Letters | May 25, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - May 25, 2012


Adopt parking permits


Parking has been an escalating neighborhood issue in recent years, talked to death by committees and City Council alike. Now, there is a safety factor in addition to the inconvenience having to park blocks from one's own home should one have the audacity to go out in the morning and return at midday.

Each morning eager Millennials arrive in our Professorville neighborhood, park their cars and head for their jobs downtown. The cars stay all day. The streets are narrow. With cars parked up and down either side of the street and visibility blocked by the cars parked too close to the corners, it is very dangerous to make a safe passage. Today I practically had a head-on collision with a truck driver speeding his way down the middle of a narrow street to a remodel site in the neighborhood.

Most of us have played ball with the City's Historic Resources Board over the years, taking extra care to preserve the neighborhood character, often at great personal expense and inconvenience. Now it's the city's turn to help the residents preserve neighborhood character. We need parking relief, and we need it now. Our homes are more than a century old and do not have garages; if they do, they are generally one-car ports. And it's the rare 21st-century family that has fewer than two cars.

I'm really happy the downtown Palo Alto workforce is thriving, but parking must be managed elsewhere, and approving more downtown projects (Lytton Gateway) without addressing this issue will only make matters that much worse. We need a solution, and the one that the neighbors have requested is a residential parking permit program.

I urge the council to adopt the residential parking permit program, or come up with a better solution. But please, I'm begging you to act now. Our college kids are soon to be home for the summer. They have been away for nine months and are not anticipating speeding truckers barreling down the narrow streets of their childhood. None of us wants a tragedy. We just want our safe neighborhood back.

Susan Wolfe

Ramona Street

Palo Alto

Teachable moments


May all the saints bless our dedicated, hard-working school board, but I wish that in their Tuesday deliberations on a district homework policy, they had shown more skepticism about directing high school teachers to post homework assignments online.

If, as an English teacher at Gunn, I post my assignments online, the students will no longer pay attention in class when I announce the assignments. (My students are not dumb.)

If they don't pay attention when I announce the assignments, I lose the benefit of their reactions: faces or body language that tell me that the assignment is too complicated, too easy, too long, or too confusing; or raised hands seeking clarifications.

And thus the Board's larger purposes — of opening communication between teachers and students about homework, and of making sure homework is appropriate and sensible — are defeated.

Giving assignments during class is invariably a "teachable moment," useful in reminding my kids of the importance of paying attention, writing things down and taking responsibility for their lives.

Moreover, posting homework assignments online enables many kids' parents to monitor their child's school life in a suffocating way. Some parents even believe that missing a single high school homework assignment will ruin their child's future. Parents shouldn't be encouraged in this kind of mentally unhealthy thinking.

The school board's efforts in the matter of homework — especially Ms. Townsend's caveats at this week's meeting — are praiseworthy.

Marc Vincenti

Gunn High School

Palo Alto

El Camino Elysees?

Heard of the "Grand Boulevard"? Though the phrase conjures up images of Paris' Champs Elysees, it refers to a local plan to, among other things, commandeer two lanes of El Camino for busses. Something gets lost in translation. Our serviceable, workaday thoroughfare, lined with Walmarts, gas stations, banks, Starbucks and Safeways, is a far cry from "Grand." No Place de la Concorde or Arc de Triomphe here. But it does serve our purposes as a transportation artery — that is, it has up to now.

However, eliminating two lanes would surely create unbearable traffic congestion and gridlock. But perhaps that is the intention. After all, the so-called sustainability agenda that is inflicting high-density, mixed-use urban squalor on our downtowns in Palo Alto, Menlo Park and surrounding cities, also calls for "transit corridors" to replace our "unsustainable" use of cars.

It is time for Peninsula residents to connect the dots. Sustainable Development, the U.S. version of an international agenda, is using the environment as an excuse to enact a "wrenching transformation" of America into a beaten-down, sovietized, state-controlled society.

If that sounds good to you, and/or if sitting in your car in gridlock inhaling bus fumes is your cup of tea, you're in luck. Otherwise, take action to stop the Grand Boulevard from further reducing our quality of life.

Cherie Zaslawsky

Oak Lane

Menlo Park


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