With another dangerous wildfire season on the horizon, the Palo Alto Fire Department is teaming up with the Santa Clara County Fire Department and Los Altos Hills to fully staff its foothills fire station between June 15 and the end of October.
Under an agreement that the City Council unanimously approved on Tuesday, the city and the county will take turns in providing staffing at Fire Station 8, with Palo Alto providing firefighters for the first two weeks of the agreement and the two agencies then rotating on a monthly basis. Los Altos Hills County Fire District will provide funding for the staffing in the foothills under the one-year agreement, which could be extended for four additional years.
In approving the deal, fire officials and council members alluded to last year's devastating wildfire season, which scorched more than 4 million acres across the state, and the ongoing drought, which is fueling predictions of an even deadlier season this year. As such, the agreement calls for fire officials to staff Station 8 earlier and more consistently than they had in the past.
Acting Fire Chief Brian Glass of Santa Clara County fire told the council Tuesday that the partnership allows the agencies to work together on protecting numerous jurisdictions in the area, including Palo Alto, Los Altos Hills and the Montebello, Rancho San Antonio and Los Trancos open space preserves.
The council enthusiastically supported the agreement.
— Gennady Sheyner
Council in no rush to restore in-person meetings
After more than a year of meeting over Zoom from the comforts of their homes, members of the Palo Alto City Council are in no rush to return to their traditional perch in the Council Chambers. But with the COVID-19 pandemic seemingly entering its final phase and California leaders preparing to fully reopen the state for business on June 15, local officials — like their counterparts across the nation — are wrestling with the question of what to do once the City Hall doors reopen. On Tuesday night, as they considered the post-pandemic future, council members broadly agreed that virtual meetings are one symptom of the pandemic that they would like to see retained in perpetuity.
While the new normal has made things convenient for both council members and residents, who no longer have to travel to City Hall to make their voices heard, it will become legally dubious once the Ralph M. Brown Act again becomes the law of the land when the state fully reopends.
Even though the state legislative picture remains hazy as several proposed bills aimed to change the public meeting process wind through the legislative process,, council members made it clear on Tuesday that they have no desire to return to the old ways. The council is preparing to reconsider its own meeting policies, including one that limits council members' ability to participate remotely to three times per year. Even so, Mayor Tom DuBois suggested Monday that he would still like to see most council members to attend meetings in person once sanctions lift.
— Gennady Sheyner
East Palo Alto pledges $2M toward affordable housing
Residents of the Palo Mobile Estates mobile home park in East Palo Alto may have the opportunity this summer to purchase the lots they're currently renting.The city of East Palo Alto plans to help them do so. The City Council on Tuesday night voted to loan $2 million from its affordable housing fund to help residents, who are mostly low-income, purchase their lot and stay housed at the park.
Palo Mobile Estates Associates, which currently owns the park located at 1885 E. Bayshore Road, is in the process of applying for a subdivision, which means turning the park into independent sellable units. This means that residents occupying spots at the park can choose to purchase their lot.
However, the lots could be valued at $260,000 for individual lots to $325,000 for double-wide lots, according to a staff report. A resident survey showed that most residents are interested in purchasing their lot but would require financial assistance, about $100,000 per family, to do so.
The council's $2 million loan would go to two community housing organizations: East Palo Alto Community Alliance and Neighborhood Development Organization (EPA Can Do) and Preserving Affordable Housing Assets Longterm Inc. (PAHALI).
EPA Can Do is a nonprofit affordable housing developer and PAHALI is a community land trust. Both organizations will use the funding to help residents successfully purchase their lots.
—Bay City News