Growth is good for business. The only way to grow the number of shoppers, employees, restaurant customers and residents in downtown Palo Alto is if people don't bring their cars with them. Right now the freeways and streets are full; there is no more room for cars but there is room for more people. In my quality of life, people add value, vehicles do not.
It is in the interest of growth-oriented businesses — especially environmentally sensitive ones like Whole Foods and Lyfe Kitchen — to support their employees in using healthy, carbon-neutral ways of getting to work. Stanford, Patagonia and other quality Palo Alto workplaces have done this with Go Passes, shuttles and showers. I only hope that, instead of building more parking garages, Palo Alto builds more bike/pedestrian paths.
Cowper Street, Palo Alto
Fees not justifiable
A case can be made for the requirement of permits to park overnight on city streets. in residential areas. While a fee charged to non-residents is justifiable, it is definitely not justifiable to charge tax-paying homeowners a fee for parking on the street directly in front of their own home.
Homeowners parking their own cars in front of their own homes in not a problem and never has been.
Don't penalize homeowners for a problem caused by others who do not live in the neighborhood where they park.
John Paul Hanna
Support a local business
I am really sad to learn that Cho's is being forced to close with a 60-day notice. After 30 years as a business on California Avenue, you would think that the owners would evaluate such a change with more than "Well, I have the time this year .... I know Cho has talked about the fact that he was going to retire ..." How about talking to Cho and finding out when he is going to retire and coordinating his eviction to coincide with his plans? Many of us have enjoyed eating at Cho's and picking up food to enjoy at home or at work.
Please reconsider this closure! Too many negative things have happened to our California Avenue. Let's support this local business.
San Francisco Court, Stanford
Parking, parking, parking
Last Thursday afternoon, I walked from my house on Kingsley Avenue to University Avenue. As usual every parking space along Bryant was taken. When I got to University I decided to go to the High Street garage and count unoccupied permit-parking spaces. There were 50. Extrapolating across all the downtown garages there are probably 300 unoccupied spaces on a typical weekday.
It is not hard to understand why downtown workers prefer to park in the neighborhood residential streets rather than buy a permit. For anyone who works in a downtown restaurant and makes, perhaps, $30,000 a year, a $466 parking permit is a major expense. Avoiding it and walking three or four blocks is a no-brainer.
Before instituting a residential-parking license I think the city should try the following experiment:
Reduce the price of parking permits to zero for a three-month permit. It is almost certain that those 300 unoccupied garage spaces will fill up. If that solves the problem of neighborhood street parking then we have an economic problem, not a parking problem.
I realize that the construction of the downtown garages was paid for by the city and downtown merchants and that the fees from parking permits are required for maintenance and amortization. However, there is certainly a price, somewhere between zero and $466 where supply and demand are in balance and all spaces are occupied. Finding that price should not be too difficult.
Kingsley Avenue, Palo Alto
What about Buena Vista?
The dispute over the Maybell project, plus the ongoing controversy over planned-community zoning, have obscured the problem of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, whose residents live in fear of losing their homes to redevelopment.
Established as a travelers' camp in 1926, Buena Vista has evolved into a thriving community. Neighbors meet for coffee; children ride bicycles to Palo Alto schools; gasoline and groceries are near at hand. At Christmas, the Park sponsors Posadas. They have become a holiday fete.
Palo Alto's tradition of welcoming newcomers requires standing in the way of such displacement. The City Council cites measures to fund relocating the residents, but individuals, unlike Legos, cannot be fitted into round pegs or square holes.
The city should act to make certain the residents remain in their long-established homes.
La Donna Avenue, Palo Alto
Cho's: a public benefit
Nobody will call the landlord "greedy" for evicting Cho's. Owners have to remodel on their own time — although the contractor could probably work around this "restaurant," which is about the size of a walk-in closet. It's not unfair political favoritism like squeeezing out the Milk Pail and Rose Market in Mountain View, nor dishonesty like evicting JJ&F market after promising to keep a grocery as a condition for city permits, nor pure meanness like evicting the Cook Book from Town and Country.
What's offensive is the self-importance and arrogance of claiming that the loss of this irreplaceable little treasure with the delectable potstickers is a "bonus" for Palo Alto.
Alma Street, Palo Alto
Truth about union talks
It's time for the city manager's office to come clean with the people of Palo Alto. In an article about our current negotiations (Palo Alto calls impasse in union talks, Jan. 14, 2014), Claudia Keith, the city's spokesperson, said that SEIU Local 521 is asking for an 11 percent cost-of-living adjustment. This is completely false and she knows it.
City negotiators need to respect the public and our workers enough to be honest. Public service workers are ready to work with the city and have offered serious concessions to help the city save money on health care costs and retirement.
In return, we are asking the city to pay competitive wages so that Palo Alto can attract and keep the workers we need to solve our current staffing shortage, deliver high-quality services and ensure public safety. It's not our policy to negotiate through the press, but the truth: Our last offer to the city was closer to half of what Ms. Keith has stated.
Council needs to rein in its negotiators and force them back to the negotiating table. The people of Palo Alto deserve more than just strong-arm tactics and misinformation campaigns. It's time for solutions.
SEIU Local 521 Palo Alto Chapter Chair
West Dana Street, Mountain View
A tale of two cities
"It was the best of times,
It was the worst of times..."
Tech stock prices went through the roof,
An Arctic Vortex chilled The Heartland.
Chicago let its homeless ride the transit all night,
Palo Alto declared it a crime to be homeless.
Forest Preston, III
Upland Road, Emerald Hills (former Palo Alto resident)