When I heard rumors of lacerations on the feet and legs of pedestrians from the new California Avenue sidewalks, due to embedded glass in exposed aggregate, I dismissed it, thinking it was an invention of the project's earlier naysayers.
But while scrutinizing the sidewalks this week, I found numerous sharp edges and loose shards with dried aggregate, appearing to have come from the sidewalks. I also observed the glass is slippery, when wet, potentially a hazard for women wearing stiletto heels, such as one may wear to nicer restaurants.
These sidewalks collect much more dirt than others. I noted grungy-looking areas, and not just under restaurant tables. The worst were two huge blotches near the Christian Science Reading Room, where there are no restaurants.
I wanted to love the entire California Avenue Streetscape that, along with Public Works, Palo Alto residents tweaked and changed over four years (2010 to 2014). I spent from 2005 to 2009 helping create the original Concept Plan with the CAADA Board of Directors.
But another red-flag is the new parallel parking configuration created a six-car backup towards El Camino Real, something I never saw before. The convenient diagonal parking replaced with parallel takes longer to negotiate. If a bicyclist was there, it would be dangerous; so a suggestion is redirecting bicyclists to parallel streets, for their safety, designating easier and safer flow of traffic for them.
Wider sidewalks were on the 2010-2014 City Council "Wish List," and a consultant was retained to oversee the residents' choices as the original CAADA Streetscape Plan was changed.
What questions were asked by council about the impacts of having sharp, slippery glass in sidewalks that attracts dirt, the size edging out bicyclists and forcing them to compete with backed-up cars, due to the new parallel parking?
Cambridge Avenue, Palo Alto
Protecting local retail
It is simply not enough to keep tearing down older and smaller buildings in downtown Palo Alto in exchange for sleek, taller office buildings. This provides only a pot of money for developers and landlords and nothing for the community at large. To be vital and of value to residents, retail of different kinds must be part of the plan. The council has indicated they realize they should think about protecting our local retailers. The city of Mountain View has been brilliant in this area. Retailers who are to be replaced by a teardown should be given assistance both financial and in finding two-year places to do a temporary relocation while their former home is torn down and rebuilt. Since most of the new buildings will provide retail spaces on the ground floor, the developers should be obliged to resettle the former retail tenants back into the new space at rates commensurate with what they had been paying. Developers and landlords make a pile of money without sacrificing our small retailers in doing so.
Byron Street, Palo Alto
I'm writing to urge you to reconsider your policy of allowing anonymous commenters on your website.
As the author of a recent Op-Ed, I feel insulted and almost assaulted by the often untruthful and hateful statements made. My piece was about climate change, and hopefully you're well aware of the scourge of "trolls" that infest the comment sections on climate change articles and cast doubt on perfectly legitimate material. The Los Angeles Times found this to be such a problem that they disallow climate trolls altogether. Kudos to them!
One of the articles posted recently is filled with more of the same kind of comments, and most have no factual basis: www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2014/12/13/palo-alto-to-explore-incentives-for-slashing-natural-gas-use.
Certainly a first step for Palo Alto Online would be to require commenters to register with their real name and a legitimate email address. Readers that suspect the commenter to be using an alias should be able to communicate this to the editorial staff and have the post (and the registration of the commenter) removed.
The comment stream could be a useful tool for public discourse. Instead it has turned into a sledgehammer of hate and mockery.
Janice Way, Palo Alto
A model of care
Thank you for your recent series of articles ("Coroner releases identity of man killed on train tracks" on 10/20/14; "In the wake: Teens respond with messages of hope, change" on 11/14/14; and "Guest Opinion: How to help those in crisis" on 10/17/14), which addressed the community response to the deaths by suicide of local youth, as well as the available suicide-prevention resources. This series of articles was very informative and careful in its handling of such a sensitive topic. We appreciate your willingness to dive in depth into an issue that is often cast aside in our society but in actuality affects numerous families throughout Palo Alto, the greater San Francisco Bay Area and the nation.
The media plays an important role in their safe reporting of death by suicide. Your series of articles can serve as a model for insightful and dignified approaches by news organizations addressing the issue of suicide and suicide prevention. Relying on provocation or sensationalism of this important topic in the media simply serves to continue the stigma against mental illness and suicide.
Irresponsible reporting that includes references to a suicide note, methods or a landmark where a death by suicide took place can be dangerous, especially in younger age groups, and can lead to what is known as "suicide contagion." Thoughtful journalism such as yours reduces the risk of copycat suicides from improper reporting and provides important education and resources for the public.
Thank you for your attention and thoughtfulness to this issue.
Chapter Board Members
Greater San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
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