News Digest | June 8, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 8, 2012

News Digest

Aggressive coyotes force Arastradero trail closures

Some trails on the western side of Pearson Arastradero Preserve are temporarily closed to dogs after coyotes in the area exhibited aggressive behavior toward domestic pets.

The City of Palo Alto Community Services department noted the aggression is possibly protective behavior because a den may be nearby. The closures have been in effect since May 31.

The closed trails are Ohlone, Bay Laurel and Woodland Star. Parts of Juan Bautista de Anza Trail and Meadowlark Trail are also closed.

The trails will most likely be closed through December, the length of the denning season for the coyotes, said Daren Anderson, division manager of open space and parks.

The department has U.S. Fish and Wildlife personnel assessing the behaviors and has increased ranger patrols on the trails, he said.

Aggressive coyote behavior during pup season isn't unusual.

"Fish and Wildlife says they see it all the time," Anderson said.

Last year, the department closed the trails from May through December when there were similar incidents of coyote-dog encounters. Rangers tried to open the trails in November but had to re-close them after another aggressive encounter. When trails reopened in January, there were no more incidents, he said.

Any notable incidents can be reported to rangers at 650-329-2423. In an emergency, call Palo Alto Police Communications, 24 hours a day, at 650-329-2413.

Juana Briones property up for sale

The embattled property where Palo Alto pioneer rancher Juana Briones once built her home is for sale for $5.3 million, following 13 years of lawsuits that ended in the home's demolition last year.

The property's owners, Jaim Nulman and Avelyn Welczer, put the 1.55-acre, south Palo Alto site on the market around May 21, according to various online real estate websites. The 68,389-square-foot parcel, consisting of two lots, is listed by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Los Altos. The property is located at 4155 Old Adobe Road.

Prior to the home's demolition, the land hosted the city's oldest residence, a 166-year-old adobe building. Juana Briones de Miranda, a healer and humanitarian, ranched in the hills above what are now Foothill Expressway and Arastradero Road.

Nulman and Welczer sought to demolish the building, an amalgam of the original 1844-45 adobe and later additions by other owners. They said it was badly damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and had unsuccessfully tried to remove two wings that previous owners had added. The couple planned to build a home.

They won a court case challenging a Palo Alto historic-preservation ordinance, which stated they could not demolish the home. The court said the regulation did not apply to their part of the city at the time an earlier property owner entered into an agreement to receive property-tax benefits in exchange for the home's preservation and scheduled public access.

In 2007, Friends of the Juana Briones House sued and won a stay against the demolition, but on appeal, Nulman and Welczer prevailed.

The home was dismantled in May 2011, and part of the original adobe wall was sold to the nonprofit group Palo Alto Stanford Heritage (PAST) for $30,000.

Palo Alto to re-examine CPI's hazardous materials

Barron Park residents and officials at Communications and Power Industries (CPI) continue to clash over the company's safety record and its plating shop operations, but on Monday, June 4, the two sides found common ground on one issue — a decision by Palo Alto officials to pursue an independent assessment of CPI's hazardous materials.

Speakers on both sides of the debate said Monday night they support a decision by the City Council to spend $35,000 on a consultant to study the operations of CPI's plating shop, which is located at 811 Hansen Way, immediately adjacent to several Barron Park residences.

The company, which expanded the plating shop in 2006, prompted concern in the following two years after it accidentally discharged gas containing nitric acid and spilled wastewater containing copper and nickel into Matadero Creek. While CPI has maintained that its operations are completely safe and fully compliant with all federal, state and local regulations, residents have raised alarms about the hazardous materials at the plating shop near their backyards.

Many have called for the city to phase out CPI's operations. Palo Alto already commissioned an amortization study to assess a reasonable amount of time for CPI to recoup its investment in the plating shop before it could be asked to relocate. The 2006 study concluded that 20 years is a reasonable period (14 years, counting from today).

The staff expects the consultant to take about 90 days to complete the analysis, which would then aid the council as it considers whether to ask CPI to phase out its plating-shop operations.

— Gennady Sheyner