News

Planned admission fees for new Junior Museum and Zoo draw opposition

City Council's Finance Committee backs $18 ticket price, indicates it might lower cost later in the budget season

Zookeeper and volunteer L. Lee Harper rubs Edward the Salcata tortoise's head while telling children and parents about the animal at the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo in 2013. Embarcadero Media file photo by Veronica Weber.

When the new and improved Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo reopens to the public this fall after three years of construction and a pandemic-induced closure, it will bring visiting youths face-to-face with ibises, flamingoes, turtles and other denizens of the museum's eclectic animal kingdom.

The Rinconada Park museum will have new classrooms, exhibits and a "loose-in-the-zoo" area where humans can mingle with other species. It will also, however, include a feature that is ruffling some feathers among the popular museum's top supporters: an entrance fee that could be as high as $18 per person.

For the City Council, which is facing plummeting revenues and a second straight year of service cuts, the entrance fee is the surest and most sensible cost-recovery mechanism for the treasured community institution.

But for the nonprofit group Friends of the Junior Museum and Zoo, the $18 fee that the council endorsed last year and that the council's Finance Committee tentatively reaffirmed Tuesday night represents both bad business and misguided values.

Lauren Angelo, co-president of the friends group, urged the committee to reconsider the price of admission. The nonprofit has spearheaded the reconstruction of the museum and zoo, having raised $25 million in donations for the effort. Angelo said that during its fundraising effort, the nonprofit had expected the city to adopt an entrance fee between $6 and $8. More recently, it has been bracing for a $10 fee.

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Now, with Palo Alto planning to set the fees at $18, Angelo believes the city is making the institution less equitable and more exclusive — much to the chagrin of the many community members who supported the new museum, which is set to open in October.

"Donors have told us that if the city opens the JMZ at $18, they will deeply regret that they donated to the JMZ initiative, they will not donate to the JMZ in the future and they will not fund future capital projects in Palo Alto," Angelo told the Finance Committee.

Kristen O'Kane, director of the Community Services Department, presented to the council a set of options for potential fees and corresponding cost-recovery levels. The staff's model suggests that with $18 tickets, the Rinconada Park museum will achieve 85% cost recovery; with $10 tickets, the city would recover just 59% of its costs.

The model does not, however, consider the possibility that higher tickets prices would result in fewer visitors. Rather, it presumes that the museum would continue to see about 185,000 visitors per year, regardless of the ticket price.

For Angelo and other critics of the city's proposal, that is a fatal flaw. If the demand plummets because tickets prices are too high, the museum will generate lower revenues than it would with tickets in the $10 range. Angelo noted that most other museums and zoos in the area charge fees well below $18, with the lone exception of the San Francisco Zoo, which costs $18 to enter.

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"This is not only a question of equity," Angelo said. "To hit the projected attendance figures, the city needs more than the very affluent to buy tickets."

Vice Mayor Pat Burt, who serves on the Finance Committee, concurred and said he would oppose setting the ticket price at $18. He suggested deferring the decision on museum fees to a later date and requesting additional analysis of pricing policies.

"I'm kind of baffled that the tables the city provided assumed there is no elasticity — that there is no variability of demand depending on pricing," Burt said. "That's not the way it goes."

His two Finance Committee colleagues, Chair Alison Cormack and council member Eric Filseth, were more ambivalent about the proposed fee. The committee ultimately voted 2-1, with Burt dissenting, to move ahead with the $18 fee — at least for now.

The motion from Cormack and Filseth also specified that the committee will revisit the subject later in the budget season, when it considers the museum's funding needs in the context of all city services. At that time, the council will consider whether to spend about $900,000 to reduce the fee and subsidize the museum's operations.

"The right thing today is to keep the $18 ticket price for the moment because the plan of record is the plan of record until a new one is adopted," Filseth said.

O'Kane said Tuesday that since the council first supported the $18 fee last year, city staff have in fact reexamined the fee and have "questioned whether the (membership) range and ticket fee were too high" for the museum, which has always allowed free entry.

"We don't want to be in a situation where we're discouraging people to come because of the ticket price," O'Kane said.

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Planned admission fees for new Junior Museum and Zoo draw opposition

City Council's Finance Committee backs $18 ticket price, indicates it might lower cost later in the budget season

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, May 6, 2021, 8:53 am

When the new and improved Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo reopens to the public this fall after three years of construction and a pandemic-induced closure, it will bring visiting youths face-to-face with ibises, flamingoes, turtles and other denizens of the museum's eclectic animal kingdom.

The Rinconada Park museum will have new classrooms, exhibits and a "loose-in-the-zoo" area where humans can mingle with other species. It will also, however, include a feature that is ruffling some feathers among the popular museum's top supporters: an entrance fee that could be as high as $18 per person.

For the City Council, which is facing plummeting revenues and a second straight year of service cuts, the entrance fee is the surest and most sensible cost-recovery mechanism for the treasured community institution.

But for the nonprofit group Friends of the Junior Museum and Zoo, the $18 fee that the council endorsed last year and that the council's Finance Committee tentatively reaffirmed Tuesday night represents both bad business and misguided values.

Lauren Angelo, co-president of the friends group, urged the committee to reconsider the price of admission. The nonprofit has spearheaded the reconstruction of the museum and zoo, having raised $25 million in donations for the effort. Angelo said that during its fundraising effort, the nonprofit had expected the city to adopt an entrance fee between $6 and $8. More recently, it has been bracing for a $10 fee.

Now, with Palo Alto planning to set the fees at $18, Angelo believes the city is making the institution less equitable and more exclusive — much to the chagrin of the many community members who supported the new museum, which is set to open in October.

"Donors have told us that if the city opens the JMZ at $18, they will deeply regret that they donated to the JMZ initiative, they will not donate to the JMZ in the future and they will not fund future capital projects in Palo Alto," Angelo told the Finance Committee.

Kristen O'Kane, director of the Community Services Department, presented to the council a set of options for potential fees and corresponding cost-recovery levels. The staff's model suggests that with $18 tickets, the Rinconada Park museum will achieve 85% cost recovery; with $10 tickets, the city would recover just 59% of its costs.

The model does not, however, consider the possibility that higher tickets prices would result in fewer visitors. Rather, it presumes that the museum would continue to see about 185,000 visitors per year, regardless of the ticket price.

For Angelo and other critics of the city's proposal, that is a fatal flaw. If the demand plummets because tickets prices are too high, the museum will generate lower revenues than it would with tickets in the $10 range. Angelo noted that most other museums and zoos in the area charge fees well below $18, with the lone exception of the San Francisco Zoo, which costs $18 to enter.

"This is not only a question of equity," Angelo said. "To hit the projected attendance figures, the city needs more than the very affluent to buy tickets."

Vice Mayor Pat Burt, who serves on the Finance Committee, concurred and said he would oppose setting the ticket price at $18. He suggested deferring the decision on museum fees to a later date and requesting additional analysis of pricing policies.

"I'm kind of baffled that the tables the city provided assumed there is no elasticity — that there is no variability of demand depending on pricing," Burt said. "That's not the way it goes."

His two Finance Committee colleagues, Chair Alison Cormack and council member Eric Filseth, were more ambivalent about the proposed fee. The committee ultimately voted 2-1, with Burt dissenting, to move ahead with the $18 fee — at least for now.

The motion from Cormack and Filseth also specified that the committee will revisit the subject later in the budget season, when it considers the museum's funding needs in the context of all city services. At that time, the council will consider whether to spend about $900,000 to reduce the fee and subsidize the museum's operations.

"The right thing today is to keep the $18 ticket price for the moment because the plan of record is the plan of record until a new one is adopted," Filseth said.

O'Kane said Tuesday that since the council first supported the $18 fee last year, city staff have in fact reexamined the fee and have "questioned whether the (membership) range and ticket fee were too high" for the museum, which has always allowed free entry.

"We don't want to be in a situation where we're discouraging people to come because of the ticket price," O'Kane said.

Comments

Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2021 at 9:19 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 9:19 am

This was a big mistake right from the beginning. It was never designed to be a destination, rather a fun place for local families and perhaps those visiting the Childrens Library or the Rinconada pool after a swimming session. This grandiose vision will haunt us for a long time.

With the Childrens Library possibly needing to close, what makes anyone think that the new expensive to enter zoo will attract anyone?


Person
Registered user
Southgate
on May 6, 2021 at 9:43 am
Person, Southgate
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 9:43 am

$18 is RIDICULOUS. I cannot even.


Eileen 1
Registered user
Midtown
on May 6, 2021 at 9:45 am
Eileen 1, Midtown
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 9:45 am

Generations of Palo Alto children and parents have memories of dropping by the Junior Museum, visiting the animals, and enjoying themselves whenever the kids were interested. Like the Children's Library, it has been a place that anyone could go to and enjoy. An $18 per person entrance fee will mean that an adult and 2 children will spend $54 to go into the museum, a place where I often took my children for 30 - 45 minutes. I would feel better about a tax on Palo Altans that supported the museum and allowed all children to enter free of charge.
Remind me of the advantages of living here for a family. Foothill Park now has a fee, Junior Museum is going to have a fee, the schools are constantly asking for more money - in the form of bonds as well as private donations - the Children's Library is apparently having problems. Why are we all supposed to feel so grateful to live here? Over and over again, the City makes decisions that are completely incomprehensible. Of course fewer people will go to the museum if there is such a hefty entrance fee! How can that NOT be taken into account?


Lucille Johnson
Registered user
Community Center
on May 6, 2021 at 9:47 am
Lucille Johnson, Community Center
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 9:47 am

$18.00 seems kind of exorbitant given the zoo and museum offerings.

The San Diego Zoo charges $62.00 and the Palo Alto Zoo is a far cry from just about any other municipal zoo including the ones in San Francisco and Oakland though these are 'big city' zoos.

A $6.00 entrance fee with free admission for children under a certain age makes sense.

And perhaps add a donation program, sell T-shirts and calendars etc. to supplement the program.


Richard
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 6, 2021 at 10:20 am
Richard, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 10:20 am

Give me a break! Children get into SF MOMA for free and young adults get in for $19. The Bronx Zoo is $24.95 for children. A child gets into the American Museum of Natural History for $13 and for an child and if special exhibits are included the child's price is $20. So really finance committee, get a grip here.


Carol Scott
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on May 6, 2021 at 10:50 am
Carol Scott, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 10:50 am

So this is where we are. We cannot bring ourselves to have even a modest tax of large commercial businesses operating in Palo Alto. Heck, we can’t even bring ourselves to charge high tech office workers $5 a day to park in City lots and garages. Yet, we are fine with charging families $18 a head (almost $75 for a family of 4) to enter the Junior Museum. Wow. Breathtaking. I am beginning to wonder what residents are paying for with their taxes since every City service now seems to be expected to raise revenues to pay for its costs. We can’t even staff police and fire. Sad.


Fr0hickey
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 6, 2021 at 10:54 am
Fr0hickey, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 10:54 am

Since when do price hikes go back down once they have gone up? Once this $18 entrance fee is started, it will stay. Municipalities have never voluntarily given up money. They will just find ways of subsidizing their favored demographic. Perhaps tiered pricing according to how much the family earns.


casey
Registered user
Midtown
on May 6, 2021 at 10:54 am
casey, Midtown
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 10:54 am

$18/family for an annual membership sounds about right for a small town museum. $18/person is terribly misguided. That's even more than the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 6, 2021 at 11:08 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 11:08 am

"The model does not, however, consider the possibility that higher tickets prices would result in fewer visitors. Rather, it presumes that the museum would continue to see about 185,000 visitors per year, regardless of the ticket price."

For this type of insight we pay our city employees the big bucks??


carlt
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 6, 2021 at 11:17 am
carlt, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 11:17 am

The Junior Museum was a place to drop by with young kids for maybe an hour to learn about nature, explore and relax. We took our grandkids when they were younger and there were lots of preschool kids enjoying the zoo with their nanny's or grandparents. At $18 per person the attendance will plummet! We'd just go for a walk in the Baylands to see nature rather than spend $72 for 2 kids and 2 adults for 30-60 minutes at the Junior Museum. This is not the San Francisco Zoo but a local activity primarily for local residents to go to occasionally for a fun afternoon. What is the Finance Committee thinking! Next they will be charging $10 per person to go on the swings and play structure at Rinconada Park, $15 per hour per person to use the outdoor tennis courts and $5 to borrow a book at the library after paying a $10 library entrance fee. How about charging for downtown parking, which San Mateo and Burlingame do, and use that money to make the JMZ free, as it always has been and should be.


PAUSD Teacher
Registered user
Menlo Park
on May 6, 2021 at 11:25 am
PAUSD Teacher , Menlo Park
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 11:25 am

This is such a bummer. This is what happens when the project gets too fancy (as all projects seems to do in Palo Alto). Also, when did we forget how to tax corporations and the rich to fund enriching activities for all? Our society and our values are surely out of balance.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on May 6, 2021 at 11:36 am
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 11:36 am

Everyone is worried about the ridiculous $18 ticket fee. Forget that. It’s time to close all Zoos. Zoos are like animal prisons. Animals should not be held in captivity and they do suffer. Only the cruel human race would lock wild animals up for entertainment purposes. There is no beauty in cruelty. Zoos do not provide an “animal ark,” provide animal conservation, or provide conservation education. Those are just myths to perpetuate the business side and profits of zoos. I hope the absurd $18 ticket price discourages people from attending this Zoo. Humans are not very humane.


Seong Kim
Registered user
another community
on May 6, 2021 at 11:45 am
Seong Kim, another community
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 11:45 am
CoCo
Registered user
Midtown
on May 6, 2021 at 12:36 pm
CoCo, Midtown
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 12:36 pm

Why not have yearly memberships and/or sponsorships of animals (Adopt a Raccoon, etc) and offer some special benefits (early hours, birthday parties on site, zookeeper for the day, etc) to people who can afford to pay more and help underwrite the costs. And then keep the admission price as low as possible. I used to take my kids and some days we might stay for an hour or two, but other days they would be in and out in 30 minutes, depending on the displays/animal activity. If I had had to pay $18 x 4 for a visit, it would have been a non-starter.


Accommodate The Homeless
Registered user
Barron Park
on May 6, 2021 at 1:11 pm
Accommodate The Homeless, Barron Park
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 1:11 pm

Palo Alto already has a functioning zoo.

It's called City Hall and the PACC.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 6, 2021 at 1:27 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 1:27 pm

@Accommodate The Homeless, hah! A witty friend coined the term Cirque De Palo Alto a few years ago.


Novelera
Registered user
Midtown
on May 6, 2021 at 1:45 pm
Novelera, Midtown
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 1:45 pm

All I ever have to do is observe Alison Cormack's votes to know that I am on the opposite side of her every vote. Since she got on City Council I don't even recognize the person I liked when she spearheaded the efforts for the Mitchell Park Library. This $18 per head fee to look at a very few zoo animals is insane. I took out of town grandchildren there a few times. I realize there have been changes, but the best thing about it was that it was free.


Name hidden
Downtown North

Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 1:52 pm
Name hidden, Downtown North

Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 1:52 pm

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


Eric Nee
Registered user
University South
on May 6, 2021 at 2:18 pm
Eric Nee, University South
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 2:18 pm

As pretty much everyone else has said, an $18 entrance fee is absurd. What's even more absurd is a financial model that assumes you will get the same number of visitors with a $10 fee as you do with an $18 fee. Someone with business acumen needs to redo the model.


grandma
Registered user
Midtown
on May 6, 2021 at 3:08 pm
grandma, Midtown
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 3:08 pm

Shocking, unkind, unaffordable for many families, unfair, absurd - all of these adjectives apply to an $ 18 entrance fee. This is not Disneyland. This is not a large zoo. This is supposed to be an asset to the community. We will not be able to afford to take our grandchildren there, nor will many of our neighbors and acquaintances. Palo Alto had better re-think their admission fees, or attendance will be spotty, to say the least, and local children will be a great deal worse off.


Jeremy Erman
Registered user
Midtown
on May 6, 2021 at 3:18 pm
Jeremy Erman, Midtown
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 3:18 pm

@CoCo, the JMZ plan does include annual memberships.

"TICKET PRICING AS PRESENTED TO CITY COUNCIL ON MAY 12, 2020

DAILY ENTRANCE TICKET $18 ($0 – 2 and younger)**
DISCOUNTED TICKET FEE $2
ANNUAL FAMILY MEMBERSHIP – RESIDENT $150
ANNUAL FAMILY MEMBERSHIP – NON-RESIDENT $216
ANNUAL FAMILY PLUS MEMBERSHIP – RESIDENT $300
ANNUAL FAMILY PLUS MEMBERSHIP – NON-RESIDENT $430"

**At Tuesday's meeting, the Director of Community Services said that this was a mistake, and admission would only be free for visitors 1 and younger. So everyone 2 and older would be expected to usually pay $18 to enter the museum.

Web Link


The Big Picture
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 6, 2021 at 3:47 pm
The Big Picture, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 3:47 pm

Roughly $75.00 for a family of (4) to visit the Palo Alto Zoo and Museum?

No thanks.

The venue isn't that great or worth the price of the proposed admission.


Be realistic
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on May 6, 2021 at 4:02 pm
Be realistic, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 4:02 pm

With Cormack it was clear for a while; she is the same as Adrian Fine. Eric - what happened to you? After the giveaway of the Preserve, I thought you were for equal access for all to everything for free. Or is it only for non-residents?

Really, are you insane? Might as well make it a private club with a 200k/year membership. You will tap into that class who likes everything, as long as it is 200k and up. There will be no Kid's Zoo in PA any more but at least will be honest.

I am trying, in honesty, to comprehend this. Do you not care about people, at all?


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on May 6, 2021 at 4:16 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 4:16 pm

It should be "free" admission with a good will offering. It's a win-win situation, and it offsets the cost. It keeps families in a good mood, offers admission to everyone regardless of socioeconomic status, and gives people with a little extra money in their pocket an opportunity to donate generously, and teach their children the value of giving.


Impressive
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 6, 2021 at 4:56 pm
Impressive, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 4:56 pm

The Council would be making a huge mistake if it sets an $18 admission price. It would affect the trust the community has In the Council. to do the right thing.
It changes the entire ambiance of the zoo; going from a place you can casually drop by to an official outing. It furthers the economic gap in the area. It will become an exclusive venue. Is the Council considering an annual membership with unlimited access? You should be. Also no more than $8 per person entry. Volume can make up a lot of money.


Be realistic
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on May 6, 2021 at 5:14 pm
Be realistic, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 5:14 pm

Thank you.

"It would affect the trust the community has In the Council. to do the right thing."
-- this might be already in the rear view mirror.

"It changes the entire ambiance of the zoo; going from a place you can casually drop by to an official outing. It furthers the economic gap in the area. It will become an exclusive venue."
-- Absolutely. $18 x 3, or 4 = $54, or $72. A lot of families - a LOT - will be turned away.
Shame. I am still trying to like the city where I live. This is how PA is painted in public opinion - elitist and smug.
Does Filseth really think they will balance the city budget that way?


S. Underwood
Registered user
Crescent Park
on May 6, 2021 at 5:16 pm
S. Underwood, Crescent Park
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 5:16 pm

Silly and absurd beyond belief.

Please don't miss the bigger story: How can anyone who would consider this be managing in Palo Alto? Not to mention a group of them.

Don't take that as a rhetorical question. The answer is that our city administrators are terrible, don't live here, and don't care. Our good management has all fled under Mr. Shikada. We are left with the likes of him and Ms. O'Kane who only promote their buddies and wouldn't recognize a terrible idea if it hit them in the face, which they frequently do.

How absurd? Private citizens just raised $25 million to make this happen. Their reward? This nonsense. [Yes the donors are wealthy, but they wanted and want it maximally accessible to the general public. They were mad at the proposal of the $8-10 fee, and rightly so.]

Same story with the Art Center. Folks love it, kids use it. Response, cut it to the nines. What does the Community Service and City Manager care? Not their community. No one ever got a reward for working hard or cutting smart.

Not that long ago we had a good auditor (before Ms. Richardson) and adult leadership in Parks and Rec. The rot has spread from the top. What ISN'T being cut even a penny? Ed Shikada and Kristen O'Kane. Start there. Then proceed to anyone who touches proposals this unspeakably silly.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 6, 2021 at 5:49 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 5:49 pm

@S. Underwood, absolutely right. Who knew we even had a Community Services manager before this?? What's her charter? To find the most popular projects and then cut them?? Absurd.

The City Manager "cared" enough to ensure that if he gets fired for cause that he gets an extra full year's compensation but it's not a priority to "manage" his staff and teach them about price elasticity -- if you raise the price, demand changes -- or to use CURRENT population numbers in Traffic Demand Management projections rather than those from 1999 (literally!!) like our "planners" used during the long Casti process. (How much time and money has been spent on that one and how much has it cost the neighbors to protest!)

Outrageous.


Citizen
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2021 at 6:54 pm
Citizen, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 6:54 pm

This is absurd and can only come about from people who don't use the zoo and museum.

Little kids are mercurial, making an entrance fee and even just the burden on staff when children may run in and out, will require taking away everything that is magical about the place, including the friendly human contact with the wonderful staff members.

A capital campaign should be considered first. Slightly raising fees on classes which have been very popular.

To the person who thinks zoos are cruel -- the animals in the zoo are mostly those in need of housing, who may have lost an eye or otherwise could not survive in the wild and made their way to being cared for there. The zoo does a great deal of good in educating youth in our area.

It should be free, and the council should engage in fundraising in a community if the city is so strapped. I would personally rather see a review of how we could reduce managers...


Resident11
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on May 6, 2021 at 7:01 pm
Resident11, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 7:01 pm

Maybe the idea is that most local families with young kids will pay the $150/year membership? It's a good way to engage and educate young children, it is local, the price seems reasonable for year-round access, and families can go in and out without worrying.


PA Community Advocate
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2021 at 8:00 pm
PA Community Advocate, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 8:00 pm

City Council's Finance Committee = City Council’s NO FUN Committee

What was the point of building this expensive zoo again? We went from a fun local space for all of our children to an exclusionary space funded by our tax dollars. This is morally reprehensible and unethical.

The $18 entry fee will exclude far more kids than Foothills Park ever did.

Where’s the ACLU when you need them?


PA Community Advocate
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2021 at 8:13 pm
PA Community Advocate, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 8:13 pm

Q: Who won?
A: The administrators and contractors who were overpaid to overbuild and renovate a museum for small children.

Q: Who lost?
A: The children and families of Palo Alto.

What a bunch of crooks.


felix
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2021 at 9:30 pm
felix, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 9:30 pm

Rarely does one read total agreement on an issue.
Here one does.
Add mine to them.
Our elected officials are seriously out of touch with those who elected them.
Will they next start charging $20 to attend council meetings, and $30 to speak per item?
Get off this $18 nonsense.


Nayeli
Registered user
Midtown
on May 6, 2021 at 11:19 pm
Nayeli, Midtown
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 11:19 pm

This is unbelievable. It is a fleecing of Palo Alto families.

Why?

Because the people involved in this farce think they can.

This "museum" and "zoo" were FREE (with a non-pushy $5 suggestion donation) before these people began meddling.

Suddenly, these people want to charge a mandatory admission fee of $18 per child? I understand the concept of cost recuperation; however, this remodel was paid for by GIFTS and a GRANT.

Now, the City of Palo Alto wants to repay this generous "gift" by charging children $18 to do what used to be free. There should have been a stipulation during the approval of this renovation that these sort of ridiculous ticket pricing would be off-limits.

Why do so many of the City's attempts at meddling end up ruining a good thing? Do they just assume that the people of our "progressively progressive" city will simply shrug our shoulders while we grin and bear it?

I guess that this mentality is why we can't have (or keep) good things.


DebbieMytels
Registered user
Midtown
on May 6, 2021 at 11:29 pm
DebbieMytels, Midtown
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 11:29 pm

I can only add one more voice saying, "WHAT??!!!" An $18 charge is incredible. We used to spend time at the Jr. Museum Zoo between Jr. Museum classes or Library visits. More recently, I'd go there with my grandkids for an hour or so. It was a sweet little place for kids and their parents to enjoy. What an outrageous idea to charge so much money. For that price, I can get the kids into the Exploratorium or the CalAcademy in SF. We don't need a "destination" science museum here in Palo Alto!


Jeremy Erman
Registered user
Midtown
on May 6, 2021 at 11:49 pm
Jeremy Erman, Midtown
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 11:49 pm

The really bizarre part of this is that the recommended cost of an Annual Family Membership is fairly reasonable: $150 for Palo Alto residents and $216 for non-residents. So a Palo Alto family of four who buys a membership would have year-long access to the museum and zoo for the cost of just over 2 ticketed visits. So those that are willing to pay a little extra in advance get a great deal, but families who just want to drop in now and then could easily spend more than the price of a membership over a year.

One compromise might be for non-members to register with the museum if they want, so that once they pay the price of a membership through admission fees--whatever $10 or $18 per person--they automatically become a member and don't have to pay anymore.


tmp
Registered user
Downtown North
on May 7, 2021 at 12:04 am
tmp, Downtown North
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 12:04 am

This is what happens when buildings that are doing perfectly fine in size and function are not just maintained but "upgraded" to fit the image of what we need in "Silicon Valley." Now rather than a cute little zoo and museum area that could be visited for an hour or so as a break for moms and kids, we now have a very expensive and impressive "destination" that needs more staff, upkeep and comes with expensive to maintain amenities. The question is who should pay??

There is only so much money floating around the coffers of the city of Palo Alto. I for one think we should slash funding for various human related functions and give it to the zoo and animal shelter and build more parks. I dare say however that there are also people who care more about homeless people than the animals at the zoo. Who should get the money and how much?

I also fondly remember the old zoo and the many hours my young kids spent there. It was great to drop in for a quick break. But the city got talked into a bigger, better zoo by a group of supporters (who claimed the improvements would pay for themselves) and now here we are. Everything is so expensive here and someone has to pay for all these new animals and people to take care of them. Should we just not open the zoo, send the animals back, not care for them? What about every other program that has supporters in the city? Should we vote on what programs get funded and which don't? With the Covid downturn the funds just aren't there for all the nice programs we used to have and the costs for salaries and pensions have never stopped rising.


Susan
Registered user
Professorville
on May 7, 2021 at 12:18 am
Susan, Professorville
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 12:18 am

$18 entrance fee to the Junior Museum? That is a very high amount to charge, $72 for a family of four for one trip. Hmmm, who are we really trying to exclude? Time to check or re-write the museum's mission statement. Can we please rethink this entrance fee disaster? I have loved visiting the Jr. Museum and Zoo with my children when they were very young. Now I have grandchildren. Thank you.


Keri
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on May 7, 2021 at 12:27 am
Keri, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 12:27 am

So frustrating, an $18 per person entrance fee is only affordable for wealthy residents' children who are accompanied by their nanny. For residents with small children, the $150 annual membership is a reasonably-priced way to drop in frequently for 1-2 hours every other week, which I did when my children were young. But $18 is far too high for most occasional visitors. Comparable entry prices are $12 for Happy Hollow and $15 for the Children's Discovery Museum and Zoo, both venues offer more facilities and amenities. In addition to a lower entry fee, I'd also like to see a membership or ticket option for small local family daycares, who might bring 6-8 children, and a membership or ticket option for low-income families.


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on May 7, 2021 at 6:12 am
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 6:12 am

I am glad to see that Palo Alto has not lost this value: hurt our children and we will roar.

The upside to this nonsensical debacle is that it exposes how utterly out of touch City Hall is and how years of wrong-headed development policy have damaged Palo Alto. It is time to comprehensively address not just expenses but also our revenue model. This may be a city where many rich people live, but it is not a city comprised solely of rich people. Get a clue, City Hall: your arrogance is choking us.


Palo Alto native
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 7, 2021 at 8:06 am
Palo Alto native, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 8:06 am

I like the annual membership fee 150 for residents, 216 for non residents. 10 years ago when my kids were younger we went to the jr museum about every 2-3 weeks. Ofte it was very OVERCROWDED, and many times I decided to not enter. I think many families will buy the annual membership. The $18 per person might be better to lower to 15, or 1 parent plus child $20. Please limit the capacity so once inside it is a pleasant experience. Also with COVID, keep rates high.


Nayeli
Registered user
Midtown
on May 7, 2021 at 8:52 am
Nayeli, Midtown
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 8:52 am

@Palo Alto native: I went quite a few times. While there were always children present, it was never crowded to the point of being unmanageable. It wasn't even "crowded" in the same way that a playground is crowded.

$18 is too high.
$15 is too high.

A "suggested donation" of $10? That is more doable. Otherwise, this becomes the playground for the children of the wealthy.

Remember: Entrance was FREE (with a suggested donation of $5) before this "gift" of renovation to Palo Alto's children.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 7, 2021 at 9:20 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 9:20 am

When our kids were small we went frequently, particularly during the summer months, sometimes staying half an hour, sometimes longer. It was usually connected to a library visit or a swimming session, occasionally while waiting for a bus to arrive from the day camp.

It was free with a suggested donation. Depending on what cash I had at the time, it varied. At times I would put in the $5 suggestion if I had the correct denominations, otherwise it might be a couple of $1s or a handfull of coins. Other times I might put in $20 if I had just come from the atm.

Putting the money into the donation box was part of the visit. Kids would ask (and sometimes argue) whose turn it was to put the money in. If I could, I would give everyone something to put in.

We had at times been invited to birthday parties in the back room. They came home talking about holding a snake or feeding the bats, or doing some type of experiment.

It was a charming place where we felt very much at home. We didn't need it to be bigger, or grander, or anything else. I think it will be spoiled now as it will lose the connection that small niche places hold. It will not be a niche, a quirky Palo Alto treasure any more.


Be realistic
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on May 7, 2021 at 9:58 am
Be realistic, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 9:58 am

This atrocity may be a simple bargaining tactic: tuning it down a notch to placate the public, so all would be happy. They will get it to $10, or so, and people will feel their citizen's duty fulfilled. I am thinking too good of those commissioners, perhaps.

"I think many families will buy the annual membership." -- I do not agree. Believe it, or not, for many people $150 lump amount for a prospect of maybe coming another time is way too much money.

It is time to admit it: the Kid's Zoo in Palo Alto is gone.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 7, 2021 at 10:22 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 10:22 am

@Be realistic, instead of them reducing admission as a concession, how about if they just impose a big-business tax NOW. We've lived under the Kniss Doctrine of everything for business and developers for FAR too long.

Oh, woe is us, said our City Manager last night. Sales tax and hotel taxes are down so Palo Alto is MUCH worse off than surrounding communities.. And regarding employees and their salaries, we couldn't possibly reduce either because, well, those valued employees might leave. So the only things to cut are RESIDENT services, It would also be wrong to cut city travel budgets.

Really? That's sure taking responsibility.

It was idiocy to assume that business would always keep on booming and to stake so much on hotel transit taxes. You also don't need an advanced degree in economics to know that if you keep replacing retail with housing, offices and medical that sales taxes will drop.


Be realistic
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on May 7, 2021 at 10:42 am
Be realistic, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 10:42 am

@Be realistic, instead of them reducing admission as a concession, how about if they just impose a big-business tax NOW.

-- I'm all for it. No concessions about the Zoo entrance fee.

They are going forward with grandiose projects like the police building and a 20M bike pass where they can simply open up the underground pass which is ALREADY THERE. I was in touch with Fine about that; the answer was "it would be more expensive to call it off".
OK, but they keep making those decisions. That is because the city manager and other "valued employees" need to manage; otherwise, why would they be getting those salaries. They need to spend money on big visible projects. Who cares about people with children.

Recent projects are one expensive failure after another - Mitchell library, Ross Rd, you name it. After they crumbled about the Foothills Preserve the second ACLU raised their eyebrows, it is clear that those valued employees are not worth the keep.


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on May 7, 2021 at 11:49 am
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 11:49 am

I agree with Online Name regarding the Kniss Doctrine; it is time to do what we can to assure that ALL who tap into the infrastructure of the City contribute to the cost to build, maintain, and improve it. There's no rational objection to that. Nor is there a rational reason to adhere to policies that essentially give a PASS to big businesses and developers. We are "all in this together", right? To me this means we should all carry our fair share of the financial burdens associated with providing City Services.


lulu
Registered user
Los Altos
on May 7, 2021 at 6:22 pm
lulu, Los Altos
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 6:22 pm

I find it sad that families can no longer afford to provide their kids with enriching experiences - skiing at Tahoe, overnights at Yosemite, Disneyland - all cost too much these days. This community zoo was a local gem - simple, low tech and a fun time for kids. Pricing it out of range for many families is a shame. We need more affordable places, do reconsider.


Menlo Mom
Registered user
Menlo Park
on May 8, 2021 at 10:15 am
Menlo Mom, Menlo Park
Registered user
on May 8, 2021 at 10:15 am

As a Menlo Park resident, I am constantly baffled by the decisions made in Palo Alto. Why was the Museum and Zoo rebuilt before the deteriorating schools facilities? Aren't the schools why people pay top dollar to live in PA? Now $18 to go to the Junior Museum. No thanks! I'll drive the kids to Happy Hollow.


Karina
Registered user
Midtown
on May 8, 2021 at 11:14 am
Karina, Midtown
Registered user
on May 8, 2021 at 11:14 am

I am outraged that the fee to the Junior Museum will be 18 dollars and if one wants to buy a membership it will cost 150 dollars. Thank goodness my boys are older now. They loved visiting the Junior Museum. Just because we live in Palo Alto does not mean we should pay outrageous prices to visit the JM. There is nothing to indicate that the number of visitors will stay at the same level should they start charging 18 dollars per person. In fact, it is extremely likely the number of visitors will be reduced. Although the organization possibly has calculated the drop-off, would likely occur by charging fees. However once again Palo Alto's actions seem to disregard access to all. There are many families from low-income and middle-income families who will not be able to visit and enjoys such a wonderful place.


Mark
Registered user
South of Midtown
on May 8, 2021 at 4:27 pm
Mark, South of Midtown
Registered user
on May 8, 2021 at 4:27 pm

See the following for more information and to broaden your impact:

Web Link for the change.org petition

Web Link for discussions on NextDoor

Web Link to sign up for lawn signs. Follow the link to see what the first signs will look like.


ProfvilleResident
Registered user
Professorville
on May 9, 2021 at 1:17 am
ProfvilleResident, Professorville
Registered user
on May 9, 2021 at 1:17 am

This pricing structure smacks of Eleanor Pardee not having toilets: an attempt to keep non-residents out.

Maybe the idea is that residents would buy annual family memberships and ,dissuaded by $18/head, non-residents would keep driving to crowd the Children’s Museum in San Jose or Happy Hollow instead. Elitist.


deshaun williams
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on May 9, 2021 at 9:29 am
deshaun williams, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 9, 2021 at 9:29 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


Dr. Science
Registered user
Professorville
on May 9, 2021 at 4:50 pm
Dr. Science, Professorville
Registered user
on May 9, 2021 at 4:50 pm

Henry David Thoreau and Charles Darwin would be opposed to this entrance fee.

There should be no price attached to naturalist enlightenment and vision.


yikes
Registered user
Midtown
on May 9, 2021 at 11:03 pm
yikes, Midtown
Registered user
on May 9, 2021 at 11:03 pm

This was a glamour project for many. Instead of just refreshing and updating the existing zoo and museum (for a much smaller price tag), they chose to raze it down to the ground and make it bigger and grander.
The museum will be fresh and new but not as large on the inside as it looks from the outside. Now the zoo is planned to be filled with exotic animals like flamingos and meerkats, instead of being a refuge for injured local wildlife like bobcats and owls. Likewise, with the admission fees it will become a playground for the wealthy, not a haven for all local young families.
The size of the new facility, the choice of new care-intensive animals and open-style zoo, require MORE STAFFING to run the institution. This is what triggers additional costs, not just the newness of the building.


Local Resident
Registered user
another community
on May 10, 2021 at 10:18 am
Local Resident, another community
Registered user
on May 10, 2021 at 10:18 am

- "Now the zoo is planned to be filled with exotic animals...instead of being a refuge for injured local wildlife like bobcats and owls.

Perhaps the PAUSD could work out an arrangement to enable free elementary school field trips to the museum and zoo.

Curious...to further justify the increase in admission fees, will the zoo be adding elephants and giraffes to its repertoire?

A flamingo hardly qualifies as an exotic zoo creature.

Just ask anyone from Florida.


Scotty
Registered user
Green Acres
on May 10, 2021 at 10:34 am
Scotty, Green Acres
Registered user
on May 10, 2021 at 10:34 am

If the whole museum thing doesn't work out ( which it wont at $18/head), you can always use the buildings and space as a start of the build out of the Walter Hays Campus. Go Wildcats!


Bill Stewart
Registered user
Mountain View
on May 10, 2021 at 11:10 am
Bill Stewart, Mountain View
Registered user
on May 10, 2021 at 11:10 am

$150 is about the price of family membership to the SF Zoo, and $>$200 for non-residents? My wife and I used to drop by the JMZ every couple of weeks to see what the bobcats were up to; it's nearby, convenient, and low-key. At $36 a visit, that's going to happen a lot less often.


Staying Young Through Kids
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 10, 2021 at 1:35 pm
Staying Young Through Kids, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 10, 2021 at 1:35 pm

Will the annual family membership offer reciprocity with other AZA zoos and aquariums?

If they do, the $150 family membership would be a far better deal. That would get you 50% off admission to Oakland and SF Zoos for the length of the membership.

And, other AZA members from reciprocal sites would likely pay $16 to enter instead of $32.

When our kids were younger we used to buy the Happy Hollow family membership and it would pay for itself in discounted visits to that park and reduced fees (some FREE) at other zoos around the country.

I hope they plan to join as an AZA affiliated facility!


Mama
Registered user
Crescent Park
on May 10, 2021 at 2:59 pm
Mama, Crescent Park
Registered user
on May 10, 2021 at 2:59 pm

City is concerned about cost recovery for what exactly?? This place should be staffed entirely by volunteers with no costs to the city or visitors...same for the libraries and community gardens.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 10, 2021 at 4:40 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 10, 2021 at 4:40 pm

You're expecting librarians to work for free? Really?

If you're serious about "cost recovery" I can think of a departments where you'd recover a lot more money by having them work for free!


TuppenceT
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 10, 2021 at 6:20 pm
TuppenceT, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 10, 2021 at 6:20 pm

Looking forward to the cost of setting foot at Cubberly after it is ‘upgraded’
Stop upgrading, start removing infrastructure


Nayeli
Registered user
Midtown
on May 10, 2021 at 7:15 pm
Nayeli, Midtown
Registered user
on May 10, 2021 at 7:15 pm

$80

An annual pass to the National Park Service (called the "AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL PASS") is just $80 per family. It gives the family admission to more than 2,000 federal parks, seashores, monuments, refuges, recreation areas, preserves and BLM land throughout this country.

It's even less if you're a senior and FREE if you're an active duty member of the military.

Web Link

$150

An annual pass to the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo is $150. It gives a family access to pretty much the same things that were previously FREE before the city received "gifts" and "grants" to renovate the facilities.

I'll stick with the NPS annual pass.

Hmm. Who knew that a "gift" and "grant" would ultimately cost the people of Palo Alto so much? Perhaps the city can seek annual grants and gifts to offset the cost of their supposedly now-astronomical costs.


Mark
Registered user
South of Midtown
on May 12, 2021 at 7:11 am
Mark, South of Midtown
Registered user
on May 12, 2021 at 7:11 am

We now have 3% of residents who have signed the petition:
Web Link
Thank you to all who signed. If you have not and want a bigger impact go sign it now!


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 12, 2021 at 9:22 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 12, 2021 at 9:22 am

@Mark, thanks again for the link to that petition. Do you have any more info about the lawn signs? I requested one but have heard nothing.


Nayeli
Registered user
Midtown
on May 12, 2021 at 7:12 pm
Nayeli, Midtown
Registered user
on May 12, 2021 at 7:12 pm

@ Mark - Can you explain what this petition is about? Is it about petitioning the City of Palo Alto to reject an $18 admission to the Junior Museum and Zoo or is it about something else?


k at large
Registered user
Palo Verde
on May 12, 2021 at 7:19 pm
k at large, Palo Verde
Registered user
on May 12, 2021 at 7:19 pm

where are we suspossed to sign for the benefits of living in Palo Alto??
Down with the penny pinchers


DES
Registered user
Southgate
on May 13, 2021 at 11:34 am
DES, Southgate
Registered user
on May 13, 2021 at 11:34 am

To put this in perspective, in St. Louis Missouri, not a wealthy city, the city's Art Museum, which is excellent, is free. The zoo, considered second only to the San Diego Zoo, is free. The Missouri Botanical Garden, better than anything in Northern California and almost as good as Huntington Library and Garden in Southern California, is free. Likewise the history museum and virtually every other museum in the area.

Why is it that in Palo Alto, one of the wealthiest communities in America, the planned junior museum and zoo would not be free?


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 13, 2021 at 11:44 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 13, 2021 at 11:44 am

@Nayeli, The petition is protesting cuts to community services like the Art Center, the libraries, Children's theater, etc. Full text is on the petition site here. Web Link


eyeswideopen
Registered user
Professorville
on May 13, 2021 at 1:01 pm
eyeswideopen, Professorville
Registered user
on May 13, 2021 at 1:01 pm

I also feel the fee is ridiculous, as many have noted above. It will not fly. Period.

What would be reasonable?


Patrick Burt
Registered user
Community Center
on May 13, 2021 at 1:54 pm
Patrick Burt, Community Center
Registered user
on May 13, 2021 at 1:54 pm

Yesterday, the Council Finance Committee voted to recommend to the full Council that the new admission fee be set at $10. Thanks to the public for making your voices heard.


BLM Advocacy Center
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on May 13, 2021 at 3:27 pm
BLM Advocacy Center, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 13, 2021 at 3:27 pm

Given the historic and current economic disparities between the wealthier white families in Palo Alto as compared to those of the African American community, admission to the junior museum and zoo should be free on certain days to members of the black community.

It is not that difficult to do the right thing.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 13, 2021 at 3:52 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 13, 2021 at 3:52 pm

Not a;l Palo Altans of whatever color are wealthy. Plus PA taxpayers paid for part of it and certainly didn't expect these charges, whether it's $18 or $10.

For years, we've walked by there on the way to the library and seen families / nannies with multiple kids in tow outside waiting for their siblings taking a quick bathroom break after playing at the nearby playground.

Is there a Potty Break rate? If escorted by a caretaker, that's still $20+ per bathroom visit!

Also, what's the purpose of all those massive metal poles supporting the rotating pennants near the entrance?


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on May 13, 2021 at 5:39 pm
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on May 13, 2021 at 5:39 pm

@Pat Burt - thank you for that post; great development. Since community voices were heard on this, can we keep that momentum going and offer a primer on what Palo Alto cherishes to the City Manager and senior staff? I honestly think they don't get it.

My list includes: our neighborhoods, our parks, our libraries, Children's Museum, Children's Theater, a mix of retail that includes small stores, the May Fete, the Art Center, city trees, being able to walk or bike safely to anyplace in town. I could go on . . .


Nayeli
Registered user
Midtown
on May 13, 2021 at 5:48 pm
Nayeli, Midtown
Registered user
on May 13, 2021 at 5:48 pm

@ BLM Advocacy Center - I don't think that giving free admission to BLACK individuals and families is, well, legal. That is because admission would be RACE-BASED. That wouldn't fly in courts.

Besides, the issue isn't about RACE or ETHNICITY. The issue is that the City wants to milk money from EVERYONE. This is a small and once-quirky museum and zoo that was FREE (with a suggested donation) before gifts and grants allowed a renovation.

Now that it is renovated, the city wants to CHARGE EVERYONE $18 to do what was once free.

It reminds me of a story where a home belonging to a low-income family was falling apart. So, city residents, churches and businesses got together, donated funds and materials and renovated that home. That family was so grateful that they turned their home into an AirBNB until they sold the home at a much higher price (because of the renovations).

Like that scenario, this is the most expensive "gift" and "grant" that the children of Palo Alto have ever received. It's the "gift that keeps on costing."


Ramona Fernando
Registered user
Professorville
on May 13, 2021 at 6:06 pm
Ramona Fernando, Professorville
Registered user
on May 13, 2021 at 6:06 pm

$10 is more palatable, but perhaps a sliding scale, or pay what you can, or $5 for children, would be more in the spirit of what Palo Alto is known for providing for its children.

I hope that annual passes can be made available at reduced rates and be supported by donations or fund raisers.

I was very surprised that the City of Palo Alto was contributing so much financially to this project. Knowing this took project took place without much input from the community feels like having the rug pulled out from under you.

This museum has given so much to children and families, and the kids didn't care if it was somewhat dated. The exhibits and staff were good enough to provide a fun and educational time for the youth of the Peninsula.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 13, 2021 at 7:30 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 13, 2021 at 7:30 pm

"Since community voices were heard on this, can we keep that momentum going and offer a primer on what Palo Alto cherishes to the City Manager and senior staff? I honestly think they don't get it."

Echoing Annette's comment. The question is WHY they don't get it and WHY they think they can keep getting away with this anti-community nonsense, lack of transparency and continued stonewalling of the media and the public?

While I thank Vice Mayor Burt for taking the time to inform us of this development -- something our City Manager and his PR/Communications Staff and Community Services Director should have done and are PAID to do -- I want to know what he and the rest of the City Council will do to ensure the highly paid City Manager and Senior Staff serves us, not themselves.


BP Parent
Registered user
Barron Park
on May 13, 2021 at 11:51 pm
BP Parent, Barron Park
Registered user
on May 13, 2021 at 11:51 pm

For the $18 fee, can we get photos taken with the baby Siberian Tigers?


Be realistic
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on May 14, 2021 at 12:00 pm
Be realistic, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on May 14, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Told you ... While the public is rightfully outraged, they dial it down to $10 and now people here sound happy(ier).
No $10, no $5, free and request a donation. You will collect more.

Someone asked "why here in this wealthy community is it not free?" That is why - because it is on average wealthy. No one seems to care that marginalized will get more marginalized.

"to ensure the highly paid City Manager and Senior Staff serves us, not themselves." -- this would be nice but will not work. They are protected by the labor laws and regulations. Cannot fire them unless they commit something out of line. The threat of losing their job is for suckers.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 14, 2021 at 12:55 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 14, 2021 at 12:55 pm

@Be Realistic, suckers indeed! The City Manager is protected by his employment agreement that Ms. Kniss rushed through saying no need to interview any other candidate when he left his high-paying job in San Jose that put him in the top 5 most highly paid local employees in the state.

His contract specifies that if he's fired for cause or resigns under pressure, he gets an extra full year's salary, benefits and vesting for his pension payout.

He may want to be fired since he'd lose big bucks if he simply quits: $451,000+ salary, benefits and additional vesting on his 2d tax-payer funded pension (maybe more; not sure where else he's worked).

A witty friend coined the term "CMC" for City Manager Cabal where they move from job to job, collecting big payouts from EACH city as they go -- double- and triple-dipping.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2021 at 1:26 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 14, 2021 at 1:26 pm

Whereas I see that the suggestion is now for a $10 charge, that to me is still not what we can say is acceptable. Perhaps a $10 suggested donation per family is something we could say makes sense.

What is so wrong about this is that we the residents were never asked if we wanted to upgrade the zoo, if we wanted a larger facility, if we wanted more animals. We were never asked if we wanted any changes. We were most definitely not asked if we wanted to go somewhere with a charge instead of a suggested modest donation.

Anything other than free with suggested donation is just not acceptable.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 14, 2021 at 2:59 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 14, 2021 at 2:59 pm

Nor were we asked about current or anticipated traffic and parking problems. Nor were decades-worth of existing complaints ever reviewed or considered before embarking on a project that was expected attract busloads of non-PA students from far and wide.

Complaints to the city have fallen on deaf ears for literally decades under Jaime Rodriquez and Josh Mello who blithely stuck bollards at every Middlefield intersection on both sides of the street to impede through traffic, who eliminated traffic lanes and turn lanes to cause more backups, etc etc. etc. and who continue to ignore that fact that cars get stuck in the intersection when the VTA bus stops for the required amount of time.

It's wrong. It's tiresome. It's expensive.


Be realistic
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on May 14, 2021 at 4:12 pm
Be realistic, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on May 14, 2021 at 4:12 pm

"It's wrong. It's tiresome. It's expensive."
This describes most projects executed by the city of PA.


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