With Stanford not so much growing as metastasizing — huge projects planned for Menlo Park and Palo Alto, plus an office park in Redwood City over a million square feet — locals should anticipate unrelieved gridlock on El Camino and environs. As if this weren't bad enough, there's a devilish plan afoot to get us out of our cars once and for all: the Grand Boulevard Initiative (GBI) — a euphemism for, among other things, two dedicated BUS-ONLY lanes on El Camino.
First, if the GBI group really wanted to improve Peninsula transit, they'd be focusing on our east-west connectivity. After all, in addition to Caltrain, we have buses running north/south on El Camino.
But this plan is not primarily about transportation — it's about changing our lives, both by urbanizing our suburbs, and by making driving practically unfeasible. Otherwise, why is the plan also espousing high-density zoning for one-quarter mile on either side of El Camino?
Here's a quote from the GBI Principles: "Amend General Plans and implement zoning and Specific Plans that facilitate increases in density, particularly around transit stations and key intersections." In GBI logic, more people crammed into tight spaces near the bus routes means more riders. So, instead of the buses serving the needs of the community, the community is being reconfigured to serve the needs of the buses! That is, of VTA and SamTrans under the umbrella of the GBI, partnering with the usual suspects: NGOs with special interests, developers and bureaucrats who relish the opportunity to foist their pipedreams on an unsuspecting public.
Peninsulans, ask yourself why you haven't heard the details of this plan. Did you know one of your city council members supposedly represents you on the GBI Task Force? Maybe time to tell him/her what you think. Otherwise get ready to queue up and wait for the bus.
Oak Lane, Menlo Park
City Council: Be brave
To the Palo Alto City Council, regarding the closure of the Empire Tap Room: You know, to be blunt, you guys are all hypocrites; you lament a decision to shut down a community landmark, hoping that the public lament will make you seem less cowardly. You are not brave enough to stand up for community and quality of life. Developers such as Barry Swenson, etc., adore you because they know they have you in the palm of their hands, and that you are a government that more often than not refuses to stand up for the people, and for society.
You are "in" power; you "have" the power to do things. You know ... like how you used your power to get around the city's building height limit?
I am being blunt; unlike you, I am not afraid.
Like Peter Drekmeier, poor excuses for leaders. He was a terrible mayor. You ought to be ashamed.
Judging from history, though, you won't be.
Awalt Drive, Mountain View
Need for true dog parks
There is no place in Palo Alto, or anywhere nearby, where you can run, hike, or exercise with a dog off leash. The "dog parks" are tiny; you can't even use as throwing stick because you would throw the ball out of the park. They are just places where people can socialize while the dogs do the same.
I would prefer, instead of or in addition to a new minipark, that the city designate certain parks or athletic facilities for off leash play on dates and times when that would not interfere with other scheduled activities.
Elsinore Drive, Palo Alto
Matadero project: a step backward
Palo Alto is considering spending $2.5 million on a bike/pedestrian path from Waverley Street to Greer Road, along the SCVWD easement between the Matadero Canal and private property. There are no destinations at either end of the path, and six unsafe road crossings along the preferred route, including a mid-block crossing at Middlefield Road. The city planning/transportation department is launching a request for proposal (RFP) and is racing toward a feasibility study.
Why? Because it has received partial funding for the project and seems determined to spend this money. Does it make sense to spend taxpayer money on ill-conceived, pointless projects? It would make a lot more sense to conserve these funds for bigger and more useful projects, such as a safe underpass between Alma and the Park Avenue bike path, or a safe bike crossing at Page Mill and 280. Some supporters of the project believe that any incremental improvement in Palo Alto's bike network is worthwhile. However, the Matadero project, as proposed, would be a step backward. In exchange for an unsightly path from nowhere to nowhere, it would create six dangerous mid-block intersections, become a magnet for undesirable late-night activities, increase the city's maintenance costs, and lead to unknown potential liabilities.
Imagine the inherent risk of allowing children, pets, skateboarders, bicyclists and others to come right to the edge of the Matadero Canal during the rainy/flood season. This is a bad idea that could lead to a disaster.
Clara Drive, Palo Alto