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'Meet this moment': Growing coalition calls for Palo Alto to expand access to Foothills Park

Original post made on Jun 8, 2020

Calling it a policy that sends a terrible message, dozens of Palo Alto residents and community leaders are petitioning the City Council to abolish a law that keeps residents who live in other cities from visiting Foothills Park.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, June 8, 2020, 12:35 PM

Comments (140)

Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North

on Jun 8, 2020 at 12:39 pm

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Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North

on Jun 8, 2020 at 12:42 pm

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Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 8, 2020 at 12:54 pm

We simply need a reasonable fee for non-residents on weekends. Why? Not out of spite, but to regulate use. Rancho San Antonio is miserable most weekends (back when life was normal), overrun with parking nightmares and overuse.

There are free hikes above and below. Arastradero, and then Pearson and Los Trancos. I'd say $4 per car is quite a modest fee that would likely do the trick, but we could easily modulate that up and down to make sure we recover some modest costs, and our beloved Foothills doesn't turn into Rancho San Antonio at peak hours.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2020 at 12:59 pm

I would imagine that if the residency restriction were lifted, it would be mainly Los Altos and Los Altos Hills residents who would be the largest number of visitors.

I personally don't care where the visitors come from, just that the park which is really a nature preserve is not overwhelmed with visitors. I would suggest that cars counted coming in and when a certain number of cars were in, the gate would be closed until a car left. This would keep the preserve from being overwhelmed with visitors.

Possibly a fee for non-residents would make sense also. This would provide funds to cover the extra gate time for ranger cover.

Posted by Henry Lee
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 8, 2020 at 1:05 pm

I don't see any problem to open up the foothill park. But it would be appropriate to require an entrance fee for nonresident. This is not to make profit, but to protect the nature and keep it for people to enjoy.

Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 8, 2020 at 1:14 pm

More people = more maintenance.

Of course these silly petitions don't address additional at all. Where's the money going to come from?

Yes, most of the additional visitors will come from Los Altos and Los Altos Hills because they're right next door. Didn't know that these communities are majority people of color.

By the way, not impressed by the "growing coalition" of dozens of residents. We're a town of 65,000 people. Sounds like a vocal and annoying minority.

Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 8, 2020 at 1:17 pm

"Any sort of idea that there has to be tension between providing access to the outdoor opportunities for all people...and the idea that we might not be able to preserve and protect our environment is I think a false tension."

Foothills Park is already suffering maintenance problems due to lack of funding, and I have not heard anything about increasing funds. So how could more people using the park not make this situation worse? And for one example, I offer the deteriorating condition of the Los Trancos Trail, along the rockslide areas close to the creek. I hesitate to even bring this up, as I fear the trail is at risk of being closed due to lack of maintenance and the risk of injury from a false step (the dropoff is pretty big). Trail maintenance is difficult and very expensive, and more people using the trails will only result in a loss for everyone if current public finance problems continue. Any expansion of user base MUST include an expansion of funding to accommodate it.

Posted by Walter Underwood
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jun 8, 2020 at 1:25 pm

I haven't seen a single concrete argument for opening. The arguments are "outdated", "elitism", and the like. Those are personal values, not open space functions.

It is already hard to reserve the campsites in the park. Opening up would mean moving to a new reservation system, charging more, and making it nearly impossible.

Would opening somehome make the park better?

Posted by Anon
a resident of Ventura
on Jun 8, 2020 at 1:34 pm

Am fully in favor of eliminating the current law, and replacing it with a fee for non residents. This has precedent in the surrounding communities, and is much more equitable. Examples: Sunnyvale charges an entrance fee to the Baylands, Mountain View has heavy discounts for rentals at Shoreline.

This should be simple, so let's make it simple. Add a fee, and make it free for residents who fund(ed) the park both through the initial purchase of the land and ongoing maintenance etc.

Posted by pares
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 8, 2020 at 1:38 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think during the week anyone can access the park as there are no rangers at the entrance. Our hiking group used to go there once in a while during the week. While we did have a few PA residents with us (and I'm a PA resident), there were never any rangers checking up.

Only on weekends were the rangers checking.

Posted by Evan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 8, 2020 at 1:42 pm

I was born and raised in Palo Alto, and have wonderful memories of Foothills Fun Camp and Foothills Day Camp. I can still picture myself, and my fellow campers, all singing together on the bus as we rolled into the beautiful valley for the first time.

I made life-long friends those summers. I played frisbee, learned to love nature and become a life-long fan of camping under the stars. Years later, I returned as a counselor, and helped kids find that same joy.

In high school, I remember parking nearby and walking into the park (after hours…sorry) with friends as we (and many others) hiked up to the lookout to watch a meteor shower from the best view in town.

Now, I can't go to Foothills anymore. Why? My driver license says Menlo Park. This practice should come to an end. Discounted (or free) entry fees for locals, sure.

It's time to open up the park, and be good neighbors.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2020 at 1:51 pm

I haven't seen a single rational argument yet for opening the park further to non-residents. Some people in city government would love for the park to become another corporate playground like Mitchell Park, and the Mitchell Park Library meeting rooms, and the Mitchell Park "community center" already are.

Another argument against opening it is that Marc Berman is in favor of opening it. He is almost always on the corporate side of everything. First we open the park to corporations, then we put in the high-end housing towers surrounding it so it looks like Central Park in Manhattan.

However, since "they" have already decided on opening the park, if we must, let's try to get "them" to give us an adequate maintenance budget for the park.

For anyone who thinks that the park is empty, BTW, it was busy before COVID-19, and, it is extremely busy right now, with all parking spaces full at busy times. It is not underutilized.

Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 8, 2020 at 1:55 pm

"My driver license says Menlo Park."

Yet you chose Crescent Park as your neighborhood. It's great that you have memories of growing up in Palo Alto, but, unlike elite universities, legacy doesn't count.

"and be good neighbors."

Want us to be good neighbors? How about Menlo Park being good neighbors and extend Willow Road all the way to El Camino as originally intended to alleviate traffic on University Avenue?

Quid pro quo, as they say.

Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 8, 2020 at 1:58 pm

Modest fee for non-resident vehicles on weekends. Easy as that.

Responding to some other thoughts shared:

Camping is nearly always fully booked when weather is nice, and we have only a few sites. We should keep that for residents only, unless a miracle happens and possible use goes to waste.

It is true that I nearly never see rangers when I go. It is unlikely to have your ID checked weekday or weekend. [Are the employees working? If so, they are hiding. And I go a lot.]

That doesn't mean we shouldn't change the policy though. Maybe taking modest non-resident fees at the gate will even mean that the rangers will be present, so they can rent out the cool canoes like they are supposed to! Win-win-win!

Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 8, 2020 at 2:07 pm

I am against opening the park ... that being said, if they do open it to non-residents, definitely have to charge non-residents a fee to cover any increase in park operating costs. I don't go there often, but was there this weekend and it was pretty crowded. The "false tension" here is that this issue has anything to do with racial "equity". If a small group pushes this agenda, it would be interesting to see what would happen if the issue were placed on the ballot.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2020 at 2:10 pm

Posted by Evan,a resident of Crescent Park

>> Now, I can't go to Foothills anymore.

Actually, you can. Just walk in from Arastradero (or down from Los Trancos OSP) uphill. I sometimes walk in from Arastradero myself.

Posted by A nice guy
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 8, 2020 at 2:41 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by tom kearns
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 8, 2020 at 3:18 pm

I've been using the park for a few years (weekdays), and have NEVER been
asked to prove residency. No guard at the gate, so the issue would appear to
be moot. Probably need to charge a fee to non-residents to cover maintenance

Posted by James
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2020 at 3:27 pm

For all those opposed keep in mind that Palo Alto is the only city I have heard of that criminalizes entry into a park for non-residents. We should all be thankful other communities have not taken a cue from this and remain generous enough to allow outsiders in. There are plenty of communities that are far less fortunate than Palo Alto and yet somehow they don't need to charge non-residents with a crime for enjoying their public lands.

Posted by Let's Not Be Distracted
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 8, 2020 at 3:49 pm

I hope everyone on all sides understands the history behind the park's restriction. When Palo Alto was trying to raise money to buy the land, it asked Los Altos Hills and Portola Valley to help. Both refused. Even among Palo Altans, more than 1/3 opposed the purchase. So the locals-only restriction was imposed because only Palo Alto was willing to pay and not its neighboring cities.

When I as a Palo Altan go to the Menlo Park library, I'm not allowed to use one of the services they offer to get books from other libraries. I asked why -- and was told its because I'm not a resident of Menlo Park. So why is that fair? And someone from outside California can't get a card at any of our libraries. That too seems unfair. So if we're going to pursue opening up Foothill Park to people who didn't help pay for it, why not demand the same for all other resources each city offers?

And why stop with one obscure park up in the hills or library services? How about something far more important, like access to schools?

By restricting access to well-funded, high-quality Palo Alto schools based on which town you happen to live in, we have in fact created a very separate and unequal situation that has enormous lifelong impacts on many. No one talks about it. Yet if we're going to look squarely at the real problems in our society, the enormous disadvantages that students face in underfunded school systems should be at the top.

The current Foothill Park restrictions are trivial, impact very few people, only apply on weekends, and don't even stem from racial or economic injustice. Ironically, those restrictions sought to keep out residents of Los Altos Hills and Portola Valley, two of the very wealthiest communities around. The petition is, in my opinion, a foolish distraction.

Instead, we should focus on the true problem, namely our ongoing, highly unequal public educational system. We spend more on schools than parks, libraries, and police combined. And every day, we allow how we spend those public funds to continue to create enormous segregation and economic injustice. Fix that and we'll have done something truly great.

Posted by James
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2020 at 4:15 pm

To Let's Not Be Distracted, basically your argument is akin to "sure this is an unfair policy, but there are more serious unfair policies so we should not bother with addressing this more minor unfair policy." Why not go after problematic policy wherever you see it? Maybe we should take baby steps onto the slippery slope that slides us into a more just world.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2020 at 4:42 pm

Posted by James, a resident of Mountain View

>> To Let's Not Be Distracted, basically your argument is akin to "sure this is an unfair policy, but there are more serious unfair policies

Please explain why it is "unfair" to block driving access from LAH and Portola Valley, when they refused to join in funding, and, had very little public assets of their own to share for decades? (Portola Valley now has some nice hiking trails.) (LAH and Portola Valley residents have been walking in unopposed for a long time.) Anybody can walk in from Arastradero Park or Los Trancos OS.

Posted by So funny
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 8, 2020 at 4:45 pm

It's a freaking park. That's why it was built and landscaped...that's why all the concrete was poured, ....that's why they put in picnic tables and bbq pits. It's park...just let the people in.

Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 8, 2020 at 4:56 pm

OK does anybody see the irony that I am advocating the park be opened to everyone but only certain people can read my words which the weekly is putting behind some kind of a firewall?

Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 8, 2020 at 4:58 pm

I would ask the 40 or so influential and fortunate Palo Altans whose names hang at Lytton Plaza to form a public private partnership or nonprofit to support additional maintenance at Mitchell park

Posted by TS Member
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2020 at 5:04 pm

Local parks in the hills have become overrun with people everywhere (from Rancho San Antonio to Windy Hill and many others). I used to be an avid hiker who loved outings in our local hills. No more. They are too crowded. Foothills Park was one of the last relatively peaceful, uncrowded places. If it opens up to more people, maybe it will be fairer, but it will likely be yet another place where I will abstain from going due to the crowds showing up.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 8, 2020 at 5:16 pm

Goodness! What a long list of people signing this letter. At least we will know who to call if there is ever a fire storm up there.
Everyone should take a look at Hoover Park on Cowper any late Sunday afternoon and notice the trash and condition of the tables and the heaps of over-flowing garbage and food waste left everywhere.
Palo Alto has plenty of parks which are largely used by non-residents. Not sure why they would want to add more cost, risk, and headaches for themselves.

Posted by James
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2020 at 5:18 pm

"Please explain why it is "unfair" to block driving access from LAH and Portola Valley, when they refused to join in funding, and, had very little public assets of their own to share for decades? "

Did Palo Alto fund the parks in Mountain View, or San Francisco, or San Antonio Texas for that matter? And yet, Palo Altans can go to all of their public parks as a non-resident. You also mention that people can hike in and bypass the gate, but my understanding is that being in the park is a misdemeanor criminal offense if you are not a Palo Alto resident. For many people, especially for socioeconomically disadvantaged people, sneaking into a park and risking a criminal offense that will remain on your record is not a reasonable option. If you are not sure why having a misdemeanor offense on your record is such an issue, be thankful for your position of privilege.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 8, 2020 at 5:21 pm

How about all those virtue signaling people slow down on making decisions in this volatile environment. Foothills is special . California excels at regulatory and environmental obstacles foe anything , so why should We not expect a comprehensive study on the impact to the park and flora and fauna before we make a decision. Or did I miss it?

Posted by Stop putting labels
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 8, 2020 at 5:32 pm

Reasons not open the park: money (purchase of it decades ago + maintenance fee) + environmental impact (trash, trails, pond...).
Reasons open the park: let everyone in and be welcoming.

For people who support opening the park, I thought the discussion should focus on 1) how to make sure of enough and fair funding and 2) how to make sure of preservation of the nature.

Instead, in this article, all cited arguments are some big labels: "Racial equality", "elitism", and "exclusionism". I wonder, for example, of the people that are denied entry and feel excluded, what are the percentages from each town, from each race?

As we all know, it is much easier to talk than to act. It is even easier to say all the nice words and to please everyone by sacrificing other people's rights or nature preserve.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 8, 2020 at 6:07 pm

Figure out a sum of $ to require neighboring cities to submit to the Foothills Park budget/fund, then open to residents of those cities. I haven’t been up there for a long time, but I thought you had to show a driver’s license/ID at the gate!? I’ve lived in several other peninsula cities and now live in Palo Alto. Previously, I was a guest in a group....never crossed my mind this was racism...

Posted by eyeswideopen
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 8, 2020 at 6:09 pm

I just returned from Foothill Park. It is open to everyone during the week. I counted about 35 cars total today. I do not want it to turn into another Rancho San Antonio madhouse on weekends.
The ecology of the park is important enough that restrictions on any people coming to the park are important. With all the funding cuts in Palo Alto there is no way to control the impact of large numbers of people--residents or non-residents. I say leave it as it is: non-residents welcome on weekdays, residents only on weekends.
Those pushing for opening the park and using the recent murders as motivation have duped a lot of people into signing a terrible petition.

Posted by dog-lover
a resident of Mayfield
on Jun 8, 2020 at 6:17 pm

I'm actually much more concerned by the discrimination against canines, many of whom are residents of Palo Alto, by Foothill Park on week-ends.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2020 at 6:42 pm

One more thing which I have said in the past which has to be taken into account.

Foothills Park has one entrance/exit on a very narrow, windy road. It has no cell signal. In an emergency, fire for example, informing everyone in the park of the emergency and them all getting back to their cars and then the cars evacuating down Page Mill Road would be a nightmare. The more people in the park, the more dangerous it would be in a fire.

The grass is very dry there now. It would only take one discarded cigarette, one spark from a coal, and the Park would need to be evacuated very quickly. Not sure how it would be done safely.

Page Mill traffic, complete with lots of bikes, going down the hill, while emergency vehicles coming up the hill. Doesn't bare thinking about.

Posted by Jim W
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 8, 2020 at 6:48 pm

Dozens of residents should not get to dictate the will of tens of thousands of residents. Leave Foothill Park to the Palo Alto residents. It's clean, safe and great for property values just the way it is.

Posted by Already open for ALL Bicycle riders
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 8, 2020 at 6:50 pm

Foothills Park is already open on weekdays and weekends for everyone - Palo Altan or otherwise. You simply need to walk or bike your way up.

Came by car? We’ll need to see some ID, as cars are loud, generally polluting, stress animals, cause more wear and tear, and tend to bring in a higher density of visitors than via bicycle or hiking.

Posted by Gus L.
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 8, 2020 at 7:14 pm

Just say No, Remember what happened to Rinconada Park when everyone from the Bay Area was using it? It was a constant MESS. Garbage everywhere, costing Palo Altan's more money for maintenance .Palo Altans couldn't even enjoy it.
Remember the Alamo? Well ,Remember Rinconada Park!
Keep off OUR Meadow..

Posted by Stepheny McGraw
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 8, 2020 at 10:11 pm

As many others have posted, parks and open space are becoming overcrowded, more so with the drive to pack more people in less space at both work and home. Foothill Park still has room for the deer to roam, the occasional bobcat and even Palo Altans to put a toe on a trail or the meadow without being run over by bikers or a troop of hikers. Other communities had the chance to help fund, help patrol and declined. Let's keep this unique place, unique. Keep this special Palo Alto park for Palo Alto residents.

Posted by BobH
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 9, 2020 at 8:35 am

I would be fine with opening Foothill park to non-Palo Alto residents on weekends (it's effectively already open on weekdays), if the surrounding towns also contribute to its upkeep.

This doesn't seem to be the time to take on additional costs for upkeep given the other cuts in the Palo Alto's budget.

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 9, 2020 at 8:37 am

I must have missed something along the way. I thought the residents only policy is due to choices made by neighboring cities decades ago and tied to the economics of staffing and maintenance, including fire protection. Also, even though this wonderful place is known as Foothills Park, isn't it actually a utility and wildlife preserve? If yes, are there unique considerations and care requirements that attach to that?

It's easy to understand why people who do not live in Palo Alto would want the opportunity to visit Foothills. It should be possible to work something out with fees and visitor limits; some good suggestions have been made in earlier posts. As for the ordinance that makes visits to Foothills Park a misdemeanor for non-residents - even if the residents-only policy isn't changed or it takes time to revise it, that ordinance should be repealed. I hope to learn that it has never been enforced as that would surely be a ridiculous use of public resources.

Posted by Barbara Wilcox
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 9, 2020 at 9:06 am

OK, but the park should be scanned for unexploded ordnance before visitation increases. It's part of a World War I artillery range, and UXOs have been found on its borders for years. I wrote a book about this. I expect that the costs of demining were part of the original discussion of the park.

Posted by Independent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 9, 2020 at 10:13 am

No to opening the park unless non residents pay a fee to offset their use, the liability of their use, and so on and so forth. Residents already do pay to support the upkeep of the park.

Posted by Bob Dylan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 9, 2020 at 10:15 am

Let the citizens of Palo Alto vote on this matter.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2020 at 10:33 am

Posted by Independent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland

>> No to opening the park unless non residents pay a fee to offset their use, the liability of their use, and so on and so forth.

No to opening the park to LAH residents unless the city of LAH agrees to pay 50+ years of use fees, with interest. LAH residents have been sneaking in all along, and, the city of LAH actually was crying "poor" saying that they couldn't afford to pay their share. All this seems to have to be covered every year for some reason. Just last year, there was an exhaustive discussion: Web Link Those LAH folks and their proxies are relentless.

Posted by Jim
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 9, 2020 at 10:49 am

This is a politically charged time and people are using race to firward their argument to open the park. Let's open this to more discussion and time. After community discussion we should pit this to a city wide vote.

Posted by Kerry55
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 9, 2020 at 10:50 am

Rancho San Antonio is completely overrun with visitors. Arastradero Preserve is also full up on weekends and some afternoons. San Mateo County Parks also have full parking lots. Cant we keep one park special and as natural as possible? Interesting that Stanford closed off Jasper Ridge as an environmental area, how about the same designation for Foothills Park. It is admirable to want to open up the park, but who will enforce capacity and what amount of fees could ever compensate for the peace, quiet, natural setting and pristine conditions of this park?

Posted by Kerry55
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 9, 2020 at 10:51 am

Designate Foothills park a Wildlife Preserve so it can stay the way nature intended.

Posted by Foothill Park Hiker
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 9, 2020 at 11:05 am

Over the years as I hiked the often deserted trails, I would think how sad for the restriction of non-residents. Being a solo hiker, I would welcome more people on the trails. Yes the trails do need maintenance. But what is the logic of only a entrance fee be charged to outsiders. This somehow smacks of discrimination or an elitist attitude. Are people in Palo Alto unable to afford this expense? I would welcome paying a fee to enjoy a well-maintained park.

Posted by Tecsi
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 9, 2020 at 11:08 am

Palo Alto bought the land, and presumably pays for its maintanence. It seems reasonable that we non-residents should have to contribute if we want access.

Posted by Lee
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 9, 2020 at 11:22 am

I agree that folks who most likely benefit from the opening of Foothills Park to non-residents are those from nearby towns closest to the Park. Not the downtrodden from far away.
I am a Palo Alto resident. Several years ago during an economic crisis, Los Altos disallowed non-Los Altos residents to borrow from their libraries. But they didn't tell their Los Altos residents to stop using other Santa Clara libraries.
My suggestion: make Foothills Park free and inviting to everybody from San Jose, Morgan Hill, and Gilroy, etc.; but charge a fee to those from Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, etc. Politicians are better at gerrymandering than I.

Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 9, 2020 at 11:23 am

NO, to opening FP to those not residing in Palo Alto. This is a benefit of living in Palo Alto that resident tax dollars pay for use by residents only. Inviting non-residents, even for a fee, will destroy the park and it's peacefulness. FP is my favorite benefit of living in Palo Alto.

Posted by Foothills Park is for residents of Palo Alto only to keep destruction of wild places down.
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 9, 2020 at 11:36 am

No to opening Foothills park to non-residents. We liver in an area that is swarming with people and none of our government agencies or NGOs will even broach the subject of population control to limit the destruction of too many people on the air, water and surrounding open space.

Palo Alto bought and paid for this park and it belongs to our overcrowded city. It is already too busy on weekends and we don't need to add more people to pollute it and scare away the native wildlife.

This park is open to any resident of PA. This policy has nothing to do with any perceived slights based on anything except where you live and who owns the property. Some people with an agenda are just thinking up excuses to try to get what they were not able to get any other way. Shame on them.

Posted by Terry Terraceter
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 9, 2020 at 11:55 am

If Stanford can open the Dish walk to the public, then it should be obvious that Palo Alto could open Foothill without undue burden. But maybe Palo Alto is simply more exclusionary and elitist?

Posted by To All the Taxpayers Above
a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2020 at 12:42 pm

To all the taxpayers above who say city taxpayers pay for the park so they should be the only ones to enjoy the park.

You just described every public park in the Bay Area, and those cities don't limit their parks to residents. Tell me you have never enjoyed a public park in a town you were visiting. If you are concerned about environmental impact, charge everyone or charge out of town visitors.

Posted by Sally
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 9, 2020 at 3:13 pm

How about starting with just one city? We could open it to East Palo Alto. They have no foothills adjacent to their city, and Palo Alto is their biggest physical barrier to the foothills. After a few years, if the park can handle even heavier usage, then consider opening it up more broadly.

Posted by paheidi
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 9, 2020 at 3:16 pm

It’s about preservation. Others can access the park 5/7 days each week and have access to hundreds of acres of Palo Alto Parks. Opening up Foothills makes no sense.

Posted by pa
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 9, 2020 at 4:13 pm

I have never heard of a people or citizens of any city who would actively work against their own interests to harm a beautiful and quiet place like Foothill Park by making it overcrowded. It simply makes no sense, unless these same people are trying to deal with personal issues they are having. It's simply foolish.

Posted by rick
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 9, 2020 at 4:19 pm

The part is pretty much ruined now thanks to the work from home crowd and other random/bored people that have discovered it. Yesterday at 8:30 am there was a maniac on a trail screaming "THE GOVERNMENT IS KILLING US"! blahblah! ...
after 35+ years of going, never seen anything like this, so it's not such a nice place now anyway Opening it up ..against the wishes of PA residents would make it even worse.

Posted by Tom
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 9, 2020 at 7:31 pm

I am for a non-resident quota of 50 cars per day, $5 per car, $1 per person. A family of 4 can visit for under $10. $5 per dog, not allowed on weekends or holidays.
If the park is full they can go to the numerous free trailheads along Page Mill and Skyline.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 9, 2020 at 7:50 pm

Yosemite is going to open by reservation only. Every national park is now trying to monitor and limit use to preserve the value of the parks. They do not have as much money for maintenance of the facilities and rangers. I suspect that PA does not have enough money now to provide the proper maintenance for all of the parks in the budget.
People do not seem to realize that it costs money to maintain these facilities and parks. And we do not have that money right now. The budget is blown. And the people who are trying to get in know that because their city parks have the same problem.
So they are using all of the buzz words to make a point. But the point is budget and funding. Maybe they can in their ultimate wisdom suggest how the city park budgets can be increased. Are their cities going to pitch in and put money in their budgets?

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 9, 2020 at 8:19 pm

Another thought - golf courses. I can make a reservation for a tee time at the Palo Alto golf course. But I cannot make a reservation for a tee time at a private golf course because I am not a paying member. Every one seems to accept that concept - if you are not a paying member then you cannot make a reservation to play. Like wise I cannot go into a private swim and tennis club unless I am a paying member. Every one seems to accept that. So accept that concept here - - only paying members are going in. We have a number of private golf courses and swim and tennis clubs in the area. No one is arguing that they should get in based on some "principle' they have made up.

Posted by Paul fisher
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 10, 2020 at 1:06 am

Time to put action where our words are. Offer free bussing from East Palo Alto to the park, you may want to do the same from the call station so people from lower privileged community can benefit from the park.
All privileged resident and non resident should pay an entrance fee to pay for the busses.
Nights of special events should be made available to less privileged people.

It is time to share our park and other benefits with our less privileged American brothers and sisters.

Posted by Eric blanqo
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 10, 2020 at 1:12 am

Reading some of the comments it is shocking to see how many people are dismissing the need to share our park with other communities. Palo Alto is much richer than most cities around the bay, sharing some of this wealth in time of BLM and sanctuary cities advocacy makes perfect sense, it is the liberal, progressive thing to do.

Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 10, 2020 at 7:11 am

Camp Mather.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 10, 2020 at 9:06 am

So now we have upped the ante to provide free busses and shuttles. If anyone has been on the Page Mill Road that goes up to the park one can just imagine that as a risk factor. And bus fumes in that area? Right next to houses that are in that area? And what wealth are you sharing? We right now are arguing about Cubberely and the cost to upgrade that facility. Some idea that this city has a bundle of money to blow. Since PA is the legal entity for anything that can go wrong - then that is on us when it does go wrong. And when it heats up then you can assume that it will go wrong. A lot of work goes into the maintenance up there including re-routing streams so that run-off goes in the right direction.

You all have managed to envision great riches in a city in which all of the businesses have been shut down for three months. And this city is struggling to get open.

Time for the papers to put out a story as to where all of the parks are and who pays for those parks. The Mid-peninsula Open Space group has to open their parks up. And how about the POST Group - I get untold number of letters asking for donations - time for them to provide maps of their properties and when the public can visit. Menlo Park has done a good job on fixing up it's parks. They should provide maps of where their parks are and what is available at those parks.
Atherton has parks - provide a map and let everyone know when they can visit.

I get untold number of requests for donations on most properties in California, including the State Parks. They all need money. Every park is subsidized by taxpayer funds. And POST people - are you directing the folks to Foothill so they don't pester you for entry? People donate land for parks so that they can avoid the taxes associated with the park maintenance. That is how POST ends up with key properties. Filoli is available - that is a National Trust property that needs funds to keep going.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 10, 2020 at 10:31 am

So look at where the posters live. Next to a major parks that gets a lot of usage during the summer? Parking lots over flowing with families from other communities that rent space for large groups? All of the barbecue and music?

Mitchell Park is our designated park for festivities. But rest assured when an advertised event takes place there the overflow parking is in the residential areas.

How about Rinconada Park - big park for visitors from other communities.
Is this about moving people out of your neighborhood into one far away? Up in the hills. Once the people get into the parks and food gets cooking people are busy having a party. Parking all over the place.

There is more to this activity as summer comes upon us and people are out. Friend went to Rancho San Antonio at 6:45 in the AM and it was full - he had to go some where else. I can just imagine how all of the residents felt during the early AM hours as cars funneled through the area to get to the parking lot. And then the continuous activity during the day. Whole groups of kids had a camp ground.
So is this part of an avoidance scheme?
Bottom line is that Foothill is in a very vulnerable area prone to fire issues. And the ability to get out of there fast is not possible - the street is too confining with steep drop-offs. It is not realistic to over-populate that area with people who have no investment in it.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 10, 2020 at 1:14 pm

You will note that Anderson Dam in Morgan Hill is being drained due to possible earthquake collapse. The trajectory of water in that case would go down to the town.

The "lake" in Foothill Park is really a earth dam holding back enough water for kids to boat in. The road that goes beneath the bottom of the earth dam down to the barbecue area would be the trajectory of water if an earthquake broke the earth dam and further to the residents below.

A predicament at Shoreline Park is the lake held back by an earth dam. A lot of water next to buildings.

Searsville Lake Dam on SU campus is a topic we have discussed in previous years. That dam is over 100 years old. A dam removed on the Carmel River above the city of Carmel had the same issues as the SU dam - sludge build up. They solved that problem with a number of by-pass rivers which allow the fish to travel up stream.

Building dams and water catchment areas is a requirement when you live below the hills.

At this point the Foothill Dam was build under a certain set of requirements regarding traffic which would occur directly on the road below the dam. It specifically excluded heavy traffic.

Posted by Duveneck neighbor
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 10, 2020 at 1:23 pm

Open the park up. If 10,000 of us were there Saturday to protest (and, there *were* much closer to 10,000, then the 2,000 stated by the City Manager), then we can open the park. Otherwise we're just privileged hypocrites.

Charging a modest fee for car entry would be appropriate. I like the number $5, but would look to a (brief!, please) analysis to substantiate the relationship between additional costs and additional visitors.

Perhaps a trial run, to establish what the changes will look like, is appropriate.

Thanks to this discussion, I now know (didn't know before) that there is indeed a reservable campground at Foothills. Good to know.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 10, 2020 at 1:29 pm

The people who were protesting were not concerned with Foothill Park. That was not the issue on the table. You cannot translate on event concerning the management of police activity with going to a park. I realize that every one wants to "seize the moment' to push their own agendas. That is also called opportunism.

Posted by Adrian
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 10, 2020 at 2:22 pm

[Post removed; Felt Lake is not open to anyone, including Stanford residents.]

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 10, 2020 at 8:01 pm

Foothill Park is in a very limited accessible location. It is a very delicate park. What I am looking at here is a gang approach which will totally destroy the park. People are loosing their minds here and will destroy it.

I suggest that the city transfer ownership to the Mid-Peninsula Open Space Preserve. Remove it from what ever this gang approach is and apply the Mid-peninsula rules for that property. The Open Space Preserve has expert people in the management of delicate properties. The city of PA is being overrun with multiple problems and does not have the expertise to manage this property. And people here are determined to destroy it.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 10, 2020 at 10:36 pm

Some of the surrounding cities had the option to buy in, and they balked.
Tough beans.

Here is a little history lesson.


Most of the land for the park was bought from Russel V. Lee, a founder of the Palo Alto Medical Clinic, who offered, in 1958, 1,294 acres of his land at $1,000 an acre ($1.3 million total) to the city to preserve as open space.[5] The total cost was high so Palo Alto put it to a citywide vote in 1959 which passed with 62% of the voters supporting buying the land. The council also asked the neighboring communities of Portola Valley and Los Altos Hills to share in the cost and when they refused put in the restriction limiting access to Palo Alto residents and their guests.[5] Some land was added later to bring it to its current total.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 10, 2020 at 11:30 pm

@Resident 1-Adobe Meadows

The POST approach!?
Have them take over Foothills Park!?
No thanks!
The first thing they would probably do is kick all residents out.
The acronym for POST is: the Peninsula CLOSED space preserve.

For example: some of the farmers, on the coast, are not happy with the 20, or so, 14.9 acre feet reservoirs they are building. The reason for 14.9 acres is so that POST has full control, anything over 15 acres feet of water, the Army Corps of Engineers takes over.

POST, along with other agencies, are constructing these new reservoirs to take water from the creek during winter months to fill the new reservoirs, in order to preserve water during summer months for the fish run. Some of these require alot of power to pump water uphill. Sounds like an excellent idea no? Unfortunately, they have stolen the water rights away from the farmers during this process.
Furthermore, if the environmentalist did not ban the local farmers, from opening up the sandbar during the Stealhead run we would probably not have to build these expensive projects in the first place. The farmers used to open the sandbar for free. Gotta remember, all these college educated, environmental engineering folks need high paying jobs, and they are going to do it with your hard earned tax money, all in the name of saving the planet.

Do not let Mid-Pen or POST take over Foothills Park, you will all regret it.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 11, 2020 at 9:19 am

Note that the San Jose Mercury News is getting very skinny of late. Is that because they print commentaries that are a guilt shame? They included a write-up by someone on Foothill Park and it was clear that person has never been there. Some guilt shame person wrote that and the SJM printed it. Note to SJM - It is not your job to guilt shame the city management on properties.

Correction to the above on POST - I talked about the Mid-Peninsula Open Space Preserve which is a different organization and gets it's funding from local and state taxes. It is obvious that the fact that the city of Palo Alto is responsible for this property - both legally, financially is a hot button for the groups that need to be "activist" but have no financial responsibility for their actions.

So I will do my guilt shame act - SU - how about a great restaurant at Searsville lake. Now that would be a really fun experience. I want to go to that location.

Posted by DTNResident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 11, 2020 at 1:27 pm

I think this is a great idea, and the offer to share in the purchase costs should absolutely be extended to all other cities in the region. Simply multiply the costs of the purchase by the increase in price of the land in the area since 1958 and make the offer to any other city who would like to pay for half of it, as the city of Palo Alto had to forego a number of improvements to buy it that the other cities did not.

Their citizens now want to have their cake and eat it too. They kept the money for their own projects, used it to improve their own residents' cities, and now want to come in and trash the park for some tiny fee that won't even offset the accounting required to process it. And what's their reason: attempted guilt over the fact that Palo Alto made the offer in 1958 and the other cities all thumbed their noses at us? I don't feel very guilty.

And while we're on the subject, why can't other cities tap into our power supply for free or for some trivial cost? Why is that privilege limited to Palo Alto? I see no difference between the park and the power. And by the way, Palo Alto water is the best in the area, so why can't other cities...why are our roads better than...etc. etc. ad nauseum

I suggest a lengthy "study" of these issues so that for the next 50 years, we can say we're "studying" the issue.

Posted by Blarryg
a resident of Mayfield
on Jun 11, 2020 at 2:48 pm

I can solve this issue right now (and I'm serious):

Let's set up a committee to arrange studies, impacts, fee assessment and spawn 20 other committees. This should not be rushed. 20 years minimum. While people wait for we elite sorts to sort this out, there is a free app: Google Maps that can reveals a dozen or more parks easily accessible for their use -- including some that back right into Foothill park with simple swing gates on the trails, no locks and no one will hinder your wanderings.

Posted by Ronster
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 11, 2020 at 3:02 pm

I here all these arguments for keeping it closed -- environmental, fragile, other nearby parks, we paid for it, difficulty with fees and enforcement, not being fair and so on. I have a simpler argument to try. No wiggle room, saves money, study and handwringing stress:

No. We will not open it.

Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside
on Jun 11, 2020 at 5:41 pm

This is one of the most obnoxious local policies. Every time it comes up, it makes me want to put a sign on the parking area in front of my house that I maintain: No Parking for Palo Alto Residents

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 11, 2020 at 6:45 pm

Gee Mr. Woodside - your town appears to have a lot of very secluded locations that no one can enter. Are you just dying to escape your existence and get over to Foothill Park? Realistically - it is a nice park but there are other nice parks all over the place. It is not that this park is nicer than other parks - it is that you are not allowed in. That is what is grating. If this park was included in the Mid-Peninsula Open Space then you would not care - it would just be another nice park.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 11, 2020 at 10:14 pm

Searsville lake was incredible, back in high school we used to jump the fence and swim there. Along with Felt lake, Lake Lagunita. and the old Quarry lake, the one in the back of Foothills Park, which is now Arriaga's private lake, you know, the lake next to the 7 acre parcel, that Palo Alto wanted to sell to him on the sly.

Some of these places were closed then, they are all closed now.

Just goes to show what kind of people are running the show now.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 12, 2020 at 9:44 am

I want to go to Searsville Lake. SU - can we go visit? Now that is a real lake. It goes back over 100 years ago. That is the real deal. How about a restaurant net to the lake?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2020 at 10:34 am

Here is a link to the Channel 5 report on this. Web Link

What I don't like is people saying it is about black people or people of color or brown people not being allowed in. Why are they bringing race into this. It is not a racial issue. Anyone can come in with a Palo Alto resident as host. Anyone can come in with proof of Palo Alto residency.

I have been stopped at the gate at weekends and had to show proof and I have brought guests in, sometimes in the car behind me. I have never once seen this as a racial issue.

Once again, the media are quoting race where race does not exist. The media are driving so much of the negativity in the world at present. The media must start reporting issues from an accurate point of view. They are supposed to be impartial, but they are the ones who can't report facts accurately.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2020 at 12:21 pm

Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside

>> This is one of the most obnoxious local policies. Every time it comes up, it makes me want to put a sign on the parking area in front of my house that I maintain: No Parking for Palo Alto Residents

Please do.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Old Palo Alto

>> Searsville lake was incredible, back in high school we used to jump the fence and swim there. Along with Felt lake, Lake Lagunita. and the old Quarry lake, [...]Some of these places were closed then, they are all closed now. [...] Just goes to show what kind of people are running the show now.

Web Link


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> Here is a link to the Channel 5 report on this. Web Link

>> What I don't like is people saying it is about black people or people of color or brown people not being allowed in.

Every time I have been recently, the majority of park visitors have been people of color. And, while we are on the subject, some newcomers seem to use the park a lot. Good! There was a period back there when the park didn't get much use. Perhaps even underutilized. That may be one reason for some of the whining. But, for those who haven't been lately -- the park was busy before COVID-19, and, now, it is packed.

The whole "people of color" thing is a phony issue. The people who have lobbied the most to get -even more- access are from Los Altos Hills. Yes, there is a whole history there, and, it is sad to see news media buying in to the silly arguments about race.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 12, 2020 at 7:40 pm

ANON - I totally agree. I have a group that reserves twice a year for a barbecue. The names are at the guard shack. And we do pay a lot for that reserved space. And the group that we host has a wide variety of people of all colors and ages. It is not a political group - it is a sports group.

Any resident can host a group but they are going to pay for that and have to reserve up front. PA has to manage the number of people in the park - not what color the people are.

It appears that some complainers give no credit to the city to run a successful business. And it is a business. Personnel have to be paid. Ground crew have to be paid. Programs that are put on need funding to coordinate and plan.

If we see any unchartered Activism appearing suggest you lock the gates until people can get ahold of their heads.

Let's be clear here - PA has the legal responsibility for anything that goes wrong up there - that translates to a financial responsibility. Fire - dam breakdown in an earthquake - political activist destructing the environment - that is on PA's head. PA pays the insurance for that property.
So the rest of you complainers - do you want to split the liability insurance that is paid for that property?

Posted by @Resident
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2020 at 8:13 pm

@Resident, Palo Alto residents who support the status quo *were not* racists, and the intent of the park exclusion *was not* racist, but in a region where cities (Palo Alto and East Palo Alto) are separated by past race-driven housing policies (redlining) that was very racists, leads to the impact of Foothill park to be racists.

EPA doesn't have something similar, walk Foothill Park anytime, and you can clearly see the racial difference from that beautiful nature park compared to any urban park. No other park excludes out of town visitors, despite being paid by their local tax dollars.

Palo Alto residents you were not racists when you were *not* aware of this reality, but being aware now, your defense of the status quo makes you a racist in impact, if not in intent. Open you eyes the world changing around you. Black lives matter is about correcting institutional injustice.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 12, 2020 at 9:19 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Truth
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 13, 2020 at 2:15 am

[Portion removed.]

Keep Foothills Park for the Palo Altans. Why? Because it will become too crowded with people who are non-residents and ruin the beauty, calm, and peacefulness of the Foothills Park experience. For example, try to find a picnic table at any of our Palo Alto parks on the weekend, they are being used by non-residents and sometimes there is blasting music that affects everyone else in the park.

Once it's opened up to non-residents, we Palo Altans can never take it back for ourselves.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 13, 2020 at 6:08 am

There is currently a scourge of Groupthink and brainwashing afflicting the Left in our country, and its going to tear the foundations out from underneath your luxurious lives.

Soon though, we will test how much of your lifestyle and freedom you will sacrifice on the altar of "I-must-prove-I'm-not-a-racist".

The word "racist" has utterly no meaning now. The masses have been reduced to a medieval, simplistic way of thinking. Instead of "racist" what they really mean is the word: heretic.

Ultimately the USA will be prevail and will not turn into a 3rd world country at the hands of the propagandists and their unwitting hordes of "protesters". And it may be saved by the balancing power of the Electoral College which was designed to specifically prevent this type of mob rule. We are LITERALLY seeing that in Seattle where they declare that it's not called USA anymore.

What will it take for otherwise intelligent, well-to-do liberals here to snap out from this destructive trance?

Stop the EXTREME VIRTUE SIGNALING and admit this fundamental truth:

All Lives Matter.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 13, 2020 at 12:31 pm

Foothill Park was created way back when we did not have the same economic status we do now or the same population mix. We did not have the same population numbers or growth in the neighbor communities. The hospital back then is now a midtown park. We now have a larger facility on El Camino and a shopping center. San Jose was agricultural filled with tree products. There was no intention at that time to block people out because we did not have the same population mix. We did have a alcohol issue in Mayfield so different issues back then.

The bigger problem back then was the growth of the SU campus and their extensive lakes and river systems which probably excluded the non-SU population. Non-SU population excluded from Searsville Lake, other lakes in area simply created PA's own resident location.

I cannot go to the SU designated lakes up in the hills. I am excluded but I do not care. SU is financially and legally responsible for what ever goes on their property. And if they do not fix their 100 year old dam then they will pay big time. Our city is at the bottom of that dam - as is EPA which has paid through the nose for flooding. We are now trying to correct the potential for flooding by rebuilding that bottom end of the creek.

People keep trying to create false narratives that have no relation to the story line of creation. False narratives which ignore history are simply that. Menlo Park is free to create a park - they have lots of parks. EPA has the new bay trail on the shoreline on Bay Road. Every city is creating their own unique locations for the residents.

And all anyone can do is run around and call every one else racist.

Posted by David
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 13, 2020 at 2:00 pm

The park will get destroyed if we open it up to non PA residents, guaranteed. There is already enough issues with idiots dumping hot coals into the garbage and littler. What do the park rangers think about opening up the park? I don't give a damn what Berman or Eshoo signs, they have probably NEVER BEEN TO THE PARK.

The only reason the "high profile" people mentioned in this article that signed some petition is because they don't want to appear as if the singled people out. I'd bet $5 none of them have even been to the park in the past year.

I'll get 2x as many signatures to support keeping the park closed if needed. Stop this discussion.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 13, 2020 at 2:54 pm

NO! Bad idea. Every place that they open up to masses of people pays the price. I remember going to the Muir Woods back in the 70's, and then going there more recently. They have taken pretty good care of it, but it is showing wear and overuse.

I agree with the comment back up there about Rancho San Antonio. A lovely place but just so crowded.

Just think of what happens when we actually fix these questions of social justice and economic justice and people have a living way and time off ... even more people will want to spend time in nature.

Nature in the Bay Area is just like parking in Palo Alto ... there is never enough of it, we talk about it but it just keeps shrinking, and we ain't creating enough or anything new.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 13, 2020 at 3:02 pm

I don't make it up to Foothills Park as much as I used to or as much as I'd like,
and consequently do not get as much non-level hiking and walking as I want.

So - drop this crazy discussion of a bad idea, and anyone who wants to go hiking
in Foothills Park that is not from Palo Alto hire me as your guide and you can be
my guest! ;-)

Seriously ... all the real point being made support NOT opening the park. The
only point which is pretty specious is the implication of some kind of racism or
classism of Palo Altans. I can sympathize ... the average Palo Altan these days
is a selfish insufferable snob, so it can probably seem like that.

But it really doesn't matter. That is the way it has been , that is the way it has
worked, and it is clear that creating traffic jams all up Page Mill and groups and
garbage all over the park is not going to help anyone assuage their guilt over
being though to be a racist.

Posted by Ryan Wong
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2020 at 9:15 pm

I haven't heard of a single good reason why others should have access to our park.

Posted by so insulting
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2020 at 3:58 pm

Those who say letting in those outside Palo Alto will trash the park, while not directed at race, feels insulting to the minorities from other cities, that are not represented in Palo Alto's demographics. It implies those outside of Palo Alto are dirtier and more reckless.

If the problem is too many people, that should apply to Palo Alto residents too, and charge everyone, or charge out of town residents, but a blanket ban on outsiders, in a town that does not racially look like nearby towns, feels racists in its impact (not intent).

Imagine a town with very few Black residents having a park that is only for residents, so towns nearby with more diversity have no chance to come, and efforts to allow them are met with comments saying they'll trash the place. Oh wait, I don't have to imagine, it's happening here.

Foothill Park should follow the more inclusive policies of Los Gatos's Vasona Lake County Park. Please Palo Alto show you can both take care of the environment and be more inclusive, just like Vasona Lake.

Posted by merry
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 14, 2020 at 4:36 pm

Maybe no one remembers. Many years ago a fee was charged to all.
An annual pass was also for sale.
That lasted just a couple of years
Because it was too expensive to manage . There are boxes for donations now. My guess is few do.
Why do we keep revisiting this issue? Charging a fee was a failure.
Keep it as intended a nature preserve!

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 15, 2020 at 11:04 am

So Insulting - I find it insulting that everything that has been said here which are business related issues keep getting interpreted back to racial. There are x number of people in a population that will always see everything as racial. That goes back to where you grew up, what your parents told you while growing up, and how you conduct yourself as you relate to what is going on in the world. We have multiple universities here where we have successful people of all color that are negotiating the world just fine. Give these people credit for achieving all of the goals that you all are espousing.

Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 15, 2020 at 12:23 pm

If FOothill park was opened to all, the most frequent users would be those who lived closest to the park - residents of Los Altos Hills & Portola Valley - not exactly the diverse communities that the virtue signaling crowd is saying they want.

With more open access and increased use comes increased cost - not just park upkeep and maintenance, but also emergency services (fire, police, medical), and road mainenence, refuse pickup, etc. City just went through an exercise to cut tens of millions of dollars from the budget - what are our virtue signally crowd willing to sacrifice to support more open access and increased use?

Posted by David
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 15, 2020 at 3:25 pm

RANCHO SAN ANTONIO - good point. That place is a crowded zoo. You have to get in a "queue" to wait for parking.

This is what will happen to Foothill.

Also, who is making this decision, PACC? This should be something citizens vote for. Since when does the PACC or some outside group get to make decisions for everyone? Bogus.

Posted by Family Friendly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2020 at 3:58 pm

"A growing coalition"... of people who don't even live in Palo Alto, don't own or pay for the park, and don't vote in our elections.

Please, fix your own communities and leave us alone.

Posted by Wrong Side of History
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2020 at 4:50 pm

"Racism Kept Connecticut’s Beaches White Up Through the 1970s"
From the Smithsonian Magazine

Established towns were subtler in their efforts to keep out the masses. Kahrl notes that Westport, for example, declared parking near the beach a residents-only privilege in 1930, following that ordinance with one that banned non-residents from using the beach on weekends and holidays. These barriers were not explicitly aimed at people of color, but the effect was the same as Jim Crow laws in the South, especially since they were often unevenly enforced by local authorities.

The long, hot urban summers of the 1960s and ’70s laid bare the unfairness of it all. While their well-off white counterparts enjoyed days at the beach or the pool, children living in tenements and housing projects were forced to get creative.

[Ned Coll] worked to “free the beaches,” in the words of a protest sign Revitalization Corps children and volunteers often carried, white residents wrote to the governor accusing Coll of “bringing the ghetto” to the shore and “importing trouble.” Old money Yankees opined on the need to preserve privacy, while middle class whites complained to the newspaper that they had “worked for our right to own beach property.”

Full Article:
Web Link

Posted by Stanford resident
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 15, 2020 at 4:54 pm

I always thought it was so unkind of Palo Alto to exclude the Stanford faculty neighborhood from Foothills. When my kids were in elementary in PAUSD I was given a hard time when I drove on an elementary school field trip to Foothills and had a Stanford driver's license. When my child was supposed to list all of the parks in Palo Alto for some sort of elementary project the teacher made a point of telling the children that the Stanford kids were unwelcome there. Yet some PAUSD schools are on campus and certainly huge numbers of Palo Alto residents go to the Dish. Stanford West has a Palo Alto address. The average time someone lives in Stanford West is approximately 3 years, so people, many who had no long term stake in Palo Alto were welcome in the park, and we, who have now been her 25 years are not.

Not to be outdone, Palo Alto Parks and Rec then decided to not allow Stanford children to have resident status for signing up for Palo Alto Enjoy camps and classes unless the child attended PAUSD. Our neighbor's child was dyslexic and transferred to Charles Armstrong. In addition to having to switch schools at age 8, he was also never able to sign up for camp with his previous classmates because the camps filled with resident children and there was never a spot for him. Wow. Nicely done Palo Alto. I have no idea if this is still the policy, my kids have aged out of the camps, but we stopped signing up out of solidarity for the child who was excluded.

I have never understood why the Stanford neighborhood, and particularly the children of professors, have been treated with such disdain. We are we are often the ones who coach AYSO, drive on field trips and help in the classrooms. If Palo Alto is unhappy with Stanford, I wish those in power would leave the children out of it. It's so sad that Palo Alto city officials get their jollies from keeping a small number of Stanford faculty kids from Foothills and from their camps.

Posted by old enough to remember
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 15, 2020 at 6:40 pm

Stanford resident says:
"I have never understood why the Stanford neighborhood, and particularly the children of professors, have been treated with such disdain."

I want to understand:

Tenured or non-tenured professors?

Please let me also understand why those who have a private golf course at their disposal want to throw green balls of disdain to those Palo Altans who
want to keep their own green (Foothill Park) in a decent wild condition?

Let us open everything to everybody....Nah I don't think so.

Posted by @old enough to remember
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2020 at 8:45 pm

If it's a nature preserve, then cap it for Palo Alto residents too, or charge everyone, or just outsiders, or partner with just East Palo Alto to see if the city of EPA is willing to contribute to upkeep.

If you are really worried about the neighboring Los Altos folks crowding out the park, then lets just add across town East Palo Alto, or add EPA schools and EPA youth clubs, so they can camp there. If you won't even add EPA, then examine your internal compass.

History will not judge communities well that can't see and then act beyond their privilege.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 16, 2020 at 8:06 am

We are living in the time of unexpected and unintended consequences.
1. Some one wants a bus service to go to FP - is this person associated with the bus services in the area that have no customers and no place to go? There are a ton of small buses at 3800 East Bayshore Road. That is next to the construction for the new bridge. And a couple of buildings that would be great for kid programs and overnights.
2. We had kid stuff on the frontage road at the end of San Antonio - used to be climbing walls and gymnastics. Now it looks like they are creating something horrible there - all blacked out windows. So a walking space that has been used by the whole city and anyone and everyone is getting chomped off little by little. The park at Shoreline is under construction.
3. Palo Alto kid programs for the summer - can anyone sign up? Lots of summer camp programs - can anyone sign up?
4. Do our surrounding cities have youth programs for the summer? Does SU have a youth program for the summer? If so then maybe there should be a consolidated intercity set of youth programs where every city has to pony up a funded set of programs that all kids on the peninsula can sign up for.
5. Any youth program must meet certain requirements for safety - local fire department? Local rangers and supervision?
6. If half the complainers here are from surrounding cities then what do you have to offer back? SU has a huge amount of land and lakes. Does it have summer camps? If not why not? I want to go to Searsville Lake and have dinner at a great restaurant at sunset. I bet the workers at SLAC could get into that.
7. Portola Valley has a lot of land allocated to horse camps. Ladera has a stable for kid camps.
So the guilting side - which will get you no where - what is the menu of possibilities out there for trade-offs?

There are a number of topics that are off the table - no buses to FP. The road is narrow and has steep drop-offs. It is a dangerous road. So forget that. That is a insurance liability issue - not negotiable.

There needs to be a maximum number of people who can be on the property at any time. We are not going to turn into a rescue mission for all of the going crazy people out there who are now screaming to get out of their houses.

If your city has a private golf course then figure out how it can contribute to allocating some space for a kid camp and junior golf lessons. That all kids can sign up for.

We have too many unintended consequences out there right now - people who want a place to put up a tent to live, people who like to torch university campuses - more so at UC-Berkley where they are cheered on by the residents of that city.
a lot going that makes no sense at all driven by people who have an angle that is yet to be revealed.

And your local politicos who have their own agendas driven by their buddies in Sacramento or DC. They are not "reading the table". If you are not reading the table there will no place for you.

Posted by Mike-Crescent Park
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 16, 2020 at 8:17 am

If you have been there you know it’s like one commenter said-as much a preserve as a park.

I used to go often up to the overlook to watch the late day sun setting and the view of Stanford and the bay.

When the budget was first cut a result was on weekdays there was no ranger at the entrance to check those entering. It became unrestricted. That became known and non residents would enter weekdays. Apparently enough did not respect the park because I personally saw the immediate differences. Graffiti and broken plants/tree limbs. And broken glass. I had never seen the signs of this behavior ever before at the park.

There are plenty of parks in PA where everyone can go. Let’s keep this one in the pristine shape it deserves.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 16, 2020 at 8:43 am

Looking at the results of the Cubberely "deal" it is clear that people in the back rooms are trying to leverage useable space for kids and adults as summer comes on and People are now going crazy. And the kids are going crazy. So now CUB is being cut-off and the backroom is trying to salvage anything out there.

We are not doing "guilt' here - we are doing budgets and lack of funding. That means less adult supervision at FH with rangers. Cutting fire department personnel? Danger, danger, a vulnerable property. The more other issues out there materialize the more we realize that people are trying to back other people into corners and concessions.
And our surrounding cites are in the same boat. They will have to push their cities to provide the programs for their geographic locations for their citizens. Any trade-offs need to work within the safety and city guidelines.

Still would like to know what SU has going for their massive land with many lakes. That is where the peninsula needs to have a combined kid camp with boating lessons, golf lessons, and arts and crafts. Night time star lessons, learn the sky. The beauty here is being on accessible land that has a lot of protections built in. And a lot of available personnel to help monitor use of the land so it is not trashed.

As noted above people are trashing the park now. A lot of people working out their personnel issues emerge.

Posted by Oh well...
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 17, 2020 at 10:33 am

All the folks protesting for access haven’t even been near the park. It’s a great park and all you have to do is drive up the hill and drive through the gate access as there are no more city park rangers (thanks to city council cutbacks) Stop complaining and take in the view.

Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 17, 2020 at 12:21 pm

Keep it restricted to residents only. Does this really need to be re-voted every month? Typical of today's activism, if at first you don't get want you want, keep yelling and banging on the door until it opens. That's the minority rule that increasingly ignores the views of the majority. That's policy based on the loud, aggressive, persistent, unrelenting that doesn't quit until the majority yields. Unfortunately, more and more, that's how things are being done these days.
The good arguments have been stated. The roads up to the park are not sufficient for new crowds. Overuse will ruin it's value as a preserve. The more you open the park, the higher the costs. Once opened, PA is on the hook to recover costs. The park is already crowded. As PA grows, more residents will fill the park. It needs to be preserved for future needs. Invite everyone in, PA residents will increasingly find themselves squeezed out. Etc. there are plenty of other places to barbecue.

Posted by Gnar
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 18, 2020 at 7:56 am

It's so simple: charge nonresidents a $10 entrance fee to offset the significant increase this will cause to maintenance and cleanup costs.

More people who don't have a vested interest in the area = litter everywhere. Graffiti in the bathrooms. Erosion from people walking off trails. Etc.

If you think that sounds unfair, just mentally change it to "charge everyone a $10 entrance fee, and waive it for residents."

Posted by Gnar
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 18, 2020 at 7:59 am

Good points from other commenters:

Ever go to Rancho San Antonio on a weekend?

Every try to get a reservation visit Muir Woods?

Want that here?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2020 at 8:06 am

As a frequent visitor to the park, I was very dismayed when the parking lots were closed for many weeks to protect the park and social distancing.

Since the parking lots were reopened I have been up there many times both during the week and at weekends. One thing I have noticed is and increase in visitors and that many of the visitors there are not familiar with the layout or the trails. I have no idea if they are residents or not, but it has been noticeable just how many people feel unfamiliar with what is there. I have overheard several comments between people in the same hiking group that tell me that this is their first time visiting.

I will add that I also visit the Baylands regularly and have overheard similar comments there.

From these experiences, with less things being available for people to do in their leisure time, visiting nature is something that more people appear to be doing for exercise and for pastimes.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 18, 2020 at 10:02 am

My DIL is an OSHA inspector for the city of Oakland, Alameda County. Any facility that is owned by the city / County requires inspection to offset any potential liability costs if there is a lack of maintenance, or use which is not supported by current regulations regarding fire safety, accessible to fire and medical support, and has good roads to assist in safety vehicles and ability for people to evacuate in the event of an emergency. That all assumes that the city and county has a staff that can cover all of the bases. It does not have sufficient staff so all of the workers are stressed out that too much is going by the regulations. When problems are occurring the city / county are on the hook for any liability costs.
FHP has all of the issues which any city would be on the hook for - horrible road that would not support full emergency support, lack of rangers to insure that the park is not being violated. Ability of people at the park to evacuate in an emergency - forget it.
All of the people in other surrounding cities already know that and have encountered the cost for liability insurance within their own cities. And one of the big complainers - SU - has a boat load of problems that have a liability cost.

The PA City Legal Department needs to outline what the city responsibilities are and step up to provide what ever is required to protect itself in the event of an emergency. And that includes some type of park management overview - periodic drive throughs by park rangers.

Any one that goes to Rancho San Antonio knows that the use of the park is limited by the size of the parking lot. And rangers in SUV's are continually driving through to make sure everyone is on the right roads. And they have built a huge water containment area to prevent flooding to residential homes below and for fire safety.

This is not a guilt trip = it is a legal liability issue. Other well used parks are maintained by organizations which have staffs that monitor activity.
So city - get your legal liability and insurance straightened out and provide some ranger oversite for that park. And if other cities want to participate then require that they have a program in place in their city in which they can share programs.
Bottom line is that SU has the land, lakes, and space to fulfill all of the desires of the surrounding communities and it is on level land that is accessible to all of the safety / emergency equipment. And it has student staff that would like to have a job in the summer who would love to support the programs.

Posted by Foothills will not become Rancho
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 18, 2020 at 10:12 am

Has any other local park become like Rancho? Not to my extensive knowledge 3x per week use of the area.

If people were going to fill up spots like Rancho, all the lightly used parks surrounding FHP would already be like Rancho. The fact that the parks proximate to FHP along Page Mill and Skyline are never really crowded like Rancho is evidence that it would be a low risk to happen at FHP.
It makes for a nice "Boogie Man" to prop up in desperation though, even if the threat is baseless.

Posted by $5.00 Sur Charge per ticket at Shoreline
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 18, 2020 at 10:17 am

Shoreline should charge a 10.00 fee for PA residents to enter the park or attend a concert. "Partner" city residents would be free.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 18, 2020 at 10:26 am

Excuse me - but the other parks are managed by organizations whose job it is to protect those parks. And that is what they are doing. If you want to see filled up parks go up to Marin County - they are using a reservation system due to the over use of those parks. Go up to the Presidio on the weekends - full use of the facility which has food trucks and is walking down to the water. People go where there is water, lakes, streams. I don't go to some local parks because it is hot and they have no lakes or streams.
Rancho has containment lakes with ducks, and a stream that goes down to the bay. It has water features.

Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 18, 2020 at 10:44 am

Better yet, $5 surcharge for Shoreline tickets for everyone to compensate for the noise pollution neighboring cities suffer during the summer nights..

Posted by Agreed then
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2020 at 11:07 am

$10 total fees for PA residents, $5 for all others.
MV residents are free since they already pay for it in their taxes regardless of cool is that?! Talk about being a good neighbor.
Thanks MV tax payers!

Posted by Creeks nearly everywhere
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2020 at 11:18 am

You'd be hard pressed to find a park in the hills that does not have some form of water feature in the form of ponds or lakes or creeks.
Most every wrinkle in the hills has a creek running down the middle of it, with spring fed tributaries creating wonderful little waterfalls in some spots. Stevens creek OSP is a classic example, and is never over used barring plenty of water features all over the area, and yet, never crowded like Rancho. FHP is a more sanitized "City park in the hills" though so maybe it'll bring in those fearful of a wilder park. With a gate at the front taking a fee, crowds would be controlled which is very different from the free for all Rancho mess.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 18, 2020 at 8:54 pm

Stevens Creek trail is flooded with people on bicycles going to Shoreline work places. It is like a bicycle speedway. We went there a couple of times but all of the bike traffic was a distraction. I never see bicycle people at Rancho. Rancho is a place where people have the right of way so no fun for the bike people.

Rancho has a fire station inside which is fairly hidden. I think they have to because they have the animals there. Any time you go to a park pick up one of their flyers which lays out who is in charge, where you can go, hours, etc. And who is in charge of managing the park. Rancho has a good ranger crew who ride through all sections on a regular basis. Rancho San Antonio is part of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.

Arastadero Preserve is part of the Palo Alto Open Space - City of Palo Alto. No one talks about that park. It is hot there. There is an Arastadero Lake within the park. Felt Lake is not in the park but near it. It is marked as a private lake.
No one talks about this park - it can be entered on Arastadero in a fast and convenient manner. It has a higher convenience factor.

Posted by GraceBrown
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 18, 2020 at 10:02 pm

@Resident 1-Adobe Meadows,

Leaving others to comment on the bulk of your post, it's important to note that Felt Lake is NOT a private park. Rather, Felt, owned and managed by Stanford University, hosts a number of protected species.

Should folks in the area value public parks, make the appropriate community investment, pay the taxes, develop rules about access - all these considerations are a part of public spaces. The public ought not to trespass on private property, particularly not in biologically sensitive areas.


Posted by pal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 19, 2020 at 10:50 am

It's really interesting how caucasians deal with their guilt by acting against their own interests and the interest of others. Perhaps the whites backing this need to work through some issues in therapy about guilt and privilege?

Palo Alto has a large non-white population and I would bet will it be majority nonwhite in the next few years. The park os already totally ruined due to an influx of people after changes COVID has brought to this world. There is nothing at all racist about Foothill's policy, the only problem is with the psychological issues of privileged and guilty whites.

Posted by @pal
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2020 at 12:10 pm

I wouldn't call it "guilt", per se. (And after all, few people have anything to feel guilty about regarding these issues.)

It's definitely vanity. All very public and attention seeking. A way to one-up their wealthy neighbors.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 19, 2020 at 12:49 pm

Is there any way we can determine exactly
who is making this demand and what precise
interest they might be in common between them?

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2020 at 3:09 pm

Posted by GraceBrown, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis

>> it's important to note that Felt Lake is NOT a private park. Rather, Felt, owned and managed by Stanford University, hosts a number of protected species.

Yes, it is on private property and people need to stay out. OTOH, you can enjoy the -view- of Felt Lake from Arastradero, and, other locations. Many people like the view of the water from a distance. No need to trample the shoreline.

I think that the poster was trying to say that Arastradero is available to all. And, you can legally walk to FHP and up Los Trancos Trial from Arastradero as well. If you don't mind a short walk. You can walk past a lake, and, a seasonal lake at times, on your way. And, you don't have to add to the traffic on narrow, windy Page Mill Rd to do it.

But, the folks from LAH who want PA to open up FHP "to all" know that and walk in all the time anyway-- they just want to be able to drive their Land Rover Discovery in and capture the picnic tables before folks from PA get there.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 20, 2020 at 10:01 am

For all of you experts on how properties are described suggest that you all pick up at each destination the Property description flyers that are available at all official sites. The Palo Alto Open Space Enid W. Person Arastradero Preserve brochure provides a walking map of the property with a description of all of the amenities available at the property, times available, and rules of the road for use of the property. That map shows Felt Lake outside the property and described as a "Private property no access". There is a Arastradero Lake within the boundaries of the property, elevation 352. And for you people that go through the front gate of FHP there is a brochure that provides all of the information and rules of the road for that park.

I have those brochures for most of the properties in the state. Rancho San Antonio is part of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space, Santa Clara County Parks organization and they do an excellent job. No one is excluded within those properties.

All parks require a huge investment of time, expertise in land management, and personal to oversee the programs. Given that people are now focused on being outside there is a huge demand put on these properties. Also a huge impact on the flora, fauna, and animals that occupy these spaces and call it home.

I donate to these organizations at the county, state, and federal level. And I make it a point to visit every property at least once. And I have a lot of maps.

PAL lives in Barron Park which is a lovely rustic location with a great park. The city had a music event there - Roy Rodgers group. When I poke through that neighborhood I see lovely homes. Since it is backed up against some hills probably lot of animals that occupy that location. Also a great stream. I don't get the "guilt" discussion from someone who lives in that neighborhood. I think it is more desirable than many in Midtown that have less trees and more traffic.

As to county vs city locations I grew up in such a documented location in LA - West Hollywood. As the population grows and more building takes place all of the locations end up either being their own city or get incorporated in a bigger city.
West Hollywood is it's own city now with a mayor. And it doing VERY WELL thank you. It is a tourist destination.
I have no guilt here - I think the city is providing great programs for all ages of the population. People just have to get out of their houses and go do these programs when they open up again.

Posted by Park Lover
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2020 at 9:50 am

Let me begin by setting one thing straight, the issue of opening Foothill Park to Non-Residents has absolutely nothing to do with race or discrimination, it is about city access, nothing more or less than that. When the cities of Los Altos, Menlo Atherton, Portola Valley are included in the list of cities that are not permitted to enter Foothill Park then you know it is not about race or discrimination of any kind!!! Especially considering Los Altos is located right next door to the park.

I grew up in Palo Alto and have been going to Foothill Park all my life. It is an absolutely beautiful park and we should do everything in our power to keep it that way. Opening the park up to Non-Residents of Palo Alto will lead to large crowds, lots of noise, traffic and probably the destruction of some of the beautiful scenic trails due to overuse.

If you want an idea of what Foothill Park will turn into by opening it up to Non-Residents then just visit one of these many parks on the weekend; Mitchel Park, Rinconada Park, the Dish, or Rancho San Antonio. All of these places are very nice, but they all have large crowds, lots of noise, parking challenges and many other issues that come with large crowds.

One issue that I have not seen raised is the parking issue. Foothill Park does not have that many parking spaces and on weekends when the park is busy a majority of the parking places are taken. If the park is opened up to Non-Residents parking could become a nightmare. Now I know someone is going to say the way to solve this is to limit the number of cars entering the park. Ok fine. Now what you create is a line of cars lining up at the gate before it opens to make sure they get into the park. Or you create a reservation system like Mitchel Park has where you have to call two to three months in advance in the summer to reserve a picnic table.

Is this what we want Foothill Park to turn into?

Currently if you are a Palo Alto resident you can make a decision on Friday night to go to Foothill Park with your family on Saturday without making any reservations or paying any fees and have a nice picnic or take a walk on one of the beautiful trails. If you open the park up to Non-Residents this will all change. There is a good chance that when you drive to the gate to try and enter the park without a reservation you will be turned away because the park is FULL!! That’s right full, turn around and go back home!! Well after experiencing this a couple of times you will either stop going to the park or give into the reservation system for a simple picnic with your family.
Also need to understand that a full Foothill Park will be significantly different then a full Mitchel Park. When the Mitchel Park parking lot is full you can still park in the surrounding neighborhood and proceed to take a walk around the park or visit the kids play area even if there is no table available for a picnic.

Now with a full Foothill Park there is no neighborhood to park in, you will not be allowed in the park at all once it is full. Again turn around and go back home!! Maybe the Park Ranger will be nice enough to give you a little advice such as “Next time make sure you get here by 7:00 am and line up at the gate to wait for the park to open at 8:00 am to ensure you get into the park”.

I ask again, is this really what we want Foothill Park to turn into?

Ok now that I have said my two cents, let say the city feels it really has to offer Non-Residents a chance to visit the park, here are a couple of suggestions for a TRIAL BASIS ONLY:
1. Option #1 - Open the park up to a LIMITED amount of Non-Residents (maybe 30% of parks capacity) once a month, maybe every 4th weekend of the month for a six month trial and charge them a fee.

2. Option #2 - Select specific weekends (maybe a total of 5 weekends) each year Non-Residents can use the park and charge them an entry fee. Limit the number of Non-Residents to 30%-50% of parks capacity on these days. This system would give Palo Alto residents advance notice to possible stay away from the park on these days.

In closing, let us not forget the reason why Foothill Park is for Palo Alto residents. In short, many years ago when the land was purchased none of the other local cities wanted to pitch in money to pay for the land. Thus Palo Alto footed the entire bill; and thus only its own taxpayers benefit. If the purchase of the land would have resulted in a less then favorable outcome, do you think the other cities would be offering to reimburse Palo Alto for its expenses at the time of purchase or for the cost of all the numerous improvements and maintenance costs incurred over the years?? Probably not. Everybody wants to jump on the band wagon when something is a success, however many shy away from the initial investment that is needed to create the successful project. This is exactly what is happening here with Foothill Park, now that the park is a success other cities want to jump on board.

Let’s hope our City Council members can be strong and not give in to outside pressure coming from those who spend very little time in the park if any at all.

Again, to our City Council members, please remember that you CAN’T CALL IT DISCRIMINATION of any kind whatsoever when Los Altos, Menlo Atherton, Portola Valley are on the list of cities not allowed to enter the park!!!!

Posted by @Park Lover
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2020 at 11:55 am

Make an affirmative statement that race has nothing to do with it by opening the park to East Palo Alto residents (or at least to EPA school and youth groups). The numbers of visitors would be small, but the gesture big. Like you said, if it's not about race and the numbers from EPA would be small, there's nothing to fear, unless you fear a birdwatcher?

Posted by lesson on racism
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2020 at 12:00 pm

When people of color in our community say something feels racists and white residents say it's not, does that not seem like part of the problem?

Noone is trying hard enough to listen to each other. They are too busy denying each other's existence.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 21, 2020 at 9:57 pm

This needs to be put to a city wide vote. I do not trust the current city council to do anything that is common sense. So far I am tired of their self serving decisions.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 22, 2020 at 10:15 am

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow

>> This needs to be put to a city wide vote.

Agree 100%. Put it up for a city wide vote.

When it comes up for a vote, I will vote to keep it private for now. I expect that if it is opened up, the park will require a lot of additional spending to keep it pristine and orderly. I am concerned that opening it up will primarily benefit Los Altos Hills residents far more than anyone else, and, I don't respect the city of LAH for "crying poor" for the last 60 years.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 22, 2020 at 1:49 pm

Wow - we have one poster who thinks we should have a bus service. Obviously someone who wants to make money on bus services. Maybe who ever thinks up that type of stuff can fill us in on how much the bus contract would cost the city. That contract would include the liability expense for the bus going up hill while a biker is coming downhill at breakneck speed. If you want to offer up a serious point than provide the cost of that offer. You can't - it would be too high.

Then someone - probably the same one who tried that a while back keeps equating this to race. We are a University city - we have every race possible living here. If that is not obvious to you then get out more and open your eyes. In the meantime please quit insulting everyone else with facetious claims.

Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 22, 2020 at 3:27 pm

San Francisco has a residents only park called Camp Mather. Cory Walbach started stirring this pot when we voted him out for prioritizing commercial development over The wishes of Palo Alto residents wanting less traffic and parking issues.

Posted by Resident of Mountain View
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 24, 2020 at 2:12 pm

Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Menlo Park, and San Mateo should ban access to their parks for residents of Palo Alto. Maybe then people of Palo Alto will understand...

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 25, 2020 at 6:59 pm

I love comments from other cities - like Mountain View. Mountain View is being overrun by Google and has a different tax base. It has a huge tax base. MV is overrunning Moffat Field and closing off sections that were previously open. It has parks - do you go to those parks?

Menlo Park has FB and has a huge tax Base. Each of those entities within those cities are overtaking the cities and in some cases providing good additions - like schools. There are parks there - do you go to those parks?
You all sound like you are being deprived of something when you have a bigger tax base than PA. The tax base is what provides the staff and rangers to take care of these properties.

Posted by Mike
a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2020 at 12:28 pm

Do Palo Alto residents want to pay a fee when they visit other parks/open space preserves? If not, why impose it on non Palo Alto residents? That's not playing fair. If you worry about overcrowding, just set a limit either at the gate or limit parking.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2020 at 12:50 pm

Mike, it is a phony issue from the get-go. But, if, somehow, it is decided that cities are not allowed to have private parks, then, the city should sell it to Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District to manage as an open space preserve. Easy to remove the barbecues. Not sure if the lake should go or not-- little kids love it, but, it isn't natural and has cost the city a few bucks over the years. It sure would be handy in a fire, though.

In any case MROSD has done a decent job over the years managing preserves, and, it makes sense efficiency-wise because it would make a continuous open space area with Los Trancos.

Doing it this way solves the Los Altos Hills problem. No way to stop the entitled residents of LAH from using it now anyway, and, it has just become a political football for people who want to deprecate and destroy Palo Alto. Not that it will shut them up, though. We constantly hear complaints about single-family homes here using 1/6 of an acre, while nobody complains about 1 acre plus lots in LAH, Portola Valley, Woodside, and Atherton. Purely politics, and, money talks.

Foothills Park is just the next step in the process of Manhattanization.

Posted by Beggars Belief
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 17, 2020 at 12:59 pm

Mike and Resident of Mountain View, playing fair means paying your fair share. When Los Altos Hills, and other neighbor communities left Palo Alto standing alone to preserve this open space, they benefitted financially at Palo Alto's expense. Our government scrimped and saved to afford the park, and we bore the opportunity cost. Equating the shirking of our neighbors with Palo Alto's massive and sustained contribution to common open space beyond Foothills is not only unfair. It is an insult to our community.

The precedent set by opening the park destroys any future incentive to participate cooperatively in municipal projects. Palo Alto has reached out to our neighbor cities many times since the park opened. We proposed generous terms, hoping to secure a cost-sharing agreement in exchange for access. At every turn, and as recently as last year, we were rebuffed. Particularly in this time of budget shortfall, we should not be handing out free passes to cities that continue to operate in bad faith.

Take your sound and fury to your own city councils; ask them to step up and pitch in. Nobody likes a neighbor who doesn't pull their weight for the neighborhood.

Posted by Keep it wild
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 2, 2020 at 11:57 pm

I've been riding my bike up to and through the park for decades with no license requirement. The trail system is already open to the general public.

Limiting the number of visitors to the park serves a real purpose here. The problem is the huge grassy area in the valley which will attract huge crowds of visitors on weekends. How does the council propose to implement a new policy to monitor and police increased usage?

Social media has already destroyed other parks like Mission Peak and the Polomarin trail in Point Reyes as it is. Foothills Park will just become the latest casualty.

Posted by Anony Mouse
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2020 at 11:04 am

Here's my working definition of racism. A policy choice that has the - often unintended - outcome of excluding racial groups.

I want a politics that is more inclusive. Reduce cruelty. Increase interactions with humans.

Our white-centered politics has gotten us to this place at Foothills park where exclusion is justified and normalized.

Whiteness loves to use "scientists" and "experts" to justify exclusion.

Whiteness loves to change the subject. "It's not about race".

Whiteness loves to be offended. "How dare YOU accuse ME of racism".

Whiteness loves to use capitalism as a moral right to justify exclusion. "We've paid for this all these years - so it must be morally OK to exclude "THOSE" people who can't/won't/didn't pay".

Whiteness loves to use capitalism as a moral right to justify exclusion. "We'll let you in, after you've paid us back for all the years of taxes we've paid".

Whiteness loves scarcity. "The HORDES of people who MIGHT come in will destroy Foothill - there must be some sort of metering system".

Whiteness loves diversity - just not too much. "Let's let THEM in, but not too many".

Whiteness love to profess exclusive understanding of how to use the outdoors. "THEY won't know how to behave in this space. THEY will ruin it."

Lastly, for all the nice Palo Alto liberals with your BLM signs, don't get too upset with all this talk about racism.

Remember. Racism is not an epithet. It's an identifier. Let's open our awareness.

Disrupt the narrative.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 3, 2020 at 5:44 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

" Meeting the moment" is your first problem. Making bad decisions to patronize a political group in the case where the matter at hand is a piece of property in a difficult place to get to and in a fire prone area is a senseless proposition. If you get a decision in your position then you will celebrate the win. Meanwhile the location and animals will be victims of this absurd decision which will then progress over a couple of years of destruction to the property.

You all are making less and less sense. A group consumed by political pressure that has no positive value.

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