Letters | October 21, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - October 21, 2011


Cell towers for all or none


We read, over and over again, that portions of our community are telling our City Council that for one reason or another, cell phone and/or wireless antennae should not be installed in their neighborhood. That is all well and good. However, if they do not belong in one neighborhood, they should really be excluded from the entire community. Plainly and simply stated, either we do without cell phones, iPhones, and their ilk, or we accept them. Palo Alto City Council, as you consider applications for future installations, please ask the question of those who oppose the application, should we allow this installation or require the removal of all such technology from Palo Alto?

Some should not be protected from blight and health risk while impacting their fellow citizens.

John Baum

El Cajon Way

Palo Alto

Sukkah policy


I think it is a sad day for us all when an elderly gentleman cannot erect his sukkah, a clearly temporary structure, as he has done for 11 years.

It is obvious that this small structure hurts no one. Worse yet, Palo Alto Housing Corporation is using this as an excuse to ban all holiday celebrations, apparently on the advice of a nervous lawyer. What about inclusion, tolerance and community?

Judith and Saul Wasserman

Southampton Drive

Palo Alto

Sensible options


In the Nov. 8 election, Palo Alto voters have an opportunity to improve the future of the city's waste management systems, through a ballot initiative important for economic and environmental reasons. A Yes on E vote will encourage City Council to consider sensible options for local processing of all three of our organic waste streams, sewage sludge, food scraps and yard trimmings.

A council funded feasibility study has already identified significant potential savings and environmental benefits for local processing vs. any combination of export options. If local processing can save money for utility rate payers and improves the environment far more than any export option, why is anyone opposed? Parks!, Parks!, Parks!, the clarion call of the No on E campaign argues that we should never, under any circumstance, do anything to modify, even slightly, a park dedication made more than 45 years ago, when waste-disposal rates were not skyrocketing and we were blissfully unaware of the global impact of greenhouse-gas emissions.

Times have changed. Measure E gives us needed flexibility to adjust to those changes. Measure E promotes sensible options for Palo Alto and its neighboring cities to consider.

Vote Yes on E.

Keith Bromberg and Susan Simpson

Channing Avenue

Palo Alto

Wet compost


This is in regard to Palo Alto's Measure E, about the undedication of parkland at the Bay for the possibility of an anaerobic digester for sewage sludge and the creation of compost.

I do understand that it is the wet anaerobic digester that the proponents now favor. However, I would not want to use compost that has residue of sewage sludge in it. That residue could be toxic, and I would not use it for my tomatoes or other edibles.

No one has yet addressed this issue. How safe would such compost, made from sewage sludge and food waste, be for vegetable gardens? And would the compost also include yard trimmings as it has in the past?

Natalie Fisher

Ellsworth Avenue

Palo Alto

False choice


I urge voters to just say no to the false choice embodied in Measure E by voting No.

There is no reason why we can't achieve both the objectives of preserving scarce parkland and disposing of our waste in an environmentally acceptable manner. Why do supporters of anaerobic digestion insist on using parkland? Just put this facility in a more suitable location, ideally in partnership with other local cities to gain economies of scale, and we can do both.

Our highly educated community should be intelligent enough to reject such a false choice. The best way to do so is to vote No on Measure E, and demand that our elected officials explore a broader range of siting and partnership options.

Minty Sidhu

Southampton Drive

Palo Alto

Sustainable waste


I sat attentively at the Palo Alto Chamber debate over Measure E, regarding Byxbee Park's 10 acres. I did my best, even wrote down all the opponents talking points (42 total) as to why I should vote no on E. I heard so much fear, uncertainty and doubt, when the meeting ended I couldn't recall from my notes any rational reason. Voting no was all emotional. If any data was present it was exaggerated. I asked two attendees to give me one main reason why I should vote no. I got repeats of the emotional stuff twice. My vote is yes on E. We need to live and process our waste more stainable and this is the best option presented.

Greg Bell

Cowper Street

Palo Alto

Good for the environment


Much has been said about Measure E circumventing the environmental review requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act by not preparing an Environmental Impact Report before the vote.

As it turns out, CEQA review is not required for proposals placed on the ballot by initiative (Section 15378 of the CEQA Guidelines). Beyond that, there are common sense reasons for delaying the review, namely that an adequate review cannot be conducted for a "project" that does not yet have a secured location and is not fully defined.

In development, like the rest of the economy, uncertainty equals risk; until the 10 acres of landfill next to the sewage plant are undedicated, the proposed composting facility lacks a secure site, making the investment in an EIR a much more risky proposition. If we want the opportunity to attract private sector financing, this will likely be the first step.

Similarly, without a secured location, it is much more difficult to determine critical pieces of information like building design, size, site coverage, traffic access, volumes of materials to be processed, etc. When there is a defined project a full environmental review should be conducted according to law. All impacts, including those to air, water, noise, odor, traffic, wildlife, land use, etc. should be identified and mitigated.

Perhaps this is why former California Assembly member John T. Knox, author of CEQA, has endorsed the "Yes on Measure E" campaign. In his words, "Measure E is good for the environment. That's why I endorse it."

Lynnie Melena

Magnolia Drive

Palo Alto

Mailer depiction


Making a decision on Measure E will be very difficult. The facts should be the decider, and the No on E "Save the Baylands" Committee's recent mailer is misleading. A photo shows a huge barren industrial site. In reality the facility would be tucked into a contained flat area behind our water-treatment plant. Also the mailer implies the prospective site is "bay front", when it is across the road from the bay and behind existing buildings. Its location will not affect the new park's "panoramic views." Weigh the facts, and good luck deciding.

Peter Fox

Ramona Street

Palo Alto

Support for E


As a parent of a high school student, a college student and a recent college graduate, their support for Measure E came naturally and selfishly.

Measure E and the associated development of a local organic conversion facility builds an interesting and engaging future for Palo Alto's next generation. Students and recent grads rally to Palo Alto's leadership in green technology — green tech will keep coming to Palo Alto and with the associated opportunities. The project will continue to engage Stanford research where our local treatment and organic management is at the forefront of technology. The project excites the local green tech venture community furthering our business growth in this arena. The project reveals the positive and scientific climate choices that inform discussion in high school environmental studies classes. The project brings the prospect of green jobs to Palo Alto, a common agony for recent graduates. There is no engagement or opportunities by voting no — the ten acres will just sit as disturbed land idle into the future.

So as parents, when you look at the ballot choice, talk to your kids. Know that Measure E's outcome will build a richer environment, economy, and opportunities. There are no guarantees, but as we set the correct course for Palo Alto, supporting Measure E is where to point the future's compass.

Bob Wenzlau

Dana Avenue

Palo Alto


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