Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - May 2, 2014

Letters to the editor

Shuttle benches please

Editor,

For 14 years now we have had a free Palo Alto shuttle. However, we still have no shuttle stop benches at the Town and Country Shopping Center, the Library-Art Center and along Embarcadero Road.

There are many Palo Alto citizens, especially the elderly or those with an injury or disability, who would love to use the shuttle to visit the above places, but cannot because it is too painful to stand while waiting for a bus. Using the shuttle instead of their cars would also help reduce the traffic problem.

Neighboring cities have benches at their bus stops. Why does Palo Alto have no benches? It cannot be because of lack of money, as Palo Alto had a very large surplus. Where did that money go?

I have been writing to the city for over two years but my requests for benches have been ignored.

Please send an email to the Palo Alto City Council to install badly needed benches at the shuttle stops. The City Council email address is city.council@cityofpaloalto.org.

Thank you very much.

Werner Wadensweiler

Greer Road, Palo Alto

Only now?

Editor,

Regarding "Palo Alto lawyer takes aim at California's 'broken' education-funding system" (April 25, 2014), I wholeheartedly applaud Nancy Krop's efforts and largely agree with her sentiments and prescriptions. But it is depressing to read that "an educated, well-read" lawyer who graduated from Gunn High School just two years after passage of Proposition 13, who took advantage of a good, inexpensive public education through the U.C. system, and who has lived in California during the intervening decades was "stunned to learn" in 2009 that "our schools have dropped from the top five to the bottom five (in per-pupil funding and performance.)"

I too graduated from an excellent California public high school around the same time and have watched with utter dismay as our schools and other public services have deteriorated dramatically over the last 35 years. It is a sad commentary on the state of public discourse that longtime, well-intentioned Californians have not been paying close attention to the devastating effects of Proposition 13 and its progeny (e.g., Prop 218, Prop 26). The unfortunate consequence, I believe, is that most newer residents without that historical context take California's resulting mediocrity as par for the course and essentially immutable.

Deborah Sivas

College Avenue, Palo Alto

Sleepy no more

Editor,

Every time I read in your paper about plans for the "revitalization" of California Avenue, I feel sad. California Avenue is one of the last remnants of the old, interesting Palo Alto, the small, sleepy university town that we moved to 30 years ago.

There was a time when downtown was sleepy, too. The Varsity Theater had free live music in the courtyard; there was a funky, inexpensive restaurant arcade nearby; and lots of small, local businesses — like a great music store — to patronize.

Alas! The tech boom has flooded our quiet village with expensive shops and restaurants, sky-high rents, and it has become an area destination. Wonderful places — like the old St. Michael's Alley coffee house (free live music, seven nights a week), Cafe Verona and the Artifactory artists co-op — were long ago driven out. And for what? An overcrowded, traffic-filled downtown with huge parking problems. For whom? Mostly for people who don't even live here!

California Avenue is an area where you can be comfortable in jeans and T-shirt, ride your bike and hang out at Printer's Cafe. Why does its laid-back ambiance have to be destroyed by zealous crusaders, to be replaced by some architectural horror? Have the nouveau riche taken over?

Dana St. George

Campesino Avenue, Palo Alto

Space has a price

Editor,

The Redwood City council is exhibiting exemplary leadership with its latest plan to increase parking rates in its core downtown. The concept of paying rent for a desk or a bed, otherwise known as office rent and apartment rent, is widely accepted, but for some reason we balk at the notion of paying rent to park a car. This blindness to the cost we all pay for allotting huge space in our urban areas to car storage is just a vestige of last century's love affair with the automobile. As UCLA Professor Donald Shoup has pointed out in his seminal book, "The High Cost of Free Parking," our current policy of subsidizing parking has not evolved with the times. Fortunately, forward-looking municipalities like Redwood City are leading the way to the 21st century and demanding that car commuters pay a more realistic price for the space their machines occupy.

Kaia Eakin

Tadley Court, Redwood City

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