Town Square

Maybell Referendum Petition Available to Download and Sign

Original post made by Maybell Referendum, Green Acres, on Jul 7, 2013

Dear Fellow Palo Altan:

I am involved in a community effort to qualify two referendums to be put on a ballot for voting by the citizens of Palo Alto. I care about these referendums because they go to the heart of over-development in Palo Alto, leading to traffic congestion, lack of parking, densification of neighborhoods, downgrade of quality of life in Palo Alto, and other symptoms of poor land use planning.


1. Download the referendum packet Here: Web Link

2. Sign the petition, and gather any signatures from your friends and neighbors who are registered voters in Palo Alto.

3. Sign the circulator declaration at the bottom of each page.

4. Mail right away or drop off to:

Diane Lee
4132 Willmar Drive
Palo Alto, CA 94306

OR email and request that a signature gatherer come pick up your packet.

Thank you very much for your support. This referendum will be the first step in stopping the wave of overdevelopment that the city council is forcing on Palo Alto!


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Posted by Ellie
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 7, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Thanks for posting this. I plan to find and will see what I can do about getting my neighbors too. Great work referendum team! Best of luck.

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Posted by Ken
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 7, 2013 at 5:27 pm

This is important! It is important not just for Barron Park and Green Acres residents, but everyone in Palo Alto. The high density housing problem will hurt us all over time. City counsel has gone out of control, ramrodding this unit, where it does not fit and affects child safety -- they have been sneaky, almost dishonest.

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Posted by GAmom
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 7, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Thank you Diane for taking the lead! This is so important for our neighborhood. I'm getting signatures from my whole block and Palo Alto friends.

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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 7, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Your signature on the petition means that you agree that the decision to rezone residential property should go to the voters.

This is NOT a fight against senior housing. It’s about rezoning residential neighborhoods to allow stack & pack housing. Go to Google maps and take a look at the satellite view of Maybell & Clemo. You’ll see Juane Briones Park right next to the site. You’ll see a sea of single-family homes. It is not the place to put a 4-story 60-unit apartment block plus 12 single-family homes.

PC "planned community" is zoning that has no density limits, no setback limits, no height limits, no daylight plane limits. Under PC zoning, the developer does not have to follow all the rules that you and I as homeowners have to follow.

Your neighborhood could be the next target for rezoning. This project sets a dangerous precedent.

Signing the petition puts the decision in the hands of the voters, thus providing a check on the city council.

Maybell is a “safe route to school” for Juana Briones Elementary, Terman Jr. High, Bowman International and Gunn. Yet the City Council voted to approve the high density PC rezone without a comprehensive traffic study taking into account bicycles and pedestrians.

Traffic is already a disaster. The Arastradero “road diet” caused huge problems.

The traffic count at Maybell and Pena rose significantly from 2,700 vehicles to 3,348 daily since the Arastradero road changes, according to a city study. That’s a 24% increase!

Daily Post 7-5-13: 2 council members said early on that traffic would be a problem. Back in September 2012, Councilman Espinosa said, “I suspect that my colleagues will have concerns … about the continuity with the neighborhood and with the street’s traffic in particular. We really need to think about kids and pedestrians …”

Councilwoman Price said, “There’s a lot of sensitivity to the current traffic conditions on Maybell now.”

Yet the council still voted for the project.

The city says most seniors won’t drive, so traffic impact will be minimal. PAHC accepts people into senior housing if they are 62 or older, and they can have younger family members living with them. How many 62-year-olds do not have cars?

Parking will also be a problem. The project only has 47 parking spots for 60 units, staff, and visitors.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the video of Maybell traffic must be worth a million: Web Link

The city gave the Palo Alto Housing Corporation (PAHC) $5.8 million in loans to help buy the property and approved a "planned community" zoning change to enable it to build 72 units on a site that was zoned for 34 units.

THEN the city then approved the project of 60-unit apartment complex and 12 single-family homes, some 3-stories.

Putting that dense project in a quiet residential neighborhood would completely change its character.

Palo Alto Weekly editorial: “The appropriateness and legality of the council making a financial commitment to the project, which needed the zoning change to be viable, before it had approved the zoning change raised serious questions about the council's bias and ability to impartially hear concerns of the neighborhood.”

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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 7, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Post above was copied from Web Link
"Barron Park survey shows strong support for referendum on Maybell development"

Many more comments there.

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Posted by clie
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 7, 2013 at 5:48 pm

I did it! Thanks for posting! I want our voices to be heard about the shape of Palo Alto development. I saw the map on (Rezoning tab) showing the 31 applications for high density development................. WOAH! Everybody, Please download this petition and sign it. We need to put the brakes on this and have a conversation.

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Posted by Soroor
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 7, 2013 at 6:00 pm

I am looking forward to a city wide discussion of hyper dense housing, suitable locations for low income housing, the relationship between PAHC and city Hall and other forces that are leading to Palo Alto rezoning so much of the city in order to build unsightly and regrettable dense housing.

Thanks so much for posting this.

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Posted by Hans Boehm
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 7, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Please post the URL for the web site for this effort.

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Posted by M Davis
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 7, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Please work to stop this rezoning travesty!!

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Posted by Suzanne Keehn
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Jul 7, 2013 at 6:55 pm

I have lived on Orme St. for over 40 years, and am very, to say the least, concerned about the over building and density that is happening all around us. We do not want to be a mini New York City. The character of our cities are being totally changed.

It seems that the developers are in charge, not the city council, I am surprised by some of the council people who went along with this who voted for this Maybell/Clemo development. Changing the zoning without consulting our residents seems very non-democratic, and is suspicious.
No one is against senior housing, but the high density, heavy traffic, even more effects the residents in this area. Making these decisions, changing zoning, having a traffic report that was not taken at peak hours, plus the idea that people in their 60s do not drive are all questionable to say the least.

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Posted by opposed to rezoning
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 7, 2013 at 7:52 pm

We're long time residents of this neighborhood and are appalled at the action the City Council has taken to rezone Maybell/Clemo in light of all of the oppostion that the residents of our neighborhood have registered. Our claims are valid ones!

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Posted by don't drink the koolaid
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Don't sign a petition based on the inaccurate information that supporters like Pat from Midtown and resident of Greenacres keep repeating!

Pat, a couple questions for you:

* When describing what's surrounding the 567 Maybell project, was there a reason you did not mention that none of this parcel was zoned R-1? Or that the immediate neighbors (sharing the south and east borders of the property) are the Tan Plaza (8 stories, I believe), and the large parcel of multistory low income apartments?

Yes, the neighbors across the street on Maybell are zoned R-1, but your hyperbole is very misleading. Nor do you even mention the City Council action to reduce the number of units fronting Maybell to 7, along with other setback and lot width and compatibility requirements. Also missing is mention that review of the final design for the units on Maybell would be required -- something that would not happen if housing on this site were built under the previous zoning on the site. These are all important safeguards built into the approved project by Council action as far as ensuring that what is built on the street frontage will be compatible. Your "trouble right here in River City" insinuations about what could happen with a PC in other areas currently zoned R-1 are not supported by the facts of the actual situation.

* Question: Why did you not mention that the affordable senior housing units would be 600 square feet each -- nowhere near the image that a reader would derive from the inflammatory "60 unit apartment block" language you keep using. Or that data was presented in the documents and at the hearings about similar PAHC projects in Palo Alto demonstrate unequivocally that the vehicle trips generated by this type of housing, and the parking demand, will be lower than the standard ITE estimates regardless of which edition is used? This includes counting any deliveries, vans provided by the PAHC to take seniors to medical appts or other errands, etc.

And, since you shared the video of what Maybell looks like during the school commute, and implied that this was somehow caused by changes on Arastradero, here's a video made by one of the council members at the same time of day after school was out.

Web Link

The point is: let's deal with recent increases in peak period traffic during the school year by working on solutions with the PAUSD and the immediate schools. The PAHC project did not create the existing conditions and it would have very minimal traffic impact than the alternative to this project that could built without need of _any_ approvals from anyone under current zoning.

An earlier perceptive comment is right on in reference to the people organizing this referendum: "To first be accurately informed, understand the process, and at least the basics of how our city works is fundamental to taking an appropriate position or action. These basics clearly are missing for maybell bmr opponents as shown in nearly every email's inaccuracies. You give activists a bad name."

(reposted from the same earlier thread where Pat posted his message earlier today)

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Posted by Bob Moss
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 7, 2013 at 9:50 pm

This is an important issue and needs our support. Upzoning low density residential to a density of over 50 units/acre is an awful precident and can be used in the future to justify high density spot zoning elsewhere in Palo Alto residential districts.

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Posted by Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 7, 2013 at 10:27 pm

There may be differing views on the details of this project and everyone is entitled to their perception but I for one am opposed to the high density that the developers are planning all over Palo Alto. This is one of many planned. They voted to make El Camino the focus of high density. There is talk about Fryes to become a PC. Are we to see three story row houses all over Palo Alto? This referendum will allow the people of Palo Alto, by vote, decide whether this high density is right for Palo Alto. I for one hate to lose any more of Palo Alto than we already have.

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Posted by Juno
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2013 at 11:09 pm

I have signed the petitions and am now collecting signatures. This is an important issue for all of Palo Alto. The "creative financing" scheme of Palo Alto Housing Corp will lead to accelerated destruction of all Palo Alto neighborhoods if it is allowed to stand.

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Posted by Zayda
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 7, 2013 at 11:09 pm

@Hans Boehm
The website for the Maybell Avenue Group is Web Link.
On the website you will find a list of locations where you can sign the two petitions. You can also help our efforts by downloading, printing and getting signatures on the short petition against Resolution 9348 (Comprehensive Plan) which is at Web Link. The deadline for filing this petition is July 17th.

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Posted by Julie
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 7, 2013 at 11:17 pm

This referendum gets my vote. The fact that it is possible for the City Council to simply decide that a certain section of a particular neighborhood can undergo a zoning change to create multiple units without the neighbors having a say should not take place.

I realize this zoning change is being made to satisfy ABAG's demands for ever more housing. It's time to take back our City from ABAG even if we get punished by having grant money taken away - who wants California Avenue narrowed down to two lanes anyway.

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Posted by barron park resident
a resident of Barron Park School
on Jul 7, 2013 at 11:56 pm

do we need to download both petitions? I just found one petition ready to download.

Will there be a second one online soon?

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Posted by Member of green acre
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 8, 2013 at 12:38 am

Can't believe how Palo Alto City teat it's citizen. Support the referandu!

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Posted by Maybell Referendum
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 8, 2013 at 12:39 am

To Barron Park Resident:

The short referendum (the one on the web) is the only one that is effectively printable -- it is also the one on the tighter timeline so it's critical that that one be signed ASAP. The first is over 100 pages long (the city appears to be pulling out all the stops to make the referendum difficult).

The long referendum can be signed in person at any of the following places, or if you send your name and location to, we will arrange for someone to come by with a petition to sign. Thanks for the support!

List of signature gathering places:

(1) Philz Coffee, 3191 Middlefield Rd Palo Alto (Mon, Tues July 8 and 9 from 10 am - 2 pm)

(2) Referendum Signing Party Mitchell Park at parking entrance at E. Meadow near Toddler playground on Sunday July 14 from 6:30-8:30 pm

(3) 4132 Willmar Drive, Palo Alto (M-F July 8-12 from 7 am - 10 am)

(4) 708 Matadero Avenue, Palo Alto (list dates/times below)

8-Jul Monday 5:00 pm - 8:30 pm
9-Jul Tuesday 11:30 am - 8:00 pm
11-Jul Thursday5:00 pm - 8:30 pm
12-Jul Friday 3:00 pm - 8:30 pm
14-Jul Sunday 2:00 pm - 7:00 pm
15-Jul Monday 5:00 pm - 8:30 pm
16-Jul Tuesday 11:30 am - 8:00 pm
17-Jul Wednesday 9:00 am - 11:00 am, 5:00 pm - 8:30 pm
18-Jul Thursday 8:00 am - 11 am
19-Jul Friday 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm
21-Jul Sunday 6:00 am - 8:30 am, 2:00 pm - 7:00 pm
22-Jul Monday 5:00 pm - 8:30 pm
23-Jul Tuesday 11:30 am - 8:00 pm
25-Jul Thursday 11:30 am - 8:00 pm

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Posted by Baron
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 8, 2013 at 6:37 am

I hope that you are not able to reach the enough signatures, but if you do I will vote no. We need more housing if not here it is going to be in another neighborhood. you guys are just NIMBY. also to the fact that people will get old and we may actually be living there in 30 years from now! we need housing for the elders. Do not count on me.

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Posted by Now
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 8, 2013 at 7:56 am

Time to stop the trend toward pockets of high density rezoning in residential neighborhoods.

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Posted by Need more locations
a resident of Monroe Park
on Jul 8, 2013 at 10:30 am

Need more locations north of Oregon.

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Posted by Juggler
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 8, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Democracy in action. A referendum is a democratic mechanism available to citizens to empower them to bring about the change they wish to see in their City.

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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

I'm sorry to see so many ready to throw away a gold-plated final project as approved by the City Council 9–0 after many modifications that addressed neighborhood concerns.

Varied set-backs, seven 2-story single family homes on Maybell with lot widths virtually identical to R-1 sites in the neighborhood, differentiated appearance from house to house, no driveways onto Maybell, $200,000 to be spent on Maybell traffic improvements before construction can begin.

Why aren't Palo Alto residents complaining that we're getting special treatment because of PAHC and City Council concerns that a neighborhood outraged over the Arastradero makeover would be ready to take it out on this project?

Please, someone who knows the precise details of this location and this project reassure me with facts that our neighborhood won't end up with more rather than less traffic, with less attractive housing stock, and with none of the low income senior housing that advocates of the referendum assure us they favor.

I may be irritated by aspects of urban development in Palo Alto, but I'm not ready to hurt my neighborhood to make a point.

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Posted by Supporter
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2013 at 6:30 pm

"Philz Coffee, 3191 Middlefield Rd Palo Alto (Mon, Tues July 8 and 9 from 10 am - 2 pm)"

Well, you had quite a crowd waiting to sign at 10 am on Monday morning July 8th - where were you guys!!! This is the first time you hit south Palo Alto so we were all eager and waiting!!

I suggest if you say you're going to be somewhere for sign-ups you follow through.

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Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 8, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Jerry, you make the only argument that supporters of the PAHC project can make: "It's the best we can do." Maybe that's an argument that will prevail, but at this time the Maybell Referendum gives the citizens of Palo Alto an opportunity to make that decision themselves. I certainly don't see anything wrong with giving everyone a voice on this important and precedent setting action concerning the future of Palo Alto development.

PAHC, the PTC and City Council rammed this development plan though based on a poorly vetted proposal. Had any or all of these parties done a reasonable job of outreach and communication, the major flaws in the project might have been addressed and mitigated. Unfortunately, that didn't happen with PAHC's Maybell proposal. Instead they used a variety of excuses to continually push this project into the neighborhood. That's just wrong, and the Maybell Referendum gives the citizens of Palo Alto an opportunity to correct their mistakes. Yes, it's embarrassing to those who are supposed to represent us, but they clearly failed everyone in Palo Alto by setting an awful precedent.

Even if you believe "It's the best we can do", PAHC's Maybell project is clearly "round peg in a square hole" that's totally out of character with adjacent area. Everyone knows, you really can fit "a round peg in a square hole" - the trick is making the round peg small enough. Unfortunately, PAHC, the PTC and Council refused to even do that on the Maybell project. So, now it's up to the citizens to do the job that the PTC and our Council was unable or unwilling to do.

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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 8, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Fair enough, Bill. I know people are really enthusiastic about taking part in this exercise of participatory democracy. I'll always remember how excited Planning and Transportation Commission head Eduardo Martinez was about the amount of public engagement. I share that, even though I'm uneasy about the referendum. There'll be months of debate, so I expect everyone will have an opportunity to get fully informed before any vote happens.

I'm proud to be part of the Barron Park community and hope we can all come together on an effective traffic plan even if we can't on rezoning.


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Posted by member
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 9, 2013 at 9:17 am

My apologies to the person who attempted to sign at Philz: I was late but will be there today at 10. Please come by so I can apologize in person. Thank you.

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Posted by Jacob Hartinger
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 9, 2013 at 10:48 am

I support senior housing and community diversity and see benefits of those initiatives however this up-zoning project has unclear community value in terms of traffic, safety, community look/feel, sustainability, and quality of life. issues that are very important to all PA residents and yet appear to be mostly swept under the rug by the planning commission and Council.
I am now concerned that that Palo Alto City "Plan" is simply to upzone any available land in order to support tax revenue and government funding programs. I support the referendum and hope that it succeeds.

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Posted by Planning Commission
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 9, 2013 at 1:54 pm

>how excited Planning and Transportation Commission head Eduardo >Martinez was about the amount of public engagement.
Then he ignored the wishes of the neighbors and voted for the project. Typical.

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Posted by homeowner
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm

This is much bigger than just the Maybell location. If this is not stopped it can be the leading edge for rezoning to higher density and converting lots in all neighborhood all over town.

A list of current rezoning projects can be found at

Web Link

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Posted by Thanks!
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 9, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Thanks for running this referendum. I've printed out the short one and am getting my neighbors to sign.

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Posted by Laszlo
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 9, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Let a democratic procedure prevail and allow the residents of Palo Alto to decide whether they want to see these arbitrary rezonings expanded into residential areas. If this Maybell/Clemo projet goes through it will be precedent setting for future rezonings in any other residential neighborhood too.

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Posted by Steven
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 10, 2013 at 11:02 pm

This development project has been rammed through without adequately addressing the defects in the proposal, and the neighborhood concerns. PAHC has kept the details of the funding, financial model, etc. very opaque. Their public comments that I have heard on the amount of cash they need for the project to work have varied from $16 million to $27 million. When members of the community made constructive suggestions on how they could make the finances work so that the development would meet the Baron Park community's expressed concerns, PAHC's response was "its too much trouble. We'll do it our way." Their response to the criticisms of impact, upzoning, inadequate traffic study, etc. are to try and paint any opposition as being NIMBY and elitist, to create a false bogyman of what could happen there if they don't do their development, and claim this is the best they can do so we must accept it, because their goals are "good", and by implication anyone who opposes this development is against those "good"goals, and therefore their concerns should be dismissed. Our fine city council, many of whom, perhaps a majority, were elected on platforms explicitly claiming they wouldn't vote for this type of PC rezoning, have shown exactly what sort of integrity they have - namely none. Many very experienced and smart folks - former members of the planning commission, experienced local developers, real estate agents, lawyers, etc. have looked very closely at this and decided it really shouldn't happen to us and its an extremely bad precedent for Palo Alto. After looking closely at all the arguments, you may disagree with them, but you should understand that there is a very strong basis for their concern. The citizens of Palo Alto deserve a chance to debate this and vote on it. Otherwise you will have no grounds for complaint when the next PC rezoning and dense development comes to your single family neighborhood. And make no mistake, if this goes through, developers will put a lot more in the pipeline, justified by the same type of smoke&mirrors "public benefits" we have seen in the past. Don't let PAHC play on your emotions. Really look at this closely. Rejecting this development does not make you a bad person, and its not the end of doing these developments in Palo Alto. There will be other senior housing and low income housing projects in the future. Perhaps even one at the Maybell Orchard that is in keeping with the neighborhood. Please sign the petition, and let Palo Alto truly debate this, and make an informed vote and decision.

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Posted by A volunteer
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 11, 2013 at 4:28 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

People, sign the petitions today. Please show this corporation that they can't s scare us by their corporate powers. We are the voters and we count. Let's have a referendum and a city wide discussion on dense housing, on PAHC and on how the city council is so deferential to PAHC.

We need every single signature. Let your voice be heard.


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 11, 2013 at 4:39 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 11, 2013 at 5:42 pm

PAHC used scotch tape to attach a flyer to my house. No other organization ever did this before. Others put it in front of the house or stick it somewhere without doing anything that might damage the paint.

This isn't a big deal but it is yet another manifestation of PAHC's aggressiveness and sense of entitlement to what is not theirs.

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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 11, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Craig Laughton is a registered user.

PAHC has run rough shod over Palo Alto for many years. It is time to shut them down. This Maybell issue is an important rebellion point.

Sign the petition. It is a beginning.