Near voter-majority opposition to building 800 High St. was based in part on the clearly inadequate public benefit of two tiny plazas.
A public benefit is required for a zoning change to the much-abused planned-community zoning.
Many of us were not fooled then by the stingy nano-plazas and are not fooled now by the developer, Doug Ross, trying to collect rent from the partial take-over of one of our plazas by a private business. Dare I say it? Two wrongs do not make a right.
Poor decisions in the past about planned-community zoning and the adequacy of a public benefit is not a justification for the city to approve this current scheme at 800 High St. Approval would take something away from the public to enrich a private developer.
Why set a bad example for other owners of planned-community zoning developments who may be inspired to similarly flout the zoning law and frustrate the public in enjoying their benefits?
When a restaurant has outdoor seating, it cannot block the sidewalk for normal pedestrian use. Similarly, private use of public space at 800 High St. should not block public use. Surely no one seriously thinks both uses can take place simultaneously.
It is up to us, not the city and certainly not Doug Ross, to determine day by day how we want to use or not use the plazas.
La Para Avenue
So long, PASCO Sam
The deal Palo Alto is making with Greenwaste sounds like a good one, but we will miss the nice guys from PASCO, who give us a friendly wave every week when they come to pick up our stuff.
Tickets, not traffic
I am writing to support the Weekly's editorial position against the city's taking any action that would increase the volume and speed of traffic on Oregon Expressway.
I also strongly oppose limiting the number of streets on which turns can be made from Oregon, such as Ross Road and Waverley Street, as doing so would very likely divert more traffic onto Middlefield Road, the street on which I have lived for the past 22 years.
I would like to remind my fellow Palo Alto residents that Middlefield Road is also a residential street filled with families, pets and children. In addition, Middlefield Road houses at least two elementary and one middle school with all the attendant traffic, both by car, walking and bike riding that entails.
Any increase of traffic would also create a greater risk to students and parents who walk their children (frequently accompanied by dogs and younger children in strollers) every morning.
There is a simple solution to people avoiding speed bumps, running red lights at busy intersections and speeding: Step up police surveillance and give out more tickets!
I believe that the safety of all Palo Alto residents is important, and that "solutions" that favor one segment of the population in detriment to another are patently unfair and deeply insulting to us longtime residents and taxpayers.
The editorial regarding the Oregon Expressway project seems ill-informed. I attended both public meetings and a strong sentiment expressed there regarding the Ross Road intersection was that the present configuration created an unsafe intersection, unsuitable for pedestrian or bicycle crossing during commuting hours.
It is misleading to mention only closing the medians when another recommended alternative is to restrict turns onto these streets during rush hours. Similarly, city plans reveal that the badly needed Ross Road bicycle boulevard primarily addresses the route south of Oregon. That plan should be implemented, and a safe crossing at Ross should be created now.
The median is a red herring — bicycles and pedestrians may cross where cars cannot with greater safety. If the city says the median is an obstacle, then this publication should demand a rationale and not accept it as fact.
The "north/south divide" won't be affected by restrictions at Ross or Indian; those streets don't connect to the north side of town.
Improvements for pedestrian and bicycle access to the existing intersections at Middlefield and Greer, on the other hand, and improved traffic flow down and across Oregon, will make a difference.
Discussion of this topic should be informed by a careful review and accurate reporting of the plans available at www.oregonexpressway.info.
The county has done a good job creating opportunities for the public to discuss the topic in person and online. This can be a discussion, not a "battle zone" of salvos tossed back and forth in the press.
Congratulations on your editorial in the Weekly, July 30, on the "Green energy" crisis in which you urge Palo Alto to focus on getting energy from renewable sources.
In this connection the city should consider a contract with Ausra of Palo Alto to install here its system for generating electricity from solar power.
This system can generate electricity at a cost competitive with burning natural gas.
Readers of this letter can see how the system works by going to www.ausra.com and clicking on technology on the home page.
More information may be obtained by attending a presentation by John O'Donnell, executive vice president of Ausra, to be given on Thu., 7:30 p.m., Aug. 14, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, 505 East Charleston Road.
The purpose of libraries
Am I understanding Alison McCormick correctly? She seems to be stating in her letter (July 30) that more than 90 percent of the library bond will support library construction mostly at Mitchell Park library and community center and renovation and construction at Main, but not cover the operation of our libraries.
Tell me, what good does it do to spend millions on library construction if the operation of the libraries is not affected? Borrowing books at the library now takes longer than a month, especially if they're new books. Since the library bond has been in the news and is expected to be on the November ballot, services have grown steadily worse.
The truth of the matter is that the city has not cared enough about our libraries to provide adequate funds to maintain them for a long time and I am not foolish enough to believe this is going to change with the advent of new or renovated libraries.
I love to read. I go to the library to borrow books. That is the purpose of libraries.
This story contains 1107 words.
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