Editorials

2019

After 45 years, it's finally time to seize the opportunity to build housing on the soon-to-be former Fry's site

With Fry's gone, a perfect site for housing beckons Palo Alto leaders to deliver on promises to develop affordable housing
Maximizing housing on the Fry's site, which the city has included in its adopted Housing Element plan, is more important than ever.

September 6, 2019 | 30 comments
With Castilleja project now in the public review process, can both sides work toward solution?

Palo Alto city officials have their work cut out to achieve a successful outcome on Castilleja redevelopment proposal
As it stands now, the proposal to redevelop Castilleja School in Palo Alto faces rough sledding unless it is revised to reduce its impacts.

August 23, 2019 | 20 comments
Just studying the possibility for some housing at Cubberley brings a disappointing knee-jerk reaction, from both sides

Unclear about public sentiment, City Council compromises and agrees to look at some housing
The sooner Palo Alto and school district officials start a mediated public process of negotiating the myriad of ownership, financial and zoning issues at the Cubberley campus, the more likely both agencies can take serious action.

June 7, 2019 | 24 comments
A parking strategy drowning in complexity and frustration seeks a lifeline

Yet another study grapples with a system that is driving staff to leave
A new report on Palo Alto's residential preferential parking programs is vulnerable to failure due to the lack of stable and adequate staff resources.

May 17, 2019 | 4 comments
After campaigning for transparency, school board members revert to the habits they criticized in predecessors

Email reveals coordinated plan to circumvent ground rules to reach Stanford agreement
It is deeply disappointing to learn that the board, Superintendent Don Austin and Stanford University worked in concert to limit public awareness when they reached a "conditional" mitigation agreement over the university's growth plan.

May 10, 2019 | 43 comments
After eight years, can Palo Alto finally reach a decision on a new Newell bridge?

In spite of it being a priority flood-control project, city has struggled to get project accomplished
It will be more important than ever to provide a safe way for cars, bikes and pedestrians to cross San Francisquito Creek by rebuilding Newell Road bridge.

May 3, 2019 | 33 comments
The 'me too' raise is back

School board poised to reverse positions and reinstate automatic pay raises for principals and other managers
Labor negotiations with public employee unions remain one of the most opaque and intentionally hidden government processes that have become particularly frustrating in Palo Alto.

April 26, 2019 | 25 comments
Hoping for goodwill and leverage, Stanford may wind up with neither

'Agreement' between Stanford and school district triggers strong objections from Simitian
The self-congratulatory press release issued late Monday by Stanford University and Palo Alto school Superintendent Don Austin brought the intended headlines, leading the public to believe that an actual deal had been reached to mitigate Stanford's future development impacts on the schools.

April 19, 2019 | 48 comments
Not-so-free parking

Valet parking program needs audit, not a million-dollar extension
Palo Alto has to be the only city that provides valet parking at no charge in a city parking garage -- at a cost of some $15 per car parked -- while at the same time saying that reducing car use is one of its top transportation priorities.

April 12, 2019 | 26 comments
'Safe Lot' bill is a start

State legislation would permit community-college students to sleep in cars on campus
The Student Senate for California Community Colleges has now enlisted Palo Alto Assemblyman Marc Berman to carry a bill, AB 302, that would require each community college to allow registered students to park and sleep in their cars in one or more designated campus parking lots.

April 5, 2019 | 22 comments
The perils of state action

For Dems, state pre-emption of local zoning carries growing political risk
State legislators who are pushing for new laws forcing cities to allow dense, multi-family housing developments in single-family neighborhoods threaten to divide the state's Democratic voters and may open the door to political challenges of incumbents even in Democratic strongholds like the Bay Area and Peninsula.

March 29, 2019 | 52 comments
The audacity of privilege

College-admission bribery scandal exposes sense of invincibility and entitlement of the wealthy and powerful
Sadly, the most frequently heard reaction among local residents last week to the news that 33 parents across the nation, including six who call the Palo Alto area home, had bribed their children's way into college, was not shock or surprise.

March 22, 2019 | 39 comments
Using his bully pulpit

Filseth blasts state housing proposal and urges focus on growing tech firms
Palo Alto Mayor Eric Filseth challenged Sacramento legislators to focus on how to get cities, growing companies and commercial office developers to recognize that we lose ground with every new office development approved without corresponding housing.

March 8, 2019 | 61 comments
A new Cubberley in sight

After decades of neglect and failed planning efforts, a plan is rapidly emerging
The former Cubberley High School site, likely the most valuable piece of publicly owned real estate in Palo Alto, has been waiting a long time for the dawning of a new day.

March 1, 2019 | 5 comments
Don't give up on rail

As high-speed rail project is scaled back, leaders should look for new options
It is hard to argue with Gov. Gavin Newsom's decision to abandon the original vision for a high-speed rail system enabling travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles in just two hours and 40 minutes.

February 22, 2019 | 37 comments
Council repeal of downtown cap is set-back for housing

In repealing cap on non-residential development downtown, council chooses the wrong path
Monday night's 4-3 decision to repeal a decades-old downtown growth policy designed to trigger a one-year pause on non-residential development when a cap is reached is a setback for both housing advocates and those concerned about traffic congestion and parking.

February 15, 2019 | 70 comments
The case for a train viaduct in Palo Alto

Compared to a berm, trench, hybrid or tunnel, a viaduct alternative offers more
While there is much investigation still to be done, we believe the viaduct option offers Palo Alto not only a solution to grade separation but an opportunity to create something truly magnificent for the community.

February 1, 2019 | 147 comments
Solving the rail puzzle

In a race against time, solving the grade-separation problem remains elusive
Each grade-separation option has its benefits and problems, and time is running out for residents to have their voices heard and for the Palo Alto City Council to prepare itself to choose a solution.

January 25, 2019 | 91 comments
From nine to seven

With two fewer council members, new leaders and a new city manager, an uncertain year awaits
Only one new face will be on the dais at Palo Alto City Council meetings this year, but that belies the fact that dramatic and unpredictable changes are afoot for our city government and local politics.

January 11, 2019 | 3 comments
Give for the kids

Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund contributions have a far-reaching impact
It is a powerful statement when hundreds of local people unite around a common philanthropic objective and combine their giving to help others in the community.

December 14, 2018 | 1 comment
A stealth agenda for President Hotel

Eleventh-hour move by city staff and a lame-duck council may decide fate of President Hotel
An attempt to sneak through a series of actions that would pave the way for the new owners of the President Hotel Apartments to proceed with their hotel project has quietly appeared as the last agenda item on Monday night's penultimate City Council meeting of the year.

December 7, 2018 | 58 comments
A broken system

Audit gives city code enforcement a well-deserved failing grade
The failures of Palo Alto's code-enforcement program are part of a broader problem that we hope incoming City Manager Shikada's operations and engineering experience will solve.

November 30, 2018 | 23 comments
The voters speak

Palo Altans send a warning to incumbents looking to seek re-election in two years
Tuesday's local election should send a strong message to current office holders about what will help them win -- and lose -- local races.

November 9, 2018 | 56 comments
Our election recommendations

Also, information on returning vote-by-mail ballots
Learn about the Palo Alto Weekly's recommendations on local, regional and statewide candidates and measures, in addition to state propositions, on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

October 26, 2018 | 26 comments
Re-elect Sheriff Laurie Smith

Incumbent seeks sixth term on Nov. 6
In spite of her shortcomings, which include an uninspired and weak administrative record over her two decades in the office, we believe Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith is the better choice.

October 19, 2018 | 16 comments
Karen Holman for Midpeninsula Open Space District Board

Open space district needs Holman's experience, passion and temperament
After 46 years representing the Palo Alto area as an elected board member of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD), Palo Alto resident Nonette Hanko has decided to step down when her term ends this year.

October 16, 2018 | 49 comments
Filseth, DuBois and Cormack for City Council

Two incumbents, newcomer should take three open seats
For a more productive council that hopefully will focus on solutions rather than political gamesmanship or personal insults, we recommend the election of Eric Filseth, Tom DuBois and Alison Cormack to Palo Alto City Council.

October 12, 2018 | 229 comments
Ken Dauber, Shounak Dharap for Palo Alto school board

Incumbent, newcomer stand out from pool of six candidates
With the strongest board in decades and a new management team, the Palo Alto school district is in the process of a desperately needed turnaround.

October 5, 2018 | 42 comments
Yes on school term limit Measure Y

Without term limits, no one can plan for an election with an open seat
If passed by a simple majority of voters, Measure Y will mirror the same two-term limit that applies to the Palo Alto City Council and many other elected bodies.

September 28, 2018 | 1 comment
Yes on school bond Measure Z

Measure Z will fund the continuing upgrades needed in our schools
While the Palo Alto school district's timing for Measure Z isn't ideal given the financial and management turmoil of the last few years, those problems don't diminish the need for capital improvements.

September 28, 2018 | 34 comments
Yes on Measure E hotel-tax increase

Measure would help fund priority infrastructure projects
We reluctantly recommend voters support the city of Palo Alto's proposal to raise about $2.5 million a year in new city revenue by increasing the transient-occupancy tax from 14 to 15.5 percent.

September 21, 2018 | 26 comments
No, no, no on Measure F

Initiative to give city oversight over health care pricing deserves overwhelming defeat
It is difficult to imagine a more poorly conceived idea to present to voters than the Measure F health care initiative pushed by the union representing health care workers throughout California, including Stanford Hospital employees.

September 21, 2018 | 30 comments
Unprecedented obfuscation

After a debate filled with disingenuous comments, council turns its back on renters
The Palo Alto City Council bickered late into the night Monday over whether one of its committees should even discuss rent-stabilization strategies among other means of addressing the plight of renters in the city.

September 14, 2018 | 64 comments
Stanford's development potential

Study shows no need for future expansion into the foothills
A new independent analysis aimed at determining how much more development is possible under a maximum "build-out" scenario of Stanford University's academic campus has concluded that the institution has space available to roughly triple its current square footage, to more than 44 million square feet.

September 7, 2018 | 7 comments
This week, the minority rules

With just three votes, a plan to help evicted Palo Alto renters is watered down
In a housing market like ours, generous relocation assistance should have been the easiest measure to adopt, and it is regrettable that three votes were able to block its adoption early Tuesday morning.

August 31, 2018 | 23 comments
More bad legal advice

Law firm leads school board into sham 'confidential' settlement provision
The Palo Alto school district needs to hire a competent general counsel who can manage the legal strategies and expenses and help the board understand the line between legal requirements and transparency.

August 24, 2018 | 39 comments
Your friend, not enemy

Unprecedented attacks on the media hit the very protectors of our democracy
In an effort to focus public attention on the dangers of the President Donald Trump's attacks, we join in an unprecedented coordinated expression of concern by newspapers across the country.

August 16, 2018 | 18 comments
At risk of misleading voters

When does tactical ballot language become dishonest?
The Palo Alto City Council should have sought to be extra careful about accurately describing the reasons for the proposed hotel-tax hike that will be decided by voters this November.

August 10, 2018 | 22 comments
Averting an unneeded election

In surprise vote, council adopts measure to cut office-growth cap in half
We have little doubt that Palo Alto voters would have approved the citizens initiative if it had been put on the November ballot instead of adopted by the City Council.

August 3, 2018 | 31 comments
Stanford's housing obligations

With push for more housing, Stanford and Palo Alto struggle for the proper response
As Stanford approaches the final months of county review of its proposed new general use permit, a new analysis of housing needs is throwing a major monkey wrench into the process.

July 13, 2018 | 27 comments
Suddenly, a new manager

Without any public involvement, the No. 2 will become City Manager
The city sudden announcement on Monday about the promotion of Ed Shikada, the assistant city manager, to take over for Keene early next year is a stark departure from the way public agencies typically select their CEOs.

June 29, 2018 | 9 comments
Our incivility contagion

A divided City Council has helped create a toxic political atmosphere for the fall election
This fall's municipal election campaign season will be an important test for Palo Alto City Council candidates but perhaps even more so their supporters and voters.

June 22, 2018 | 58 comments
Hendrickson for judge

Santa Clara County assistant district attorney has overseen prosecutions in Palo Alto courthouse
Veteran Santa Clara County prosecutor Cindy Hendrickson's extensive experience in the criminal court system makes her an easy choice for Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky's seat.

May 25, 2018 | 6 comments
Hirokawa for sheriff

After Laurie Smith's 20 years as sheriff, a strong challenge is overdue
In spite of being opposed by four challengers, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith could squeak out the necessary 50 percent plus one vote on June 5 to avoid a run-off in the November election.

May 25, 2018 | 8 comments
No on Regional Measure 3

Ballot measure to increase bridge tolls by $3 over next six years is too much
Regional Measure 3's toll increases, along with the implementation of inflation escalators, ask for too much and attempt to leverage the public's frustration over bad traffic to disproportionately penalize bridge commuters.

May 14, 2018 | 29 comments
Recall Judge Persky

Accountability to the public does not threaten judicial independence
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Persky abused his discretion, disrespected a jury, failed a crime victim and broke trust with the public he serves.

May 11, 2018 | 51 comments
A failure to communicate

Traffic and bike 'improvements' draw stiff push-back across city
The frustration being felt by many Palo Alto residents over a flurry of confusing changes to streets and traffic patterns is approaching a boil, with the latest outcry coming from parents of Walter Hays Elementary School students.

May 4, 2018 | 64 comments
Hold firm on office cap

Beware of last-minute attempts to loosen office-development restrictions
Palo Altans should take careful note of what City Council members say and how they vote Monday on how much future office development should be allowed each year in three commercial areas.

April 27, 2018 | 50 comments
Of church and state

As use of First Baptist Church has evolved, neighbors ask city for relief
Immediate neighbors of the First Baptist Church of Palo Alto are understandably frustrated and wary about the parking, traffic and noise impacts from the non-religious activities taking place on the property.

April 13, 2018 | 23 comments
The housing 'overlay'

Innovative approach to encourage affordable housing projects should be approved
The Palo Alto City Council on Monday will consider whether to approve a new mechanism that would allow for the easing of some zoning requirements for housing projects designed for lower income individuals and families.

April 6, 2018 | 44 comments
The Eichler challenge

New draft design guidelines need teeth or won't be effective
Among the many consequences of Palo Alto's extraordinary high housing prices and the region's housing shortage is a growing divide between new owners of Eichler homes and those who have lived in them for decades.

March 30, 2018 | 5 comments
Rename the schools after people

Given the open process and honorable intent, it's time to push forward
Naming schools for people carries far more power to inspire our students than place names, of which the district already has plenty.

March 23, 2018 | 79 comments
Blame to go around

In response to letter of reprimand, Paly principal turns table on the district
What began as an effort by Paly Principal Kim Diorio to block the public release of a letter of discipline issued to her by the school district has turned into an unprecedented public conflict.

March 9, 2018 | 14 comments
Toward less secrecy

Proposal to open up labor negotiations is a welcome and overdue reform
Facing huge long-term pension costs and financial obligations that threaten future public services, government agencies at all levels are struggling to find a new, more transparent approach to labor negotiations.

March 2, 2018 | 1 comment
Progress on school reforms

From term limits to a new seating chart, school board eyes improved governance
The Palo Alto Board of Education is looking to implement changes that could significantly improve district decision-making and create a predictable flow of new perspectives and ideas.

February 23, 2018 | 17 comments
Missing a housing opportunity

Council prematurely nixes what may be the best way to create real affordable housing
The single greatest obstacle to creating additional housing in Palo Alto for anyone other than highly paid professionals is the high cost of land.

February 16, 2018 | 26 comments
with PCs, it's complicated

Legal stand-off on Edgewood Plaza is another reason why 'planned community' zone shouldn't exist
It would be smart for Sand Hill Properties to settle its dispute with Palo Alto over Edgewood Plaza at a price that provides substantial compensation to the city.

February 2, 2018 | 24 comments
Caution on teacher housing

Simitian vision for subsidized teacher housing has long road to travel
The value of teachers living within the community may very well be worth making it the priority, but the public deserves a lot more analysis showing such a plan will actually result in the desired outcome.

January 26, 2018 | 30 comments
Eight is enough

This fall is the ideal time to submit school-board term-limit measure to voters
The Palo Alto school district has a rare opportunity to put a term limit measure on this November's ballot without it being personal or affecting any of its "young" members.

January 19, 2018 | 10 comments
new year, new mayor

An elephant lurks during City Council election of new officers
The surprise, if one can call it that, wasn't the unanimous election Monday night of Liz Kniss as mayor of Palo Alto for the third time, it was the choice for vice mayor and commentary on the ongoing investigation into Kniss' reporting of 2016 campaign donations.

January 12, 2018 | 17 comments
A 'force for good'

First-time donors give $25K to holiday-giving campaign
The Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund received an unsolicited and completely unexpected check for $25,000 from a first-time donor.

December 15, 2017 | No comments yet
The risks of secrecy

School board splits on whether and how to accept large anonymous donations
A new policy at the Palo Alto Unified is a clever attempt to appear to construct safeguards against improper influence of anonymous donors, but in fact would likely lead to rumors, suspicions and controversy.

December 8, 2017 | 20 comments
Stanford's ambitious GUP

Proposal rekindles old issues of housing, transportation and 'build-out'
The community is awakening to the need to carefully scrutinize Stanford's expansion plan to build another 2.275 million square feet of new academic facilities and 3,150 housing units.

December 1, 2017 | 5 comments
Give for the kids

Contributions to the Weekly's 25th Holiday Fund will be doubled
The Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, now in its 25th year, provides a grassroots opportunity for a community member to make a donation and know that it will combined with hundreds of others.

November 17, 2017 | No comments yet
Home stretch for Comp Plan

More than a decade in the making, updated long-range plan nears finish line
The vision document for city decisions over at least the next 12 years, now in its final phase of City Council review, is almost twice as good as the one it will replace.

November 3, 2017 | 7 comments
Targeting parent civility

Union pushes for civility policy for parent problems it won't quantify or detail
If the teachers' union truly believes abusive parent behavior is a problem, then it should come forward with a written proposal and evidence.

October 27, 2017 | 16 comments
Irrationality on marijuana

We voted overwhelmingly to legalize it, but ambivalent city officials still push back
In a community that passed Proposition 64, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, city officials are recommending a policy that prohibits even a single highly regulated retail dispensary from operating here.

October 20, 2017 | 40 comments
Our reporting on arrests

Why we're changing our policies on publishing the names of those arrested
We think the media has a responsibility to regularly look at the consequences of its editorial practices and to modify them as circumstances change.

October 13, 2017 | 6 comments
Next steps for school district

School board must focus on prioritizing the district's critical needs
The school board now has an enormous opportunity to not only select the district's next leader but to examine what is organizationally needed to shift away from a culture of secretiveness.

September 29, 2017 | 14 comments
Déjà vu for school district

New independent investigation reveals systemic failures, administrative disarray
Another disturbing portrait emerged this week of a school district still confused about its legal obligations in handling sexual-harassment complaints

September 22, 2017 | 22 comments
Our right to know

School board members need to disclose their views on McGee's future
A round of public apologies Tuesday night by Palo Alto school board members and Superintendent Max McGee for a blunder that will cost the district approximately $6 million fell far short of what the community deserves.

September 15, 2017 | 13 comments
The shriveling office cap

Council's split over office cap will surely return as an election issue next year
The irony and hypocrisy of the city's office cap is that the same City Council majority that voted Tuesday to make more commercial development easier has been advocating repeatedly for more housing.

September 8, 2017 | 49 comments
Time for McGee to go

School superintendent's latest blunder is the final straw
The revelation that top Palo Alto school district administrators never took the necessary steps to reopen negotiations with the district's two unions is a shocking display of incompetence and negligence.

September 1, 2017 | 102 comments
Judge Persky's misjudgment

With dubious legal challenge, Brock Turner judge seeks to derail his recall election
Regardless of whether one believes Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky should be removed from office because of his past sentencing decisions in sexual assault cases, he won't be helped by his shady legal maneuver last week.

August 18, 2017 | 48 comments
Buena Vista's finish line

After years of struggle, mobile home park will quietly become publicly owned
In less than a month, Palo Alto's most well-known and debated housing for low-income families will be officially saved from closure and redevelopment.

August 11, 2017 | 16 comments
Serious or mollifying?

FAA report raises hopes on airplane-noise reduction, but with a long and uncertain time table
A long-awaited Federal Aviation Administration response to recommendations made by a "select" committee of elected officials suggest an acknowledgment by the FAA that the South Bay's air traffic noise problems are real and can't be ignored.

August 4, 2017 | 7 comments
Facebook's proposed 'village'

Massive development proposal will only worsen housing, transportation problems
It's hard to imagine a better example of how messed up our region's planning processes and development policies are than Facebook's latest proposal.

July 14, 2017 | 62 comments
The war on cars

Palo Alto stays the course on bold paradigm shift on parking and transportation
There is uniform agreement that transportation management needs to be the city's top priority. The new parking and trip-reduction measures being implemented are important steps forward.

June 30, 2017 | 74 comments
The cannabis contradiction

Voters declared pot legal, but city officials seek to limit state law's impact — because they can
The community's strong support of Proposition 64 should prompt the city to actively work to implement the law rather than block it and to resolve any concerns as soon as possible.

June 23, 2017 | 39 comments
Castilleja's unwise stubbornness

Without a new approach, expansion plan may become a political Armageddon
Castilleja School is doggedly pursuing a major expansion plan that is alienating the very neighbors whose support it needs to head off a contentious community-wide controversy.

June 16, 2017 | 47 comments
The sex-ed tumult

Updated school curriculum and process for adopting it draw fire
There are far too many important issues facing our school district than to go through the motions of a review process for 10 hours of sex-education curriculum.

June 9, 2017 | 39 comments
A moment of truth

School board faces critical leadership test over sexual assault revelations
Unfortunately, many parents still do not understand that the school district's obligation to investigate reports of sexual assault applies regardless of whether an incident was initially viewed as consensual or an assault.

May 26, 2017 | 24 comments
Beyond weighted GPAs

As school board relents to parent pressure, a deeper look at school philosophy is needed
The Palo Alto school board succumbed Tuesday night to relentless pressure from a well-organized group and unanimously approved the reporting of weighted GPAs on the official high school transcripts of graduating seniors.

May 12, 2017 | 14 comments
A council adrift

Bizarre and poorly conceived 'symbolic' proposals are wasting time and disrespecting the public process
The erratic behavior of three Palo Alto city council members is beginning to become a tiring pattern seemingly more designed to stir up controversy and stake out a political philosophy.

May 5, 2017 | 87 comments
Resisting Donald Trump

In the wake of a disturbingly chaotic presidency, two local initiatives seek to blunt its harm
President Donald Trump's first hundred days of the new administration comes to a close Saturday with an unprecedented 61 percent of Americans believing that the president is not trustworthy.

April 28, 2017 | 84 comments
Misguided attempt to save money

Nonprofit pulls out of school district mental health services bid process
A decision by Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent Max McGee to seek formal competitive proposals for mental health services at its five secondary schools erupted in controversy this week as the district's current and longest-running partner announced it would not apply.

April 14, 2017 | 13 comments
Return of the parking meter

Palo Alto considers shifting to paid parking on downtown streets, lots and garages
Under a proposed downtown parking system, more short-term parking will become available as all-day parkers will have financial incentives to either find alternative ways of getting to work or migrate to less expensive parking garages.

April 7, 2017 | 9 comments
A failure to communicate

Rushed implementation of the new residential permit-parking program will have both residents, employees in for some big surprises once enforcement begins
The city's voicemail box for questions is full and unable to take additional messages. Emailed questions go unanswered. A website is nearly impossible to navigate. A complicated and poorly explained process for getting permits leaves people confused and frustrated.

March 24, 2017 | 12 comments
Making amends

Admitting its January 'irrationality,' council backtracks on Comp Plan
Faced with a strong backlash from residents across Palo Alto's political spectrum and angry colleagues who felt disrespected, the City Council majority that had in January abruptly voted to remove the implementing programs from the draft revision to the Comprehensive Plan reversed course with a do-over Monday night.

March 24, 2017 | 15 comments
A necessary investigation

State opens inquiries into Kniss and Tanaka campaign practices
State and federal campaign laws have long been rooted in the principle that the transparency of campaign contributions is the most effective way to discourage and expose special interests attempting to influence elections and public policy.

March 17, 2017 | 34 comments
Renaming schools

Well-intentioned campaign to rename Jordan, Terman has divided community
Over the past year a highly motivated group of Palo Alto parents has waged a campaign to rename Jordan and Terman middle schools because their namesakes, David Starr Jordan and Lewis Terman were proponents of eugenics.

March 10, 2017 | 96 comments
Renew stormwater fee

A wet winter should help with passage of fee to continue important upgrades
A proposed increase to the stormwater maintenance fee is not onerous to improve the system and to reduce flooding risk, and it is appropriately borne by property owners.

March 3, 2017 | 34 comments
Rescind, replace and approve

It's finally time for school district to take responsibility for past missteps with OCR
The Palo Alto Board of Education will make two important decisions next Tuesday night, and both will say a lot about what kind of district we are and the values of our current five trustees.

February 24, 2017 | 8 comments
The retail quandary

Vibrant retail districts can't be achieved or maintained by ordinance alone
In an era of increasing challenges for small-business owners, creating successful retail environments has been shown to be more art than science.

February 10, 2017 | 8 comments
A reckless majority

In stunning surprise, new council majority upends planning process
The five members who make up the new, more development-friendly majority on the Palo Alto City Council blatantly stuck it to their four colleagues and the community Monday night with what appeared to be a carefully orchestrated take-over of the critical land-use portion of the new Comprehensive Plan.

February 3, 2017 | 52 comments
Toward a mea culpa

New school board majority opts for more humble, collaborative course with Office for Civil Rights
It has taken two Palo Alto Board of Education elections and the replacement of four out of five trustees, a new Superintendent and a new law firm, but the majority of the school board is finally ready to lead us out of an expensive and unnecessary five-year battle with the federal Department of Education.

January 27, 2017 | 5 comments
A new parking mess?

Proposed parking program for Cal Ave neighborhoods needs fine-tuning or it will fail
The debate over who should be entitled to park in residential neighborhoods adjacent to business districts will be renewed Monday night.

January 20, 2017 | 26 comments
A lost opportunity

Prime city-owned parking lots should have been candidates for housing
Given Palo Alto's clear need for affordable housing, why is no one focusing on the most important relevant resource the city has: publicly owned surface parking lots in commercial districts close to public transportation?

December 9, 2016 | 19 comments
Give for the kids

Support local nonprofits through the 23rd annual Holiday Fund
Don't let the booming Silicon Valley technology-driven economy lull you into thinking that there isn't a continuing divide, even in the affluent Palo Alto area, between those riding high and the many families living on the edge or in need of social services.

December 2, 2016 | 9 comments
Unraveling the Palo Alto election results

The voters have spoken, but what have they said?
We can't let the results of the Palo Alto City Council and school board races stand without comment, as the impacts of this election are not without significance.

November 18, 2016 | 24 comments
Our election recommendations

Read the Palo Alto Weekly's recommendations for the Nov. 8 ballot, including local races and state propositions.

October 28, 2016 | 15 comments
Keller, Kou, Kniss and Fine for Palo Alto City Council

In deciding whom to recommend in this year's City Council race we find ourselves in a dilemma similar to two years ago -- how to balance candidate knowledge and experience, views on issues, ability to work with others and ability to effectively articulate their positions and philosophy.

October 21, 2016 | 105 comments
Collins, DiBrienza for Palo Alto school board

Read the Weekly's endorsements in the 2016 Board of Education race
We expect and need more than good intentions from our leaders, and we have the opportunity to put in place a board with better judgment. In short, we need new blood.

October 14, 2016 | 52 comments
Yes on Santa Clara County measures A, B

Funds for affordable housing, transportation need challenging two-thirds vote for passage
Two important measures on the Nov. 8 ballot ask Santa Clara County voters to approve a $950 million bond measure to build badly needed housing to serve homeless and low-income residents and a half-cent sales-tax increase to fund transportation projects over the next 30 years.

September 30, 2016 | 13 comments
An imperfect wage increase

Palo Alto set to adopt quicker increase to $15, but restaurants protest inequities
There is no suspense about whether the Palo Alto City Council will approve a more expedited increase in the local minimum wage to $15 an hour when it meets Monday night, only how fast we want to reach that level.

September 23, 2016 | 5 comments
The 'microunit' allure

Proposed high density apartment development aims for car-less young professionals
Some call it an innovative way to create needed housing that will become the wave of the future. Others call it inappropriate spot up-zoning that would cause severe parking impacts on the surrounding neighborhood, do nothing to create affordable housing and set a terrible precedent.

September 16, 2016 | 76 comments
Let the campaigns begin

Hotly contested city and school elections await Palo Alto voters
Buckle your seatbelts. This fall's Palo Alto City Council and school board races are likely to be among the most substantive and consequential political races in recent history.

August 19, 2016 | 17 comments
End 'me too' raises

Time to change byzantine Palo Alto school-district pay-increase practice
It is troublesome enough that the powerful California teachers' union has achieved a system where performance doesn't matter and teachers all receive exactly the same pay and pay increase within a school district based only on their longevity and number of advanced degrees.

August 5, 2016 | 30 comments
Facebook's big expansion

Development agreement provides goody bag of money, mitigations, studies
A diverse parade of nonprofit, union and civic leaders turned out Tuesday night to a meeting of the Menlo Park City Council to give their enthusiastic support for a development proposal that would eventually almost double the number of employees working at Facebook's growing campus in east Menlo Park.

July 22, 2016 | 19 comments
Suddenly, a school budget crisis some feared

Tax growth falls short of Palo Alto school district's projections
Less than a month after approving a budget that relied on an almost 9 percent increase in property-tax revenue for the coming year, the Palo Alto Unified School District has learned that the Santa Clara County Assessor is projecting an increase of just over 5 percent.

July 15, 2016 | 48 comments
A bittersweet outcome

With the Palo Alto City Council and neighborhood in agreement, Maybell parcel is finally settled
Like many decisions that come after much community angst, Tuesday night's final approval of 16 single-family homes on a 2.5-acre parcel between Maybell Avenue and Arastradero Road at Clemo Avenue seemed anti-climactic and routine.

July 1, 2016 | 24 comments
Tax measure rushed and ill-advised

Proposed transportation tax on Palo Alto businesses doomed to fail if put on November ballot
Palo Alto City Council members are right to worry about political fall-out from the ever-worsening traffic congestion around town. But rushing an ill-considered tax measure in front of Palo Alto voters this November, at the same time a county transportation sales-tax measure will appear and without the support of the business community is a fool's errand.

June 24, 2016 | 28 comments
Saving Buena Vista

With the county Housing Authority stepping up, preservation of Palo Alto mobile-home park now appears likely
Intense and persistent efforts over the last year by Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian to put together a financial plan and political strategy that could save the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park and preserve 117 units of badly needed low-income housing in Palo Alto have finally paid off.

June 17, 2016 | 61 comments
A miscarriage of justice

Judge ignites firestorm with sentence that will allow Brock Turner out in just three months
Last week, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky used his sentencing powers to impose his own view of the Brock Turner sexual-assault case, overrule statutory sentencing guidelines and all but undo the work of the jury.

June 10, 2016 | 122 comments
Our election endorsements

Our recommendations for state Assembly, state Senate, United States Congress, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, state Proposition 50, Bay Area Measure AA, county Measure A and Ravenswood School District Measure H.

May 27, 2016 | 5 comments
The vanishing surplus

In opaque process, Palo Alto school trustees opt for large teacher, staff and administrator pay increases over other needs
The Palo Alto school board has spent months in what we now discover were two alternate realities, one taking place behind closed doors and another in public.

May 20, 2016 | 40 comments
Vicki Veenker for Assembly

Patent attorney could bring fresh, important perspective to Sacramento
While the eight California Assembly District 24 candidates would each bring unique qualities and experience to the job, we believe three attorneys -- Mike Kasperzak, Marc Berman and Vicki Veenker -- are the clear standouts.

May 13, 2016 | 50 comments
A transparency gap

Palo Alto school district violates its own policy in depriving public of timely meeting minutes
The Palo Alto school board majority and Superintendent Max McGee have repeatedly demonstrated through their action and inaction that "transparency" is merely a talking point.

May 6, 2016 | 25 comments
Palo Alto business registry has failed to deliver its promised value

As Palo Alto's business registry enters its second year and with the recent release of some of the data compiled over the last year, it is clear the program needs help.

April 29, 2016 | 16 comments
The angst over second stories

Neighbors clash over privacy and property rights
When should the City of Palo Alto forbid the construction of second-story additions in a neighborhood dominated by single-story homes?

April 22, 2016 | 54 comments
Hopes rise for teen psych unit

County initiative attracts multiple concepts for in-patient adolescent facility
This week, the county released the four submissions it received, including a joint response from El Camino Hospital, Stanford's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and Kaiser Permanente that proposed opening an 18-bed facility at El Camino's Mountain View campus that would initially serve 12- to 17-year-olds, including those without insurance coverage and unable to pay.

April 15, 2016 | 2 comments
Stanford's deafening silence

With Brock Turner verdict, Stanford misses opportunity to teach and show compassion, humility and resolve
Last week, with an opportunity to use the Brock Turner conviction to bring home the life-changing consequences of illegal behavior and excessive alcohol consumption, Stanford University officials were sadly absent and the university silent.

April 8, 2016 | 58 comments
The looming election

Council and school board races this fall demand strong, fresh candidates
Unusual opportunities exist this fall for qualified and motivated newcomers to seek and win seats on the Palo Alto City Council and the Board of Education, and now is the time for them to step forward.

April 1, 2016 | 44 comments
The housing fallacy

Big push for new housing development in Palo Alto belies economic realities
Palo Alto has become a community that is affordable only to those who have owned their homes for decades, inherited them or hold highly paid jobs. Or for the lucky few who made it to the top of a waiting list for subsidized units through the Palo Alto Housing Corporation.

March 18, 2016 | 147 comments
Getting out of cars

New Palo Alto initiatives take aim at single-occupancy vehicle commutes
Ask any employer in Palo Alto, large or small, tech or restaurant, what its biggest business challenge is and you'll get the same two answers: the lack of local housing options affordable to its employees and the hellish commute experiences that result.

March 11, 2016 | 28 comments
The Addison gift horse

Unprecedented $17 million anonymous gift to Addison shows need for clearer policies
The Palo Alto school district lacks any policy on anonymous gifts or on major donations offered to an individual school, and these sensitive issues should have been immediately brought to the school board for discussion the moment the Addison Elementary School donor emerged, not after countless hours of work had already been invested in developing a plan for how the money would be spent.

March 4, 2016 | 34 comments
Our city state

Transportation issues highlight aspirational 'State of the City' speech
Six years ago, when then-Mayor Pat Burt delivered his first 'State of the City' address, he read from prepared remarks about a weak economy and a city government that was cutting budgets, reducing staff and asking for pay and benefit concessions, and he focused on the importance of tending to the city's infrastructure needs.

February 26, 2016 | 7 comments
A parking Rubik's Cube

Solving downtown neighborhood parking problem requires patience, also in short supply
Just how far will downtown Palo Alto employees venture into surrounding neighborhoods in order to park free during the day? Five blocks? Eight? Ten? Those are among the many unanswered questions as the city is set to enter the second phase of a residential parking-permit system that feels to some residents like a game of Whac-A-Mole.

February 19, 2016 | 8 comments
A 'moon shot' denied

Palo Alto school board majority wisely rejects the allure of a new 'innovative' high school
Three of Palo Alto's five school board members courageously and emphatically said 'no' Tuesday night to initiating a months-long intensive study into the possible creation of an expensive new third high school at the old Cubberley High School site in south Palo Alto.

January 29, 2016 | 44 comments
Averting a resident revolt

Plan to regulate home landscaping in Palo Alto wisely pruned back
A water conservation plan that appeared designed by bureaucrats for bureaucrats was wisely scaled back Tuesday night by a unanimous Palo Alto City Council.

January 24, 2016 | 4 comments
Stop profiting from density

Palo Alto should not be making money from selling development rights
A Palo Alto commercial property owner will soon buy from the City of Palo Alto the right to build a new building that is 2,500 square feet larger than the zoning allows.

January 22, 2016 | 48 comments
Election of mayor, vice mayor mystify Palo Alto pols

Two openly competitive colleagues win council leadership positions
Two strong-willed former mayors, often at odds, strangely find themselves the new leadership team of a City Council divided by the election.

January 8, 2016 | 19 comments
It's the secrecy, stupid

School superintendent works behind board's back to advance new 'innovative' high school
Palo Alto school Superintendent Max McGee owes his board and the public an apology for not disclosing that he actively participated behind the scenes in the creation of a lengthy foundation grant proposal for a new "radically innovative" high school in Palo Alto.

December 4, 2015 | 46 comments
An encouraging first step by the FAA

Time will tell whether it's a serious initiative or just lip service
The Federal Aviation Administration finally announced this week it was reviewing and reconsidering new flight policies and procedures that are generating unprecedented noise complaints from local residents.

November 20, 2015 | 17 comments
False hopes of FAA noise legislation

Two congressional bills have little chance of changing new airplane flight patterns
A group of 14 House Democrats and one Republican introduced legislation in Congress last week that would require the Federal Aviation Administration to involve local communities as it implements a new flight-navigation system called NextGen.

November 13, 2015 | 56 comments
Weekly Holiday Fund kicks off

Money raised benefits programs serving families, children in Palo Alto area
Don't let the booming Silicon Valley technology-driven economy lull you into thinking that there isn't a continuing divide, even in the affluent Palo Alto area, between those riding high and the many families living on the edge or in need of social services.

November 6, 2015 | 8 comments
The perils of innovation

Visionary school proposal has delicate road to travel
'Innovation' is a word we all love to use to distinguish our region's culture and values from other places and to impress upon our children as important to their future in a rapidly changing world.

October 30, 2015 | 67 comments
Investing in Avenidas

Palo Alto senior center deserves city support but not by selling development rights to others
A proposal by City of Palo Alto staff to raise money for the renovation and expansion of the city-owned building that houses Avenidas in downtown Palo Alto by auctioning off to developers the ability to exceed zoning limits on future projects got the reception it deserved Monday night.

October 23, 2015 | 4 comments
Another McGee flip-flop

Palo Alto school supe puts legal counsel plan on hold after winning board approval
Palo Alto school Superintendent Max McGee is now backing away from a plan he was trumpeting months ago and which the school board already approved 4-1 in June.

October 23, 2015 | 35 comments
A tortuous school inquiry

Many failures and missteps make a sad mess of sexual-harassment investigation
Palo Alto school district officials had the perfect opportunity last fall to demonstrate they had learned from their past mistakes and, after trainings mandated by its 2012 agreement with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, were well-prepared for the next, inevitable complaint involving sexual harassment or discrimination.

October 9, 2015 | 12 comments
Don't let the bed bugs bite

Will pests threaten Palo Alto's livability ratings?
A new threat is on the loose, one that could forever change the world's perception of Palo Alto as a vibrant and healthy oasis with a quality of life worthy of its inflated real estate prices -- bed bugs.

October 2, 2015 | 52 comments
Fairness for whom?

Council votes to cap development but undermines its 'beauty contest' strategy
On the narrowest of votes, a divided Palo Alto City Council Monday night upended a plan to have new development proposals compete with each other for a portion of the available 50,000 square feet under a growth limit for new commercial buildings, opting on a 5-4 vote to instead put four already-submitted projects above all others.

September 25, 2015 | 53 comments
A parking 'miracle' in Palo Alto

After years of frustration and false starts, parking restrictions in downtown neighborhoods finally begin
The much-anticipated and long-delayed launch of a broad strategy for alleviating parking problems that have plagued neighborhoods adjacent to downtown Palo Alto for many years had a bit of an inauspicious "soft launch" this week.

September 18, 2015 | 35 comments
Calling out cheating

With surprising unanimity, teens, parents and Palo Alto school officials raise alarm over cheating
Parents and students didn't agree on much at Tuesday's school board meeting on what further reforms would improve the learning environment and emotional health for Palo Alto teens, but they did speak with a single voice on one issue: cheating.

September 11, 2015 | 39 comments
Eshoo's big challenge

With constituents upset over airplane noise, can Anna Eshoo get action from a resistant federal bureaucracy?
It is rare for a member of Congress to become a lightning rod for complaints about the local impacts of a federal agency's policies, mostly because those impacts are usually diffuse and relatively invisible. But that's the position Rep. Anna Eshoo finds herself in, along with a handful of other members of Congress around the country who are dealing with constituents angry over the arrogance and heavy-handedness of the Federal Aviation Administration.

August 28, 2015 | 240 comments
Unworthy PC 'reforms'

Proposed changes to special 'planned community' zoning should be firmly rejected
A year and a half after putting a temporary halt to any further negotiated development projects that exceed the existing zoning, proposed revisions to be considered Monday by the Palo Alto City Council do virtually nothing to prevent the abuses and controversies that led to the moratorium in the first place.

August 21, 2015 | 25 comments
Rolling over for BART

If it has any hope of getting north county voter support on new taxes, VTA needs to remedy funding inequities
Every time transportation sales-tax measures have appeared on Santa Clara County ballots since 1961, Palo Alto voters have joined with those in other cities to approve them, creating billions of dollars for county transit projects.

August 14, 2015 | 65 comments
Flawed new FAA NextGen air-traffic routing system needs reset

It doesn't take too many minutes of sitting in a backyard in Palo Alto or trying to sleep next to an open window to realize something has radically changed with commercial aircraft-routing patterns in our skies.

July 31, 2015 | 104 comments
Nine years in, a citizens committee

After almost a decade of meandering work, a final push begins for a new Comprehensive Plan for Palo Alto
There is no better example of how Palo Alto gets tied up in knots trying to achieve delicate tasks that are anticipated to create controversy than the city's legally required and long overdue update of its Comprehensive Plan, the vision and road map for what kind of a community we all want for the future.

July 17, 2015 | 69 comments
Fixing conflict-of-interest rules on Stanford ties

City of Palo Alto and Stanford should press for reforms to address perennial problem
With Stanford University owning substantial commercial and residential property within Palo Alto city limits, City Council members with even the most benign affiliations with the university have for years been advised to recuse themselves from participating on any issues that could possibly affect Stanford.

July 10, 2015 | 17 comments
Rising hopes for Buena Vista

Palo Alto should approve funding to bolster chances of preserving mobile-home park
With the Palo Alto City Council's final vote a month ago confirming that the Jisser family had met all the legal prerequisites to close the mobile-home park they own in the Barron Park neighborhood, efforts to raise public and private funds to buy and preserve the property have now kicked into high gear.

June 26, 2015 | 71 comments
Chipping away at Palo Alto's proposed office cap

Divided council begins weakening temporary growth limit
The surprising consensus that emerged three months ago with a unanimous vote of the Palo Alto City Council -- creating a system for limiting the amount of commercial office development through a two-year-long annual cap -- began unraveling Monday night.

June 19, 2015 | 44 comments
With end of school year, a time for reflection

Palo Alto school board, superintendent to assess their work in public retreat next week
As Superintendent Max McGee completes his first year, the Palo Alto school district is at an important juncture. With his honeymoon over, it's now necessary for the board and McGee to sort out whether McGee is going to be allowed the freedom to lead the district or whether the school board intends to manage him as they did his predecessor, Kevin Skelly.

June 12, 2015 | 34 comments
Slowing development, one project at a time

'New' Palo Alto council pursues painful process of creating policy through individual project decisions
It's probably no one's idea of how to best craft new policies and expectations for commercial developers in Palo Alto, but the City Council is making clear it is serious about no longer being loose with discretionary approvals that allow buildings to exceed one or more zoning requirements.

June 5, 2015 | 47 comments
No beds for teens

A disturbing lack of in-patient mental health services for adolescents
With all the attention teen suicides have received since the first Palo Alto contagion in 2009, the resources that have been poured into programs and services to address adolescent mental health needs, and all the focus on de-stigmatizing mental illness, the common assumption was that acute cases were being gently handled within our local hospitals by physicians familiar with the unique conditions facing Palo Alto youth. Incredibly, not so.

May 29, 2015 | 18 comments
With urgency, new Gunn bell schedule takes shape

Sweeping changes to school schedule to be implemented next school year
Few would have predicted three months ago that a diverse group of Gunn High School teachers, students, parents and administrators would have been able to come to a consensus recommendation on a new school bell schedule. Let this accomplishment be a lesson that it need not take years to accomplish important reforms, just clear goals, good leadership and a process that is inclusive but efficient.

May 15, 2015 | 9 comments
Adopt expanded retail protections

Urgency ordinance will prevent conversions of ground-floor retail
With increasing concern about the health and future of small retail businesses in Palo Alto, the City Council is scheduled to vote Monday on whether to implement temporary measures to prevent building owners from converting ground-floor retail into offices or other non-retail uses.

May 8, 2015 | 3 comments
Another buck for workers

Adopting a local minimum wage may feel good, but is mostly symbolic
A growing movement to adopt local minimum-wage ordinances is gaining momentum on the Peninsula and elsewhere in California, and with a City Council committee's vote this week an ordinance now appears headed toward adoption in Palo Alto.

May 1, 2015 | 28 comments
Yes on Measure A

Parcel tax deserves support in spite of frustrations with Palo Alto school district governance
Let us keep our frustrations and criticisms of the Palo Alto school district leadership separate from the need of funding to maintain the educational opportunities and experiences of our kids, ensure that class sizes don't grow and implement additional programs directed at closing the achievement gap and increasing mental health resources, and vote to approve Measure A.

April 24, 2015 | 103 comments
The Buena Vista imperative

With owner's right to close park affirmed, an urgency to acquire it
Constrained by advice from the city attorney aimed at keeping council members narrowly focused on their legal responsibilities, an emotional two evenings of public testimony and council discussion came to an anti-climactic end Tuesday night as the council unanimously gave permission to the owner of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park to close it down.

April 17, 2015 | 31 comments
Development limits — a modest start

A cautious council finds consensus on an interim 'cap'
After a series of three long and exhausting meetings, an ambivalent Palo Alto City Council Monday night mustered an unexpected unanimous vote in support of a modest temporary development limit on new office development downtown, in the California Avenue business district and along El Camino Real.

March 27, 2015 | 24 comments
The 'zero period' hypocrisy

While preaching the value of sleep, high schools quietly offer early classes
In the face of a community-wide discussion over how to respond to a suicide contagion that has now taken four teenagers since October, there is one factor on which all experts agree: Sleep and student wellness are inextricably connected.

March 13, 2015 | 236 comments
Council chamber is the wrong place to resolve home-design controversies

The Palo Alto City Council made the right call Monday night in upholding the staff approval of a single-family home proposed for a vacant lot on a cul-de-sac on Corina Way in the Adobe Meadow neighborhood in south Palo Alto.

February 27, 2015 | 19 comments
Around teen well-being, the vocabulary changes

Finally, an acknowledgment that school climate and student stress contribute to mental health crises
In the last three weeks, two significant yet relatively unnoticed mindset shifts have occurred that may have major positive impacts on the social and emotional environment for our kids.

February 20, 2015 | 41 comments
Saving Buena Vista

A complicated path to preserve low-income housing
The legal, financial and political obstacles to saving 117 units of low-income housing at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park are enormous, but they are not insurmountable.

February 6, 2015 | 108 comments
While explanations elude, we should not be deterred from action

As the Palo Alto community mourns and reflects on the loss of another Palo Alto teenager — the third in four months — we must not allow our frustrations, fears and divergent perspectives to block the path forward.

January 30, 2015 | 61 comments
School board should be concerned about timing, over-reaching on parcel tax

Palo Altans have stepped up time and time again to support the schools, through generous donations, bond measures to upgrade facilities and parcel taxes to supplement regular property-tax revenue and state support.

January 23, 2015 | 105 comments
Council should adopt policy requiring vote before closed sessions

We are all for a proposal to be considered next Tuesday by the Palo Alto City Council that would require an affirmative vote to authorize any closed session, whether born out of last year's scathing Grand Jury report, a sincere belief in greater transparency or pure political grandstanding.

January 16, 2015 | 1 comment
Caltrain's electrification project is pushed forward with impunity

With trains on the Peninsula currently operating at record, standing-room-only levels and providing an increasingly unpleasant commute experience, Caltrain is appropriately eager to get started this year on its $1.5 billion electrification project. Unfortunately, it is also completely brushing off important concerns raised by Palo Alto over the substantial negative impacts at the city's three railroad grade crossings.

January 9, 2015 | 61 comments
An elusive Palo Alto History Museum

Hope springs eternal as building decays
The Palo Alto City Council once again provided a lifeline to a nascent Palo Alto History Museum group that has repeatedly been unable to demonstrate sufficient community support to propel the project forward. It is a painful approach that isn't fair to either museum advocates or Palo Alto residents and taxpayers.

December 19, 2014 | 27 comments
Win, lose or tie?

Scorecard of school media coverage is another self-inflicted distraction
For the last four months, 108 media stories and editorials, most from the Weekly, have been monitored, scored and cataloged by Tabitha Kappeler-Hurley and reported to Superintendent Max McGee, principals and other administrators.
The practice became public this week when McGee gave the school board his first quarterly update on how staff is progressing on the board's annual goals, established in August.

December 12, 2014 | 36 comments
A solid parking plan in Palo Alto

Downtown permit system set to begin next spring
Like most outcomes built on compromise, the journey of creating a program to begin addressing downtown Palo Alto's parking problems has been long and circuitous, with many false starts, misunderstandings and disappointments along the way.

December 5, 2014 | 19 comments
Helping kids this season

Don't let the booming Silicon Valley technology-driven economy lull you into thinking that there isn't a continuing divide, even in the affluent Palo Alto area, between those riding high and the many families living on the edge and needing a bit of help.

November 28, 2014 | No comments yet
Short Cubberley lease will keep pressure on, appropriately

With just six weeks left before the expiration of a lease agreement that has transferred approximately $140 million from the city to the school district over the last 25 years, the city council and school board have finally reached agreement on a new five-year lease that begins to wean the district from what has become an outdated and lopsided arrangement.

November 14, 2014 | 13 comments
Election results signify an inflection point in local politics

In a shifting of the power dynamic in our community not seen for more than 40 years, Palo Alto's traditional political movers and shakers suffered a humiliating defeat this week as unhappy voters expressed their desire for change, more transparency, broader representation, less arrogance and greater accountability.

November 7, 2014 | 27 comments
Yes on Measure B to increase hotel tax

Palo Alto Measure B would increase the city's transient occupancy tax, the tax added to hotel bills for visitors, from 12 percent to 14 percent.

October 18, 2014 | 2 comments
Yes on Measure C to update utility tax

Palo Alto currently generates about 7 percent of its general-fund revenue, or some $11 million, from the 5 percent utility tax that was approved by voters in 1987.

October 18, 2014 | 1 comment
No on Measure D on reducing council size

Talk of reducing the size of the Palo Alto City Council from nine to seven has come and gone for decades, but has never generated enough traction to get on the ballot.

October 18, 2014 | No comments yet
Re-elect Brian Schmidt to water district

With Palo Alto's water supply coming entirely from Hetch Hetchy through the San Francisco Water Department, the Santa Clara Valley Water District's importance to the city is primarily in the flood control and creek habitat work where Schmidt has been most active.

October 18, 2014 | 4 comments
Editorials: No on Measure D; yes on Measures B and C; re-elect Schmidt

Talk of reducing the size of the Palo Alto City Council from nine to seven has come and gone for decades, but has never generated enough traction to get on the ballot. We don't rule out the possibility that in the future a reduction in size might become non-controversial and beneficial. But in the heat of today's political environment, it's bad timing.

October 17, 2014 | 9 comments
Holman, Scharff, DuBois, Filseth, Wolbach for City Council

In a field of 12 candidates, getting to five is not that easy
We recommend the re-election of two incumbents, Karen Holman and Greg Scharff, and three newcomers, Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth and Cory Wolbach. None of the candidates is without liabilities, but together we think this group would result in a better balance and be more representative of all of Palo Alto than any council in a long time.

October 9, 2014 | 41 comments
Terry Godfrey, Ken Dauber for Palo Alto school board

While we value the backgrounds of all the school board candidates, in our opinion Terry Godfrey and Ken Dauber are clearly in the best position to work with superintendent, Max McGee, to chart a fresh path forward and begin a healthy rebuilding process.

October 3, 2014 | 14 comments
The meaning of 'fight'

As Palo Alto school board runs up legal bills, supe takes a different tack
Palo Alto school Superintendent Max McGee opted this month to solve the newest complaint of a frustrated Palo Alto parent who turned to the federal Office for Civil Rights for help after believing district staff had not handled their child's disability accommodations properly by communicating quickly, acknowledging mistakes, making corrections, and staying focused on the needs of every student.

September 26, 2014 | 21 comments
Growing the shuttle

New 'west' route proposed for free shuttle program
As one piece of a multi-pronged approach to improving transit options and addressing parking and congestion, city officials are in the process of finalizing a plan to expand the Palo Alto shuttle program.

September 19, 2014 | 24 comments
A breath of fresh air

New school superintendent off to strong start
School district Superintendent Max McGee has been on the job for just over a month, but he has already demonstrated an ability to respectfully, calmly and firmly lead the school board and his staff in setting clear and important goals and accountability measures for the coming year.

September 12, 2014 | 10 comments
An 'iconic' bridge?

We are delighted to see the city moving forward with plans for a new pedestrian and bike bridge across 101, but we would have preferred a more streamlined design process with less risk of pushing costs even higher.

September 12, 2014 | 32 comments
A half-hearted mea culpa

Proposed city response to Grand Jury falls short
While it acknowledges some sloppiness and poor judgment in keeping information from the public, the City of Palo Alto's defensive draft response to a highly critical and embarrassing grand-jury investigation hardly paints a reassuring picture of lessons learned.

September 5, 2014 | 58 comments
A long overdue downtown parking initiative

Technology will play key role in easing downtown parking mess
What a difference a week can make. After Monday's ill-advised 5-4 decision to spend $180,000 to conduct studies of a poorly conceived plan to shuttle workers from parking places east of Bayshore Freeway to downtown Palo Alto, the city council will have a chance for redemption.

August 15, 2014 | 18 comments
Replacing JJ&F in Palo Alto

Developer has not met threshold for proceeding with project
The developer of a long-delayed mixed-use project on the site of the former JJ&F Market is asking the city to approve his son as the owner-operator of the required replacement grocery store and allow construction to begin. This is yet another example of the problems that arise under Palo Alto's so-called planned community (PC) zoning process, which grants zoning exceptions in exchange for "public benefits."

August 8, 2014 | 29 comments
Skeptical about 'net zero'

Regulating for impacts rather than size of development should raise community concerns
In a desire to explore what it describes as an innovative planning concept that could lead the state and nation in a new approach to managing development, the Palo Alto planning staff has opened up a potential can of worms that we hope the city council will approach with extreme caution.

August 1, 2014 | 11 comments
Damage control at the Palo Alto YMCA

Y struggles with longtime members over Page Mill facility
It is surprising and disappointing that an organization as large and well-respected as the YMCA of Silicon Valley, with local boards filled with prominent local people, could have stumbled so badly in the last two weeks over the Page Mill branch's problems.

July 18, 2014 | 80 comments
Project creep at City Hall

$4.5 million lobby 'refurbishment' tough to swallow
A project that was intended to be a renovation of the cramped conference room next to the City Council Chambers has somehow mushroomed into a glitzy redesign of the entire Hamilton Avenue-facing lobby of City Hall.

July 11, 2014 | 33 comments
For developers, tough sledding in Palo Alto

Citizen activists put city staff and council to the test in reviewing new projects
For real-estate developers in Palo Alto, 2014 may be looked back on as a turning point in how things work for them at city hall.

June 27, 2014 | 80 comments
Shrinking the Palo Alto council

With ambivalence, City Council decides on public vote
With most City Council members expressing mixed feelings, a bare 5-4 majority decided Monday night that Palo Alto voters should get the chance this November to reduce the size of the council from nine to seven, beginning in 2018.

June 20, 2014 | 31 comments
A sadly misguided board

Defiant school board goes public with its strategy of resistance, hatched a year ago
There is great irony in the Palo Alto school board's complaints about the Office of Civil Rights, expressed in a resolution this week, because the district's own practices suffer from the very same problems.

June 6, 2014 | 214 comments
Recap of election recommendations

In spite of short ballot, your vote is important in June 3 election
Seriously contested local elections are few and far between in next week's state primary election, but two judge campaigns, a challenge to the county's incumbent sheriff and an open-space bond measure deserve our readers' attention and vote.

May 30, 2014 | 13 comments
Re-elect Sheriff Smith

While Laurie Smith has her flaws, union-backed challenger would not be an improvement
The current campaign being waged by retired sheriff's captain Kevin Jensen against Sheriff Smith demonstrates why a better system would be for county boards of supervisors to hire a sheriff rather than having them elected.

May 16, 2014 | 15 comments
Sylva, Harris for Judge

Two Superior Court judgeship races on June 3 ballot
Voters are at a severe disadvantage when trying to determine the best judicial candidates in contested judge races. Read about the Weekly's editorial board's suggestions for two candidates on the upcoming ballot.

May 9, 2014 | No comments yet
Approve open space bond Measure AA

After public visioning process, MROSD seeks voter funding support
It is not an overstatement to say that the creation of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District in 1972 is the single biggest reason for the extensive open space and recreational opportunities we enjoy today up and down the Peninsula, and out to the coast.

May 2, 2014 | 47 comments
Toward a long overdue business registry

Business license should be simple, inexpensive and accomplished quickly
In Palo Alto, where we sometimes seem to get pleasure from trying to reinvent the wheel, proposals to implement a business license have come and gone every few years without resolution.

April 25, 2014 | 19 comments
Cal Ave's future

Long percolating, 'concept' plan for the city's second downtown heads for more discussion
Wanted: Redevelopment that is higher density, mixed residential and commercial, with adequate parking and improved pedestrian and bicycle connections, all without changing the current character as a neighborhood-serving retail district.

April 18, 2014 | 11 comments
Hard school lessons

Paly sexual harassment case raises host of issues, concerns
The revelation that former Palo Alto High School Principal Phil Winston engaged in "unprofessional conduct and unsatisfactory performance" in his dealings with both students and colleagues is profoundly sad and disappointing.

April 11, 2014 | 3 comments
What's in a name?

Is coming up with a name for the new 'main' library really worth all this fuss?
Instead of returning to further debate over what the Main Library should be named, City Council should recognize the folly of its earlier efforts to micromanage this process, adopt the harmless and appropriate "Rinconada Library" name.

April 4, 2014 | 44 comments
Caution and skepticism needed on transit-center lease

City staff hasn't made the case yet for giving up long-term ground lease and allowing Stanford to regain control over site
It is ironic that at the very time the city is promoting a community discussion about the future of the area surrounding the University Avenue train station it would even consider giving up a lease that gives it substantial influence and control over the site.

March 28, 2014 | 10 comments
Foothills mystery parcel proposed as park addition

Small city-owned parcel next to Foothills Park, subject of secret Council meetings in 2012, resurfaces in proposal to dedicate as parkland
A piece of property at the base of Foothills Park's beautiful Las Trampas Valley, once the subject of closed-door discussions about selling it to developer John Arrillaga, has now resurfaced with the opposite intent.

March 21, 2014 | 43 comments
In major test for city, Cal Ave project begins

After tree-cutting debacle, city officials hope controversial project can rebuild trust and give 'second downtown' its due
What began as a $1.7 million largely grant-funded sprucing up of the area primarily at the east end of the California Avenue business district has grown into an ambitious $7 million rehab of all three commercial blocks between El Camino and the railroad tracks.

March 14, 2014 | 4 comments
Reining in the Cubberley lease

In a model of transparency, City Council directs scaling back expiring 25-year-old agreement
Having previously criticized the City Council for not recognizing the importance of providing the public with an opportunity to weigh in on and hear the council publicly discuss issues that are largely dealt with in closed session, it's only fair to commend them for Monday night's candid and open discussion.

February 28, 2014 | 12 comments
The Skelly resignation

Appropriately, Palo Alto school superintendent will leave in June
While not a surprise, Superintendent Kevin Skelly's announcement this week that he would leave the district at the end of the school year is a great relief.

February 21, 2014 | 103 comments
The Paly English kerfuffle

Mysteriously, a plan more than a year in the making goes from being recommended to being shelved, all in two weeks
It was stunning how dismissively the carefully developed, well-researched teacher proposal to "de-lane" freshman English was handled by the school board and how quickly the administration turned its back on a plan it had endorsed and brought to the community for adoption.

February 14, 2014 | 174 comments
In baby step, PCs are put on hold

With election approaching, City Council finally initiates review of 'planned community' zoning
While the City Council's "planned community" zoning moratorium, described in a proposal by staff as a "time out," will certainly be well received in the community, it is hardly a bold policy move.

February 7, 2014 | 30 comments
The school board's nadir

Adjourning at 2:15 a.m., our school board and superintendent abandon any semblance of transparent and effective governance
There are so many ways the public, students and teachers were disrespected by the school board and Superintendent Kevin Skelly in Tuesday night's ridiculous eight-hour meeting that we hardly know where to start.

January 31, 2014 | 331 comments
A Taser lesson learned

Police auditor report gives public valuable peek at risks of Taser guns when police must make instant judgments
The investigation of a Palo Alto police officer who shocked a 16-year-old bicyclist with a Taser in 2012 highlights the need for transparency and potential reevaluation of department policy.

January 17, 2014 | 55 comments
Bye-bye bullying policies?

School Superintendent Kevin Skelly now recommends against adopting the district bullying policy he proposed just a month ago
After spending more than a year working to develop uniform bullying policies for the Palo Alto school district, Superintendent Kevin Skelly has reversed his recommendation.

January 9, 2014 | 38 comments
Your chance to give back through the Holiday Fund

Thousands of people in need are helped through nonprofit agencies receiving Holiday Fund grants
As the year winds down, giving to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund is an easy way to support dozens of local nonprofits and the families they help.

December 13, 2013 | No comments yet
In search of a 'community conversation'

City Council begins process of 'recalibrating' policies to reflect community attitudes over development
New planning director Hillary Gitelman has a big task in front of her: getting up to speed on both the angst in the community over development and the staff's and City Council's credibility problems.

December 6, 2013 | 45 comments
Helping kids this season

Despite the reviving Silicon Valley economy, children are too often the innocent victims of economic hard times, and we are lucky to have so many well-run nonprofit organizations that are serving their needs.

November 22, 2013 | 2 comments
Elusive bullying policies

School district's quest for unique system has turned routine policy development into a process quagmire
Part of the reason the school district has taken so long to adopt required new anti-bullying policies is that Palo Alto wants to create a unique policy that even its own state school boards association strongly advises against.

November 15, 2013 | 30 comments
Next steps with Maybell

How the City Council responds to Measure D's defeat is now a critical test of its leadership, and of its commitment to salvaging a senior housing project out of this train wreck.

November 8, 2013 | 47 comments
Mercifully, election day cometh

Campaign tactics and emotion marred Measure D debate from the start
The campaign surrounding Measure D has pitted friends against each other, divided the Barron Park neighborhood and tapped into a festering unease in the community about how zoning decisions are made, who pays the price and who benefits.

November 1, 2013 | 96 comments
A Good bridge approach

With delicate and competing interests at stake, plan for thorough analysis of Newell bridge alternatives is on the right track
Time spent now involving the affected residents in crafting alternative solutions for what to do with the 102-year-old Newell bridge is well worth it, and City staff deserves credit for pivoting in response to initial reactions from residents.

October 25, 2013 | 47 comments
No on Measure D

Zoning changes to enable Maybell senior housing project strike wrong balance and should be overturned
The proposal to build a four-story, 60-unit affordable apartment complex for seniors was mishandled from the start by both the Housing Corporation and the city staff. The city should have earlier addressed detractors' most legitimate concern: including dense, market-rate housing at the site.

October 18, 2013 | 121 comments
Forty years later, updating open space vision

As open space and recreational opportunities become ever more important, a good time to reassess priorities
Like many planning exercises, the scope of the the Midpeninsula Open Space District's visioning process is so broad that it risks not focusing enough attention on the most important and controversial questions: How much and what types of recreational uses should be allowed and supported within the district's preserves?

October 11, 2013 | 20 comments
After 25 years, time to phase out Cubberley lease

With Palo Alto schools in the best financial shape in decades, it's time to wean them from a revenue source intended as a helping hand during a financial crisis
The financial condition of the Palo Alto Unified School District, like most public agencies, is not very transparent to the average citizen. And that is especially the case when things are flush.

September 27, 2013 | 35 comments
Ambitions to reduce traffic

Seeking to show it is listening as election year approaches, Council aims at measures to get workers out of their cars
With residents expressing increasing frustration with the City Council's approvals of new commercial development projects and delay after delay in addressing the traffic and parking problems they create and exacerbate, the Palo Alto City Council is looking for a way to establish its credentials as good transportation and land use planners.

September 20, 2013 | 42 comments
Up next, Jay Paul

The massive building developer Jay Paul is proposing is likely to be the largest commercial office development ever built in Palo Alto outside the Stanford Research Park since Palo Alto Square was developed more than 40 years ago.

September 13, 2013 | 41 comments
A bridge apart

With new overnight parking ban in Crescent Park, East Palo Alto officials express valid frustration with misinformation, outcome
As the Palo Alto City Council's unanimous vote on Aug. 12 showed, there was little doubt that residents on streets near the Newell Road bridge connecting the Crescent Park neighborhood with East Palo Alto would be successful at obtaining relief from their parking nightmare. That's about all that went right with this process.

September 6, 2013 | 67 comments
Teens and social media

Invisible to parents and teachers, cruelty, meanness and explicit online postings have become a way of life for teenagers
If you are the parent of a middle or high school student, chances are your child is either engaged in, or witness to, online behavior that you would find distressing, if not shocking.

August 23, 2013 | 16 comments
A wasteful Maybell referendum

Neighbors and City Council talk past each other, squandering opportunity for a better outcome
Perhaps it was too much to expect the Palo Alto City Council to demonstrate they understood why many neighbors of a proposed senior housing project on Maybell Avenue across from Briones Park are upset, suspicious and feeling disrespected.

August 16, 2013 | 96 comments
Posturing on parking

As momentum for a residential parking-permit system grows, downtown property owners embark on odd strategy of blame-and-scare tactics
The last thing the downtown business community or nearby residents need is a debate over who is to blame for the parking problems in downtown Palo Alto.

August 9, 2013 | 36 comments
As City Council returns, sticky issues await

From banning overnight car camping to controversial development proposals, council members face complex and emotional issues as they return from summer break
Palo Alto City Council members will return from their month-long break Monday night, with a volatile set of issues lined up for as far as one can see.

August 2, 2013 | 28 comments
In city that loves plans, Palo Alto's creates cynicism

Awash in development proposals, city's aged planning vision takes a back-seat
Palo Alto's official and legally mandated Comprehensive Plan bills itself as "the primary tool for guiding future development of the city." These days, however, the 15-year-old, 300-page document is treated almost like a quaint historic relic of how things were for the city back in the late 1990s.

July 19, 2013 | 3 comments
Some PR advice for school district, city

With both the city and school district hiring 'communication specialists,' can the public expect more transparency or simply better PR?
There are two ways of looking at almost simultaneous decisions by Palo Alto City Manager Jim Keene and school district Superintendent Kevin Skelly to hire senior-level help with communications and public outreach.

July 12, 2013 | 24 comments
Accountability not in lesson plan

With the resignation three weeks ago of assistant superintendent Michael Milliken, Palo Alto school superintendent Kevin Skelly was handed an unexpected gift.

June 28, 2013 | 27 comments
Lessons from the Maybell fiasco

Council's last-minute efforts to assuage neighbors couldn't make up for a process that failed months earlier
If there was one lesson that anyone involved in Palo Alto policy-making should know, it is to never assume that something can be quietly approved by keeping it under the radar of affected neighbors and holding back on full transparency.

June 21, 2013 | 59 comments
Missteps on council 'reforms'

Considering recent controversies suggesting a lack of sensitivity of current City Council members to the need for transparency and public outreach, the council showed more of the same tone deafness this week in dealing with two very old ideas that suddenly re-emerged as urgent items.

June 7, 2013 | 27 comments
From fast to slow on 27 University?

After unsuccessfully trying the hurry-up approach, city staff reverts to the classic Palo Alto process and asks, "How slow do you want to go?"
Just last fall, John Arrillaga's vision for building huge office towers and a theater where the MacArthur Park restaurant and the Red Cross building now stand was on an unconventional and intentional fast track.

May 31, 2013 | 38 comments
Enact vehicle-dwelling ban

After five years, it's long past time for the City Council to take action and prohibit overnight vehicle habitation
Compassion and support for the downtrodden has always been an important part of the Palo Alto culture, but city leaders have done the community a disservice by allowing the problem of vehicle dwelling to languish for more than five years.

May 24, 2013 | 77 comments
A backwards process on Maybell project

"Not a done deal" defense rings hollow for proposed senior-housing development
Imagine making a substantial family investment in something before determining its value, how other family members felt about it and deciding if it was the best way to meet your family goals?

May 17, 2013 | 50 comments
Palo Alto school board in parallel universe

Palo Alto school trustees work to move forward in midst of continued controversies
The poor school board just can't catch a break. Try as they might to follow the advice of their attorney and send the message they won't be "distracted" and are "moving forward" from the controversy over bullying cases, one thing after another drags them back into turbulent waters.

May 10, 2013 | 33 comments
New committees undermine transparency

Ad hoc council committees may fulfill mayor's wish for more efficiency, but they threaten the public's right to fully participate
Palo Alto Mayor Greg Scharff has just a year as the ceremonial head of the City Council, but in just four months he has made some changes that are rankling some of his colleagues and should also concern members of the public.

May 3, 2013 | 9 comments
Finish El Camino Park

Uncertainty over potential Arrillaga project shouldn't delay completion of long-planned park improvements
Palo Alto's Parks and Recreation Commission was right earlier this week when it urged the city staff and City Council to drop the idea of relocating the historic MacArthur Park restaurant building from its current location to somewhere in the park.

April 26, 2013 | 12 comments
Paly journalists sound alarm

Verde magazine courageously and sensitively raises issue of teen sexual assault and its ugly aftermath
When Palo Alto High School journalism students published its issue on teen "rape culture" last week, they knew it would send shockwaves beyond the campus.

April 19, 2013 | 35 comments
Hopeful first reactions on new school calendar

While half-way into the first year of a new school calendar is too soon to make any definitive conclusions, a just-completed survey shows strong support across all groups for moving the mid-year semester break from January to December.

April 12, 2013 | 16 comments
Symbolic actions matter in quest for civil rights

In the 1960s, political and community leaders in Palo Alto were among those who stepped up to publicly advocate for federal and state fair-housing laws against red-lining and other forms of racial discrimination in housing.

April 5, 2013 | 46 comments
For now, a required 'public benefit' slips away

Closure of Miki's market leaves Alma Plaza developer with 37 homes, city with no grocery store
There is plenty of blame to go around in any assessment of why Miki's Farm Fresh Market will have to close its doors next week, after less than six months as the anchor tenant of the made-over Alma Plaza site near the intersection of East Meadow Drive and Alma Street.

March 29, 2013 | 72 comments
High school counseling reforms inch forward

Lack of district leadership continues to impede progress on bringing high school guidance programs to 'comparability'
For those who don't have kids in the schools or don't carefully follow the nuances of school policy and governance, it must seem surreal that the subject of high school counseling is still an unresolved and controversial topic in this community.

March 22, 2013 | 47 comments
So far, all take, no give on Cubberley site

As lucrative lease nears renewal date, school district hopes it can persuade the city to keep the money flowing
We had high hopes in November, 2011 when the Palo Alto City Council adopted an ambitious work plan aimed at determining a thoughtful path forward for the use and related financing for the 35-acre former Cubberley High School site.

March 15, 2013 | 44 comments
The path forward for Palo Alto school board

Trustees must act decisively and with clarity to restore public confidence
Faced with its biggest governance crisis since former school superintendent Mary Frances Callan was fired in 2006, Palo Alto's five elected school board members are on the edge of a precipice.

March 8, 2013 | 75 comments
As district lawyers step in, disappointing spin begins

School board struggles to understand bullying case investigation and depth of district governance problem
As Palo Alto school officials brace for an inevitable lawsuit stemming from its failure to respond properly to the bullying of a special-education middle school student, the district's handling of the issue became even more bizarre this week.

March 1, 2013 | 235 comments
Protesting ABAG's housing goals

As Palo Alto seeks reduced targets, Gordon initiates discussion with cities to address concerns over widely criticized process
Like many cities up and down the Peninsula, Palo Alto is struggling to find the best strategy for standing up to the unreasonable targets for new housing construction imposed by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).

February 22, 2013 | 65 comments
Bullying case reveals systemic problems in school district

Federal investigation uncovers a disturbing failure to respond to repeated incidents of harassment
Palo Alto school district leaders and parents should be shocked and saddened by the portrait painted in a scathing investigative report from the U.S. Department of Education.

February 8, 2013 | 141 comments
City proudly leads on 'carbon neutral'

Major push to go green puts Palo Alto on cusp of major milestone
As President Obama promised to take on the threat of climate change in his inaugural speech last week, Palo Alto residents can take comfort that their city has been focused on the effort to reduce greenhouse gases for quite a few years.

February 1, 2013 | 21 comments
Why the secrecy in Menlo Park?

Recent requests by the Almanac for information about police department matters have produced some troubling responses from the city of Menlo Park.

January 30, 2013 | 7 comments
You helped set new Holiday Fund record

Twentieth annual community fundraising campaign raises $390,000 for local nonprofits serving the needs of kids and families
Working hard to serve these families are dozens of local nonprofit organizations, and the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund serves as a simple and important funding source for those that serve residents of Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

January 25, 2013 | No comments yet
Council follows risky strategy to set aside space for compost plant

Palo Alto could run afoul of environmental regulations by waiting to cover landfill
Harking back to the voters' 2011 decision to set aside 10 acres of the city's defunct landfill for a waste-to-energy plant, the Palo Alto City Council decided Monday to take a precarious path that will delay transfer of any acres of landfill to Byxbee Park for more than a year and risk fines of up to $10,000 a day for not capping the old dump.

January 19, 2013 | 8 comments
Bridging the flood control debate

As other flood control measures move forward east of 101, Newell Road bridge replacement controversy deserves calm exploration of options
It has taken more than a decade, but finally work is set to begin that ultimately will protect Palo Alto, Menlo Park and East Palo Alto from floods similar to the one that inundated hundreds of homes in 1998.

January 12, 2013 | 27 comments
Interests collide over Buena Vista's future

Vulnerable residents of Palo Alto's only mobile-home park need and deserve support as redevelopment plans evolve
There has been a certain inevitability to the situation now unfolding at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, located behind El Camino Real in the Barron Park neighborhood.

December 14, 2012 | 6 comments
A needed step back

Responding to intense community feedback, City Council hits re-set button on ambitious Arrillaga proposal
A growing public concern about the magnitude of a proposal made by developer and Stanford benefactor John Arrillaga and the planning process was heard loud and clear by the Palo Alto City Council before and during a five-hour discussion Monday night and early Tuesday morning.

December 7, 2012 | 22 comments
The push for 27 University

Never has City Hall moved so fast on a development proposal, nor been so awed by a developer, particularly when the stakes are so high
If you're confused by the process by which the City Council is considering a massive commercial office project put forth by developer John Arrillaga dubbed "27 University" you aren't alone or crazy.

November 30, 2012 | 51 comments
Kicking the can down the road

Council approves more studies on downtown parking problems, leaving residents waiting for relief, again
Once again, residents of downtown neighborhoods have been told to be patient about the impacts of employee parking spilling onto their streets.

November 16, 2012 | No comments yet
Yes on Measures A and B

Santa Clara County has been whipsawed by the economic downturn and the state's perennial budget crises. When funding runs short for state-supported safety-net programs that serve low-income residents, legislators pass the problem down to county governments, who at the same time are overburdened by more residents who need services just to survive.

October 26, 2012 | 16 comments
State ballot recommendations

The Weekly's recommendations on state Propositions 30-40, as well as Foothill-De Anza College Board, Santa Clara County Board of Education and other local races. Related material:
ELECTION 2012: Stories, editorials, videos and resources

October 19, 2012 | 34 comments
Caswell, Dauber, Emberling for school board

The last time there was an election for school board in Palo Alto was five years ago, just a few months after Superintendent Kevin Skelly had been hired to bring order to the chaos created by the board's poor handling of the proposed new Mandarin Immersion program and a widespread lack of confidence in former Superintendent Mary Frances Callan.

October 12, 2012 | 59 comments
Burt, Schmid, Berman, Kniss for council

With mixed feelings about Kniss returning to the City Council, we conclude her regional experience could serve the city well
In the last Palo Alto City Council election in 2009, with 14 candidates, voters overwhelmingly reelected Larry Klein to his second four-year term after he had previously served two terms in the 1980s.

October 5, 2012 | 43 comments
ELECTION 2012: Stories, editorials, videos and resources

Palo Alto residents to vote on City Council, school board in Nov. 6 election
Stories, editorials, videos, photos and links regarding the Presidential General Election on Nov. 6, 2012. Palo Alto Online will update results live on election night starting at 8 p.m. Related material:
The Weekly recommends

October 2, 2012 | 2 comments
A breathtaking proposal

Arrillaga concept for high-rise offices, theater and new transit center is unprecedented in both exceeding zoning limits and providing public benefits
The largest and boldest commercial development proposal in the history of Palo Alto, located at one of the worst traffic pinch-points in the city, would have been viewed by most as a non-starter under almost any circumstances.

September 28, 2012 | 42 comments
Stretching the Brown Act

Tight-lipped, city staff defends closed council sessions to discuss selling small foothills parcel
In the end, the idea of selling a small, seven-acre land-locked city-owned parcel in the foothills above Arastradero Preserve may have merit. It could bring the city some welcome revenue without any obvious negative impacts. But, alas, it's not that simple.
Related story:
Palo Alto mulls sale of land near Foothills Park

September 21, 2012 | 12 comments
No on Measure C

Other cities' experiences with medical-marijuana shops show it's a bad idea
With Peninsula cities having almost uniformly passed ordinances prohibiting so-called medical-marijuana dispensaries, Palo Alto has been targeted by medical-marijuana advocates and libertarians as a place where a liberal electorate might be persuaded to overturn that ban.

September 14, 2012 | 47 comments
Errors exacerbated mosquito problem

County districts should have foreseen the problem, communicated with public
Demonstrating that one never knows where danger lurks, an unprecedented mosquito infestation suddenly erupted across areas within a few miles of the Palo Alto Baylands early last week, signaling a significant problem with the flood-control equipment that protects us against flooding.

August 23, 2012 | 21 comments
Bike-sharing plan readied

Innovative pilot program will allow Caltrain commuters biking option
A transportation grant designed to provide 100 bikes for Palo Alto-bound Caltrain commuters unfortunately got tangled in a discussion at the Architectural and Review Board (ARB) last week, delaying approval of the sites selected for the automated stations where bikes could be checked out and returned as part of a pilot program.

August 10, 2012 | 11 comments
A dearth of candidates

Non-competitive local races are a threat to democracy and to healthy debate of important issues
With just 12 days remaining before the Aug. 15 extended filing deadline for candidates running for City Council and Board of Education, the November school board election is in danger of being cancelled entirely and the City Council race is looking uninspired.

August 3, 2012 | 26 comments
A pair of strong City Council decisions

With purpose and decisiveness, Palo Alto council moves forward with major improvements for California Avenue and the golf course
It is infrequent when one can celebrate decisiveness in process-obsessed Palo Alto, but Monday night's City Council meeting demonstrated that the current council is ready and willing to leave some constituents unhappy in order to move forward with important projects after doing their homework.

July 27, 2012 | 18 comments
Heading off looming pension crisis

City's leaders seek ways to bring rising employee retirement costs under control
Driven by increasingly higher pension and benefit costs, employee compensation now makes up 63 percent of Palo Alto's General Fund budget, an unsustainable situation that could cripple the city in the years ahead.

July 20, 2012 | 22 comments
Medicine doesn't offset poison of HSR bill

While Caltrain and the Peninsula come out as winners from high-speed-rail vote, state still can't afford this 'plan'
In a political drama that has potentially massive financial ramifications for California, last week's razor-close vote to move forward with high-speed rail will keep the uncertain project alive but give the Peninsula the benefit of Caltrain electrification.

July 13, 2012 | 4 comments
City should jump on cellular solution

Locating antennas at power substations could be start of comprehensive policy
The City Council has an opportunity to end the often divisive neighborhood fights over installation of small cell phone antennas by simply making space available to install much larger and more powerful antennas at a few city-owned utility substations, and even one on the roof of City Hall.

June 29, 2012 | 8 comments
A worthless permit parking test

Without changing downtown garage policy, employees will simply relocate to and impact other streets
If the city is truly committed to giving Professorville and other residents living in homes adjacent to downtown some protection from the daily invasion of workers seeking a free parking space, it will take much more than the trial run that was unveiled last week.

June 22, 2012 | 32 comments
A tipping point for school board?

With rebuke, trustees attempt to reassert their role as policy makers in wake of poorly managed process
Faced with a mess largely of their own making, Palo Alto Superintendent Kevin Skelly and the school board sought this week to clear the air, put aside emotion and defensiveness and chart a fresh and more deliberate course forward on the subject of high school counseling.

June 15, 2012 | 29 comments
Last chance for Hohbach project

Frustrated council digs in for improvements to large project at Page Mill Road and Park Boulevard
Developer Harold Hohbach's stubbornness in improving the design of his proposed mixed rental housing and research and development project may get him a defeat next time he returns to the City Council, if comments from council members are to be taken seriously.

June 10, 2012 | 31 comments
Bike bridge -- good idea, bad execution

Kniss's attempt to rush through plan for using Stanford trail money was a misstep that served no one well
Without any prior discussion with Stanford University officials and on just a few days notice, County Supervisor (and candidate for Palo Alto City Council) Liz Kniss's proposal to allocate more than $8 million to construct a bike bridge over highway 101 and a bayfront trail fell abruptly on its face last week.

June 3, 2012 | 20 comments
Weekly endorses Hill, Gordon, Simitian

Voters should welcome opportunity to elect effective and experienced candidates on June 5
With at least one veteran legislator running for seats in the state Senate, state Assembly and the Board of Supervisors, voters will have an easy task when they go to the polls June 5.

May 18, 2012 | 15 comments
Colin, Sevely best choices for judgeship

Five in running for two Superior Court seats
Along with the more publicized races for state legislative offices and county supervisor, Santa Clara County voters also will elect two Superior Court judges when they go to the polls June 5. The Palo Alto Weekly endorses Paul Colin and Cynthia Sevely.

May 18, 2012 | No comments yet
Park-saving plan; grad requirements

'Sustainable Parks' proposal aims to stop closure of state parks
As he prepares to leave Sacramento due to term limits, State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) is hoping to leave one final legislative mark: saving as many California parks from closure as possible.

May 13, 2012 | 14 comments
Money as a 'public benefit'?

Alma-Lytton project offers cash to city in exchange for ability to build an over-sized and under-parked office building
Today, May 7, the City Council will consider approving the controversial "Lytton Gateway" office building at the corner of Lytton Avenue and Alma Street, a decision that once again points out the need for stronger criteria and follow-up for developments to qualify for Planned Community status, which is awarded to projects that exceed normal zoning but offer offsetting public benefits.

May 7, 2012 | 2 comments
Toxics don't belong next to homes

Zoning should prohibit use of industrial toxic chemicals near Barron Park and other neighborhoods
The six-year conflict between Barron Park residents and Communications & Power Industries (CPI) over the company's use of toxic chemicals illustrates the difficulty of removing a legal non-conforming use from a neighborhood that is threatened by a spill or the accidental release of these dangerous substances.

April 28, 2012 | 5 comments
Lessons from car-train accident

Culture of defensiveness and secrecy reflects poorly on city and disrepects the public's right to know
No one has suggested that the death of Judith Goldblatt on the train tracks at Charleston Road a year ago was anything other than a tragic accident, in spite of the secretive and evasive handling of the case by Palo Alto and other officials. Related story:
One year later, questions remain about train/car collision

April 22, 2012 | 4 comments
New massage rules still not right

Skeptical council members continue to question need for client logs and increased regulation
In what is becoming almost an amusing struggle between city staff and the City Council, how Palo Alto regulates massage therapists once again occupied the time and attention this week of the four-member Council Policy and Services Committee, police and city administrators and a city attorney.

April 15, 2012 | 3 comments
An unsustainable animal shelter

With a facility in need of an estimated $7 million in upgrades and the loss of Mountain View as a partner, Palo Alto has little choice but to outsource animal services
Palo Altans are big pet owners, and the prospect of not having the convenience and top-level service of the city-run Animal Services Center is not a popular one.

April 6, 2012 | 127 comments
Improving high school counseling

Palo Alto school board asks for major changes to Gunn counseling model
An unusually impatient and resolute school board made clear this week that it does not believe students at Gunn High School are receiving comparable counseling services to those at Palo Alto High School and asked administrators to return in June with a reform plan.

March 30, 2012 | 18 comments
Generous offer to electrify Caltrain, but at what cost?

High-Speed Rail Authority changes course to gain 'bookend' support
In its struggle to gain credibility in the wake of more than doubling the cost to build a high-speed-rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles, state rail authority officials Tuesday offered nearly $1 billion to help electrify Caltrain and a similar amount to a Los Angeles rail system.

March 18, 2012 | 27 comments
Grandiose proposal needs careful study

Arrillaga project will raise important questions over how to trade-off the negative impacts of a large development with the community benefits it provides
The makings for an unusual public-private-nonprofit development that would transform the city's western gateway at El Camino and University Ave. into a vibrant office and performing arts complex was unveiled with much excitement at Monday night's City Council meeting. Related story:
Downtown plan could give TheatreWorks a home

March 11, 2012 | 6 comments
More pressure on city wages, benefits

Police union final hurdle in city's quest to close budget gap
After years of paying higher and higher costs for salary and pension benefits to its public safety employees, Palo Alto finally gained some leverage when voters approved repeal of binding arbitration last November.

March 2, 2012 | 7 comments
Golden opportunity to acquire downtown post office

Birge Clark building is surplus, but could be adapted to other uses if price is right
Palo Alto residents have been picking up their mail and buying stamps at the downtown post office since 1932, but change is coming and with the financial meltdown of the Postal Service, 380 Hamilton Ave. is likely to have a new owner before the year is out.

February 24, 2012 | 7 comments
Lin rocks the Big Apple

Former Paly and Harvard basketball wizard takes NBA by storm
Local basketball fans haven't had this much to talk about since Jeremy Lin helped Palo Alto High School win the state championship in 2006, knocking off a favored team that included a 7-foot-1-inch center and three starters who had signed for Division 1 schools, including Duke.

February 17, 2012 | 9 comments
Service hub needs new home

Decision to rebuild municipal services center, animal shelter would provide opportunities for creative solutions
If Palo Alto has an Achilles Heel most city officials would say it is the handful of public buildings that easily could crumble when a major earthquake hits the region.

February 10, 2012 | 5 comments
Boosting grad standards

Aligning high school graduation requirements with UC/CSU admissions standards is the first step toward eliminating achievement gap
After a false start last spring, when a similar plan was met with resistance, the Palo Alto school board took a major step in the right direction last week when it gave its informal blessing to an updated plan for phasing in graduation requirements that are in sync with what is required to attend state universities.

February 6, 2012 | 9 comments
New HSR challenges

Simitian urging one-year delay, other legislators push bill to halt bond sale
Strong criticism about the financial viability of the High-Speed Rail project is making it more likely that its funding plan will either be delayed or scrapped.

January 14, 2012 | 20 comments
Antenna angst unwarranted

AT&T's low-power distributed antenna system should be approved
The debate over whether to allow ATT to improve cell service in Palo Alto using small antenna positioned on the top of existing utility poles will finally come to a head later this month.

January 10, 2012 | 29 comments
Support local charities with a Holiday Fund gift

Join the hundreds of local residents who make donations to support nonprofits serving the needs of children and families in the Palo Alto area
Despite Palo Alto's well-deserved reputation as the home to some of Silicon Valley's most innovative and caring residents, there are many children and families in this community and others nearby who are barely making ends meet this winter.

December 19, 2011 | No comments yet
Handicapping the golf course

lood-control project creates opportunity to examine options for uninspired Palo Alto Muni
Perhaps there is a silver lining in a flood-control proposal that would place a new levee on part of the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course and force some redesign.

December 9, 2011 | 3 comments
The achievement treadmill

Parents are fueling a competitive environment that is jeopardizing the health of our teens and their development of 'purpose' in life
There is some irony that the same week we learn that Palo Alto is the most educated city in California, if not the nation, the Weekly publishes an extensive look at the culture in our community surrounding student "success" and the effects that this culture is having on our kids as they try to find their way in the world.

November 18, 2011 | 5 comments
Strong majority approve Measures D, E

Binding arbitration will end for public safety unions; space reserved for compost facility
Despite the absence of a City Council race on the ballot, Palo Alto voters strongly approved measures that will improve the city's oversight of its two public safety unions and set the stage for a possible new method of dealing with its waste and compost.

November 10, 2011 | 29 comments
Yes on E, with caution

Measure E will allow, but not require, exploration of innovative alternatives to trucking yard clippings and food waste to San Jose or Gilroy
It is difficult to imagine any other city engaging in the kind of hard-fought battle that has characterized the debate over Palo Alto's Measure E, an initiative that does nothing more than reserve 10 acres next to the sewage treatment plant currently designated as parkland as a possible site for a state-of-the-art composting facility.

October 21, 2011 | 137 comments
Yes on D: Repeal binding arbitration

Palo Alto's unusual binding-arbitration requirement for fire and police contract disputes should have been repealed long ago
Palo Alto voters are finally being given the opportunity in Measure D to decide whether a single outside arbitrator should continue to have final say on police and fire compensation, benefits and work rules when the city and unions reach an impasse.

October 15, 2011 | 33 comments
Creative genius, respected neighbor

As tributes pour in from around the world for Steve Jobs, Palo Altans feel the loss more personally
The scene outside of the Old Palo Alto home of Steve Jobs on Wednesday evening was a remarkable and emotional display of affection by a community that deeply admired and respected our most famous resident.

October 7, 2011 | No comments yet
A time for Cubberley planning

With Foothill College vacating aging complex and a looming 2014 lease expiration on the entire site, it's time for a careful school-city process to create a new vision for the site
There are endless possibilities for how the 35-acre former Cubberley High School site on Middlefield Road in south Palo Alto could be used to meet the future needs of the school district and broader community.

October 1, 2011 | 2 comments
The economics of downtown parking

Employees opt for free neighborhood parking, leaving garage permit spaces empty
A Planning and Community Environment Department study that will be reviewed by the City Council Sept. 12 shows that despite an overabundance of spaces in the numerous parking garages and surface lots scattered around downtown, Palo Alto has a parking problem.

September 2, 2011 | 7 comments
A little sanity from fire union

Effort to stop public vote on binding arbitration is withdrawn, for now
After apparently rethinking its "shoot first, ask questions later" strategy, Local 1319 of Palo Alto Professional Firefighters sensibly agreed to withdraw its attack on the binding-arbitration ballot issue that will go before Palo Alto voters in November.

August 15, 2011 | 10 comments
The slow death of high-speed rail

Loss of federal money will be the nail in the coffin of doomed project
Back in 2008, Palo Alto voters, the City Council and the Weekly liked the idea of bullet trains zooming at more than 200 miles an hour between the Bay Area and Los Angeles, providing an alternative mode of travel that was economical and more environmentally friendly.

August 8, 2011 | 31 comments
What to do with $40 million?

Stanford money tied to approval of hospital expansion will require disciplined process by Council and the community
The Palo Alto City Council and administration set the stage Monday for what we hope will be a serious and productive discussion about how to bring the most benefit to the city from the $40 million that will begin flowing from Stanford later this summer.

July 29, 2011 | 9 comments
Breathing room for car dwellers

Palo Alto wisely delays consideration of ordinance banning sleeping in cars to allow time for more outreach, discussion
Surprised by the intensity of the negative reaction from some segments of the faith community and others grappling with the problems of the homeless, City Manager Jim Keene spared the City Council and the community a long and emotional meeting next Monday night by putting off the issue of car dwelling until September.

July 22, 2011 | 31 comments
Outlook brightens to replace Newell Road bridge

City will seek major grant to pay for a bigger, safer span over flood-prone creek
Helped along with the prospect of a generous grant from the state Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and funding from the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, the City Council wisely took advantage of a generous opportunity and voted 8-0 Monday to replace the Newell Road bridge that the state has declared obsolete and unsafe.

July 15, 2011 | 17 comments
Whither the recycling center?

With use of Recycling Center declining and the city facing a budget shortfall, talk of closing center is not environmental heresy
While the primary focus of Tuesday night's meeting of the City Council Finance Committee was how to address a $3.7 million deficit in the city's Refuse Fund, the newsworthy discussion focused on the idea of closing the Recycling Center in the Baylands.

July 8, 2011 | 1 comment
The Cubberley conundrum

As Foothill College seeks to upgrade or move its Cubberley campus, Palo Alto school and city officials struggle over how to plan for the community's own future needs for the site
As with many Palo Alto issues, the current debate over whether the City of Palo Alto should enter into negotiations to sell part of the Cubberley Community Center to Foothill College is like a Rubik's Cube.

July 1, 2011 | 17 comments
Deja vu on arbitration

City Council once again puts itself under time pressure in deciding whether to place repeal of binding arbitration on November ballot
There was at least some logic a year ago when the City Council voted 4-5 to punt on placing a measure on the November 2010 ballot to repeal the city's unusual 33-year-old binding-arbitration requirement whenever an impasse is declared in police or fire labor negotiations.

June 24, 2011 | 15 comments

2018

A parking strategy drowning in complexity and frustration seeks a lifeline

Yet another study grapples with a system that is driving staff to leave
A new report on Palo Alto's residential preferential parking programs is vulnerable to failure due to the lack of stable and adequate staff resources.

May 17, 2019 | 4 comments
After eight years, can Palo Alto finally reach a decision on a new Newell bridge?

In spite of it being a priority flood-control project, city has struggled to get project accomplished
It will be more important than ever to provide a safe way for cars, bikes and pedestrians to cross San Francisquito Creek by rebuilding Newell Road bridge.

May 3, 2019 | 33 comments
The 'me too' raise is back

School board poised to reverse positions and reinstate automatic pay raises for principals and other managers
Labor negotiations with public employee unions remain one of the most opaque and intentionally hidden government processes that have become particularly frustrating in Palo Alto.

April 26, 2019 | 25 comments
Hoping for goodwill and leverage, Stanford may wind up with neither

'Agreement' between Stanford and school district triggers strong objections from Simitian
The self-congratulatory press release issued late Monday by Stanford University and Palo Alto school Superintendent Don Austin brought the intended headlines, leading the public to believe that an actual deal had been reached to mitigate Stanford's future development impacts on the schools.

April 19, 2019 | 48 comments
Not-so-free parking

Valet parking program needs audit, not a million-dollar extension
Palo Alto has to be the only city that provides valet parking at no charge in a city parking garage -- at a cost of some $15 per car parked -- while at the same time saying that reducing car use is one of its top transportation priorities.

April 12, 2019 | 26 comments
'Safe Lot' bill is a start

State legislation would permit community-college students to sleep in cars on campus
The Student Senate for California Community Colleges has now enlisted Palo Alto Assemblyman Marc Berman to carry a bill, AB 302, that would require each community college to allow registered students to park and sleep in their cars in one or more designated campus parking lots.

April 5, 2019 | 22 comments
The perils of state action

For Dems, state pre-emption of local zoning carries growing political risk
State legislators who are pushing for new laws forcing cities to allow dense, multi-family housing developments in single-family neighborhoods threaten to divide the state's Democratic voters and may open the door to political challenges of incumbents even in Democratic strongholds like the Bay Area and Peninsula.

March 29, 2019 | 52 comments
The audacity of privilege

College-admission bribery scandal exposes sense of invincibility and entitlement of the wealthy and powerful
Sadly, the most frequently heard reaction among local residents last week to the news that 33 parents across the nation, including six who call the Palo Alto area home, had bribed their children's way into college, was not shock or surprise.

March 22, 2019 | 39 comments
Using his bully pulpit

Filseth blasts state housing proposal and urges focus on growing tech firms
Palo Alto Mayor Eric Filseth challenged Sacramento legislators to focus on how to get cities, growing companies and commercial office developers to recognize that we lose ground with every new office development approved without corresponding housing.

March 8, 2019 | 61 comments
A new Cubberley in sight

After decades of neglect and failed planning efforts, a plan is rapidly emerging
The former Cubberley High School site, likely the most valuable piece of publicly owned real estate in Palo Alto, has been waiting a long time for the dawning of a new day.

March 1, 2019 | 5 comments
Don't give up on rail

As high-speed rail project is scaled back, leaders should look for new options
It is hard to argue with Gov. Gavin Newsom's decision to abandon the original vision for a high-speed rail system enabling travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles in just two hours and 40 minutes.

February 22, 2019 | 37 comments
Council repeal of downtown cap is set-back for housing

In repealing cap on non-residential development downtown, council chooses the wrong path
Monday night's 4-3 decision to repeal a decades-old downtown growth policy designed to trigger a one-year pause on non-residential development when a cap is reached is a setback for both housing advocates and those concerned about traffic congestion and parking.

February 15, 2019 | 70 comments
The case for a train viaduct in Palo Alto

Compared to a berm, trench, hybrid or tunnel, a viaduct alternative offers more
While there is much investigation still to be done, we believe the viaduct option offers Palo Alto not only a solution to grade separation but an opportunity to create something truly magnificent for the community.

February 1, 2019 | 147 comments
Solving the rail puzzle

In a race against time, solving the grade-separation problem remains elusive
Each grade-separation option has its benefits and problems, and time is running out for residents to have their voices heard and for the Palo Alto City Council to prepare itself to choose a solution.

January 25, 2019 | 91 comments
From nine to seven

With two fewer council members, new leaders and a new city manager, an uncertain year awaits
Only one new face will be on the dais at Palo Alto City Council meetings this year, but that belies the fact that dramatic and unpredictable changes are afoot for our city government and local politics.

January 11, 2019 | 3 comments
Give for the kids

Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund contributions have a far-reaching impact
It is a powerful statement when hundreds of local people unite around a common philanthropic objective and combine their giving to help others in the community.

December 14, 2018 | 1 comment
A stealth agenda for President Hotel

Eleventh-hour move by city staff and a lame-duck council may decide fate of President Hotel
An attempt to sneak through a series of actions that would pave the way for the new owners of the President Hotel Apartments to proceed with their hotel project has quietly appeared as the last agenda item on Monday night's penultimate City Council meeting of the year.

December 7, 2018 | 58 comments
A broken system

Audit gives city code enforcement a well-deserved failing grade
The failures of Palo Alto's code-enforcement program are part of a broader problem that we hope incoming City Manager Shikada's operations and engineering experience will solve.

November 30, 2018 | 23 comments
The voters speak

Palo Altans send a warning to incumbents looking to seek re-election in two years
Tuesday's local election should send a strong message to current office holders about what will help them win -- and lose -- local races.

November 9, 2018 | 56 comments
Our election recommendations

Also, information on returning vote-by-mail ballots
Learn about the Palo Alto Weekly's recommendations on local, regional and statewide candidates and measures, in addition to state propositions, on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

October 26, 2018 | 26 comments
Re-elect Sheriff Laurie Smith

Incumbent seeks sixth term on Nov. 6
In spite of her shortcomings, which include an uninspired and weak administrative record over her two decades in the office, we believe Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith is the better choice.

October 19, 2018 | 16 comments
Karen Holman for Midpeninsula Open Space District Board

Open space district needs Holman's experience, passion and temperament
After 46 years representing the Palo Alto area as an elected board member of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD), Palo Alto resident Nonette Hanko has decided to step down when her term ends this year.

October 16, 2018 | 49 comments
Filseth, DuBois and Cormack for City Council

Two incumbents, newcomer should take three open seats
For a more productive council that hopefully will focus on solutions rather than political gamesmanship or personal insults, we recommend the election of Eric Filseth, Tom DuBois and Alison Cormack to Palo Alto City Council.

October 12, 2018 | 229 comments
Ken Dauber, Shounak Dharap for Palo Alto school board

Incumbent, newcomer stand out from pool of six candidates
With the strongest board in decades and a new management team, the Palo Alto school district is in the process of a desperately needed turnaround.

October 5, 2018 | 42 comments
Yes on school term limit Measure Y

Without term limits, no one can plan for an election with an open seat
If passed by a simple majority of voters, Measure Y will mirror the same two-term limit that applies to the Palo Alto City Council and many other elected bodies.

September 28, 2018 | 1 comment
Yes on school bond Measure Z

Measure Z will fund the continuing upgrades needed in our schools
While the Palo Alto school district's timing for Measure Z isn't ideal given the financial and management turmoil of the last few years, those problems don't diminish the need for capital improvements.

September 28, 2018 | 34 comments
Yes on Measure E hotel-tax increase

Measure would help fund priority infrastructure projects
We reluctantly recommend voters support the city of Palo Alto's proposal to raise about $2.5 million a year in new city revenue by increasing the transient-occupancy tax from 14 to 15.5 percent.

September 21, 2018 | 26 comments
No, no, no on Measure F

Initiative to give city oversight over health care pricing deserves overwhelming defeat
It is difficult to imagine a more poorly conceived idea to present to voters than the Measure F health care initiative pushed by the union representing health care workers throughout California, including Stanford Hospital employees.

September 21, 2018 | 30 comments
Unprecedented obfuscation

After a debate filled with disingenuous comments, council turns its back on renters
The Palo Alto City Council bickered late into the night Monday over whether one of its committees should even discuss rent-stabilization strategies among other means of addressing the plight of renters in the city.

September 14, 2018 | 64 comments
Stanford's development potential

Study shows no need for future expansion into the foothills
A new independent analysis aimed at determining how much more development is possible under a maximum "build-out" scenario of Stanford University's academic campus has concluded that the institution has space available to roughly triple its current square footage, to more than 44 million square feet.

September 7, 2018 | 7 comments
This week, the minority rules

With just three votes, a plan to help evicted Palo Alto renters is watered down
In a housing market like ours, generous relocation assistance should have been the easiest measure to adopt, and it is regrettable that three votes were able to block its adoption early Tuesday morning.

August 31, 2018 | 23 comments
More bad legal advice

Law firm leads school board into sham 'confidential' settlement provision
The Palo Alto school district needs to hire a competent general counsel who can manage the legal strategies and expenses and help the board understand the line between legal requirements and transparency.

August 24, 2018 | 39 comments
Your friend, not enemy

Unprecedented attacks on the media hit the very protectors of our democracy
In an effort to focus public attention on the dangers of the President Donald Trump's attacks, we join in an unprecedented coordinated expression of concern by newspapers across the country.

August 16, 2018 | 18 comments
At risk of misleading voters

When does tactical ballot language become dishonest?
The Palo Alto City Council should have sought to be extra careful about accurately describing the reasons for the proposed hotel-tax hike that will be decided by voters this November.

August 10, 2018 | 22 comments
Averting an unneeded election

In surprise vote, council adopts measure to cut office-growth cap in half
We have little doubt that Palo Alto voters would have approved the citizens initiative if it had been put on the November ballot instead of adopted by the City Council.

August 3, 2018 | 31 comments
Stanford's housing obligations

With push for more housing, Stanford and Palo Alto struggle for the proper response
As Stanford approaches the final months of county review of its proposed new general use permit, a new analysis of housing needs is throwing a major monkey wrench into the process.

July 13, 2018 | 27 comments
Suddenly, a new manager

Without any public involvement, the No. 2 will become City Manager
The city sudden announcement on Monday about the promotion of Ed Shikada, the assistant city manager, to take over for Keene early next year is a stark departure from the way public agencies typically select their CEOs.

June 29, 2018 | 9 comments
Our incivility contagion

A divided City Council has helped create a toxic political atmosphere for the fall election
This fall's municipal election campaign season will be an important test for Palo Alto City Council candidates but perhaps even more so their supporters and voters.

June 22, 2018 | 58 comments
Hendrickson for judge

Santa Clara County assistant district attorney has overseen prosecutions in Palo Alto courthouse
Veteran Santa Clara County prosecutor Cindy Hendrickson's extensive experience in the criminal court system makes her an easy choice for Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky's seat.

May 25, 2018 | 6 comments
Hirokawa for sheriff

After Laurie Smith's 20 years as sheriff, a strong challenge is overdue
In spite of being opposed by four challengers, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith could squeak out the necessary 50 percent plus one vote on June 5 to avoid a run-off in the November election.

May 25, 2018 | 8 comments
No on Regional Measure 3

Ballot measure to increase bridge tolls by $3 over next six years is too much
Regional Measure 3's toll increases, along with the implementation of inflation escalators, ask for too much and attempt to leverage the public's frustration over bad traffic to disproportionately penalize bridge commuters.

May 14, 2018 | 29 comments
Recall Judge Persky

Accountability to the public does not threaten judicial independence
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Persky abused his discretion, disrespected a jury, failed a crime victim and broke trust with the public he serves.

May 11, 2018 | 51 comments
A failure to communicate

Traffic and bike 'improvements' draw stiff push-back across city
The frustration being felt by many Palo Alto residents over a flurry of confusing changes to streets and traffic patterns is approaching a boil, with the latest outcry coming from parents of Walter Hays Elementary School students.

May 4, 2018 | 64 comments
Hold firm on office cap

Beware of last-minute attempts to loosen office-development restrictions
Palo Altans should take careful note of what City Council members say and how they vote Monday on how much future office development should be allowed each year in three commercial areas.

April 27, 2018 | 50 comments
Of church and state

As use of First Baptist Church has evolved, neighbors ask city for relief
Immediate neighbors of the First Baptist Church of Palo Alto are understandably frustrated and wary about the parking, traffic and noise impacts from the non-religious activities taking place on the property.

April 13, 2018 | 23 comments
The housing 'overlay'

Innovative approach to encourage affordable housing projects should be approved
The Palo Alto City Council on Monday will consider whether to approve a new mechanism that would allow for the easing of some zoning requirements for housing projects designed for lower income individuals and families.

April 6, 2018 | 44 comments
The Eichler challenge

New draft design guidelines need teeth or won't be effective
Among the many consequences of Palo Alto's extraordinary high housing prices and the region's housing shortage is a growing divide between new owners of Eichler homes and those who have lived in them for decades.

March 30, 2018 | 5 comments
Rename the schools after people

Given the open process and honorable intent, it's time to push forward
Naming schools for people carries far more power to inspire our students than place names, of which the district already has plenty.

March 23, 2018 | 79 comments
Blame to go around

In response to letter of reprimand, Paly principal turns table on the district
What began as an effort by Paly Principal Kim Diorio to block the public release of a letter of discipline issued to her by the school district has turned into an unprecedented public conflict.

March 9, 2018 | 14 comments
Toward less secrecy

Proposal to open up labor negotiations is a welcome and overdue reform
Facing huge long-term pension costs and financial obligations that threaten future public services, government agencies at all levels are struggling to find a new, more transparent approach to labor negotiations.

March 2, 2018 | 1 comment
Progress on school reforms

From term limits to a new seating chart, school board eyes improved governance
The Palo Alto Board of Education is looking to implement changes that could significantly improve district decision-making and create a predictable flow of new perspectives and ideas.

February 23, 2018 | 17 comments
Missing a housing opportunity

Council prematurely nixes what may be the best way to create real affordable housing
The single greatest obstacle to creating additional housing in Palo Alto for anyone other than highly paid professionals is the high cost of land.

February 16, 2018 | 26 comments
with PCs, it's complicated

Legal stand-off on Edgewood Plaza is another reason why 'planned community' zone shouldn't exist
It would be smart for Sand Hill Properties to settle its dispute with Palo Alto over Edgewood Plaza at a price that provides substantial compensation to the city.

February 2, 2018 | 24 comments
Caution on teacher housing

Simitian vision for subsidized teacher housing has long road to travel
The value of teachers living within the community may very well be worth making it the priority, but the public deserves a lot more analysis showing such a plan will actually result in the desired outcome.

January 26, 2018 | 30 comments
Eight is enough

This fall is the ideal time to submit school-board term-limit measure to voters
The Palo Alto school district has a rare opportunity to put a term limit measure on this November's ballot without it being personal or affecting any of its "young" members.

January 19, 2018 | 10 comments
new year, new mayor

An elephant lurks during City Council election of new officers
The surprise, if one can call it that, wasn't the unanimous election Monday night of Liz Kniss as mayor of Palo Alto for the third time, it was the choice for vice mayor and commentary on the ongoing investigation into Kniss' reporting of 2016 campaign donations.

January 12, 2018 | 17 comments
A 'force for good'

First-time donors give $25K to holiday-giving campaign
The Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund received an unsolicited and completely unexpected check for $25,000 from a first-time donor.

December 15, 2017 | No comments yet
The risks of secrecy

School board splits on whether and how to accept large anonymous donations
A new policy at the Palo Alto Unified is a clever attempt to appear to construct safeguards against improper influence of anonymous donors, but in fact would likely lead to rumors, suspicions and controversy.

December 8, 2017 | 20 comments
Stanford's ambitious GUP

Proposal rekindles old issues of housing, transportation and 'build-out'
The community is awakening to the need to carefully scrutinize Stanford's expansion plan to build another 2.275 million square feet of new academic facilities and 3,150 housing units.

December 1, 2017 | 5 comments
Give for the kids

Contributions to the Weekly's 25th Holiday Fund will be doubled
The Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, now in its 25th year, provides a grassroots opportunity for a community member to make a donation and know that it will combined with hundreds of others.

November 17, 2017 | No comments yet
Home stretch for Comp Plan

More than a decade in the making, updated long-range plan nears finish line
The vision document for city decisions over at least the next 12 years, now in its final phase of City Council review, is almost twice as good as the one it will replace.

November 3, 2017 | 7 comments
Targeting parent civility

Union pushes for civility policy for parent problems it won't quantify or detail
If the teachers' union truly believes abusive parent behavior is a problem, then it should come forward with a written proposal and evidence.

October 27, 2017 | 16 comments
Irrationality on marijuana

We voted overwhelmingly to legalize it, but ambivalent city officials still push back
In a community that passed Proposition 64, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, city officials are recommending a policy that prohibits even a single highly regulated retail dispensary from operating here.

October 20, 2017 | 40 comments
Our reporting on arrests

Why we're changing our policies on publishing the names of those arrested
We think the media has a responsibility to regularly look at the consequences of its editorial practices and to modify them as circumstances change.

October 13, 2017 | 6 comments
Next steps for school district

School board must focus on prioritizing the district's critical needs
The school board now has an enormous opportunity to not only select the district's next leader but to examine what is organizationally needed to shift away from a culture of secretiveness.

September 29, 2017 | 14 comments
Déjà vu for school district

New independent investigation reveals systemic failures, administrative disarray
Another disturbing portrait emerged this week of a school district still confused about its legal obligations in handling sexual-harassment complaints

September 22, 2017 | 22 comments
Our right to know

School board members need to disclose their views on McGee's future
A round of public apologies Tuesday night by Palo Alto school board members and Superintendent Max McGee for a blunder that will cost the district approximately $6 million fell far short of what the community deserves.

September 15, 2017 | 13 comments
The shriveling office cap

Council's split over office cap will surely return as an election issue next year
The irony and hypocrisy of the city's office cap is that the same City Council majority that voted Tuesday to make more commercial development easier has been advocating repeatedly for more housing.

September 8, 2017 | 49 comments
Time for McGee to go

School superintendent's latest blunder is the final straw
The revelation that top Palo Alto school district administrators never took the necessary steps to reopen negotiations with the district's two unions is a shocking display of incompetence and negligence.

September 1, 2017 | 102 comments
Judge Persky's misjudgment

With dubious legal challenge, Brock Turner judge seeks to derail his recall election
Regardless of whether one believes Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky should be removed from office because of his past sentencing decisions in sexual assault cases, he won't be helped by his shady legal maneuver last week.

August 18, 2017 | 48 comments
Buena Vista's finish line

After years of struggle, mobile home park will quietly become publicly owned
In less than a month, Palo Alto's most well-known and debated housing for low-income families will be officially saved from closure and redevelopment.

August 11, 2017 | 16 comments
Serious or mollifying?

FAA report raises hopes on airplane-noise reduction, but with a long and uncertain time table
A long-awaited Federal Aviation Administration response to recommendations made by a "select" committee of elected officials suggest an acknowledgment by the FAA that the South Bay's air traffic noise problems are real and can't be ignored.

August 4, 2017 | 7 comments
Facebook's proposed 'village'

Massive development proposal will only worsen housing, transportation problems
It's hard to imagine a better example of how messed up our region's planning processes and development policies are than Facebook's latest proposal.

July 14, 2017 | 62 comments
The war on cars

Palo Alto stays the course on bold paradigm shift on parking and transportation
There is uniform agreement that transportation management needs to be the city's top priority. The new parking and trip-reduction measures being implemented are important steps forward.

June 30, 2017 | 74 comments
The cannabis contradiction

Voters declared pot legal, but city officials seek to limit state law's impact — because they can
The community's strong support of Proposition 64 should prompt the city to actively work to implement the law rather than block it and to resolve any concerns as soon as possible.

June 23, 2017 | 39 comments
Castilleja's unwise stubbornness

Without a new approach, expansion plan may become a political Armageddon
Castilleja School is doggedly pursuing a major expansion plan that is alienating the very neighbors whose support it needs to head off a contentious community-wide controversy.

June 16, 2017 | 47 comments
The sex-ed tumult

Updated school curriculum and process for adopting it draw fire
There are far too many important issues facing our school district than to go through the motions of a review process for 10 hours of sex-education curriculum.

June 9, 2017 | 39 comments
A moment of truth

School board faces critical leadership test over sexual assault revelations
Unfortunately, many parents still do not understand that the school district's obligation to investigate reports of sexual assault applies regardless of whether an incident was initially viewed as consensual or an assault.

May 26, 2017 | 24 comments
Beyond weighted GPAs

As school board relents to parent pressure, a deeper look at school philosophy is needed
The Palo Alto school board succumbed Tuesday night to relentless pressure from a well-organized group and unanimously approved the reporting of weighted GPAs on the official high school transcripts of graduating seniors.

May 12, 2017 | 14 comments
A council adrift

Bizarre and poorly conceived 'symbolic' proposals are wasting time and disrespecting the public process
The erratic behavior of three Palo Alto city council members is beginning to become a tiring pattern seemingly more designed to stir up controversy and stake out a political philosophy.

May 5, 2017 | 87 comments
Resisting Donald Trump

In the wake of a disturbingly chaotic presidency, two local initiatives seek to blunt its harm
President Donald Trump's first hundred days of the new administration comes to a close Saturday with an unprecedented 61 percent of Americans believing that the president is not trustworthy.

April 28, 2017 | 84 comments
Misguided attempt to save money

Nonprofit pulls out of school district mental health services bid process
A decision by Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent Max McGee to seek formal competitive proposals for mental health services at its five secondary schools erupted in controversy this week as the district's current and longest-running partner announced it would not apply.

April 14, 2017 | 13 comments
Return of the parking meter

Palo Alto considers shifting to paid parking on downtown streets, lots and garages
Under a proposed downtown parking system, more short-term parking will become available as all-day parkers will have financial incentives to either find alternative ways of getting to work or migrate to less expensive parking garages.

April 7, 2017 | 9 comments
A failure to communicate

Rushed implementation of the new residential permit-parking program will have both residents, employees in for some big surprises once enforcement begins
The city's voicemail box for questions is full and unable to take additional messages. Emailed questions go unanswered. A website is nearly impossible to navigate. A complicated and poorly explained process for getting permits leaves people confused and frustrated.

March 24, 2017 | 12 comments
Making amends

Admitting its January 'irrationality,' council backtracks on Comp Plan
Faced with a strong backlash from residents across Palo Alto's political spectrum and angry colleagues who felt disrespected, the City Council majority that had in January abruptly voted to remove the implementing programs from the draft revision to the Comprehensive Plan reversed course with a do-over Monday night.

March 24, 2017 | 15 comments
A necessary investigation

State opens inquiries into Kniss and Tanaka campaign practices
State and federal campaign laws have long been rooted in the principle that the transparency of campaign contributions is the most effective way to discourage and expose special interests attempting to influence elections and public policy.

March 17, 2017 | 34 comments
Renaming schools

Well-intentioned campaign to rename Jordan, Terman has divided community
Over the past year a highly motivated group of Palo Alto parents has waged a campaign to rename Jordan and Terman middle schools because their namesakes, David Starr Jordan and Lewis Terman were proponents of eugenics.

March 10, 2017 | 96 comments
Renew stormwater fee

A wet winter should help with passage of fee to continue important upgrades
A proposed increase to the stormwater maintenance fee is not onerous to improve the system and to reduce flooding risk, and it is appropriately borne by property owners.

March 3, 2017 | 34 comments
Rescind, replace and approve

It's finally time for school district to take responsibility for past missteps with OCR
The Palo Alto Board of Education will make two important decisions next Tuesday night, and both will say a lot about what kind of district we are and the values of our current five trustees.

February 24, 2017 | 8 comments
The retail quandary

Vibrant retail districts can't be achieved or maintained by ordinance alone
In an era of increasing challenges for small-business owners, creating successful retail environments has been shown to be more art than science.

February 10, 2017 | 8 comments
A reckless majority

In stunning surprise, new council majority upends planning process
The five members who make up the new, more development-friendly majority on the Palo Alto City Council blatantly stuck it to their four colleagues and the community Monday night with what appeared to be a carefully orchestrated take-over of the critical land-use portion of the new Comprehensive Plan.

February 3, 2017 | 52 comments
Toward a mea culpa

New school board majority opts for more humble, collaborative course with Office for Civil Rights
It has taken two Palo Alto Board of Education elections and the replacement of four out of five trustees, a new Superintendent and a new law firm, but the majority of the school board is finally ready to lead us out of an expensive and unnecessary five-year battle with the federal Department of Education.

January 27, 2017 | 5 comments
A new parking mess?

Proposed parking program for Cal Ave neighborhoods needs fine-tuning or it will fail
The debate over who should be entitled to park in residential neighborhoods adjacent to business districts will be renewed Monday night.

January 20, 2017 | 26 comments
A lost opportunity

Prime city-owned parking lots should have been candidates for housing
Given Palo Alto's clear need for affordable housing, why is no one focusing on the most important relevant resource the city has: publicly owned surface parking lots in commercial districts close to public transportation?

December 9, 2016 | 19 comments
Give for the kids

Support local nonprofits through the 23rd annual Holiday Fund
Don't let the booming Silicon Valley technology-driven economy lull you into thinking that there isn't a continuing divide, even in the affluent Palo Alto area, between those riding high and the many families living on the edge or in need of social services.

December 2, 2016 | 9 comments
Unraveling the Palo Alto election results

The voters have spoken, but what have they said?
We can't let the results of the Palo Alto City Council and school board races stand without comment, as the impacts of this election are not without significance.

November 18, 2016 | 24 comments
Our election recommendations

Read the Palo Alto Weekly's recommendations for the Nov. 8 ballot, including local races and state propositions.

October 28, 2016 | 15 comments
Keller, Kou, Kniss and Fine for Palo Alto City Council

In deciding whom to recommend in this year's City Council race we find ourselves in a dilemma similar to two years ago -- how to balance candidate knowledge and experience, views on issues, ability to work with others and ability to effectively articulate their positions and philosophy.

October 21, 2016 | 105 comments
Collins, DiBrienza for Palo Alto school board

Read the Weekly's endorsements in the 2016 Board of Education race
We expect and need more than good intentions from our leaders, and we have the opportunity to put in place a board with better judgment. In short, we need new blood.

October 14, 2016 | 52 comments
Yes on Santa Clara County measures A, B

Funds for affordable housing, transportation need challenging two-thirds vote for passage
Two important measures on the Nov. 8 ballot ask Santa Clara County voters to approve a $950 million bond measure to build badly needed housing to serve homeless and low-income residents and a half-cent sales-tax increase to fund transportation projects over the next 30 years.

September 30, 2016 | 13 comments
An imperfect wage increase

Palo Alto set to adopt quicker increase to $15, but restaurants protest inequities
There is no suspense about whether the Palo Alto City Council will approve a more expedited increase in the local minimum wage to $15 an hour when it meets Monday night, only how fast we want to reach that level.

September 23, 2016 | 5 comments
The 'microunit' allure

Proposed high density apartment development aims for car-less young professionals
Some call it an innovative way to create needed housing that will become the wave of the future. Others call it inappropriate spot up-zoning that would cause severe parking impacts on the surrounding neighborhood, do nothing to create affordable housing and set a terrible precedent.

September 16, 2016 | 76 comments
Let the campaigns begin

Hotly contested city and school elections await Palo Alto voters
Buckle your seatbelts. This fall's Palo Alto City Council and school board races are likely to be among the most substantive and consequential political races in recent history.

August 19, 2016 | 17 comments
End 'me too' raises

Time to change byzantine Palo Alto school-district pay-increase practice
It is troublesome enough that the powerful California teachers' union has achieved a system where performance doesn't matter and teachers all receive exactly the same pay and pay increase within a school district based only on their longevity and number of advanced degrees.

August 5, 2016 | 30 comments
Facebook's big expansion

Development agreement provides goody bag of money, mitigations, studies
A diverse parade of nonprofit, union and civic leaders turned out Tuesday night to a meeting of the Menlo Park City Council to give their enthusiastic support for a development proposal that would eventually almost double the number of employees working at Facebook's growing campus in east Menlo Park.

July 22, 2016 | 19 comments
Suddenly, a school budget crisis some feared

Tax growth falls short of Palo Alto school district's projections
Less than a month after approving a budget that relied on an almost 9 percent increase in property-tax revenue for the coming year, the Palo Alto Unified School District has learned that the Santa Clara County Assessor is projecting an increase of just over 5 percent.

July 15, 2016 | 48 comments
A bittersweet outcome

With the Palo Alto City Council and neighborhood in agreement, Maybell parcel is finally settled
Like many decisions that come after much community angst, Tuesday night's final approval of 16 single-family homes on a 2.5-acre parcel between Maybell Avenue and Arastradero Road at Clemo Avenue seemed anti-climactic and routine.

July 1, 2016 | 24 comments
Tax measure rushed and ill-advised

Proposed transportation tax on Palo Alto businesses doomed to fail if put on November ballot
Palo Alto City Council members are right to worry about political fall-out from the ever-worsening traffic congestion around town. But rushing an ill-considered tax measure in front of Palo Alto voters this November, at the same time a county transportation sales-tax measure will appear and without the support of the business community is a fool's errand.

June 24, 2016 | 28 comments
Saving Buena Vista

With the county Housing Authority stepping up, preservation of Palo Alto mobile-home park now appears likely
Intense and persistent efforts over the last year by Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian to put together a financial plan and political strategy that could save the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park and preserve 117 units of badly needed low-income housing in Palo Alto have finally paid off.

June 17, 2016 | 61 comments
A miscarriage of justice

Judge ignites firestorm with sentence that will allow Brock Turner out in just three months
Last week, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky used his sentencing powers to impose his own view of the Brock Turner sexual-assault case, overrule statutory sentencing guidelines and all but undo the work of the jury.

June 10, 2016 | 122 comments
Our election endorsements

Our recommendations for state Assembly, state Senate, United States Congress, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, state Proposition 50, Bay Area Measure AA, county Measure A and Ravenswood School District Measure H.

May 27, 2016 | 5 comments
The vanishing surplus

In opaque process, Palo Alto school trustees opt for large teacher, staff and administrator pay increases over other needs
The Palo Alto school board has spent months in what we now discover were two alternate realities, one taking place behind closed doors and another in public.

May 20, 2016 | 40 comments
Vicki Veenker for Assembly

Patent attorney could bring fresh, important perspective to Sacramento
While the eight California Assembly District 24 candidates would each bring unique qualities and experience to the job, we believe three attorneys -- Mike Kasperzak, Marc Berman and Vicki Veenker -- are the clear standouts.

May 13, 2016 | 50 comments
A transparency gap

Palo Alto school district violates its own policy in depriving public of timely meeting minutes
The Palo Alto school board majority and Superintendent Max McGee have repeatedly demonstrated through their action and inaction that "transparency" is merely a talking point.

May 6, 2016 | 25 comments
Palo Alto business registry has failed to deliver its promised value

As Palo Alto's business registry enters its second year and with the recent release of some of the data compiled over the last year, it is clear the program needs help.

April 29, 2016 | 16 comments
The angst over second stories

Neighbors clash over privacy and property rights
When should the City of Palo Alto forbid the construction of second-story additions in a neighborhood dominated by single-story homes?

April 22, 2016 | 54 comments
Hopes rise for teen psych unit

County initiative attracts multiple concepts for in-patient adolescent facility
This week, the county released the four submissions it received, including a joint response from El Camino Hospital, Stanford's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and Kaiser Permanente that proposed opening an 18-bed facility at El Camino's Mountain View campus that would initially serve 12- to 17-year-olds, including those without insurance coverage and unable to pay.

April 15, 2016 | 2 comments
Stanford's deafening silence

With Brock Turner verdict, Stanford misses opportunity to teach and show compassion, humility and resolve
Last week, with an opportunity to use the Brock Turner conviction to bring home the life-changing consequences of illegal behavior and excessive alcohol consumption, Stanford University officials were sadly absent and the university silent.

April 8, 2016 | 58 comments
The looming election

Council and school board races this fall demand strong, fresh candidates
Unusual opportunities exist this fall for qualified and motivated newcomers to seek and win seats on the Palo Alto City Council and the Board of Education, and now is the time for them to step forward.

April 1, 2016 | 44 comments
The housing fallacy

Big push for new housing development in Palo Alto belies economic realities
Palo Alto has become a community that is affordable only to those who have owned their homes for decades, inherited them or hold highly paid jobs. Or for the lucky few who made it to the top of a waiting list for subsidized units through the Palo Alto Housing Corporation.

March 18, 2016 | 147 comments
Getting out of cars

New Palo Alto initiatives take aim at single-occupancy vehicle commutes
Ask any employer in Palo Alto, large or small, tech or restaurant, what its biggest business challenge is and you'll get the same two answers: the lack of local housing options affordable to its employees and the hellish commute experiences that result.

March 11, 2016 | 28 comments
The Addison gift horse

Unprecedented $17 million anonymous gift to Addison shows need for clearer policies
The Palo Alto school district lacks any policy on anonymous gifts or on major donations offered to an individual school, and these sensitive issues should have been immediately brought to the school board for discussion the moment the Addison Elementary School donor emerged, not after countless hours of work had already been invested in developing a plan for how the money would be spent.

March 4, 2016 | 34 comments
Our city state

Transportation issues highlight aspirational 'State of the City' speech
Six years ago, when then-Mayor Pat Burt delivered his first 'State of the City' address, he read from prepared remarks about a weak economy and a city government that was cutting budgets, reducing staff and asking for pay and benefit concessions, and he focused on the importance of tending to the city's infrastructure needs.

February 26, 2016 | 7 comments
A parking Rubik's Cube

Solving downtown neighborhood parking problem requires patience, also in short supply
Just how far will downtown Palo Alto employees venture into surrounding neighborhoods in order to park free during the day? Five blocks? Eight? Ten? Those are among the many unanswered questions as the city is set to enter the second phase of a residential parking-permit system that feels to some residents like a game of Whac-A-Mole.

February 19, 2016 | 8 comments
A 'moon shot' denied

Palo Alto school board majority wisely rejects the allure of a new 'innovative' high school
Three of Palo Alto's five school board members courageously and emphatically said 'no' Tuesday night to initiating a months-long intensive study into the possible creation of an expensive new third high school at the old Cubberley High School site in south Palo Alto.

January 29, 2016 | 44 comments
Averting a resident revolt

Plan to regulate home landscaping in Palo Alto wisely pruned back
A water conservation plan that appeared designed by bureaucrats for bureaucrats was wisely scaled back Tuesday night by a unanimous Palo Alto City Council.

January 24, 2016 | 4 comments
Stop profiting from density

Palo Alto should not be making money from selling development rights
A Palo Alto commercial property owner will soon buy from the City of Palo Alto the right to build a new building that is 2,500 square feet larger than the zoning allows.

January 22, 2016 | 48 comments
Election of mayor, vice mayor mystify Palo Alto pols

Two openly competitive colleagues win council leadership positions
Two strong-willed former mayors, often at odds, strangely find themselves the new leadership team of a City Council divided by the election.

January 8, 2016 | 19 comments
It's the secrecy, stupid

School superintendent works behind board's back to advance new 'innovative' high school
Palo Alto school Superintendent Max McGee owes his board and the public an apology for not disclosing that he actively participated behind the scenes in the creation of a lengthy foundation grant proposal for a new "radically innovative" high school in Palo Alto.

December 4, 2015 | 46 comments
An encouraging first step by the FAA

Time will tell whether it's a serious initiative or just lip service
The Federal Aviation Administration finally announced this week it was reviewing and reconsidering new flight policies and procedures that are generating unprecedented noise complaints from local residents.

November 20, 2015 | 17 comments
False hopes of FAA noise legislation

Two congressional bills have little chance of changing new airplane flight patterns
A group of 14 House Democrats and one Republican introduced legislation in Congress last week that would require the Federal Aviation Administration to involve local communities as it implements a new flight-navigation system called NextGen.

November 13, 2015 | 56 comments
Weekly Holiday Fund kicks off

Money raised benefits programs serving families, children in Palo Alto area
Don't let the booming Silicon Valley technology-driven economy lull you into thinking that there isn't a continuing divide, even in the affluent Palo Alto area, between those riding high and the many families living on the edge or in need of social services.

November 6, 2015 | 8 comments
The perils of innovation

Visionary school proposal has delicate road to travel
'Innovation' is a word we all love to use to distinguish our region's culture and values from other places and to impress upon our children as important to their future in a rapidly changing world.

October 30, 2015 | 67 comments
Investing in Avenidas

Palo Alto senior center deserves city support but not by selling development rights to others
A proposal by City of Palo Alto staff to raise money for the renovation and expansion of the city-owned building that houses Avenidas in downtown Palo Alto by auctioning off to developers the ability to exceed zoning limits on future projects got the reception it deserved Monday night.

October 23, 2015 | 4 comments
Another McGee flip-flop

Palo Alto school supe puts legal counsel plan on hold after winning board approval
Palo Alto school Superintendent Max McGee is now backing away from a plan he was trumpeting months ago and which the school board already approved 4-1 in June.

October 23, 2015 | 35 comments
A tortuous school inquiry

Many failures and missteps make a sad mess of sexual-harassment investigation
Palo Alto school district officials had the perfect opportunity last fall to demonstrate they had learned from their past mistakes and, after trainings mandated by its 2012 agreement with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, were well-prepared for the next, inevitable complaint involving sexual harassment or discrimination.

October 9, 2015 | 12 comments
Don't let the bed bugs bite

Will pests threaten Palo Alto's livability ratings?
A new threat is on the loose, one that could forever change the world's perception of Palo Alto as a vibrant and healthy oasis with a quality of life worthy of its inflated real estate prices -- bed bugs.

October 2, 2015 | 52 comments
Fairness for whom?

Council votes to cap development but undermines its 'beauty contest' strategy
On the narrowest of votes, a divided Palo Alto City Council Monday night upended a plan to have new development proposals compete with each other for a portion of the available 50,000 square feet under a growth limit for new commercial buildings, opting on a 5-4 vote to instead put four already-submitted projects above all others.

September 25, 2015 | 53 comments
A parking 'miracle' in Palo Alto

After years of frustration and false starts, parking restrictions in downtown neighborhoods finally begin
The much-anticipated and long-delayed launch of a broad strategy for alleviating parking problems that have plagued neighborhoods adjacent to downtown Palo Alto for many years had a bit of an inauspicious "soft launch" this week.

September 18, 2015 | 35 comments
Calling out cheating

With surprising unanimity, teens, parents and Palo Alto school officials raise alarm over cheating
Parents and students didn't agree on much at Tuesday's school board meeting on what further reforms would improve the learning environment and emotional health for Palo Alto teens, but they did speak with a single voice on one issue: cheating.

September 11, 2015 | 39 comments
Eshoo's big challenge

With constituents upset over airplane noise, can Anna Eshoo get action from a resistant federal bureaucracy?
It is rare for a member of Congress to become a lightning rod for complaints about the local impacts of a federal agency's policies, mostly because those impacts are usually diffuse and relatively invisible. But that's the position Rep. Anna Eshoo finds herself in, along with a handful of other members of Congress around the country who are dealing with constituents angry over the arrogance and heavy-handedness of the Federal Aviation Administration.

August 28, 2015 | 240 comments
Unworthy PC 'reforms'

Proposed changes to special 'planned community' zoning should be firmly rejected
A year and a half after putting a temporary halt to any further negotiated development projects that exceed the existing zoning, proposed revisions to be considered Monday by the Palo Alto City Council do virtually nothing to prevent the abuses and controversies that led to the moratorium in the first place.

August 21, 2015 | 25 comments
Rolling over for BART

If it has any hope of getting north county voter support on new taxes, VTA needs to remedy funding inequities
Every time transportation sales-tax measures have appeared on Santa Clara County ballots since 1961, Palo Alto voters have joined with those in other cities to approve them, creating billions of dollars for county transit projects.

August 14, 2015 | 65 comments
Flawed new FAA NextGen air-traffic routing system needs reset

It doesn't take too many minutes of sitting in a backyard in Palo Alto or trying to sleep next to an open window to realize something has radically changed with commercial aircraft-routing patterns in our skies.

July 31, 2015 | 104 comments
Nine years in, a citizens committee

After almost a decade of meandering work, a final push begins for a new Comprehensive Plan for Palo Alto
There is no better example of how Palo Alto gets tied up in knots trying to achieve delicate tasks that are anticipated to create controversy than the city's legally required and long overdue update of its Comprehensive Plan, the vision and road map for what kind of a community we all want for the future.

July 17, 2015 | 69 comments
Fixing conflict-of-interest rules on Stanford ties

City of Palo Alto and Stanford should press for reforms to address perennial problem
With Stanford University owning substantial commercial and residential property within Palo Alto city limits, City Council members with even the most benign affiliations with the university have for years been advised to recuse themselves from participating on any issues that could possibly affect Stanford.

July 10, 2015 | 17 comments
Rising hopes for Buena Vista

Palo Alto should approve funding to bolster chances of preserving mobile-home park
With the Palo Alto City Council's final vote a month ago confirming that the Jisser family had met all the legal prerequisites to close the mobile-home park they own in the Barron Park neighborhood, efforts to raise public and private funds to buy and preserve the property have now kicked into high gear.

June 26, 2015 | 71 comments
Chipping away at Palo Alto's proposed office cap

Divided council begins weakening temporary growth limit
The surprising consensus that emerged three months ago with a unanimous vote of the Palo Alto City Council -- creating a system for limiting the amount of commercial office development through a two-year-long annual cap -- began unraveling Monday night.

June 19, 2015 | 44 comments
With end of school year, a time for reflection

Palo Alto school board, superintendent to assess their work in public retreat next week
As Superintendent Max McGee completes his first year, the Palo Alto school district is at an important juncture. With his honeymoon over, it's now necessary for the board and McGee to sort out whether McGee is going to be allowed the freedom to lead the district or whether the school board intends to manage him as they did his predecessor, Kevin Skelly.

June 12, 2015 | 34 comments
Slowing development, one project at a time

'New' Palo Alto council pursues painful process of creating policy through individual project decisions
It's probably no one's idea of how to best craft new policies and expectations for commercial developers in Palo Alto, but the City Council is making clear it is serious about no longer being loose with discretionary approvals that allow buildings to exceed one or more zoning requirements.

June 5, 2015 | 47 comments
No beds for teens

A disturbing lack of in-patient mental health services for adolescents
With all the attention teen suicides have received since the first Palo Alto contagion in 2009, the resources that have been poured into programs and services to address adolescent mental health needs, and all the focus on de-stigmatizing mental illness, the common assumption was that acute cases were being gently handled within our local hospitals by physicians familiar with the unique conditions facing Palo Alto youth. Incredibly, not so.

May 29, 2015 | 18 comments
With urgency, new Gunn bell schedule takes shape

Sweeping changes to school schedule to be implemented next school year
Few would have predicted three months ago that a diverse group of Gunn High School teachers, students, parents and administrators would have been able to come to a consensus recommendation on a new school bell schedule. Let this accomplishment be a lesson that it need not take years to accomplish important reforms, just clear goals, good leadership and a process that is inclusive but efficient.

May 15, 2015 | 9 comments
Adopt expanded retail protections

Urgency ordinance will prevent conversions of ground-floor retail
With increasing concern about the health and future of small retail businesses in Palo Alto, the City Council is scheduled to vote Monday on whether to implement temporary measures to prevent building owners from converting ground-floor retail into offices or other non-retail uses.

May 8, 2015 | 3 comments
Another buck for workers

Adopting a local minimum wage may feel good, but is mostly symbolic
A growing movement to adopt local minimum-wage ordinances is gaining momentum on the Peninsula and elsewhere in California, and with a City Council committee's vote this week an ordinance now appears headed toward adoption in Palo Alto.

May 1, 2015 | 28 comments
Yes on Measure A

Parcel tax deserves support in spite of frustrations with Palo Alto school district governance
Let us keep our frustrations and criticisms of the Palo Alto school district leadership separate from the need of funding to maintain the educational opportunities and experiences of our kids, ensure that class sizes don't grow and implement additional programs directed at closing the achievement gap and increasing mental health resources, and vote to approve Measure A.

April 24, 2015 | 103 comments
The Buena Vista imperative

With owner's right to close park affirmed, an urgency to acquire it
Constrained by advice from the city attorney aimed at keeping council members narrowly focused on their legal responsibilities, an emotional two evenings of public testimony and council discussion came to an anti-climactic end Tuesday night as the council unanimously gave permission to the owner of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park to close it down.

April 17, 2015 | 31 comments
Development limits — a modest start

A cautious council finds consensus on an interim 'cap'
After a series of three long and exhausting meetings, an ambivalent Palo Alto City Council Monday night mustered an unexpected unanimous vote in support of a modest temporary development limit on new office development downtown, in the California Avenue business district and along El Camino Real.

March 27, 2015 | 24 comments
The 'zero period' hypocrisy

While preaching the value of sleep, high schools quietly offer early classes
In the face of a community-wide discussion over how to respond to a suicide contagion that has now taken four teenagers since October, there is one factor on which all experts agree: Sleep and student wellness are inextricably connected.

March 13, 2015 | 236 comments
Council chamber is the wrong place to resolve home-design controversies

The Palo Alto City Council made the right call Monday night in upholding the staff approval of a single-family home proposed for a vacant lot on a cul-de-sac on Corina Way in the Adobe Meadow neighborhood in south Palo Alto.

February 27, 2015 | 19 comments
Around teen well-being, the vocabulary changes

Finally, an acknowledgment that school climate and student stress contribute to mental health crises
In the last three weeks, two significant yet relatively unnoticed mindset shifts have occurred that may have major positive impacts on the social and emotional environment for our kids.

February 20, 2015 | 41 comments
Saving Buena Vista

A complicated path to preserve low-income housing
The legal, financial and political obstacles to saving 117 units of low-income housing at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park are enormous, but they are not insurmountable.

February 6, 2015 | 108 comments
While explanations elude, we should not be deterred from action

As the Palo Alto community mourns and reflects on the loss of another Palo Alto teenager — the third in four months — we must not allow our frustrations, fears and divergent perspectives to block the path forward.

January 30, 2015 | 61 comments
School board should be concerned about timing, over-reaching on parcel tax

Palo Altans have stepped up time and time again to support the schools, through generous donations, bond measures to upgrade facilities and parcel taxes to supplement regular property-tax revenue and state support.

January 23, 2015 | 105 comments
Council should adopt policy requiring vote before closed sessions

We are all for a proposal to be considered next Tuesday by the Palo Alto City Council that would require an affirmative vote to authorize any closed session, whether born out of last year's scathing Grand Jury report, a sincere belief in greater transparency or pure political grandstanding.

January 16, 2015 | 1 comment
Caltrain's electrification project is pushed forward with impunity

With trains on the Peninsula currently operating at record, standing-room-only levels and providing an increasingly unpleasant commute experience, Caltrain is appropriately eager to get started this year on its $1.5 billion electrification project. Unfortunately, it is also completely brushing off important concerns raised by Palo Alto over the substantial negative impacts at the city's three railroad grade crossings.

January 9, 2015 | 61 comments
An elusive Palo Alto History Museum

Hope springs eternal as building decays
The Palo Alto City Council once again provided a lifeline to a nascent Palo Alto History Museum group that has repeatedly been unable to demonstrate sufficient community support to propel the project forward. It is a painful approach that isn't fair to either museum advocates or Palo Alto residents and taxpayers.

December 19, 2014 | 27 comments
Win, lose or tie?

Scorecard of school media coverage is another self-inflicted distraction
For the last four months, 108 media stories and editorials, most from the Weekly, have been monitored, scored and cataloged by Tabitha Kappeler-Hurley and reported to Superintendent Max McGee, principals and other administrators.
The practice became public this week when McGee gave the school board his first quarterly update on how staff is progressing on the board's annual goals, established in August.

December 12, 2014 | 36 comments
A solid parking plan in Palo Alto

Downtown permit system set to begin next spring
Like most outcomes built on compromise, the journey of creating a program to begin addressing downtown Palo Alto's parking problems has been long and circuitous, with many false starts, misunderstandings and disappointments along the way.

December 5, 2014 | 19 comments
Helping kids this season

Don't let the booming Silicon Valley technology-driven economy lull you into thinking that there isn't a continuing divide, even in the affluent Palo Alto area, between those riding high and the many families living on the edge and needing a bit of help.

November 28, 2014 | No comments yet
Short Cubberley lease will keep pressure on, appropriately

With just six weeks left before the expiration of a lease agreement that has transferred approximately $140 million from the city to the school district over the last 25 years, the city council and school board have finally reached agreement on a new five-year lease that begins to wean the district from what has become an outdated and lopsided arrangement.

November 14, 2014 | 13 comments
Election results signify an inflection point in local politics

In a shifting of the power dynamic in our community not seen for more than 40 years, Palo Alto's traditional political movers and shakers suffered a humiliating defeat this week as unhappy voters expressed their desire for change, more transparency, broader representation, less arrogance and greater accountability.

November 7, 2014 | 27 comments
Yes on Measure B to increase hotel tax

Palo Alto Measure B would increase the city's transient occupancy tax, the tax added to hotel bills for visitors, from 12 percent to 14 percent.

October 18, 2014 | 2 comments
Yes on Measure C to update utility tax

Palo Alto currently generates about 7 percent of its general-fund revenue, or some $11 million, from the 5 percent utility tax that was approved by voters in 1987.

October 18, 2014 | 1 comment
No on Measure D on reducing council size

Talk of reducing the size of the Palo Alto City Council from nine to seven has come and gone for decades, but has never generated enough traction to get on the ballot.

October 18, 2014 | No comments yet
Re-elect Brian Schmidt to water district

With Palo Alto's water supply coming entirely from Hetch Hetchy through the San Francisco Water Department, the Santa Clara Valley Water District's importance to the city is primarily in the flood control and creek habitat work where Schmidt has been most active.

October 18, 2014 | 4 comments
Editorials: No on Measure D; yes on Measures B and C; re-elect Schmidt

Talk of reducing the size of the Palo Alto City Council from nine to seven has come and gone for decades, but has never generated enough traction to get on the ballot. We don't rule out the possibility that in the future a reduction in size might become non-controversial and beneficial. But in the heat of today's political environment, it's bad timing.

October 17, 2014 | 9 comments
Holman, Scharff, DuBois, Filseth, Wolbach for City Council

In a field of 12 candidates, getting to five is not that easy
We recommend the re-election of two incumbents, Karen Holman and Greg Scharff, and three newcomers, Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth and Cory Wolbach. None of the candidates is without liabilities, but together we think this group would result in a better balance and be more representative of all of Palo Alto than any council in a long time.

October 9, 2014 | 41 comments
Terry Godfrey, Ken Dauber for Palo Alto school board

While we value the backgrounds of all the school board candidates, in our opinion Terry Godfrey and Ken Dauber are clearly in the best position to work with superintendent, Max McGee, to chart a fresh path forward and begin a healthy rebuilding process.

October 3, 2014 | 14 comments
The meaning of 'fight'

As Palo Alto school board runs up legal bills, supe takes a different tack
Palo Alto school Superintendent Max McGee opted this month to solve the newest complaint of a frustrated Palo Alto parent who turned to the federal Office for Civil Rights for help after believing district staff had not handled their child's disability accommodations properly by communicating quickly, acknowledging mistakes, making corrections, and staying focused on the needs of every student.

September 26, 2014 | 21 comments
Growing the shuttle

New 'west' route proposed for free shuttle program
As one piece of a multi-pronged approach to improving transit options and addressing parking and congestion, city officials are in the process of finalizing a plan to expand the Palo Alto shuttle program.

September 19, 2014 | 24 comments
A breath of fresh air

New school superintendent off to strong start
School district Superintendent Max McGee has been on the job for just over a month, but he has already demonstrated an ability to respectfully, calmly and firmly lead the school board and his staff in setting clear and important goals and accountability measures for the coming year.

September 12, 2014 | 10 comments
An 'iconic' bridge?

We are delighted to see the city moving forward with plans for a new pedestrian and bike bridge across 101, but we would have preferred a more streamlined design process with less risk of pushing costs even higher.

September 12, 2014 | 32 comments
A half-hearted mea culpa

Proposed city response to Grand Jury falls short
While it acknowledges some sloppiness and poor judgment in keeping information from the public, the City of Palo Alto's defensive draft response to a highly critical and embarrassing grand-jury investigation hardly paints a reassuring picture of lessons learned.

September 5, 2014 | 58 comments
A long overdue downtown parking initiative

Technology will play key role in easing downtown parking mess
What a difference a week can make. After Monday's ill-advised 5-4 decision to spend $180,000 to conduct studies of a poorly conceived plan to shuttle workers from parking places east of Bayshore Freeway to downtown Palo Alto, the city council will have a chance for redemption.

August 15, 2014 | 18 comments
Replacing JJ&F in Palo Alto

Developer has not met threshold for proceeding with project
The developer of a long-delayed mixed-use project on the site of the former JJ&F Market is asking the city to approve his son as the owner-operator of the required replacement grocery store and allow construction to begin. This is yet another example of the problems that arise under Palo Alto's so-called planned community (PC) zoning process, which grants zoning exceptions in exchange for "public benefits."

August 8, 2014 | 29 comments
Skeptical about 'net zero'

Regulating for impacts rather than size of development should raise community concerns
In a desire to explore what it describes as an innovative planning concept that could lead the state and nation in a new approach to managing development, the Palo Alto planning staff has opened up a potential can of worms that we hope the city council will approach with extreme caution.

August 1, 2014 | 11 comments
Damage control at the Palo Alto YMCA

Y struggles with longtime members over Page Mill facility
It is surprising and disappointing that an organization as large and well-respected as the YMCA of Silicon Valley, with local boards filled with prominent local people, could have stumbled so badly in the last two weeks over the Page Mill branch's problems.

July 18, 2014 | 80 comments
Project creep at City Hall

$4.5 million lobby 'refurbishment' tough to swallow
A project that was intended to be a renovation of the cramped conference room next to the City Council Chambers has somehow mushroomed into a glitzy redesign of the entire Hamilton Avenue-facing lobby of City Hall.

July 11, 2014 | 33 comments
For developers, tough sledding in Palo Alto

Citizen activists put city staff and council to the test in reviewing new projects
For real-estate developers in Palo Alto, 2014 may be looked back on as a turning point in how things work for them at city hall.

June 27, 2014 | 80 comments
Shrinking the Palo Alto council

With ambivalence, City Council decides on public vote
With most City Council members expressing mixed feelings, a bare 5-4 majority decided Monday night that Palo Alto voters should get the chance this November to reduce the size of the council from nine to seven, beginning in 2018.

June 20, 2014 | 31 comments
A sadly misguided board

Defiant school board goes public with its strategy of resistance, hatched a year ago
There is great irony in the Palo Alto school board's complaints about the Office of Civil Rights, expressed in a resolution this week, because the district's own practices suffer from the very same problems.

June 6, 2014 | 214 comments
Recap of election recommendations

In spite of short ballot, your vote is important in June 3 election
Seriously contested local elections are few and far between in next week's state primary election, but two judge campaigns, a challenge to the county's incumbent sheriff and an open-space bond measure deserve our readers' attention and vote.

May 30, 2014 | 13 comments
Re-elect Sheriff Smith

While Laurie Smith has her flaws, union-backed challenger would not be an improvement
The current campaign being waged by retired sheriff's captain Kevin Jensen against Sheriff Smith demonstrates why a better system would be for county boards of supervisors to hire a sheriff rather than having them elected.

May 16, 2014 | 15 comments
Sylva, Harris for Judge

Two Superior Court judgeship races on June 3 ballot
Voters are at a severe disadvantage when trying to determine the best judicial candidates in contested judge races. Read about the Weekly's editorial board's suggestions for two candidates on the upcoming ballot.

May 9, 2014 | No comments yet
Approve open space bond Measure AA

After public visioning process, MROSD seeks voter funding support
It is not an overstatement to say that the creation of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District in 1972 is the single biggest reason for the extensive open space and recreational opportunities we enjoy today up and down the Peninsula, and out to the coast.

May 2, 2014 | 47 comments
Toward a long overdue business registry

Business license should be simple, inexpensive and accomplished quickly
In Palo Alto, where we sometimes seem to get pleasure from trying to reinvent the wheel, proposals to implement a business license have come and gone every few years without resolution.

April 25, 2014 | 19 comments
Cal Ave's future

Long percolating, 'concept' plan for the city's second downtown heads for more discussion
Wanted: Redevelopment that is higher density, mixed residential and commercial, with adequate parking and improved pedestrian and bicycle connections, all without changing the current character as a neighborhood-serving retail district.

April 18, 2014 | 11 comments
Hard school lessons

Paly sexual harassment case raises host of issues, concerns
The revelation that former Palo Alto High School Principal Phil Winston engaged in "unprofessional conduct and unsatisfactory performance" in his dealings with both students and colleagues is profoundly sad and disappointing.

April 11, 2014 | 3 comments
What's in a name?

Is coming up with a name for the new 'main' library really worth all this fuss?
Instead of returning to further debate over what the Main Library should be named, City Council should recognize the folly of its earlier efforts to micromanage this process, adopt the harmless and appropriate "Rinconada Library" name.

April 4, 2014 | 44 comments
Caution and skepticism needed on transit-center lease

City staff hasn't made the case yet for giving up long-term ground lease and allowing Stanford to regain control over site
It is ironic that at the very time the city is promoting a community discussion about the future of the area surrounding the University Avenue train station it would even consider giving up a lease that gives it substantial influence and control over the site.

March 28, 2014 | 10 comments
Foothills mystery parcel proposed as park addition

Small city-owned parcel next to Foothills Park, subject of secret Council meetings in 2012, resurfaces in proposal to dedicate as parkland
A piece of property at the base of Foothills Park's beautiful Las Trampas Valley, once the subject of closed-door discussions about selling it to developer John Arrillaga, has now resurfaced with the opposite intent.

March 21, 2014 | 43 comments
In major test for city, Cal Ave project begins

After tree-cutting debacle, city officials hope controversial project can rebuild trust and give 'second downtown' its due
What began as a $1.7 million largely grant-funded sprucing up of the area primarily at the east end of the California Avenue business district has grown into an ambitious $7 million rehab of all three commercial blocks between El Camino and the railroad tracks.

March 14, 2014 | 4 comments
Reining in the Cubberley lease

In a model of transparency, City Council directs scaling back expiring 25-year-old agreement
Having previously criticized the City Council for not recognizing the importance of providing the public with an opportunity to weigh in on and hear the council publicly discuss issues that are largely dealt with in closed session, it's only fair to commend them for Monday night's candid and open discussion.

February 28, 2014 | 12 comments
The Skelly resignation

Appropriately, Palo Alto school superintendent will leave in June
While not a surprise, Superintendent Kevin Skelly's announcement this week that he would leave the district at the end of the school year is a great relief.

February 21, 2014 | 103 comments
The Paly English kerfuffle

Mysteriously, a plan more than a year in the making goes from being recommended to being shelved, all in two weeks
It was stunning how dismissively the carefully developed, well-researched teacher proposal to "de-lane" freshman English was handled by the school board and how quickly the administration turned its back on a plan it had endorsed and brought to the community for adoption.

February 14, 2014 | 174 comments
In baby step, PCs are put on hold

With election approaching, City Council finally initiates review of 'planned community' zoning
While the City Council's "planned community" zoning moratorium, described in a proposal by staff as a "time out," will certainly be well received in the community, it is hardly a bold policy move.

February 7, 2014 | 30 comments
The school board's nadir

Adjourning at 2:15 a.m., our school board and superintendent abandon any semblance of transparent and effective governance
There are so many ways the public, students and teachers were disrespected by the school board and Superintendent Kevin Skelly in Tuesday night's ridiculous eight-hour meeting that we hardly know where to start.

January 31, 2014 | 331 comments
A Taser lesson learned

Police auditor report gives public valuable peek at risks of Taser guns when police must make instant judgments
The investigation of a Palo Alto police officer who shocked a 16-year-old bicyclist with a Taser in 2012 highlights the need for transparency and potential reevaluation of department policy.

January 17, 2014 | 55 comments
Bye-bye bullying policies?

School Superintendent Kevin Skelly now recommends against adopting the district bullying policy he proposed just a month ago
After spending more than a year working to develop uniform bullying policies for the Palo Alto school district, Superintendent Kevin Skelly has reversed his recommendation.

January 9, 2014 | 38 comments
Your chance to give back through the Holiday Fund

Thousands of people in need are helped through nonprofit agencies receiving Holiday Fund grants
As the year winds down, giving to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund is an easy way to support dozens of local nonprofits and the families they help.

December 13, 2013 | No comments yet
In search of a 'community conversation'

City Council begins process of 'recalibrating' policies to reflect community attitudes over development
New planning director Hillary Gitelman has a big task in front of her: getting up to speed on both the angst in the community over development and the staff's and City Council's credibility problems.

December 6, 2013 | 45 comments
Helping kids this season

Despite the reviving Silicon Valley economy, children are too often the innocent victims of economic hard times, and we are lucky to have so many well-run nonprofit organizations that are serving their needs.

November 22, 2013 | 2 comments
Elusive bullying policies

School district's quest for unique system has turned routine policy development into a process quagmire
Part of the reason the school district has taken so long to adopt required new anti-bullying policies is that Palo Alto wants to create a unique policy that even its own state school boards association strongly advises against.

November 15, 2013 | 30 comments
Next steps with Maybell

How the City Council responds to Measure D's defeat is now a critical test of its leadership, and of its commitment to salvaging a senior housing project out of this train wreck.

November 8, 2013 | 47 comments
Mercifully, election day cometh

Campaign tactics and emotion marred Measure D debate from the start
The campaign surrounding Measure D has pitted friends against each other, divided the Barron Park neighborhood and tapped into a festering unease in the community about how zoning decisions are made, who pays the price and who benefits.

November 1, 2013 | 96 comments
A Good bridge approach

With delicate and competing interests at stake, plan for thorough analysis of Newell bridge alternatives is on the right track
Time spent now involving the affected residents in crafting alternative solutions for what to do with the 102-year-old Newell bridge is well worth it, and City staff deserves credit for pivoting in response to initial reactions from residents.

October 25, 2013 | 47 comments
No on Measure D

Zoning changes to enable Maybell senior housing project strike wrong balance and should be overturned
The proposal to build a four-story, 60-unit affordable apartment complex for seniors was mishandled from the start by both the Housing Corporation and the city staff. The city should have earlier addressed detractors' most legitimate concern: including dense, market-rate housing at the site.

October 18, 2013 | 121 comments
Forty years later, updating open space vision

As open space and recreational opportunities become ever more important, a good time to reassess priorities
Like many planning exercises, the scope of the the Midpeninsula Open Space District's visioning process is so broad that it risks not focusing enough attention on the most important and controversial questions: How much and what types of recreational uses should be allowed and supported within the district's preserves?

October 11, 2013 | 20 comments
After 25 years, time to phase out Cubberley lease

With Palo Alto schools in the best financial shape in decades, it's time to wean them from a revenue source intended as a helping hand during a financial crisis
The financial condition of the Palo Alto Unified School District, like most public agencies, is not very transparent to the average citizen. And that is especially the case when things are flush.

September 27, 2013 | 35 comments
Ambitions to reduce traffic

Seeking to show it is listening as election year approaches, Council aims at measures to get workers out of their cars
With residents expressing increasing frustration with the City Council's approvals of new commercial development projects and delay after delay in addressing the traffic and parking problems they create and exacerbate, the Palo Alto City Council is looking for a way to establish its credentials as good transportation and land use planners.

September 20, 2013 | 42 comments
Up next, Jay Paul

The massive building developer Jay Paul is proposing is likely to be the largest commercial office development ever built in Palo Alto outside the Stanford Research Park since Palo Alto Square was developed more than 40 years ago.

September 13, 2013 | 41 comments
A bridge apart

With new overnight parking ban in Crescent Park, East Palo Alto officials express valid frustration with misinformation, outcome
As the Palo Alto City Council's unanimous vote on Aug. 12 showed, there was little doubt that residents on streets near the Newell Road bridge connecting the Crescent Park neighborhood with East Palo Alto would be successful at obtaining relief from their parking nightmare. That's about all that went right with this process.

September 6, 2013 | 67 comments
Teens and social media

Invisible to parents and teachers, cruelty, meanness and explicit online postings have become a way of life for teenagers
If you are the parent of a middle or high school student, chances are your child is either engaged in, or witness to, online behavior that you would find distressing, if not shocking.

August 23, 2013 | 16 comments
A wasteful Maybell referendum

Neighbors and City Council talk past each other, squandering opportunity for a better outcome
Perhaps it was too much to expect the Palo Alto City Council to demonstrate they understood why many neighbors of a proposed senior housing project on Maybell Avenue across from Briones Park are upset, suspicious and feeling disrespected.

August 16, 2013 | 96 comments
Posturing on parking

As momentum for a residential parking-permit system grows, downtown property owners embark on odd strategy of blame-and-scare tactics
The last thing the downtown business community or nearby residents need is a debate over who is to blame for the parking problems in downtown Palo Alto.

August 9, 2013 | 36 comments
As City Council returns, sticky issues await

From banning overnight car camping to controversial development proposals, council members face complex and emotional issues as they return from summer break
Palo Alto City Council members will return from their month-long break Monday night, with a volatile set of issues lined up for as far as one can see.

August 2, 2013 | 28 comments
In city that loves plans, Palo Alto's creates cynicism

Awash in development proposals, city's aged planning vision takes a back-seat
Palo Alto's official and legally mandated Comprehensive Plan bills itself as "the primary tool for guiding future development of the city." These days, however, the 15-year-old, 300-page document is treated almost like a quaint historic relic of how things were for the city back in the late 1990s.

July 19, 2013 | 3 comments
Some PR advice for school district, city

With both the city and school district hiring 'communication specialists,' can the public expect more transparency or simply better PR?
There are two ways of looking at almost simultaneous decisions by Palo Alto City Manager Jim Keene and school district Superintendent Kevin Skelly to hire senior-level help with communications and public outreach.

July 12, 2013 | 24 comments
Accountability not in lesson plan

With the resignation three weeks ago of assistant superintendent Michael Milliken, Palo Alto school superintendent Kevin Skelly was handed an unexpected gift.

June 28, 2013 | 27 comments
Lessons from the Maybell fiasco

Council's last-minute efforts to assuage neighbors couldn't make up for a process that failed months earlier
If there was one lesson that anyone involved in Palo Alto policy-making should know, it is to never assume that something can be quietly approved by keeping it under the radar of affected neighbors and holding back on full transparency.

June 21, 2013 | 59 comments
Missteps on council 'reforms'

Considering recent controversies suggesting a lack of sensitivity of current City Council members to the need for transparency and public outreach, the council showed more of the same tone deafness this week in dealing with two very old ideas that suddenly re-emerged as urgent items.

June 7, 2013 | 27 comments
From fast to slow on 27 University?

After unsuccessfully trying the hurry-up approach, city staff reverts to the classic Palo Alto process and asks, "How slow do you want to go?"
Just last fall, John Arrillaga's vision for building huge office towers and a theater where the MacArthur Park restaurant and the Red Cross building now stand was on an unconventional and intentional fast track.

May 31, 2013 | 38 comments
Enact vehicle-dwelling ban

After five years, it's long past time for the City Council to take action and prohibit overnight vehicle habitation
Compassion and support for the downtrodden has always been an important part of the Palo Alto culture, but city leaders have done the community a disservice by allowing the problem of vehicle dwelling to languish for more than five years.

May 24, 2013 | 77 comments
A backwards process on Maybell project

"Not a done deal" defense rings hollow for proposed senior-housing development
Imagine making a substantial family investment in something before determining its value, how other family members felt about it and deciding if it was the best way to meet your family goals?

May 17, 2013 | 50 comments
Palo Alto school board in parallel universe

Palo Alto school trustees work to move forward in midst of continued controversies
The poor school board just can't catch a break. Try as they might to follow the advice of their attorney and send the message they won't be "distracted" and are "moving forward" from the controversy over bullying cases, one thing after another drags them back into turbulent waters.

May 10, 2013 | 33 comments
New committees undermine transparency

Ad hoc council committees may fulfill mayor's wish for more efficiency, but they threaten the public's right to fully participate
Palo Alto Mayor Greg Scharff has just a year as the ceremonial head of the City Council, but in just four months he has made some changes that are rankling some of his colleagues and should also concern members of the public.

May 3, 2013 | 9 comments
Finish El Camino Park

Uncertainty over potential Arrillaga project shouldn't delay completion of long-planned park improvements
Palo Alto's Parks and Recreation Commission was right earlier this week when it urged the city staff and City Council to drop the idea of relocating the historic MacArthur Park restaurant building from its current location to somewhere in the park.

April 26, 2013 | 12 comments
Paly journalists sound alarm

Verde magazine courageously and sensitively raises issue of teen sexual assault and its ugly aftermath
When Palo Alto High School journalism students published its issue on teen "rape culture" last week, they knew it would send shockwaves beyond the campus.

April 19, 2013 | 35 comments
Hopeful first reactions on new school calendar

While half-way into the first year of a new school calendar is too soon to make any definitive conclusions, a just-completed survey shows strong support across all groups for moving the mid-year semester break from January to December.

April 12, 2013 | 16 comments
Symbolic actions matter in quest for civil rights

In the 1960s, political and community leaders in Palo Alto were among those who stepped up to publicly advocate for federal and state fair-housing laws against red-lining and other forms of racial discrimination in housing.

April 5, 2013 | 46 comments
For now, a required 'public benefit' slips away

Closure of Miki's market leaves Alma Plaza developer with 37 homes, city with no grocery store
There is plenty of blame to go around in any assessment of why Miki's Farm Fresh Market will have to close its doors next week, after less than six months as the anchor tenant of the made-over Alma Plaza site near the intersection of East Meadow Drive and Alma Street.

March 29, 2013 | 72 comments
High school counseling reforms inch forward

Lack of district leadership continues to impede progress on bringing high school guidance programs to 'comparability'
For those who don't have kids in the schools or don't carefully follow the nuances of school policy and governance, it must seem surreal that the subject of high school counseling is still an unresolved and controversial topic in this community.

March 22, 2013 | 47 comments
So far, all take, no give on Cubberley site

As lucrative lease nears renewal date, school district hopes it can persuade the city to keep the money flowing
We had high hopes in November, 2011 when the Palo Alto City Council adopted an ambitious work plan aimed at determining a thoughtful path forward for the use and related financing for the 35-acre former Cubberley High School site.

March 15, 2013 | 44 comments
The path forward for Palo Alto school board

Trustees must act decisively and with clarity to restore public confidence
Faced with its biggest governance crisis since former school superintendent Mary Frances Callan was fired in 2006, Palo Alto's five elected school board members are on the edge of a precipice.

March 8, 2013 | 75 comments
As district lawyers step in, disappointing spin begins

School board struggles to understand bullying case investigation and depth of district governance problem
As Palo Alto school officials brace for an inevitable lawsuit stemming from its failure to respond properly to the bullying of a special-education middle school student, the district's handling of the issue became even more bizarre this week.

March 1, 2013 | 235 comments
Protesting ABAG's housing goals

As Palo Alto seeks reduced targets, Gordon initiates discussion with cities to address concerns over widely criticized process
Like many cities up and down the Peninsula, Palo Alto is struggling to find the best strategy for standing up to the unreasonable targets for new housing construction imposed by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).

February 22, 2013 | 65 comments
Bullying case reveals systemic problems in school district

Federal investigation uncovers a disturbing failure to respond to repeated incidents of harassment
Palo Alto school district leaders and parents should be shocked and saddened by the portrait painted in a scathing investigative report from the U.S. Department of Education.

February 8, 2013 | 141 comments
City proudly leads on 'carbon neutral'

Major push to go green puts Palo Alto on cusp of major milestone
As President Obama promised to take on the threat of climate change in his inaugural speech last week, Palo Alto residents can take comfort that their city has been focused on the effort to reduce greenhouse gases for quite a few years.

February 1, 2013 | 21 comments
Why the secrecy in Menlo Park?

Recent requests by the Almanac for information about police department matters have produced some troubling responses from the city of Menlo Park.

January 30, 2013 | 7 comments
You helped set new Holiday Fund record

Twentieth annual community fundraising campaign raises $390,000 for local nonprofits serving the needs of kids and families
Working hard to serve these families are dozens of local nonprofit organizations, and the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund serves as a simple and important funding source for those that serve residents of Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

January 25, 2013 | No comments yet
Council follows risky strategy to set aside space for compost plant

Palo Alto could run afoul of environmental regulations by waiting to cover landfill
Harking back to the voters' 2011 decision to set aside 10 acres of the city's defunct landfill for a waste-to-energy plant, the Palo Alto City Council decided Monday to take a precarious path that will delay transfer of any acres of landfill to Byxbee Park for more than a year and risk fines of up to $10,000 a day for not capping the old dump.

January 19, 2013 | 8 comments
Bridging the flood control debate

As other flood control measures move forward east of 101, Newell Road bridge replacement controversy deserves calm exploration of options
It has taken more than a decade, but finally work is set to begin that ultimately will protect Palo Alto, Menlo Park and East Palo Alto from floods similar to the one that inundated hundreds of homes in 1998.

January 12, 2013 | 27 comments
Interests collide over Buena Vista's future

Vulnerable residents of Palo Alto's only mobile-home park need and deserve support as redevelopment plans evolve
There has been a certain inevitability to the situation now unfolding at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, located behind El Camino Real in the Barron Park neighborhood.

December 14, 2012 | 6 comments
A needed step back

Responding to intense community feedback, City Council hits re-set button on ambitious Arrillaga proposal
A growing public concern about the magnitude of a proposal made by developer and Stanford benefactor John Arrillaga and the planning process was heard loud and clear by the Palo Alto City Council before and during a five-hour discussion Monday night and early Tuesday morning.

December 7, 2012 | 22 comments
The push for 27 University

Never has City Hall moved so fast on a development proposal, nor been so awed by a developer, particularly when the stakes are so high
If you're confused by the process by which the City Council is considering a massive commercial office project put forth by developer John Arrillaga dubbed "27 University" you aren't alone or crazy.

November 30, 2012 | 51 comments
Kicking the can down the road

Council approves more studies on downtown parking problems, leaving residents waiting for relief, again
Once again, residents of downtown neighborhoods have been told to be patient about the impacts of employee parking spilling onto their streets.

November 16, 2012 | No comments yet
Yes on Measures A and B

Santa Clara County has been whipsawed by the economic downturn and the state's perennial budget crises. When funding runs short for state-supported safety-net programs that serve low-income residents, legislators pass the problem down to county governments, who at the same time are overburdened by more residents who need services just to survive.

October 26, 2012 | 16 comments
State ballot recommendations

The Weekly's recommendations on state Propositions 30-40, as well as Foothill-De Anza College Board, Santa Clara County Board of Education and other local races. Related material:
ELECTION 2012: Stories, editorials, videos and resources

October 19, 2012 | 34 comments
Caswell, Dauber, Emberling for school board

The last time there was an election for school board in Palo Alto was five years ago, just a few months after Superintendent Kevin Skelly had been hired to bring order to the chaos created by the board's poor handling of the proposed new Mandarin Immersion program and a widespread lack of confidence in former Superintendent Mary Frances Callan.

October 12, 2012 | 59 comments
Burt, Schmid, Berman, Kniss for council

With mixed feelings about Kniss returning to the City Council, we conclude her regional experience could serve the city well
In the last Palo Alto City Council election in 2009, with 14 candidates, voters overwhelmingly reelected Larry Klein to his second four-year term after he had previously served two terms in the 1980s.

October 5, 2012 | 43 comments
ELECTION 2012: Stories, editorials, videos and resources

Palo Alto residents to vote on City Council, school board in Nov. 6 election
Stories, editorials, videos, photos and links regarding the Presidential General Election on Nov. 6, 2012. Palo Alto Online will update results live on election night starting at 8 p.m. Related material:
The Weekly recommends

October 2, 2012 | 2 comments
A breathtaking proposal

Arrillaga concept for high-rise offices, theater and new transit center is unprecedented in both exceeding zoning limits and providing public benefits
The largest and boldest commercial development proposal in the history of Palo Alto, located at one of the worst traffic pinch-points in the city, would have been viewed by most as a non-starter under almost any circumstances.

September 28, 2012 | 42 comments
Stretching the Brown Act

Tight-lipped, city staff defends closed council sessions to discuss selling small foothills parcel
In the end, the idea of selling a small, seven-acre land-locked city-owned parcel in the foothills above Arastradero Preserve may have merit. It could bring the city some welcome revenue without any obvious negative impacts. But, alas, it's not that simple.
Related story:
Palo Alto mulls sale of land near Foothills Park

September 21, 2012 | 12 comments
No on Measure C

Other cities' experiences with medical-marijuana shops show it's a bad idea
With Peninsula cities having almost uniformly passed ordinances prohibiting so-called medical-marijuana dispensaries, Palo Alto has been targeted by medical-marijuana advocates and libertarians as a place where a liberal electorate might be persuaded to overturn that ban.

September 14, 2012 | 47 comments
Errors exacerbated mosquito problem

County districts should have foreseen the problem, communicated with public
Demonstrating that one never knows where danger lurks, an unprecedented mosquito infestation suddenly erupted across areas within a few miles of the Palo Alto Baylands early last week, signaling a significant problem with the flood-control equipment that protects us against flooding.

August 23, 2012 | 21 comments
Bike-sharing plan readied

Innovative pilot program will allow Caltrain commuters biking option
A transportation grant designed to provide 100 bikes for Palo Alto-bound Caltrain commuters unfortunately got tangled in a discussion at the Architectural and Review Board (ARB) last week, delaying approval of the sites selected for the automated stations where bikes could be checked out and returned as part of a pilot program.

August 10, 2012 | 11 comments
A dearth of candidates

Non-competitive local races are a threat to democracy and to healthy debate of important issues
With just 12 days remaining before the Aug. 15 extended filing deadline for candidates running for City Council and Board of Education, the November school board election is in danger of being cancelled entirely and the City Council race is looking uninspired.

August 3, 2012 | 26 comments
A pair of strong City Council decisions

With purpose and decisiveness, Palo Alto council moves forward with major improvements for California Avenue and the golf course
It is infrequent when one can celebrate decisiveness in process-obsessed Palo Alto, but Monday night's City Council meeting demonstrated that the current council is ready and willing to leave some constituents unhappy in order to move forward with important projects after doing their homework.

July 27, 2012 | 18 comments
Heading off looming pension crisis

City's leaders seek ways to bring rising employee retirement costs under control
Driven by increasingly higher pension and benefit costs, employee compensation now makes up 63 percent of Palo Alto's General Fund budget, an unsustainable situation that could cripple the city in the years ahead.

July 20, 2012 | 22 comments
Medicine doesn't offset poison of HSR bill

While Caltrain and the Peninsula come out as winners from high-speed-rail vote, state still can't afford this 'plan'
In a political drama that has potentially massive financial ramifications for California, last week's razor-close vote to move forward with high-speed rail will keep the uncertain project alive but give the Peninsula the benefit of Caltrain electrification.

July 13, 2012 | 4 comments
City should jump on cellular solution

Locating antennas at power substations could be start of comprehensive policy
The City Council has an opportunity to end the often divisive neighborhood fights over installation of small cell phone antennas by simply making space available to install much larger and more powerful antennas at a few city-owned utility substations, and even one on the roof of City Hall.

June 29, 2012 | 8 comments
A worthless permit parking test

Without changing downtown garage policy, employees will simply relocate to and impact other streets
If the city is truly committed to giving Professorville and other residents living in homes adjacent to downtown some protection from the daily invasion of workers seeking a free parking space, it will take much more than the trial run that was unveiled last week.

June 22, 2012 | 32 comments
A tipping point for school board?

With rebuke, trustees attempt to reassert their role as policy makers in wake of poorly managed process
Faced with a mess largely of their own making, Palo Alto Superintendent Kevin Skelly and the school board sought this week to clear the air, put aside emotion and defensiveness and chart a fresh and more deliberate course forward on the subject of high school counseling.

June 15, 2012 | 29 comments
Last chance for Hohbach project

Frustrated council digs in for improvements to large project at Page Mill Road and Park Boulevard
Developer Harold Hohbach's stubbornness in improving the design of his proposed mixed rental housing and research and development project may get him a defeat next time he returns to the City Council, if comments from council members are to be taken seriously.

June 10, 2012 | 31 comments
Bike bridge -- good idea, bad execution

Kniss's attempt to rush through plan for using Stanford trail money was a misstep that served no one well
Without any prior discussion with Stanford University officials and on just a few days notice, County Supervisor (and candidate for Palo Alto City Council) Liz Kniss's proposal to allocate more than $8 million to construct a bike bridge over highway 101 and a bayfront trail fell abruptly on its face last week.

June 3, 2012 | 20 comments
Weekly endorses Hill, Gordon, Simitian

Voters should welcome opportunity to elect effective and experienced candidates on June 5
With at least one veteran legislator running for seats in the state Senate, state Assembly and the Board of Supervisors, voters will have an easy task when they go to the polls June 5.

May 18, 2012 | 15 comments
Colin, Sevely best choices for judgeship

Five in running for two Superior Court seats
Along with the more publicized races for state legislative offices and county supervisor, Santa Clara County voters also will elect two Superior Court judges when they go to the polls June 5. The Palo Alto Weekly endorses Paul Colin and Cynthia Sevely.

May 18, 2012 | No comments yet
Park-saving plan; grad requirements

'Sustainable Parks' proposal aims to stop closure of state parks
As he prepares to leave Sacramento due to term limits, State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) is hoping to leave one final legislative mark: saving as many California parks from closure as possible.

May 13, 2012 | 14 comments
Money as a 'public benefit'?

Alma-Lytton project offers cash to city in exchange for ability to build an over-sized and under-parked office building
Today, May 7, the City Council will consider approving the controversial "Lytton Gateway" office building at the corner of Lytton Avenue and Alma Street, a decision that once again points out the need for stronger criteria and follow-up for developments to qualify for Planned Community status, which is awarded to projects that exceed normal zoning but offer offsetting public benefits.

May 7, 2012 | 2 comments
Toxics don't belong next to homes

Zoning should prohibit use of industrial toxic chemicals near Barron Park and other neighborhoods
The six-year conflict between Barron Park residents and Communications & Power Industries (CPI) over the company's use of toxic chemicals illustrates the difficulty of removing a legal non-conforming use from a neighborhood that is threatened by a spill or the accidental release of these dangerous substances.

April 28, 2012 | 5 comments
Lessons from car-train accident

Culture of defensiveness and secrecy reflects poorly on city and disrepects the public's right to know
No one has suggested that the death of Judith Goldblatt on the train tracks at Charleston Road a year ago was anything other than a tragic accident, in spite of the secretive and evasive handling of the case by Palo Alto and other officials. Related story:
One year later, questions remain about train/car collision

April 22, 2012 | 4 comments
New massage rules still not right

Skeptical council members continue to question need for client logs and increased regulation
In what is becoming almost an amusing struggle between city staff and the City Council, how Palo Alto regulates massage therapists once again occupied the time and attention this week of the four-member Council Policy and Services Committee, police and city administrators and a city attorney.

April 15, 2012 | 3 comments
An unsustainable animal shelter

With a facility in need of an estimated $7 million in upgrades and the loss of Mountain View as a partner, Palo Alto has little choice but to outsource animal services
Palo Altans are big pet owners, and the prospect of not having the convenience and top-level service of the city-run Animal Services Center is not a popular one.

April 6, 2012 | 127 comments
Improving high school counseling

Palo Alto school board asks for major changes to Gunn counseling model
An unusually impatient and resolute school board made clear this week that it does not believe students at Gunn High School are receiving comparable counseling services to those at Palo Alto High School and asked administrators to return in June with a reform plan.

March 30, 2012 | 18 comments
Generous offer to electrify Caltrain, but at what cost?

High-Speed Rail Authority changes course to gain 'bookend' support
In its struggle to gain credibility in the wake of more than doubling the cost to build a high-speed-rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles, state rail authority officials Tuesday offered nearly $1 billion to help electrify Caltrain and a similar amount to a Los Angeles rail system.

March 18, 2012 | 27 comments
Grandiose proposal needs careful study

Arrillaga project will raise important questions over how to trade-off the negative impacts of a large development with the community benefits it provides
The makings for an unusual public-private-nonprofit development that would transform the city's western gateway at El Camino and University Ave. into a vibrant office and performing arts complex was unveiled with much excitement at Monday night's City Council meeting. Related story:
Downtown plan could give TheatreWorks a home

March 11, 2012 | 6 comments
More pressure on city wages, benefits

Police union final hurdle in city's quest to close budget gap
After years of paying higher and higher costs for salary and pension benefits to its public safety employees, Palo Alto finally gained some leverage when voters approved repeal of binding arbitration last November.

March 2, 2012 | 7 comments
Golden opportunity to acquire downtown post office

Birge Clark building is surplus, but could be adapted to other uses if price is right
Palo Alto residents have been picking up their mail and buying stamps at the downtown post office since 1932, but change is coming and with the financial meltdown of the Postal Service, 380 Hamilton Ave. is likely to have a new owner before the year is out.

February 24, 2012 | 7 comments
Lin rocks the Big Apple

Former Paly and Harvard basketball wizard takes NBA by storm
Local basketball fans haven't had this much to talk about since Jeremy Lin helped Palo Alto High School win the state championship in 2006, knocking off a favored team that included a 7-foot-1-inch center and three starters who had signed for Division 1 schools, including Duke.

February 17, 2012 | 9 comments
Service hub needs new home

Decision to rebuild municipal services center, animal shelter would provide opportunities for creative solutions
If Palo Alto has an Achilles Heel most city officials would say it is the handful of public buildings that easily could crumble when a major earthquake hits the region.

February 10, 2012 | 5 comments
Boosting grad standards

Aligning high school graduation requirements with UC/CSU admissions standards is the first step toward eliminating achievement gap
After a false start last spring, when a similar plan was met with resistance, the Palo Alto school board took a major step in the right direction last week when it gave its informal blessing to an updated plan for phasing in graduation requirements that are in sync with what is required to attend state universities.

February 6, 2012 | 9 comments
New HSR challenges

Simitian urging one-year delay, other legislators push bill to halt bond sale
Strong criticism about the financial viability of the High-Speed Rail project is making it more likely that its funding plan will either be delayed or scrapped.

January 14, 2012 | 20 comments
Antenna angst unwarranted

AT&T's low-power distributed antenna system should be approved
The debate over whether to allow ATT to improve cell service in Palo Alto using small antenna positioned on the top of existing utility poles will finally come to a head later this month.

January 10, 2012 | 29 comments
Support local charities with a Holiday Fund gift

Join the hundreds of local residents who make donations to support nonprofits serving the needs of children and families in the Palo Alto area
Despite Palo Alto's well-deserved reputation as the home to some of Silicon Valley's most innovative and caring residents, there are many children and families in this community and others nearby who are barely making ends meet this winter.

December 19, 2011 | No comments yet
Handicapping the golf course

lood-control project creates opportunity to examine options for uninspired Palo Alto Muni
Perhaps there is a silver lining in a flood-control proposal that would place a new levee on part of the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course and force some redesign.

December 9, 2011 | 3 comments
The achievement treadmill

Parents are fueling a competitive environment that is jeopardizing the health of our teens and their development of 'purpose' in life
There is some irony that the same week we learn that Palo Alto is the most educated city in California, if not the nation, the Weekly publishes an extensive look at the culture in our community surrounding student "success" and the effects that this culture is having on our kids as they try to find their way in the world.

November 18, 2011 | 5 comments
Strong majority approve Measures D, E

Binding arbitration will end for public safety unions; space reserved for compost facility
Despite the absence of a City Council race on the ballot, Palo Alto voters strongly approved measures that will improve the city's oversight of its two public safety unions and set the stage for a possible new method of dealing with its waste and compost.

November 10, 2011 | 29 comments
Yes on E, with caution

Measure E will allow, but not require, exploration of innovative alternatives to trucking yard clippings and food waste to San Jose or Gilroy
It is difficult to imagine any other city engaging in the kind of hard-fought battle that has characterized the debate over Palo Alto's Measure E, an initiative that does nothing more than reserve 10 acres next to the sewage treatment plant currently designated as parkland as a possible site for a state-of-the-art composting facility.

October 21, 2011 | 137 comments
Yes on D: Repeal binding arbitration

Palo Alto's unusual binding-arbitration requirement for fire and police contract disputes should have been repealed long ago
Palo Alto voters are finally being given the opportunity in Measure D to decide whether a single outside arbitrator should continue to have final say on police and fire compensation, benefits and work rules when the city and unions reach an impasse.

October 15, 2011 | 33 comments
Creative genius, respected neighbor

As tributes pour in from around the world for Steve Jobs, Palo Altans feel the loss more personally
The scene outside of the Old Palo Alto home of Steve Jobs on Wednesday evening was a remarkable and emotional display of affection by a community that deeply admired and respected our most famous resident.

October 7, 2011 | No comments yet
A time for Cubberley planning

With Foothill College vacating aging complex and a looming 2014 lease expiration on the entire site, it's time for a careful school-city process to create a new vision for the site
There are endless possibilities for how the 35-acre former Cubberley High School site on Middlefield Road in south Palo Alto could be used to meet the future needs of the school district and broader community.

October 1, 2011 | 2 comments
The economics of downtown parking

Employees opt for free neighborhood parking, leaving garage permit spaces empty
A Planning and Community Environment Department study that will be reviewed by the City Council Sept. 12 shows that despite an overabundance of spaces in the numerous parking garages and surface lots scattered around downtown, Palo Alto has a parking problem.

September 2, 2011 | 7 comments
A little sanity from fire union

Effort to stop public vote on binding arbitration is withdrawn, for now
After apparently rethinking its "shoot first, ask questions later" strategy, Local 1319 of Palo Alto Professional Firefighters sensibly agreed to withdraw its attack on the binding-arbitration ballot issue that will go before Palo Alto voters in November.

August 15, 2011 | 10 comments
The slow death of high-speed rail

Loss of federal money will be the nail in the coffin of doomed project
Back in 2008, Palo Alto voters, the City Council and the Weekly liked the idea of bullet trains zooming at more than 200 miles an hour between the Bay Area and Los Angeles, providing an alternative mode of travel that was economical and more environmentally friendly.

August 8, 2011 | 31 comments
What to do with $40 million?

Stanford money tied to approval of hospital expansion will require disciplined process by Council and the community
The Palo Alto City Council and administration set the stage Monday for what we hope will be a serious and productive discussion about how to bring the most benefit to the city from the $40 million that will begin flowing from Stanford later this summer.

July 29, 2011 | 9 comments
Breathing room for car dwellers

Palo Alto wisely delays consideration of ordinance banning sleeping in cars to allow time for more outreach, discussion
Surprised by the intensity of the negative reaction from some segments of the faith community and others grappling with the problems of the homeless, City Manager Jim Keene spared the City Council and the community a long and emotional meeting next Monday night by putting off the issue of car dwelling until September.

July 22, 2011 | 31 comments
Outlook brightens to replace Newell Road bridge

City will seek major grant to pay for a bigger, safer span over flood-prone creek
Helped along with the prospect of a generous grant from the state Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and funding from the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, the City Council wisely took advantage of a generous opportunity and voted 8-0 Monday to replace the Newell Road bridge that the state has declared obsolete and unsafe.

July 15, 2011 | 17 comments
Whither the recycling center?

With use of Recycling Center declining and the city facing a budget shortfall, talk of closing center is not environmental heresy
While the primary focus of Tuesday night's meeting of the City Council Finance Committee was how to address a $3.7 million deficit in the city's Refuse Fund, the newsworthy discussion focused on the idea of closing the Recycling Center in the Baylands.

July 8, 2011 | 1 comment
The Cubberley conundrum

As Foothill College seeks to upgrade or move its Cubberley campus, Palo Alto school and city officials struggle over how to plan for the community's own future needs for the site
As with many Palo Alto issues, the current debate over whether the City of Palo Alto should enter into negotiations to sell part of the Cubberley Community Center to Foothill College is like a Rubik's Cube.

July 1, 2011 | 17 comments
Deja vu on arbitration

City Council once again puts itself under time pressure in deciding whether to place repeal of binding arbitration on November ballot
There was at least some logic a year ago when the City Council voted 4-5 to punt on placing a measure on the November 2010 ballot to repeal the city's unusual 33-year-old binding-arbitration requirement whenever an impasse is declared in police or fire labor negotiations.

June 24, 2011 | 15 comments

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