Downtown's decline causes distress
Publication Date: Friday Jul 29, 1994

PALO ALTO: Downtown's decline causes distress

City officials want to improve its deteriorating appearance

With the number of complaints from residents and visitors about downtown's untidy appearance on the rise, the Palo Alto City Council has asked that some measures be taken to spruce it up.

On Monday, Vice Mayor Joe Simitian and Mayor Liz Kniss requested City Manager June Fleming take some quick-fix approaches to improve downtown's appearance and develop a long-term plan to keep the area from suffering from its own tremendous success.

Prompt action was taken. On Tuesday, downtown got a quick scrub from city workers who removed litter and did some sidewalk sweeping, Fleming said. But more work is needed.

Simitian's diagnosis is that downtown's deteriorating condition is more than a side effect of the hordes of people that crowded sidewalks and streets during the World Cup soccer games. Rather, he believes it's a long-term ailment that needs some acute care.

On a recent stroll he took down University Avenue, he said, the sidewalks seemed grimy and riddled with litter, and the public improvements--benches, alcoves, trellises and newspaper racks--looked beaten up.

"This is not the downtown we want to be presenting for, or on behalf of, our community," Simitian said. "The city's downtown is the part of the community that belongs to us all, and it is the place we show to outsiders."

Plus, he said, letting downtown continue to slide downhill would eventually harm its businesses and the sales tax dollars they bring in for city services.

--Peter Gauvin
"This is not the downtown we want to be presenting for, or on behalf of, our community. The city's downtown is the part of the community that belongs to us all and it is the place we show to outsiders."--Joe Simitian 

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