Letters | February 8, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - February 8, 2013


The Post with the most


Planning Commissioner Michael Alcheck correctly noted that lighting was left out of California Avenue Streetscape discussions since September 2009, when "The Project" was proactively and publicly vetted by the city and stakeholders. I, too, wondered when lighting would be brought back and am glad it might again be included.

New lighting was the California Avenue Area Development Association Board's No. 1 priority, when the Streetscape Concept Plan was completed. Anonymous poster "Full Circle" was correct in his/her comment in the Town Square: Discussion Forum stating that fact. But it is a shame the comment disparaged Commissioner Alcheck for his pertinent observation, and reported other false information, and the Weekly featured the comment in Spectrum, on Feb. 1.

Palo Alto Weekly would be wise to follow the Daily Post, a publication that for the past year has made a concerted effort to provide provable facts and even well-researched, detailed timelines on local stories of interest for readers.

By doing so, the Post serves as a helpful catalyst for fact-based community dialog, creating an environment where trust might again be restored, choosing to be part of the solution, via journalism, rather than being part of the problem.

Prior to putting print to paper, the Weekly editors should ask themselves: Is this true? Is this kind? Is this necessary? "Full Circle's" comments were partly true, unkind and not necessary.

Ronna Devincenzi

California Avenue Area Development Association board of directors president, 1989-2010

Cambridge Avenue

Palo Alto

Residents pay for benefits


Why isn't downtown parking working? One reason is the council's largesse in granting parking exceptions for "public benefits." A 10,000-foot waiver eliminates 40 spaces, a gift of $2.4 million to the developer. For one pending project, the subsidy exceeds $4 million but provides no new parking spaces for the employees.

A hidden gift? How would you respond if the council directly granted $2.4 to $4 million dollars from the general fund to build a project? Likely: "You are what? No! Isn't that a gift of public funds?"

So, who pays for the parking? Obviously, if the entire community "benefits," the general fund, grants from a magnanimous benefactor (not asking for anything in return), or another community-wide resource. Right? No, only a few citizens, in this case approximately 1,500 residential downtown property owners and their families, pay for the developer's extra profit with the deterioration of their neighborhood integrity. Leases in downtown are among the highest in the nation. Yet, other towns with much lower rates demand that development provide or pay for needed parking.

Yes, the developers are still granted these subsidies, these entitlements, these gifts, and guess what? They have grown to expect them, to demand them. Amazing.

The point: Developers benefit financially and a few residents, but not all, pay for "public benefits" with their neighborhoods' lost values.

Ken Alsman

Ramona Street

Palo Alto

Eliminate level crossings


I liked (Chris Kenrick's) article about railroad crossings in Palo Alto.

For (her) next article on this topic, I have a suggestion: Watch the Churchill crossing around the time high school students head home in the afternoon. I have done this several times. On the Palo Alto High School side of Churchill Street, there is not enough room for bicycles and pedestrians between the tracks and Alma. Sometimes kids are squeezed when they become trapped by the closing of the gates as a high-speed Caltrain approaches.

Of course, they know this and try to carefully gauge how much room there is before crossing the tracks. For cars, there is an "escape-cycle" programmed into the stoplight sequence that allows cars on the tracks to move. For pedestrians and bicyclists, there is no such "escape-cycle," and I think this arrangement is quite dangerous.

In the long run, there will be increased traffic of all sorts and level railroad crossings such as this one must be eliminated.

Marc Ross

El Verano Avenue

Palo Alto


Like this comment
Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2013 at 10:45 am

Thank you for printing my letter to the editor. Important correction: my letter noted I was President of CAADA from 1989-2010, but that is not in this online page or in the hard copy edition.

California Avenue Area Development Association (CAADA) is no more. Its last meeting was held the day of my resignation, Jan. 2010. No other organization ever officially replaced it.

Please make necessary corrections, as my letter does not speak for anyone other than myself, and what I wrote is about knowledge I had prior to Jan. 2010.

Like this comment
Posted by tsk tsk
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 8, 2013 at 8:41 pm

What a dirty shame this is, at a time when it is desperately needed!

Like this comment
Posted by Herb Borock
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 9, 2013 at 11:43 am

According to the California Secretary of State, the California Avenue Area Develoopment Assoication, Incorporated is still an active corporation with Terry Shuchat as its agent for service of process.

Ronna, if you are right that CAADA no longer exists, somebody representing that organization should have notified the Secretary of State of that fact.

If, as some business representatives claimed at prior City Council meetings, there is a new organization, rather than just a new public name for branding purposes, then the new organization should register with the Secretary of State.

Just because you are not invited to meetings, doesn't mean there isn't a continuing organization or a replacement organization.

The current City Roster at page 12 (Web Link) lists Council Member Holman as the city's representative to the Business Association of California Avenue.

Like this comment
Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Thank you, Herb. Although your post shows Council Member Holman is the council liaison for "BACA", and not for "CAADA".

Do you know when BACA meets, Herb? I'm glad to know another active organization has replaced CAADA. But I never read about a General Election for a BACA Board of Directors having been held, or who is the association's official spokesperson. Do you remember reading about it?

Have you attended a BACA Board meeting, Herb? If Karen Holman is their rep, the meetings should be open to the public, and announced to the membership, right? All council liaisons from the days of Ellen Fletcher attended CAADA meetings, including Jim Burch and right up to Yoriko Kishimoto. There was always city staff at CAADA meetings too, from Economic Development. BACA meetings should be the same, right?

Herb, if you also know the: who, what, why, when, where, how of that organization & who's on their Board of Directors, I'd appreciate a heads up about those details. Since you wrote your comment above, I'm just really curious to know.

You are correct in pointing out, Herb, that I am out of the loop now, with the exception of what's in newspapers. But it is still my understanding that CAADA is completely gone, having had a life-span of just over 50 years before it fizzled out and died.

Herb, as I wrote above, the purpose of my post was that initially, here on line and in the hard cover issue from Friday, dates I supplied (1989-2010) were just omitted from my letter. A reader unfamiliar with the project might get the wrong idea that CAADA was current & I was still associated with it. I needed to correct that.

The Weekly has since added the appropriate dates on line above, and they'll make the necessary correction in the hard copy next Friday, so there will be no confusion.

Had these dates been included initially, I'd not have entered a comment in this forum. I'm sure it was an oversight. They spelled out the cal ave association---so dates got chopped off & deleted. Not the end of the world, but I feel better to see it corrected.
Thanks so much, Herb!

Like this comment
Posted by Herb Borock
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 10, 2013 at 3:49 pm

The LinkedIn profile of Robert Hayes, VP - Area Manager at Technology Credit Union, says he is the president of the Business Association of California Avenue: Web Link

A recent City staff report (ID# 2354, 12/19/12) says BACA will be performing the same role for the California Avenue Business District that Palo Alto Downtown performs for the University Avenue Business District: Web Link

At the Planning and Transportation Commission meeting of July 11, 2012, former Vice Mayor Jack Morton identified himself as a member of the Business Association of California Avenue. See page 17 of 60 at Web Link

Ronna, if you want to know more about BACA, I suggest you contact Robert Hayes or Jack Morton.

They should be able to tell you whether BACA is the new name for CAADA; why the CAADA corporate name is still active if CAADA has been disbanded; what form of business organization is being used for BACA, such as corporation, limited liability company, partnership, or unincorporated association; whether Terry Shuchat is a member; and where BACA is registered in the State of California or the County of Santa Clara.

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Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Thank you, Herb. This is interesting & the links are appreciated. As I mentioned, I was just curious. I always thought the State of California was particular about how associations such as this were run. It surprises me to know they (or the county) would allow a structure that sounds vague.

Do you have a link to the State of California site, showing it active?It's been 3 years since I looked it up, and I was just making sure the contact name transfer went through successfully, from me to Terry.

CAADA was always an official non-profit with the State of California.
Its status was current in Jan. 2010, when I resigned. In fact, I supplied a detailed 3-page summary of the organization for the Secretary of State, and suggested to the Board and to the General Membership that they hold an election of new officers, at the same time I removed my name from the Sec. of State roster. Every "T" was crossed every "I" was dotted, when I left.

I've never heard of any election, and neither have I heard from any official spokesperson. The last official person was Elizabeth "Feeta" Bishop, whose photo appeared in the Daily Post later in 2010, or in 2011, identified as the new CAADA President. But she dropped out of the picture, when a few people began to speak of BACA. (But it was also called CABA --California Avenue Business Association, elsewhere.)
I wonder why there have been no stories about it. What if someone wanted to attend one of their meetings? (A rhetorical question.) CAADA meetings were always open to everyone: even had Oral Communications for merchants and the public for business not on the agenda. Thanks, Herb.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.