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Commission supports expanding access to Foothills Park

Original post made on Nov 13, 2019

Seeking to grant more visitors access to the scenic Foothills Park, the Parks and Recreation Commission on Tuesday threw its support behind a pilot program that would open the exclusive preserve to non-residents.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 13, 2019, 9:51 AM

Comments (78)

Posted by Corrie
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 13, 2019 at 10:52 am

Corrie is a registered user.

YEESSS! I cannot believe this is gone on as long as it has! We are a city of inclusion and this idea that we need a park for only those who live in Palo Alto is absurd! What I love about the people of Palo Alto is our ability to welcome anyone from anywhere...and our parks should be the first and primary place where all should be welcome! Seriously....let's please make this happen as soon as temporary that puppy up to!!!

Posted by DeniseW
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 13, 2019 at 10:58 am

Foothill Park is under utilized and it would be good to open it up to Stanford especially residents since the Stanfor Dish is open to everyone and it is on Stanford land.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2019 at 11:07 am

Let's vote on this during the next local election. While we are at it, let's vote on renaming it, "preserve". A lot of people associate "park" with intense usage by crowds of people.

Posted by Citizen
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 13, 2019 at 11:29 am

If other communities wanted access, they should have paid for the park and for the subsequent upkeep, which residents of Palo Alto have paid for. I don't think $6 covers it. Will non residents have the same privileges as residents?

Posted by Independent
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Nov 13, 2019 at 11:37 am

Who are these parks and recreation commission members? And why don't they respect Palo Alto resident taxpayers?

Posted by Jay Ess
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Nov 13, 2019 at 12:35 pm

Who are these people who want to keep us out? Have they ever used a park out of town? Like Golden Gate park in SF or Lake Merrit in Oakland? Or any of the parks in Sunnyvale or SanJose??? It is pretty selfish of Palo Alto to think other folks are less worthy of using this fine open space. We are all taxpayers.

Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 13, 2019 at 12:37 pm

Gethin is a registered user.

Considering the history of Foothills Park and vast local acreage available for all people to use at any time they wish I don't see why opening Foothills to non residents is necessary in any way. There are already excellent opportunities to visit excellent natural open spaces of every kind from the hills to the beaches. As for parties, the city website says there are 28 neighborhood parks in Palo Alto, all of which are availability to anyone. Foothills should be kept open as it currently is, it does not need to be changed.

Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 13, 2019 at 12:50 pm

Jonathan Brown is a registered user.

Particularly given the history and sensitivity of the environment, I disagree with this proposal. If any pilot makes sense, it would be restricted to Stanford, Los Altos Hills, East Palo Alto and Portola Valley.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2019 at 12:51 pm

Posted by Jay Ess, a resident of Los Altos Hills

>> It is pretty selfish of Palo Alto to think other folks are less worthy of using this fine open space.

I think has been pretty -selfless- of Palo Alto to maintain a -nature preserve- all these decades. How many other cities have done that? That preserve is the largest part of a band of undeveloped land all the way from I-280 to Skyline. I honor our wise predecessors who preserved this wonderful resource from development.

>> We are all taxpayers.

Well, actually not. Los Altos Hills turned down several opportunities to contribute tax money for the preserve, which has been financed by Palo Alto taxpayers through the decades.

Posted by Deb
a resident of University South
on Nov 13, 2019 at 12:55 pm

Deb is a registered user.

The most important reason Foothills should be opened to non-residents is that having a residents only park makes residents of other cities hate Palo Alto. When the city first opened Foothills park, not only was the city much, much better funded but nobody cared whether it was residents only or not because there was just lots and lots of open space, most of it privately owned, but none of it policed. You could traipse around all over the place, and I did, without concern and there were also a lot fewer people.

Now that the bay area has been completely carved up, this residents only park stands out like a sore thumb. The thought is, "you come to our parks, why can't we come to your?!"

Part of why foothills was residents only is that none of the other municipalities, specifically Los Altos Hills, would pony up with financial support. That said, charge non-res people $20 to cover costs. I'm good with that. But truth is, at this point, on any given weekday, half the users are from Los Altos Hills in the first place as in non-residents are already using it and city doesn't have funding to support ranger staff for enforcement.

Personally, I don't care who uses the park so long as they don't smoke and don't play a radio or boombox.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2019 at 12:58 pm

How do they know how many people use the Reserve? There are rarely rangers at the gate and even then they may count vehicles, not occupants.

The important matter is how many are in at any one time. There are times when all the various parking spots are filled and people are parking on the grass. Will this mean that new parking areas will be built?

I love the serenity going to Foothills and visit regularly. I would hate to see it filled with noisy parties, scaring the wildlife, and treating it like a neighborhood park.

There has to be a level of visitors that must be respected and when that number is reached, then no more must be admitted until others have left.

Posted by Tatiana
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 13, 2019 at 1:20 pm

I am not a resident of Palo Alto, but I work in Stanford Shopping Center for 16 years and I couldn’t get excess to the Foothill Park. What kind of harm to the wildlife and nature 71 old women could do?

Posted by Jay ess
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Nov 13, 2019 at 1:45 pm

I d not remember that we did not support the purchase of Foothills Park. Be aware that there is noncommercial business and we have no Tax base except property commercial sales tax. only the Foothill College book store. Back then in 1970's we were a very poor town....only a few employees. No services.

Ask again now that we have McMansions.

Posted by YSK
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 13, 2019 at 1:58 pm

This is not right. The park will be destroyed by people who don't appreciate beautiful things. I have seen what people coming here from other cities have done to the local parks. The disgusting messes they leave behind. I am so sick of the socialist mentality of this town.

Socialist until it comes to sharing your own personal goodies.

Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2019 at 2:26 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

@ Deb....The thought is, "you come to our parks, why can't we come to your?!" We have 28 designated parks in Palo Alto that are open to all as posted above by Gethin.

"I have seen what people coming here from other cities have done to the local parks. The disgusting messes they leave behind. I am so sick of the socialist mentality of this town," posted by YSK.

Both are accurate. Neighborhood parks may be underutilized by Palo Alto residents but are left a mess by those from outside of Palo Alto, especially on weekends. We've all seen this. Why do the same to Foothills Park?

And should this pass, 6 bucks a carload is way too little an entry fee when you consider increased maintenance and clean up costs.

One final point. There are a lot of people that don't like Palo Alto and opening the park to non-residents wouldn't change that fact.

Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2019 at 2:35 pm

If the park is open to non-residents, it may become another attraction like
"The Dish". Look how much money Stanford spent over the years trying to keep that piece of land secured and safe.
In the 60's and 70's hardly anyone went up into the Stanford Hills or Foothills.
Now these areas have have become a serious wildfire hazard, with no escape.

I say "No" to allowing open access to Foothills Park.
The Bay Area has become a Third World stew of locusts and their eggs.
They will consume and pollute every last piece of undeveloped land.

Posted by DeniseW
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 13, 2019 at 2:48 pm

Agree with the people who say that the open space belongs to all of us and that citizens of Los Altos, MV, Menlo Park, Stanford should be able to access the park. It makes other cities dislike us for being so exclusive. No where else on the Peninsula are parks exclusive to citizens of one city.

Posted by Julian Gómez
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 13, 2019 at 3:53 pm

Julian Gómez is a registered user.

$6 hardly sounds like it will cover the increased costs. If it actually does the city should have no problems publishing the financial analysis. Short of that, the only way to cover those new costs is a tax increase (which might be implemented by cutting other city services) and that's a non-starter.

Posted by duveneck
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 13, 2019 at 4:00 pm

From a practical and environmental standpoint: fire is a HUGE issue and there appears to be only marginal fire protection up there right now. A fire here would be difficult to contain. Homes in the area would be lost. More people, especially if BBQing, would contribute to the danger.

Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 13, 2019 at 4:05 pm

YP is a registered user.

Well all I can say is it doesn't turn into a Rinconada or Greer Park, anyone else seen the trash left there??

In any case doing a pilot program for a year seems reasonable, but keep in mind the liberal politics of inclusion, diversity blah blah that dominates our city government. Do you really think a one year program will not be extended and made permanent??? give me a break!

Posted by WHAT?!
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 13, 2019 at 4:16 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Voter
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 13, 2019 at 4:21 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2019 at 4:28 pm

Another aspect that has not been covered.

Page Mill Road is a very narrow, winding road often filled with bikes riding uphill very slowly and coming downhill very fast. Encouraging more traffic on this road is not a good idea.

Additionally, what happens if there is a fire? There is no cell signal for those hiking. If there is an emergency, people in the park will not know unless they see smoke and then when they exit the Reserve at the only road exit, how will they know whether to turn uphill or downhill to best avoid the danger or the emergency services working to get to the fire.

Even without the additional 50 cars per day, this emergency evacuation plan has not been worked through. It is essential that something be done to formulate an evacuation plan for Reserve users as well as local residents.

Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 13, 2019 at 4:30 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

Who's going to collect the $6? During the week, at least, no one is at the entrance.

Since the Stanford student, Yuji Sugimoto, is so worried about exclusionary policies, maybe he can get Stanford to open Jasper Ridge Preserve to the public, also.

Posted by Palo Alto resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 13, 2019 at 4:33 pm

"When we have people just going to party or to barbecue — that's something we don't need to provide," Kleinhaus said. "There are so many parks in Palo Alto where people can do that."

Well Said!

Posted by Unnecessary initiative
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Nov 13, 2019 at 4:37 pm

An environmental impact survey/analysis should absolutely be done before even considering opening the park to the public. Seems like having access to more things and controlling more parts of nature are more important to most of you than preservation. We are an EXTREMELY privileged set of individuals here in the Bay Area and we have access to everything. I can guarantee majority of you commenting here are fairly well-off, have good paying jobs and live a considerably "comfortable" life and yet, you still want more.

You know who doesn't have this privilege? Wildlife. Yeah, you know those animals that we love to carelessly run over with our cars, or the ones we've pushed out of their natural habitat so they have no choice but to start roaming into "our neighborhoods". Where should they go once we start increasing traffic in these semi-rural areas? Do any of you advocates for opening the park actually pay attention to what people do in natural parks?

Look, I would love to have access to this park just like the next person. However, I would actually be happier if access was fully revoked for everyone at this point. There is already hoards of trash surrounding the once beautiful rural streets of Palo Alto Hills and Los Altos Hills. You think that humans are going to be respectful and responsible beings and not litter or destroy Foothills Park?

We have Hidden Villa just down the street and Monte Bello Preserve just a few miles north up Page Mill Road. No one is stopping you from visiting those nature preserves. And with every visit to those two places, it just takes a couple of glances to see the impact that humans have had there. Trash on the ground, kids running around terrorizing animals, humans talking extremely loudly on the nature trails. Where can anyone even find any peace these days?!

Don't carelessly vote for something that doesn't necessarily contribute to a good cause... or any cause for that matter. If not done carefully or properly, this could be disastrous to our wild inhabitants.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 13, 2019 at 5:28 pm

I oppose this because of the history (PA paid for and still supports it) AND the damage that will be done by the increased traffic and impact on nature.
Plenty of people drive to Palo Alto to use our existing parks, I see this all the time. A “city” park is different from a semi-remote nature preserve up the hill in an area of fire risk.
Another example of PA “representatives” not representing the reasonable interests of the residents of Palo Alto.
I suppose a visitor from elsewhere will experience some injury, twiddle their finger (or worse), sue our city, recognizing a deep pocket opportunity, and we taxpayers will pay millions. (There is no effective way to supervise those from other areas, see: AirBNB party house rentals and translate that to this situation/locale). Oh, the lawyers will say, Palo Alto “should” have had X number of rangers staffed per # of visitors, etc.......

Posted by Tree hugger
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2019 at 8:37 pm

We make a point of going during the week only to avoid the obnoxious weekend groups who picnic with their music blaring. On weekends in late summer we have seen visitors smoking and carelessly tossing their cigarette butts to the ground (we always inspect to make sure they are fully extinguished). Foothills Park is a sacred refuge to us when we need to escape the stressors of the lowlands; we sincerely hope that will not change.

Posted by Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2019 at 11:35 pm

Then write a check back to the taxpayers who have been paying for the park.

Posted by YSK
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 14, 2019 at 12:05 am

I too have seen people up there smoking. I mean look, if you're local you know you can get into Foothill Park through other entrances. I'm sure it didn't take people from other places very long to figure that out. That should be enough entry for anybody. I don't understand why we aren't entitled to have one nice thing to ourselves. Palo Alto has been destroyed. We are overcrowded, our financial and cultural diversity has been destroyed and most people view Palo Alto as a place to get what they want financially and move on....we've become a transient community. People who live in a transient community have no vested interest in protecting the beauty and sanctity of a place that has been cherished by this city for many many years.
You want to know what $6 gets you?

Go to any California public beach on the weekend.

You want to open Foothills Park to the public? $25 entry fee. $30. Full time security and actual citations (not warnings) with a monetary value handed out to any person breaking the rules be it smoking, making a mess, or doing any other stupidity that people seemed to revel in doing when they're not on their own property.

It is so amusing to see comments from people worrying how we appear to others for not sharing our crowned jewel when I see very little caring from the same people when the people living in the RV'S are being shaken down. You're talking out of both sides of your mouths and you know it.

You've got yours, you're not going to share it, but you're quite liberally generous with what you don't own or revere because high odds are you have no history attached to it.

Posted by Heather
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Nov 14, 2019 at 1:05 am

I am of two minds on this one:

As a Los Altos Hills resident living near the park but prohibited from entering, I favor the move.

As a Los Altos Hills resident living near the park, and vulnerable to wildfire emanating from the park, I'm terrified of the move. Foothills Park is SEVERELY in need of downed-wood removal. Years of neglect have made it a tinderbox waiting to ignite. Bringing in more people will increase the likelihood of accidental ignition.

One person quoted in this article called the park "an embarassment to Palo Alto" due to the policy of non-admittance. It is even MORE an embarassment to Palo Alto for being such a dreadful example of inadequate forest management. And when it goes up in flames, they won't be able to blame PG&E. It will be "on" Palo Alto 100%.

Posted by Ysk
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 14, 2019 at 1:25 am

Bottom line: What would be the actual BENEFIT be to the City AND her residents (who pay taxes for the upkeep of Foothills Park)be by opening Foothills Park to non residents?


Not just some social justice crap worrying how we appear to others. Worrying about appearances is shallow and has everything to do with community ego versus preserving some of our history.

Palo Alto already has a bad reputation for being shallow, snobby, has parents that run the schools, overpriced housing and of allowing tech to dominate and render generic a once vibrant, accessible to ALL downtown.

Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 14, 2019 at 3:45 am

Have always wondered why there's never been talk of removing Boronda Lake filled given its dam will likely fail if we get the Big Quake despite its updating a few years ago, restoring the big meadow and wetlands for wildlife instead of being an attractive nuisance for BBQ/boom box weekends and an irrigated lawn best suited for Canada geese instead of local wildlife but for ground squirrels.

For debate fun, why not close the Page Mill Road access and open the flatter and thus much more safe access road via Los Trancos. A long time ago, I was first on the scene at a bloody motorcycle accident just below the Page Mill entrance. That road does NOT need more car traffic. Each car on it in the dry season is a potential wildfire ignition source.

If we want to get all social justice-y, why not focus more on "justice" for our native flora and fauna who have "lost the most: thanks to humans? Make Foothill a truly wild preserve!

I used to walk the trails there as a kid and teen, but after Lyme disease came west, forget it. And, I used to like the lake til it became chocked with aquatic exotics. I stick to the paved roads there now and never go on weekends.

Posted by PA owns the wildfire liability
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 14, 2019 at 5:33 am

If a fire started in the under-managed PAFHP, PA would be the legal whipping boy and the target of every lawsuit filed by anyone who suffered a loss.
PA sees what happened to PG&E and they see their future.

I favor keeping FHP open to only PA residents. The people that use the park are a different kind of "User" and they should be enticed to stay in FHP and remain out of the far more pristine open spaces further up the hill.

PA Residents should own all upkeep costs and the City of Palo Alto should remain 100% liable if a fire starts in the park if their lack of fire prevention efforts create an issue.

It's a city park, with BBQs and picnic tables all over. It's NOT a preserve. Those are farther up Page Mill and do not have BBQs and expansive picnic tabled areas all over.

If you encourage people to come and BBQ in a tinder box, you own that liability.

Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 14, 2019 at 6:12 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Rinconada is a park. Foothill is not a park, it is a nature preserve. It was foolish to name it a park.

It seems liken Palo Alto elected officials and city employees believe it's their job to represent everybody, except actual residents, a very curious phenomenon.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2019 at 7:08 am

Posted by Oldster, a resident of Old Palo Alto

>> Have always wondered why there's never been talk of removing Boronda Lake

FWIW, it was debated, before it was decided to empty the lake and reconstruct the dam, which was expensive.

Posted by 62 years in Palo Alto
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 14, 2019 at 7:55 am

The main people in Palo Alto to benefit from opening Foothill Park is the ones planning to run for political office outside of Palo Alto. This way they can tell the voters outside of Palo Alto that they represent them even when they are supposed to represent Palo Alto residents.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 14, 2019 at 8:08 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

People point to parks in other cities - the parks in SF are gutted with trash and the people who live next to those parks are inundated with cars, traffic, and illegal parking. Add to that the theft issue where you have large crowds - car break-ins.
Foothill is not "free" for large groups. I am with a group that rents a location twice a year and pays for that privilege. A list of names is with the guards.
I assume that the first poster is Corrie Wolbach. There is reason he was not re-elected. This is not about inclusion, exclusion, or if other people like us. It is about the management of land and the homeowners surrounding that land. And at this point where our power is cut-off due to fire protection there is a whole issue concerning that topic. Land management left to the uneducated on that topic is a disaster waiting to happen.

Posted by DrWaycool
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 14, 2019 at 8:11 am

DrWaycool is a registered user.

Without going into a lot of detail at this time, I have a long history with that land. It was part of "Boronda Farm" which was purchased by my Grandfather, Russel V. Lee at the insistence of my Grandmother, Dorothy W. Lee, who also insisted it be preserved as mostly undeveloped land to be shared with others. It was not the intention of our family to have it be exclusive to Palo Alto residents.

For those who are worried about wildfires, talk to the Rangers and firefighters who manage the risk. There is a seasonal fire station on the park property and there have been prescribed burns in the past to control that risk. There have been no fires due to barbecues in the park since it was opened in 1965. If anyone is worried about wildfire spreading from the park to their property, they should have done their part to create a defensible space around their home with the understanding that wildfires are part of than normal ecosystem of California.

With respect to impact to the more primitive areas of the park, look at the Arastradero preserve for comparison as damage to the natural habitat has not been significant despite it's open to all visitors and I have not seen any litter on those trails in the decades that I have traveled them. I have noticed no significant change in the "backcountry" of Foothills Park in the past 50 years.

Most of my visitation to the park has been during the weekday afternoons and have found found it to nearly empty. I have not been there on weekends for many years, but will take a look to see if these complaints about noise and garbage are fact or opinion.

FYI, The park was not always a "nature preserve" There were other homes and structures on the property, which was used for pasture and hay farming. Land mines were placed there as an experiment to see if dogs could sniff them out, several were not found until years later. The hillside opposite the visitor center (designed and built by my grandfather's brother for hay and tractor storage) was used as "target practice" by artillery crews stationed at what is now the McArthur Park restaurant. Our family used to ride bikes and horses on the existing trails and firebreaks (something I would like to see on a select multi-use trail from Arastradero preserve to Skyline).

Obviously, those with the strongest opinions are going to be posting on this forum. The arguments between the "NIMBYs" and the "socialists" would be amusing if they did not reflect such profound selfishness and entitlement. If my grandparents were alive today, they would say to both groups: "Shut up, calm down and see what transpires with the proposal".

Posted by kevin
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 14, 2019 at 9:22 am

i’ll use it.,
a vast area of peninsula hills is in parks and preserves of various kinds, so the so-called environmental argument against more use is bogus.

but i have more sympathy for keeping its use restrticted. it just seems wrong that Los Altos - the land that has no parks because there would always be plenty of vacant land for the kids to play in - should get access. As to struggling nonprofit Stanford. - quid pro quo.

a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 14, 2019 at 9:49 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by Not a Preserve
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 14, 2019 at 10:01 am

Nature preserves do NOT have bbq pits and large group picnic areas.
Parks have those. No matter how you slice it, it's a park.
There are ACTUAL preserves all around FH Park that can be seen for comparison.
Oh and Shoreline Park just set a fee for PA residents only. JK ;)

Posted by DrWaycool
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 14, 2019 at 10:25 am

DrWaycool is a registered user.

OK, for those who are more concerned about others taking advantage of their "tax dollars" (hopefully they are also complaining about the increased Palo Alto traffic and loss of undeveloped lands to Stanford's new master plan). Why not approach the residents of Los Altos and Los Alto Hills to see if they would chip in a small percentage of their property taxes to ensure proper monitoring (including limitations on visitors during peak times), wildlife/trail management, maintenance and fire risk abatement at Foothills Park in exchange for access?

Posted by Beautiful sunrise this morning
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 14, 2019 at 11:24 am

I went into the park this morning on my mountain bike and saw the sunrise from a favorite spot.

Whatever PA decides, it sounds like it's not open to development, so y'all figure it out and get back to the rest of us when it's decided.

Posted by It is a natue preserve, NOT a park.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2019 at 1:51 pm

It is a nature preserve, not a park. Let's call it what it is and limit its use by humans. Limit impacts of increasing numbers of reckless mountain biking enthusiasts who don't stay on designated trails...and off-leash dogs that dig up nests and burrows, garbage left by picnickers, etc.

There's a certain percentage of people who behave badly. If you invite more people in, more will behave badly--making the enivironment less inviting to the wildlife that is rapidly losing habitat in the Bay Area. Who will pay to manage that and clean up human messes? Answer: NOT Los Altos Hills. They've been clear about this multiple times.

Just say no. Preserve space for creatures that desperately need respite from human activity.

Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 14, 2019 at 3:22 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

The fact that Foothill nature preserve had bbq pits installed in it, very foolishly I might add, doesn't make it a park. It is a nature preserve. With the massive urbanization and densification of the Bay area, wild life is being squeezed out and stressed out, and the environment is under constant pressure. The wild life in the preserve deserves a break from human pressure, noise, smoke and garbage. All human presence there should be reduced, including that of Palo Alto residents. There are plenty of city parks in Palo Alto for picnics, Frisbee games and loud music.

Posted by Nature
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 14, 2019 at 3:34 pm

For all you folks arguing it is a "nature preserve" that should be protected - how would you feel about letting no cars in there at all? Just hikers and bikers? That would protect the critters and limit pollution, trash, and human impact.

If you don't support that, I suspect you may be less concerned about preserving nature than hanging onto your privileged access.

Posted by Unnecessary initiative
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Nov 14, 2019 at 3:52 pm

It seems like a lot of us are in agreement here that we DO NOT want this beautiful nature reserve to be further desecrated by humans by allowing even more humans to trample the grounds.

For all of us who see a negative impact, let's make our voices heard beyond this article. We should all attend the next meeting that is held about opening up Foothills Park to the public and make sure our concerns are heard. I encourage you to share any other suggestions on how we can come together.

And just to reiterate what a bunch of commentators have said, bringing in way more people runs an even bigger fire risk than we currently have. We don't need more disrespectful people throwing cigarette butts around or bbqing for that matter.

Lastly, that area around Page Mill and Moody is NOT an easy drive and it's very obvious when driving behind someone who is not familiar with the area. We do not need to flood our streets with more people who cannot drive on rural roads. These roads are NOT meant to be arterial roads, yet that's how they're being used. Imagine what it will be like when Foothills Park becomes a free-for-all.

Posted by They imagine it a Preserve
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 14, 2019 at 4:03 pm

The rest of us know it is a park, which is surrounded actual preserves for comparison and the comparative difference is quite clear.

This is Foothills PARK, with PARK Infrastructure: Restrooms(absent in actual preserves) BBQ pits all over (Not one in actual preserves) and established manicured unnatural picnic areas(Again, not in any actual preserve)

PA Should continue to pay 100% for it and own 100% of the fire liability.
I think we agree on that!

Posted by Non-resident user
a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2019 at 4:08 pm

I went out there yesterday. I was the only person there.
Thank you! More PA residents should ACTUALLY visit this park. It's usually a ghost town. More times than not it's just me and the deer.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 14, 2019 at 4:53 pm

Years ago I went there and saw the sign at the entrance, "Palo Alto Residents Only". I thought of a humorous idea---to make an identical wooden sign/font with "And We Don't Mean East Palo Alto". But I later learned that the reason for the exclusionary stance was that Los Alto turned down any funding for this park---one which would be used by them despite them having no skin in the game.

I hike there on weekdays with my dog. No one is ever at the gate and I've ever been asked to show my ID as a PA resident.

IMO it's both a park and a nature preserve. If this change goes through it could raise revenue perhaps. But there would have to be some enforcement. There would probably be more people on the weekends picnicking and using the grills. Doubt a big increase in people hiking up in the hills. It's not like the Dish which is close by to Stanford and somewhat of a drive for a person who wants to get a walk in yet has time constraints. If this goes through people should also be able to bring their dogs (leashed) on the trails during the weekend. Also the big increase in people using would probably be in the picnic areas and so no real impact on wildlife, except maybe for the deer that forage the green grass.

Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 14, 2019 at 5:15 pm

Jeremy Hoffman is a registered user.

"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."

--Ancient Greek proverb

Perhaps that could be extended to say "A society grows great when prosperous cities do good works for the benefit of themselves and their neighbors."

Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 14, 2019 at 5:52 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

It would be a great idea not to allow any vehicles into Foothill Nature Preserve.

Posted by Sto All Traffic at Arastradero
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 15, 2019 at 5:10 am

We should stop all vehicles traffic from going up pagemill. Bikes and hikers are OK. Rip out the disgusting bbqs, drain the exotic plant choked lake and limit any public access into the park. Keep FH Park pristine!

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2019 at 9:45 am

Some of the posts make a good case for removing the barbecues. I could certainly support that. These are kind of 4th-of-July and Labor Day activities anyway, and, given the wildfire issues for the foreseeable future, the City should seriously consider removing them.

The "exclusionary" "reason to hate Palo Alto" comments are so off the mark. I've definitely heard this personally-- from LAH residents! (And no one else. No kidding.)

Posted by We're not getting the full story
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 15, 2019 at 11:10 am

I bet there is a huge financial hit PA is or has been taking on this seldom used park. The urgency seems driven by something...something they are not telling us.

Posted by Shhh
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 15, 2019 at 1:00 pm

I think it's pretty clear about the "Why", now that everyone is concerned about wildfire liability.
If PA says "We are deathly concerned about the liability risk the city faces if a fire were to ever start in FH Park", then they've just given the future liability suit to the claimant or class action group.

They don't want to admit it just like you're not supposed to admit any guilt after a traffic accident.

Considering the very small number of residents that actually use the park, and weighing legal risks, I can see why it's appealing to consider minimizing that risk.
Lawyers and insurance companies are likely the ones forcing this.
I personally do not want a bankrupt PA in exchange for a park nobody goes to.

Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 15, 2019 at 2:34 pm

Thanks, DrWayCool, for some Foothill park history and wise perspectives. When was Boronda Lake created and was it always the size it is today? Besides hay were any other crops grown? Was the big meadow by the barn originally a beaver meadow with a meandering stream?

Mr,. Hoffman, speaking of trees, I wonder if planting chesnuts in the Foothill park meadow makes any sense given how popular Skyline Chesnuts has become? It would be amazing to bring back the American chesnut which the first people had here before the chesnut blight decimated so many.

Posted by Geoff Paulsen
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2019 at 3:10 pm

As a member of the Lee family and a former Foothills Park ranger, I recommend that the City Council approve the Palo Alto Parks & Recreation Commission's proposal.
Here's why:
1) Purchase. Although my grandfather wanted to develop the park, my grandmother refused to sell because she wanted the land to be saved as open space. They agreed to sell the land to the City for a greatly reduced price, but an enemy of my grandfather demanded that the issue be put to a citywide vote. It was never my grandparents' intent to restrict admission.
2) Payment. Although Palo Alto unsuccessfully asked neighboring cities to help pay for the park, Palo Alto was in the unique financial position to buy the land because it incorporated early enough to buy into income-generating hydroelectric and water projects in the Sierra foothills. Adjacent cities tend to have expensive homes but minimal municipal services and funds.
3) Protect. The argument that increased usage would disturb the Park's ecology ignores the fact that the greatest disturbances to the Park's original ecology are the irrigated turf, the artificial lake, and the exclusion of regular low-intensity wildfires. As a former park ranger at Foothills Park who has also worked for the National Park Service, California State Parks, and the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, I know that Foothill Park is underused and that some increase in usage would minimally affect the natural ecology.
4) Prejudice. There is an element of social justice that also needs to be considered. Although they are being rapidly priced out, there are still many East Palo Alto residents who would be living in Palo Alto if they had not been told, because of the color of their skin, that no houses were available in Palo Alto.
5) Public Relations. It would promote general good will. All midpeninsula residents share the same air, freeways, and other aspects of life. For one city to exclude others from a particular facility can create resentment and ill will. An old comment about this issue stated, "It's okay to be selfish once in a while, isn't it?" Well, no, it isn't - not if you want to be a decent, caring, and sharing human being.
6) Process. Every change like this involves a process, and I applaud the work of the Park & Recreation Commission and the City staff.
7) Patience. Tolstoy said, "The greatest two warriors are these - Time and patience." But this policy has been debated for over 60 years; it's time for a change.

Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2019 at 3:22 pm

As a preventative measure, how about removing the barbecue and (or any) campfire pits in either case?

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2019 at 4:07 pm

Posted by Oldster, a resident of Old Palo Alto
>> I wonder if planting chesnuts in the Foothill park meadow makes any sense given how popular Skyline Chesnuts has become? It would be amazing to bring back the American chesnut which the first people had here before the chesnut blight decimated so many.

American Chestnuts (Castanea dentata) are not native to the area. Their original range is, in fact, east of the Missisippi: Web Link . Unfortunately, the eastern chestnut forests have been almost completely destroyed by chestnut blight. I'm unclear what species is growing up on Skyline but it may be a different species. Anyone know?

There are plenty of California Buckeye (Aesculus californica) in the park. These are toxic without careful, knowledgeable preparation, so don't confuse them with edible chestnuts.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 15, 2019 at 7:09 pm

Thanks to the former ranger and also for his family history. I agree wholeheartedly.

But as many weighing in to close Page Mill, drain the lake, ban autos, etc., I feel compelled to weigh in with suggestions

Instead of removing the BBQ pits upgrade them all to double 55 gallon drums grills in their side. Fix any fire issues via Park area cleanup, Ranger on the weekends. Collect that precious biochar and use for enhancing the soil. Make the green area and adjacent grills and tables erupt every weekend with smoke of great food, people gathering and games on the green.

Ask Los Altos if they could subcontract to open a cannabis dispensary near Toyon Trail entrance. Profits to be split.

Posted by JB
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 17, 2019 at 7:19 pm

I hate the idea of opening Foothills Park to people who don't live in Palo Alto. The people of Palo Alto paid for it, and people like me who have lived here for decades have paid for its upkeep. It's the only local park in this area where I feel I can enjoy a peaceful hike. People from other cities are able to hike in Arastradero, a very nice Palo Alto park, and they are free to use the amenities at Rinconada Park and Mitchell Park. Why open up this precious natural reserve that also acts as a serene environment for the animals who make it their home? As a long-time renter (and not the rich Palo Alto person who people from other cities imagine), I have lived here in large part due to my access to this precious piece of quiet and lovely nature. Will we still see large groups of deer and turkeys when more people are let in? This really upsets me. There are many, many hiking parks in the Bay Area. Please, please don't turn Foothills Park into a loud picnic spot for people who don't live in Palo Alto. Thank you for letting me get this off my chest.

Posted by Nope, no thanks Palo Alto
a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2019 at 6:15 am

PA can keep the "Cuesta Park in the hills". It keeps the people you want out of the less crowded and more natural areas which are all over the area.
PA owns it, PA pays for it, PA keeps it. No pawning this albatross off on others in the community.

Also, I think they should mandate PA resident visit FH Park at least 3 times before being allowed into parks like Shoreline.

Posted by Screed
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 18, 2019 at 12:01 pm

A fable: Once upon a time mother hen decided to bake a pie and asked all the other barnyard animals to help her pick the apples, peel them, make and roll the dough, etc. Each one turned her down. She made the pie anyway. When the pie was finally made they all came running for their piece. She told them they were out of luck. And to get lost.

Posted by plantfruittrees
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Nov 18, 2019 at 2:24 pm

I'll address Geoff Paulsen's item #4 that is an attempt at guilting us into this: a lot of the homes in south Palo Alto are Eichlers. One of Mr. Eichler's selling points back in the day was that he was going to sell a house to anyone who was ready to buy, and he took great pride (and ran advertisements about it later) in throwing someone out who was incensed at finding out that non-whites were allowed to be the guy's potential neighbors.

I remember when Ron Andersen, a social studies teacher at Paly, was on the city council about 25 years ago and started agitating for opening up Foothills Park to all. The same arguments were made then that are being made now: Palo Alto set aside the money to buy this land, Palo Alto asked the neighboring communities to chip in for a park for all, and no other town was willing to spend a dime. A few on the council joined Andersen in that vote. And guess what, we got new members on the city council after that.

We are still, all these years later, the ones paying for Foothills' upkeep and also the only ones taking on any liability thereof in a potential wildfire zone. Someone flicks a cigarette? We pay.

It is a beautiful place, a rarity of quiet (most days). Anybody from town can bring their non-Palo Alto friends along. I have fond memories of my niece's toddler exploring in delight under watchful parental eyes--and of grabbing my own then-toddler away from a rattlesnake.

Keep Foothill as it is.

Posted by Meh
a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 18, 2019 at 2:46 pm

The scant few users in the park enable most all to use it w/out issue if they want, except for maybe the BBQs and reserve picnic areas. The only thing one needs is the desire to go there, which comes full circle as to the generally emptiness of it. The desire has increasingly waned over time, esp with the addition of all the natural preserves now open to all.

Now compared to the quiet and emptiness of the surrounding and nearby open space preserves, FH Park is a bit of an ugly duckling, but again, back in the day there was only FH Park. Times have changed and it's fallen out of favor with those who want to connect with nature in a quiet and natural setting, opting for the natural, non-manicured experience of our true open spaces
Keep it as it is, its fine for all. I personally don't need additional costs to pay for a park that comparatively, nobody really cares to go to.

This whole cluster-mess is so VERY Palo Alto, LOL.

Posted by Non Resident / Alien
a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2019 at 7:44 pm

Wow, peek condescension. " ...require non-residents who visit the park to receive training on how to handle wildlife." Do Palo Altans inherit that knowledge at birth?

Posted by Rehab
a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2019 at 6:10 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by PV Res
a resident of Portola Valley
on Nov 19, 2019 at 9:43 pm

I drive into there all the time. Sometimes the ranger tells me I can’t but I just pretend I can’t hear her and keep going. This is why people think Palo Alto is a snobby, stuck up area. Here in PV we allow anyone in our open space. It is obvious that Palo Alto shows racism too (why aren’t EPA residents allowed in?). Looks very bad for Palo Alto

Posted by LOL
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 20, 2019 at 6:35 am

ALL other towns allow everyone into their parks. Luckily there are far better substitutes in the immediate area, so it's a bit laughable.
I agree on the openness though. I also cruise into the park regularly to check it out or maybe have lunch and a hike. The status quo is perfect for me.

Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 20, 2019 at 10:58 am

The long term fate of Foot Hills Preserve should not be in the few, and in my view, capricious hands of the recreation committee. Foot Hills, a unique landscape and habitat, is not the same as the other city parks. The City needs to establish a separate charter for this preserve and be good stewards. Those advocating increased use need to fund improved Page Mill Access, emergency services, park services including clean-up and repair as well as oversight - and justify the certain damage to this treasured habitat and flora.
Leave Foot Hills alone.

Posted by Correction re: process
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 20, 2019 at 2:01 pm

Correction re: process is a registered user.

The fate of Foothill is not in the hands of the commission. They are empowered only to make a recommendation to staff and City Council. Staff must now make a recommendation to our elected Council officials, who will decide the matter.

It would be helpful if the article included info on next steps in the process. When will it go to Council?

Posted by Sweeping right hander
a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 21, 2019 at 6:34 am

Agreed that it's not like any other city park, but it's is not rare in it's existence. It's a tiny slice of exactly the same kind of land and environment of all the open spaces within a 3 mile drive, albeit FHP is more manicured, and developed.
It's perfect for the typical PA visitor. Other towns are not asking for access or a share of the costs. Leave it alone!

Posted by from Menlo Park
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 23, 2019 at 8:48 pm

Foothills Park is only open to Palo Alto residents because they wanted it this way, they paid for it and it is a fragile ecosystem. This is fair, but closing access to 'outsiders' to some creates a picture people interpret negatively...Palo Alto as as a community with an exclusive or entitled attitude. Opening the park to all will cost more, and if not done properly, damage the ecosystem. Can Palo Alto afford it? Palo Alto is a very affluent community. Can Palo Alto manage a larger number of park visitors? I think so. I have some suggestions. I think maybe the BBQ pits and artificial lake should go. Charge every vehicle (whether or not a resident of Palo Alto) a fee, but those who hike, bike or ride horseback in from Arastradero or other entrances come in free.

Posted by Don't Panic!
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 25, 2019 at 1:02 pm

AHHHHHHHHHHHHH the panic is setting in!!! This whole thing is laughable at best. Pathetic entitled Palo Altan's please get over yourselves. Your town and your park is not the center of the universe. Your park is not that wonderful or unique, I know I have spent many days over many years there. Lovely yes but no more than any of the other lovely parks in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains that ARE open to the public and ARE NOT overrun with "those other" people who are not from our town. Ever been to Sandborne County Park in Saratoga? Way better than Foothills park, open to all, beautiful and not overrun with "ghetto people from San Jose" Ever been to Alum Rock Park in San Jose, WAY better than Foothills Park and not overrun with "ghetto people from San Jose" Do you want to see the same natural history exhibit that was there when I was in the 1st grade in the 1980's, its still there, then visit Foothills Park. Open the park already, you know what will happen, absolutely nothing, it will be just like it is today. Meadow, picnic tables, dear, trails, nothing will change, only the perception that Palo Alto doesn't want you there, they may change, and that would be a good thing for Palo Alto.

Posted by Baker
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 30, 2019 at 1:12 am

Baker is a registered user.

I believe that visiting the park by other residents is a good idea, at least for me. But it’s better to vote about it in the next local election.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2019 at 6:22 pm

Posted by Don't Panic!, a resident of Crescent Park

>> Pathetic entitled Palo Altan's please get over yourselves. Your town and your park is not the center of the universe.

So many straw men here it looks like a hayfield.

>> Your park is not that wonderful or unique, I know I have spent many days over many years there.

Actually, it is a gem. I say that having hiked in at least 100 Federal (e.g. Redwood National Park), State, County, MROSD, and city (e.g. Foothills Park) in the northern coast (Monterey to Crescent City, east including Mt. Diablo) parks.

>> ARE NOT overrun with "those other" people who are not from our town. Ever been to Sandborne County Park in Saratoga? Way better than Foothills park,

I disagree, but, I do like Sanborn County Park. Too bad the Shady Shakespeare theater company couldn't find funding to continue in that location.

>> open to all, beautiful and not overrun with "ghetto people from San Jose"

I've never heard anyone ever say that or anything like it. Ever. But, it obviously is related to a lot of strawman arguments we all hear.

>> "ghetto people from San Jose"

There you go again. You have used that twice, while no one else ever has.

>> only the perception that Palo Alto doesn't want you there, they may change, and that would be a good thing for Palo Alto.

Right now, folks from LAH frequently walk in to FHP. I'm worried that FHP residents will drive in and occupy all the parking spaces with Lexus SUVs. Contrary to what I see posted here, parking lots are frequently full on weekend afternoons already, and some trails are quite busy. Even on weekday mornings, I see certain big groups of more elderly folks fairly frequently. So when people say the park is underutilized, I have to assume that they want to double or triple the size of the parking lots and make FHP more like Rancho San Antonio. I don't want that myself.

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