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June 23, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Around Town Around Town (June 23, 2004)

WELCOME BACK KOTT ... Palo Alto's Chief Transportation Official Joe Kott has been in the center of such bitter traffic disputes he might be qualified for teaching kindergarten. But alas, instead he will use his knowledge to educate Stanford University students. In the fall, Kott will helm a course entitled "Sustainable Urban and Regional Transportation Planning" in the Stanford program on Urban Studies. The course will study "the environmental, economic, and equity aspects of urban transportation in early twenty-first century America," according to City Manager Frank Benest's Weekly memo to the public. Kott, who will teach the class for free, will base some of the lessons on a doctoral dissertation research he did at the Institute of Sustainability and Technology Policy at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. No word if roundabouts or traffic barriers will be discussed.

SOLANUM RANTONNEI PARK?... When the City of Palo Alto decided to spend $220,000 to create a new park at the corner of Bryant Street and Homer Avenue, officials insisted the park would have no fancy bells or whistles, due to budget constraints. But a blueprint unveiled this week showed the city adding Cupressus Sempervirens, Phormium Tenax, Osmanthus Fragrans, Quercus Agrifolia, Solanum Rantonnei, Chinanthus Retussus and one Ginko Biloba tree to the land. Who said the city doesn't know how to have fun? Sadly, the City Council decided against naming the park after any of the incoming flora last week. Instead, the site will be known as Palo Alto Heritage Park.

SISTERLY DONATION ... Palo Alto's fire department is playing the role of a good big sister to Oaxaca, Mexico. The department is donating an old patrol truck and ambulance to the sister city. The two are estimated to cost $13,000. 2004 marks the 40th year that Palo Alto and Oaxaca were named sister cities. The city has five other sister cities, and there was no mention of any possible sibling rivalry developing among them in a city report on the donation.

SEEING SIMITIAN . . . State Assemblyman Joe Simitian , D-Palo Alto, will hold office hours outside his office, so to speak. Simitian will be at the Palo Alto Farmer's Market, behind the Post Office on Hamilton Avenue, 9 a.m. -10:30 a.m. on Saturday to meet with constituents. Then on Sunday, Simitian will be at the Menlo Park Farmer's Market, in the downtown lot between Crane and Chestnut streets, from 9:30 a.m. -11 a.m. This is the fourth year he has held outdoor office hours. "These events give both the public and me a chance to interact in an informal, friendly atmosphere," he said. "I want to know what people are talking about. This is an ideal way to keep in touch."

A KEEN EAR . . . Paula Simpson, the library's new director, will lead a dialogue about enhancing the city's public library system on July 8th at 7:30 p.m. Simpson is said to be "keen" to hear how services can be improved. The session will be held at Mitchell Park Library, 3700 Middlefield Road.

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