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Foothills Park - Palo Alto residents only forever?

Original post made by Steve, another community, on Jul 11, 2006

I live in San Jose, work in Palo Alto and would like to someday legally visit Foothills Park on my own. Will this ever be possible in my lifetime? San Jose was never asked to contribute funds to purchase the park so that cannot be held against me. I will visit only during the week to avoid overcrowding and defer to the priority of Palo Alto residents if the park were to be too crowded when I visit. I would also gladly pay a non-resident fee to use the park. I cannot think of any public space in San Jose that does not allow Palo Alto residents so how about extending the same courtesy?

Comments (14)

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Posted by San Luis Obispan Palo Altan
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 12, 2006 at 4:12 pm

Haha, excuse this comment but I've always found it a pity the exclusiveness of this park. However, as a Palo Altan, there is an evil part of me who wants to keep it exclusive. Of course, once I realize how silly that is, I do feel that it's awful the lengths they go to keep it a Palo Alto preserve. I'm not completely sure of the policy, but I would think that a non-resident fee is fair.

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Posted by Hiker
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 13, 2006 at 10:36 am

The history of the funding of Foothills Park does provide reason for Palo Alto to treat this park differently from its other "open" parks. As a resident, I certainly appreciate the privacy of the park - it is refreshing to not have to deal with crowds and traffic. Palo Alto certainly served its residents well by acquiring this beautiful park.

However, I do see a non-resident fee structure to be beneficial to all parties. For non-Palo Alto residents, they would be able to enjoy this wonderful park. For Palo Alto, we would gain revenue to put towards park upkeep and improvements (provided the fee structure is set up appropriately). Should we encounter enormous volumes of visitors that negatively affect the park, we could always adjust the fee structure to alter the supply-demand balance.

Such a solution would be a positive gesture to our neighboring communities, and it would also be fair to the fact that we paid for the park and continue to pay for its upkeep.

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Posted by Bob Gardiner
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 13, 2006 at 10:04 pm

A few things to consider:

The park currently becomes overcrowded on weekends, when current residents often cannot get barbecue spots. Openning up the park to everyone could easily lead to worse overcrowding, and consequently no picnic areas for local residents.

The city council continues to promote increased population in Palo Alto without increasing parkland.

The park is in a pristene environment that is getting more encroached from development.

San Jose residents should require their city to buy more parkland to compensate for the huge population growth they are supporting. Instead, Gonzalez and company seem bent on overcrowding without commensurate increases to open space and parkland.

Poor public policy which does not seem to get much push back from San Joseans.

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Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of University South
on Feb 23, 2007 at 1:26 pm

The policy as it stands is an obscenity and infringes on the liberty of non-Palo Alto neighbors. It would be equally sensible to close other local parks to Palo Alto residents, until Palo Alto comes to its senses.

The argument that a park would be nicer if only a restricted population (usually including the arguer) could enter applies to ANY park. There is a tradition of free public park access. As far as I know, this is the only local violator of that tradition.

A proper way to manage the park would be to charge an admission fee that was set high enough so that the traffic did not overwhelm.

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Posted by jq public
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 23, 2007 at 1:39 pm

really, the Palo Alto only restriction is simply un-American. I go running in Wunderlich park all of the time, and none of my Santa Clara taxes support that park.

I use the Mountain View library all of the time, and none of my taxes support that library.

Sure, there should be a reasonable non-resident fee, but this complete denial of service is simply greedy arrogance.

It seems there's a reason that more than a few people refer to Palo Alto as shallow alto.

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Posted by Elli
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2007 at 10:48 am

If you join the 'friends of foothills park' you can help protect the park from weeds, and in return, gain access to the park, even if you're not a Palo Alto resident.

Here's a link:

Web Link

I grew up in Palo Alto and it's sad that I can't go there now, but if you really want to, there's your chance.

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Posted by Smokingbarrel
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2007 at 8:45 pm

Anyone can get to this park with a PA resident.
Treate it like a carpool lane.

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Posted by eric
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 24, 2007 at 10:07 am

It wont be too long before PA has to open up Foothill park because they need the revenue.

Please, Palo Alto neighbors, come visit Shoreline Park! You are all welcome in our open space!!

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Posted by anon.
a resident of Midtown
on May 19, 2007 at 4:52 pm

I enjoy PA foothills park not only due to its diverse wildlife and beautiful plants, but because it is less crowded. Rancho San Antonio is extrememly crowded. Also, i can no longer enjoy my excercize activities at Shoreline baylands due to the large amounts of increasing visitors (large groups of bird watchers and team in training are examples). When this park first opened, i would often be the only one out there enjoying the peace, but now i cannot even run or bike there. Therefore, I am very glad that there is still a local place to get away without crowds.

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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on May 19, 2007 at 5:20 pm

I believe FHP is the only municipal park in California (the nation?) that is closed to non-city residents. Can anyone confirm that?

I guess this is part of what makes Palo Alto special, both good and bad.

The history, I believe, is that we wanted Los Altos and Mountain View to help buy the property with us. They wouldn't, so we bought it ourselves and built a gate. A long time ago.

I like the park too, but I wonder if PA needs to get over itself a bit and, as another thread is discussing, "become like other cities." That's a mixed blessing, but Palo Alto exceptionalism may not be something worth paying for (or keeping period).

Maybe we should charge a fee to all (ala Huddart park) - that would keep the crowds down. I think that is not so unusual for parks with amenities like BBQ facilities.

Not sure what the answer is, but an exclusive municipal park just seems out of step.


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Posted by eric
a resident of Mountain View
on May 19, 2007 at 7:36 pm

if you are looking at how the development and upkeep costs are structured and funded, you could make a MUCH stronger case for Mtn View claiming exclusivity for Shoreline Park. We don't, thankfully, have that mindset

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Posted by Cheryl
a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2014 at 8:53 am

As East Palo Alto is across the way past 101, this is simply an easy way to legally keep out the majority black ( and lower income) population. That is a pity because low income minority children would benefit from seeing the park near their home. They should open it up to non-residents for a fee. I am a Palo Alto native, but I was shocked to see this elite community supports in effect, legalized racism.

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Posted by Palo Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 17, 2014 at 9:06 am

Who the heck comments on something after 7 years?

Oooopps, I just did.

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Posted by Herb Borock
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 17, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Anybody can hike into Foothills Park from the Pearson Arastradero Preserve or the Los Trancos Open Space Preserve on the Bay to Ridge Trail: Web Link. If Stanford provided a direct route through the Dish trail area to the Pearson Arastradero Preserve, it would be easy to hike there from the faculty/staff housing area.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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