Tidbits collected by the Weekly staff on people, events and other happenings.
AIR TIME ... Dozens of residents brought stories of fatigue and frustration to Tuesday's public hearing on airplane noise at the City Council's Policy and Services Committee meeting. Some complained about sleeping with earplugs and still being awakened throughout the night and in the early morning hours. Others waxed nostalgic for the quieter days of yore when they tended their gardens or entertained guests in their backyards. "Every day, over 300 jets fly over my house," said Joel Hayflick, a Midtown resident. "Low and loud — every single day." While most were Palo Alto residents, the meeting also attracted a few speakers from Mountain View. They encouraged the committee not to support any solutions that would shift the problem to their community — a proposal that was well received by the committee. "In neighboring cities there is a perception often that Palo Alto is interested in taking our problem and shifting it to other communities," said Councilman and committee chairman Cory Wolbach. "I don't think that's ever been our position." His colleagues agreed and joined him in directing city staff to clarify the city's position on airplane noise and to explore new alliances between Palo Alto and other cities in the region, possibly as part of a new ad hoc committee.
THINKING SMALL ... Should Palo Alto favor startups over tech giants when it comes to downtown development? That's the question that stirred the most debate on Monday night, as the City Council was updating the city's Business Element (a chapter of the Comprehensive Plan). On one side were council members like Greg Tanaka and Mayor Greg Scharff, who argued that large companies should be just as welcome as small ones. Both favored revising an existing policy that specifically recognizes the importance of "small" businesses to downtown's continued vitality. Tanaka and Scharff challenged the plan's emphasis on "small." "I think large companies are great for downtown," Scharff said. But Council members Tom DuBois and Karen Holman suggested that small businesses — whether tech startups or professional services — are better suited for downtown, and the large companies can have a detrimental effect on the area, whether by gobbling up real estate and pushing out smaller businesses or by abruptly departing. "If you have a large tenant and that large tenant leaves downtown, it can be really devastating," Holman said. Ultimately, the council unanimously rallied around a compromise proposed by Councilman Cory Wolbach: "prioritizing" smaller businesses and startups without excluding larger ones.
MCGEE FELLOWSHIP ... The Palo Alto school district's nascent but growing Advanced Authentic Research (AAR) program, the brainchild of Superintendent Max McGee, has been honored by Stanford University's Peace Innovation Lab, which works at the intersection of technology, social behavior and global peace. The curriculum and instruction director of the Peace Innovation Lab surprised McGee and AAR staff and students this week with the tentatively named Superintendent McGee Advanced Authentic Research Award, which will provide funding to AAR graduates who continue to pursue their research as undergraduates in college. The program connects students with mentors to craft and execute on a research proposal, from science, technology, engineering and mathematics to humanities topics. The first "McGee Fellow" is Samuel Vasquez, who attends San Francisco State University and was presented with $5,000 at Tuesday's school board meeting. In a statement, Freedom Cheteni of the Peace Innovation Lab hailed AAR as an "innovative and empowering approach" to advancing student voices and instilling values of collaboration, discovery and agency. AAR's own international, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary academic research journal (dubbed Journal A2I3R) "will increase the ability for high school students and staff at PAUSD to drive discovery in areas vital to our world and especially, our intellectual life," Cheteni said. AAR, which started in 2014 with 11 students, grew to 155 students this year researching topics from the influence of semiconductor companies on the economy to the social-emotional impact of learning at Palo Alto High School.