WHEELING AND DEALING ... Palo Alto's love affair with electric vehicles was on full display this week, when city officials huddled around two glossy Tesla Roadsters minutes before Mayor Greg Scharff presented his "State of the City" address at the company's headquarters in the Stanford Research Park. The city has been installing electric-vehicle chargers at public garages and encouraging developers to do the same on new projects. But when it comes to the city's own fleet, electric vehicles are destined to remain in the future. The present belongs to compressed natural gas. This week, the council is expected to approve a purchase of 17 new Honda Civics powered by compressed natural gas (CNG). The city's existing fleet currently has 15 Civics with fuel tanks that are set to expire in 2013, at which point they can no longer be operated. The city wants to get rid of these cars before the expiration so that there is "an opportunity to benefit from the resale value," according to a new report from the Public Works Department. "There is currently a strong demand for alternative fueled vehicles, which is creating higher than normal resale values on CNG vehicles, as long as the vehicles' fuel tanks are not yet expired," the report states, noting that the cost to "re-tank" a CNG vehicle exceeds the vehicle's resale value. The city plans to spend about $460,000 to buy these vehicles from Stevens Creek Honda.
QUICK FIX ... Bringing back to life a toaster from the '30s, lamps, computers, CD players and some favorite shorts — all were projects tackled by more than 50 volunteers at the second Repair Cafe that took place at the Museum of American Heritage last Sunday. More than 300 people showed up with their broken stuff, with a line snaking around the block. Only about two-thirds could be helped — still nearly twice as many as at the first event last October. "Clearly, this is something that resonates with many, many people," organizer Peter Skinner wrote in an email. He's now planning events on April 21 and July 21. Oh, and the people who left behind an olive green jacket, a sun hat and a small screwdriver can contact Skinner at Peter@RepairCafé-PaloAlto.org.