Around Town | February 11, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - February 11, 2011

Around Town

FOR THE BIRDS ... When Palo Alto's landfill finally reaches its garbage capacity this summer, there will be plenty of witnesses to mark the occasion — most of them with long wings and tiny legs. That's because seagulls love garbage, and in the past few months, there's been trash galore flowing into the landfill at Byxbee Park. The City Council recently approved the "fast fill" option for the landfill in hopes of getting the facility filled by the middle of the year and capped next year. Once that happens, the site would revert to parkland as planned. The option entails tossing more residential trash into the local landfill rather than hauling it to the SMaRT Station in Sunnyvale — the city's traditional method of disposal. Palo Alto has also recently resumed acceptance of commercial waste at the landfill (a practice it temporarily suspended last year) to make the "fast fill" even faster. Mike Sartor, the city's acting public-works director, said the influx of residential garbage is the main reasons seagulls are flying to the landfill in such great numbers. So far, their presence has not caused any problems, he said. They are too far from the more pristine sections of the Palo Alto Baylands to threaten or disturb any of the city's endangered species. And while these birds like to hang out at the landfill, they haven't hindered the work of landfill staff in any way. Sartor said he doesn't expect these visitors to stay at the landfill for too much longer. "Once we're done filling, hopefully by the end of the summer, they'll presumably go away," he said.

PARTING WITH PANDA ... The word "panda" comes with plenty of baggage. Some think of Chinese food that's not quite Chinese, others envision San Francisco Giants baby-faced slugger Pablo Sandoval, who adopted the animal as his nickname. Still others think of dramatic births at major zoos. But few outside Palo Alto link the image of the black-and-white bamboo-chewing bear to emergency preparedness. To the city's emergency-preparedness leaders, that's a problem. The panda has long served as the emblem for the Palo Alto Neighborhood Disaster Activity (you guessed it, PANDA) — a program that offers residents free courses on disaster-management and preparedness. PANDA has long been following the curriculum of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) — a national program with guidelines for emergency training. This month, Palo Alto officials have finalized their decision to officially drop the name PANDA and rename the program the Palo Alto CERT. Paul Lufkin, the coordinator of the program, said the members like the panda emblems and all the panda-related merchandise they have given away to volunteers and community members over the years. But the name also caused a slight problem. "It's gotten in the way a little of people taking the program seriously, which is kind of an issue," Lufkin said. "We are backing up paid professionals in a disaster when there are too many things for them to take care of — that's how we want to be seen in their eyes and in the people's eyes." He said some members of the organization had initially resisted dropping PANDA but after further discussion they agreed to change the name. "We've gone ahead with it," Lufkin said. "Everyone who had remorse about PANDA has come on board."

A GIANT PRIZE ... Palo Alto's baseball fans will have a chance to get a close look at the sport's grandest prize on Feb. 15, when the World Series Trophy makes its way to downtown Palo Alto. The San Francisco Giants won the coveted trophy in November when the team defeated the Texas Rangers in five games. The trophy will be displayed at Lytton Plaza, at the intersection of University Avenue and Emerson Street, between 4 and 6 p.m. Fans will have a chance to view the World Series trophy and to have their photos taken with it.


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