Once again, Mayor Liz Kniss has shown disdain for the public. The published City Council agenda states: "Council reserves the right to limit duration of Oral Communications period to 30 minutes." It is customary to allow each speaker three minutes to make his or her comments. I and seven others (at the last minute two others joined us) addressed the council last Monday evening during Oral Communications. Mayor Kniss, without so stating, limited each speaker to just two minutes (there is a timer by which she can do that), even though if each of us had used the customary three minutes, the total elapsed time would have been no more than 30 minutes.
I was the sixth speaker and noticed what she was doing in time to use part of my minutes to object to that unnoticed change in customary practice. Why would she do so, unless Mayor Kniss feels that she and her fellow council members don't need to hear from the public?
Once again, how disrespectful of Mayor Kniss. How disdainful of the citizens of Palo Alto! When a limited number of citizens care deeply enough about their city to address the council and explain their concerns, the council, led by a respectful mayor, should care enough about them to allot them their customary three minutes. It would have been the right thing to do.
So, beware, if you wish to address the council, you may not get the customary three minutes that mayors in the past have properly allowed.
Georgia Avenue, Palo Alto
Stanford deserves some credit
Stanford purchased two homes that share property lines with mine. It has renovated one and will tear down and rebuild the other. It has had any number of contractors, caretakers and engineers on and off the properties. Not that that is unusual. What is unusual was the bad attitude and hubris of all the people involved, including a stack of legal papers delivered Thanksgiving week regarding a trivial matter with a "sign it or else" dictate that, upon consulting with a lawyer, I found was unnecessary in the first place. Stanford management is a bad neighbor.
I made my feelings known at the meeting held by county Supervisor Joe Simitian requesting community input on Stanford development. Whether or not my comments were well-received or ignored, I don't know. But I did also get to listen to other residents voice their concerns, a good deal of which was about traffic, a problem for which Stanford is not the primary source. Another concern was the potential impact on schools, which seemed valid.
But then there was a contingent of residents who ranted about how Stanford people use our dog parks and our restaurants and our public services, etc., and how Stanford should pay to put Caltrain underground and build bike paths through Palo Alto and fix the traffic problems and so on and so forth.
Do people not understand that Stanford put Palo Alto on the map? Without Stanford there would be no Palo Alto, no Silicon Valley and no tech revolution?
I still think they can be and often are a bad actor when it comes to community relations. However, their contribution to the intellectual and cultural enrichment of our area is incalculable. That background seems to be totally lacking in the minds of most of the residents at the meeting.
Birch Street, Palo Alto
Castilleja still needs to collaborate
It is past Thanksgiving with no word on when the Draft Environmental Impact Report will come out on Castilleja School's plans that negatively impact the neighboring community. In its submission, the school plans to direct traffic currently spread around its campus and funnel it into a garage via the Bike Safety Boulevard at an intersection already riddled with congestion, near misses and accidents. Does this make sense?
Let's ask how this school can latch onto residential laws of grandfathered square footage yet build a garage as a business. Merging lots and building underground garages are prohibited in residential zones. The conditional-use permit (CUP) was required because it is a business operating in a single-family neighborhood. It should abide by residential laws.
The school's recent advertisements tout the successes of lowering their car trips yet still requests that a garage be built. With this success, why is there need for a garage? If they are increasing their student population by a modest number each year, their transportation-demand-management (TDM) plans should continue to evolve without the need for a garage. Why do they keep pushing for a plan that will cause extra years of disruption to build something not required? To create a true TDM plan, traffic should be counted at all hours of the day and the number of events reduced drastically to maintain it.
Other communities near Bowman International School and Cubberley Community Center have worked with neighbors to get their buy-in to their projects. Castilleja should be a good neighbor and do the right thing now regardless of the process.
Emerson Street, Palo Alto
'No' to Verizon cell towers
My family is against setting up Verizon cell towers in our Palo Alto neighborhoods. I talked to many of our neighbors; none of them agree that towers should be set up in our neighborhood.
The reasons are very clear:
1. These cell towers' huge radio frequency will affect our children and adult's health.
2. If our city allows Verizon to set up a tower in our neighborhood, there are three other big mobile-phone operators who will also want to do that. It will cause a huge radio-frequency disaster.
3. These towers will generate lots of noise and heat, which will affect our neighborhood.
4. Based on my more than 20 years of telecom experience, weak cell signal will not affect our life because every home has Wi-Fi.
I would like to ask for the city to reverse its wrong decision on setting up the towers.
Jian J. Shi
Villa Vista, Palo Alto
This story contains 1005 words.
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