Around Town | May 28, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 28, 2010

Around Town

SIDEWALK BLUES ... Palo Alto homeowners will almost certainly be asked to shoulder some, if not all, of the costs to replace crumbling sidewalks in front of their properties. The biggest unresolved question now is whether the city will completely eliminate its sidewalk-replacement program, as staff has recommended, or split the costs with residents 50-50. The City Council's Finance Committee deadlocked Tuesday on which unpopular option to adopt. Councilman Greg Scharff proposed shifting 100 percent of the cost of sidewalk repairs to residents, an idea also supported by Vice Mayor Sid Espinosa. Scharff called the cost of sidewalk repairs a "modest burden" for homeowners and noted that many cities already use this model. The shift would save Palo Alto about $500,000 in the 2011 budget. But Councilman Larry Klein called the proposal a "bridge too far" and argued the city should share the costs. Neither Klein nor Scharff could muster the support of the rest of the committee. The full council will finalize and adopt the 2011 budget in late June.

CHASING THE BARD ... Palo Alto resident Joanne Wetzel recently achieved her goal of seeing all 36 canonical William Shakespeare plays (known as First Folio) performed on stage. It only took 30 years. First inspired by the local outdoor productions of TheatreWorks, Wetzel's quest took her from the Bay Area to The Bard's hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon, where she caught performances of some of the more obscure history plays, to San Diego two weeks ago, where she saw her last remaining production: "King John." Wetzel counts TheatreWorks' "Midsummer Night's Dream" and a Gunn High School performance of "Merchant of Venice" as among the highlights of her decades-long Shakespeare love affair. But, her pursuit of completeness may continue for some time to come, as in recent months she has become aware of at least three additional plays now considered to have been authored by Shakespeare, including "Cardenio" and "Two Noble Kinsmen." "I am hoping to go to England to see 'Cardenio,'" she said, "but I think TheatreWorks has an obligation to do 'Two Noble Kinsmen'," she added, laughing. "I think they owe me that."

CELEBRATION TIME ... Palo Alto's busiest library will close its doors on June 5. When it reopens in the summer of 2012, the Mitchell Park Library (and the adjacent Mitchell Park Community Center) will become the first new city building constructed in almost 50 years and, quite possibly, the greenest public facility in town. The new Mitchell Park Library and Community Center will include a program room, an event room, a basketball half-court and a café. In the mean time, most of the library's collection and many of its computers will be housed at a temporary library at the nearby Cubberley Community Center Auditorium, 4050 Middlefield Road. To commemorate the library's closing, Mayor Pat Burt and other city officials plan to hold a ground-breaking ceremony featuring ice cream, games for children and displays showing what the new building will look like. The event will be held Saturday, June 12, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the library, 3700 Middlefield Road.

ELECTIONS ... Before they dove into a deep discussion of Stanford Hospital's proposed expansion and wrestled with proposed high-speed-rail legislation through Monday night and into Tuesday morning, members of the Palo Alto City Council took a quick and unequivocal stance on a less contentious issue: Proposition 15, also known as the "California Fair Election Act." The proposition, which will be on the June 8 ballot, would allow candidates for Secretary of State to set spending limits on themselves and become eligible for public campaign financing, which would be raised through voluntary contributions fees on lobbyists. It would apply to the 2014 and 2018 elections. The council quickly passed a resolution drafted by Mayor Pat Burt and Councilman Larry Klein expressing official support for Proposition 15. The resolution states that the "current finance system burdens candidates with the incessant rigors of fundraising and thus decreases the time available to carry out their public responsibilities." Proposition 15 is the second state proposition on which the council has taken an official stance. In February, the council unanimously voted to oppose Proposition 16, an initiative funded by PG&E.


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