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Nose Under the Community Tent

By Paul Losch

About this blog: I was a "corporate brat" growing up and lived in different parts of the country, ending in Houston, Texas for high school. After attending college at UC Davis, and getting an MBA at Harvard, I embarked on a marketing career, mai...  (More)

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How to Value the Palo Alto Persona

Uploaded: May 1, 2012

In recent weeks, I have driven a couple of major roads, and some that are less travelled, here in Palo Alto. It's disgusting. There is no question that we need major improvements of our City's roadways, and we need to allocate the funds to do it.

Stuff like this takes more than one year to accomplish, and it needs to get started.

Having said that, I am skeptical that many of the features and services that have been a key aspect of Palo Alto's culture deserve to be cut or eliminated at these difficult times.

Why do people live here? Why do people stay here? Why are people willing to pay ridiculous prices for high priced real estate to move into this town?

It sure as hell isn't the roads. Other infrastructures, such as sidewalks I find myself tripping on contribute to a less than quality experience to trying to walk or bike, instead of a car drive.

This is not just another suburban, bedroom community. The services and amenities that make this City proud are what attract people who live and visit here. IMHO, we must continue to have such features in order to maintain the vitality of Palo Alto.

Negligence in maintaining key infrastructure over many years does not countenance eliminating services or life quality that Palo Altans value. Stupid labor contracts found not just here, but state and nationwide, require significant changes, and in a way that is a transition, not some kind of draconian exercise that affects the heart of this, or any town.

The folks who like to post on this site often display a lack of understanding of how money and funding work in municipal matters. This is not an all or nothing exercise. Setting priorities is right, but that does not mean that certain things that are at the heart of this city should be done away with to pave those awful roads I have driven in recent days. City funding is not a simple exercise, and funding sources may only be available for certain projects. It is not one big pool of funds.

I could move back to Moraga if all I wanted was interested in was living in a boring community with great streets, a strip mall, and no personality.

Our eyes are wide open right now, which is a good thing. Infrastructure and labor and pension costs are the key issues we face. We cannot stop everything else just to get these two figured out.

We must not lose the persona of this special town. As a CEO I once nearly worked for, hunkering down is not a strategy. He got fired, his successor hunkered down, and the company was sold a few years later. Glad I did not take the job, we must not let hunkering down become the persona of Palo Alto.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Sean, a resident of ,
on May 2, 2012 at 10:33 pm

"We must not lose the persona of this special town."

Translation: Raise taxes!

Paul, you are the problem, not the solution.

Where will the leadership in Palo Alto come from, if this is what we get from our public officials? We need an intellectual epiphany, and we are not getting it from the likes of Paul.

It is time to think outside the box, in Palo Alto. We, indeed, need to think more like Moraga, instead of elitist snobbery. Our city governance needs to think about basic needs, instead of boutique projects. A woman was killed by a bad sidewalk a few years ago. Why? Because Palo Alto refused to spend on basic infrastructure, because it was too pedestrian to consider as a priority.

We need some "Moraga" right here in Palo Alto. Even if Paul hates it. There is no need to raise taxes.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of ,
on May 8, 2012 at 6:55 pm

My opinion is that we should consider a blend of solutions - which may include an elimination or drastic cut, as well as maintaining a service as is. This is not a digital problem in need of a digital solution.

One point, I disagree that people move to Palo Alto for the services and amenities --- or that their existence is a primary consideration.

First, if you can afford moving here, you are most likely trying to get into the public schools. Which has nothing to do with city budgets or programs. PAUSD is separate entity.

Second, people move here for the ambiance. As my relatives from out of town will say - "we love that every street is a tree tunnel." Amazing diverse homes, beautiful gardens, tree lined streets, etc.

Third - the heart of technology, a great university, venture investment. Easy access to SF or SJ and points in between.

I could go on. Not to be disrespectful, but speaking for myself, I did not move here because there is an over-subsidized children's theater program. Not to pick on children's theater, but you get my point.

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