In the latest Around Town column, Palo Alto gets called out in a New York Times video op-ed over its lack of new housing and Bayshore Christian Ministries debuts a new outdoor space in East Palo Alto.
KIND OF BLUE ... It's been eight years since Palo Alto voters rejected Measure D, which overturned a zone change that would've enabled construction of 60 low-income apartments and 12 single-family homes, but the episode continues to shape the city's image.
The 2013 referendum over the Maybell Avenue development was featured in a New York Times video op-ed released Tuesday. It focused on Democratic strongholds that fail to live up to the party's egalitarian values.
"Affluent liberals tend to be really good at showing up to the marches and talking about how they like equality," video journalist Johnny Harris says in the documentary. "They're really good about putting signs in their lawns saying that all are welcome here. But by their actions, what they're actually saying is, 'We believe in these ideals, just not in my backyard.'"
The op-ed points out that over the past eight years, the San Francisco area added 676,000 jobs and only 176,000 housing units and singles out Palo Alto for its failure to rezone single-family districts to support higher-density housing projects.
NYT Editorial Board member Binyamin Appelbaum suggested that when it comes to opposing housing projects, it's "always the same song, 'I'm in favor of affordable housing. We need more of it in this county. However, I have some concerns about this project.'"
The video then cuts to footage of local residents and Measure D opponents Tim Gray and Bob Moss urging residents to oppose the measure at a town hall meeting. Palo Alto isn't the only target in the video.
The documentary also takes aim at the liberal bastions of Washington state, which is criticized for its regressive tax policies, and Illinois, where some school districts are gerrymandered to steer money away from poorer communities to the more affluent ones.
FIELD OF HOPE … East Palo Alto may have its own version of a "Field of Dreams" at Bayshore Christian Ministries. After years of planning and work, the organization debuted its renovated Field of Hope next to its Beech Street headquarters.
The space features a soccer field, fire pit, picnic area and garden, Executive Director Tiffany Hong said in a press release. Everything came together through community contributions. The designing and planning work was a collaborative effort with students at Oxford Day School, which uses space at the ministries' headquarters, and Palo Alto nonprofit Canopy. The students were trained by PlaceWorks, an urban planning firm, to lead a design charrette as part of their coursework.
With the support of Kaiser Permanente's CAMPOS grant, the organization worked with Canopy to greenify the field with 32 trees and 125 plants.
Professional basketball player Jeremy Lin's foundation helped install a half-sized basketball court in the space (not to mention, footed a majority of the cost), which was celebrated at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in March. "I hope that the court is a source of unification and that you continue to pursue your dreams and enjoy working out and enjoy exercising every day," Lin told Bayshore's youth in a video.
Over the summer, more than $110,000 was raised through Bayshore's capital campaign to complete the Field of Hope.
The outdoor space was recognized by the California Senate through a certificate signed Oct. 10 by state Sen. Josh Becker, D-Menlo Park. That same day, the organization held a Field of Hope expo attended by more than 230 people, according to a press release. "BCM's Field of Hope is an example of East Palo Alto's resilience. It's an oasis," City Council member Antonio Lopez said at the event. "The beauty of this outdoor space offers hope and inspiration to the community."