Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 15, 2013

Around Town

UP TO SNUFF ... Having snuffed out smoking at local parks earlier this year, Palo Alto officials are now proposing to extend the cigarette ban to the city's two most prominent business districts. In a memo that the City Council is scheduled to discuss Monday night, Mayor Greg Scharff, Vice Mayor Nancy Shepherd and Councilmembers Karen Holman and Gail Price are proposing a smoking ban in downtown and the California Avenue business district. The proposal comes less than three months after the council adopted an ordinance banning smoking at parks and extending the no-smoking buffer zone near public entrances to buildings from 20 to 25 feet. Even without the proposed ban, smokers are already severely restricted around University Avenue. The buffer-zone rule effectively makes the city's most prominent downtown thoroughfare a smoke-free zone, though there are small pockets of space at several spots that fall outside the buffer, including plazas, walkways and street corners. It is these pockets that the new ban seeks to zip up. In the memo, the four council members tout the impact of smoking on both health and the downtown experience. "Banning smoking in the public (right of way) prevents smoking in front of or near businesses," the memo states. "Smokers tend to congregate in front of entrances, cause ingress and egress issues. Smoke filters into buildings; and cigarette butts litter the sidewalks, planters and other visible public areas. "Business owners with outdoor dining areas are also affected as second-hand smoke drifts to outdoor eating areas, negatively affecting their customers' dining experience and potentially creating negative health impacts." The four council members recommend that staff study the smoking ordinances that other jurisdictions have adopted in their downtown corridors and that the city conducts outreach to residents, businesses and property owners downtown and around California Avenue. City staff is expected to bring a report on the proposed ban expansion to the council's Policy and Services Committee early next year.

SMILE, YOU'RE ON COP CAM! ... Drivers who get pulled over by motorcycle cops in Palo Alto rarely feel like smiling. The Police Department's proposal to put cameras on police officers is unlikely to change that, though it may offer alleged violators a little reassurance about officer accountability. Under the proposal that the City Council is expected to approve on Monday night, nine officers will be equipped with "body-worn audio/visual systems" as part of the Police Department's proposal to upgrade its video technology. The bulk of the $305,000 contract would go toward upgrading the video systems in police cruisers, a local fixture since 2006. The report from the Police Department states that such technology "has become instrumental in law enforcement training, evidence collection, and for officer safety and accountability." The current seven-year-old system, the report states, is at the end of its technical life-cycle. The upgraded camera systems would provide "greater resolution and visibility, increased camera placement, and significantly improved audio capture that reduces background noise." If the proposal is approved, cameras would be upgraded in the entire fleet of 28 vehicles. The body-worn cameras, meanwhile, are a new experiment. They would be worn by patrol officers and members of the motorcycle-riding "traffic-safety team," allowing officers to capture video evidence when they are away from their vehicles. In addition to the police equipment, staff is considering using audio-visual systems on Fire Department vehicles to "capture video during transport and incidents (and) to increase the safety and accountability of line personnel," according to the report. The contract that the council will be voting on includes funds to equip the battalion-chief van with a camera to "capture activities during major incidents."

YOU SAY TERRONE, I SAY TERUN ...Some detail-oriented diners might have noticed that Terrone, the "pizzeria-ristorante-bar" that opened in February this year at 448 S. California Ave. has disappeared — in name at least. What was formerly Terrone (a derogatory term that refers to south Italian farmers) is now Terún, which has the same meaning but is a northern Italian dialect, said owner Franco Campilongo. Campilongo said the restaurant made the switch after finding out that a Canada-based company, which owns numerous Italian restaurants in Toronto and two in Los Angeles, had trademarked the name "Terroni." Apparently, Terrone's ending vowel "wasn't different enough," Campilongo said. "I didn't want to waste my money and time fighting it," he added. And voilà, Terrone became Terún, with a new sign and new website (though a small piece of paper with "Terrone" typed above the restaurant's hours does remain hanging to the left of the front door). Look for Editorial Assistant Elena Kadvany's food blog at PaloAltoOnline.com for more goings-on in the Peninsula food scene.

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