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Town Hall series aims to promote dialogue between neighborhoods and City Hall

Original post made on Apr 6, 2022

Eager to strengthen the relationship between City Hall and Palo Alto residents, the City Council agreed on Monday to launch a series of monthly Town Hall meetings in neighborhoods.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 6, 2022, 9:42 AM

Comments (13)

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 6, 2022 at 10:57 am

Bystander is a registered user.

Having been to several of these community outreach meetings in the past, I have left with the feeling that it was a waste of time being there.

They spend 75% of the meeting explaining their agenda, introducing City staff and thanking them for their hard work, for telling us they are pleased to see us and then explaining what they are going to do. We are left at the end with a 10 minute Q & A time and possibly 2 questions get asked and we are reminded of what was said in the presentation without any questions being answered. They thank us for coming, ask us for email addresses for an interest sheet and then go away patting themselves on the back that they have reached out to community.

I don't hold out hope for anything better.

Posted by jguislin
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 6, 2022 at 12:52 pm

jguislin is a registered user.

I agree wholeheartedly with Bystander. The prior town hall meetings I attended were 90% listening to officials explaining how they were doing a good job and all the obstacles they were facing. There was no meaningful engagement with residents and the sessions were essentially a waste of time. If you really want resident engagement then you need to reverse how the time is spent to 90% residents talking and 10% official responding and asking further questions. You need to find a way to make this a dialogue so officials can understand more than a 3 minutes soundbite from residents when struggle to explain their views on complex issues in the constrained time.

Posted by Citizen
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 6, 2022 at 2:12 pm

Citizen is a registered user.

What does social and economic balance in housing mean?

Means those of us who live here currently aren't presenting the right social and/or economic balance?

Propaganda. That's what these meetings will be about.

Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 6, 2022 at 2:38 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

I'm sorry to say that I never attended any of those previous 'Town Hall' meetings, (bad on me) but for now I'll go with the posters' comments who did attend them and who have responded so far. I can visualize how that could have happened and the feelings they could have gotten from that experience...but I'm putting my faith in the new council. They might be fooling me, but I could remind a couple of them how much I contributed to their campaigns in the past. I honestly believe CC will take the posters' comments seriously and we'll see some of their suggestions adopted for the new round of 'Town Hall' meetings. The groups shouldn't be based on where the wealthiest and most successful/influential people live, or where us common folk live in other parts of town. If you want to delve into diverse neighborhoods, ask me, not Mark Zuckerberg. Let's mix it up a bit. I live in a neighborhood of families from (I'm guessing), a combination of eight different nationalities, races, cultures/ethnicities, and religions. I'd like to meet him, in person, representing his side of town, and me, just a simple unknown old guy, living alone, in SPA, not to be confused with EPA. He wouldn't have to spend hours to prepare. Anyone who has been called to answer questions before a US Senate committee could swat me away like an aggravating fly in the room.

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 6, 2022 at 3:16 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

This would be better timed after the election. It would seem less political. The campaign season should give incumbents some sense of where the wind is blowing on issues anyway.

City Council --Who is in and who is out?

Term ends in 12/2022:
CM Alison Cormack (can run)
CM Tom DuBois (termed out)
CM Eric Filseth (termed out)

The following Council Members' terms end in 2024:
Mayor Pat Burt
Vice Mayor Lydia Kou
CM Greer Stone
CM Greg Tanaka

Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 6, 2022 at 5:03 pm

rsmithjr is a registered user.


It is all about the city not the residents. They don't care what we want or think.

Posted by BGordon
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 7, 2022 at 5:37 am

BGordon is a registered user. Center for Deliberative Democracy is experimenting with better ways to get community involvement. Their approach appears to have advantages.

Posted by community member
a resident of University South
on Apr 7, 2022 at 4:24 pm

community member is a registered user.

Bystander got it right. That was my experience too.

The current leaders want to show how neighborhood-friendly
they are then (he) can go back to supporting developers.

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 7, 2022 at 8:18 pm

Annette is a registered user.

I attended a couple of the meetings about grade separation/rail and the experience matched what Bystander wrote. On the other hand, Pat Burt came to the College Terrace Resident's Association (CTRA) meeting and that was better. He did most of the talking during the portion of the meeting set aside for him, but he also took questions and I left thinking the meeting was mutually beneficial.

My take on what CC hopes to achieve here is more like the CTRA meeting than past large scale meetings. At least CC recognizes that dialogue is necessary. As for eliminating the political, that can be achieved by excluding Cormack from being the CC rep/speaker at any of the meetings. Palo Altans will have plenty of time to hear from her on the campaign trail. And, as I recall from the CC discussion about this, she had some conflicts time-wise, anyway. There - two problems solved!

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 7, 2022 at 9:04 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

The meetings should also include ample time for free public comment on THEIR priorities since many of ours weren't included due to continuing problems with the surveys. Where;s anything about the Business Tax, City Transparency and Accountability, Restoration of Resident Service, ...?

Instead we'll get the usual "We're listening" charade before they go back to supporting developers, hiring consultants to tell us what we want and why we love to be taxed instead of businesses via continued utility overcharges so they can hire more consultants... And how about those unfunded pension liabilities!

Posted by BGordon
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 7, 2022 at 11:04 pm

BGordon is a registered user.

Deliberative Democracy advertises better representation, less polarization, better agenda setting, less manipulation, better implementation of recommendations, etc. Does a good job addressing problems like Palo Alto community involvement.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 10, 2022 at 2:03 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

We are talking neighborhoods here where each neighborhood is undergoing massive change. In South PA older homes are being torn down and replaced with two story homes, or totally brought up to date to current specs for sale. When these events happen the tax base of the homes rise to current market value. One could say that the southern section of the city is doing it's part in keeping the tax base continually being refurbished. It is unclear what the turn over rate is in North PA - suspect that many are rented out so the tax base does not increase to market value. Recognition of turn over affects the budget process as to where you put resources.

WE can use a police site in South PA - possibly on Fabien so that the southern end is anchored with police support and fire support. Possibly an urgent care facility since it is next to a major freeway interchange. There will be new housing and construction just south of San Antonio so could be shared with Mt. View. Suspect that the companies on Fabien and the school would appreciate the support instead of hanging on the edge of the city. A police substation would acknowledge the growth in that section of the city.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2022 at 4:17 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

I think I'll go and try to bring up the topic of secrecy in the Police department and their refusal to let us scan them to know what they're up to.

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