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In Crescent Park, a push to end traffic gridlock

Original post made on Dec 1, 2017

Fed up with the daily traffic gridlock on their neighborhood's streets, Crescent Park residents are banding together to get the city of Palo Alto's attention.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, December 1, 2017, 6:37 AM

Comments (124)

2 people like this
Posted by Gus L.
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 1, 2017 at 8:24 am

How about a Grade separation for the Neighborhood? Tunnels so they can get out of the driveways..
Or make it so there is no Shortcut through the neighborhood.. Speed Bumps and Roundabouts at every intersection..
Cops with Dogs.. Cops with Cats, Dogs and Cats Living together, Carmageddon...


84 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2017 at 8:27 am

The real problem is that the City doesn't understand the concept of efficient traffic flow on arterial roads and feeder roads. The traffic has to go somewhere and if you put up a roadblock, a single lane, a no turn, or any other obstacle to traffic flow, the result is that the traffic will move somewhere else. As soon as one obstacle appears the natural reaction is to find an alternative. Don't blame WAZE, people have always looked for shortcuts and residential areas have always been the obvious alternative.

Every time something happens to cause congestion in the name of safety or traffic calming, it causes automatic problems elsewhere. Middlefield is an arterial and causing gridlock will put pressure on residential streets. Ross Road is a feeder street (and the only entrance to a busy facility, the YMCA) and it will put more pressure on the other feeder streets as well as other residential streets.

The City needs to get efficient traffic flow as a priority. Not creation of road obstacles. Not making additional lights, signs, or tax measures.


72 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 1, 2017 at 8:48 am

Exactly, if the bored, overfed, overpaid City Council didn't have so much free time on their hands and money to burn, they would have left our roads well enough alone over the past two years.

Nothing was wrong, nothing needed fixing. This is manufactured problem by delusional people in power who think we can turn Palo Alto into a Bicycle Utopia by closing off vital thoroughfares to cars and turning them into a virtual Disneyland for imaginary cyclists.

Josh Mello, TMA and City Council should be FIRED they are responsible for the gridlock but they are not held accountable. Government gets away with anything they want if we don't question them.

WAKE UP PALO ALTO


62 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 1, 2017 at 8:53 am

...and it sickens me that they are proposing solutions such as even MORE "traffic calming" (which should really be called: traffic enraging)

Instead of holding TMA and Josh Mello accountable for failed bike projects that caused this congestion in the first place... the proposed solution is to raise taxes on downtown employers??? So someone else has to suffer for your mistakes???


17 people like this
Posted by So...
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 1, 2017 at 8:57 am

They have a way to reduce the number of cars going down the street? That's realistically the ONLY way traffic will improve. I hope they understand this.

Banding together to scream loudly feels good but does nothing.
When people grasp that reality, that there are simply too many cars trying to fit into too small an area, they'll find real options, real relief.
Everyone wants less cars to contend with so they can drive. The problem is EVERYONE wants this and it trying to drive. Any idea what the outcome is with that thinking? (Hint: You're living it)


45 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2017 at 9:07 am

The real problem is not being addressed. The problem is that people do need to get to where they need to get.

As an example, today I need to get to a venue south of me and north of me as well as stopping off for some necessary groceries. I have some flexibility on timing but trying to work out a route in my mind that would serve all 3 in the most efficient and timely manner is a problem. I could spend all day trying to get to these places by shuttle or bus or bike or walking, but would that be an efficient use of my time? I do hope to get to these venues looking smart and professional and I will have things to carry. Whether they like it or not, driving is the only thing that makes sense. What doesn't make sense is the time it will take to get around. BTW, I do walk when I can and when I drive I try to avoid school commutes, but it gets increasingly difficult.

We don't have alternatives to driving when it comes to so many things in a busy day. For those of us with non-fixed, non-regular commutes and several destinations around the peninsula traffic is a major headache.


57 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 1, 2017 at 9:07 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"They say they battle just to get in and out of their driveways on weekday afternoons. On so-called Carmageddon days, when there is total gridlock, drivers start making illegal — and dangerous — turns, drive in oncoming lanes and speed in search of a side street that might be less congested, they said."

Resident's post above is exactly right! Traffic has to go somewhere and the City seems determined to impede traffic flow when we're already solidly gridlocked.

Every day is Carmageddon in my neighborhood, Middlefield near Embarcadero. Twice drivers have plowed into our PARKED car. Cars have plowed into our street tree. Turning onto Embarcadero W and finding cars in the wrong lane is terrifying when you're totally boxed in with no place to go!

Good for Kuo and Holman for trying to address the problem in Crescent Park. Please come to our neighborhood, too, because we're STILL waiting for answers about the stupid barriers. (Why pay for new storm drains when the barriers impede street cleaning???)

The city's current policies are dangerous and costly to taxpayers and to individuals who have to replace cars, widen our driveways etc. To contemplate expanding Casti and Stanford and worsening congestion is just nuts.


48 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 1, 2017 at 9:39 am

With the extreme traffic problems Palo Alto is facing, why in the world is the city/county even thinking about letting Stanford expand? It makes no sense.

Also, the city has a traffic planning committee with ZERO money to do anything. We need council members who value Palo Alto citizens quality of life and not growth at any cost.

If you think this issue doesn't affect you, just wait. With the proposed growth, soon every street will be gridlock from 3-8pm.

Consider signing the online petition to encourage the County Supervisors to put sustainable development first and foremost when considering Stanford’s new General Use Permit (GUP). Copy and paste the following:

Web Link

Also, please forward the link to others who you think might be willing to sign the petition.


50 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2017 at 9:55 am

“Residents at the meeting said there should be an ordinance requiring the city to measure the congestion on roads. The council would not be able to approve a development unless there is a satisfactory traffic flow on surrounding streets or in a particular zone affected by the development, they said.”


Yet, you guys elected a city council that believes EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of that:

“The traditional measure that is used in environmental analyses -- known as "level of service" (LOS) -- focuses on traffic delays at major intersections and road segments ... on Monday night, Fine made a motion to effectively shift to VMT and to use LOS only for informational purposes. In arguing for the change, Fine argued that using LOS could hinder the city in its pursuit of environmentally sustainable policies, such as infill development.”

Web Link


If you want a government that cares about traffic, then next time vote for one.


49 people like this
Posted by whack'a'mole
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 1, 2017 at 10:08 am

So, they made road changes to Middlefield to push all traffic from DTN through Crescent Park and now they're going to make road changes to Crescent Park to push the traffic where?

These guys have no idea how to manage traffic in this city.


40 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 1, 2017 at 10:13 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@Resident, very interesting about Mr. Fine's stance but wholly consistent with his previous views when I wrote him personally to point out that the Jordan bike lane traffic "survey" had been conducted during the lightest traffic times and to request studies be conducted during RUSH hours! He also supported Mr. Mello when he tried to shift the blame for the dangerous backups to the COUNTY who should fix the light timing on Oregon when it was clearly PA that created the problem.

3.5 years later the city's still "monitoring" it. Who's liable when someone gets killed since it's obvious they had plenty of warning and have repeatedly been IRRESPONSIBLE in ignoring known problems.


8 people like this
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 1, 2017 at 10:26 am

It seems to me that these traffic problems could be lessened by optimizing timing of the traffic signals at University Ave & Woodland, as well as signals in the surrounding area. City of EPA has a contract who manages that, but they can only make timing changes at the city's direction. I believe Kamal Fallaha, Public Works Director (Phone: (650) 853-3189 / lkfallaha@cityofepa.org) is the person in charge of the contractor and/or taking community input.


45 people like this
Posted by MBH
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 1, 2017 at 10:42 am

MBH is a registered user.

There are two things that can be done to fix this problem:

- Moratorium on further development until Palo Alto comes up with a reasonable/viable plan for more housing and traffic management.

- Working with surrounding cities to stop development until there is a viable regional plan for more housing and traffic management.

This is not Kansas where open land stretches as far as the eye can see, and further. We are limited by the Bay on one side and hills/mountains on the other. There is NO PLACE to build additional expressways, freeways, etc. and even it there was or the cities were willing to exercise eminent domain to get the land, city streets would still be used to get to places of work, businesses etc.

Finally - the takeover of most of the retail in Palo Alto by businesses means that we all more often and drive farther for groceries etc. Doesn't help the congestion and puts more pollution in the air.


20 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 1, 2017 at 11:06 am

After a lifetime of driving (and sitting in traffic) in Palo Alto, a few traffic "calming" ideas spring to mind: (1) make Arastradero/Charleston two lanes between 101 and Deer Creek, (2) widen University Avenue, (3) add dedicated turning lanes to Embarcadero to eliminate choke points at intersections, (4) have Stanford widen Sand Hill through the shopping center to at least two lanes in each direction, (5) have Stanford widen Junipero Serra (the 5pm gridlock of cars from Stanford making a right turn from Junipero onto Page Mill is staggering), (6) connect Sand Hill to Alma at El Camino. Don't get me started on ways to relieve congestion at train crossings....


17 people like this
Posted by Oh, really?
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 1, 2017 at 11:16 am

@ So... and MBH:

Thank you for pointing out the obvious. Note how many on this page do not even want to admit that this city has limits that we have happily reached.
It is not biking that is the problem people, it is too many cars on the same old roads.

I partially agree with Holman that we are passed that point where stopping development helps. We are already at the point where we are suffocating. That does not mean that development can be allowed running wild.

Absolutely put a moratorium on office development until there is reasonable design of public transportation system. Money is not everything if you cannot get out of your driveway.

To those who say "no alternative to driving": wrong. It will take time, investment and shifting the mindset but there ARE alternatives. Until then, keep wrecking yours and others' cars for as long as it takes you to figure that out.


47 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 1, 2017 at 11:37 am

Stopping development won't solve the existing mess, but not stopping development will certainly make it worse and worse.

Ditch the TMA and TDM fantasies. Freeze commercial development downtown now!


29 people like this
Posted by worker
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 1, 2017 at 11:41 am

Expect more gridlock as planners "oversafe" Palo Alto.

Arastradero from 4 lanes to 2.

Recently Middlefield near Lucie Stern, 4 lanes to 2.

Of course people are gonna seek alternative routes! We're trying to get somewhere and spend our money on your fine Palo Alto businesses.


22 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 1, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Reducing Middlefield at Lucie Stern from 4 lanes to 2 eliminates the right turn lane onto Embarcadero West by combining it with the through traffic lane so traffic REALLY backs up. Last night at 10PM there were about 6 cars backed up in the right lane -- many signaling turns!!! -- but not one car in the left lane (formerly a combined through and left turn lane)!

Increase the 10PM backups exponentially in prime time!

Seriously, Weekly, demand some answers since the new striping could easily be corrected At least more easily than the new dangerously narrow costly bulbouts in front of Lucy Stern at Kellogg.


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 1, 2017 at 3:17 pm

Many much, much taller residential towers all up and down the peninsula is the only solution


25 people like this
Posted by Andrew
a resident of Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Dec 1, 2017 at 3:21 pm

With West Bayshore blocked for bridge replacement at Embarcadero, and the Willow Ave interchange completely torn down, evening traffic files through this neighborhood (and then through EPA) just trying to get out. A tiny bit of coordination might have had these major artery-blocking projects not occur simultaneously.


10 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 1, 2017 at 3:29 pm

@ Jeff. The reason that the ECR/Sand Hill/Alma intersection was cut-off was because drivers were cutting through the North PA neighborhoods to get to/from 101. In other words, that was a traffic calming implementation.

Opening up that intersection will cause a deluge of cars running through PA trying to get to 101. Palo Alto already has several arterial roadways that lead directly to 101 from ECR. Menlo Park has ... zero. It's time that Menlo Park does it's share of handling traffic by completing the Willow Expressway that was proposed in the 1960's!!!


18 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 1, 2017 at 4:05 pm

"Many much, much taller residential towers all up and down the peninsula is the only solution"

Solution to what? Looks more like a problem magnifier to me, with workers living in your housing projects in Sunnyvale commuting to Facebook in Menlo Park, or from housing projects in Menlo Park to Apple in Cupertino, etc., etc.


14 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 1, 2017 at 4:08 pm

"It's time that Menlo Park does it's share of handling traffic by completing the Willow Expressway that was proposed in the 1960's!!!"

Not gonna happen. Menlo's no fool. Atherton likewise.


4 people like this
Posted by @Curmudgeon
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 1, 2017 at 4:15 pm

I was cautiously hopeful that was sarcasm ...
Maybe not. This is getting insane.


29 people like this
Posted by Cecilia Willer
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 1, 2017 at 4:30 pm

I am just getting so discouraged by the traffic. Embarcadero is a mess all the time - it is forcing many of us to use the back roads. There really needs to be something done.
I hope people realize this when they look at building more housing and Stanford wants to build more. We are beyond our breaking point right now.
This is insane for sure!


11 people like this
Posted by Cecilia Willer
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 1, 2017 at 4:31 pm

I am just getting so discouraged by the traffic. Embarcadero is a mess all the time - it is forcing many of us to use the back roads. There really needs to be something done. I hope people realize this when they look at building more housing and Stanford wants to build more. We are beyond our breaking point right now.
This is insane for sure!


6 people like this
Posted by Willows Expressway?
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 1, 2017 at 5:17 pm

My understanding is that the "Willows Expressway" as proposed would have connected the northern portion of Willow through parts of Palo Alto downtown north to connect to what is now Alma and Sand Hill Road.

Here is an old PA Online story about it:
Web Link


34 people like this
Posted by Freefall
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2017 at 7:01 pm

Can anybody explain how Fine and Tanaka received their strongest vote totals as reported in the precincts surrounding the Downtown which put them on the City Council and created the majority which now has the pedal to the floor on more development?
The surprising results cried out for an audit.

The so-called traffic calming measures, with the
lane narrowing,obstacles,sign clutter,excessive
extra bright paint,inconsistent and unexpected
markings,etc, which observation and common
sense tells you have the opposite effects on
safety, traffic flow,neighborhood quality, is
cynically used by the pro-development Council majority as a cover-up to allow the continuation of pro-development policies. Policies of the last 15 years have put Palo Alto in a freefall.




41 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 1, 2017 at 8:16 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Maybe because Fine and Tanaka -- with their well-funded developer backers, the bike lobby and Palo Alto Forward -- convinced their idealistic supporters that more density will reduce housing prices and rents, and that everyone wants to /should be car-free?

The first argument ignores the huge percentage of all cash-foreign buyers. Even realtors like DeLeon say in their monthly market updates that only those with RSUs (restricted stock units) and foreign buyers can buy homes here.

As for the second, just look at San Francisco. Contrary to urban planners' initial hopes, actual evidence later showed that going car-light and using Uber/Lyft actually increased the number of daily car trips by 200,000 instead of decreasing them.


3 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 1, 2017 at 8:54 pm

"I was cautiously hopeful that was sarcasm ...
Maybe not. This is getting insane."

Me too, except for the cautiously part.


16 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 1, 2017 at 10:08 pm

@Online Name

I have heard anecdotes of local companies who suggest that visiting clients to their Palo Alto office use Uber rather than try to park in Palo Alto. I have also heard anecdotes of many companies advocating Uber for business meetings in other parts of the Valley so that the employee will be away for less amounts of time as the Uber can use carpool lanes rather than an employee having to drive solo.

Both of these scenarios may solve some problems for the individual worker but it does little to alleviate the traffic on our roads and highways or the parking issue in Palo Alto.


16 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 2, 2017 at 2:01 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@Resident, totally agree. I've heard the same. Both of your scenarios may help the individual worker and/or their companies but they shift the financial burden to others with the subsidies paid to commuters carpooling and using Uber/Lyft, the paid parking fees and permits, and the planned toll lanes on 101 for non-carpoolers and residents.

Re companies Ubering through the carpool lanes, Palo Alto has a TMA program where commuters and govt employees get paid for each carpool and certain Uber/Lyft trip(along with public transit expenses.) Web Link

Re visiting clients being urged to Uber to avoid parking problems, one of my buddies has yet to rent a car and he's been here all week for months on a long-term consulting gig with a major company. He Uber/Lyfts to the office and back to his $400+-a-night motel which he changes periodically so he can walk to new restaurants for dinner.

And Uber/Lyft drive off to repeat this scenario for all their other passengers that day.

My friend relocated from here to Seattle 10 years ago, has NO regrets about leaving and is so appalled by the changes he's got no desire to drive around and explore or even bring his family down for the weekend.


31 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 2, 2017 at 6:21 am

mauricio is a registered user.

I will bet that many of the same residents who now realize what a nightmare overdevelopment has caused, and what "vibrancy" actually means to their safety and quality of life also voted for the Gang of 5 at the CC, and might even continue to vote for some of them in future elections.

Yes, elections have consequences.


34 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 2, 2017 at 7:17 am

We have all been held hostage by the Bicycle Mafia!


34 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 2, 2017 at 9:55 am

Online Name is a registered user.

A sad thing about our mega-development is that many of the young idealists will be gone when they hit their late 30s like my buddy above, a former client, who began feeling "the youthquake of age discrimination" at that age -- which is statistically average.

A recent Inc. article claims only 26% of Silicon Valley workers are older than 40. An HR exec says. AS local worker survey tops out at age 44.

We're ruining our town for a bunch of short-time workers for companies that keep hiring more and younger workers which keeps increasubg housing competition...Lather, rinse, repeat.

But, hey, Fine/Tanaka are worried about our critical issues like making PA "cool" with open rooftops and ordinances to ban car idling on our gridlocked roads.

Thoughts on what the new GOP tax plan will do to CA housing and our whole economy??


30 people like this
Posted by Citizen PA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2017 at 10:47 am

The lesson of Hong Kong is that if you keep building more housing in a built desirable jobs center, more people move in and then more jobs move in and ever more people want to live and work there. Lather, rinse, repeat. There must be a recognition that there can be such a thing as too many jobs in one place, especially a place with not only limited infrastructure, but infrastructure the planners have deliberately squeezed in favor of development, eliminating the potential of future innovations, such as building right up to El Camino.

I've seen people calculate the number of housing units needed so everyone working in Palo Alto can live here, which is unnerving enough (and assumes people never do anything but plant themselves in one spot like a bush), without considering that more housing will mean companies will expand more here and more services will be needed (yet more jobs), and like Hong Kong experienced, no one ever gets ahead of the jobs-housing imbalance curve.

Hong Kong demonstrates the end of the drumbeat journey and the lie of neo-urbanist planners:

*Having the best transit system in the entire world with one of the highest usage rates does not make housing cheap or take away gridlock.

*Building ever more housing to the point of creating 4X6 "coffin" houses does not make housing affordable nor even ensure people can live near their jobs.

We can take the lessons from their experience because we are not a landlocked island.

###Holman is wrong, the ship has not sailed.####

The City and residents can solve this by taking the following steps:

1) reduce the footprint of companies that really need to move out of Palo Alto to grow this big and bigger, by enlisting Stanford's help in exchange for allowances in their growth plans.

The use of downtown/and now Cal Ave as a corporate center has caused this problem, period, and it cannot be solved by TDM. (Stanford researchers - at least those who are not one-trick ponies who think dense overdevelopment is the answer to all questions - can help by figuring out how to create additional desirable centers of job growth or revitalize decaying ones across our vast nation, in the right way to create opportunities for balance and broad economic prosperity. Plus how to extricate ourselves from these companies' efforts to make PA their own little private company town, especially when they get their employees - who are known to have "misled" voters - onto Council.)

2) (enlist Stanford's help to) create a fund and plan for the City to buy up all main retail areas in the City, so that the costs of those spaces stop increasing with the market. Make retail areas safe for retail and residents again, and even small startups.

This is how ordinary people stay in the Bay Area, it is the only way to keep physical retail. The benefit is that in exchange for the low-cost leases to retailers (especially that residents need), the City can demand a far higher wage for traditiinally low-wage workers working there. Over time, the City will derive an ever growing benefit as the benefit will grow but the cost of it to the City will not. This is a far more holistic, humane, and cost-effective way to approach housing and living wage for traditionally low-wage workers, and the beauty of it is that the benefits will only accrue as time passes. Stanford benefits from this too, as Palo Alto once again becomes a nice place for families and startups, and we can start caring about people, youth, the disabled, health, and the environment again, and anything except piling on these overdevelopment problems with more overdevelopment.

3. Residents - Crescent Park - must create permanent citizen groups to counter the overdevelopment and large corporate interests before you no longer have the power to do so. Don't just come together to address this or that issue with the City, create coalitions across town. You will need them if you want to create initiatives, or you want to balance power in City Hall to avoid needing initiatives.

To say we don't have to do this by ballot is misleading, initiatives do not have to go to the ballot box, they can be accepted by the City Council without it. Referenda can be accepted. But they only will be if citizens mobilize and stay connected to mobilize again and again. City Council is nonpaid ordinary citizens and this is a charter city - we forgot this place is built for residents to be involved. You have to be involved enough to overcome the "misleading" astroturf beating the drum for overdevelopment, and this means creating collaborative community coalitions.


1 person likes this
Posted by Judgemental palo alto
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 2, 2017 at 10:52 am

And once again there is an opportunity for the anti everything group to bash council members who are forward thinking, as opposed to the pasz 4, who advocate " we have ours and that is al that matters". [Portion removed.]


31 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 2, 2017 at 11:14 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@Judgmental, thanks for your judgmental comments. Care to respond to the SUBSTANCE of any or all of the points being discussed? I know it's crucial to pass "cool" "feel good" motions but how abut PA govt spending and fiscal responsibility?

Think the CC's costly study to make University Ave a "cool" pedestrian-only mall will cure gridlock? Conflict with the rail separation study? Is money well-spent when Stanford's huge expansion is being considered?

Ah, but according to Nr. Fine, those $$$$$ traffic studies are "informational only" and should have NO bearing on policies or be used to correct dangerous and costly mistakes.


39 people like this
Posted by Citizen PA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2017 at 12:15 pm

@Judgmental,
There is nothing "forward thinking" about your negative framing and pushing for mindless overdevelopment to benefit special interests. There is nothing forward thinking about old unworkable planning myths and old ideas about transit from the last century. There is nothing forward thinking about constantly bashing people instead of engaging on ideas and facts. The only thing "forward" about PAF is its name.

PASZ, by the way, is but one neighborhood group of many, it is not an extension of some Councilmembers the way PAF is for some of the Overdevelopment Five, your obsession with them is just strange. Your statement that they have advocated for "we have ours and that's all that matters" is subtantively and factually dead wrong, and smears many good people who have done far more for this City and those who have less than PAF has and that you probably ever have. They came out more clearly and strongly to save BV before PAF did at all, and given that BV is in their backyard, had they been "anti", rather than pro, there is no way the park could have been saved.

Just because people say things you don't like, especially when they make cogent and factual arguments for them and all you do is respond with negative framing and smears against them personally (sprinkled with "misleading" the electorate during elections to hide developer backing), does not make them "anti" everything, it just makes them anti-your-manipulation-of-the-public-debate-for-your-own-selfish-interests.

We will not be free of such attacks until City Council and residents move forward to understanding that there is a conflict between things like safety, the environment, quality of life, reasonable traffic circulation, care of our youth, etc, and unrestrained growth of corporations who want to take over the spaces the public built.

We limit the size of grocery stores for pete's sake, we should limit the size of corporations, especially in places they aren't even allowed by law to take over. Facebook moved when it needed to grow, so should Palantir et al. That is the problem residents must solve, because it is the thing from which all the others flow: persistent jobs housing imbalance, traffic, relentless push for overdevelopment and monopoloizing of city hall and civic efforts by overdevelopment interests. Palo Alto is desirable because of Stanford and must develop policies to ensure it is a viable City and not a company town for a few companies who can far more easily relocate where they can grow than Stanford can.


17 people like this
Posted by @Citizen PA
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 2, 2017 at 5:38 pm

Thank you. All excellent points.

To the list of steps in your post #1: step 0 - vote out the dishonest CC members and replace them with the ones with no obvious financial conflict of interest which includes campaign donations from developers. Never can trust what people say these days but worth trying. What do we have to loose ...


10 people like this
Posted by @Freefall
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 2, 2017 at 5:41 pm

"Can anybody explain how Fine and Tanaka received their strongest vote totals ..."

-- Were you following the last presidential elections?


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 2, 2017 at 6:48 pm

DEFINITELY RUSSIA


12 people like this
Posted by Time for Stanford to step up
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 2, 2017 at 9:35 pm

In my opinion, it’s time for Stanford to step up and make direct contributions to lessen traffic congestion and streamline traffic through our thoroughfares. I have years of witnessing Stanford bound traffic from 101 to Stanford up Embarcadero: employees, vendors, visitors, visiting sports teams, others streaming to campus, and this is major, aggressive traffic on Embarcadero.
Handing out Caltrain passes to some Stanford employees, having paid parking on campus, “encouraging” public transit DO VIRTUALLY NOTHING about real congestion for us city residents as a practical matter. I also oppose Stanford paying fees or contributions to the city of Palo Alto that just get placed in general funds or used to pay for the city bureaucracy. I WISH Stanford, one of the wealthiest universities in the world, would step up and easily and quickly fund visible, meaningful traffic improvements NOW. This would be the right thing to do.


43 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 3, 2017 at 8:32 am

The "real problem' is of course multi-faceted. A facet I think is highly problematic is that theorists are trying to solve real problems. This has been going on for a while now and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that theory-based solutions not only aren't solving problems, they are making already bad problems worse.

What we need to do isn't complicated. At least until we get ahead of our problems we need to:

STOP adding commercial development b/c it worsens the jobs:housing problem and increases traffic congestion;
STOP pretending that people will not have and use and need to park cars;
STOP allowing development that doesn't mitigate impact;
STOP pretending that cycling and walking is an option for the vast majority of PA residents - or those who commute here;
STOP making residential densification easy;
STOP overlooking the real and serious environmental impacts of development and congestion;
STOP approving projects that will ultimately make needed infrastructure improvements even harder to achieve;
STOP ignoring the fact that we are making problems instead of solving problems;
STOP ignoring the sources of campaign finance; and
STOP electing ideologues.

If we could get our act together and do the above, we might then be able to sequence solutions in a way that promotes good growth. As is, and as planned, our Planning Dept, Council Majority, and ABAG are teeing up certain failure. This is more politics than it is problem solving. Not smart. In fact, it is kinda stupid.


19 people like this
Posted by Citizen PA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 3, 2017 at 10:30 am

@Annette,
Good list. To that, you could add: START a recall campaign of those who misled the voters about their backing by development interests.

Also, START a campaign for ranked choice voting. I'm not sure if it's the answer, but until we get sonething better, I implore people who care about a balanced civic future to only cast votes for the candidates who represent your interests.

In our elections, everyone is in a pool. If there are three spots open, you can cast three votes. But here's the problem.

Let's say out of twelve candidates, there is one candidate who is the best for people who care about a good urban natural environment on one side, and one candidate who cares the most about high-density big-city-transformation development on the other. Let's say these two issues are the most important to the voters, and there are only these two people who truly represent the sides, and no other strong candidates. Let's say there is also a two other candidates who aren't really of interest, kind of flawed, but neither are very objectionable, and the rest of the field are not good. Especially if they receive a Weekly endorsement, people on both sides are going to vote for their strong candidate but also the same two weaker candidates as their second and third choice. So the people who are least strongly supported on both sides COULD end up with the most votes.

Let's look at a second, more apt scenario. Say there are five open spots, so people can cast five votes. Say there are only two very strong environmental candidates and two strong density candidates. But in addition, there is an incumbent (who has a built in advantage) who is becoming a density person but misleads the voters about being more neutral, and a few young newcomers who do the same, including engaging in, surprise, the same exact misleading of the voters about where they stand.

If people on the environmental side vote for the candidates representing their interests, but have one or two votes left over to vote for someone who seems like they are a less good but acceptable candidate, they risk giving the latter the advantage over their most favored candidates who may not win at all. In other words, the strength of support is often not represented, even if a candidate has strong support by a majority of voters. A weaker candidate often has the advantage, even if s/he would always lose in a direct one-on-one run-off. This happened in Kou's first election, in which many people had one vote left over after voting for residentialist candidates, and Wohlbach was an unknown but did not show his trule colors during the election. Many people cast a vote for him as their meh last vote, but what this did was give him an advantage over Kou who had stronger support among a larger constituency. This cost us a lot, as there never was a residentialist majority despite what the papers try to portray it as. (Burt was never a residentialist.) and then incumbents have a built-in asvantage the next time.

We need some kind of weighted or ranked-choice voting, both for Council and for School Board. I really would love to see residents solve some of these fundamental/systemic problems of local government, because they have everything to do with the problems we face but don't solve.

Until that happens, people on both sides, really, need to remember that they don't have to use all the votes (the ballot will usually say, vote for up to #), and that a vote cast for a less-strongly-supported candidate could very likely be a vote AGAINST a candidate they strongly support. Until we get some kind of weighted-choice voting, people who want representation for residents MUST vote for just the candidates they strongly support in order to ensure thise candidates win.






21 people like this
Posted by Fairmeadow Dad
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 3, 2017 at 10:49 am

I keep hearing that the population of PA explodes during the work day from 65,000 residents to 200,000+ workers and every year there are ostensibly more companies expanding their PA workforces, but unfortunately the ways in and out of Palo Alto are severely limited and the bottlenecks are becoming absolutely numbing.

East / West you have to up and down roads full of stop lights, kids going to/from schools and, most inconveniently, the Caltrain crossings.

North / South you have Alma, Middlefield, and ECR - all of which are over capacity during rush hour.

E. Meadow is often such a backup that I can't even get out of my neighborhood without turning right (when I want to turn left) and then eventually turning left into other neighborhoods so I can eventually get up to Alma myself.

The number of cars racing through Fairmeadow during the day by commuters shortcutting to avoid Meadow/Alma and Charleston/Alma intersections is crazy especially since Bryant is a bike lane - it's really not safe anymore in most of our neighborhoods; not just Crescent Park.

Infrastructure is not capable of handling the volume of workers during the day and traffic calming devices seem to be making things worse, unfortunately.

We are all constantly running late in Palo Alto no matter what we are trying to accomplish.


12 people like this
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2017 at 1:13 am

Reality Check is a registered user.


Long-term solution is to get serious about funding Dumbarton rail service. Trains (including Altamont Commuter Express, aka "ACE" trains) could come onto the Caltrain line from the Samtrans-owned Dumbarton rail bridge corridor at Redwood Junction and turn south to provide today's road-clogging Dumbarton Bridge commuters in and out of Palo Alto's University Ave. and California Ave. stations with a fast, comfortable, predictable, one-seat (no transfers!) congestion-free ride from the East Bay, Tri-Valley and Central Valley areas.

For more information (the full report and meeting information) see the recently-released Facebook-funded SamTrans Dumbarton Transportation Corridor Study at:
Web Link


9 people like this
Posted by @Annette @Citizen PA
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 4, 2017 at 10:47 am

You are making good points. I do not agree that those are theorists. Politics - yes but they are in it for the money. STOP kidding yourself.

I support all your STOPS though. The claim some make that people will be walking or biking almost everywhere is especially hilarious. They will say literally anything to push their agenda. Next will be big beautiful new freeways and flying monkeys delivering shipments.

However, it is the voters that can put all those stops during the election but that means they need to start using their heads and seeing through the colorful flyers. So ... remains uncertain.

I agree with Citizen PA but it will be hard to change the voting rules or even to explain it to the voters that they do not need to use all their votes.
Many still do not see the direct link between how they vote and how they live.


17 people like this
Posted by Bicycle Mafia? Ouch.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 4, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Bicycle Mafia? Ouch. is a registered user.

Dear Neighbors,

I am a person, your neighbor for most of my adult life, who bikes and walks for about half of my daily trips. I am (according to the AARP) a senior citizen who works. I find that (like most Palo Altons) a large percentage of my trips are very short (2-3 miles--very easily bikable on our flat, in-town bike routes).

I know I will get attacked for saying this. (Which is why people who bike rarely write on Palo Alto Online any more). Being verbally attacked by one's neighbors is truly awful--even when they are anonymous. It destroys civil discourse and undermines our community. I am contributing today because the tone of this thread is disturbing, and I hope we can bring it back toward a more civil exchange of ideas for solutions.

As I look at the city and county transportation budgets over the last twenty years, I observe that far more money has been spent locally on parking and facilities for cars than for ALL other modes of transportation combined.

There is no "bike mafia." There are just people, like you, who happen to choose to bike the way you may choose to drive. I choose to bike sometimes and walk sometimes and drive sometimes. We all need a safe place on the street, and so, those of us who bike sometimes ask for facilities just as people who drive (that's also me) ask for facilities.

I am not your enemy. We are neighbors. Let's be kinder. Let's listen better. Let's build a community through thoughtful discourse--instead of breaking down threads that bind us.

Please take a moment to think before you hit send, "Is this comment helpful or hurtful?" The quality of our national public discourse has really declined. I hope we can be more gracious and thoughtful of each other in our local community where we are friends and neighbors. More importantly, I hope we can keep these important conversations focused on solutions that serve the many people who use our streets many different ways.

Thank you for listening. Happy Holidays.


2 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 4, 2017 at 12:51 pm

The head-in-the-sand crowd is out in full force!

*munching popcorn*


21 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 4, 2017 at 1:13 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Bicycle Mafia? Ouch, then please stop lecturing the rest of us about what we SHOULD be doing when you have no clue about our personal situations, requirements, destinations, etc. etc.

The city has been -- and is -- spending a fortune to make things easier for bikes while doing its best to impede through car traffic, costing us time, money and safety.

What city in its right mind impedes through traffic on major streets like Middlefield, pushing traffic INTO the Oregon Expressway during rush hour?

What city in its right mind eliminates the right turn on red turn lane at the busy SB Middlefield / Embarcadero intersection, backing up traffic as far as the eye can see?


17 people like this
Posted by Where is Kniss report?
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 4, 2017 at 1:18 pm

Still waiting for the decision on Liz Kniss hiding big developer contributions until after the election.
She admitted she did it, so what is holding up the report?

Cannot allow her to become Mayor with such visible corruption out there for all to see.


14 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 4, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@Annette @Citizen PA - perhaps I need a better term. My comments concern those who get a fancy degree in urban planning, settle into a position of influence such as a City Planner or elected official and seemingly overlook realities and practicalities when approaching OUR problems. It seems so obvious to me that things cannot possibly get better if we are constantly making them worse - and I think the rampant commercial development is what has brought us to this sorry place. We've our own unique set of realities (geographic location, Stanford, Silicon Valley hub, age of key infrastructure components, demographics, etc) that dictate a need for creativity that will improve things here. Solutions that work elsewhere are great for that place but we have to work with what we've got - and what we don't have - most pointedly a robust and effective public transportation system. Where's the sense in planning around something we do not have?

I think more and more people are fed up with our status quo, and I hope that means some good change is on the horizon.

All that said, I see your point about the money and regrettably think you are correct. That is not a promising reality.


Like this comment
Posted by Walker
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 4, 2017 at 1:33 pm

I decided to do the walk thing today to Mountain View since it is a fine morning for a walk. I used the Pedestrian bridge to Mountain View, advertised with the picture of a bike. The big problem is that the Mountain View side has no sidewalks! Whaaaaaaaat!


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 4, 2017 at 1:55 pm

@Bicycle Mafia Ouch

Actually, it's called debating and it is healthy. Sure, I can post more constructively if I'm not on a caffeine-induced morning rant. I'll confess to that.

However, I think people should express themselves and I don't mind if it is sometimes callous and raw. The niceties that you describe as proper discourse come across to me as inauthenticity.

In the last year we've seen some changes to the roads that are very misled and have created artificial bottlenecks and exacerbated congestion. The common people who get on the freeway everyday to drive to work understandably react with rage. The traffic calming changes don't make any sense, it's kind of unprecedented, and we have to call it out.


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 4, 2017 at 2:30 pm

"The head-in-the-sand crowd is out in full force!"

Head deep in the sand, [word removed] temptingly high in the air.


Like this comment
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 4, 2017 at 2:59 pm

I'm sure the Crescent Park residents would be open to compensating the City of Palo Alto (or other residents and businesses) who would be negatively impacted from making their little corner of the city an island sans traffic?

Unfortunately, long time residents (of California in general, not just Palo Alto) have not been paying their fair share of taxes, which drives the need for local commerce in some way, shape or form to get tax revenue. I would be fully supportive of Palo Alto long-time residents drive to halt all development, commercial or otherwise, if they would also raise their property tax, or pay fees directly to Palo Alto, to fill in the revenue gap the city would have.

Yes, you long term residents are the reason why Palantir is here. Look in the mirror.

Think halting development is free? After all that hullabaloo for the city letting firefighters go - imagine when local city revenues drop precipitously because of the desire to go back to 1975.

Sounds like there's a move for Palo Alto to become a small lot version of Atherton - rich residents, poor city. It's ok if you like that kind of place.


26 people like this
Posted by Citizen PA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 4, 2017 at 6:07 pm

@Me2,
The crush of overpopulated large corporations is what is causing prices to go up, traffic to be bad, and costing everyone -including, especially - the low-income their quality of life and stability here.

You make no sense AT ALL accusing longtime residents of the ills caused by Palantir taking over downtown and they and firms like them dosplacing the retail that used to pay taxes and serve residents, There is no business tax in Palo Alto. Palantir does not pay its fair share, does not pay for the damage it does, and has shown a great propensity for taking advantage of the public like it owns this place, like when they took over the school field for a week or so for their private function.

Large rental developments (business and apartments) also tend not to pay their fair share as they age, since they rarely change hands. At some point, it may dawn on the employees here that pushing the developments here to serve the "company tow" desires of the Palantirs will endanger their pensions in the long run.

There is no chance of Palo Alto becoming Atherton, because it is next to Stanford, physically and demographically very different - there are almost no one-acre lots anywhere in town. But rich people are more and more opting for Los Altos, Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley -- it's hard to even know what point you were making. It was clearly some kind of emotionally charged manipulation based on nothing factual, intended to smear people trying to focus on the hard realities: the serious degradation in traffic circulation, environmental quality, quality of life, of the last fifteen years have been the result of too many jobs concentrated in one place. That equation cannot be resolved in favor of more housing, because there is no way to make more infrastructure. Luckily, the equation can be solved by reducing the jobs, especially the takeover of now bith of our downtowns by corporations who should be moving where they can grow. It is wrong for corporations to take over what the public built for their own selfish purposes.

We can remain a job center very easily because of Stanford, but it's hogh time we shared -- creating additiomal job centers where the development is desired is the answer. Facebook moved away when it grew too big, so can others. As Hong Kong demonstrates, with its best transit system in the world, improving transit only draws in more people and further concentrates the job center. We must create more job centers, it's better for our country and better for PA.


4 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 4, 2017 at 10:20 pm

"You make no sense AT ALL accusing longtime residents of the ills caused by Palantir taking over downtown and they and firms like them dosplacing the retail that used to pay taxes and serve residents, There is no business tax in Palo Alto. Palantir does not pay its fair share, does not pay for the damage it does, and has shown a great propensity for taking advantage of the public like it owns this place, like when they took over the school field for a week or so for their private function."

Truth hurts, doesn't it? There's more than just a direct business tax. Having lots of employees running around drives sales tax revenue, revenue from parking tickets, among other things.

Damage from Palanatir? That's a second-order effect from the ossification of California neighborhoods from Prop 13. You and your $2500 annual property tax on a house worth $2-20 million+ in Crescent Park is what's causing the damage.

[Portion removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 4, 2017 at 10:58 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Me2, I wonder who you think has a $2500 annual property tax bill these days and how many such properties even exist in Palo Alto.

But relax, given Trump's new tax bill penalizing the high-income pricey real estate Blue States like CA, we'll ALL be paying a lot more in taxes to both CA and the FEDS since the new GOP tax bill caps ALL SALT (State and Local Tax) deductions at $10,000. That includes property taxes, state income taxes, school parcel taxes, sales tax etc etc. etc.

With Gov. Brown, the VCs and economists all predicting a slow-down in tech IPOS and investment and a shift from tech to the financial sector, it's pretty ironic how PA's rushing its densification to time so nicely with the coming tech crash and/or slowdown.

Citizen PA is right that PA's highly unlikely to become the next Atherton at the rate we're densifying. How many "Atherton acre" real estate parcels are in PA? Not many with ADUs and under-parked 11-bedroom "homes" popping up on our much smaller lots.


Like this comment
Posted by A shift from tech?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 5, 2017 at 6:45 am

If the finance sector booms, they will buy technology. As any industry booms, they will upgrade their technology. A boom in most any sector creates tech sector opportunity. That's how modern businesses run and beat the competition; with better technology. If you think it's an "either/or" game, you've missed something.


Like this comment
Posted by me2too
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 5, 2017 at 8:36 am

@A shift from tech?
Its a new economy, eh?
never heard that one before!


20 people like this
Posted by Citizen PA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2017 at 9:17 am

@Me2,
[Portion removed.]

$2500? Try $25,000 and house poor in a small rundown place.

The truth, that we are fighting selfish interests who want to turn Palo Alto into their own private company town near Stanford, and to hell with what it does to anyone else, that's what hurts.


5 people like this
Posted by me2too
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 5, 2017 at 9:24 am

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 5, 2017 at 9:43 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@A Shift from Tech? and meToo,

Let's hope I'm wrong and over-reacting to recent articles like these and other reports on the slowdown in tech funding and IPOs whose cap gains revenues:

Web Link

Web Link

@A Shift from Tech, you're right of course that investment in technology helps modern businesses but aren't we also seeing fewer IPOs and thus lower cap gains revenue that have been so critical to the CA budget and played a major role in the boom/bust cycle of the area?

There was also a recent article forecasting the effect of the proposed tax changes on the real estate market. I'll dig that one up.


8 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 5, 2017 at 9:51 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Recent on articles on CA real estate and the tax changes that are worth the read. (The Merc, SF Chronicle, New York Times, Forbes)

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Interested in your thoughts.


22 people like this
Posted by Our city has been taken over
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 5, 2017 at 2:11 pm

When our city officials allowed all of the downtown retail space to be converted to office space, and then expanded, what did they expect would happen with traffic. If a downtown retail business has 20 customers a day these visits are spread throughout the day. Once converted to office space, employees commute in the morning and afternoon. Not too difficult to understand. It's all a money grab by city officials


22 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 5, 2017 at 2:41 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Our city has been taken over - We deserve it for electing people like Fine and Wolbach. They look like such sweet boys though...


50 people like this
Posted by You Deserve It
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2017 at 5:52 pm

While I have a ton of sympathy for individual Palo Alto residents affected by the region's cut-through traffic and gridlock...collectively (ie Palo Alto government and Palo Alto collectively), I have ZERO sympathy.

Collectively, your community is a terrible neighbor. Let me count the ways:

* Your idea of "traffic calming" is to create bottlenecks and gridlock in neighboring communities.
* You force Sand Hill/Alma traffic @El Camino into Menlo Park to make a hairpin U-turn, for no other reason than your own selfish arrogance.
* You allow carde blanche office construction with no account for its impact on both your roads and neighboring roads (Menlo Park+Stanford is about to give you a taste of your own medicine soon, but you're still the undeniable masters at a neighborly middle-finger to nearby communities).

Just to emphasize my level of contempt for your City, even when Google Maps or Waze shows that University and/or Willow are clear, I cut through PA neighborhoods anyways. Because you deserve it. Good luck throwing up "no through traffic" signs...I already know they're unenforceable :)

If you want sympathy...and more importantly RELIEF...try working with your neighboring communities to improve arterial capacity. That means adding capacity on University AND Willow AND marsh AND restoring Middlefield to 2 lanes @ the MP/PA boarder. Oh and stop being blindly stubborn...just let Alma<->Sand Hill traffic STAY on SAND HILL AND ALMO (Duh!).

You are going to marinate in auto exhaust until you see the light and try working with your neighbors.


Like this comment
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 5, 2017 at 6:07 pm

"$2500? Try $25,000 and house poor in a small rundown place."

Yep. It turns out that the more recent Palo Alto residents are paying that much to subsidize the ones only paying $2500.

Believe me, I know there are paying very little property tax relative to the worth of their homes. There are a few on my block.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2017 at 6:25 pm

Me 2

What is a "fair share"? Should it be based on income? Should it be based on the number of people in the house? Should it be based on the number of bathrooms, or bedrooms, or parking space?

I am interested because I often read here about people supposedly not paying "their fair share" of property tax and I have no idea what it is.

As far as I know, my property tax pays for schools, police, water district, vector control, SF Bay restoration authority, a hospital facility upgrade in south county, retirement levy, housing bond, community college bonds, Med Peninsula Open Space, Palo Alto City Bond, and land improvement taxes. That sounds like a lot that I am paying for in my property taxes.

You expect me to pay more than that so that we can prevent out of town residents drive here to go to work. That definitely sounds more than my fair share to me.


Like this comment
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 5, 2017 at 6:49 pm

"You expect me to pay more than that so that we can prevent out of town residents drive here to go to work. That definitely sounds more than my fair share to me."

I have no idea who you are so I don't know how much you pay for your property tax (Dec 10 is coming up!), but if you're paying less than 30% than your neighbor for the same services just because you've been here longer, I'd say that you're a freeloader.


23 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2017 at 9:26 pm

Me 2

So if my elderly neighbor who is the original owner of her 1950s era 3 bedroom, 1 bath home, without having updated anything very much, and has religiously paid all her property taxes on time is paying a lot less property tax than my neighbors in a home that has in the last decade been demolished and is now rebuilt with 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 car garage, has 3 generations with 6 people, with 2 kids in Palo Alto schools, who both drive each day to jobs outside Palo Alto, and moved into their home within the past 2 years, you call my elderly neighbor a freeloader?

My elderly neighbor has probably used very few services compared to my newer neighbors and you think she is freeloading. I think you need to redefine your definition of fair share.


31 people like this
Posted by Peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2017 at 10:14 pm

Property tax revenuehas increased 7.3% PER YEAR on average since 1978.

The narrative that goverment is starved of property tax revenue is a lie.


2 people like this
Posted by Doug H
a resident of University South
on Dec 5, 2017 at 10:21 pm

Ms. Dreman - I know that gridlock as a traffic descriptor sounds dramatic, but you are misusing the word. It refers to when traffic on a grid of streets gets locked up by cars being stuck in intersections - that has probably never occurred in Crescent Park.


11 people like this
Posted by Citizen PA
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 5, 2017 at 11:35 pm

The discussion of property taxes is misleasing - ordinary people usually count on enormous financial sacrifices when they get into a home. Speaking personally, it can affect every aspect of your life, whether you ever get to travel to see your family, how many kids you can have. After a few decades, the equation starts to change. Then people who would never endure that kind of sacrifice want to grab it away and create an insulting and false narrative. I pay ten times more property tax than my neighbor. They had their turn when their kids were young, too. This place hasn't been cheap since it was Mayfield.

@Peninsula,
In that time, residential share of the pie has grown a lot.


3 people like this
Posted by holy moly
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2017 at 8:35 am

holy moly is a registered user.

@ You deserve it

Is the issue that City of Palo Alto staff is not working well with other cites?

In most parts of the world the stretch between Menlo Park and Mountain View would not need to be 3 towns. But to be fair, this is Cali PHONY A - do neighbors ever work together?

What are the brilliant proposals from Menlo Park to solve the problems?

Since the neighborhoods have to do everything around here maybe by posting proposals here you will have better luck than with the City.


13 people like this
Posted by Why is Caltrain not responsible for the cost?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 6, 2017 at 8:45 am

Why is Caltrain not responsible for the cost? is a registered user.

@you deserve it, 2 of the Caltrain crossing proposals call for closing the Palo Alto avenue crossing, not extending it to Sand Hill. And years ago, Menlo Park chose not to extend Willow Road leaving Palo Alto being responsible for all the thru traffic coming from 101 and 280.

@ Doug H, there are times when traffic in Crescent Park is literally gridlocked, not moving at all and blocking intersections.


11 people like this
Posted by Stephen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 6, 2017 at 10:29 am

To You Deserve It:
While I agree that the fact that Sandhill doesn't connect to Alma and Willow seems to be a mistake, it would be good to point out that originally Willow Rd. was supposed to be an expressway like Oregon. This bit of regional traffic planning was scuppered by Menlo Park, thus contributing to some of the regional traffic mess we see now. Of course the fact the Menlo Park intentionally leaves the traffic lights on its section of ECR untimed doesn't help either.
Nonetheless it is beyond my understanding why Palo Alto or Menlo Park for that matter permit any new office construction at this point.


12 people like this
Posted by You deserve It
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2017 at 11:48 am

"I agree that the fact that Sandhill doesn't connect to Alma and Willow seems to be a mistake"

Thank you.

"originally Willow Rd. was supposed to be an expressway like Oregon"

Well, we agree that someone made a drawing in the 50s/60s that puts an expressway where Willow is now. There is no evidence that there was ever an actual proposed project to put an expressway there. That said, I agree that Menlo Park took proactive steps to thwart any potential expressway there.

But Palo Alto has done the same: It's worth pointing out that during the rebuild of the Dumbarton bridge, there were discussions to connect Oregon expressway directly to the Dumbarton Bridge (going around EPA). Palo Alto thwarted that proposal due to fears that would further increase traffic on Oregon. FWIW, looking at Google maps, connecting Oregon to Dumbarton still looks entirely feasible even now; doing that would reduce traffic on 101 and reduce cut-through traffic for EPA and arterial roads like University and Willow.

I agree with your overarching point though: Menlo Park has been a bad neighbor at times, too. Even now, Menlo Park stubbornly refuses to make El Camino 3 lanes each way, even though it's 3 lanes on the Atherton side and Palo Alto side, and even 3 lanes each way IN parts of Menlo Park.


The solution is for these communities to stop being MASSIVELY SELFISH and for each to agree to improve the traffic flow and capacity to the arterial roads that feed to Dumbarton. No single community can resolve this, but combined agreements between Menlo Park, Atherton and Palo Alto to add capacity to Willow, Marsh and University would be a good start in reducing the need for cut-through traffic in community neighborhoods.

(and yes, ultimately Dumbarton road capacity and east bay<->peninsula public transportation capacity needs to increase as well, which is discussed in the SamTrans Dumbarton Corridor study. Which our region desperately needs).


15 people like this
Posted by biker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 6, 2017 at 12:55 pm

horrified over the new ross road planter boxes pushing the bike riders into the middle of the street.. very much a hazard for auto driver too.... not well thought


5 people like this
Posted by Willows Expressway
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 6, 2017 at 1:43 pm

Willow Expressway, Palo Alto Times, 1-31-1957 (route through Menlo Park favored by Palo Alto, route through Palo Alto favored by Menlo Park) Web Link

Community and Environmental Factors Report, Willow Expressway, SCL/SM-84 W.A. 210700, Web Link
and it's defeat Web Link

Publication Date: Wednesday Nov 30, 1994
Putting the Willow expressway to rest, again Web Link

Menlo Park should approve Slocum proposal and squelch the latest round of panic over an east-west connection

Given recent rhetoric, a casual observer of Menlo Park politics would conclude that what threatens the city these days is a creature known as the Willow Road Expressway.

This four-lane Frankenstein was the invention of the state Division of Highways, which in 1959 proposed creating a thruway--similar to Oregon expressway in Palo Alto--connecting Interstate Highway 280 with Bayshore Freeway and the Dumbarton Bridge. This would have required extending Sand Hill Road past El Camino Real, possibly filling in part of San Francisquito Creek, and connecting with a widened Willow Road.

Although this issue has long since been laid to rest, it came to life again this fall during the City Council election campaign. Now there appears to be heightened concerns that this east-west expressway will quietly be approved by the powers that be.

How could anyone let this happen?

The truth is, no one has. There is no proposal for such an expressway.

Although some Menlo Park officials supported this idea 25 years ago, Menlo Park voters soundly rejected this expressway in a vote in 1971. Few really believe such a ballot measure would be any more successful today.


2 people like this
Posted by Stephen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 6, 2017 at 2:20 pm

Thanks to Willows Expressway - clearly it was more than just some transportation engineer's idea if it made it to a referendum. The point was to point out that it was something that was "planned" s part of the regional transportation network - if it were present, there is no question that traffic might flow more easily through Menlo Park, although the bottleneck of the Dumbarton Bridge might remove much of this utility by backing up traffic. Not to say that such a thing was a good idea overall (likely not) but simply that more cars per unit time could move through that corridor with a 4 lane expressway in place than could with the present city street. I would imagine that if Palo Alto had held a similar referendum to block the Oregon Expressway, people living along Oregon would experience the daily traffic jam outside their doors that folks on University and Embarcadero now have to live with.
Just out of curiosity, I would love to know what % of folks in Menlo Park commute somewhere else in a car to go to and from work, and ditto for the good folks of Crescent Park, as well as Palo Alto more generally. Does anyone know these statistics?


4 people like this
Posted by Willows Expressway?
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 6, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Crescent Park folks should definitely coordinate with their neighbors across the creek in the Willows. Maybe go read some of the Almanac posts. A number of them advocate adding obstacles between Menlo Park and Palo Alto, based on the view that the bulk of the traffic is coming from Palo Alto. I'd be concerned that neighborhoods will end up at cross-purposes with changes but no improvements. This is not going to work without a lot of cooperation. How about it?


5 people like this
Posted by Willows Expressway?
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 6, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Communities should work together! Excerpt from Almanac article about MP city council meeting yesterday

***

During the council's discussion, there was a frank acknowledgment among several council members that much of the traffic on Willow Road is coming from Palo Alto.

"I think we're carrying an unnecessary burden of Palo Alto's traffic," Councilman Rich Cline said. "I do think (a) discussion with our neighbors needs to become more serious."

When he was mayor in years past, he said, he had tried talking to Palo Alto officials about traffic problems. "They laugh. They say 'Good luck with that,'" he said.

He suggested the possibility of cutting off access to Willow Road from Palo Alto, at least temporarily, "until they sober up." "Nothing's going to stop until we work together on it," he said.

As Menlo Park's mayor this year, Kirsten Keith said that she has talked to the mayors of Palo Alto and East Palo Alto. She said she's been pushing to have changes made in other choke points between Menlo Park and Palo Alto.

She has called for the elimination of the Palo Alto barriers that prohibit motorists from driving across El Camino Real from Sand Hill Road onto Alma Street. Regarding the Willows area congestion, she suggested the city install a stop sign at the intersection of Middlefield Road and Woodland Avenue. That way, she said, when traffic invariably backs up, it will be a Palo Alto problem.

Councilman Ray Mueller pointed to yet another place where Palo Alto's traffic problems leak into Menlo Park: near each of the foot bridges. He said that Palo Alto's downtown parking program "does not work," and that employees in downtown Palo Alto park their cars on the Menlo Park side of the pedestrian bridges and walk downtown from there.


7 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 6, 2017 at 5:42 pm

"... much of the traffic on Willow Road is coming from Palo Alto."

You sure it's not coming from Fremont?


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Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 6, 2017 at 8:50 pm

" employees in downtown Palo Alto park their cars on the Menlo Park side of the pedestrian bridges and walk downtown from there."

It works both ways. People park on Palo Alto Ave and stroll over the river into Menlo in the AM, then back to their cars in PA in the PM. Each parks in the other's town. Too bad they don't coordinate.


1 person likes this
Posted by Seen it all
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 6, 2017 at 10:24 pm

Time to cut off University Ave access to the 101. Limit it to emergency vehicles only.

That's he only way to love this problem.


10 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 6, 2017 at 10:31 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Seen it all, surely you jest. That makes about as much sense as making University Ave pedestrian-only but without the limited charm of that proposal.

Although given the PA traffic "planning" and implementation, it's getting tougher to tell what's a joke these days and/or a way to frustrate us all with more neighborhood cut-through traffic.


26 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2017 at 10:35 pm

"It works both ways."

False equivalence:

1: The business park in MP you're referring to is microscopic compared to the nearest Palo Alto business area (University). (I remember when that business park was occupied by Intuit in the '90s; I know the area well).

2: People don't park on the PA side because of MP traffic and MP *cough* "road diets". They park in PA because of PA "road diets" and they don't want to have to battle to get back INTO/THRU Palo Alto. It's easier to walk that bridge than traverse the Willow/Middlefield intersection.

(and it's worth pointing out that PA closed PA Ave on the west side to Middlefield traffic years and years ago. I remember when that was open to Middlefield traffic, too)


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Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 7, 2017 at 8:23 am

@Resident

"So if my elderly neighbor who is the original owner of her 1950s era 3 bedroom, 1 bath home, without having updated anything very much, and has religiously paid all her property taxes on time is paying a lot less property tax than my neighbors in a home that has in the last decade been demolished and is now rebuilt with 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 car garage, has 3 generations with 6 people, with 2 kids in Palo Alto schools, who both drive each day to jobs outside Palo Alto, and moved into their home within the past 2 years, you call my elderly neighbor a freeloader?"

Use fewer services?

Really.

So, they use less fire and police? Well, we laid off a bunch of firefighters. Maybe the savings can come from not servicing your elderly neighbor.

They use fewer street sweepers? Maybe the sweepers should skip the front of their house.

They should cover less of the salaries of city employees and elected officials? Maybe their voice should be worth less over citywide issues. Maybe they should wait in the slow line because we should not staff to the long-time residents.

This is nonsense. Costs of the city are costs of the city. That's like saying they should be paying $0.50 to get a movie ticket just because they have been going to the movie theater much longer than you have.

What's ironic is that the people who pay the least in taxes are the ones most vocal.

If you think you deserve to pay less in taxes, maybe you deserve less from the city and other residents.


17 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2017 at 9:00 am

Me 2

I may be wrong but I think street sweeping comes from utilities not property taxes.

Anyway, a one person household who rarely leaves the environs of Palo Alto, who rarely drives on a county road (not city street) whose children are long out of Palo Alto schools, whose mortgage is paid off and is now on a fixed income should most definitely not be equated with a family of 6, who use county roads multi times each day, who have children in Palo Alto schools, who commute through school zones at school commute times using crossing guards, who attend many local events that require police presence.

I asked you how you would arrive at a fair share property tax evaluation, which you didn't reply. Should it be the number of bedrooms/bathrooms/parking spaces? Should property taxes be evaluated by the number of people living in the home? Should property taxes be evaluated by income? Or should the most fair evaluation be based on the purchase price of the home when the present owners first bought the home. I am asking a genuine question to which I would like an answer. What would you suggest as the best way to evaluate fair share property tax? For example, do you think the police should be paid for by those who call for their services the most, or those who are arrested the most? I suspect you do not think this is a good idea.

Please don't repeat that you think people are not paying their fair share without your definition of how that fair share amount should be quantified. Nobody wants to call the police but we are all pleased that they are available should we have the need. The way to pay for this service is a good debate, but only if methods of deciding how to do this are put into the debate. Just saying there are free loaders is not helping a debate, it is just being rude. Perhaps you think that the total bill should be divided equally to each of the Palo Alto residences so that we all pay the same may be your solution. If that is the case then please state that is how you define fair share.

If you have another method of defining fair share, please tell me. I am very interested to hear your reply.


11 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 7, 2017 at 9:33 am

Re traffic and street sweeping, we're ALL getting less street sweeping services because of all the parked cars and the stupid barriers in the street that impede the street sweepers and that remain clogged with leaves.

Remember we recently got stuck with higher storm drain charges although those too are now clogged with leaves due to the same stupid barriers?

Re costs of the city, maybe Me 2 could also start worrying about the wasteful spending by the city that effects ALL of us and how landlords/businesses benefit from the low taxes and givebacks THEY get instead of just pillorying the elderly?


17 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2017 at 9:45 am

Me 2

Let me go further.

Perhaps you like the idea of square footage of the home, or the lot size as being how we should evaluate "fair share"?

I think you should define fair share so that we can understand what it is you are advocating. Otherwise you sound like a politician on either side who just says "the other lot's idea is wrong and we could do better" without making any comment as to what is a better idea. Empty vessels make the most noise and just repeating the same old, same old, doesn't actually help a discussion go forward.

You make the analogy to the price of movie tickets. In a movie theater you get people who want to see the movie and are willing to pay and there are those who don't wish to see the movie so don't go. There are often many empty seats in a theater but the price of showing the movie is roughly the same regardless of how many people are there. People have a choice as to whether to see a movie and sometimes can get a cheaper ticket by buying at Costco. Some movie theaters even have frequent visitor discounts. Is any of that fair?

Look at say airline tickets. All the people on the plane (at least in coach) are receiving the same service, flying to the same destination, receiving the same crummy drinks and snacks. But they are nearly all paying a different amount for the flight. Some may be on frequent flyer miles, some may be on employee perks, some may have purchased the ticket months ago, some may have only purchased the ticket same day. However, everyone gets to the destination the same. Is that fair? I don't know, but I do know that there is an agreement by everyone that they are paying what they consider an acceptable amount or else they wouldn't be on the plane. They could choose an alternative airline, or drive, or.....

Property tax is not like flying or going to the movies. Property tax is something we cannot adjust by giving to charity or claiming more deductions. We pay the bill regardless. If you could give a considered alternative to the method my bill and everyone else's is figured, I would like to hear.


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Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:01 am

Pedantic mishmash. There's no defending that a family who moved to Palo Alto 2 months ago should be paying 20-50x the property tax of a person who's been here since the 70s.

For the same services. None.

Bottom line is that these long-term residents in California have driven municipalities to seek revenue otherwise, which has caused the imbalance of commercial vs. residential development in this state.

Take a bow long-time residents. Palantir and traffic is your fault.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:56 am

^ They won't have paid 50x the property tax until they've been here 50 years.


35 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2017 at 11:29 am

Me 2

Thank you for pointing out that you have no particular ideas, just general scorn for things you don't like and an inability to discuss or debate.


35 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Dec 7, 2017 at 12:04 pm

"these long-term residents in California have driven municipalities to seek revenue otherwise"

Wrong. What you are stating is a logical fallacy: post hoc ergo propter hoc

Web Link



The reality is that property tax revenue has increase ON AVERAGE by 7.3% PER YEAR since Prop 13 was approved. This growth in tax revenue outpaces California's economic growth rate for the same time frame.

By any reasonable objective measure, California government agencies collectively receive PLENTY of property tax revenue, so your argument that governments are starved for revenue due to a small percentage of homeowners is demonstrably false.

That's not opinion, that's MATH.

Now, if you want to debate the merits of having differences in tax bills for similar properties, there's room for discussion and opinion. But implying that Prop 13 tax rate limits are causing government agencies to have low revenues is just flat out not true; again, that's not opinion that's MATH.

California goverments get TONS of property tax revenue, and at a rate faster than inflation and economic growth. That's a FACT.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 7, 2017 at 12:11 pm

Prior to Prop 13, commercial properties paid 60% of property tax revenue and residents paid 40%. That ratio is now reversed.


5 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 7, 2017 at 12:28 pm

@ Me 2: That's right... And I paid more prop tax when we bought our first home in PA in 1992. And subsequent houses.

Guess what - it evens out in the end. Pencil it out.

You're front loaded when you're financial mobile and then given a stable and affordable tax bill when you are in retirement mode.


3 people like this
Posted by bemused
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 7, 2017 at 12:40 pm

@You deserve it,

"FWIW, looking at Google maps, connecting Oregon to Dumbarton still looks entirely feasible even now; doing that would reduce traffic on 101 and reduce cut-through traffic for EPA and arterial roads like University and Willow."

Entirely feasible to those not living in EPA perhaps. I'd fight tooth and nail to prevent a highway from destroying EPA's baylands and sandwiching EPA residents between two highways. Though maybe you meant the connector would stay west of 101 and then cut over to the Dumbarton 'north' of EPA?


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Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 7, 2017 at 4:19 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Life isn't fair. What's new? I suggest doing as Crescent Park Dad suggests.


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Posted by about time!
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 8, 2017 at 10:08 am

@online name,
"surely you jest. That makes about as much sense as making University Ave pedestrian-only but without the limited charm of that proposal."

Or perhaps, as much sense as the Menlo Parks's Fire Chief's letter to the MP Council regarding the traffic on Willow Avenue:
"Completely closing off Middlefield Road at San Francisquito Creek, as well as other routes into the Willows from Palo Alto, during peak commute hours for a period of one week as a test."

Closing off University at 101 starts making a lot of sense. As does removing Chaucer bridge. Sorts out the overnight parking problems, cut through traffic and flood risk in one fell swoop with hugely reduced cost.


14 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2017 at 10:49 am

MPFPD: "Completely closing off Middlefield Road at San Francisquito Creek, as well as other routes into the Willows from Palo Alto"

about time!: "Closing off University at 101 starts making a lot of sense."

I hope you do that. I really, really do. I dare you, actually.

Let me introduce you to reality: do you know where the bulk of those cars are going? PALO ALTO and STANFORD, that's where.


Menlo Park's bluff has teeth; yours (PA and Stanford) has none. Why? Because in the end of the day, those cars HAVE to go into Palo Alto, because that is where the bulk of those commuters are destined; they don't HAVE to go into Menlo Park because that's not the destination for the bulk of commuters.

If all of the nearby communities go thermonuclear on "road diets", PALO ALTO LOSES, because that will have the effect of forcing more traffic straight at Palo Alto: Embarcadero, Oregon, Page Mill, Sand Hill, etc.

By all means, please close down University.


2 people like this
Posted by eureka
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 8, 2017 at 11:30 am

" because that will have the effect of forcing more traffic straight at Palo Alto: Embarcadero, Oregon, Page Mill, Sand Hill, etc."

I think you've proved the point. That is exactly where that commuter traffic should be going along with El Camino. Not through the residential districts of DTN/CP/WIllows.

Going thermonuclear on "road diets" sounds like the right solution.


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Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Dec 8, 2017 at 12:17 pm

Time for Stanford to step up,

Stanford has done a lot more to improve the transportation and housing issues in the area than Palo Alto has done in the last 20 years.

You should put your and Palo Alto’s money where your mouth is. This is the type of irresponsible whining that sensible Palo Alto residents are getting sick of, as evidenced by the last elections.

It’s time for NIMBYs to get real. It’s fine to reduce commercial development in Palo Alto, but PA needs to step up it’s game in housing and transportation. And let’s not hear any more silly comments about Palo Alto being understored.


35 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2017 at 12:51 pm

"That is exactly where [dumbarton and 101] commuter traffic should be going along with El Camino."

Let me acquaint you to some new-fangled technology. It's called a "map". Observe: Web Link

That is a map of the roads leading to-and-from the Dumbarton bridge. Do you see the names of the 3 roads that connect Dumbarton/BayFront to West-of-101 RWC/Atherton/MP/PA? Those 3 roads are, going Northwest to Southeast:

* Marsh Road (Atherton&MP);
* Willow Road (MP);
* University Avenue (PA);

Do you want to know what that makes those roads? You don't? Well, I'll tell you anyways....

That makes them Arterial roads.

Palo Alto (and Menlo Park thru inaction) has been championing road diets on arterial roads. Road diets *on arterial roads* are not the solution to neighborhood cut-through traffic, it is one of the *causes* of cut-through traffic.

OK, sure, in the hypothetical that University @ the PA border was shut down, University from 101-to-middlefield would have less traffic, but (as I repeatedly point out and you seem continually unaware) that just pushes traffic into the surrounding neighborhoods around University and Oregon and Embarcadero, etc. The exact behavior you're trying to *AVOID*. And keep in mind that MP would be stone-cold certain to reply in kind with a tit-for-tat shutdown of Willow and Marsh, pushing even MORE traffic at PA, both on the PA (remaining) arterial roads AND PA NEIGHBORHOODS.


To reduce the likelihood of neighborhood cut-through traffic, these 3 arterial roads need more capacity and more traffic management, not less. Yes, Dumbarton needs more capacity as well, as well as more public transportation (you can thank the MTC for that).

Putting these roads (and the others, like Middlefield and El Camino) on "road diets" is counterproductive and is actually contributing to the problem, not helping it. And PA trying to go to "traffic war" with its neighbors is dumb...you'll lose, BADLY.


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Posted by eureka
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 8, 2017 at 1:02 pm

You really don't get it. The at-grade crossing at Alma is almost certainly going to close. There is no spare capacity through the University tunnel to EL Camino/Stanford, all that traffic is going to go through Ravenswood Avenue to get to El Camino & Stanford.

With the Alma/Sandhill change, there is nowhere for this traffic to go. You can't funnel it through the DT business district and Middlefield just leads back to Embacadero.

The only way of avoiding this and having them instead head for the expressways of Embacadero, Page Mill, Oregan and Sanhilll is to close University & Willow to 101 traffic.

Increasing traffic along University & Willow makes absolutely no sense at all. Closing them down is the only sensible solution I've seen.


25 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2017 at 4:50 pm

"The at-grade crossing at Alma is almost certainly going to close."

OMG, I hope you're not a troll (I'm skeptical, though). I hope PA is actually considering doing this, as this would be a huge win for MP, and totally borks parts of PA. Virtually all changes to traffic flows would be an improvement for Menlo Park: no more u-turns @Cambridge, no more left-turn backups on El Camino&Alma. Your scenario INCREASES traffic on the University/El Camino intersections, and intersections south.

Please describe a scenario where a Alma@caltrain closure increases traffic for MP. I'd love to hear your fascinating theory.


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Posted by eureka
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 8, 2017 at 5:15 pm

OMG, I hope you're not a troll (I'm skeptical, though).

The at-grade crossing closure is part of several plans for the grade separation debate as part of preparation for high-speed trains.

"Sample Scenario 1
(Low Build)
Closed at-grade crossings at Palo Alto Ave (AKA Alma St), Churchill Ave, and E/W Meadow Dr; widened grade-separated crossing at Embarcadero Rd; new grade-separated crossing at E/W Charleston Rd"

"Sample Scenario 2
(Low-Medium Build)
Closed at-grade crossings at Palo Alto Ave (AKA Alma St) and E/W Meadow Dr; new grade-separated bicycle/pedestrian crossing at Everett Ave/Lytton Ave and Loma Verde Ave/Matadero Creek; new quiet zone at-grade crossing at Churchill Ave; new grade-separated crossing at E/W Charleston Rd"

So, yeah, pretty far along already.

Whether it increases traffic in Menlo Park isn't the topic. Though I'm pretty sure it will have all the Stanford traffic turn right at WIllow and down Ravenswood instead of trying to get through the tunnel at University.


65 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2017 at 6:09 pm

"Whether [Alma@Caltrain xing] increases traffic in Menlo Park isn't the topic."

Well...the topic of traffic gridlock and congestion in the area is a lot closer to being on-topic than "preparation for high-speed trains."


"I'm pretty sure [closing Alma@Caltrain] will have all the Stanford traffic turn right at WIllow and down Ravenswood"

Fascinating theory. So...following your logic, currently the above traffic takes a left @Willow&Middlefield, then a right onto Lytton or University (assuming they don't cut thru the downtown north neighborhood). I'm with you there.

Then (again, using your logic)...some commuters take the University underpass and are instantly @stanford, and some take a right onto Alma->right onto El Camino->U-turn @Cambridge->right @SandHill/Palm.


Further...(again, using your logic)...you contend that if/when Alma@Caltrain is closed, these commuters that had a commute path that put them at-or-1-block-from the university underpass (that will still remain open) will now abandon that commute path in favor of backtracking, cutting across Menlo Park, then down El Camino.


Fascinating theory. So, I'll agree that in the instances where the University underpass is impassable AND Ravenswood is clear, it's plausible that some commuters would backtrack. But you haven't been on Ravenswood lately, have you. Ravenswood can be just as much a grind as the University underpass.

My theory is that commuters will see the folly of driving in the opposite direction of their intended destination on a route that is frequently just as congested (if not more). My theory is that commuters that are heading to Palo Alto will go into Palo Alto.

We'll see.


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 8, 2017 at 9:40 pm

"... no more u-turns @Cambridge ... "

Hey Menlo ...

Instead of all that rote griping and grousing about U turns @Cambridge, and wishing Palo Alto would rejigger its streets for you, why not install a NO U TURN sign @Cambridge and enforce it?


13 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2017 at 11:28 am

Hey Palo ...

Instead of all that rote griping and grousing about traffic congestion and cut-through traffic OF YOUR OWN MAKING and foisting your traffic issues onto your neighbors, why don't you try working with your neighbors to help improve arterial road capacity and public transportation, so cutting through neighborhoods becomes unnecessary?

I really, really hope Menlo Park does what its city council has discussed doing: slapping a nice 'stop' sign at the northbound Middlefield border of PA&MP. Enjoy your exhaust fumes.


3 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 9, 2017 at 8:51 pm

"I really, really hope Menlo Park does what its city council has discussed doing: slapping a nice 'stop' sign at the northbound Middlefield border of PA&MP."

Too late. There's a virtual stop sign there now in the form of incompetent traffic engineering. Menlo's fighting the same losing war on traffic as all local towns.

But tell me: is whining about alleged whining called metawhining?


38 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Curmudgeon wrote: "[Palo Alto] alleged whining"

Perhaps you're not familiar with the definition of "alleged". Here, let me help you. Consider it an opportunity for your personal growth:

Alleged: said, without proof, to have taken place Web Link

There's lots of proof of PA whining (and irony), just in this thread. Quotes from your fellow 'Downtown North' and 'Crescent Park' neighbors:

"Time to cut off University Ave access to the 101"

"Closing off University at 101 starts making a lot of sense"

"Going thermonuclear on 'road diets' sounds like the right solution"

"Closing [Willow and University] down is the only sensible solution"

"there were about 6 cars backed up in the right lane -- many signaling turns!!!"

"in the 1960's!!!"



peninsula resident wrote: "why don't you try working with your neighbors to help improve arterial road capacity and public transportation, so cutting through neighborhoods becomes unnecessary?"

Curmudgeon responded: "[Menlo Park] whining"

Only someone from Palo Alto would view feedback pointing out the need for cross-jurisdictional cooperation as, in your words, 'whining'.

Your traffic situation is guaranteed to get worse unless PA reaches out to its neighbors and attempts to coordinate traffic flow, instead of pushing that traffic into neighboring cities. Your neighbors are not putting up with it any more, and have the means to make your traffic-related lives even more miserable than is already the case.


2 people like this
Posted by some people
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 10, 2017 at 3:04 pm

Yeah, great idea, encourage more traffic through neighborhood streets to get to..... wait for it .....Middlefield Road!

Wow, just brilliant! I wonder why no one's thought of it before.


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 10, 2017 at 5:07 pm

"Perhaps you're not familiar with the definition of "alleged". Here, let me help you."

I asked you a simple direct question: is whining about alleged whining called metawhining? Can the filibuster and answer it.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 10, 2017 at 5:16 pm

Whining is in the eye of the beholder.


6 people like this
Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 11, 2017 at 8:22 am

There are simply too many large businesses in Palo Alto with hundreds of employees and too much residential density for the old PA roads to carry the traffic generated. People who buy new 5 BR houses built on lots which previously had 2 bedroom cottages generally have more cars in their households too.
Palo Alto City government drank too much kool-aid for years & succumbed to the lures of developer fees. Multi-story condos such as at 800 High Street? Sure. Densely packed townhouses where Ricky's Hyatt House used to be, big houses on small lots everywhere, more offices downtown, ad nauseum.
I'd like a moratorium on any construction which increases the number of offices and bedrooms until street parking is banned on University Ave, Middlefield, & Embarcadero in order to add additional traffic lanes.
The "calming" traffic circles & bollards in residential streets cause more hazards than they prevent.
Re-open Palo Alto Ave. The NIMBYs who don't want traffic on "their" streets, paid for & maintained at public expense, need to accept the same realities as the rest of us - people who don't live in my street will still drive on it.
I won't even start on the need for grade separations at al RR crossings.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2017 at 8:50 am

Hidden in one of the around town sections was a buried paragraph about the fact that Tinder is moving a large number of employees into downtown Palo Alto.


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Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 11, 2017 at 11:57 am

"Whining is in the eye of the beholder."

Gee, I remember it as "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." The point of this thread is to bring back the beauty.

Whining is ugliness. Whining sticks in the craw.


1 person likes this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2017 at 7:03 pm

"The point of this thread is to bring back the beauty."

The point of this thread is to find ways to end (or at least mitigate as much as legally possible) traffic gridlock.

The point I've repeatedly made in this thread...and you have repeatedly missed...is that Palo Alto can't address the traffic issues in isolation, thinking exclusively of their city at the expense of neighbors. Intentionally pushing Palo Alto traffic into neighboring cities is inevitably going to elicit a tit-for-tat response that Palo Alto ultimately loses.

It is in your best interest to work with your neighbors.



'"Whining is in the eye of the beholder."
Gee, I remember it as "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."'

What 'musical' was pointing out is that "whining" in this case depends on the Point Of View.

A few of "Curmudgeon"'s own posts are a very good example of this. In Curmudgeon's Point of View, Menlo Park complaints about traffic and PA's contributions to it are "whining". Yet complaints by Downtown North and Crescent Park residents about the same traffic and PA's contributions to it are to Curmudgeon merely 'alleged whining.'



"Whining sticks in the craw."

Well then, after listening to your fellow Downtown North and Crescent Park neighbors, you must have a lot of sticks in that craw of yours :)



"is whining about alleged whining called metawhining?"

My pedantic answer is: no. Look carefully, do you understand the distinction I'm making? I have faith that you'll figure it out!



"Can the filibuster"

Respectfully, nobody under 90yo uses the word 'can' in the above context. You should probably also stricken 'Giggle water', 'Know your onions' and 'Applesauce' from your lexicon if you're still using them.


By the way, I considered asking a question and demanding an answer from you as well, but by now I've figured out you have no answers.


2 people like this
Posted by Stephen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 12, 2017 at 10:43 am

Speaking as someone with a background in Civil Engineering, I wonder if there are any approaches using traffic data and modeling with optimization (subject to the appropriate constraints) to create proposals for what might be described as the least bad approach to managing traffic flows through PA, MP, and surrounding communities. As suggested above, clearly this needs to be done collaboratively! As a small start, it should be recognized that the residents of PA and MP also drive cars to their workplaces.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
15 hours ago

"It is in your best interest to work with your neighbors."

Glad to, but I gotta know where they are to do that. For all I know, "Another community" could be Bangor, Maine. Nothing against Bangor, but there's not much best interest in working with Bangorians on this. And they got their own issues to deal with.


"Respectfully, nobody under 90yo uses the word 'can' in the above context."

Equally respectfully, I do. I am a Curmudgeon, after all.


"By the way, I considered asking a question and demanding an answer from you as well, but by now I've figured out you have no answers."

Well, meantime I got another one for you: Was Godel correct?


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