Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 6, 2011

Around Town

COLLISION COURSE ... A proposal by three Peninsula lawmakers to "blend" California's proposed high-speed rail system with Caltrain's has elicited a wide spectrum of responses, from avid praise from the Palo Alto City Council to rabid condemnation from state Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani, a leading high-speed-rail proponent who last week branded the plan the "Great Train Robbery." On Thursday, the California High-Speed Rail Authority had its first chance to discuss the new proposal from state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, and state Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park. In addition to using Caltrain tracks for high-speed rail trains on the Peninsula, the proposal calls for elimination of all possible aerial tracks and a scaling back of the rail authority's environmental analysis, which is still predicated on adding two tracks for high-speed rail. Members of the rail authority reacted to it with a mixture of curiosity, frustration and annoyance. Chairman Curt Pringle and board member Lynn Schenck both suggested that the legislators' proposal could be little more than a ruse for funneling high-speed rail money to the cash-strapped Caltrain system. "Are we just wasting time?" Pringle asked, after hearing a detailed presentation from consultants about the ongoing design work on the San Francisco-to-San Jose segment of the rail line. "Because the senator in this area and the congresswoman and others in the area are just going to say, 'Unless you do it this way, it doesn't work.'" He also said he's not interested in "spending high-speed-rail money for other projects than high-speed rail" and even suggested freezing all funding for Peninsula rail design out of concern that all the work could end up getting "thrown off the table by somebody." The board didn't go that far, but members agreed not to make any decisions about the Peninsula segment for the time being and to continue the discussion at the next meeting.

BALANCING THE BOOKS ... Palo Alto's bookworms will have plenty of reasons to cheer over the next two years, when the city's new and improved Downtown, Mitchell Park and Main libraries re-open for business. But those who go beyond the city border to satisfy their book needs in the interim should be prepared to shell out for the privilege. The Santa Clara County Library District Joint Powers Authority (which includes Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Saratoga and unincorporated areas of the county) has instituted a new $80 fee on library users not from the district. The decision came after Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a budget that eliminates all state funding for public libraries. District officials concluded that instituting the new fee is necessary to sustain the system. "We know how popular and valuable the Santa Clara County Library District services and programs are, but we have to have the funding to continue to offer them to non-residents," Santa Clara Supervisor Liz Kniss said in a statement. "An annual fee for non-residents will extend County Library privileges to them, including access to an impressive collection of materials and resources." The district noted in its statement that a district library card allows users to borrow up to 100 items at a time from district libraries.

GOING, GOING, GONE ... Crescent Park residents Stephen Stuart and Tru Love made headlines in March when they battled Palo Alto officials over AT&T's plan to install a cell tower on their block, at St. Albert the Great Church on Channing Avenue. Stuart even threatened to end the City of Palo Alto's free Internet hookup (which he helped arrange), prompting the city to scramble for a new proposal until cooler heads prevailed. Stuart and Love finally got what they wanted last month, when the church halted its negotiations with AT&T, forcing the company to seek another location. But they won't be around to enjoy the fruits of their victory (namely, status quo), having moved out of the neighborhood to "a bigger house with more land" in Palo Alto, Love said in an email to the Weekly. Though the couple's staunch opposition to the cell tower and Stuart's threat to end the Internet agreement rubbed some residents the wrong way, Love said the move had nothing to do with the recent cell-tower battle. "But, I will say, we are thrilled our community was able to pull together and stop AT&T from building an unlawful cell tower at St. Albert."

Comments

Posted by paneighbor, a resident of University South
on May 6, 2011 at 11:00 am

Haiku:

Tru Love and Stuart
abandon our neighborhood,
our wireless deadzone.


Posted by paneighbor, a resident of University South
on May 6, 2011 at 11:09 am

Cut off wireless for
our neighborhood, then
flee the neighborhood?


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