Around Town | May 31, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 31, 2013

Around Town

DUCKS AND DONUTS ... Most Bay Area cities have laws against feeding wildlife. Palo Alto does not. This presents a nest of concerns for local wild animals, particularly birds in the Palo Alto Duck Pond, Daren Anderson told the Parks and Recreation Commission on Tuesday night. Anderson, the city's manager of open space, parks and golf, called the tradition of feeding birds at duck ponds "a hangover from the 1930s." He said the crowded conditions caused by bird feeding spread avian diseases. What's more, the birds can't stomach the "truckloads" of processed foods like jelly donuts. Educating the public by using materials such as grisly pictures of birds with avian pox isn't having a significant effect, Anderson said. Thus, the city is now considering outlawing the feeding of critters. The commission was receptive to the idea, but Commissioner Pat Markevitch suggested a change of message. "You could try something like 'If you feed the ducks, it'll cost you some bucks.' They'll start thinking about it. It's funny, but it draws them in." Animals becoming too familiar with humans may be affecting city government in another small way. Rob de Geus, the city's division manager for recreation and golf services, said there's a squirrel who regularly visits the Lucie Stern Community Center, where his department is located. "He comes in the building and goes down the corridor to get food. We call him Stan," said de Geus, who said they regularly have to chase the furry bandit out. "It's the same guy; he's got that look."

A HEARTFELT THANKS ... A Palo Alto woman's campaign to equip local schools with automated external defibrillators (AEDS) is already paying off. Stephanie Martinson, founder of a nonprofit "Racing Hearts," which raises funds for the machines, thanked the Palo Alto school board on Tuesday for helping to fund 21 of the portable machines to be placed on school campuses to be used in case of sudden cardiac arrest. Six have already been placed at Palo Alto's two high schools. Monthly maintenance will be provided by the Palo Alto Fire Department. "Stephanie has been a trailblazer in our community about the importance of AEDs," Superintendent Kevin Skelly said Tuesday. Schools are just the beginning. In April, the City Council supported a recommendation from Martinson to install 37 defibrillators at public facilities throughout the city.

RONALD'S HOUSE ... For the Ronald McDonald House, which occupies a tree-lined site at the intersection near El Camino Real and Sand Hill Road, change has been a constant ever since it went up in 1979. The facility, which provides temporary shelter to children with life-threatening diseases and to their families, initially had 13 rooms. Since then, it has expanded to 24 (in 1989) and 47 (in 2002) rooms. On Monday night, it's slated to get the City Council's green light for the biggest expansion yet — a three-story addition that would add 69 rooms to the facility next to the Stanford Shopping Center. The reason for the expansion is heavy and increasing demand. According to a new report from the city's planning department, the facility typically turns away 40 families a day.

WAR ON DAWDLING ... Palo Alto voters might have some decisions to make in the coming November. The council is considering changing the City Charter (which requires a vote) so that newly elected council members can assume office almost immediately after the vote is certified. Under the city's long-standing practice, new council members are sworn in during the council's first regular Monday night meeting in January. The idea of swearing in members earlier was first proposed by Councilmen Larry Klein and Greg Schmid, who argued in a February memo that delaying the swearing-in until possibly as late as Jan. 8 puts the city at a "risk of not having sufficient council members on hand if an emergency should arise." At the same time, the change would allow the council to get to business sooner, the memo states. "At the very time when enthusiasm is high — particularly in years when new people are joining the council — we are in effect dawdling." The council will consider the proposed changes, and the potential November election, on Monday night.


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