Letters | February 4, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - February 4, 2011


Ebook errors


I count five times the Weekly has repeated its misconception that library ebook collections require physical space.

This error first appeared in a Nov. 19 editorial wondering whether the public would like to remove books in the library to make space for ebooks.

Then the Weekly repeated this misconception in a thread on Town Square. When a reader replied online that this was absurd, you'd think the Weekly would not repeat the mistake. Of course, there is no need to remove anything from a library to make space for ebooks because ebooks don't take up physical space.

Then you posed the meaningless question in your online poll, and you asked it again in your "Streetwise" feature. You repeated this pseudo dilemma last week on Jan. 14 in "Around Town" wondering whether "to reduce shelf space at the new libraries and to make more room for ebooks, possibly at the expense of traditional books."

Ebooks are downloaded by the user from a remote location, not even from the library. Nothing in our library needs to be removed for them to continue to offer even more ebooks. They already offer thousands.

Your misunderstanding of the nature of ebooks confounds the ongoing discussion about the big reduction in the collection at Main.

Elaine Meyer

Kingsley Avenue

Palo Alto

Get it right, PAPAC


Usually when a community is invited to vote as to what they would like, the majority rules. I guess this is not the case now.

The Palo Alto Public Art Commission rules. Not in my day. When we asked the citizens to vote we honored the vote. Perhaps some of us did not agree but the end result is what counts.

What's wrong with giving the community what it wants? The commission looked at many works and chose three for the community to pick from.

They did.

Give the Palo Alto citizens what they want. It's their tax dollars.

Get it right, commissioners.

Paula Z. Kirkeby

Ely Place

Palo Alto

Fountain-vote flaws


The Palo Alto Public Art Commissioners have spoken. Those anointed ones claiming aesthetic perceptions far superior to those of us, the unwashed, have declared the winning new fountain for California Avenue.

Of course, their choice came in second in the balloting to the first choice by the public, which they disregarded with arrogant, Olympian disdain.

Clearly their letter of Dec. 21, 2010 ("We want to hear from you ... Choose your favorite proposal"), was an empty charade because they had a preconceived choice for the Szabo proposal over the traditional Reed-Madden choice.

The commission was appointed by the City Council members who, like Pontius Pilate, would like to wash their hands of the outrageous breach of public confidence. But they owe us voters a reexamination of the scandalous hoax.

Surely this council wants to avoid being linked in history to an unpopular, reviled art exhibit.

California Avenue has suffered the tragic loss of stately trees. It does not deserve another embarrassment by the city.

Vic Befera

High Street

Palo Alto

Sham vote?


Is anyone else still feeling insulted that after being asked to vote on three fountain designs for California Avenue our votes were ignored?

Is anyone else wondering why city resources were wasted on setting up a website for a sham vote? And why were votes from nonresidents counted?

I'd say the whole exercise was a farce and a waste of everyone's time and resources.

This fiasco is also a reminder of the inept and tragic loss of our California Avenue trees and the more recent shocking decision to narrow California Avenue in spite of a strong preference from both merchants and neighbors to keep it a four-lane street!

Has city leadership noticed we have a problem?

Shannon McEntee

Sheridan Avenue

Palo Alto

Cal Ave streetscape plan


The city is considering a project to improve the California Avenue streetscape. It needs repaving, after which the city could repaint the stripes to their current 60-year-old pattern or update the striping to increase car parking, bike parking, seating for pedestrians and restaurants, and pedestrian and bike safety.

I have heard objections. Lane reductions might snarl traffic. Construction might block store access. The project wastes money

But on-street parking can only be added through a lane reduction. Increasing the diagonal parking angle fits more cars side by side but each extends further into the street, leaving insufficient room for four traffic lanes.

November traffic counts found 5,280 cars per day on California Avenue (compare to 19,000 on University or Arastradero). Its busiest hour has 244 cars in one direction. At one-fourth those busier streets' traffic volumes, the data and independent analysis prove negligible traffic impacts: Four cars a minute will not snarl traffic waiting for a car to park.

The road must be repaved anyway, and the city will work with businesses to minimize construction impacts. Painting a different striping pattern won't block shoppers' store access.

This smart $550,000 investment has strong returns. It leverages a $1.2 million grant (which can't be used for other project types), adds parking valued at $600,000, reduces repaving cost and increases sales-tax revenue.

Tell City Council before Feb. 14 if you support the plan, available at www.CityOfPaloAlto.org/CalAve.

Cedric de La Beaujardiere

Josina Ave

Palo Alto

Palo Alto 'look'


I have lived in several cities in the U.S. and abroad, and traveled extensively, including to places off the grid where bird populations are fascinating and different.

Since recently moving back to my home town, I cannot help but notice the peoples' penchant for wearing what appear to be high-end bird-watching outfits with muted-toned all-weather walking clothes: the boots, hats, sticks and a lot of gear I have never seen before.

I am uncertain if this has to do with all the trees abound, the proximity to mountains where they might observe, or maybe the several outdoor outlet shops in and around the downtown area. Or is it in fact the "Palo Alto look" (a.k.a. "Vermont bird-watcher extraordinaire)?

And what about those visor hats I have also yet to see anywhere but here? They appear to be made of several 1970s plastic gambling visors molded together.

In addition to this being an observation, this also poses a question to Weekly readers. What is the Palo Alto "look?"

S.T. Sanchez

Channing Avenue

Palo Alto


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