TIME TO SHINE ... Palo Alto plans to usher in the holiday season this Friday with a Tree Lighting Event in the city's most prominent downtown plaza. The second annual event will be held at Lytton Plaza starting at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 and will feature music from the Cantabile Children's Chorus and the Keys School Chorus. Residents will also have a chance to support those in need by bringing donations of warm blankets, coats and gift cards for groceries to the plaza, with items collected by the Opportunity Center and the Downtown Streets Team. Vice Mayor Greg Scharff will flip the switch at 5:30 p.m. to light the city's decorated tree. The event will be held rain or shine, so visitors are encouraged to bring their rain gear, if necessary.
GOING FOR A RIDE ... Bicyclists and pedestrians who frequent the area around the Palo Alto Baylands may soon see some welcome changes thanks to a $50,000 grant the city just received from Santa Clara County. The grant, which was secured by Supervisor Liz Kniss, will pay for a host of bike projects and crosswalk improvements in the area of Embarcadero Road and Faber Place, near the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course. These improvements will include three pedestrian-activated flashing beacon signs, 12 "sharrows" (a road marking encouraging drivers to slow down and be aware of bicyclists — think "share" plus "arrow"), crosswalk striping, a median island and a pedestrian ramp. In a letter to Kniss's office, Palo Alto's Chief Transportation Official Jaime Rodriguez said the goal is to help close the last gap in the Bay Trail in Palo Alto. At the Nov. 19 meeting of the City Council, City Manager James Keene said the city plans to begin implementation of this project in January. This is just the latest in a series of bike projects that the city is pursuing with help from the county. Earlier this month, the county approved spending $4 million on a new bike bridge over U.S. Highway 101 at Adobe Creek and $1.5 million for a trail along Matadero Creek.