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Members of Page Mill YMCA look to city for help

Original post made on Aug 5, 2014

Calling the proposed closure of the Page Mill YMCA a colossal loss for the Palo Alto community, patrons of the gym on Monday night urged the City Council to lend its support to their effort to keep the facility open.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 5, 2014, 10:51 AM

Comments (78)

Posted by PM_YMCA_the_best
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 5, 2014 at 11:35 am

Bravo the the PA City Council for listening last night and putting the Page Mill YMCA on the agenda for a future meeting!

Posted by JCC member
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm

"And while the city doesn't own the gym and has little say in whether it remains open or closes when its lease expires on Oct. 1, both the City Council and City Manager James Keene agreed to further discuss the topic. "

And that is the key point. What will discussing the topic really do? We should not spend any city money on this--i.e. the city should not even think of buying the facility. Not sure exactly what the people who came before the council expected.

Posted by JA3
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 5, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Wholly unwise and imprudent for the Council and City Manager to discuss further.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2014 at 2:07 pm

This action by a vocal and hostile few is taking the situation to a whole new level --- seems like "our way or else."

The group who was initially sad at the closure of its gym is now more and more hostile and on the offensive. It does not make the Palo Alto community look good. Seems like it's only about punishing the Y for trying to meet it's fiduciary responsibilities.

What is the next step in this escalating attack?

The Y decided that it could no longer subsidize the Page Mill location and address the location's major capital project needs. The Y has other facilities in it's service area that have greater need. There is a second Y facility in Palo Alto, as well as MANY other gyms within a few blocks of the Page Mill location.d

These attacks are attempting to force a Y decision to subsidize it's wealthiest member community. Not defensible non-profit agency management.

The hostile environment now created by a few folks in PA who seem to feel so entitled might have unintended consequences, and everyone could lose. Really quite a shame.

Posted by Disappointed
a resident of University South
on Aug 5, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Not sure this tatic of trashing the SV Y, annoying members of other branches, disparaging the other branches, confronting donors and taking up civic time is the best example of a group that is vital to the well being of this community.

Posted by Family Y member
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 5, 2014 at 3:42 pm

I disagree with the comments posted by JCC Member, JA3+, Neighbor and Disappointed. Conducting an open discussion about the future of an important city resource that has been serving the community well for over thirty years should not be considered as a waste of civic time -- regardless of whether the resource is privately or publicly owned.

Furthermore, the statement that the Silicon Valley Y organization is subsidizing the Page Mill Y for a period of time is not correct. Through the years, the Page Mill Y has been able to generate both membership dues and donations to support other causes and programs in the community including the East Palo Alto Y. Who would make up this donation shortfall after the closure of Page Mill Y, I wonder.

If given a chance, the shortfall in membership can be remedied. Unfortunately, this sudden announcement of closure surely does not give the Page Mill Y supporters any ability to help recruit new members. I am a member of the Family Y on Ross Rd., and I frequently use the Page Mill Y. because I like the community spirit at Page Mill Y. I would transfer my membership to Page Mill Y if given a chance. But now the membership roll is closed. We will never know whether sufficient number of new members can be recruited (or attracted to make the transfer from another branch) to prove that the Page Mill Y should stay open.

Posted by Stu
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2014 at 4:49 pm

When did the city get into the gym business? It's unfortunate that the Y is closing, but it's not the city's role to get involved.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2014 at 5:02 pm

The PM YMCA has acted abysmally in this, but it is hardly a city matter. I would think that an in depth investigation by a local newspaper or tv station would be more appropriate than the City getting involved.

Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 5, 2014 at 5:23 pm

It's remarkable how some are just willing to except the word of a corporation at face value, never questioning the facts-after all, corporations are renowned for always telling the truth. So far nothing the SV Y has said is backed by facts.
The S.V Y board's reasoning for closure kept shifting like sand in the desert until they settled on the need for major upgrades to the building, and even this is questionable. If the people who use P.M. but nominally belong to other facilities were allowed to switch their registration to P.M. there would be no membership shortfall issue. It is actually P.M. that for years subsidized other facilities, including E.P.A Y and a significant portion of the proceeds from the P.M fund raising would be transferred to the E.P.A Y. It's interesting how suddenly this very generous membership is accused of demanding to be subsidized by the S.V Y.

Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Very little that has been said on these threads attacking the SV Y, questioning their reason for closing has been backed up by facts. SV Y has provided financial documents and their reasons for the closing./ some people refuse to accept the reality of the matter. Instead we hear ridiculous claims. Not sure what were the most hysterical claim-- probably the one where black shirted staff members were intimidating members.
Regardless, this is a private matter. The Y has a lease that is ending. They have a right to terminate it. Period.
And the city has no business getting involved in this. Notnsure what Keene was thinking when he promised to look into it.
Instead of continue to beat a dead horse, those that think the Y should be maintained as a gym should be looking into ways of finding a new operator.

Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 5, 2014 at 6:41 pm

The financial documents they provided are very flawed. Since when do we trust corporations with the truth? Why in the world are some people trusting anything corporations claim? Have we learned nothing from 2008?

If the SV YMCA is a business, and they are certainly behaving as a for profit business by selling services to the public and claiming to make decisions based on revenues, then they should not enjoy a tax exempt status. It's the members dues and proceeds from member fund raising that pay the pretty lavish salaries [portion removed], so the notion they can just treat their members with the contempt for profit corporations treat the public in unacceptable.

Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2014 at 6:49 pm

"The financial documents they provided are very flawed. Since when do we trust corporations with the truth? Why in the world are some people trusting anything corporations claim? Have we learned nothing from 2008?"
Boscoli, you have been repeating this claim over and over and over. Time to,provide us with the actual proof for your claims regarding the financial documents. [Portion removed.]

As for your other claims, complain to the IRS regarding their tax exempt staus and " lavish" salaries.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2014 at 7:09 pm

The Y is not a corporation, it is a NON-profit corporation.

As a 501C3 NON-profit it must meet strict accounting and reporting requirements to maintain its status with the IRS. If it receives United Way financial support there are additional budget examinations. All operating expenses, including salaries and rents, are audited routinely and often.

[Portion removed.] This is not good for the Palo Alto community, it is not a good model for citizen involvement, it is not a good model for children.

[Portion removed.]

Posted by Y member
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 5, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Technically, I'm a member of the PA Family Y, but I would switch to the Page Mill Y if given the chance. I don't think anyone who wants to save the Page Mill facility is suggesting using City money, but the SV Y Board has not given the facility a chance to respond. The Page Mill Y is a valuable community facility.

Posted by casey
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2014 at 10:09 pm

casey is a registered user.

Should the city council be giving Page Mill Y members this false hope? Seems like we are pass the further discussion stage since the SV Y has no intention of changing its minds. Rather than indulge in fantasies of dark conspiracies, the PM Y members should pursue a takeover of the gym. If running a gym at the location is as profitable as they believe, then they'll be the ones laughing all the way to the bank and I'll applaud you every step of the way for a job well done.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 6, 2014 at 8:30 am

I heard Debbie Duncan's Perspectives piece on KQED last night -- Web Link -- Nicely presented.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2014 at 9:44 am

Debbie Duncan's remarks explained the loyalty and affection for the gym. But -- the Y can't afford to operate the Page Mill site even though you loved it and made good friends there.

*** Use the OTHER Y site in Palo Alto, or one of the NINE OTHER GYMS within 2 blocks - 1 mile.
*** Find an existing gym to take over the Page Mill site's management/costs
*** Start and manage your own gym at Page Mill or another site.

This ongoing campaign to force the Y to subsidize your gym -- which is the 2nd Y site in wealthy Palo Alto -- at the expense of its other locations in much less affluent areas of Silicon Valley. is not a sympathetic cause.

I feel I must continue to re-state these points and these suggestions as the campaign to force the Y to change it's decision continues.

Please don't play the elderly/disabled card. It's offensive to elderly and disabled people who ARE much less affluent. Like me. I live on Social Security and I don't even have ONE Y gym in my community, not to mention TWO.

Posted by No-Place-For-The-City
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2014 at 10:03 am

The City of Palo Alto has ABSOLUTELY no business interfering in the decision of the Y to close this branch. Unless there are some previous agreements between the Y and the City, or money that has been paid to the Y to subsidize its operations for the small number of people using this facility--then the City has ABSOLUTELY no role in how the faciity is run (within health and safety guidelines).

The fact that the City is intervening--even if that intervention comes to no end--demonstrates a municipal government/corporation that has no sense of its legal obligations to the residents, and businesses, as a whole.

Certainly there are other businesses that will close in the coming months, and years. What justification will the City have to intervene in each of these business decisions?

This is bad business for the City. Hopefully, the Y will listen to what the Ctiy has to say--and then instruct their lawyer to point out in polite, but forceful terms--"we are a private operation, not subject to the opinions, or manipulations, of the Palo Alto City Government. Thank you for coming. And good day to you."

A snarky lawyer might well even add: "and don't let the door hit you on the back side as you leave."

Posted by SJ
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 6, 2014 at 10:04 am

The Save the Page Mill Y movement is asking the City to support its efforts to keep it open by renewing the lease. Period, nothing more.

We are NOT asking for money. We continue to ask for the opportunity to demonstrate profitability. It only involves efforts and money headed by and paid for by generous, talented members.

The Page Mill was supported other Ys for most of the last 35 years. It is only in the past several years that the Page Mill Y has run a deficit. Yes, we saw the numbers from the past three years, but we did not see the 30+ years' numbers that showed our profit and substantial giving to other Ys in need of assistance.

During these same last several years there has been almost no effort to attract new members through any media and no effort to publicize our existence. Members remark about they have never seen more that a cursory attempt at increasing enrollment compared to other "special promotions run by other Ys.

YMCASV acknowledged that they handled the whole issue poorly and that they have dug a hole so deep that it may be impossible to recover the permanent damage that they did to their reputation in the Palo Alto area. They agreed that they should have included the PM members in the issue of "shrinking" enrollment. If they had included us, the outcome would have been different. As we see, members are willing to pay more in dues, run and fund their own campaign for more members and to defray deferred maintenance costs.

YMCASV acknowledged that the PM members could easily increase enrollment by 500 members in just a short time. In fact we have 500 regular Page Mill users who fees go to other Ys who are not enrolled at Page Mill. They stated that they so no purpose in renewing the lease for one to three years because although the membership numbers would be there they do not have "faith" that we can sustain the membership over a 10 year period.

We continue to ask for the opportunity to fund raise and enroll new members to save Page Mill. All YMCASV has to do is renew the lease. Everyone wins including YMCASV.

Posted by Stuart
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 6, 2014 at 10:28 am

I am a member of Page Mill. What strikes me is the discussion of the "Y" way. Given the amount of upset the closure announcement has caused, shouldn't the Y TRY to listen and find a solution? It seems that without discussion with members the Y is trying to jam a huge decision down member's throats.

Regarding the city, they SHOULD be involved. This is because the neighborhood on Ross Road is about to get swamped with lots additional traffic and parking issues. The majority of Page Mill's members will likely to to Ross Road. This really puts Ross Road's conditional use permit at question. The permit was based on a certain number members. If Ross goes over that number, the city has a responsibility to the neighborhood to consider revoking the permit. i doubt that would be the end result of things. It does mean, however, that the city DOES have influence over the Y's decision to close Page Mill. If closing the Page Mill location could put operation of Ross at risk, that means Ross will be forced most likely to cap its membership. That means the Y could lose hundreds of members. That's the likely result I see. Anything else would be poor stewardship for the Ross Neighborhood.

So, if the Y is reminded to add the cost of losing hundreds of members who won't be able to transfer to Ross Road, that might mean a different financial evaluation is in order for the Page Mill closing decision.

All finances aside, given the reactions, it is just plain HORRID that the Y isn't trying more to listen and reconsider.

Their lack of responsiveness is causing me to reconsider my Y membership in any case.

Posted by Council Agenda
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 6, 2014 at 11:14 am

Hey, since the City will take a meeting about a gym closing, will it also take a meeting about my favorite gift store closing at Town & Country and make them reopen? I know it was a private business but I still want to shop there and the City should force them to operate their business because, well, because I want them to. I'm hoping the City Council members will put my request on the Agenda to discuss at future meetings.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2014 at 11:20 am

(1) It was perfectly reasonable to allow PM members to review only 3 years of financial data. A non-profit organization is financially very sensitive and 3 years reveals what is actually happening now.

*** BTW: Don't you think that it's significant that the gym has consistently lost money & members DURING THIS BOOMING local economy?*** (Membership attrition + new membership fell via more competition?)

Furthermore, if a "good year" happened 7, 10, or 25 years ago its not relevant to the Y's highly sensitive non-profit fiduciary responsibilities. Subsidies can't go on indefinitely. Clearly the Board determined that they can't wait for another good year to happen or NOT happen. A non-profit can't get a bank loan to tide them over.

(2) And (to repeat) the Y's CITIZEN Board members have personal LEGAL LIABILITY if they make irresponsible financial decisions. That liability is what all Board members of 501C3 agencies incur when they serve.

(3) Trying to get the City Council's endorsement of your efforts to force a financially irresponsible decision from the Y's CITIZEN Board sets a horrible precedent --- and could open the City Council to legal actions not only from the Y, but from other entities as well.

Once again: there are clear choices for using your friends' energy and camaraderie:

--- Use the 2nd Palo Alto Y. Carpool w/friends & disabled folks from PM. It will save gas & maintain friendships.
--- Join one of the almost DOZEN other gyms very close to Page Mill.
--- Organize to take over the lease and management of Page Mill, and operate a new gym there.

This campaign's passion may be a testimony to the loyalty and the friendships that were made at this facility, but it seems to come from a narrow constituency only trying to FORCE the Y into a bad management decision. It is also starting to sound like bullying.

Use your energy to focus on another solution.

Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 6, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

Can a member of the "Save the Y" group contact me? I'm interested in seeing what can be done to preserve a Page Mill exercise facility and how I can help.


Tom DuBois
[email protected]

Posted by No-Place-For-The-City
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2014 at 3:19 pm

> The Save the Page Mill Y movement is asking the City to
> support its efforts to keep it open by renewing the lease.

It is NOT the role of the City Government to become involved in ANY WAY with private enterprise business decisions. Period. Lots of businesses have closed in this town. The City didn’t not get involved then—so why now?

The City Manager has been unable to manage the construction project at the Mitchell Park Library. Who in their right minds is going to listen to him [portion removed] on about why the Y should listen to him?

> We continue to ask for the opportunity to demonstrate
> profitability. It only involves efforts and money headed
> by and paid for by generous, talented members.

This is not the City’s responsibility. It’s not even clear that the City can understand profitability—given that it spends a lot of other people’s money not fully understanding whether it has obtained value for its dollars.
If you want to buy the place—then buy it. Stop wallowing around like a bunch of fish out of water and talk to the people who own the facility and offer them what they want. [Portion removed.]

If all else fails—why haven’t you located a lawyer and sued them? This is America, isn’t it?

You can be certain that this will come up during the election. People not involved with this, or any Y, will be asking some very hard questions. Personally, I don’t care if it opens or closes. I do care about the power of the City being used in any way to intimidate, bully, or interfere with any private business.

Posted by Family Y member
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 6, 2014 at 3:48 pm

The Palo Alto Daily Post of Aug. 6 has a pretty good article on the finance of Silicon Valley Y including salary of executives, how much "profit" was generated ($2 million in 2012), and the amount of donations collected from Page Mill Y members ($161,000+ for various charity projects in 2014, including $34K spent on supplementing East PA Y). This article helps answer some of the questions raised in the comment section of the article like those raised by "neighbor".

Unfortunately, the article is not available online. But you can pick up a free copy.

Posted by Page Mill member
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I was sad to learn of the closing of "my" gym. But I was appalled by how shabbily YMCA-SV treated members by keeping the matter secret until the decision was already made. Leadership continues to bungle the matter, playing fast and loose with the facts and in general showing contempt for the Page Mill membership. The whole affair has soured me on the organization and I plan to join a non-Y fitness center. My charitable donations will go to better use elsewhere. The organization certainly has the right to align its resources and services anyway it likes. But the tone-deaf incompetence of the SV board and management in this matter should not be rewarded.

Posted by JimmyJoe
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 6, 2014 at 4:20 pm

The Page Mill YMCA I think is an asset in Palo Alto and I think the City of Palo Alto should be concerned that a valuable asset is going away. And I say again, my donation of many years to the Page Mill YMCA will in the future go to the Peninsula Humane Society, where they treat their animals better, much better. And I will be joining a private workout facility. Adios YMCA, forever.vdVaZ

The staff at Page Mill over the years has been outstanding, the present staff may be the best yet. It's the executives and board that are idiots.

Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 6, 2014 at 5:51 pm

The Page Mill Y is not losing money. By conservative estimates, hundreds of other Y locations members are actually not using the locations where they originally signed up, but use Page Mill to work out. Their dues should have been credited to P.M. That's why the financial data the CV board has provided vis-a-vis the P.M. membership numbers are flawed and meaningless. Even worse, they deliberately avoided pulling that data from the scanners. If they had, their argument about declining membership would have sunk just like their other claims. Additionally, If Page Mill was running a deficit, why would they pull $34,000 from in 2014 from donations by Page Mill members and give it to the E.P.A. location?

Being a not for profit corporation doesn't entitle them to manipulate data. I'm not an attorney, but to me it falls under corporate malfeasance.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2014 at 7:59 pm

ISSUE #1 -- Sending funds to other Y facilities in the system is not malfeasance.

Membership fees go to the "YMCA of Silicon Valley" and are not "designated" for Page Mill Y only. In return, your Y membership lets you use any facility in the system.

A lot of balancing and budget trade-offs are necessary to keep the system going. Subsidies for an under-performing individual facility may come from the Board, and its facility improvements may be postponed. Many decisions have to be made to keep the system running. For some facilities in poor areas -- like East Palo alto where there are 1-2 gyms for the kids/poor/disabled/elderly -- the subsidies may be longer or even permanent.

The Page Mill Y was not in a poor community where a HUGE economic boom was underway, yet its financial situation didn't improve. In fact, the Y central subsidized Page Mill for several years. Luckily, the Y has another/larger PA facility to offer its members, and there are many private gyms if the don't care for the facility.

ISSUE #2 --The budget carry-over amount.
Carry-overs, and their limits, are permitted under IRS 501C3 non-profit rules. Use of the carry-overs is defined by the IRS and the agency's citizen Board, not via angry and biased letters to the editor of local newspapers or via local politicians.

ISSUE #3 -- The 8/6 Daily Post article that was so blatantly biased and error-filled.
Some financial data were miss-stated, or even stated differently at different points in the article. Was the draft version edited at all?

However, if any of the Post salary data were actually correct, they did not seem out of line for managing 12 branches in 100 separate locations in Silicon Valley. The salary expenditures were way less than leadership salaries at large corporations in this part of the world. Granted, the salaries would be outrageous in Nebraska or Oklahoma, but those places are very different economies.

At the end of the long article John Savage, Chair of the YMCASV citizen Board was quoted as follows:
"Our compensation practices follow the guideline set by our board compensation committee. (my reminder: it's a CITIZEN committee). The committee researches appropriate salaries and provides compensation guidelines for each position, which are in line with other comparable organizations with similar positions and responsibilities"

If you Google Mr. Savage, you'll see that he knows a bit about management and compensation. Same for the other CITIZEN Board members.

ISSUE #4 -- perhaps the most important.
I don't recall that the original "Palo Alto Way?" EVER meant "my way or the highway" or "attack until you win."

Perhaps the Y's choice not to announce its decision at the outset, or its silence as the community charges and demands escalated, incited the conspiracy theories and attacks.

And now the politicians are getting involved and seizing on what they see as their opportunity to capitalize on the "outrage" over a gym.

Posted by Ken Horowitz
a resident of University South
on Aug 6, 2014 at 9:01 pm

The Page Mill Grassroots Group went to the City Council on Monday night to support the vision statement of the City's Community Services and Facilities Element to "provide high quality community services to its residents, businesses, and visitors which include programs and strategies that sustain the health, well being, recreation, and safety of residents and visitors". Our Group does not expect to receive any direct financial benefit or to alter City policy and/or operations. We were created for the sole purpose of supporting a City goal of community recreational services that benefit all populations.

Posted by Y member
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Aug 6, 2014 at 9:11 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by roxanne rorapaugh
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 6, 2014 at 9:22 pm

I live in Menlo Park but attend the Page Mill Y. I have often envied city council structure that Palo Alto has because it seems to allow for new ideas to be considered and a quick responsiveness to its citizens.

Thank you to the City of Palo Alto for looking into ways to help the group of people that are working so hard to keep this Y open. My husband is in his late 70's, we have been members for over twenty years. At this point in our lives it is vital that we stay active, especially my husband, and changing to a new gym is a little harder when you are older.

If Palo Alto does use city assets for the Page Mill gym and funding is a problem, you may want to consider a two-tiered rating system like Menlo Park uses for many of their athletic facilities, where non-residents pay more than residents. If the amount is still affordable, my husband and I would be happy to this.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2014 at 10:26 pm

[Portion removed.]

One piece of info I may have already shared in a previous comment: Years ago, I was associated with a 501C3 organization and know personally how hard it is to balance competing needs with financial resources.

Posted by Steve Woodward
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 6, 2014 at 11:04 pm

Dear All,
One of the challenges in all this has been to keep the conversation polite and positive. If you are not a PMY user, or a gym user, or don't appreciate the difference between Curves and Equinox, it's easy to understand why you would not want to see the City involved in the question of whether this facility survives or not. If you'd patronized the PMY 2 or 3 times a week for ~30 years, as I have, I guarantee it would not feel like someone was closing your "gift shop". Unfortunately, that's more or less how SVY they did it. Very little respect to the "community" was shown. We, as a group, were basically told our connections did not matter. No meetings (except those organized by members), no efforts to re-establish sub-communities at the other local Y's. This is not the "Y-way", as presented to members, and they've sullied their brand. But they were ham-handed not malign. As Ms. Jordan (SVY CEO or COO) has admitted, they've closed very few facilities in the past; and I suspect they will do it very differently next time. In the mean time, they've angered many people, many of them tax-paying PA citizens, a few of whom are now exercising their rights. Everybody's got their issue. Only a few of them will do something about it. I applaud them for showing up. Do I expect the City to spend big time or bucks on this, no, but they might make some small contribution to resolving a painful situation, and that would be welcome.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2014 at 11:27 pm

I realize ongoing friendships and other connections are made at gym facilities. I also realize the Y has a different "climate" and clientele than some other proprietary gyms.

But I bristle at the "disabled hardship" argument that has been made. The distance between the TWO YMCA facilities in Palo Alto is 2 MILES, with an estimated driving time of 6 MINUTES.

I wish I had a Y so close to me. I am disabled and need to do regular physical therapy exercises and use gym equipment for the rest of my life --- and I WISH I had a YMCA, or any gym, so close as the Ross Road YMCA is to central Palo Alto.

[Portion removed.]

Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 7, 2014 at 6:33 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by Optimist
a resident of Portola Valley
on Aug 7, 2014 at 11:07 am

There seem to be lots of misconceptions around what was asked of the Palo Alto City Council - The Page Mill Grassroots Group is not asking the City for money or subsidies, or for the City to buy or lease the space or get into the business of running an athletic facility… Members have offered to raise dues, run a capital campaign, etc. to keep the facility open, with or without YMCA involvement. We want to continue as an economically self-sustaining entity.

The City's interests are several:
1) the Page Mill Y has been a valuable resource for many Palo Alto residents for 35 years,
2) the Page Mill Y helps support the City's Community Services and Facilities goals "to provide high quality community services…to sustain the health, well-being, recreation, and safety of residents and visitors",
3) members are being encouraged to use an alternate Y and Ross Road is the closest. Per the SV Board, Page Mill has about 3,000 members. If only 25% of our members transfer to Ross Road, can that facility handle an additional 750 members? What happens if half of Page Mill members transfer to the Ross Road Y? What will an additional 1,500 members do to parking and traffic in the area? The Ross Road Y was expanded under a Conditional Use Permit (traffic, parking, noise, etc.). Will a large number of transfers put Ross Road in violation of that use permit?
4) Most or all of Page Mill Square was built under a "Planned Community" ordinance (i.e., the development needed to include residential units and community facilities such as a movie theater, gym, cafe, etc.) So, it would be useful to have the space continue as a publically-available gym.

The Page Mill Y is a unique and valuable resource to the City of Palo Alto and should be maintained as a gym, with or without YMCA involvement. It is a fully-outfitted gym, is in line with the "Planned Community" ordinance, has a loyal and committed membership, is a very valuable community resource, and has had a very supportive landlord for 35 years. The SV YMCA has made it clear they are not interested in running the facility any longer. We believe we would be a valuable asset to the long-term strategic plans of several different businesses and non-profits, and are working to make that happen.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2014 at 11:28 am

What are the guidelines for PAOnline editing/redacting of comments?

Much of the text from my previous comments, none of which contained argumentative or abusive text, was eliminated.

Is the redaction political or just naive? Whatever it is, it denies respectful, but disagreeing, readers a frank forum and it isn't very democratic either.

Posted by howlong
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 7, 2014 at 11:33 am

Couldn't agree more, neighbor. Absolutely could not agree more. I am disgusted now with this whole thing.

Posted by No-Place-For-The-City
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2014 at 11:39 am

> the Y is an asset .. and therefore the City has a right to be involved ..

Balderdash! The City has a limited set of powers, even though it is a Charter City. Your home is an asset. By your logic, the City should intervene in the sale of your home if it doesn’t like the details of the transaction, or any of your neighbors decides to protest—demanding the City’s intervention in your business.

Most people would be outraged at that level of interference by the City. But what about you? Would you accept the City’s involving itself in your home sale--since it is an asset?

The City was pitched to involve itself in the purchase of the badly managed Cable Coop, several years ago. The Coop Management had run the operation into the ground. Yet, the same kinds of people appealing for the miracle of municipal government intervention spent a lot of time making all sorts of claims that it was the obligation of the City to buy, and run, this turkey. It’s really hard not to believe that within a heartbeat, or two, this group—not really interested in investing one penny in this little space that virtually no one in Palo Alto was even aware of—will change their tune and suggest that the City has a moral obligation to buy, and operate, this facility for their convenience.

Another example of just how corrupt the City of Palo Alto government has become.

Posted by Y member who grew up in PA and now lives in the Peninsula
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Regarding the upper management salaries of the YMCA of Silicon Valley:

Google: 990 finder

You will probably see a link to the nonprofit Foundation Center, which provides free access to 990 forms for nonprofits. From there, you can enter the EIN (Employer Identification Number) 941156318 > click the Find button

The YMCA of Silicon Valley will appear in the search results.

The salaries appear on page 30 of the YMCA of Silicon Valley's 2012 990 form, which the nonprofit submitted to the IRS in 2013.

Note: I have no connection with the Foundation Center. Guidestar seems to provide access to similar information.

* * *

990 forms include salary data of the most highly paid employees of any given nonprofit that submits a 990. 501(c) nonprofits are legally required to be accountable to the public that supports them. As such, a public charity such as the YMCA is legally required to submit to the IRS a 990 form every year.

On a personal note, 990 forms help me to decide to which nonprofits I will give money or other gifts. My decision-making process is equally influenced by how well the employees of said nonprofits treat me and how well the employees treat their fellow employees.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Something of all this reminds me of the story of the Palo Alto Bowl.

This City needs all of its amenities. Just saying that there are pages of gyms listed and more gyms in Palo Alto so don't bother trying to save this one is exactly missing the point. There is no reason why a group should not do whatever it can to alter the threatened closure. If the City could not save the PA Bowl, it can't save the PM Y. But, a group of strong advocates can make a difference and I hope that this time the group succeeds where the PA Bowl couldn't.

Gyms can be different in character and do need to be capped at a certain level to prevent overcrowding. Good luck to the Y advocates.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2014 at 10:44 pm

I don't understand how ad hoc citizen groups can dictate to either a for-profit business, or a non-profit social service agency, what they must do with their money as long as their operations are totally legal.

** The was no legal basis to force the for-profit owner of land on which the failing bowling alley sat not to redevelop his property, if his plans were within the legal zoning constraints.

** There is no legal basis to dictate how the non-profit YMCA Citizen Board must manage its facilities. Their Citizen Board and the IRS set policy, practices, and fiscal requirements.

Now, because the Y didn't cede to pressure from a small group of citizens to continue underwriting the PA location, you want City Council to intervene?

The Council has no jurisdiction here -- or do you just want to get the issue more press? Is there some sort of implication that you'll recall or not re-elect a City Council member who doesn't look tough against the Y? I note that new Council candidates are adopting your cause hoping to get elected.

I'll repeat again (and again and again, if necessary):
Palo Alto has enjoyed having TWO YMCAs for many years but the Y decided it can no longer support both. How many facilities they operate and how they allocate their budget is their management decision, not yours. The Y's decisions are approved by its CITIZEN Board, with fiduciary legal oversight from the IRS.

Page Mill Y members have at least 3 alternatives:
1. Use the other Palo Alto Y -- the distance between Page Mill and the larger facility is 2 MILES, with an estimated driving time of 6 MINUTES.
2. Shop for another gym that you like.
3. Start a gym -- some members have written that money is not a problem for the Page Mill folks.

Finally, please don't bring up the disabled issue again. As stated repeatedly, the main Y is only 2 miles and a few minutes away. When I looked back at the protest letters re: demolishing the bowling alley I see that the citizen group involved in that protest also used disability as an issue. As a disabled person, I don't appreciate that.

Posted by SJ
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 8, 2014 at 9:54 am

Dear Nay-Sayers,

It is amazing how much rancor the Page Mill YMCA supporters’ efforts have engendered in posters who say that they have no stake in the closure.

This week’s four newspaper articles and radio spots demonstrate that we are making progress in our cause. Why do the same negative posters spend so much time on something that they say does not matter to them? As they say, with so many positive causes in the world, why do they spend their time time fighting another group's positive efforts if it does not affect them?

Of course, these posters have the right to spend their negative energy on something that does not affect them. If the negative posters were actively campaigning against something near and dear to them like high-rise development in their residential neighborhood or closure of their local elementary school, I doubt that Page Mill members would continually harp on them to stop their efforts.

We Page Mill members are dedicating our time and effort to a cause that actually does affect our lives. We remain polite and to the point. We are working for something that is an important part of our physical, psychological, emotions, and social lives.

The negative posters complaints about our positive efforts can be used as a barometer of how well we Page Mill members are doing in our campaign.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2014 at 10:18 am

Just trying to post reminders of the facts, and the law, of the Y situation.

Not trying to force anyone to change any decisions.

Not feeling any negativity at all and certainly no rancor.

Posted by Boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 8, 2014 at 10:52 am

"Just trying to post reminders of the facts", but you keep claiming that "a small group of citizens" is trying to force the board to change its decisions, but you have actually no idea of their size. You just keep attempting to discourage a group whose size you don't know, from doing what they feel is right. From pervious posts, we already know that there are many other facts about this issue you don't know, buy hey, it's a free country.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Even if a majority of Page Mill members are members of your protest group (an empirical question), is that enough to demand a bypass of the law/501C3 regs defining non-profit program management? Is it enough reason to make spurious charges against the Citizen Board's decisions and managements?

Just because you are sad about the closing, what proportion of the 66,000 residents of Palo Alto would support the premise that citizens can run a business/agency operations and force it to stay open and lose money?

What a precedent that would be! It wouldn't stand up legally in court. I understand that your group must rely on public pressure to get what you want -- but it's gotten kind of nasty.

If only that energy were put towards a selfLESS goal instead. (That's how I remember an older kinder Palo Alto)

I totally get that you loved your gym and the people you met. That's certainly understandable, but the nasty campaign against the Y isn't.

To an outsider, it sounds misguided and very privileged:
--- The Y has 2 facilities in PA, but only 1 in its other cities where needs (financial/service) are higher.
--- The 2nd Y in Palo Alto facility had financial difficulties in recent years, despite the wild economic growth and prosperity in the rest of Palo Alto.
--- Membership at the 2nd Y was not growing, but was stagnant or declining

The Y's Citizen Board made a difficult, but rational and responsible, decision.

Go to the other Y in Palo Alto, join another gym, or start your own with the close friends you've made.

Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 8, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Again, you keep proving that you don't know the facts. In the last few years many gyms sprouted in Palo Alto, so obviously P.M. wasn't going to get the majority of gym users. All gyms are fighting hard to attract clients in a suddenly very competitive market, and P.M. has done remarkably well considering the fact that SV Y never bothered to even market it-most Palo Alto residents don't even know P.M. Y exists. Hundreds of nominally other Y gyms members have been actually using P.P as their main or sole fitness center for years, while their fees were credited to other Y gyms, so the actual membership level is just fine, a fact SV made sure to conceal. Again you draw the wrong conclusions about a different aspect of this issue: I am not part of the group, because when I found out about the closure I cancelled my membership and signed up for a non YMCA gym, so this doesn't affect me personally anymore. However, I know the people who are attempting to keep the gym open, it's a large group, and they are doing the right thing.

Posted by [email protected]
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 8, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Page Mill Y is an legend; very popular, convenient and affordable. There are other facilities nearby, which do not have the parking, convenience, or affordability.
I would suggest that the members who want the affordability negotiate with the other facilities in Palo Alto for both individual and corporate promotional packages. Ross Road is simply too cluttered with childcare programs for a 50-60 hour a week working stiff to feel like they are unwinding. You have my empathy, yet,
I don't see why the City is involved at all. Is the City kicking them out? Perhaps the City could construct athletic facilities with machines, etc. at their pool sites, Rinconada, etc.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2014 at 2:53 pm

You did the absolute right thing when you joined another gym. As you mentioned there are lot of them, and I'm so glad you found one you were comfortable with. As you know, the folks making unreasonable demands on Y-Page Mill claim there are no alternatives available.

I'm afraid much of what the protestors claim as "fact" sounds a lot like hearsay and misunderstandings. There is no underlying conspiracy of any kind here.

For the Citizen Board of the Y -- who are people who are also your neighbors, most of whom have major financial management/leadership careers -- the bottom line is actually the bottom line, so to speak.

The facts are that Y Citizen Board looked at all of their facilities -- including

--- attendance AND usage patterns (inter-gym use by members)
--- labor costs
--- maintenance costs AND required repairs/modifications.
--- competing needs at all of the other facilities in their Silicon Valley region

And -- the Board decided to close the 2nd Palo Alto facility. Their management prerogative AND legal responsibility. They are a 501C3 non-profit not a business (which has more options to finance debt).

Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 8, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Wrong again. I could join another gym because I'm relatively young, have a great car and can afford any gym I like. Many of the older people and some others who frequent P.M. don't drive, have disabilities, and absolutely wouldn't fit Ross Road, which is too far for them, very crowded and often full of children running around. They could never afford the other, more commercial gyms, including the JCC, which is quite expensive, even if they could get themselves over there. That's what was so special about P.M. location and people wise-it was perfect for a segment of older people who would otherwise not work out, with consequences hat would be quite tragic. I also completely reject your claim that the board took into account the real life attendance in P.M, because they never did, and refused to even address the request to analyze the scanner data and publish the data.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2014 at 5:01 pm

As I've pointed out several times, Ross Road Y is 2 mi/6 min. from Page Mill, and folks can use that facility at no increase in the fees they currently pay.

Also: How far did the disabled members travel from their Homes to get to Page Mill? It wasn't zero. Did they drive themselves from their home to Page Mill? (PLUS: Please consider the possibility that some members might actually live CLOSER to the Ross Road Y, than to Page Mill).

--- BUT, even if the 2 mi. difference seems insurmountable, members can carpool. Since so many friendships were made at Page Mill, disabled members might get a ride from a friend if they don't want to drive 2 more miles. I can drive to most destinations most often, but from time-to=time friends help me out with a ride.

--- OR, there is also a door-to-door county ride service (Outreach). I've used that quite a bit since I'm also elderly and physically disabled.

--- OR, there are taxi tickets for low-income elderly or disabled persons. I've used those before as well.

There are few gyms in my city, but I've gotten to them and I've gotten to the JCC, which is 12 miles (on the freeway, not surface streets) from my home.

As a disabled person, it makes me really uncomfortable that this protest is using the "Disability Card."

BTW, RE: the scanner "use-data" question that you raised. Each of the Y facilities in the Silicon Valley Y system would also show that members from different areas also use Y facilities other than the one they registered at.

Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 8, 2014 at 6:59 pm

You have obviously never visited either P.M. or Ross Rd. Ross Rd Y is as spectacularly unsuitable for most elderly members of Page Mill as one can imagine. It's extremely crowded. It's geared toward young families. Young children run around unsupervised through the work out areas. Teen agers monopolies fitness machines. Often, in order to find parking, you need to circle many times and you still might be out of luck. The seniors who do drive, would have a very hard time dealing with the parking issues. Myself and many of me peers, only middle aged, found Ross utterly awful and impossible to use when we tried to go there when Page Mill would have their annual clean up closure. People in their 80s and 90s using Ross? You have got to be kidding me.

Posted by On the fence
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 8, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Is there factual evidence of this 500 home gym net gain claim, or is it just a talking point?

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Actually I have been to Ross Road. It's a lot nicer than the Y in my town.

Remember that Page Mill Y doesn't close down until October. Members can work out there until October. OR they can go over to Ross Road sooner to try it out, because the Palo Alto School Year starts a week from Monday.

The Ross Road crowds/parking issues you mention will definitely improve very soon -- and the 80 & 90 year-old Y members will be able to do their work-outs at Ross Road without any crowds. And they'll have an easier time finding a disabled parking space too.

But perhaps 80 & 90 year-olds, or seniors with severe physical disabilities, should consider working out at a Physical Therapy gym. Or, a PT office in a medical building might even be a safer idea. Often you can pay very reasonable monthly fee at a PT site just to work out on their machines. I believe PAMF allows this. I did this for years at Sequoia Hospital PT.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2014 at 8:59 am

I can't quite understand why a neighbor from another community is interested in this topic.

Ross Road is full, no space for new members in those sort of numbers.

Ross Road has been described as over run with kids. Whereas there are a lot of youngsters there, it is far from being as bad as made out. Not sure why schools in session will make a lot of difference since there are after school programs there most days and lots of weekend activities for children. There are also a lot of seniors and some disabled members who seem to manage very nicely and have a lot of camaraderie.

The big factor is space. There is no more space for extra parking and no more space for more equipment.

Please stop trying to get people to move to Ross Road.

Posted by SJ
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 9, 2014 at 9:22 am

From a long-time Page Mill member,

New core principle the the YMCASV.
First, bar the press and TV from the public meeting.
Second, ban any flyers which address saving the Page Mill YMCA in any form.

I thought you might be interested in seeing this message from Matt in response to my note that all the notices had been taken down. The Community Bulletin Board is, as you can see, censored.

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Matt Hitchcock (Page Mill) <[email protected]>
Sent: Friday, August 8, 2014 2:50 PM
Subject: notices in the women's locker room

Hi ,
Thank you for your note.

Our policy has always been that anything that gets posted must be approved. The notices to which you refer were certainly not.

In fact, they contradict our efforts to provide a smooth transition to our members to other facilities. We will continue to take down any items that are posted without approval.

I appreciate your understanding.

Matt Hitchcock
Executive Director
755 Page Mill Road, Bldg B, Palo Alto, CA 94304
(P) 650-687-6902 (F) 650-858-0664
(E) [email protected] (W)

The Y: We’re for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

Like us on FACEBOOK. Go to

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 9, 2014 at 10:40 am

Resident -- You asked why I've written:

In this instance, I've had personal connections: I'm a user of SV Y facilities, and am both disabled and elderly. Also, in my professional life, I reviewed 501C3 agency budgets and have direct knowledge of the management issues.

Especially important, we have free speech in this country. As a resident of a Peninsula community next to Palo Alto, I will continue to comment on Peninsula issues.

I've not ever tried to intimidate anyone -- just wrote about the issue at hand. If folks (or the editor) want to quash that right, it's pretty scary. The purpose of this forum is open discussion.

Posted by Y member
a resident of another community
on Aug 10, 2014 at 12:05 pm

In response to: neighbor, a resident of another community on Aug 8, 2014 at 5:01 pm

You wrote:

Ross Road Y is 2 mi/6 min. from Page Mill, and folks can use that facility at no increase in the fees they currently pay.


there is also a door-to-door county ride service (Outreach)

* * *

Family YMCAs, such as the one at Ross Road, have children who run in the hallway and the locker room (often in random directions) and they stand on machines they do not use. I am not sure all retirees enjoy having strangers' children literally run into them.

Outreach is unreliable and I am not sure I would recommend them. According to my spreadsheet, Outreach's cabs arrived late at our door 30 percent of the time. I considered any cab that after its 30 minute estimated time of arrival (ETA) window to be late. On some occasions, their cabs arrived 45 minutes, an hour, and an hour and a half after its scheduled ETA. Drivers never apologized for being late. Dispatchers rarely phone to warn you that your cab will arrive late. You do not receive a refund for late cabs. Also, You must schedule rides at least 1 day in advance and not more than 3 days in advance. Also, you will ride with up to 2 other elderly and/or disabled passengers. Outreach is better than nothing and they are inexpensive, but do not expect them to be punctual or convenient.

Not everyone can use Outreach. To qualify for Outreach's services, you must be a disabled Santa Clara County resident AND your doctor must certify that you are unable to drive or travel independently due to mental and/or physical disabilities. Among other criteria, your disability (or disabilities) must be proven to render you unable to board, ride, or disembark from an accessible vehicle without the assistance of another person.

* * *

Thought for the day: Aggressive people are often found working in positions of power. They pride themselves in being cold and logical. Aggressive people may attack those who disagree with them by saying they are emotional and passionate. You cannot reason with them.

Posted by Perspective
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Aug 10, 2014 at 1:05 pm

It seems the Page Mill elderly want a place void of children acting like children, within a community space. I wonder if the children would also prefer a space void of the elderly acting elderly? I know, unfortunately, many adults are annoyed and inconvienced by the elderly, but what they provide the community is far greater than the inconvienced they may cause.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 10, 2014 at 1:49 pm

You mention several issues, which are easily addressed

I absolutely agree that children running around a gym facility and standing on the equipment are a serious safety hazard -- ESPECIALLY to disabled or elderly members, like myself.

SUGGESTION: Alert both the parents and Y personnel about the misbehaving kids who are making gym use dangerous. The problem is not insurmountable -- The Y doesn't want an accident or higher insurance rates.

I only mentioned Outreach, because posters said that disabled members could not drive the extra 2 miles to Ross Road. I agree that Outreach is not optimal. I know this personally since I have had to use it many times, however I have several questions....

How are disabled members getting to the Page Mill gym now? If they can drive to that location, why can't they drive 2 miles to Ross Road? How far from their home is Page Mill? Not zero miles, since no one lives at that Ross Road building.

Also, I assume the Y trip is not the only time they drive: They drive to the market, to friends' homes, to the doctor, to the movies, etc. -- and these trips are in many Palo Alto locations.

AND: Other writers first mentioned 80-90 year olds. Perhaps other Y members might offer these folks a ride to Ross Road? They could use the elderly member's disabled parking permit when they do this. When I visit my sister in San Diego I take my permit, so that we can park in a blue space if necessary (I have serious physical mobility issues).

I love your "Aggressive People" quote, especially the part that says "You cannot reason with them." That is so true.

It has been difficult to present my alternative opinion about this issue -- about 501C3 financial facts, or about possible service alternatives -- to a few protesters who seem quire emotional. But I'll continue to address issues when I feel that I should.

Posted by Big Dummy
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Aug 10, 2014 at 2:18 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by SJ
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 10, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Neighbor writes: "Especially important, we have free speech in this country."

Too bad we don't have free speech at the Page Mill. First the press and TV cameras were banned at the Public Meeting because the room was too small. Now we are not allowed to post information about the Page Mill closing on the "Community Board".

As you see from the above post Aug. 9,9:22 AM, our ED Matt Hitchcock has taken down all flyers not approved by the YMCA. He states above that "they contradict our efforts to provide a smooth transition to our members to other facilities. We will continue to take down any items that are posted without approval."

Initially Elizabeth and Matt said that they would support our ideas to find new gyms for us wherever they may be. They acknowledged that they might lose up to 50% of the members to non-Y facilities but there were lots of gyms around, that's competition. They did not seem at all concerned about that.

Flyers posted by members on our so-called Community Board advising Page Mill Members that the JCC was offering a special discount to Page Mill members was taken down, a flyer listing telephone numbers and emails of people to contact about the closure was taken down, a flyer telling members not to give up hope was taken down, a flyer announcing a meeting to coordinate people with ideas about having another gym at the site was taken down. The "take down" list goes on and on.

As you can see these flyers are all pretty rebellious in nature and now are apparently counter to the Y's core values: "We're for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility."

What's next from YMCASV to quiet Page Mill member, a gag order? I guess we will have to start using air drops for our flyers to get our news and information out to fellow members as they have to do in other places were those in charge do not allow free discourse of topics.

The YMCASV keeps compounding their mistakes in this matter. It is sad to see the intentional actions of the YMCASV crumble their reputation. One couldn't write a more destructive plan to close a Y if one tried.

Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 10, 2014 at 7:05 pm

SV Y has suddenly realized that they might lose the entire PM membership to other, non Y gyms. Any information posted in PM by members trying to assist other members with information about gyms like the JCC and 24 Hour Fitness is immediately being pulled down. So much for the promise to assist the displaced members with finding alternative gyms. SV Y has behaved in this matter in a shabby and awful manner. They may be a not-for-profit corporation, but they are behaving like a run of the mill for-profit-corporation. The YMCA has lost me, my family and many of my friends forever-not one penny to the YMCA for as long as we live, but I have no doubt they have also lost most of the current members. They will find out that the P.M closure and their subsequent behavior will cost them significantly more than the money they are supposedly saving by the closure.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2014 at 7:20 pm


You still continue to try and persuade people to use the Ross Road Y.

I will say it one more time, there is no space for them at Ross Road. There is no space for extra members in those type of numbers. There is no space for extra cars to park. There is no space on the exercise machines. There is no space in the stretching room. There is no space in the pool. There is no space in the locker rooms and there is no space in the lockers.

Whatever part of this scenario involves transferring additional numbers to Ross Road, at almost any time of day on almost any day of the week, Ross Road is busy (with all ages) and there is no space for extra machines, cars, lockers, or people of any age and any ability.

Posted by Disappointed
a resident of University South
on Aug 10, 2014 at 8:13 pm

I have not been able to shake the feeling that all this boils down to a group desperately trying to pursuade everyone that their social/emotional/political needs are more important than the rest of the needs of the community. The damage they have done to community and other Y's (especially members) will be longer lasting than whatever the Y has done to them.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 10, 2014 at 9:18 pm

I will again point out: Other Peninsula towns make do with only one Y, and their members don't seem to feel entitled to force the Y to operate a 2nd location. Their towns have similar proportions of elderly/disabled members.

-- In other areas, especially where incomes are much lower than in Palo Alto, members have fewer local gyms and fewer local parks than there are in Palo Alto. Also average household incomes are often lower.

-- Members at other Peninsula Ys schedule their workouts to deal with local traffic, parking, and busy Y times....or they just deal with these issues with few complaints.

Again, despite the closure of Page Mill members have choices

--- They can close-out their Y membership if they don't want to use Ross Road (or a Y in a different town),

--- They can Join a different gym. There are lots to choose from. As suggested earlier, gyms at physical therapy offices often offer monthly memberships and they are safe (and very quiet) places for elderly and disabled folks to exercise. I've found some to be cheaper than the Y.

--- They can organize to open a new private gym club, and define their own membership parameters and location.

You are trying to force the YMCA to bend to your demands. You are trying to get local politicians to apply additional pressure. But, the Y's Citizen Board has evaluated its financial obligations and operational needs and has determined that it cannot continue to operate a 2nd facility in Palo Alto.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 10, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Dear "Disappointed"
I just saw your note and appreciate your comment. You are so right --- it is indeed a sad situation.
I don't like to repeat the same info again and again, but I just keep hoping to get through.

Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm

I thought that part of the "planned community" approval for the Page Mill offices was that they include a gym. If so, why not just convert the space to a non-Y gym and keep it going?

Posted by Y member
a resident of another community
on Aug 11, 2014 at 1:23 pm

In response to Neighbor, a resident of another community

You wrote: Alert both the parents and Y personnel about the misbehaving kids who are making gym use dangerous. The problem is not insurmountable -- The Y doesn't want an accident or higher insurance rates.

My response: I think you very well know your suggestion is a disingenuous non-starter. The parents at the Ross Road YMCA know when their children are misbehaving. They are aware, but they do not appear to care. How often do you tell a parent that his or her child(ren) is/are misbehaving? And how often does the parent take well to your criticism? Secondly, how often are you willing to report misbehaving children to YMCA personnel? Do you want to be known there as a chronic complainer?


Aggressive people say that anyone who disagrees with them is being emotional and is being full of passion. Here, management's willingness to encourage current members to go elsewhere - to another chain, if need be - shows their contempt for those who disagree with them. That is pretty aggressive behavior. Said individuals have probably cultivated excellent working relationships with power figures in the city government. As I said before, you cannot reason with aggressive people.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 11, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Y Member
(1) I report unsafe conditions in any facility I use, because I fall easily and cannot risk another injury. Like all businesses/faciliteis, my gym does NOT want to risk an accident, so they post signs and monitor the safety situation.

I agree that dealing with local parents directly can be iffy. Best to go directly to management about such problems.

(2) Suggesting another gym is not an act of contempt at all, and it is not aggressive. The Y is trying to help you find another facility, because Page Mill is closing and you don't want to transfer to the Ross Road Y.

(3) "Palo Alto Resident's" post offers a suggestion that has repeatedly be made. Here is his/her msg. again:
......"I thought that part of the "planned community" approval for the Page Mill offices was that they include a gym. If so, why not just convert the space to a non-Y gym and keep it going?"

(4) Clearly I agree with you that you cannot reason with aggressive people.

Posted by Entertained
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 11, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Palo Alto Resident, amen! Neighbor, you're right: the YMCA has the responsibility to use its funds in the manner its board determines. My coworker, a social worker, had as clients last year a family that received free meals through a Y program. Hard to buy that the YMCA should instead spend money to operate a dying gym. If some are convinced it can be run better and be solvent, do it. The site is open in October, isn't it?

Posted by Lost Cause
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 11, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Y Member, as a parent and Y member I am offended by your characterization of other Y's and its members, young and old. You fail to realize that we have the same love, expectations and respect for our Y as you do for yours. Why then we would put up with a rude, disorganized and chaotic environment? Your quest for help would land on more sympathetic ears if you were not doing it by misrepresenting others.

Posted by Kerry55
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 11, 2014 at 9:02 pm

FYI, the distance between Ross Road and PM Y is a few miles, but NOT 6 minutes drive time. I have driven this route to attend classes I prefer at Page Mill. The driving time varies between 15-25 minutes in the morning. Oregon is completely backed up in the morning and has impossible congestion. The El Camino/Page Mill intersection must be 1 of the worst in the whole county! I have given up and turned around a few times because the traffic backup was sooooo bad.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 12, 2014 at 10:10 am

While the Page Mill/El Camino intersection can be frustrating, I'm certain that actual traffic data would show that it is NOT the major bottleneck in the County. Not even close.

Note these 2 characteristics of driving time 9 -- confirmed by empirical data:
1. Actual driving times vary by time of day + direction of travel.
2. People overestimate travel time if they encounter ANY traffic at all or even red lights

Solutions for people driving to the Ross Road Y:
1. Use an alternate route to the gym.
2. Make your trip at off-peak times
3. Carpool to minimize your personal frustration

Lots (most?) of people in other Peninsula towns drive through traffic to do their errands or get to the Y or their private gym.

Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 12, 2014 at 12:23 pm

The contempt of SV Y for the PM members is appalling. Before I cancelled my membership and switched to a non Y fitness center, it was very clear from comments by the PM director and the board members that they just couldn't wait to get rid of the older, unfashionable membership, and didn't particularly care if they moved to non Y gyms. Now I hear from friends who still haven't stitched, than notices on the bulletin board that inform PM members of other, non-Y gyms offering deals to PM members are immediately pulled down. I guess they suddenly realized that no member is going to move to the EPA Y, Ross has never been an option either, and suddenly they realized they will be losing many hundreds of members, their dues and donations.

I'll say it again-the closure is not about Page Mill losing money, which based on its real life membership it isn't. Nore is it about the cost of improvements, which have been ridiculously exaggerated. It's about two things:the older membership of Page Mill doesn't fit the YMCA's desire to target young people and families. The second is that EPA is a money loser and they hoped enough PM members would switch so it it stops losing money. When they realized that no one was switching to EPA they panicked.

Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 12, 2014 at 4:23 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

You guys are a piece of work. Why are you wasting my tax money in getting the city involved? You think Palo Alto city employees and the council work for free?

As for boscoli, who continually harps on the downsides of Ross Road Y - I've been to both. Ross Road is 100x better for old folks compared to the dump that is Page Mill.

As for Tom Dubois looking to pander to this vocal minority wasting my tax money, I know who I'm not voting for.

Posted by Sea=Seelam
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 21, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Sea=Seelam is a registered user.

I hear through news article written by BKerr that the business center wants to keep the space as a gym.

What a wonderful news for Palo Alto and all the people that use the gym.

We divorce YMCA and marry a gym that is progressive and uplifting to our community and our neighbors that come here for exercise and more like for friendship.

Who will the new gym operator be?


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