Guest Opinion: Please open Foothills Park to all | June 19, 2020 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - June 19, 2020

Guest Opinion: Please open Foothills Park to all

by Geoff Paulsen

As a member of the Lee family who owned the property that became Foothills Park and as a park ranger who worked there for seven years, I hope to show you, the residents of Palo Alto, why the current exclusionary admission policy must change.

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Geoff Paulsen is a board member of Canopy who lives in Cupertino. You can email him at [email protected]

Comments

11 people like this
Posted by Karen Peterson Willard
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 19, 2020 at 7:58 am

I agree 100% with Geoff Paulson, I was lucky to have been one of his classmates at Gunn High School. I grow up in Barron Park and even though my drivers license said Palo Alto we were excluded from going to Foothill Park because Barron Park actually was considered county as it was not annexed into Palo ALto until 1975. We managed to still get in but on occasion we got turned away at the gate. It is sad that Palo Alto has chosen to keep Foothill Park exclusive for it's residents only. It is truly a wonderful and special place. I would gladly pay an entrance fee. Please open the park to all. As Geoff stated "This exclusionary policy was never my grandmother's intent"


80 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 19, 2020 at 8:07 am

The current policy is not exclusionary, it is inclusive to all Palo Alto residents. Palo Alto is a diverse city with all races / incomes, unlike Los Altos Hills and other surrounding cities that have 1 acre+ minimum parcel sizes and no affordable housing. Keep Foothills for Palo Alto, not for rich Los Altos Hills neighbors.

Also it strikes me as interesting that the Lee family sold the property to Palo Alto for $1.3 million over 50 years ago, now they feel they should have a say in how the property is used. That's not how it works. The Lee family could have opened their own park rather than selling to Palo Alto for a giant sum and turned it into a park managed by them, using whatever admission rules they chose. They did not do that, they cashed out at the expense of the Palo Alto taxpayer. Now they want to dictate admission terms to the park. No chance.


26 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2020 at 9:14 am

As a frequent visitor to the park for a long time, I have seen that it is well used and question how they know the number of visitors since I rarely see anyone at the gate, even at weekends until at least mid morning when there are many people coming in during the week and earlier than the rangers are there at weekends.

I really enjoy seeing the deer, the turkeys, the rabbits, hearing the birdsong, enjoy all the flowers in spring and watching the rise and fall of the creeks. I see family groups, I see people celebrating birthdays, I see mens groups, womens groups, scouting groups, sitting in groups in the meadow or around a picnic table, all respecting the lore of nature interaction. I see people from all groups as diverse as I do anywhere else I hike.

But I do know that there are no cell signals in the park. I know that if there were an emergency it would be hard to alert all parkgoers of such emergency. With one exit to the road and one road which is heavily used by bikes too much traffic leaving Foothills while emergency vehicles were coming up the hill would be a disaster in the making.

A cap on the number of cars in the park at any one time makes sense. We must keep the status quo in respect to the numbers of people in the park. I would suggest a reservation plus per car charge for all non-residents who wish to use the park, while allowing PA residents access priority.

So to sum up my 2 points. First, it is well used and we do not need to crowd out the nature and secondly we have to look at what might need to be done in the case of a fire or earthquake?


5 people like this
Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 19, 2020 at 9:56 am

Geoff, thank you for your informative and articulate article.

Of course we should listen to you, and open the Park.

I also would like to know what happened in response to the environmental damage you described. Was the responsible party the City of Palo Alto? If so, Palo Alto owes it to your family to our community -- our *greater* community -- to remedy what we can.

Thank you again.


53 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 19, 2020 at 10:19 am

"They ended up giving about 1,000 of the park's 1,400 acres to the city for $1,000 per acre."

That's not "giving." That's selling.


50 people like this
Posted by pl
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 19, 2020 at 10:56 am

It's really interesting how caucasians deal with their guilt by acting against their own interests and the interest of others. Perhaps the whites backing this need to work through some issues in therapy about racism, guilt and privilege?

Palo Alto has a large non-white population and I would bet will it be majority nonwhite in the next few years. The park is already totally ruined due to an influx of people after changes COVID has brought to this world. There is nothing at all racist about Foothill's policy, the only problem is with the psychological issues of privileged and guilty whites. Adding more crowds of people to this (formally) quiet and beautiful park would really not help anyone except some people sense of personal misplaced guilt and others racial entitlement.


64 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2020 at 3:57 pm

Please, if changing this type of long standing policy, place it on a future ballot. If the majority of residents favor the change, then so be it. No need to push changes without consideration of the larger set of issues ... budget?, maintenance?, liability?, conservation?. Don't let a vocal minority set city policy.


30 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 19, 2020 at 4:45 pm

I read the article and it introduced some concerns. The property that the Lee family lived on has been logistically changed by bull dozing hills to create the lake - which leaks. And he spoke to mismanagement of the property regarding over watering and dying trees. Trees are what holds the land together. Why he picked the worse case issues regarding liability is his choice. However there are homes directly below which in a big earthquake may get a whole hill falling on them.

So he now lives in Cupertino and thinks he is directing city policy from his perch in another city that is not even contingent to FHP. But he does get Rancho San Antonio in the deal - it is in Cupertino.

I am reading the Enjoy catalog put out by Palo Alto. The city puts on a great set of programs to address every child and adult desire for entertainment which a city can provide. The city has a huge listing of parks. Rinconada and FH require reservations for large groups. The programs provided appear to be residents first, then open to other to fill in the required number of spaces. The only exception is FHP. Which the more we now know the more that makes sense.

Rebecca - you are suppose to be a lawyer. The position you just expressed makes no sense. It is backwards. The family sold the property to the city - that is the end of their legal relationship to the property. They are done. We are now the legal insurer of what ever happens up there. The city is on the hook now for any issues regarding liability for that property. The policy regrading the park use is clearly stated in the Enjoy catalog - page 55 and makes perfect sense. That is the legal starting point for the transactions regarding that property.

And any resident is fully capable to invite up to 15 guests. So residents - invite away. I am sure that who ever the initial complainers are have friends they can come in with - if they will invite you and pay for you.

And the author appears to be a paid ranger so his ability to be on the property is his job.


4 people like this
Posted by No, PA must bear full $ responsibility
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 19, 2020 at 4:55 pm

Do NOT throw the future costs of that train wreck of a Park.
Now, after generations, PA wants to pass on the costs to the excluded tax payers.

There is nothing in FH park that isn't available within a 15 min drive from the front gate, AND they've not been "created' and sanitized to death like FHP.If they opened it, I would not use it. I've been there and have seen all it has to offer. It-is-not-unique.
PA can keep it as well as keeping the costs.


8 people like this
Posted by Rich Lee
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2020 at 9:14 am

My cousin Geoff Paulsen has a point, despite his emphasis on the social justice thing. If they open the park to non-residents, charge an appropriate fee and have someone always at the gate to collect those fees it might work. If, like in the national parks they do this to track overall use, and if it gets too crowded, turn people away (including residents)then the actual impact will be the same, or possibly less. I don't go there on weekends, but have ridden my bike through numerous times on weekday afternoons and have never seen more than 30 cars in the entire park from Vista Hill to the HQ.

Speaking of cars, have they extended the free Palo Alto shuttle buses (with multi-bike racks)to the Park? That would reduce some of the car/bike congestion and near-misses on lower Page Mill Rd. While they are at it, continue the shuttle up to Montebello & Los Trancos open space lots to reduce the number of drivers who can't cope with the 2000' of steepness and (over 100) curves on Page Mill Rd......once people are riding buses again.

Regarding the wildfire issue. Take the course and get certified in wildland fire risk assessment and you will notice that there are plenty of safe spaces in Foothill Park that are ideal to "shelter in place" as you watch all the houses in Los Altos Hills spread a fire from one home to the next. You are better off there than trying to escape down Page Mill Rd. with all the other panicked drivers. FYI, if you must escape there is an alternate route that runs through the Arrillaga property out to Los Trancos Rd. that can be opened in an emergency.

Yes, the issue with the land and the Lee Family is "done" and we are no longer entitled to anything regarding Foothill Park. That doesn't negate the connection some of us have with the land for over 60 years. Regardless of whether it is opened to us outsiders, I would like to see my grandmother's name attached to it. We have Ester Clark Park, Pearson-Arastradero Preserve, why not "Dorothy Lee-Foothills Park/Preserve"? If it were not for her, the place would be another version of Los Alto Hills and none of us would have the place to enjoy or argue over.

Rich Lee M.D.
Founder/Medical Director, Hometown Healthcare
Medical Director, South Skyline Emergency Preparedness Organization


51 people like this
Posted by PA Grandmother
a resident of Mayfield
on Jun 21, 2020 at 9:16 am

I'm a little confused here. Say I want to buy a fixer-upper home, and I invite friends to share in the expenses, labor, and profits. The friends decline. So I fix it up by myself.

They can't come running back later demanding that I share the lovely home I've created.

I might - if I were feeling magnanimous - choose to allow them to share for a reasonable fee to offset expenses, but I'd want to consult with my heirs and get their opinion.

This is a voter issue, and shouldn't be up for debate by non-residents who have no stake in the park.


7 people like this
Posted by @PA Grandmother
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2020 at 11:48 am

Do you never visit another city's park or facilities, should they tell you the story you told when you try?


7 people like this
Posted by @@Pa Grandmother
a resident of Mayfield
on Jun 21, 2020 at 1:33 pm

It would not occur to me to try to crash private facilities in the first place, whether it's a swimming pool, country club, or retail members-only store.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jun 21, 2020 at 3:14 pm

I've lived in Palo Alto for 50 years, and in all that time, I have rarely seen Foothills Park anything close to being crowded -- not even in the past two months. I've been there on lovely Saturday afternoons in August and seen it all but deserted. I have been asked to show my proof of residence only a few times over the years. I have never really understood why it isn't open to everyone-- maybe with a small entrance fee, to cover the cost of a ranger to cap the number of cars allowed in, just in case people suddenly start showing up!

I do agree with the comment that improved cell phone service is advisable, in case of emergencies.


28 people like this
Posted by Mashhood Rassam
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 22, 2020 at 7:53 am

My understanding is that Palo Alto has repeatedly asked other towns to contribute to the upkeep of Foothills Park, in exchange for letting their residents used it. Those other towns have refused to pay for the upkeep of the Park. If they refuse to share the responsibility for the Park's upkeep, then their residents should not be able to use the Park. Of course, the Park should be opened up to programs that serve underprivileged children.


37 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 22, 2020 at 9:30 am

Posted by Resident, a resident of St. Claire Gardens

>> I've lived in Palo Alto for 50 years, and in all that time, I have rarely seen Foothills Park anything close to being crowded -- not even in the past two months.

I'm a frequent user of the park, and, my experience is completely opposite to yours. What are the odds?

>> I've been there on lovely Saturday afternoons in August and seen it all but deserted.

You mean two years ago when visibility was 100 yards because of smoke, and fire danger was extreme. It was almost deserted, for good reason. But, not because of lack of demand. 15-20 years ago, there were times when the park was "underutilized", but, in recent years, there have been lots of people, even on weekday mornings.

>> maybe with a small entrance fee, to cover the cost of a ranger to cap the number of cars allowed in, just in case people suddenly start showing up!

When we were charging a fee, the rangers said they hated sitting there and collecting the fee all day every day. And, my understanding at the time was that the revenue collected did not cover the cost of collecting it.

In any case, the park is extremely busy on weekends now, with cars filling the upper lots (always room down at the bottom unless there is a special event, which, COVID-19, there isn't now) and cars parking along the main road (usually wrong-way) by the lake-- which, I don't understand, because there is usually room in the lot just up towards the hilltop.

Regardless, the park was busy before COVID-19, and, now, on a Saturday afternoon, they really need to get the cars under control and parking correctly.

On the trails, you are seldom out of shouting distance from the next party. But, I like the one-way trail setup on the Los Trancos trail; it generally keeps family groups separated from each other most of the time.

So, no, there isn't extra room in the park any more.


21 people like this
Posted by eyeswideopen
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 22, 2020 at 10:47 am

If we want a ranger nightmare and another San Antonio Reserve situation with crowds, sure, open it up on weekends and regret it. I say keep open to all mid-week as now and closed to all but Palo Alto Residents on weekends. It is a wild park and the environment cannot take crowds--PA residents or otherwise. Monitoring this will be impossible without lots more money spent to do it.
This knee jerk reaction to the current situation does not take into account the natural world. While not a "nature reserve", the park is also not a typical city park--the animals and plants are important here.


9 people like this
Posted by Midtown Local
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2020 at 11:15 am

The exclusionary policy of Foothills Park is an embarrassment. What other city or county park around here excludes non-residents? It's well past time to put aside the ancient history of who originally funded the park and become as welcoming as ALL of the other parks in the area are. Crowd control is a detail that can be handled in a variety of ways; it's hardly a showstopper once we decide to do the right thing.


19 people like this
Posted by Lee Thé
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 22, 2020 at 11:32 am

The demand that Foothills Park be opened to nonresidents represents the cream of Palo Alto's virtue-signaling crop. (along with a descendant of the family that sold it to Palo Alto for a fat profit in today's dollars) How dare Palo Altans grind our less-affluent neighbors under our collective boot heel? It's an outrage!
Really? Have any surrounding towns been crying salty tears over this issue? Have any of them volunteered to chip in on FHP's maintenance costs in exchange for their residents being admitted? Los Altos? Los Altos Hills? Mountain View? Menlo Park? East Palo Alto?

I'm hearing crickets. And note that East Palo Alto is rapidly gentrifying. Average home price there is nearly a million dollars, and that's for small homes.

But sure, let's make the rounds again and ask. We could give EPA a discount if that makes you feel better. Even though no would would chip in back in the day, they certainly can make up for it now.

Meanwhile none of the "throw it open" proponents seem to be aware of the fact that Palo Alto built many other parks—more than our neighboring towns--and every one of them is open to one and all, except for Foothills Park.
Have you ever visited, say, Mitchell Park in the summer? It's chock full o' folks from neighboring towns, hogging the barbecue pits and tables.

The nearby parks that are most like Foothills are Huddart and Sanborn. Both charge a nominal $6 per car fee to use the park and they let anyone in. That's another option, and it's a common one. Nearly all of California's state parks charge a similar day use fee. That’ll help keep up the park, let us find out who's using it when and how much, and it will salve the exquisitely refined consciences of Palo Alto’s moral elite.

But if you really want to do something for our less affluent neighbors, unify the Palo Alto Unified School District with that of East Palo Alto.

Any takers? Or do you prefer minor egalitarian symbolism?


37 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 22, 2020 at 11:56 am

Put it on the ballot and let the tax paying citizens of Palo Alto decide. The voters, not the City Council should have the final say so on this issue. No one will suffer if the park remains exclusive to residents.


10 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 22, 2020 at 12:25 pm

I have visited many parks in other communities. For example, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Monterey, San Jose. No one turns me away because I live in Palo Alto.

If nothing else, ending this exclusionary policy shows that Palo Alto is willing to share along with others.


20 people like this
Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2020 at 12:47 pm

Foothills Park is a relatively pristine environment and serves as a preserve for wildlife of all sizes from butterflies to mountain lions, as well as plants ranging from oaks hundreds of years old to many varieties of wildflowers, lichens, fungi, etc. The park is not underused by these organisms, and every human footstep and presence, every auto driving around, every dog takes a toll. Opening up the park to more visitors must be carefully thought out and managed in a fair way. It's absolutely not OK simply to open the gates and let large numbers of folks overrun the park, no matter what the political pressure.


27 people like this
Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on Jun 22, 2020 at 12:55 pm

There are plenty of parks just up Page Mill Road and they are free. There is no lack of opportunity to enjoy nature nearby — from state parks to county parks to open space districts. Keep Foothills Park for the very diverse Palo Alto citizens whose tax dollars maintain it.


22 people like this
Posted by voter
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 22, 2020 at 1:02 pm

Put it to a vote (like in a democracy) and see what Palo Alto residents think about donating their park. I bet you would be surprised


13 people like this
Posted by NatureBoy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 1:13 pm

Personally, I'd rather see Foothills Park closed to everyone, including Palo Altans, than opened to everyone.

The death of our environment is not a joke. Nor is the decimation of nature something we can just keep pushing and pushing on forever. Look at some maps that show development over time. Nature will be lucky if it is able to survive with humans encroaching and keeping taking or killing bits and pieces of it over the future.

If anything we should be tearing down our over-encroachment and making new parks allowing nature to come back.


5 people like this
Posted by mjc
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 22, 2020 at 1:24 pm

During the week the entrance gate to Foothill Park is not staffed and entrance is on the honor system. If Palo Alto were to open Foothill Park to non-residents during the week are proponents of opening the park to non-residents for a visitor fee recommending that there would still be no need to staff the entrance gate to check cars in? Or are they assuming that entrance fees will cover the cost of full-time staffing? And if so, how much will each will Palo Alto charge each visitor to cover that cost? ?

Or are proponents assuming that Palo Altans will cover any additional cost of staffing the entrance gate full time so they can visit have access to Foothill Park? Have proponents worked out how much this will cost Palo Altons?

With current budget cuts does adding the cost for non-residents to have access to the park make sense when the city manager is recommending budgets cuts which will reduce the fire and EMT response time?


11 people like this
Posted by Sarah Gage
a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2020 at 2:02 pm

I grew up in the area, and I agree with Geoff. Palo Alto's other parks are open to the public, are they not?


6 people like this
Posted by EPA, yes. Los Altos Hills and Portola Valley, no.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 22, 2020 at 2:29 pm

I have no problem offering access to East Palo Alto residents. I DO have a problem offering it to Los Altos Hills and Portola Valley who are no longer young communities. They are very wealthy and perfectly able now to help with the maintenance and liability costs associated with the Foothills. Geographically speaking, they will have better access to the park than I do as a Palo Alto resident. It's a serious bike ride or drive for me to get there. The park is in their backyard. East PA is another matter.

Maintaining that space is expensive. The more people who visit , the more maintenance and insurance we have to pay for. Let's offer the good people of Los Altos Hills and Portola Valley an opportunity to pay a fair share now and see if they are willing to help. EPA residents can have access, in my opinion. They have neither funds nor space to create such open space for their residents. Their need is real. Their inability to help share the cost is also real. That is not the case with Los Altos Hills and Portola Valley.


Like this comment
Posted by Green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 22, 2020 at 2:46 pm

What group drove Hetch-Hetchy water to fill the lake at Foothill Park during the drought? Surely not the City of Palo Alto employees. Was it driven from Crystal Springs up the Peninsula or from Yosemite?


4 people like this
Posted by Midtown Local
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2020 at 2:57 pm

Does Portola Valley exclude Palo Alto residents from using Windy Hill or Coal Mine Ridge? No.


14 people like this
Posted by Green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 22, 2020 at 3:08 pm

Windy Hill and Coal Mine Ridge are Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. The District's tax and voter base consists of about 550 square miles and 741,000 people, mostly in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.


12 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 22, 2020 at 3:12 pm

> "When the citizens of Palo Alto voted to buy Foothills Park in 1959, lynching was still a frequent practice in the United States." -- first sentence in the final section "The time for change is now"

Between 1950 and 1968, there were 13 lynchings -- 9 blacks and 4 whites. Between 1959 and 1963, there were 3. 1964 saw the last lynching, of 3 civil rights workers - Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner (1 black, 2 whites).
Source: Web Link
How is this "a frequent practice"???

The last lynching in this region was in 1933 in San Jose of two (white) suspects in the kidnap-murder of Brooke Hart.


2 people like this
Posted by Jim H
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 22, 2020 at 3:54 pm

I hope City Council can give us 2 metrics
1. How much per capita does each Palo Altan pay in taxes for all costs of the park?
2. How many park visits per year for 2018 and 2019 by Palo Altans.
With this info each Palo Altan can figure out what he/she pays for each park visit.
If we add in historical costs purchasing, building etc. then this should give us some idea of what we would have to charge for non residents that aren't paying taxes for this.


14 people like this
Posted by Jim H
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 22, 2020 at 4:05 pm

I'd like to repeat what many others have said. This has NOTHING to do with social justice issues. The most likely outside users of the park are wealthy Los Altos residents. All of our normal city parks are free and available to residents of any other city.

I don't even see why we would offer this access (for what in exchange?). But we need to have a citywide vote of the taxpayers that support this park, not just a City Council feel good giveaway.


17 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 22, 2020 at 4:06 pm

Oh boy! Rebecca Eisenberg sounded like a good candidate until I read her fact-free comment in response to Mr. Paulsen's Guest Opinion in the Weekly. And I'd like to emphasize "Guest Opinion". As others have stated, his family having sold the property, he has no right to opine on what people who NOW live here wish done with the park. And I 100% agree that the democratic way to handle these differences of opinion about Foothills Park would be putting this on the ballot


1 person likes this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 22, 2020 at 4:09 pm

@ EPA yes ... EPA is doing a lot better than you think. Facebook and Amazon money are contributing a lot to development in the area. With good planning, they'll do just fine. As a previous poster stated, it's becoming gentrified.


13 people like this
Posted by Hal
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 22, 2020 at 5:00 pm

I enjoy the privacy of our park. One of a handful of reasons why my wife and I stretched ourselves thin so we could barely afford a 1200 sq.ft. box built in the early 1950's. My concern is use of resources of the park by others. I enjoy fishing and have watched my children and friends children catch fish at the park. Opening it up to non residents sets the lake up for over fishing and removal of a resource that currently is in limited supply. Lakeside bbq facilities consists of only two grills and benches. Open to public and the opportunity for use will become rather competitive. I do not want to go to "our" park sharing facilities and resources that others do not value. Charging a fee won't work, they tried it and it failed. Like over 1/2 dozen have said, put it on the ballot and see what happens.


12 people like this
Posted by Kenneth
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 22, 2020 at 8:56 pm

If you think opening the park to everyone won't create problems, ask why the old Dumbarton bridge was closed to fishing. Great spot until the gangs and non resident losers started dumping bodies, building fires on bridge , shootings and breaking into cars. If you value this park, don't open it to everyone. You like the fireworks in EPA? Think the same will happen if you open park to everyone? Not saying all are losers but generally those who pay for something have a greater respect for it . I certainly am not a fan of giving away something that we pay so much to have. Other communities have parks. Let them create the same we have paid for.


9 people like this
Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 22, 2020 at 10:37 pm

The history lesson is interesting and all, but when was the last time he actually visited the park on a weekend? It's very crowded now, with even traffic safety issues becoming more common. As for visitors not causing the majority of environmental damage, well, visitors do cause "damage" to the parts visitors use (but okay, call it wear and tear). As it is now, sections of the trails are in need of repair. Because yes, surprise surprise, people using trails causes damage to the trails. And in many spots the drop-offs are pretty significant. Maybe an entry free ($6 like at Huddart?) would help, but somebody would have to figure out a new budget and funding during this time of austerity. Just saying "open it to all" is irresponsible at best, cynical at worst. The park will be worse for all if the money isn't there to support more people.


9 people like this
Posted by Park
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 22, 2020 at 11:07 pm

Putting it to ballot!


21 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2020 at 7:31 am

Here comes the reality. The City Council wiped money out of park maintenance. We are losing city employees. Our parks are going to suffer from lack of funds.

Now is not the time to suggest altering anything to Foothills Park. The money is not there to introduce a reservation system or to collect park fees. As it is, rangers are not on the gates until mid morning. There are barely enough parking spots at weekends for the numbers of cars coming in at weekends and cars are parking wherever and at times that causes problems. The trash is not being emptied as I have seen overflowing trash containers on my latest trips, and that was something I had never seen before.

Virtue signalling is not a good reason for spending the necessary money to make any changes to the resident rule.


3 people like this
Posted by gary m
a resident of Ventura
on Jun 23, 2020 at 9:36 am

Palo Alto developed foothill park by our selves while other municipality and counties turned down the opportunity to assist is its development as a regional park. I say Foothills park is like our library system for Palo Altoans. If out of towners want to use the park they can pay an entrance fee of$10.00 or more. I pay at Hudder park and state parks and national parks too, so out of towners can pay at our park. Further more if we cant afford to maintain Foothill park let go back to the wild.


2 people like this
Posted by commons
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 23, 2020 at 4:05 pm

Public spaces are for the common good and we all use the common public spaces built and maintained by other communities. The exclusionary rationales here sound terribly dated and exclusionary, and all the problems can be solved. Or, if they can't be solved, if we can't afford to have a public park, close it for a year or two.


1 person likes this
Posted by Mother
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 28, 2020 at 12:29 pm

Park attendance in the 70's was 370,000/year. Current attendance is 100,000/year. Capacity of the park is 1,000/day; this info is from the committee that crafted the pilot project. I encourage people to read the pilot program put forward to the city council. Also, Pastor Smith from Palo Alto's AME church told us, in his op ed piece, ways the Palo Alto Community could be more welcoming. Top of his list was opening Foothills Park to non-residents. Pastor Smith also serves on the Human Relations Committee, dedicating his time and energy to making Palo Alto a better community. So, let's see if we can put aside our negative feelings about who funded buying the park and who refused to participate. Families have been sheltering in place since March 16. I don't have young children and can't imagine what it is like to make sure your child does well with School online, without being able to see many of their friend's and being 'stuck' inside for months. We can extend a helping hand by offering another opportunity for outdoor activities, to our neighboring communities east of our town, forgetting our grudge with our neighbors west of us. In fact, let's open the park and make sure that we actively invite our neighbors to come and enjoy nature. Pastor Smith has given us some answers, let's listen.


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2020 at 2:31 pm

Posted by rsmithjr, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis

>> If nothing else, ending this exclusionary policy shows that Palo Alto is willing to share along with others.

Many of us who have been here a long time feel like the park is the last vestige of semi-quiet, the last Palo Alto refuge from the aura of noise and dust and traffic created by the Venture Capitalists and Developers and their minions and fellow travelers, who are intent on destroying the Peninsula as we know it, and, re-making it into Manhattan West.

Not every engineer and programmer has to work right here. Hewlett-Packard demonstrated how to manage satellite campuses very effectively 50 years ago, and, it worked well until the beancounters destroyed the company.


1 person likes this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 28, 2020 at 2:42 pm

"Many of us who have been here a long time feel like the park is the last vestige of semi-quiet, the last Palo Alto refuge from the aura of noise and dust and traffic created by the Venture Capitalists ..."

You were here before 1961?

"Hewlett-Packard demonstrated how to manage satellite campuses very effectively 50 years ago"

And look at them today. Not a great example of management.


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2020 at 2:51 pm

@Me2:

I don't comprehend what you are trying to say. HP began work on the Loveland, CO facility in *1960*, 60 years ago, and opened it in 1962. Imagine.

Web Link

And, HP was doing well when it was broken up by the beancounters.

>> And look at them today. Not a great example of management.

Not for the last 21 years, which, not coincidentally, was when the beancounters started breaking up the company.


1 person likes this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 28, 2020 at 4:31 pm

"I don't comprehend what you are trying to say."

VCs have been around since the late 50's. Davis and Rock was founding in 1961. Since you're claiming VC culpability, you must have been here before they started, right?


1 person likes this
Posted by Tammi
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 28, 2020 at 5:39 pm


I live in Greenmeadow. We charge a fee for others to use our area. Like over $1000 a year. Works for us. We control all the rules and make a pretty penny as well. Open Foothills and charge a bundle and it will work.


1 person likes this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2020 at 7:21 pm

Posted by Me 2, a resident of Old Palo Alto

>> VCs have been around since the late 50's. Davis and Rock was founding in 1961.

They were *around*, but, had very little mindspace prior to the late 70's, and, it wasn't until the mid-80's that VC financing was always in the conversation. Then, downturn, recession, and it took a while to build back up. From the late 90's, the VC's (and MBAs) have always been in the conversation.

I took a look at the Wikipedia article on the history of Venture Capital. Pretty much the way I remember it. Web Link

>> Since you're claiming VC culpability, you must have been here before they started, right?

Multiple non sequiturs in your last couple of sentences. I still have no idea where you are trying to go with this.

In the meantime, yes, HP figured out how to run satellite campuses over 50 years ago. Now, everyone should be thinking about it.


12 people like this
Posted by Grew Up Here
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2020 at 1:54 am

I went to the Foothills Park camp in 1976 as an elementary school student. I also went there on weekends with my family. It was always so special to go to the park that we, as Palo Altans, owned. Ever since our parks and Rinconada pool opened to non-residents, they have been busier than ever. We pay such high taxes and non-residents are using our resources.

With the 200 airplanes plaguing Palo Alto and the massive amount of cut-through commuters (Palo Alto swelled to 200,000 during the weekdays, prior to lockdown), we need our own park to escape to for peace and quiet. Our busy skies, our busy streets, vehicle dwellers parked on our streets, homeless in our downtown, our parks, our pool, our libraries, our tennis courts, our soccer fields, so much is being used by non-residents and we pay such high taxes. Let us at least keep our FH park; whether it is underused or not, it's there for us when we want it. And yes, there should be a person in the front booth at all times. Budget issues for one person sitting there? I doubt it.


8 people like this
Posted by We need our silence
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 29, 2020 at 2:26 am

Palo Altans are introverts and intellectuals, not extroverts. We prefer being around less people. We own it; let us decide.


5 people like this
Posted by Ancient Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 29, 2020 at 2:56 am

I’ve been a resident for nearly 65 years and never imagined seeing so many fellow citizens disagree with one another over access to the last piece of relatively unspoiled land.
I never imagined traffic jams in rural Half Moon Bay, or seeing crowds of hikers going up the Stanford Dish. Entering this area was forbidden in the 70's.
It is sad that we can’t finally come to some kind of agreement.
Over-population is terrible thing.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 29, 2020 at 5:39 am

I have used Foothills regularly for hiking for over 30 years. Over that time, attendance has declined gradually (although it is now up during our emergency restrictions ) so that the the only time it is busy is during the warm season weekends. Most users are not hikers.
Most of the posters here seem to think that the proposal is to completely open the park. Actually, the Parks and Rec Commission has made a pretty modest recommendation which is a trial program to open it to a maximum of 50 nonresident vehicles per day and to charge nonresidents.
Also, the Environmental Volunteers have offered to help staff the nature center and provide other support which should obviate additional staffing needs.
Lastly, in response to the poster who asserted that Palo Altans are introverts - I wish.


10 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 29, 2020 at 7:28 pm

Any time someone has a "pilot program" you will never get to undo it if it does not work. It is the camel putting his nose under the tent. Parks and Rec have a great program which is very extensive. And all the person wants to talk about is FHP. Is that why he put himself on the commission? Was that his end goal? Why isn't anyone talking about all of the great programs for kids and adults. If you read the booklet put out by the city everyone will find a program they can participate in. Thank you to the city for doing a great job. No thank you to the people that started this with an agenda. And a person who threatened a law suit - hope you don't think you will live that one down the next time you provide an opinion on any subject.


3 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 1, 2020 at 9:14 am

Resident-1 is right.

We stopped the Ross road abomination, but the dangerous concrete clutter still sits there like a pile of — waiting for the next cyclist to be hit. Will the city go back and remove their mistake? I’ll bet “no”.


1 person likes this
Posted by Stephen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 1, 2020 at 2:19 pm

@We need our silence: I would suppose that "intellectuals" would know when one is supposed to use "fewer" as opposed to "less".


1 person likes this
Posted by Charge Palo Altans
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 1, 2020 at 4:17 pm

Time for other cities to begin to show by example how 100% asinine this is and to start treating Palo Alto residents like the freeloading outsiders they are. "Pariah" is a good word.


9 people like this
Posted by We need our silence
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 1, 2020 at 4:29 pm

@Stephen: Ha, yes, you are correct, although it’s still “in the general area”. I don’t think our children are taught how to use a semicolon. Most PAUSD students these days are not taught any grammar and are not assigned papers because it’s too much work for the teachers to correct the papers, thus, they have classmates correct papers, as if a 6th grader has a B.A. Degree in English. Expect a Gen Z student to hardly know how to write a proper sentence because they are not being taught.


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 1, 2020 at 7:16 pm

~ 10 yeatrs ago it wasn’t a good system to have peers regularly review others’ papers at Paly, our era (I could see doing this twice for the experience, max). I agree the teacher should do most of the instruction, lecturing, leading, too. Emerge with something of substance: knowledge! Very secondary is the “process”


13 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 2, 2020 at 8:01 am

So now we have another article in the SJM about FHP. And of course it is not complimentary. It fails to mention that most parks are subsidized by the state and county vs our park which is paid for and maintained on city dollars. And to put a cap on it our mayor says that we are "a city full of rich people". Where does Adrian think he is at? Atherton? Woodside? Los Altos Hills?

My relatives came here during one of Europe's continual wars with each other - France vs Germany (Prussia). Every generation those two go at it. Adrian's heritage country is South Africa? A colony and territory of Great Britain? Now that is a classic rich vs poor country. Can't help any one else's heritage and what ever residual anger they have over prior generations' anger. That goes for a lot of our legislative reps who are mentioned in the article. Their heritage countries are filled with war stories from the Ottoman Empire to WW2.

Reality is that this city is diverse and filled with people of all economic positions. And if you all would fill the Fry's site with buildings for our teachers, fire and police, city staff then you all could fulfill the requirement for a more economically diverse population.

Our mayor's published statements of opinion of the city he is mayor of does not speak well of him and he should resign from his position. He does not represent this city in it's reality. He sounds like an angry person in a retribution mode.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 2, 2020 at 11:47 am

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow

>> Our mayor's published statements of opinion of the city he is mayor of does not speak well of him and he should resign from his position.

Here is the article:

Web Link

Resident 1, I agree with you. If he hates Palo Alto so much, then why is he on the City Council, let alone mayor?


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 2, 2020 at 11:58 am

The article is written with a bias.

I suspect that apart from some MV LAH LA and PV residents, most other nearby communities don't know about Foothills or particularly care.

Reading the comments, there is more information that should have been included in the article, such as the fact that the gate only has a residency check at weekends and not early in the am, and that it is not the type of Park for ball games, amplified music or other noise and emphasized the hiking and nature more.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 2, 2020 at 12:34 pm

Adrian is part of the Weiner group - they have a "mission" to destroy the status quo. However neither one has done any thing to put more housing in their neighborhoods. They are on a mission and that mission is now going down the drain due to the flu.


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