2011: Palo Alto's high-stakes year | December 30, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - December 30, 2011

2011: Palo Alto's high-stakes year

Years' long controversies come to a head

by Gennady Sheyner

If an out-of-towner had to guess which American city had spent the past year squabbling with labor unions, battling a project aimed at reducing traffic congestion and pondering whether to build a waste plant in a nature preserve, Palo Alto probably wouldn't be the first name on the list.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at gsheyner@paweekly.com.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 30, 2011 at 8:44 am

What a whitewash of an article.

"It's devotion to public transportation", is not an apparent item. When we have a free shuttle which serves some of our school children, VTA which serves some more, and plenty have no way of getting to school by public transportation. There is no obvious way that this claim is true.

But the council's most significant and difficult accomplishment of the year -- bringing the city's finances in order -- featured little pomp and much intense debate." Significant and difficult accomplishment?? Our finances are not in order. We are not bringing in the sales dollars that our residents are spending in Mountain View and Menlo Park, and we are talking about raising sales tax or bonds or parcel taxes to pay for infrastructure. That is not a sign that our finances have been brought in order.

Like this comment
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 30, 2011 at 10:48 am

How could anyone suggest that the city's finances are in order? Are you joking? Most of what we've heard from our elected and city officials is that we continue to face annual budget deficits, and now, a possible new tax to fun basic infrastructure needs. Unreal. Additionally, if this city truly prided itself on public transportation as you say, we would not be rejecting the high speed rail project.

Like this comment
Posted by Beth
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 30, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Measure D to repeal binding arbitration received 67.61% approval by Palo Alto voters. That's more than 2-1 in favor.

If that doesn't send a big signal to the fire union and Council members, I don't know what can.

Like this comment
Posted by Jack Meoff
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 30, 2011 at 8:13 pm

When you have a dysfunctional city council and city manager running the city where 53% of city residents are renters, every decision becomes monumental. What a pity!

Like this comment
Posted by A-View-From-Inside-The-Bubble
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 31, 2011 at 7:56 am

> Espinosa said that he attended a meeting at the White House in
> early December with a small group of mayors from other cities.

How cozy! And why would the Mayor of a tiny, postage-stamp sized town that has openly condemned the world-wide fight against Communism in the 1970s, been hostile to businesses of every kind unless they are “government-based”, which has a goodly number of its population born in another country, and whose residents often make more than $200K a year be invited to the White House? What could Sid Espinoza, a man who was unknown here in Palo Alto before his being elected to the City Council a couple years ago, have to say to the President of the United States that would be worth hearing?

Or is it that the current President wants Sid Espinoza to be on his re-election team? And maybe have the City Council endorse him again—just like they did in 2008? And the Prez wants to make "Sid" feel comfortable with the thought of his being "on the team"?

So .. did Espinoza travel on his own money, or did he travel on the public’s money?

> Others talked about foreclosures,
> high unemployment, crime trends and businesses getting shuttered.

Well, with a nighttime population of barely 64,000 .. living in homes that more-or-less sell for $1M-$2M a pop, who here in Palo Alto has time to do anything but work? Wonder what Sid Espinoza had to say about the town he knows nothing about?

> Palo Alto, by these standards, seems to be doing pretty well.

Because of Stanford, Palo Alto is living in a “bubble” .. a tiny ant, sitting on the backside of an elephant.

> Its downtown vacancy rate is a minuscule 3.8 percent, and
> city officials are projecting increases in sales- and hotel-tax

And how much of that is because of anything we here (meaning the local government) can point to as “our accomplishment”?

Looking at Palo Alto outside of the lens of the Silicon Valley “bubble” doesn’t make much sense. It’s a shame that so many people in this town are so poorly educated that they can not see the reality of the situation. Clearly, based on this article .. the Weekly does not see much beyond the latest press release for City Hall.

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