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April 08, 2005

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Friday, April 08, 2005

ReaderWire ReaderWire (April 08, 2005)

Second units will fit in

Meeting housing needs calls for variety. We have apartments -- who needs second units? Aging parents are obvious beneficiaries, but I've also known single moms who sought out second units.

When my own children were small, I'm glad they had the chance to dig a hole or pick a bouquet of dandelions in back of our rented house while mom made dinner. Some of us who earn less, just like those who earn enough to buy a single-family home in Palo Alto, love to look out the window at a garden we planted ourselves.

Should Palo Alto allow more second units? Smaller second units rent for much less than single-family homes. No one will be required to build one or to keep one in place when a property changes hands. They will fit in -- duplex style is not allowed -- the front of the home must still look like a single-family home. Also, a second unit means equally less square feet allowed for the main house.

Placing a cap on approvals per year could address concerns about how many second units will be added. This would also address concerns over street parking. So could parking permits in areas where parking either is or becomes a problem.

We trust our neighbors to build large homes next door -- we should also trust them to build a second unit if that is what they want. Yes, it may end up an office, but some will end up housing a single mom with a kid who needs a yard.
Edie Keating
Alma Street, Palo Alto

A dream of efficiency

If Carly Fiorina had had a chance to ask her customers for a tax increase, she might not have had to make room for someone who knows how to save money.

We won't get rid of attempts to increase taxation instead of reducing costs by city politicians until the city has a supervisory board with power to fire the inefficient. But that would be a dream. All we have is the hope of voters to continue to recognize city inefficiency.

Bad management causes loss of stock value. Bad management causes loss of the value of our homes and reduces the benefits of living in Palo Alto.
Rudy Reinbacher
Holly Oak Drive, Palo Alto

Brown Act questions

Last November the Human Relations Commission (HRC) created a new standing subcommittee, the Police Subcommittee. That makes four standing subcommittees.

According to City Attorney Gary Baum, standing subcommittees have to comply with the Brown Act and notice meetings in a public place in advance. The HRC was not notified of the rules and the subcommittees were all in violation. So far, only one of the subcommittees, Public Relations, does notice its meetings.

The Police Subcommittee was meeting regularly with Police Chief Lynne Johnson without complying with the Brown Act. When residents wished to meet with this same subcommittee, the city attorney advised that only one member of the subcommittee could meet with residents without noticing the meeting to the public in advance, in accordance with the Brown Act.

However, when it was pointed out by myself and others that this subcommittee had been meeting with the police chief without public notice, the city attorney decided that this subcommittee is really an ad hoc subcommittee and therefore does not have to comply with the Brown Act.

This decision was made after the meeting between the residents and the sole member of the subcommittee had already taken place in compliance with the Brown Act.

The Brown Act was evoked by the city attorney only for the meeting with residents.
Natalie Fisher
Ellsworth Place, Palo Alto

Pardee Park applause

Congratulations to the Palo Alto Parks and Recreation Department for a successful remodel of the Eleanor Pardee Park playground.

Although I only use the park to walk my dog, I have watched in amazement all of the new activity that has taken place since the playground reopened.

During one recent visit, I counted at least 30 adults and 50 children using the facility at the same time. Perhaps this substantiates the adage: "Build it and they will come."
Steve Ross
Fulton Street, Palo Alto

Low-fly zone?

I remember reading some years ago that there was a minimum altitude of 1,500 feet for aircraft flying over Palo Alto. Is this still the limit and is it being monitored?

What annoys me the most are the traffic-report helicopters from Baghdad by the Bay that seem to be within easy reach of King Kong in a prone position. They fly so low I can see whether the pilot shaved that morning and can almost smell the aftershave he used.

There is one red helicopter that could easily be caught with a butterfly net.
John Shaw
Amarillo Avenue, Palo Alto


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