Letters | April 15, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - April 15, 2011


Cell-phone 'rules'


I think I've finally figured out the two absolute "rules" Palo Altans want observed by their cell-phone companies:

First, don't build any tower within sight of my home, work, kid's school or park.

Second, don't even think about dropping any of my calls.

Janice Hough

Bryant Street

Palo Alto

Anaerobic feasibility


At a recent City Council meeting on the anaerobic-digestion feasibility study, the consultant acknowledged that building a local publicly financed anaerobic digestion facility would be cheaper than the alternatives. He also acknowledged that the study missed (and will include in June's update) several of the alternatives' costs, including rebuilding the sewage incinerators, pricing greenhouse-gas emissions and applying a contingency as was done for the local option.

Including conservative estimates of these costs into the consultant's financial model indicates that a local anaerobic digestion facility would save Palo Alto $30 to $38 million over 20 years, for an average annual savings of $1.5 to $2 million. Our annual savings would greatly increase in subsequent years because the capital construction costs would be paid off. For instance, the cost of processing our organic waste would drop from $106/ton in year 20 to $65/ton in year 21. Compare that to more than $118/ton to truck our waste "away" and continue sewage incineration.

Compared to that costlier option, the study also indicated that anaerobic digestion would reduce our CO2 emissions by 12,000 tons annually, equivalent to taking 1,600 cars off the road. Anaerobic digestion's total reductions from current practices would be about 20,000 tons annually.

With anaerobic digestion we could make tremendous progress toward achieving our climate-protection goals while saving tens of millions of dollars. The feasibility study should confirm this in June.

Cedric de La Beaujardiere

Co-Chair, Blue Ribbon Compost Task Force

Palo Alto

Parking problems


Irwin Dawid's April 1 letter suggesting that the city require fewer parking for a new office building at Alma and Lytton was intended as an April fools joke — right?

No? He was serious? He feels a 49,000-square-foot office building with five residential units and 123 underground parking spaces is better with less parking?

Under typical standards 49,000 square feet of office requires 197 spaces, nine for residents, or a total demand of 206. 123 spaces are about 60 percent of the actual need. With 200 employees and residents with cars, every nearby (and not so nearby) residential street will fill up with cars before the underground parking is used. Doubt that? Check out the occupancy in most underground parking facilities. Like the city structures, they are not well managed or fully used.

I agree that the proximity to transit should allow some discount on parking, maybe 10 percent to 15 percent, but not 40 percent. I also agree that all of the commercial properties, including this one, need to pay for a residential parking program to protect the integrity of the residential neighborhoods from commercial parking impacts.

The city staff has begun a serious look at commercial parking needs, their impacts and their management. Instead of moving ahead with more approvals, the city needs to place a moratorium on any further commercial approvals/exceptions until real solutions to the neighborhood-parking dilemma are found and instituted.

Ken Alsman

Ramona Street

Palo Alto