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Weighing in on City Planning

Original post made by Periwinkle, Downtown North, on Jan 25, 2007

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Here's an interesting study that correlates walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods with health. If this work proves to be valid, it's yet another argument for dynamic mixed-use retail/residential, branch libraries, etc. etc.

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Posted by KC Marcinik
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 25, 2007 at 9:22 pm

Palo Alto's original planning through the 1950's is an excellent example of this type of walkable neighborhood city. Before several schools were sold off and torn down to build houses int he 1970's, every child in Palo Alto could walk to school (and walked home for lunch, which is why the schools do not have lunchroom facilities). Neighborhood parks and commercial centers were planned along with residential development. Our geography (flat) and climate (benign) make walking and biking easy anytime of year.

Our problem in Palo Alto is holding onto the walkability we have. There was a thread here recently that consisted of numerous people making fun of Greenmeadow residents for complaining about a new fence that prevented pedestrian access to the neighborhood shopping center. One of the sticking points for redeveloping Alma Plaza was a request from the neighbors to the rear of the shopping center for continued pedestrian access. The landscape architect working on Mitchell Park had no idea that there was a major pedestrian entrance from Charleston Blvd.

Our City Planning Department should know the pedestrian path layout of the city as well as the bike boulevard and regular streets, and make sure developers know it also. Residents should not have to fight to maintain the pedestrian access that makes Palo Alto the liveable place that it is.

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Posted by E.B.
a resident of Meadow Park
on Feb 23, 2007 at 8:50 am

I am in total agreement with this post.

We need to work together as a community to build a community - one that properly balances housing, parks, shopping and schools. We are in danger of getting so out of balance that fixing the problem could prove expensive if not impossible.

The Alma Plaza debate is a great example of the community falling victim to a decision making process that is quickly breaking down, and not properly serving the needs of the people who live here.

What we really need to do is to hammer out new zoning rules that ensure that we have enough schools, services and space and that they can be paid for within the framework of a reliable tax base. That's how this community was built, and that's how it will stay the terrific place to live that it is. If we fail to put in place an intelligent plan for the next century, then we will likely lose our ability to meet the needs of the next generation of Palo Altans.

I am by no means against development - but development should add to our quality of life, not detract from it. The primary criterion for any planning decision should be, Does it make things better? Every new child who moves into Palo Alto (and I know we greet every child that moves into our neighborhood with great excitement) should be able to go to school in his or her neighborhood, and sit in a classroom that's not bursting at the seams. And that child's mother shouldn't have to drive
cross town to buy a quart of milk. Is that too much to ask?

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