READING ON WHEELS ... Thanks to the purchase of two bicycles, the Palo Alto Library is bringing books and popular services directly to the community. The bikes (dubbed Bike PALS or Palo Alto Library Services) — and their riders — hit the road in August to provide mobile book check-outs, library supplies and storytime to people out in the streets. One bike resembles an ice cream cart stocked with library and craft materials and pop-up storytime equipment. The other sports a basket large enough to hold library supplies and maps of safe routes to Palo Alto's five libraries. "Part of the goals and objectives for Bike PALS is to educate customers about library services that are available to them wherever they are, bring services to people who can't come to the library to get them, and to hear from the community about other interests where the library may be able to assist," Christine Pennington, Youth Services librarian, said in a statement.
NATURE CALLING ... Most people agree that Palo Alto's popular park system would greatly benefit from more bathrooms. Some residents, however, would prefer if these bathrooms were in some other neighborhood rather than theirs. The tension between general support (as reflected in recent surveys) and hyperlocal opposition was in full effect Tuesday, when the City Council discussed the city's new Parks, Trails, Open Space and Recreation Master Plan, a long-awaited vision document that it hopes to adopt at the end of this year. Though the document is riddled with new goals, programs and policies, the two proposals that have attracted the most attention in recent months are the efforts to bring more dog parks and bathrooms to local parks. While the council generally embraced both efforts, members acknowledged that the restroom policy won't be universally embraced. Councilwoman Liz Kniss said she's been getting emails from residents who are opposed to having public bathrooms in parks near their homes. "People are concerned that the restroom brings more people and allows them to stay longer," Kniss said. "Maybe that's unneighborly, but I'm just sharing the kind of things I heard." Some of colleagues, meanwhile, said they've been hearing the opposite feedback. "I get a lot of emails from friends who are apoplectic about the fact that we don't have restrooms in some of these parks," Councilman Marc Berman said. He also suggested that not having bathrooms may bring about other unsavory side effects for neighborhoods. "If folks in the neighborhoods think that a little boy won't find a place to use the bathroom, whether there is a restroom or not, they kid themselves," Berman said. Mayor Pat Burt made the case for directly addressing the reasons why people are opposed to nearby bathrooms (for safety concerns, he noted, security cameras can be implemented at night). Burt also noted that while using the bathroom in lieu of formal facilities may work better for some residents than for others. "Little Johnny may be able to go in the bushes, but elderly folks who also have a real need for restrooms cannot. The absence of restrooms is arguably a discrimination to elderly access to our parks," Burt said.
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