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Webcast: Debate over Foothills Park

Original post made on Nov 16, 2019

Ryan McCauley, a member of Palo Alto's Parks and Recreation Commission, talks with Weekly staff about the commission's new proposal to open up the city's pristine and exclusive Foothills Park to non-residents.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, November 15, 2019, 4:28 PM

Comments (14)

Posted by Gus L.
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 16, 2019 at 6:44 pm

Bad decision to open the borders to those that will trash our park. Look what happenedwhen Rinconada got out of control, people from the east bay were coming over in droves to use our parks and leave their trash.
The people of Palo Alto paid for and maintain this park for Palo Altans.
Whats next, food trucks and RV camping around Boronda Lake?

Posted by Look right next door
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 17, 2019 at 5:21 am

FH Park shares a border with an area open to everybody.
There is no issue at all with trash or any general disrespectful use by the public.

The argument about a possible trash increase is a false narrative.
Anyone can see Arastradero Preserve is nothing like the false narrative crowd says things might get like.

Why would FH Park suddenly become trashed when Arastradero and the surrounding open pace is not? If public use does equal trash, we would already see it in the park right next door.

Posted by Supply & Demand
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 17, 2019 at 8:12 am

Entrance/parking fees and daily head count limit to non-resident proposed are not enough to cover the expenses.

Higher fees and lower head counts are needed.

Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 18, 2019 at 9:06 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Arastradero preserve does not have bbq pits and other picnic facilities, it is used for walking, hiking and biking. All other Palo Alto city parks are inundated with trash after weekends and holidays, and those parks are always open to all and iused by residents of communities as far as the East Bay and Central Valley. Foothill is actually not a park, it is a nature and wild life preserve accessible from a narrow winding and pretty dangerous country road, and expending access to it is a very bad idea.

Posted by Enough already
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 18, 2019 at 9:31 am

Mauricio, you can call the park anything you want. It's purely semantics and not beneficial to the discussion so let's not argue semantics.

Posted by Pa
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 18, 2019 at 10:47 am

SO strange, why go against the interests of people who live in Palo Alto?!?!? This is a part paid for and for PALO ALTO residents. It's quiet and peaceful BECAUSE of that. Is Ryan McCauley guilty about something?

Posted by Follow the $
a resident of Woodside
on Nov 18, 2019 at 11:30 am

It's being paid for but not used by the people of PA. It's a money pit with minimal community benefit other than the few that use it and the few that like knowing nobody else can use it, even if they never do.

I'm fine with PA owning all costs and fire liabilities for any damage to the surrounding communities, but I bet the PA lawyers are biting their nails knowing how much PA is on the hook for.

I have to laugh though, has anybody asked if other communities actually WANT to use FH Park? If I go into the hills I don't want to visit a park like FH, I'd much rather go into the more natural areas.
I'm personally not interested so not sure the idea of opening it up for a charge would even work.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2019 at 12:17 pm

I think it is amusing to read some of the comments saying that the park/reserve is underutilized and various other things.

These are some observations from my weekly visits.

There are people who go on the nature walks with rangers who are learning about plants and wildlife.

There are groups of people hiking while others cook lunch for when they return. These groups are family groups/church groups/scouting groups/ and sometimes they combine them with bible study/meditating or other activities that involve sitting quietly in a group.

There are overnight campers/often birthday camp/sleepovers/scouting groups/family groups/church groups, often not sleeping more than one night.

In summer there are many day camps, using the lake for boating, etc.

There are always people fishing, hiking, taking in the views, etc.

There are many photographers, both of nature and of people, engagement photos, etc.

It is good that there are so many different ways to enjoy the peace and tranquility as well as being active.

Posted by It's NOT a park. It is a nature preserve.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2019 at 12:41 pm

It is a Nature Preserve, NOT a park.

We could open it to environmental education programs in other cities (especially East PA) without opening it to everyone in every city. That would control the environmental impacts of overuse. Your proposal invites the environmental damage that people invariably introduce to natural spaces when their numbers grow.

Nearby cities had the opportunity to contribute toward purchasing this space. They refused to help. They still have the opportunity to contribute to managing this space if they want to use it, but they have made no such offer. They simply want the privilege of using it without taking any responsibility to pay for mitigating their impacts. I am specifically talking about wealthy Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

Most of our parks and preserve space are open to residents of other cities. We provide a lot of benefits to nearby communities, especially East Palo Alto--and I have no problem with sharing resources with folks who have need. Not all Palo Altons are rich. More than half of our residents are renters. I don't think we have any obligation whatsoever to subsidize wealthy Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, given their past and present unwillingness to help preserve and maintain this beautiful, natural space.

There communities have better access to this space than most Palo Altons. They likely will use it more. They SHOULD pay. Shame on them for not stepping up.

Posted by Need to first know Why
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 18, 2019 at 1:18 pm

From the comments it sounds like everything is hunky dory wrt this park as it is so there SHOULD be no issues at all. Hmmmm.

What is glaringly missing is the "Why" they suddenly want to open it
I have a feeling it's pretty compelling and I would bet even money that usage, or lack there of is brought up as a reason. There's simply no other explanation for why they are so hungry to do so other than the extreme liability risk it puts PA under. Maybe with the changing environment the risk has become too much to assume? I mean, I'd hate to see a bankrupt PA after the fire claims start coming in. In that case the exclusive park is not worth it.

If it is money they should put it to a vote: Should Palo Alto residents accept a tax or use fee to keep Foothills Park (Officially) open to only Palo Alto residents. Unofficially, I'll continue my evening visits as usual.

Posted by Oh stop with the fair share BS
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 18, 2019 at 1:28 pm

LAH provides and maintains a wonderful path system through it's hills. They welcome everybody.
LAH also has a great preserve adjacent to the community horse barn, both open to everyone.

The push to oppen FH park is coming from within PA. It is NOT being called for by any other town. To be quite blunt, it's not worth the trip with better areas around.
For whatever reason Palo Alto, and no other town, is looking at opening it up. The focus should be one why they want to open it up, though it's not very closed right now.

Posted by The problem started when they bought it
a resident of Woodside
on Nov 18, 2019 at 2:58 pm

Seems LAH knew the future and smartly decided not to join PA's bad decision back in the day. There really is no need for Foothills park in this area so rich with open to all preserves.

PA is saddled with it with no foreseeable way to pay for it without it becoming a burden. The only options I guess are to continue to bleed "To make a point or to sell it, or come up some other plan for generating $ for the upkeep. i mean, I'd NEVER pay to go there, that's like paying for ice cream at the store next to the free ice cream stand.
Good luck Palo Alto. This is your issue.

Posted by jerry
a resident of Monroe Park
on Nov 18, 2019 at 4:01 pm

I was on the original citizens committee to inspect and make recomendations to the Cityi if they should purchase the area from Dr Lee, at a very favorable price. our recommendation was that the City should purchase the property , provided that it we limited to Palo Alto residents if the city alone was to purchase and maintain the park.
At that time Rinconada was packed on the weekend by out of town peopled was not really usable by residents, that is why it was approved by the Palo Alto residents.

Posted by So we have history covered
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 18, 2019 at 4:15 pm

Now we just b=need to focus on the present, as in WHY is this such a pressing matter?

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