WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE ... In what has long been an annual tradition in Palo Alto, the Benjamin Lefkowitz undercrossing at Adobe Creek shut down late last month for the rainy season. The tunnel typically reopens in April, but that won't happen this time around. With the council recently approving the construction contract for the city's new bike bridge over U.S. Highway 101, city officials are expecting an "extended closure" for the underpass. A key goal of the bridge project is to make the underpass obsolete. Once the bridge is completed, it will give bicyclists and pedestrians a year-round route over U.S. Highway 101 and into the Baylands. According to the city's blog, construction of the $23.2-million bridge will begin in January 2020, with completion anticipated in June 2021. The new bridge will be prefabricated off-site and, once ready, hoisted over the highway overnight, according to the city.
ERRORS OF COMMISSION ... Palo Alto's elected leaders tend to be circumspect when confronted with cases in which their volunteer commissioners engage in questionable behavior. Even when shown evidence that a planning commissioner has benefited from a zone change that they participated in crafting, the response has been collective silence. This week, resident Fred Balin reiterated his concerns about Planning and Transportation Commissioner Michael Alcheck's continued presence on the commission, despite his involvement in creating a policy on garage designs — a policy that helped him build garages on his own Duveneck-St. Francis properties despite the city's initial determination that these structures are illegal. Balin, who conducted his own investigation of Alcheck's actions and released a 112-page report earlier this year, has been calling for months for the City Council to remove Alcheck from the commission. The council's current procedures state that concerns about an individual board or commission member should be "pursued with tact." "If a Council member has concerns with a particular board or commission member fulfilling his or her roles and responsibilities and is comfortable in talking with that individual privately, the council member should do so," the rules state. On Monday, Dec. 9, the council will consider possible changes to its rules. According to a report from City Manager Ed Shikada, the council will consider topics such as the relationship between commissioners and the council and the role of council liaisons. One of the questions listed in Shikada's report is: "Should expectations of board/commission members be clarified, with definitions to elements such as qualifications, term limits, recusals and disclosures, attendance, conduct and a process for removal?"
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