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March 09, 2005

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Golf course study could endanger flood control Golf course study could endanger flood control (March 09, 2005)

Councilwoman Mossar's appeal to stop study denied

by Bill D'Agostino

PDespite an appeal from Councilwoman Dena Mossar, the council voted to study reworking the city's municipal golf course at the east end of Embarcadero Road.

Mossar warned that a study of the city's golf course could endanger a federal flood control project for the volatile San Francisquito Creek. After the Palo Alto City Council voted 5-2 Monday night to conduct the study, Mossar left the meeting even though there were other items to discuss.

Councilwoman Judy Kleinberg floated the idea for the preliminary study, hoping the city can shrink the 180-acre course to provide new athletic playing fields.

The city is still in debt $6 million for a recent reworking of the golf course that began in the late 1990s.

Numerous children came to the meeting to support Kleinberg's idea and said the city's current playing fields are overused. A few golfers came to oppose it, arguing the municipal course's current condition is fine.

The new study will take three to four months. Council member Bern Beecham was also opposed to the study, while Council members Vic Ojakian and Hillary Freeman were absent.

Mossar, the city's representative to the multi-agency board trying to get a federal flood control project approved for the nearby creek, warned that the board was struggling to convince the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers to partner on a project.

The Peninsula's high property values could make the Army Corps uninterested, since the federal agency weighs the importance of projects based on a cost-benefit analysis, Mossar noted. Anything that makes property more valuable makes the project even more unlikely, she warned.

The Army Corps will spend the next two years studying the area, and any plan to rework the golf course would be meaningless until the federal agency decides what they'd like to do with the area, Mossar also added.

Other councilmembers said the study would examine the impact to the potential flood control project.

In other business, the council:

* rejected an appeal from neighbors opposing a new home on Forest Avenue with a proposed "wall o' glass;"

* made it a misdemeanor to leave pets in unventilated cars during hot days;

* opened up a hiking trial in Foothills Park to nonresidents;

* agreed to hold an election in April to ask property owners to raise the monthly storm drain fee from $4.25 to $10; and

* opposed a proposed U.S. Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage.

Staff Writer Bill D'Agostino can be e-mailed at

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