News Digest | September 16, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - September 16, 2022

News Digest

Car crash leads to power outage

A car crash on early Sunday morning led to a power outage for more than 3,000 Palo Alto Utilities customers shortly before 5 a.m., according to Utilities Department communications manager Catherine Elvert.

The service disruption was caused by a car that crashed into a utility pole at the U.S. Highway 101 off-ramp near Embarcadero Road. Most of the affected customers had power restored by around 7 a.m., except for 50 customers near Edgewood Plaza, who remained without service until 4:50 p.m., Elvert said.

Sunday's power disruption was the fourth major outage in the city in less than a week. On Sept. 5, there were 4,500 customers who lost power around 10:30 p.m. in the city's downtown and neighboring areas due to a bad transformer and cable resulting from a heat wave. Another outage affected 1,700 customers in the Midtown, Old Palo Alto and Industrial Park neighborhoods for about 30 minutes on the evening of Sept. 6. In a statement the next day, the city said the interruption was made in error. The city was asked to cut off service by the Northern California Power Agency, but officials later learned that a NCPA dispatcher misunderstood a directive from the state's grid operator. On Wednesday morning, a squirrel that made contact with an underground line led to an outage for 4,462 customers downtown. The Utilities Department determined it was the same circuit that resulted in the Sept. 5 outage.

County rescinds COVID vaccine mandate

Workers at Santa Clara County health care and long-term care facilities, homeless shelters and prisons will no longer be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after the county's health officer on Monday rescinded a health order mandating that they do so.

Vaccination or frequent testing has been a requirement for workers in settings with a high-risk of viral transmission since last summer, when most counties in the Bay Area responded to the rise of highly contagious variants by mandating vaccination and, once they became available, booster vaccine doses.

Santa Clara County Health Officer and Public Health Director Dr. Sara Cody said Monday that the county's high vaccination rate and easy access to COVID-19 testing made the existing mandate unnecessary.

"COVID-19 remains a serious threat to our community, and I urge everyone to continue to protect each other and the most vulnerable among us by masking and staying up to date on their vaccinations with the latest bivalent booster," she said in a statement.

Cody also rescinded health orders requiring large health care providers like Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation to provide requisite COVID-19 testing and requiring all health care workers to get a flu vaccine.

Under state public health rules, masks are still required in high-risk settings.

As of Wednesday, 87.1% of county residents have completed their initial vaccination series. In addition, 69% of residents ages 5 and up have received at least one booster vaccine dose.

County to supply high schools with Narcan

The county's Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to allocate $135,000 in state funds to supply high schools with Narcan, the medicine used to reverse opioid overdoses in emergencies.

Per request of supervisors Cindy Chavez and Otto Lee, the county Behavioral Health Services Department (BHSD) analyzed options to increase naloxone kits to high-priority populations.The report recommended funneling state funds to supply each high school in the county with 28 pre-assembled, user-friendly Naloxone kits.

BHSD officials said they're ready to kick off the distribution and training of Narcan this fall, dependent on the schools' interest. The report said some high schools "have been slow to accept the need to have naloxone kits available for youth of all ages."

But the department wants to encourage schools to adopt these resources on campus, "especially with the emergence of certain fentanyl products which are targeted at youth," the report reads.

The county has seen a rise in overdose deaths among young people over the last 20 years as opioids become increasingly available to purchase on social media and online sites, according to the Santa Clara County Office of Education.

The decision is a part of the county's larger goal to make Narcan vastly accessible and prevent overdose-related deaths. Since 2015, the county's opioid overdose prevention project has given over 10,000 Naloxone kits to community organizations, first responders, businesses and residents, according to the BHSD.

More information can be found at

— Olivia Wynkoop / Bay City News Foundation


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2022 at 6:12 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Thank you for the information. I hope that nobody was hurt, but a single car collision with a pole early on a Sunday morning causes speculation and questions, but pleased that it seems nobody was seriously hurt.

The work appeared to be going on for many hours according to witnesses driving by.

We have had 4 outages in 7 days. One was a mistake. The other three needed emergency repair. I can't help wondering how much these cost to repair, particularly with the need for emergency linemen to be on call 24/7. Do these emergency repairs ever get cost analysis per outage? Does a squirrel invading an underground line cost more than a transformer repair? And the cost of replacing a pole must be even more expensive!

Can anyone look into the cost of these outages to the City? The cost of the outages to individual homes are another issue which probably can't be figured en masse.

Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 12, 2022 at 11:21 pm

rsmithjr is a registered user.

Our utilities department is spending a lot of time and money working on another broadband fiber system. This is unnecessary activity since two large companies are already supplying such services. It also represents a substantial financial risk. Perhaps the city is losing focus on many responsibilities such as running our electrical grid as well as numerous other obligations.

Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2022 at 8:28 am

Citizen is a registered user.

You’re missing an outage. Greenacres had two outages this week.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 13, 2022 at 10:42 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Re the hugely expensive duplicative Fiber project, I asked City Council how they expect to run an efficient, cost-effective service when CPAU can't even send out timely outage reports for regular service. I was told, "Oh, we'll outsource it."

How does spending our money to pay someone else to run this NEW service make any sense when the current electrical grid is so unreliable and which will get even worse when / if we're forced to convert to all-electric.

Notice today's stock market crash? One reasons is inflation much of which is attributed to the all-time high cost of electricity -- now at an all-time 41-yr-old high -- and which is expected to keep soaring because demand is dramatically outpacing supply.,

But please -- don't let reality interfere with virtue signalling and campaign promises.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 13, 2022 at 11:45 am

Anonymous is a registered user.

I hope those who complain that our utility department is being distracted by the fibre project can show some actual evidence for their complaint. Personally I am fed up with unfounded claims.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 13, 2022 at 11:59 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@Anonymous, they PLAN to spend hundreds of millions of dollars and they NOW can't provide outage updates. They've sent out emails about fiber that ignore that neighborhoods are already undergrounded, TOOK months to respond to an email noting that and THEN asked what neighborhood I live in that's undergrounded, I responded and referred them to other neighborhoods that were wondering what to do since tedthey TOO were undergrounded.

They RECENTLY sent out a "survey" asking for donations and what we WOULD pay for fiber with NO way to say we didn't want it because we were content with our current service.

Is that "founded" enough for you?

I ask YOU where's the city's demonbstrable expertise in running a reliable, cost-effective service. Thanks in advance.

Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 13, 2022 at 7:12 pm

Donald is a registered user.

Power to most people affected was restored within about 2 hours on a Sunday morning. That required experienced line crews to deal with the hardware and distribution system. I thought that was a pretty good response time. The web site was not updated until that afternoon, but that was the responsibility of IT professionals and PR people. I care more about restoring the power than updating the web site. I don't want to see the department spend more money on updating the web site or outage information if that takes away from funding the crews that do the real work.

Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 14, 2022 at 11:31 am

Anneke is a registered user.

Are we truly ready to go 100% electric? I don't think so!

Posted by Resident11
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 14, 2022 at 2:59 pm

Resident11 is a registered user.

Are we ready to start going electric? Without a doubt!

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