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Should Palo Alto Welcome Economic Growth?
Original post made
by stephen levy, University South,
on Jul 24, 2010
Palo Alto starts with a huge plus!! Our city is a welcoming community for people of different religions, different cultures, and different sexual orientations. We are rewarded with a community where talented and energetic people feel welcome and that is a positive for the local economy as well.
We do less well on other aspects of being a welcoming community.
Town Square is currently a site for debating issues such as high speed rail, the proposed Stanford hospital renovation and expansions and the movement of HP (now AOL as well) into the Stanford Research Park. All of these projects speak to how Palo Alto is or is not a welcoming community for economic activity. They also speak to our concepts of fairness, selfishness and our role in the regional economy.
Stanford is the easiest for me. You hear almost nothing in the debate about whether the hospital expansions are technically sound. Most of the debate is about traffic, impacts on the local community and whether Stanford is being asked for too little or too much.
I read the long documents explaining the case for the expansion and they made sense to me. The hospitals are major institutions of their type in the nation and I am persuaded that the expansions make sense in terms of keeping pace with what Stanford needs to do to remain at the top.
I believe that Stanford and the City should negotiate payments to offset some of the negative impacts but I start from the position that Stanford has made a good case for the expansion. Similarly if and when the shopping center proposes renovation and possible expansion, I think the business case should be given substantial weight in any public proceeding. We want hospitals, shopping centers and, by extension, private companies that keep pace with changes in their industry and position.
We want to welcome these efforts to remain competitive and grow. Sending the signal that if you want to expand in Palo Alto, be prepared for a long fight is not the sign of a community that really cares about the local or regional economy and will eventually backfire.
Nearly everybody in Palo Alto chose to live here knowing that Stanford was a major educational institution with an important teaching and medical care hospital, a major regional shopping center and a major regional research parkboth of which have attracted large and small private companies all of whom have to keep pace with changes in their industries.
So everybody who took two seconds to think about it could figure out that as these institutions grew and changed that it would bring pressure for more housing and bring more traffic. Traffic sucks in most happening areas. I don't see this as a reason to turn down reasonable expansion proposals or new businesses.
HSR is easy for me, also. If HSR were a good deal, I would argue that Palo Alto should go for the HSR station. It is the logical choice because Stanford and surroundings are the logical mid-peninsula destination, not Redwood City. But HSR has made a lousy technical case, unlike say the Stanford hospital expansion, and all of the "don't put it here, put it in someone else's backyard" complaints are irrelevant because HSR as presently presented is a bad idea on its merits.
I am pleased that HP is moving some operations back to PA, that AOL is taking space in the research park and that Facebook, Skype and others are finding Palo Alto the place to be. Palo Alto is in the center of a region that we hope will explode with new and expanding ventures to provide goods and services that attract customers around the world.
I am happy for the local merchants who will have more customers, for the city that may get additional revenue but mostly I am happy to know that Palo Alto holds great attraction still.
Growth and change often bring temporary inconvenience and if plans are stupid they should be turned down if that is legal but mere inconvenience to some is not reason enough for me to say "you are not welcome in Palo Alto if you add another car to the road or house in our community".
Palo Alto is not a quiet suburb. It is a college town for a major university and hospital and a world-renowned center in technology that is at the heart of the nation's future opportunities for prosperity. I want Palo Alto to continue to be a welcoming and happening community.
Posted by I believe in the Citizens of the USA
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 30, 2010 at 6:38 pm
I mean, in turning around the Titanic, that I think we will begin to vote out the "government is the solution elites" who are running the country into the ground with ever increasing debt, taxes and regulations, and vote in folks who will loosen the reins on the millions of individuals who are chomping at the bit to take off again. I believe we will swing back to at least SOME more libertarian/conservative economic principles.
I believe that most folks now see that the utopian vision of "spreading the wealth" and "putting government in charge of x,y,z" in order to try to achieve the goal of lower unemployment and higher wealth for all does exactly the opposite of the intentions, killing the private sector, killing innovation and risk taking, killing jobs. Trickle down wealth raises everyone up, trickle up poverty lowers everyone down.
If we had been blessed with a well educated public with sound historical knowledge of our States who have tried this ideology, or knowledge of any other country that has tried this ideology in the more "minimal" way ( France and Greece) to the more "maximal" way ( former USSR or China, Cuba, North Korea, and now Venezuela, etc), then we wouldn't now be at 10.1% unemployment and the worst GDP growth since 1946. We would have recognized the populist cries for power that have destroyed so many other countries, and resisted that siren call.
Listening to anyone who escaped from behind the iron curtain, Cuba, or Venezuela, or even living here from France for the last 20 years, would have forewarned us. There were many here trying to tell us, but we shut them out. We had Finance minister from CHINA warning us to not jerk to the left so much, warning us to learn from them, for Pete's sake. But I guess we knew better.
Of course, here we are. The foxes had nearly full control of the hen house since 2006, and lame ducked the little bit of guarding we had left ( which wasn't much) with the nomination of McCain. ...and the hens disappear faster than ever before.
To add metaphor to metaphor..we thought we were electing a lifeboat to save a drowning man, instead we got a water cooler to throw to him.
I just hope that THIS time we remember it for the next time we are tempted to "believe" that such ideology will succeed. We've been here before. Let's hope we remember it the NEXT time there is a little dip in the economy and we hear "the sky is falling, let me save you" by socialists.
Don't get me wrong. Obama got it almost right when he said "more Bush" with McCain. In fact, McCain was more to the left, more 'progressive" than Bush and most of the rest of the "big government" Repubs. McCain sounded no different from Obama on most things economic. He was and still is very ill-informed in economics, doesn't really "get it" at all.That is why you heard a big groan go up across this nation from conservatives. We were handed a choice between socialist and marxist. Thus, many of us stayed home from the vote, believing it better for our nation, which tends to give credit or blame to whoever the POTUS is, apparently not understanding the tremendous power the Congress has, to see Dems in full display, and know that there is not one, single, Republican anywhere with any power at all to do anything to stop the Dems from doing anything. Nothing. This is ALL progressive/Dem policy ( almost always with a few progressive Repubs thrown in to the mix...I can only assume they don't want to miss the DC social life or are angling for some kind of lobbying job or something later)
I think, as a result of full power by full, far left Dems, the discussion is changing. We are slowly getting back to real discussion of POLICIES and RESULTS, not party name calling, at least on the many sites I read. Even Yahoo news is getting more informed and intelligent posts in response to news articles.
I have faith in the American people to understand that we need to think more along the lines of "conservative" or "libertarian" if you prefer, (economic literacy and good results), versus "liberal" or "socialist".
If Palo Alto learns also, then it could jump on the train of economic growth, when it happens, and be very, very friendly to any businesses that want to set up shop here. This is what I meant about PA being dragged along. We have tended to be utopian in our vision, and destroyed much of our tax base. Unlike our neighbors to the South who were brilliant ( note all the great stores we Palo Altans shop in, contributing to the financial well being of Mountain View's tax coffers.)
I am not sure most people really understand this yet. But I DO know that most folks understand that this isn't what they thought they were going to get, and are ready to vote it out.
I just hope we get a good crop of economic know-hows, who understand how people and economic growth work..and let us get back to work.