New priorities: Climate change, traffic, finances | February 8, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - February 8, 2019

New priorities: Climate change, traffic, finances

City Council eyes expanded shuttle, rail redesign decision

by Gennady Sheyner

Palo Alto's elected leaders will devote extra energy in 2019 toward addressing the city's transportation challenges, getting local finances in order, picking new designs for the rail crossings and take more aggressive action on addressing climate change, the City Council decided at its annual retreat on Feb. 2.

This story contains 804 words.

Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.

If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.

Log in     Subscribe

Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at gsheyner@paweekly.com.

Comments

3 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 2, 2019 at 2:01 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

I went to the meeting and am suggesting that the action group Sky Posse rebrand as CA Plane Pour Moi (the reference is to a very catchy international pop song from the early 1980s).

A little punk pop new wave would lively up these sessions.

There's an English language version of that song called "Jet Boy, Jet Girl" which speaks to the current interest locally and internationally in gender equity.


Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 2, 2019 at 2:02 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Good meeting


48 people like this
Posted by Council jokes
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 2, 2019 at 2:39 pm

And what happened to last years " priorities "? And the ones from 20!7? Of course the rail issue is a priority. Does the city think that caltrain will sit and wait for a decision forever. And what are their plans for traffic? Narrowing more major arteries and hoping traffic will disappear? What about the bike bridge over 101, that we have been waiting years for? Isn't that as priority?


56 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2019 at 2:50 pm

Transportation, traffic, parking, are all important for the City. Climate Change is not something that our City can tackle alone and although it shouldn't be ignored of course, it is hardly a top priority when there is so much else that needs to be done.

Of course, working on the other problems just might make a difference to the hot air that is another problem the CC produces.


69 people like this
Posted by Seriously
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 2, 2019 at 3:40 pm

Yeah, right. “Climate change.”

Their priorities are “deflect, distract, deny, dissemble, and build, build, build.”


35 people like this
Posted by Fantastic
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 2, 2019 at 5:11 pm

Fantastic is a registered user.

I am thrilled. These are exactly the priorities I would have chosen. There is so much we can do to address climate change, and getting our finances in better shape is going to underscore everything. Transportation is a huge issue for nearly everyone who lives here, and is getting worse, while rail is a very difficult issue that must be tackled this year. There is a lot of overlap between these priorities, which is also nice. I think these are terrific, and I also think we can make significant progress on these, and in fact we must. Way to go, CC.


78 people like this
Posted by More Gibberish
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 2, 2019 at 7:46 pm

Climate Change is not a practical PACC issue as there are more important problems to address/resolve.


65 people like this
Posted by Cool move
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 2, 2019 at 8:46 pm

The organizations and individuals advocating Climate Change as a top priority are loosely identifiable as the Development promoters in the city.

Cool Blocks is pretty much a project of PA Forward, it has the same leaders (Sandra Slater, who among other things owns a construction company),as well as Josie Maran, her sister-in-law, and yes, Jim Keene.

So if the council focuses on the climate, the development advocates can proceed without interference.


51 people like this
Posted by Downfall
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 2, 2019 at 10:06 pm

When they mention finances how about the massive unfunded pension debt the city has. Every council just seems to want to kick that down the road.

Also how about citizen safety as a priority. So many reports of assault & robberies in just the past month. Often it feels to me PA spends more time focusing on people who want to live hear than the welfare of the current citizens.


50 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Feb 2, 2019 at 11:01 pm

I agree that Climate Change as a priority is both a distraction and a feel good item for those impressed by virtue signally. Why not buy everybody a Tesla and support a home town business?

Virute signaling is the top priority for most Palo Altans. The town is becoming overun by Teslas.


61 people like this
Posted by Climey McClimateface
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 3, 2019 at 8:04 am

How ridiculous to include climate change as a priority. Of course it is a priority when voting for president, or congress, but all the bleeding edge initiatives that Palo Alto proudly espouses are totally irrelevant to the problem.


62 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2019 at 8:48 am

Crime is definitely becoming an issue. We have had so many reports of crime lately that it is evident it is becoming more prevalent here. With house break ins, car break ins and vandalism, and actual attacks on people going about their lives in normal places and normal times of day, it is becoming very worrying.

I wish they had put something about crime as a priority rather than Climate Change.


64 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 3, 2019 at 8:56 am

The idea that the city has priorities that change from year to year is, well, ridiculous. It shows that this is wishful thinking and virtue-signalling, not actual priorities we mean to actually get done. If they were true priorities (and even, gasp, goals!), they would stay the same for years at a time, we'd have timeliness and metrics to see how we are progressing, and be able to judge Council and Staff in terms of whether they are making progress. You know - accountability.

As it is, we make up new priorities every year (no goals, sorry), have no way of telling if we've made sufficient progress on last year's, and no reflection on how our actions matched last year's words. It sounds kind of like New Year's Resolutions, doesn't it? Hard to believe this is our approach to governance & management. Council members need to address this kind of flabby thinking and stale processes if they want to make real progress.


51 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 3, 2019 at 10:52 am

Glad to see that Palo Alto is not developing it’s own defensive missle systems. Global warming seems a tad ambitious unless they really mean shaming people for thermostat abuse, daring to drive an SUV (a ha! Who among us...?), or raises yet more taxes to hang posters and enforce more controls on our local businesses. Of course, with such a goal, we could now hire a Director of Global Environment with a staff communications coordinator extending the cities long term budget obligations out longer than the planet survives while putting us out front of enlightened dinky communities with heart and conscience.
As other comments suggest, our goals should be much more to the point of more efficient services, reduction of government bloat, reduced crime and generally real world problems that the city faces now and for which the city council is responsible for.


38 people like this
Posted by M_S
a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2019 at 11:17 am

Climate change really? Compared to the state, let alone the US, Palo Alto is a very very very small dot. You really think that Palo Alto will make a dent in climate change? What a waste of resources to be tackling a global problem.


41 people like this
Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2019 at 12:03 pm

Whatever happened to all the priorities of the last 15 years of planning? How successful were they? How about a "Failure Analysis" on all the items that fell by the wayside during that year?

These Planning Days are just wishful thinking. After the day is over, most are forgotten.

Further, many councils can't even define what they mean by their wishes. They cannot set out a clear vision of what they want, so how can it be achieved?

These are feel-good statements, for the most part. When will the People of Palo Alto wake up? Common sense is in short supply here now. Residents suffer from it.


35 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2019 at 12:53 pm

Climate change as a Palo Alto priority? What a joke!

Virtue signaling seems to be about all this council is capable of.

What happened to the big pension problem? Erick Filsth sent out thousands of "re-elect me" mailers during this past election cycle claim, in effect, he was going to fix the pension problem. Seems the looming pension debt no longer is important to him.

Maybe it's time to picket these council member's homes until they no longer drive any vehicle that is powered by anything remotely associated with fossil fuels. Certainly they all could take public transportation as a show of good faith for all of their personal and private business.

This town's government just becomes more useless year after year.


39 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 3, 2019 at 12:55 pm

A top priority should be for them to appoint a great City Auditor to replace the departing Ms. Richardson. That is an essential and important role, when done right, keeping everyone in line and transparent... Let's find someone to do that office right!

We haven't had a great auditor's office since Ms. Erickson (sp?) was lured down to be the Auditor for San Jose, and that was like a decade ago!


19 people like this
Posted by Oh George!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2019 at 1:07 pm

George,

“Glad to see that Palo Alto is not developing it’s own defensive missle systems.”

LOL

If this results in nanny rules like shaming people for not having a Tesla it will be annoying

I’m not necessarily against the ambition, just that there are issues affecting the City which is where we need the ambition too.





11 people like this
Posted by Martha Dogood
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 3, 2019 at 2:07 pm

Martha Dogood is a registered user.

Oh George!

As always George is right on target!

Actually I did hear that PA is actively engaged in planning for its own missile and asteroid defense system. You never know what that crazy North Korean will do and City Council is sure his next test missile will be aimed at PA, the center of the most brilliant leaders of America today. So do not fear PA, you’re in very good hands and will be safely protected from everything,

If you’re like me, and if the thought of an earth ending asteroid keeps you up at night, don’t worry since your City Council has you covered. Don’t mind those pesky potholes destroying your car’s alignment, don’t fret over increased crime, or the growing drug culture, or the unsustainable growth and inadequate transportation. These are mere inconveniences, the asteroid defense system is by far the most important project and worthy of all our tax dollars.


52 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 3, 2019 at 2:07 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

Where is the slate of candidates focused on traffic, crime, education, supporting residents, local business, and quality of life? Is everyone just posturing so they can try to jump into state politics or run for congress?


26 people like this
Posted by JCP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 3, 2019 at 3:42 pm

JCP is a registered user.

Code enforcement has been a joke for so long I guess CC has given up. I’m sure Castilleja is pleased to know they can continue to break the law unimpeded.


12 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 3, 2019 at 6:39 pm

climate change - signaling at it's best. It'so when the city council members go to their symposiums they can talk about how much a "leader" Palo Alto is.

Okay - let's see the city council take some concrete action like banning all SUVs, minivans, BMW 3xx, 5xx, 7xx, Mercedes, Porches from parking permits, from the 3 hour parking color zones, etc. Let's see the City Council charge an exponential utility rate for any commercial building using more electricity than what a 1000 sf house would use.

Come on city council - let's see you make a name for yourself.


14 people like this
Posted by Downfall
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 3, 2019 at 7:11 pm

If the city cares so much about global warming/climate change lets see the start enforcing that ridiculous "idling" ordinance they passed last year.


33 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 3, 2019 at 7:59 pm

"aggressive action on climate change"

What a load of crap. As if the tiny insignificant hamlet of Palo Alto has any bearing on a worldwide catastrophic doom clock. Palo Alto alone, will fight climate change! All we need to do is just ban plastic bottles now!

Give me a break FFS


18 people like this
Posted by @unimpressed
a resident of Mayfield
on Feb 3, 2019 at 8:28 pm

Exactly what the council wants to do regarding climate change at the city level! Is this yet typical politician's default talking points like mentioning climate change, bathroom signs or something anti-trump!

If you are serious, for the starter, maybe you should simply promote one cause like electric car usage and electricity rate discount for charging EVs. Requiring solar panels in new building do not scale, but assisting the development of large solar farms (or even safe nuclear power generators) may actually help.


13 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 3, 2019 at 8:42 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Maybe we can reduce council by another 29 percent.


15 people like this
Posted by Shuttler
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 3, 2019 at 10:32 pm

Please add more shuttles for high schoolers!


22 people like this
Posted by Swiss John
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 3, 2019 at 10:54 pm

Excellent priorities!! I think the best way to fight climate change is to increase the cost of owning a car, like charging more for parking in downtown for example. The city would have more money to invest in initiatives for the climate. And by the way, It would be amazing to turn University Avenue into a pedestrian street!


23 people like this
Posted by bike commuter
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 4, 2019 at 10:44 am

if climate change was on the table, I'd like to throw in "world peace" too.


4 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 4, 2019 at 10:50 am

Polar vortex affecting a large part of the country. Where's that global warming when you need it?


33 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 4, 2019 at 11:25 am

Annette is a registered user.

Disclosure: I didn't attend. But I am skeptical about climate change being a priority over re-building public trust. In an 11-month stretch of time in a community that is already dedicated to doing what it can realistically do vis-à-vis climate change, it is interesting that CC would prioritize an enormous undertaking that is arguably more in the purview of the federal government over a more organic (and much needed) one such as rebuilding public trust.

Trust is intrinsic to everything. The public is much more likely to support the climate change recommendations of a CC and City Hall that it trusts than that it does not trust.

But since they chose as they did, how about approaching the building industry to re-purpose and recycle more? I cannot prove this, but I'm guessing tenant improvement projects have a huge carbon footprint. And what about tech packaging? We are obliged to pay for bags at grocery stores if we do not bring our own, yet each Apple product (for example, Apple is hardly the only over-packager) arrives in layers and layers of packaging. Some of which is vexingly difficult to open!

And then there are all the wasteful landfill-bound election campaign materials. I'd rather candidates relied on public meetings and debates to get elected instead of purchasing name recognition and littering our environment with a bunch of glossy promotional materials. If CC is serious about focusing on climate change, how about making lawn signs and campaign flyers illegal? Or is that cutting too close to the bone?


14 people like this
Posted by Grassroots efforts and climate change
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 4, 2019 at 12:11 pm

Grassroots efforts and climate change is a registered user.

In a moment when the President of the United States says he doesn't believe in climate change, grassroots efforts to make a dent in the problem are a way we can help to ensure that we leave our children and grandchildren a planet that will sustain them in the future.

Transportation is the largest producer of greenhouse gases in the Bay Area. That is directly related to choices we make, as individuals, on a daily basis. Change starts locally, with each of us considering our impact on the planet as we make daily choices about transportation.

As our planet struggles to sustain us under the growing weight of human activity and as our local population ages, alternatives to driving solo need to be more convenient. Buses, trains, bicycles, our own two feet, ride sharing...are all part of the solution. Preserving the blessing of a healthy planet requires our collective effort. That work starts at home--regardless of what Washington is or is not doing about it.


17 people like this
Posted by John G.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 4, 2019 at 12:36 pm

John G. is a registered user.

I do not agree with all the chosen priorities, but no short list of priorities could please every Palo Alto resident. I am particularly sad that restoring trust in local government did not make the list, given the dramatic decline shown in the annual citizen survey.

The simplest action Council can take to start restoring this trust is to establish an independent review of their progress toward these priorities mid-year. I propose Council select 6 resident leaders who invested their time to attend Saturday’s meeting to meet and produce a report on Council’s progress in July of this year. This kind of “citizen auditor” function would be an incentive to help council focus on delivering results for these priorities.

If you like this idea, please write to council to voice your support.


5 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2019 at 1:41 pm

> I propose Council select 6 resident leaders who invested their time
> to attend Saturday’s meeting to meet and produce a report on Council’s
> progress in July of this year.

Why exclude all of the rest of Palo Alto from such a committee? Just because one did not attend this Council Merry-Go-Round should not exclude other people from contributing to such an audit.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 4, 2019 at 2:10 pm

When I hop into my car to "drive solo" I never, ever think of the impact I am having on the environment and how walking or riding a bus might be a better option because of some inexplicable, nebulous, virtuous reason. Sorry, but my mind doesn't work that way and there's nothing you can say to change it.


29 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 4, 2019 at 2:38 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

One of the worst causes of pollution is the manufacture of concrete. For all the "virtue signalling" I don't see any mention of reducing new development.


6 people like this
Posted by Riding Works
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 4, 2019 at 3:08 pm

@Midtown resident
Fortunately, there are lot’s of people who do think about climate and other impacts before they jump into cars. I feel a pretty strong obligation to not leave this planet as toast for our children and future grandchildren.
On top of climate impacts from usually biking, my wife and I get almost daily exercise, we are refreshed when we arrive, and we usually get to our destinations in town faster door to door than if we had driven and parked.
But not everyone can ride or would choose to. The good news is that each rider makes more room on the road for drivers who are stuck in traffic and they free up parking spaces for those who drive.


12 people like this
Posted by Rose
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 4, 2019 at 5:41 pm

Rose is a registered user.

"When I hop into my car to "drive solo" I never, ever think of the impact I am having on the environment and how walking or riding a bus might be a better option because of some inexplicable, nebulous, virtuous reason. Sorry, but my mind doesn't work that way and there's nothing you can say to change it."

Well -- it's clear that you're the problem. THERE IS NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT THAN ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE. THAT MEANS YOU -- DINOSAUR!


19 people like this
Posted by Carol K
a resident of University South
on Feb 4, 2019 at 5:44 pm

Several people have stated that mitigating climate change is not an appropriate priority for city. Like "Grassroots efforts and climate change" I disagree.

There is no time to wait for solutions from higher jurisdictions. After all, do you really expect our climate-change-denier-in-chief to help?

There is hope in acting locally, and sharing experience and effort with people in other localities. Cities around the country and the world are declaring climate change an emergency (cf. WWII) and working to reduce emissions, among other things. Surely big changes in development are crucial (thanks "margaret heath"and "annette"), regardless of opposition from land owners. PACC is correct in prioritizing climate. Now citizens need to support this and advocate for the very urgent steps which may not be convenient for big business.



11 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 4, 2019 at 5:48 pm

What happened to addressing airplane noise?


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2019 at 5:49 pm

Sometimes things just work against you. Plans were in San Francisco on Saturday and the original plan had been to use Caltrain. Unfortunately, due to Caltrain using a bus bridge/or switch to BART, and the heavy rain, it was a no brainer. We used the car.

Sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.


32 people like this
Posted by Leaf Cover
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 4, 2019 at 5:56 pm

Palo Alto can double or triple its leaf cover as a commitment to climate change. Compare the old growth tree cover in the Old PA neighborhood with midtown - midtown is noticeably bereft of trees. Similarly, many of our parks and schools have vast amounts of land without tree cover.

Simply put: Dramatically increase the number of trees all over the city: neighborhoods, streets, downtwon, cal ave, parks, schools, etc.

Trees sequester carbon, cool the environment, produce oxygen, reduce traffic noise, provide homes to birds, insects and animals.

More trees in Palo Alto!


29 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 4, 2019 at 7:25 pm

Sanctimonious City is a registered user.

Of course the city does not want to address crime as a priority.

It would only be an admission that the Liberal Progressive policies (E.G. Open borders, globalized economics, the breakdown of the nuclear family, generous entitlements, permissive drug use and a rejection of organized religion) here have brought the same disastrous outcomes they achieved everywhere else they were tried.

However, when the PAonline homepage starts to look like Google Maps because of all the crime incidents then maybe it is time for a reality check.

Hint: Socialism is not the answer.


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2019 at 9:03 pm

All valid points.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2019 at 11:43 am

Now that NY Congressional Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has offered her vision of a "Green in America" .. will the Palo Alto City Council get on her bandwagon and endorse her plan?

If they don't, what does that mean about their commitment to their newly chosen priorities?


2 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 8, 2019 at 1:21 pm

Climate change a priority? A free Tesla for every PA resident! Yay!


2 people like this
Posted by Blor
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 8, 2019 at 2:05 pm

Crime isn't that bad compared to what it's been historically:
Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 8, 2019 at 3:15 pm

^ Crime is always worse when you are the victim.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

 

Register now!

On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

More Info