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Palo Alto explores new partnership with neighborhoods

Original post made on Apr 22, 2015

Seeking to strengthen the ties that bind City Hall to the city's 37 neighborhoods, the Palo Alto City Council on Monday agreed to explore a slew of new initiatives, including free use of public facilities by neighborhood associations, more information sharing and a new ombudsman who would follow up on pressing neighborhood issues.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 22, 2015, 9:51 AM

Comments (28)

Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 22, 2015 at 10:06 am

Now if we only had some public facilities in my neighborhood or adjacent to hold the meetings!


Posted by Green Acres resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:17 pm

I know our neighbor Barron Park has an association. Do we have one?


Posted by Shirley
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Space might be available through the City at Lucy Stern Center, or the meeting space that was incorporated in the Alma Street Micki's and Grocery Outlet building, that was suppose to be a benefit


Posted by GT
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:07 pm

How about using that "public space" in the patio confiscated by Caffe Riache.


Posted by Frances Roth
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:54 pm

I feel that the Barron Park and Greenacres parts of Palo Alto are like stepchildren with almost no services. HOw about extending the Palo Alto Shuttle into this area? It is a long walk to the VTA on El Camino for our residents. So how would we get to the city facilities for meetings if we do not drive?


Posted by Jane
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:57 pm

The proposal to have associations to attend the County's United Neighborhood conference is great so to gather ideas of what is working and not working in other city's neighborhood associations, as well as to have awareness of what other cities have in place or are facing moving into the future. Remember, Palo Alto is named as one of the snobbiest cities. Recommend we get out there and find ways to receive as well as share.

While PAN wants to be representative of the neighborhoods, it appears they are more of a channel of passing citywide events to the neighborhoods. It would be greatly information as to the reason for their existence and what it is that it champions.


Posted by Community Rooms
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2015 at 3:09 pm

I like the suggestion about Riaci's public space.It's time to take back what belongs to us. And other so called public spaces that have been privatized.

So called Community rooms that used to be free now cost a lot - more than neighborhood organizations can afford. and they want you to have insurance.
It's a good way for the city not to be bothered by letting people use the rooms. Make it so complicated, people don't even try.
And reserving so called community rooms at the libraries, you need to hire a lawyer to figure it out. The rooms are locked, like it was private property.

Of course they need to see that facilities aren't abused, but the bureaucratic rigmarole is ridiculous.


Posted by John
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2015 at 3:30 pm

I think PAN is wrong to insist it be given a central role in what evolves from this initiative. It's stance sounds more than a little self serving. Who made PAN the only way our neighborhoods access the city about concerns? Two or more tracks serving our interests can exist at once and enhance community.


Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 4:05 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Shameless self-promotion: People interested in this topic might want to look at two of my earlier blogs on this:

- "Disengaged 'Engagement'" (March 14, Web Link I criticize the proposal as being much too little and too limited.

- "Neighborhood Associations: Why they are still important" (March 10, Web Link A discussion of the various roles neighborhood associations can take on may facilitate your thinking about what sort of neighborhood functions are important to you, what City Hall can do to support that, and whether the current proposal addresses it.

If the current outline doesn't include your priorities, consider letting the Policy and Services Committee (subgroup of City Council) know.


Posted by Lydia Kou
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 4:16 pm

The west side of Alma, south side of Page Mill and Oregon has no community centers, we have to rely on good business neighbors. Creekside Inn has been involved with the Barron Park neighborhood since before my time, as have Driftwood Market and Cibo Restaurant. We need a community center near Gunn, Terman, Briones and Barron Park schools for the kids but also for adults to gather for tai-chi classes, chess games, table tennis, exercise/yoga classes, conversations, etc. Mitchell Park Library and community center is too far for our many neighborhoods on this side of the tracks.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 4:18 pm

There's a ton of rooms for use by communities at the new Mitchell Park library. Has anyone applied to use them? Do they get used?


Posted by Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2015 at 5:41 pm

I think you have to pay for the Mitchell Park meeting rooms.


Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 22, 2015 at 5:41 pm

"Residents should still feel free to pick up the phone or email other city officials to obtain information or resolve issues, he argued.'
Oh, gee, how kind of you.
I strongly disagree with communication city - neighborhood associations. Why? I was never contacted by the supposed one in my neighborhood and I have lived here over 10 years. After a long time a neighbor happened to mention how to get online with them, had only the vaguest notion of this supposed spokeswoman for my neighborhood previously! - and I decided not to bother at this point. They do NOT represent me by any means. I have never been contacted for input or my opinion on anything in this neighborhood.


Posted by Amazing
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:37 pm

Anytime local governement gets involved, things will go bad. Look at all the highly socialized countries.

We have plenty of laws on the book. Everyone needs to redoect and follow the PAMC. End of story and no need for neighborhood association.


Posted by Amazing
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:39 pm

Sorry- typo....I meant to say RESPECT


Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

"Anonymous" of D/StF: "I have never been contacted for input or my opinion on anything in this neighborhood."

This is the sort of arrogant entitlement that makes community involvement so difficult. "Anonymous" holds that unpaid volunteers are to blame if they don't spend however much time is required to contact him and people like him, but that it is too much to expect of him to do a trivial and obvious web search for that information.

News for "Anonymous" and his ilk: If you want servants, you need to pay them. If you *choose* not to participate, that is your fault, not others. Take responsibility for your actions, and inactions.


Posted by roger
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:03 pm

good ideas city council--keep up the good work


Posted by Amazing
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:39 pm

And please.,.. If you are a realtor do not volunteer for this since I am tired of having to recycle all your adds. Next time use email and save some trees!


Posted by PAN?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:50 pm

PAN seems to be the collection of really old NIMBYs who just care about convenient parking. It has outlived its usefulness, and probably never really represented its neighborhoods.


Posted by Make suggestions
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 10:18 pm

Instead of vague criticisms of organizations you don't do anything to support, how about saying what we DO want neighborhood associations to do?
OK, I'll start:
I think residents should push back on the power exerted by the developers and their architects who are ruining the ambiance of the town.

And stop the city staff from spending so many millions on things that don't benefit us -like %4.5 MILLION to remodel their lobby.

I started, now you say what else you want.


Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 23, 2015 at 3:39 am

Mitchell Park Community Center rooms & pricing: Web Link

Non-profit rates from $41 per hour for ~45 person room, up to $104 per hour for the whole El Palo Alto room seating 500.

Looks like they want a million dollars of insurance for groups over 150 people, or any size serving alcohol.

Then there's the fine print about up to $750 cleaning deposit, $29 per hour for a facility attendant if evening or weekend (4 hour minimum), IRS number or 501(c)3 letter to verify non-profit status, and equipment fees if wanting a projector or coffee maker.


Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 23, 2015 at 10:33 am

@ Douglas Moran, [portion removed] I did not "choose" to participate or not, in fact in a prior city I was involved in a neighborhood group for earthquake safety/preparations; rather the history here is I found myself occasionally reading local articles mentioning (in a minor way, admittedly) an organization that I have never been given ANY introduction to or knowledge of, speaking as if to represent my opinion on city matters. I object to that, sorry. Unpaid volunteers?! I don't even know this woman, who in past as spoken as "president" or "head" and I don't know the current status --- she (as it was or is a she) spoke up "on behalf" of my neighborhood, and I see not legitimacy in that when a fairly longtime homeowner like me has 1)never received a flier 2)never received a representative of the organization stopping by. As I noted, it was about two years ago when a nearby neighbor happened to make some mention of this group and I inquired about it, and the neighbor said she could give me the login info or some such. When I looked at the site, it looked out of date. I dropped the matter. I am astounded this makes you feel I am a bad person.


Posted by Make suggestions
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 23, 2015 at 10:47 am

Anonymous: Instead of arguing with Doug Moran and criticizing those who do participate, why don't you say which issues you would like your neighborhood association to advocate. This thread is your opportunity.


Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 23, 2015 at 1:13 pm

@make suggestions, I do not have a particular issue at this moment to bring up; what I wanted to publicize was that it is incorrect for the City to prioritize taking input/feedback from all neighborhood associations 1)IF they are 1)unknown to residents in the apparent catchment area 2)those residents have not been contacted for feedback or given any tool/method as to how to even give input to the association.
I was never informed by anyone about this association - to be clear.
Perhaps these associations should do a walkthrough every year. My street has had a lot of turnover, I feel it is unlikely my neighbors are all involved and voting and volunteering in this association while I have known nothing for most of these numerous years. Most likely, they, in their also busy lives, have not known anything about it.
I can believe some associations are legitimate, of course! - all I know is that nobody, not even people on my street, has EVER brought up the subject of the apparent association in my area. Over time, I noticed a name in a few newspaper stories, these listed a "president" and various assertions were made on city issues. I do not feel this is legit. Once, about two years ago (?), I remembered to ask a neighbor who has lived here longer, and this person expressed the slightest knowledge of this ("our") association - that's the entire extent of the matter. I am perfectly capable of expressing my opinion and being involved politically and in the schools, for example, but I do not think city officials should give great attention to declarations from some of these purported neighborhood associations.
Thank you, over and out.


Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 23, 2015 at 2:13 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@ "Anonymous" of D/StF:

By any reasonable measure, you *have* chosen to not participate in the neighborhood association, and repeatedly. That is your right. However, because *you* choose not to participate in a neighborhood association doesn't mean that City Hall should be precluded from working with neighborhood associations to communicate with the many who *do* choose to participate in those groups.

Details on "Anonymous" choosing not to participate.
You participate in this online forum, but for the neighborhood association that you acknowledge long-term awareness of, you are unwilling to sign up for email or visit a website. Instead you expect them to come to your doorstep -- presumably repeated trips in order to catch you when you are at home and available to talk.

And you reject the use of email/discussion groups to keep you informed of events and issues, expecting them to drop hardcopy on your doorstep ("fliers" was your word).


Posted by Cheryl Lilienstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 23, 2015 at 2:29 pm

The Comprehensive Plan, written in 1998 says:

"All Palo Alto neighborhoods will be improved, EACH TO HAVE PUBLIC GATHERING SPACES..."

Yet as Lydia Kou points out, (and as the Cubberly Working group noticed) the area south of Page Mill and west of Alma is a DESERT with regards to public resources. This needs attention if the vision is for ALL of Palo Alto to enjoy living here. We deeply need a community center on this side of town.

I applaud this council for offering to make meeting space available at no charge for public meetings.
And:

The libraries have nice meeting rooms, yet close too early for after-work meetings, and hours are quite limited and unpredictable when compared with other municipalities. It would seem that if the city can afford to hire TWO new assistant city managers (one with a generous housing allowance), and ANOTHER city attorney, there should be money allocated so that the lovely new libraries can be open longer hours for public use.

Mitchell Park Library and Rinconada are open more hours than the others yet are still inadequate and not predictable since nearly every day is different:

Mon: noon - 8 pm;
Tues: 10 am - 8 pm;
Weds: 10 am -8 pm
Thurs: noon - 8 pm;
Fri. & Sat: 10 am - 6 pm;
Sun: 1 - 5 pm

By comparison Cupertino could actually be host to an after work meeting by being open until 9 PM most nights:
Monday 10 - 9
Tuesday 10 - 9
Wednesday 10 - 9
Thursday 10 - 9
Friday 10 - 6
Saturday 10 - 6
Sunday noon - 6
Holidays & Closures


Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 23, 2015 at 5:21 pm

"@ "Anonymous" of D/StF:

By any reasonable measure, you *have* chosen to not participate in the neighborhood association, and repeatedly. "

Sir, I truly have NO IDEA what you are talking about.

I explained - clearly - that I was NEVER informed about any neighborhood association in any form - and therefore, decline to agree that this supposed entity speaks for me with regards to the City of Palo Alto.

The ONLY way I had any inkling about this supposed entity was over time, reading the local newspapers, seeing a handful of times a name of an association and a "president" and wondering about it, with NO indication as to how to contact or join.
Nobody ever spoke of it - EVER - on my street. On an occasion, I happened to think of it and inquired to my neighbor who made the most half-hearted acknowledgement of this supposed entity.
Therefore, I decline to give great recognition of this entity as something active, important, or representative of my residential neighborhood.
I have read of other neighborhood associations in the City of Palo Alto who have been described in local newspapers with identifiable leaders and mentions of surveys of their members or at least some effort to contact or survey those in their apparent catchment areas.


Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 23, 2015 at 6:08 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: "Anonymous"
> "...I was NEVER informed about any neighborhood association ... The ONLY way I had any inkling about this supposed entity was over time, reading the local newspapers... with NO indication as to how to contact or join..."

A *Palo Alto Weekly article* on the neighborhood that lists the association president by name and with her telephone number and email is returned as the SECOND item in the results of a Google search on "duveneck st francis neighborhood association" (Web Link The very FIRST search result is a link to the neighborhood's Yahoo Group.


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