In a fix | February 2, 2018 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - February 2, 2018

In a fix

Rising costs create high anxiety over Palo Alto's infrastructure plans

by Gennady Sheyner

Groundbreaking ceremonies typically precede construction, but by the time Palo Alto City Council members and staff lined up in front of the Rinconada Fire Station on Tuesday morning, half the building had already been reduced to rubble.

This story contains 3340 words.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at


37 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2018 at 9:09 am

This article is driving me crazy.

Look folks. We are in a boom. Save the surplus, retire any high-interest debt, lock in low-interest credit and other funding, and, WAIT. Only do what -must- be done now for seismic or fire safety, and, WAIT. When the inevitable downturn results in a surplus of construction capacity, THEN, build all these projects at reduced cost, and, reduced (e.g. traffic) disruption.

It drives me crazy when people say "We have to hurry up! Costs are escalating rapidly!" Exactly backwards...

25 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2018 at 9:36 am

And then we have Ross Road!

Enough said.

5 people like this
Posted by Bad Process. Bad decision.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2018 at 11:23 am

Bad Process. Bad decision. is a registered user.

It is interesting that the City Council agendized a decision to fund a very expensive second level of underground AUTO PARKING in the approved Cal. Ave. parking garage separately and ahead of a meeting that would consider this larger context. We can thank former Mayor Judy Kleinberg for that. Housing for cars. Judy, why should citizens pay for this parking that will be filled with workers from multi-story office spaces that developers will put on top of first-floor retail?

City Council, stand firm on first-floor retail requirements to safeguard retail rents and viability. Property owners can build up, but the developers, not citizen taxpayers, need to provide the parking to serve that new density.

Council, you have been badly misled by the Chamber of Commerce...again. It was interesting to hear Jack Morton whine about "betrayal of trust". Please remember the citizens who advocated thousands of hours for many of these other community serving projects (which, by the way, Judy and Jack voted for when they were on Council. These citizens have much greater reason to cry foul.).

I am VERY disappointed that the Cal Ave. garage decision was separated from this larger conversation about infrastructure. It was a clever political move by former Mayor Judy get it agendized separately.--But it was not a thoughtful move for the community. Council should have insisted on stepping back and looking at the big budget picture. They should have postponed making a decision. They can still opt to revisit this decision to pay for parking for future development.

Bad process. Bad decision.

6 people like this
Posted by I like the Ross Road project.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2018 at 11:27 am

I like the Ross Road project. is a registered user.

I'm a resident who likes the Ross Road project.

14 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 2, 2018 at 11:34 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"Even a major Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo renovation — perhaps the city's most popular infrastructure project to break ground this year — is facing budgetary uncertainty. Despite a successful $25 million fundraising drive by the nonprofit Friends of the Junior Museum, the zoo project hinges in part on a $4 million contribution from the city, which is responsible for redesigning the parking lot and creating a new bike path for the Rinconada Park attraction."

The city's going to spend ANOTHER $4 million redesigning the Junior Museum parking lot at Middlefield and Embarcadero right after redesigning the Middlefield & Embarcadero intersection, eliminating traffic lanes right behind bus stops and adding more bulb-outs near Lucy Stern??

Oh, goody.

9 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 2, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Sorry Gennady, I'll read the whole article later. You must have stayed up late writing that one, but what else is new if you go to all those CC meetings or stay up late watching them on TV and filing an early report on the results. I got the gist of it right away.

@Resident...ah yes, our wonderful new bike boulevard. And especially our new roundabout: I drove...kinda by it or partially around it last night, just to make a 90 degree right turn. It's just being put in. The forms are in place and ready for concrete to be poured. A new concept of roundabouts here, a lot different than in England. Here you have to stop at a stop sign before you enter the roundabout. "Velly inturethting". I made the invitation before, but I'll make it again. Come, all you north-enders, especially CC member bikers, and all other bikers, down to my part of town, and come on your bikes and experience the thrill of our new bike boulevard. You won! You sure put the clamps on all us car owners/drivers. But, you come at your own risk. We have the usual bunch of mixed drivers...most good...but some not so good...which includes us older folks with slow reflexes, maybe dementia, others who are prone to road rage, and others who doze off at the wheel or are driving under the influence. They might see two lanes, including one lane that they think is dedicated to them, when indeed it's just one lane to be shared with the cyclists. I understand the goal...get all of us car drivers off the roads and the problem will be solved.

10 people like this
Posted by Sally C
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 2, 2018 at 1:36 pm

All this money for rebuilding , the Palo Alto Animal Shelter not even mentioned. How sad.

Like this comment
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2018 at 2:37 pm

Gale, it isn't finished yet. The stop signs will go away when it is done. Don't pass judgment until you have seen the final product.

6 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2018 at 7:32 pm

Marie is a registered user.

$59 million for bike paths and nothing for discounted spay/neuter services or a new animal shelter, which plans to discontinue accepting local surrenders (if there is not enough space???), but accept animals from other shelters far away. Clearly, the city administration just wants to get rid of any lower income city employees (Partners in Need does not, I'm sure have any retiree benefits) and hire only $100K+ managers.

Millions for a new Junior Museum, that will ensure that the museum will start charging $20 admission (1 adult two kids) instead of being free as it is today. Reducing parking near the museum and art center - where there is inadequate parking already. Well charging a high admission fee will probably reduce demand so perhaps they won't need as much parking.

For whatever reason, which I cannot understand, the city administration is prioritizing the 1% at the expense of the few remaining middle class people living in Palo Alto and nearby (the service area for the shelter).

10 people like this
Posted by Andy
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 4, 2018 at 10:45 am

I have no beef with any of the projects -- they all make sense to me, for the benefit of different constituencies and neighborhoods.

That said, I think the process of "move fast before things get even more expensive" does not make sense. What makes sense is to bank the money, let it grow, and wait for a downturn, when ever RFQ will result in dozens of cheap bids. And THEN to do the construction.

The article notes the Council's concern that at that time we'll have less funds available and will be facing cuts in the city budget and that there will be pressure on using the saved up Infrastructure funds for other things. Well, just don't! Just have the brains and discipline to only use the saved up Infrastructure funds for Infrastructure. And save tens of millions of dollars!!! Crazy that the Council doesn't have enough respect for itself to believe that it can do this. Gee.

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