Town Square

Post a New Topic

Gardeners irked by planned driveway near Main Library

Original post made on May 21, 2012

As Palo Alto plows forth with major upgrades to the Main Library and the Palo Alto Art Center, city officials are also looking to make changes to the layout of the Newell Road complex that houses the two major facilities.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, May 21, 2012, 9:55 AM

Comments (40)

Posted by randy albin, a resident of Mountain View
on May 21, 2012 at 10:25 am

the cultural center area of palo alto is very traditional and of historical meaning. why not allow the palo alto community to decide how the new improvements will occur. the main library in palo alto is really quite good


Posted by Enough!, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 21, 2012 at 10:25 am

I'm irked by it too. Not for any particular reason. Just because I'm a Palo Altan and it's my civic duty to be irked by everything.


Posted by blackthumb, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 21, 2012 at 10:35 am

Web Link

They're talking about moving ~12 plots that are off-set from the main selection of plots in the garden.
Increased noise seems like a stretch. It's going to be the same level of traffic.


Posted by Vote-NO-On-Crazy-Ideas, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2012 at 10:40 am

This is not a very good idea. It's not 300 feet from the Art Center to the Library. Who in Palo Alto claims to be so privileged that they can not walk this distance?

A bike path is OK, but it should not have to take any of the garden plots. But having cars driving back and forth on what is effectively park land is a crazy idea.


Posted by Cathy, a resident of Community Center
on May 21, 2012 at 10:42 am

If the $1 million 100-foot driveway link between the Main Library and Art Center parking lots is built, the City must then go to great lengths to assure this will not become a dangerous 24/7 cut-through between Embarcadero and Newell Roads.

Stanford has been a model of how to separate vehicular traffic from defenseless pedestrians and bikes.

This ill-conceived Palo Alto project seems to be spending a lot of money and time going in exactly the wrong direction. I thought Palo Alto was smarter than this.


Posted by link please, a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2012 at 10:54 am

Any possibility the writer could post a link to a proposed map to understand this issue? The City website is a mess to search, usually pulling up unrelated 10-year old stuff.

RE: "new driveway or bike path" there is a huge difference on cut-through traffic and impact on the neighboring gardens and most importantly, quiet open-space in our rapidly filling city. Could you please address or link to the relevant proposal?


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 21, 2012 at 11:01 am

Yet another example of frivolous, non-essential spending. Not the library renovation, that was part of the voter approved 2008 bond measure. Although I disagree with that excessive investment, it stood up through the democratic process and that I will respect.

The art center renovation and the newly planned driveway however represents highly irresponsible spending on the part of our city leaders and elected officials. These expenditures have been approved during the midst of the current financial mess we're in. Despite the annual budget deficits and vital needs in public safety and infrastructure that remain unfunded, the powers at be decided to ignore all that and proceed ahead. More desired but certainly not essential civic improvements is the norm. More fluff and catering to niche projects, and still no substance or common sense. Absolutely unreal.


Posted by No road, thank you, a resident of Community Center
on May 21, 2012 at 11:02 am

The monied interests in the Art Center want this road. Not the artists. It's corporate-think.
It is hardly in the interest of a library to have a road nearby.


Posted by long time resident, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 21, 2012 at 11:06 am

I go to the Main Library at least once a week, at different times, and have always found that the parking lot is almost filled to capacity. They should make a better pathway between the two facilities but leave the rest as is. I agree with Cathy that it could be a dangerous cut-though between Embarcadero and Newell.
This is a time to make improvements but save wherever possible.
And, please leave the garden plots alone!


Posted by oldbasse, a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2012 at 11:15 am

The idea being floated is yet another one for the wastebasket. Given the City's financial shortfalls, I consider it irresponsible and foolish to spend upwards of (probably more than) $1 million on a completely unnecessary and a marginal change in the current configuration of open-space, traffic flow and parking facilities.


Posted by Library and Art Center User, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2012 at 11:20 am

A simple walk/bike path connecting the two lots would be less expensive and do the job just fine. What a waste of money and thoughtless use of green space. The VERY short distance between the two lots is an easy and pleasant walk. Please keep cars out of this area. There is no need for cars to intrude on this area.


Posted by A map, please, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2012 at 11:22 am

a link to the site plans would be useful in this article.


Posted by Vote-NO-On-Crazy-Ideas, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2012 at 11:25 am

> I go to the Main Library at least once a week, at different times,
> and have always found that the parking lot is almost filled
> to capacity.

Almost full is not the same thing as always full, now is it?

As the years unfold, fewer and fewer people will be going to the library, so this problem of parking will become a less of a problem in the future.

You could also ride a bike, or take public transportation--and help reduce the demand for parking. Or, you could buy a Kindle, and download books--obviating your need to go to any library other than on-line.


Posted by silly, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 21, 2012 at 11:27 am

I have to agree that this is one of the silliest uses for $1 million that the city could come up with.

Yes, there are disabled people who cannot walk 100 feet, but not so many of them that a whole new street is necessary (so they don't have to drive around the block).

A 2-lane street is 50 feet wide. A multi-use path (for bikes, pedestrians, and wheel chairs) is 5 to 10 feet wide and can be built for a tiny fraction of the cost.

A new street in an area frequented by children will create all kinds of safety problems. Just say no.


Posted by joe, a resident of Ohlone School
on May 21, 2012 at 11:51 am

As a long time gardener I a very much in favor of a new road which would connect the various parking lots and access points. It will be good to get the little auxiliary garden space over next to the rest of the garden, and to eliminate the road which currently cuts it off from most of the plots. Having a design that incorporates the needs of all the users of the space (artists, gardeners, dog walkers, library patrons, and people on foot, on bikes, or in cars) has resulted in a design that is a vast improvement, with benefits for everyone. This is not the time for NIMBYism, and it is not even your backyard, it belongs to everyone!
Thanks to the city for having the garden plots available.


Posted by paloaltotreewatch, a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on May 21, 2012 at 12:04 pm

this is yet another example of the fact that
the only real constituency this city government
values is the car culture. ...what is needed for the CARS!!!!
yeah cars! trees, garden plots, open space - hey that is luxury when the cars have needs



Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on May 21, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Palo Alto should cool it with the improvements to the library system for awhile. Has not anyone heard of incremental improvement? We are just about to open a new library just let that suffice for a decade or so … since there were huge cost overruns on it.


Posted by John, a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2012 at 12:33 pm

This plan will irk 12 people at a cost of $83,333 per person. Isn't there a cheaper way to irk 12 people?


Posted by letscalmdownpeople, a resident of Palo Verde
on May 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Let's have a detailed map showing what exists now and what the proposal would have it look like. Then decide on the merits and costs.
Gardening plots can be moved; they should *not* a priori be considered sacrosinct!


Posted by checkthenumbers, a resident of Palo Verde
on May 21, 2012 at 12:53 pm

IMHO, Anon is incorrect. The project will come in at under the amount allocated. There have been costs increases over the bids, but not over the budgeted amount.


Posted by Kate, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 21, 2012 at 12:57 pm

The city government in PA continually wants to cut down trees, do away with open green space and gardens, and generally make the town a cement jungle. The city employees that make most of the decisions for our town don't live in Palo Alto. They don't have the best interest of the town in mind when they make their decrees. In fact, if you've ever spoken to anyone in the planning or building departments, it's frighening how little they know about our neighborhoods.


Posted by Don, a resident of Downtown North
on May 21, 2012 at 1:28 pm

checkthenumbers. What difference does it make if it comes in under budget? The question is: Is this expenditure of $1 Million from the City in these hard times worth it?

The answer is NO.


Posted by Enough!, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm

"This plan will irk 12 people at a cost of $83,333 per person. Isn't there a cheaper way to irk 12 people?" Yeah there is. Put a Republican bumper sticker on your car.


Posted by Eric, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Maybe Palo Alt could apply for a grant from VTA to take all of the lanes out of the road.. thereby increasing the cost to $1.5M, and reducing the car traffic to zero. Palo Alto could bill this 100ft-$1.5M spending debacle a "destination" ... that ought to seal the deal with the VTA.


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm

For many of the reasons cited above and several more. It's just bad governing. You cannot stand up and decry a fiscal emergency and annual budget deficits, and then turn around and continue to expend public dollars on fluff and niche projects. Many of these improvements would be nice. No question about it. But can we plan these non-essential projects and improvements after the civic cornerstone needs in public safety and infrastructure have been funded. Unbelievable the lack of common sense and fiscal management.


Posted by Jean, a resident of Downtown North
on May 21, 2012 at 5:14 pm

I agree that this plan provides little benefit at excessive cost. Why do city planners continue to act as though money is unlimited? How many people need to drive from the art center to the library anyway?


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 21, 2012 at 5:17 pm

When you all in PA voted for this bond, were you made aware of the specifics of the plan, or just given general knowledge of the plan?

I know that PA want this area to be another that gives the city leaders bragging rights but it seems like it'll affect a lot of the folks who are right there maintaining their gardens.

When I lived in PA, I recall going back & forth on foot between the art center & the library for classes, errands, etc., w/out a problem.

But since the funds were raised specifically for this project, can folks influence the project plan so that it works better for everyone?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Wouldn't it make more sense to wait until the library has been renovated?

Considering the mess that has been made with Mitchell Park driveways, parking lot, etc. and that we are going to be going through it all again (reluctantly) at Main, now is not the time to start changing things in the parking lot and driveways.


Posted by why change?, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 21, 2012 at 5:54 pm

The garden as it is is an oasis. Don't touch it. Respect your citizens, not bulldozing developers.


Posted by Paved Paradise, a resident of Community Center
on May 21, 2012 at 6:18 pm

My understanding is that we are paving paradise so a car can drive from the Art Center parking lot to the library parking lot. It makes no sense to me. There is already a walkway for pedestrian and bike cut through. If you need to drive your car from one point to the other you can drive on Newell. I walk my dog through this area every day and love the pastoral setting with songbirds, butterflies and flowers. The paths are always full of other walkers. I usually see more walkers than gardeners. This isn't just about garden plots it is about preserving our last remaining open spaces in our urban environment. If it is about parking access; a) I have never seen the parking areas full other than during art and craft events, b) there is unused space to increase parking in the main library parking area without encroaching on the gardens and c) when Mitchell park library re-opens I assume many people who now drive to the Main library will drive to Mitchell Park Library instead. I thought we had a comp plan organized around walkable communities. Why encourage driving to what will soon be just another neighborhood library?


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 21, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Speaking of the garden being an oasis - I agree - does anyone know why that man w/the Great Dane feels entitled to always have his dog off leash? I suspect he lives nearby, but the same leash laws apply to him. Dude, just take your dog to the dog park!


Posted by Not money-ed, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 21, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Can't anybody read? or take the time to look at the report?

The cost of the passage way is about $20,000-30,000 more than the other options.


Posted by Choice, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2012 at 9:53 pm

One thing I can rely on.... Palo Alto will argue over every thing till the sun goes down.


Posted by i would like..., a resident of Meadow Park
on May 21, 2012 at 10:01 pm

I would like more parking at the main library. I don't care about garden plots or connecting it to the art center. More parking is a must.


Posted by Milt, a resident of Greater Miranda
on May 21, 2012 at 10:18 pm

The parking lots behind the art center is already a cut through to Newell and then onto Middlefield via the children's library. Facilitating that cut through is a bad idea, period.

Is this the brain child of someone who gets the library and art center parking lot driveways confused?


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on May 21, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Irked? That seems like a pretty mild reaction for this insane, unnecessary waste of money. How about infuriated? Livid? Desperate? Rabid? In a state of despair?

The city seems to feel obligated to spend every last cent of the bond money. What a tragedy it would be to leave money on the table.

> "Why do city planners continue to act as though money is unlimited?"

Because they can! Does the city council ever say NO to any spending plan the staff proposes? The staff runs the city. Employees continue to dream up new projects to keep their jobs, i.e., managing consultants.

> "There have been costs increases over the bids, but not over the budgeted amount."

Let's suppose you were building a house and had a budget and the contractor bid $100K less than your budget. You'd be pleased. Then suppose the contractor came back and said, "Ooops. I need to spend $50K more than my original bid." You'd still be under budget, but would you still be pleased?

I hope all of you who voted YES on the library bond are happy about this reckless spending.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on May 22, 2012 at 8:11 am

There should be a path between the 2 buildings.

This discussion is idiotic ---- but hardly surprising in this nutty town.


Posted by the fix was in, a resident of Community Center
on May 22, 2012 at 8:54 am

They voted AGAINST a path. They voted for a ROAD for cars.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 22, 2012 at 9:08 am

Maybe it is time to reconsider the garden at this location. It seems wasteful to have people gardening in the heart of our community, when that space could be used to benefit many more people.
There is a desperate shortage of athletic fields in Palo Alto...perhaps that would a better use of the space.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on May 22, 2012 at 11:28 am

More parking at the library is not really needed … I'm estimating that a lot of the cars are cars that would or could be over at another library, and that will be going to the other library when it is open.

This expensive is a useless frivolity.

It sounds like this does not even add parking it just connects two existing parking lots.

Just say no. Stop all this useless spending in Palo Alto when a few well-connected people with the ear of city government force this expense and over-development on the rest of us.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Scott’s Seafood Mountain View to close, reopen as new concept
By Elena Kadvany | 13 comments | 3,934 views

Who Says Kids Don’t Eat Vegetables?
By Laura Stec | 9 comments | 2,028 views

Richard Linklater's Masterpiece "Boyhood"
By Anita Felicelli | 5 comments | 1,335 views

How Bad Policy Happens
By Douglas Moran | 21 comments | 1,317 views

The life of Zarf
By Sally Torbey | 8 comments | 964 views