As you consider the future of Palo Alto, please consider that growth and development does not necessarily mean more cars. Personally I welcome more residents, more businesses and more employees, as long as they don't have to bring their cars with them wherever they go. Growth is a fact of life, but the only way that more people, ideas, economic activity and culture can fit into Palo Alto is if we do not dedicate any more space to automobiles.
I sincerely hope that Palo Alto doesn't plan its future around the automobile before people realize that bicycling, walking and transit are the more fun, healthy and efficient ways to get around. I moved to Palo Alto from Los Angeles 25 years ago, and we need to look no further than L.A. to see what happens when the car is at the center of all city planning.
Cowper Street, Palo Alto
This isn't working
It's too early for an April's Fool joke. At the Dec. 9 City Council meeting, item #10, "Community Conversation," included data that showed traffic volumes decreasing since 1999. Our population and jobs have increased, so shouldn't traffic increase? And our City Council members complain that traffic is getting worse not better. Living in south Palo Alto, I would definitely agree with my representatives on this one. Traffic is so bad that during commute hours, commuting on a bike or the train is significantly faster than a car.
If traffic is slower, traffic volumes will decrease. So why are we measuring traffic in terms of numbers of cars? We have incorporated several factors to slow or calm traffic such as more traffic lights, construction and traffic-calming efforts such as single lanes and speed humps. Slowing traffic down to the speed limit is a good idea. Slowing traffic below the speed limit is not a good idea. As our traffic slows to a crawl, our traffic volumes will continue to fall.
We need a better method to assess traffic rather than traffic volumes. Clearly this is not working.
Ben Lomond Drive, Palo Alto
Artful ploys don't help
Local developers like Jay Paul and John Arrillaga provide our local press with architectural "renderings" that visually downplay the massiveness of their proposed developments.
The photo of a DES Architects plan on page 10 of the Palo Alto Weekly (12/06/2013) depicts the multi-storied buildings purposely obscured by a dense and aged forest inviting readers to fall deeply in love with the project. I suspect the artist who started with the rendering of the building was quickly required to add this imaginary flora.
The Arrillaga project rendering for 27 University Ave. that was published not long ago in two local papers depicts a massive open foreground with folks strolling among the trees. Deep in the background the tops of two misty monoliths fill the skies with their dream-like presence. Inspiring.
Problem is: Our local press publishes these disingenuous renderings and inadvertently perpetuates the attempted deception. They can do better.
To our developers: Please be advised that your artful ploys do not help your case. It does quite the opposite, I'd say.
Loma Verde Avenue, Palo Alto
False parking promises
I bet the City staff report doesn't say anything about the false promise made a decade ago that property owners would provide parking at a ratio of one parking space for every 250 square feet (1:250) of non-residential buildings, starting with the 2004 assessment district structures. In fact they are given credit for that parking but have only provided a 1:2500 ration of parking to floor area. And they are assessed less than 10 cents per square foot per month against $6- and $7-per month rents. Oh, and yes, they pass that onto the tenants and charge employees for the few spaces available. Now they want to charge employees, and residents, to park in the residential neighborhoods under their ideas for a unique Palo Alto "WPPP" — a workers permit parking program — in the residential neighborhoods. No, the developers have no influence over the City Council and staff — snicker.
Sharon Road, Menlo Park
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