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Palo Alto's 2013 priorities: infrastructure, downtown, technology

Original post made on Feb 2, 2013

Casting aside years of broad, vague and feel-good "priorities," Palo Alto officials on Saturday selected infrastructure repairs, technological improvements and the myriad issues surrounding downtown development as the topics that will dominate the city's attention in 2013.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, February 2, 2013, 1:42 PM

Comments (24)

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Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2013 at 9:03 pm

I propose a general plan to improve the effectiveness of city government based on two observations:

1) City employees receive pension benefits after they retire.

2) The impact of key city leaders (like city managers, etc) lingers on after they retire.

So the suggestion is to issue performance evaluations periodically after retirement, and to cut pension benefits based on the results of poor planning and operation.

If this were the case, the last two city managers would loose their pensions.


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Posted by Jeff
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 2, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Are you kidding me? A bond issue to pay for infrastructure repairs? I would have liked to think this was the basic kind of things that should always be a priority of the city. If we need a bond measure to pass to be able to afford infrastructure repairs, something is wrong with the city budget process.


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Posted by Taxed Enough Already
a resident of University South
on Feb 2, 2013 at 9:20 pm

If the property taxes I already pay don't cover infrastructure "items" then what do they cover?


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Posted by We are all happy!
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Feb 2, 2013 at 10:29 pm

@Taxed enough - The property tax you pay is enough to cover staff salary and retirement costs. Not much is left for current operations and forget about infrastructure.

But wait, the recent survey says that we are all happy!


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Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 2, 2013 at 11:15 pm

No bond measure support here. Not when we pay our average union city worker over 150K in total compensation to do jobs with zero accountability.


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Posted by Embarrassed
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Here's hoping infrastructure is at the top, because it is an ongoing source of embarrassment when visitors see our bumpy, pot-holed roads and then find out how much it actually costs to live here. The two don't jive, and we all wonder where the money goes.


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Posted by frank
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 3, 2013 at 8:43 pm

because the city has a structural deficit-its pension and medical obligations are not funded-any bond issue will cost more in terms of interest than if these issues were addressed. most cities address infrastructure improvements and maintenance annually through a capital improvement plan which is funded from the general fund. we should do the same in palo alto-NOT by bond issue.


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Posted by Tax payer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 4, 2013 at 10:10 am

I'm not happy with the city "services" so I'm not sure who was surveyed. It's pretty astonishing to see the mediocrity and inefficiency of the various administrative departments. Add to that the embarrassing condition of our local streets and it makes me wonder where the money goes.

For all the talk about promoting green living by riding a bike or walking, it's downright hazardous to do that in my neighborhood. The pavements are so broken up that it's more of an obstacle course to find a safe path for bike tires. No safe routes to school at all. It's a basic govt service to maintain the local roads and you're telling me they want a bond measure to do that?!?!


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Posted by JS
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2013 at 10:18 am

How about giving the completion of the Mitchell Park Library a "priority" status so it will be accomplished in three year period established for "priorities"?


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Posted by Member
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 4, 2013 at 10:42 am

Concerning the topic of Technology and the current wish to include China in the sister-city group: Outgoing Sec of State Clinton on CSPAN Sunday provided an overview of international issues addressed during her term in office - there are many outstanding issues concerning the US dealings with China including Intellectual Property. The picture in the Weekly of the delegation going to China included the Mayor of Oakland. Oakland has an on-going relationship with China through the Port of Oakland, as well as an active Chinese market area. Oakland has unused land that can be re-purposed to include a Chinese trade center. In this way the issues of Commerce can be addressed. It also has the benefit of
re-casting Oakland's outlook today which appears to center on commercial marijuana farms in the local wharehouses. So how is that working out? More crime in process, more kids dropping out of school.
The PA Council members may have a wish for international engagement but the funding for those wishes needs to come from some source other than the city budget. And that is not part of the job description for the city council members. Hopefully the council members will stick to the agenda they were voted in to do - manage the problems in Palo Alto on the budget provided.It is not the city's job to function in areas that are already being addressed at a higher level.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2013 at 11:19 am

To Taxed Enough Already:
Of the property taxes you pay to Santa Clara County, about 9 cents comes back to the City of Palo Alto. The rest goes to the school district, the county and the state.


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Posted by NotEnough
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 4, 2013 at 12:00 pm

To me, the city is like a young teenager asking for more money to spend.


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Posted by Dan
a resident of Southgate
on Feb 4, 2013 at 1:09 pm

How about paying for infrastructure repairs out of the General Budget and doing a Bond Referendum on City Leaders' trips to China.


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Posted by Curious
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 4, 2013 at 2:10 pm

1)How much money is being held at Palo Alto's own Utilities Dept?
2)How many Palo Alto retirees that did not work on our infrastructure are back at work in Palo Alto, as consultants in their own former positions, or working in nearby communities, full time or part time, and double-dipping? Why don't reporters ask hard questions, so citizen-taxpayers won't be in the dark?


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Posted by jm
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 4, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Millions for a bike bridge that will be used by so few people that each ride over the bridge was calculated by one person to cost us tax payers $25.

The $1.5 million budget for beautifying California has gone over $4m, and anyone who takes the time to learn will know that every project the city is involved in goes well over budget.

Just two examples above of where the city puts $.

I'm not voting for a bond measure after years of watching the majority of council members, city managers, and our city staff, being such irresponsible stewards of the budget. Glitz over substance. Burnishes resumes and makes the council feel good.

A bond measure would be just a waste of money when no one can be held accountable in five years time.

Also, given how many of the lower wage city employees (janitors, gardeners) have been let go in favor of outsourcing, I'm wondering if the count of city employees reflects this. Or has the city employee count not gone down because these low paid workers have been replaced by higher paid workers?




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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 4, 2013 at 4:08 pm

What does making "technology" a priority to this Council? The City/Council has never shown any interest in creating a technology plan that would at least outline the City's vision of what technology the City would use (that it is already not using).

The term "e-government" has been in the literature for over a decade, and yet--it does not appear anywhere in this list of "priorities", or in anything the City has done with technology, to date.

The following two lists of ideas about technology use was submitted to the Council, and it would appear that no one on the Council read them--based on a complete lack of acknowledgment of the submissions--

Technology Ideas For City of Palo Alto:
Web Link
Web Link

There has to be a multi-year, concerted effort, to find situations where "technology" can be used to provide services--with the assumption that, over time, there were be cost reductions based on the need for fewer people pushing paper.

The are so many possibilities for simple Smartphone Apps that could be used to identify problems in/around the City, but so far--no such APP has been developed.

This seems to be more of the same, rather than anything meaningful.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2013 at 5:09 pm

I'm glad to hear that infrastructure repair and downtown development issues are receiving priority over the usual flaky ideas. However, what exactly does prioritizing technology mean? The City of Palo Alto website is atrocious, is that where we are going to start? Let's be concrete and cut the buzzwords.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 4, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Hopefully or maybe, the technology could be to display empty spaces in parking structures on entering together with some pay per hour machines.

A parking app could work too!

Technology is as vague a term as wellbeing or connectedness.


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Posted by I love Palo Alto!
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 4, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Lets have paperless pa utilities bills! All this info could be emailed at large savings.

I love the new paving on the park avenue bike path! We need more of this for bikers on major thoroughfares! Way to go city!


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Posted by NotNeeded
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 4, 2013 at 10:05 pm

I agree re: tax is not needed. Save the money for other good uses.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 5, 2013 at 12:04 am

Forget about government efficiency and "technology and the connected city".


#1. Fix the traffic safety issue everyday everywhere around the town.

#2. Fix the city of palo alto webpage for god's sake. It is full of outdated pages and dead links.

We need to start giving score cards to the council members so that they will take some responsibility for their actions.


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Posted by Unbelievable
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 5, 2013 at 9:22 am

It is unbelievable that the city spends millions on projects that are mismanaged (Mitchell Park Library, California Ave) or on things that are absolute white elephants of benefit to only a few (bike bridge over 101), wastes money on gold plated pensions and benefits to city employees but continues to ask residents for more and more money to provide basic services! I guess if you are so rich then none of this matters. However for the rest of us who are not rich but are average working folks living here, this is one more sign that maybe the day is not far when we can no longer afford to be here.


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Posted by Think and Analyse
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2013 at 12:02 pm

It is quite likely a bond measure would pass for infrastructure because there are so many voters in PA who follow the advice of others blindly.

An example of how gullible PA voters are is the vote to remove 10 acres of Bixby Park to build an Arobic Digester. The City is going ahead with this on the understanding they have the voter's approval. It will hugely increase everyones sewer and refuse bills, and it's all experimental.

Also Palo Altan's voted in favor of High Speed Rail and Jerry Brown's tax increase, so Council will be able to sell them on the Infrastructure Bond. I plan to vote against it because I'm capable of thinking for myself and analyzing the pros and cons.


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Posted by Matt
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 7, 2013 at 8:32 am

"Palo Alto!, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Feb 4, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Lets have paperless pa utilities bills! All this info could be emailed at large savings."

I've been paying my utilities account online since June 2009.

Web Link


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