weigh in on possible changes to the park. Hope this helps.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 13, 2021 at 3:11 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Jan 13, 2021 at 3:11 pm
34 people like this

"This will cost way more than defending the cities right to have a private park."

Of course but the 15-minutes of fame for our outgoing mayor was priceless. For him.

They should have listened to Lydia and studied the matter. If the city attorney couldn't have come up with ways to stall the implementation while study was completed, she doesn't deserve her huge salary.


Longtime Resident
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jan 14, 2021 at 4:48 am
Longtime Resident, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jan 14, 2021 at 4:48 am
12 people like this

Go walk around Foothill College - follow the circular roadway around the college.
It's a great workout with terrific views.
I have been paying for this college for 65 years and they told me to get off the college property. Say what? Make me - I dare you.
I HAVE BEEN PAYING FOR IT FOR 35 YEARS and my parents paid for it in their taxes for 40 years, yet I am told to "GO AWAY".
Make me.
I paid for it in numerous taxes and bonds as a 65 year resident with two hefty taxes.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 14, 2021 at 8:01 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Jan 14, 2021 at 8:01 am
3 people like this

WOW - Foothill College - they were begging us to vote on their bond funding. A Community College is not a "private college".

Possibly all colleges are now in lockdown due to covid. And possibly they have received some threats or had some police action regarding their students. As we have noted with SU it does not want anyone on campus unless they have a specific purpose and destination. And they have had some police actions. Valuable property with no students or staff around is a problem in the making.

As you all recall last summer Mr. Berman was trying to allow RV's to park in the Foothill CC parking lots. Of course no plan, no details of the hows and whys RV campers would use their space and utilities.

Maybe a Foothill College administrator will provide some info on this.


Lee Thé
Registered user
Charleston Gardens
11 hours ago
Lee Thé, Charleston Gardens
Registered user
11 hours ago
11 people like this

Guess who isn't visiting our overflowing-on-weekends Foothills Park?
Anyone who in any way resembles those on whose behalf the ACLU went after us.
Who is there? East Asians from Cupertino and elsewhere, rich white folks from Los Altos and Los Altos Hills and the rich part of Menlo Park.

That's what I saw the two times so far I've braved the weekend crowds to visit our park: whites and Asians. No blacks. Few Latinos.

Just as anyone who lives in Palo Alto and doesn't view the world through ideological beer goggles could have told you would happen. It is--well, was--a beautiful, desirable place to visit from the viewpoint of affluent, educated people. But from a working poor perspective, it's hard to get to and there's nothing to do there. Mitchell Park would be seen as far more desirable from that perspective.

But ideologues are passionately in love with their own viewpoint. They see the working poor as just like them only with less money. Well, they aren't. And there's no reason to expect them to be. Perhaps those who want to help people who don't have the advantages of most Palo Altans should talk to them. Our housecleaner, who comes once a week, lives in Redwood City and doesn't speak English. I asked her how many of her customers spoke Spanish. She said only me. So I'm the only one of her customers who knows what she thinks about things.

In other words, let's take George Bernard Shaw's Golden Rule into account when thinking about things like Foothills Park.

He said: "Do NOT do unto others as you would have them do unto you--their tastes may differ."


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