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Editorials

2020

Brownrigg for state Senate

With an outstanding field of candidates, whoever wins will be able to capably fill Jerry Hill's shoes
With the impressive group of candidates for California's 13th Senate district, we give the nod to Michael Brownrigg, who has shown himself to be a strong, effective and collaborative leader.

February 14, 2020 | 22 comments
'Safe parking' program is a very small first step

But does new Palo Alto pilot program create too many obstacles to succeed?
As communities throughout the state try to respond to the growing crisis of homelessness, it is disappointing that it has taken Palo Alto almost a year to adopt a watered-down version of the initiative.

January 17, 2020 | 5 comments

2019

The only thing iconic about this bridge will be its price tag

Palo Alto bike bridge over 101 now set to cost $20 million, $7 million more than East Palo Alto's new bridge down the road
It won't be a bridge to nowhere, but a new overcrossing connecting south Palo Alto with the Baylands and the Googleplex may go down as the most poorly implemented capital project in Palo Alto history.

November 22, 2019 | 22 comments
On the eve of county approval, Stanford withdraws its development application and forfeits years of work. There was a better way.

One misjudgment after another left the university in an unfamiliar place -- cornered and without leverage
Stanford University's decision last Friday to pull the plug on a plan that would have allowed it to build millions of square feet of development is as difficult to understand as the strategy it has followed throughout the last year.

November 8, 2019 | 10 comments
Having failed so far, President Hotel buyers try financial inducements to build support for zoning changes it needs

Chicago-based boutique hotel firm thinks it can overcome opposition with pledges to nonprofits
It's not clear whether Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners did a terrible job at researching the zoning obstacles they would face when buying the President Hotel in 2018 or brashly thought they could just steamroll city officials.

November 1, 2019 | 16 comments
School pay increases come with small step toward transparency

Teachers, aides and other employees set to receive salary bumps after quick negotiation
When school employee unions and districts quickly arrive at agreements over compensation and benefits during contract negotiations, it's a signal that the district was overly generous or both sides prioritized finding common ground.

October 25, 2019 | 4 comments
Why our next 40 years depends on you

Journalism is essential to democracy but its future is in jeopardy
Palo Alto Weekly Publisher Bill Johnson reflects on the evolution of journalism over the last 40 years and the crisis that faces the industry.

October 11, 2019 | 2 comments
Now with a department of its own, can city's transportation priorities finally get accomplished?

With consultant reports stacking up, Palo Alto tries a new structure to address transportation challenges
City Manager Ed Shikada and the council are in the process of implementing a major shift in how transportation issues are managed at City Hall.

October 4, 2019 | 13 comments
Used to getting its way, Stanford struggles to gain control over county review process

As it preps for public hearings on its 25-year development application, university demands a closed-door negotiation instead
Stanford and Santa Clara County are locked in a conflict over how the university's growth plan should be handled by county supervisors.

September 27, 2019 | 17 comments
When local government leaders refuse to answer questions, they become their own worst enemies

Few government actions are as corrosive to democracy as refusing to comment when things go wrong
Ed Shikada is just nine months into his tenure as Palo Alto city manager but his decision to offer no explanation or details about a June 3 911 call mishandled by first responders disrespects the public's right to know.

September 20, 2019 | 19 comments
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 | 47 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 | 25 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

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Short story writers wanted!

The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 27, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category. Sponsored by Kepler's Books, Linden Tree Books and Bell's Books.

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