School superintendent works behind board's back to advance new 'innovative' high school
December 4, 2015 |
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.
Time will tell whether it's a serious initiative or just lip service
November 20, 2015 |
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.
Two congressional bills have little chance of changing new airplane flight patterns
November 13, 2015 |
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.
Money raised benefits programs serving families, children in Palo Alto area
November 6, 2015 |
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.
Visionary school proposal has delicate road to travel
October 30, 2015 |
'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.
Palo Alto senior center deserves city support but not by selling development rights to others
October 23, 2015 |
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.
Palo Alto school supe puts legal counsel plan on hold after winning board approval
October 23, 2015 |
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.
Many failures and missteps make a sad mess of sexual-harassment investigation
October 9, 2015 |
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.
Will pests threaten Palo Alto's livability ratings?
October 2, 2015 |
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.
Council votes to cap development but undermines its 'beauty contest' strategy
September 25, 2015 |
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.
After years of frustration and false starts, parking restrictions in downtown neighborhoods finally begin
September 18, 2015 |
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.
With surprising unanimity, teens, parents and Palo Alto school officials raise alarm over cheating
September 11, 2015 |
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.
With constituents upset over airplane noise, can Anna Eshoo get action from a resistant federal bureaucracy?
August 28, 2015 |
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.
Proposed changes to special 'planned community' zoning should be firmly rejected
August 21, 2015 |
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.
If it has any hope of getting north county voter support on new taxes, VTA needs to remedy funding inequities
August 14, 2015 |
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.
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
After almost a decade of meandering work, a final push begins for a new Comprehensive Plan for Palo Alto
July 17, 2015 |
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.
City of Palo Alto and Stanford should press for reforms to address perennial problem
July 10, 2015 |
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.
Palo Alto should approve funding to bolster chances of preserving mobile-home park
June 26, 2015 |
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.
Divided council begins weakening temporary growth limit
June 19, 2015 |
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.
Palo Alto school board, superintendent to assess their work in public retreat next week
June 12, 2015 |
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.
'New' Palo Alto council pursues painful process of creating policy through individual project decisions
June 5, 2015 |
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.
A disturbing lack of in-patient mental health services for adolescents
May 29, 2015 |
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.
Sweeping changes to school schedule to be implemented next school year
May 15, 2015 |
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.
Urgency ordinance will prevent conversions of ground-floor retail
May 8, 2015 |
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.
Adopting a local minimum wage may feel good, but is mostly symbolic
May 1, 2015 |
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.
Parcel tax deserves support in spite of frustrations with Palo Alto school district governance
April 24, 2015 |
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.
With owner's right to close park affirmed, an urgency to acquire it
April 17, 2015 |
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.
A cautious council finds consensus on an interim 'cap'
March 27, 2015 |
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.
While preaching the value of sleep, high schools quietly offer early classes
March 13, 2015 |
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.
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
Finally, an acknowledgment that school climate and student stress contribute to mental health crises
February 20, 2015 |
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.
A complicated path to preserve low-income housing
February 6, 2015 |
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.
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
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
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
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
Hope springs eternal as building decays
December 19, 2014 |
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.
Scorecard of school media coverage is another self-inflicted distraction
December 12, 2014 |
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.
Downtown permit system set to begin next spring
December 5, 2014 |
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
In a field of 12 candidates, getting to five is not that easy
October 9, 2014 |
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.
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
As Palo Alto school board runs up legal bills, supe takes a different tack
September 26, 2014 |
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.
New 'west' route proposed for free shuttle program
September 19, 2014 |
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.
New school superintendent off to strong start
September 12, 2014 |
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.
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
Proposed city response to Grand Jury falls short
September 5, 2014 |
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.
Technology will play key role in easing downtown parking mess
August 15, 2014 |
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.
Developer has not met threshold for proceeding with project
August 8, 2014 |
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."
Regulating for impacts rather than size of development should raise community concerns
August 1, 2014 |
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.
Y struggles with longtime members over Page Mill facility
July 18, 2014 |
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.
$4.5 million lobby 'refurbishment' tough to swallow
July 11, 2014 |
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.
Citizen activists put city staff and council to the test in reviewing new projects
June 27, 2014 |
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.
With ambivalence, City Council decides on public vote
June 20, 2014 |
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.
Defiant school board goes public with its strategy of resistance, hatched a year ago
June 6, 2014 |
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.
In spite of short ballot, your vote is important in June 3 election
May 30, 2014 |
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.
While Laurie Smith has her flaws, union-backed challenger would not be an improvement
May 16, 2014 |
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.
Two Superior Court judgeship races on June 3 ballot
May 9, 2014 |
No comments yet
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.
After public visioning process, MROSD seeks voter funding support
May 2, 2014 |
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.
Business license should be simple, inexpensive and accomplished quickly
April 25, 2014 |
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.
Long percolating, 'concept' plan for the city's second downtown heads for more discussion
April 18, 2014 |
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.
Paly sexual harassment case raises host of issues, concerns
April 11, 2014 |
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.
Is coming up with a name for the new 'main' library really worth all this fuss?
April 4, 2014 |
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.
City staff hasn't made the case yet for giving up long-term ground lease and allowing Stanford to regain control over site
March 28, 2014 |
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.
Small city-owned parcel next to Foothills Park, subject of secret Council meetings in 2012, resurfaces in proposal to dedicate as parkland
March 21, 2014 |
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.
After tree-cutting debacle, city officials hope controversial project can rebuild trust and give 'second downtown' its due
March 14, 2014 |
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.
In a model of transparency, City Council directs scaling back expiring 25-year-old agreement
February 28, 2014 |
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.
Appropriately, Palo Alto school superintendent will leave in June
February 21, 2014 |
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.
Mysteriously, a plan more than a year in the making goes from being recommended to being shelved, all in two weeks
February 14, 2014 |
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.
With election approaching, City Council finally initiates review of 'planned community' zoning
February 7, 2014 |
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.
Adjourning at 2:15 a.m., our school board and superintendent abandon any semblance of transparent and effective governance
January 31, 2014 |
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.
Police auditor report gives public valuable peek at risks of Taser guns when police must make instant judgments
January 17, 2014 |
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.
School Superintendent Kevin Skelly now recommends against adopting the district bullying policy he proposed just a month ago
January 9, 2014 |
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.
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Palo Alto location of popular Austrian restaurant Naschmarkt opens May 17
By The Peninsula Foodist | 1 comment | 2,494 views