News

Palo Alto looks to curb 'idle' cars

Four City Council members propose adopting an anti-idling ordinance

They run without going anywhere and Palo Alto resident Shelly Gordon Gray believes they should be stopped.

Gordon Gray is leading the city's campaign to adopt an ordinance that would target idling vehicles -- those that stand by while their their engines keep running.

A board member for the local Sierra Club chapter, Gordon Gray was inspired to take up the cause about five years ago, while vacationing in Jackson, Wyoming. She was at a shopping center when she saw a "Please do not Idle" sign.

If a red state can do it, she figured, why can't Palo Alto, a city in a blue state where green pride runs deep and where the streets are filled with tech buses, delivery trucks and solo drivers who are texting or talking on the phone while their parked car emits gases that damage the environment.

It's the lattermost category that for her was the biggest pet peeve, she told the Weekly.

"I think what it symbolizes for me is the indifference that we sometimes have," she said. "We don't think we make any difference in terms of climate. It's someone else's problem and someone else should do something about it."

So earlier this year, Gordon Gray got in touch with Palo Alto's transportation officials, who put her in touch with volunteers for the Safe Routes to School program. In March, she attended a Safe Routes meeting at Hoover Elementary School at which other parents and school officials agreed that the problem is worth addressing. She also found willing allies among students, who enthusiastically took up the cause and, at one point, spent four days monitoring the idling habits of parents picking their children up from Hoover. Over that period, the group counted 162 cars idling for at least a minute and 40 doing so for longer than 10 minutes.

Tanli Su, a Palo Alto High student who serves as youth chair of the local Sierra Club's Climate Action Committee, and her peers made a video explaining the menace that is idling and shared it with teachers and administrators.

"Since children's lungs are still developing, they are especially at risk of developing health issues like asthma," Su said. "The greenhouse-gas emissions from idling cars contribute to this."

Schools aren't the only hotspot in Palo Alto, Gordon Gray said. Cars idle around Stanford and at local shopping centers, where someone may leave the engine running while they run into a coffee shop for a beverage.

Gordon Gray also found allies at City Hall. In June, Councilwoman Karen Holman made a pitch for including an anti-idling ordinance as a component in the city's master plan for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

"It's low-hanging fruit," Holman said at the June 5 meeting. "A lot of it is education probably, but having the enforcement mechanism of an ordinance to be able to speak to people about idling and the impacts of that would be most helpful."

While Holman's proposal did not win approval at that meeting, other council members are now on board. Vice Mayor Liz Kniss, Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth have all joined Holman on a colleagues memo urging a citywide anti-idling ordinance, a measure that they said would make a "modest but measurable contribution" to the city's goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 percent by 2030.

According to a Department of Energy estimate, idling accounts for about 30 million tons of carbon emissions in the United States a year. Filseth used that number and, adjusting for Palo Alto's population, concluded that idle vehicles produce roughly 6.2 tons of emissions.

"Some of this is short-duration idling done by vehicles at intersections; such as waiting for a stoplight to change, or in stop-and-go traffic," the memo states. "However, other idling is done at curbside, such as by vehicles waiting to pick up passengers or deliver goods, and may last 10 minutes or more' tech-employee and tourist buses have been observed to idle for even longer.

Among the biggest culprits, according to the memo, are construction vehicles that idle while making deliveries or picking up materials -- a problem made worse by the fact that they use diesel fuels.

There is no good reason, the memo claims, for such extended idling.

"Modern vehicle engines do not suffer wear and tear from simply being turned on and off and now use very little fuel in start-up," the memo states.

The memo, which the City Council will discuss Monday, acknowledges that there are plenty of legitimate reasons for idling -- fire and police vehicles responding to emergency calls; Public Works vehicles operating under "certain specified and detailed conditions"; or health conditions that may require a driver or a passenger to maintain a certain temperature.

These exceptions would be considered in the new anti-idling ordinance. In most cases, drivers would be "required to shut off their engines after two or three minutes of stationary idling, if not in an active traffic path," according to the memo.

The new law would be patterned after similar ordinances in Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Ann Arbor, the memo states.

By Filseth's calculation, the local ordinance could reduce idling-related emissions in Palo Alto by 10 to 20 percent annually, which is roughly equivalent of taking 120 to 240 cars off the road.

The primary cost of the new ordinance, the memo states, would be the posting of signs at schools, truck-delivery stops and employee-bus stops; education materials and -- potentially -- enforcement. The memo notes that the cost of enforcing is "unclear," but argues that "even just signs and education are likely to have at least some impact."

"A city ordinance requiring drivers to shut off their engines after the more feasible (time) of two or three minutes of stationary idling would make a modest by measurable contribution to our 80-30 goal and improved health conditions at a low cost," the memo states.

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Comments

24 people like this
Posted by European Cars cut out at traffic lights
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 25, 2017 at 8:02 am

Anyone renting cars in Europe will notice that many models "cut out and appear to stall" while stopped at traffic lights and re-engage as soon as the accelerator is pressed.


7 people like this
Posted by drive thru
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2017 at 8:53 am

I went to school down in San Luis Obispo where the city has an ordinance against drive-thrus to battle idling cars. Rumor has it that it's been a major reason why SLO still doesn't have an In-N-Out Burger in town.

It is interesting to think about modern cars that cut out when they come to a stop. There was counter-push-back stating that older car engines being turned off only to be turned on again actually emitted more pollution than the shortly idling car. I wonder if there's a good rule-of-thumb in terms of minutes as to when it's better to turn off my 10 year old car.


67 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2017 at 9:41 am

More nanny state regulation which is essentially unenforceable. When did it become government's legitimate role to micromanage every aspect of my life?
Personally I could quantify how much CO emissions come from people viewing and posting things on Facebook, checking gmail, watching online videos, etc. , etc. ... should start an effort to ban that too, its a lot more than 120-240 cars equivalent. When does the micro-managing stop?


28 people like this
Posted by Yes!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2017 at 10:40 am

I vote YES! Its about time that we start educating our community to save our resources and stop being selfish! We can sit and argue all day about what is enforceable. Lets be proactive and start doing something!


22 people like this
Posted by Five Coats
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 25, 2017 at 11:03 am

Another advantage of hybrid and electric cars. I was in Los Altos earlier this week in a small shopping center and a large gravel dump truck was idling in front of a shop for 10 minutes. The fumes were terrible. I'm sure everyone won't comply, but every little bit helps.


18 people like this
Posted by PADIVA
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2017 at 11:20 am

Totally agreed. Happens a lot at Charleston Village Shopping Mall at Middlefield and E. Charleston Rd. Outside Peet's where a lot of us sitting outdoors. These cars parked at the curb practically next to us with idling engines. Many had it on for longer than 10 minutes..So inconsiderate. If there is a post sign, I would point at the sign for them to see!
Thank you for making this happen! Soon!


35 people like this
Posted by Get Real
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 25, 2017 at 11:28 am

Eliminate the traffic gridlock and excessive idling becomes a non-issue.


12 people like this
Posted by paloaltan
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 25, 2017 at 11:49 am

paloaltan is a registered user.

How about cars idling in drive-trough fast food restaurants? At Jack in a Box on El Camino there is waiting line of idling cars! I think drive -though should be gone. It is good for people to get out of their cars also.


39 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Is this REALLY a problem? Seriously?

Older cars relied upon carburetors that required "warming up" so that they would work properly. This isn't necessary in modern vehicles.

However, I don't see a problem that requires Big Brother stepping in and regulating such a silly non-issue.


19 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 25, 2017 at 12:36 pm

They run their engines to operate their air conditioners so they won't have to open a window while they do their phone-y things.

But how could the city enforce this ban when it cannot even enforce its ban on leaf blowers, which are much more readily spotted? A: it wont.

So just pass it quick, pat yourselves on the back, and forget about it.


23 people like this
Posted by Anke
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 25, 2017 at 12:37 pm

@European Cars, and for decades before the stop-start technology was built into cars, laws in many European countries required drivers to shut off their engines at stop lights. Restarting was/is made easier by a yellow light before the green.

Europe is generally light years ahead of us in terms of environmental protection. Recycling programs were started during WWII to cope with raw materials shortages, then continued for environmental reasons. Bans on single-use plastic bags were introduced in the mid-1980's with little fanfare and no fuss.


@Dan, I really hate being micromanaged too, but with increasing human population density, there's less and less room for individual freedom. People can either have the right to breathe cleaner air or have the right to idle as much as they want, but in our increasingly crowded cities, we can't have both. If we want our freedoms back, we have to stop overpopulating.


15 people like this
Posted by midtown mom
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 25, 2017 at 12:43 pm

I'm glad they are focusing on the schools. Anyone who does not think this is an issue should go jogging in the JLS parking lot 20 minutes before school is dismissed. A full lot of vehicles idling with the AC running.


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2017 at 12:49 pm

The biggie for me is not private cars but trucks, buses, etc. that keep their engines running all the time they are stopped. As is always the case, it is the little guy that is being targeted when the real problem is with the big trucks, UPS trucks, VTA buses, tour buses, etc. that do this as a matter of course. This is particularly bad when they are running diesel engines while idling.

Stop worrying about someone sitting in their car making a phone call, they are at least not driving while on their phone, at least they are parked. Stop the drive thrus, the parents lining up to pick up kids outside schools, and the long waits in gridlocked traffic which will help. Then get the big corporations who are the real problem.


12 people like this
Posted by KKya
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2017 at 1:07 pm

How much exhaust and fine particle pollution is released from all the jets on the arrival path into SFO? I hope that Palo Alto will write an ordinance to look at this pollution as well as idling cars and trucks.


9 people like this
Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on Aug 25, 2017 at 1:28 pm

GREAT IDEA -- long overdue. Sometimes the idling vehicles are from City of Palo Alto utilities. Enforcing new regulations will also help set new expectations generally, and improve our atmosphere.


18 people like this
Posted by cheeseguy
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 25, 2017 at 1:43 pm

How about a special tax on all truck based SUVs (Escalades, Suburbans, etc)? Drive them into downtown and it will cost you $20? Getting rid of gross polluting SUVs would make real difference. Ever notice how a fair percentage of them have "Keep Tahoe Green" on the back bumper, a bumper sticker that is hilariously and tragically unclear on the concept???


45 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2017 at 1:56 pm

@cheeseguy - You're not serious, right? You're being facetious?

Why stop there?

Perhaps Palo Alto can force all citizens to wear a smartwatch that will keep tabs on them -- and tax them if they drive for more than 30 minutes a day. Then, people will be taxed for watching certain TV channels. Each night, we can watch Big Brother and declare our love for [insert whatever latest sociopolitical issue is "news"] and our hatred for anything that doesn't align with what is acceptable (according to the Ministry of Truth).

Hail Hydra?


24 people like this
Posted by Not SO Great
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2017 at 1:57 pm

I have a German car that turns off whenever I stop for more than three seconds. However, at certain long stops, such as University and Middlefield, if the car is stopped for more than three minutes, the transmission shifts into park and cannot be reactivated without pushing the start button. Then I have to shift into drive again!

People behind me honk every single time, probably thinking the delay is because I'm texting!


34 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2017 at 2:00 pm

BTW, it seems like the greatest amount of "idling" happens on our streets between 6-9 AM and 4-7 PM. The TRAFFIC is a much bigger issue and has the reciprocal effect of thousands of idling vehicles each and every day (even as the police sit idling on the side of the road watching for violations that would now include idling vehicles).


9 people like this
Posted by Anke
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 25, 2017 at 2:05 pm

@Not SO Great, not to worry. The clever minds of Silicon Valley will soon develop cars that communicate with traffic lights so your car will know when to restart. I'm confident that system will work perfectly, oh yessirreee!


9 people like this
Posted by Scotty
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 25, 2017 at 2:20 pm

How about working on un-curbing the idle RV's on El Camino. How's that going?


12 people like this
Posted by Shame on them
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 25, 2017 at 2:36 pm

Karen talks about low hanging fruit. That seems that is all she can accomplish one the council. What about the bike bridge over 101 that karen gushed about? That seems to have gotten lost in the big ego trip that resulted.


16 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 25, 2017 at 3:14 pm

Stupid, stupid unenforceable ordinance that our already strained police will be forced to ignore. Plus there is a subset of the population with disabilities that need heat and/or AC when in their cars.

Educate, yes, legislate, NO.

Come time for elections I will certainly note which board members are spending their time on useful endeavors vs. those who are wasting time with feel good issues.


12 people like this
Posted by Cheeseguy
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 25, 2017 at 3:30 pm

Ciao Nayeli-

Absolutely and completely serious. Large SUVs are gross polluters, endanger us all (though the have a history of flipping into roll-overs, so they also tend to endanger their owners), and your analogy of a required Smart Watch is completely wrong. These beasts are a major contributor to greenhouse gases and pollution and ought to be taxed into extinction. FYI, I suspect you will find a fair about of support for this position in this State.


7 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 25, 2017 at 3:36 pm

"...Each night, we can watch Big Brother and declare our love for ..."

It's already mandated at POTUS cabinet meetings. You saw the June 12 video, right?

I tell ya, you cannot make this stuff up these days.


Posted by who will enforce
a resident of Barron Park

on Aug 25, 2017 at 3:45 pm


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28 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 25, 2017 at 4:07 pm

We had ( and eventually got rid of) a BMW 5-Series that had the automatic ignition shut-off when it stopped. It did this at EVERY stop, no matter how brief.

The constant stop-start-stop-start in city driving wore out two ignition systems in two years! It was covered under warranty those times, but if it were to happen again during the third year it would not be covered under warranty. So, after getting no response from BMW North America, we traded in this car for a Subaru, less than two-and-a-half years after purchasing it!

We will not waste money on another automatic ignition shut-off before all the bugs are worked out! Even manually turning off the ignition at every stop light or stop sign will damage the ignition.

Bet the city didn't think about that!


11 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2017 at 5:00 pm

@ Curmudgeon - I think that I saw much more glaring praise throughout Obama's presidency -- particularly from the media. I wonder if Chris Mathews' leg ever stopped tingling?

@Cheeseguy - Wow -- really? There might be quite a bit of support for such legislation in California -- from the same people who would make it a crime to not compost or who would spend $100 Billion in tax dollars on a fast train to north of Los Angeles.

Still, I would love to see a realistic, unbiased report about the differences in pollution between typical gas-powered vehicles and those "evil" SUV's. While some might point at the lives lost from SUV collisions, I wonder how many lives are actually SAVED when you secure your children in such a vehicle versus a Fiat 500 or Smart car.


3 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2017 at 5:04 pm

I'll continue to is idle ifI need to run the AC. But it's easy to see how many idle egregiously for no good reason. Just look at the security details for local bigwigs.


16 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2017 at 6:21 pm

I never realized that idiots were actually getting out of their cars with the engine still running. I have to imagine, however, that a good public education campaign will be much more effective than police enforcement.

What the police can do for us is stricter enforcement of speeding laws. That will improve air quality as well as immediately save lives.


7 people like this
Posted by Chrisc
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 25, 2017 at 6:29 pm

I am usually irked when I notice cars parked and idling, but with our recent heat wave, it was the only relief I got. I also noticed people leaving cars idling for air conditioning for their pets. Yet another scheme Palo Slto had come up with to get money from people related to parking instead of having ANY traffic enforcement. This is the craziest city.


9 people like this
Posted by Are U kidding?
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 25, 2017 at 7:27 pm

I think it almost comical that we have to teach some people basic smart thinking ... and manners.....


14 people like this
Posted by commonsense
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 26, 2017 at 4:41 am

shallow alto really has an identity problem perhaps you can work on unwanted hair next


12 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 26, 2017 at 8:12 am

DTN Paul is a registered user.

Back when I was in college, the city of Berkeley declared itself a nuclear-free zone. I think this one will be similarly impactful.

I think this is the kind of nonsense that government officials focus on (like congress holding hearings about steroids in baseball) when they don't have any ideas to solve the actual problems they are responsible for.


67 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 26, 2017 at 10:16 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

One reason we get bad ineffectual policies is people don't even seem to have a basic grasp of the numbers. Take this Palo Alto Weekly tweet claiming that the ordinance "could cut greenhouse emissions by 10 to 20 percent."

Web Link

Vehicles are only a fraction of the total greenhouse emissions (<25%), and idling would be a tiny tiny fraction of total vehicle emissions, so common sense should tell you 10-20% is an impossible reduction by attacking idling. Time and effort would have been better spent elsewhere.


10 people like this
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 26, 2017 at 10:47 am

I agree with the premise and cause. We can all be more considerate and aware on such matters. What I disagree with is the enforcement approach that is essentially unenforceable. Have an awareness campaign, put up signs as mentioned in Wyoming, and get the word out. I get it.

Having an ordinance and regulation helps to reinforce the cause, but suggesting the city get involved with local legislation is a waste of time. Not where our time and energy should be focused. The city can contribute in other ways without becoming the vehicle idling police.


14 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 26, 2017 at 11:21 am

My neighbor teaches privately and has a stream of parents in SUVs that sit sometimes up to an hour, even on beautiful days, idling their engines while talking on their cell phones. The neighborhood is quiet, safe. If only they would respect our right to breathe clean air. Unrolling their windows, enjoying the birdsong and fresh air, would be healthier for them, for us, and for the planet.


14 people like this
Posted by ResidentP
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 26, 2017 at 1:07 pm

I'm in favor of having "Please no idling" signs on residential streets near downtown. The idling of tour buses and downtown employees can go on for 30 minutes! Often times I have to ask tour bus drivers and downtown employees that are parked in front of my bedroom and living room windows to stop idling because their exhaust is billowing into my home. Large tour buses are supposed to follow the desginated truck route which should take them down Lytton Aveuene instead of Everett Avenue. Unfortuntely, they do drive and park on Everett Avenue, so the least they can do is be courteous to the residents who are impacted by their noisy generators and exhaust.


5 people like this
Posted by local pedestrian
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 26, 2017 at 1:39 pm

"No idling" is a law most places I've ever lived and you should get a ticket for doing it.


5 people like this
Posted by paloaltoisfunny
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2017 at 4:46 pm

The tech company employees are going to be very upset when they hop into their waiting non-idling shuttles in the sweltering heat while waiting for their other fellow employees to hop in, not to mention the poor drivers waiting alone in their hot shuttle before their shift begins. Concerned residents already smash windows to rescue pets left alone, hopefully council will hire many more community service officers to check these shuttles for humans suffering from heat exhaustion. I'm guessing enforcement will be "0" unless a resident keeps complaining about a particular offender in front of their home. In our town, we have 1 part-time employee that handles 72 hour parking violations and we wonder why we have so many RV's and vehicles strewn across our fair city. Council anoints programs without budgeting for enforcement.
Maybe Palo Alto could benefit with a few hundred extra signs that state "no idle zone", because we all know how effective signs are attempting to change human behavior.
I'm not a fan of hiring additional city employees with retirement benefits whose purpose is to ticket grandmas waiting to pick up their grandchildren from school. Make another law instead, that everyone should stand outside their turned off car "period" for their own health and safety and then run in and out of their parked car while traffic inches forward.
PS. pretty sure Facebook, Apple, NASA, Google, etc shuttles will be exempt.


5 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 27, 2017 at 5:51 pm

"@ Curmudgeon - I think that I saw much more glaring praise throughout Obama's presidency -- particularly from the media."

An idle glance, hardly an exhaustive study. Here's the skinny.

Baseball distinguishes between forced errors and unforced errors. Politics distinguishes between mandatory flattery by hired lackeys (praise me or yer fired), and earned recognition by seasoned outside observers. It's that simple.


5 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 27, 2017 at 8:17 pm

I don't know if the original poster may have had this in mind, but there are multiple black SUVs that idle for long stretches of time outside the residences of CEOs in this town. This is a year round problem so I don't think it's just for the sake of air conditioning. I can't imagine people being okay with polluting in such a blatant way.


9 people like this
Posted by Noooooo
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 28, 2017 at 8:51 am

I support the intent of this proposal as I do not like the wastefulness of idling cars and do not let my own idle.

But I strongly disagree with passing any more laws like this without an enforcement plan. The no-idling ordinance will join things like the gas blower ordinance and parking on the sidewalks as items that irk most Palo Altans but the police do not actively enforce.


17 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 28, 2017 at 9:09 am

I see City Council busying itself with meaningless gestures and minutiae again. There are big challenges in Palo Alto, and worrying about this nonsense is ridiculous.

Show some guts and do something meaningful, city council instead of making yourself busy. It's embarrassing.


6 people like this
Posted by Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 28, 2017 at 10:50 am

The police have a hard enough time enforcing the parking permit program.

Web Link


9 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 28, 2017 at 11:35 am

Maybe they can do something about the gridlocked cars idling on Middlefield for much of the day, esp. during school pick up and drop off times. The fumes and gunk are so bad it's impossible to keep the table in my back yard clean so it has to be cleaned every day which is a total waste of water.

This problem is only going to get worse when the city eliminates 85 parking spaces near Walter Hays to make room for the expanded Children's Zoo, something I doubt the city council every bothered to consider.


6 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 28, 2017 at 2:36 pm

"Maybe they can do something about the gridlocked cars idling on Middlefield for much of the day, esp. during school pick up and drop off times."

Wow! What a target-rich environment! Stopwatches and ticket books at the ready, troops!


6 people like this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2017 at 11:12 am

I have noticed many City operated trucks of all sizes idling, often for an entire afternoon or morning. The driver is often sitting inside the truck with all the windows closed and is either doing some paperwork or eating lunch.
So please remind all City employees that they should turn off their engines when they stop somewhere for more than 1-2 minutes.
Both the noise of the engine, sometimes accompanied by very loud noises from the radio, and the fuel waste are offensive to anyone nearby.
Turn your own engines off when stopped.


4 people like this
Posted by coooper
a resident of another community
on Aug 29, 2017 at 11:30 am

Red state: post a courtesy sign.
Blue city: pass a nanny law.
Bonus points: exempt city vehicles, presumably including city council members.


3 people like this
Posted by Floggrgurl
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 29, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Lovely thought. Doubt it will be enforceable. To actually imagine that anyone would read and/or abide by signage is laughable.

I'm much more concerned with the potential of concerned citizens starting fights with one another over this. I think the writings on the wall...


2 people like this
Posted by Skyler
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 1, 2017 at 5:57 pm

Growing up in this neighborhood has made me form such an unbearable amount of hatred for you "green" yuppies. This is micro-managing on a literal communist level. [Portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Big Picture
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2017 at 2:28 am

Tanli Su,
Idling buses and vehicles around schools can indeed contribute to air quality problems around schools and even indoors. Our schools are desperately in need of general awareness and evidence-based measures that reduce asthma and illnesses, in ways that could even improve student mental health and school performance. Take a look at the Environmental Protection Agency's Tools for Schools, or one of the many other evidence-based Indoor Air Quality Management Plans. Our schools would benefit from adopting an IAQ management plan. Changing patterns that get fumes into schools is part of it. I would go further to suggest that it might be time to propose a state law requiring districts to adopt IAQ management plans of their choosing as part of their health and safety reviews. They usually save money in the long run, but in the case of our district, there is money for this in the facilities bond that hasn't been used. Also check out the California State resolution about districts adopting IAQ management plans. You could approach the problem of asthma holistically and make a huge difference in the health of students and staff. Has the district started collecting asthma data yet? They stopped even though the healthy kids survey asked and there are potentially mental health implications, too. It woukd be good to know if these changes make a difference.

I agree that awareness should be the first step, not ordinance. Perhaps idling construction and buses shoukd first be addressed and see how it goes?


1 person likes this
Posted by Big Picture
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2017 at 7:31 am

Oops, I meant: check put the California State PTA resolution on Indoor Air Quality in schools - go to the state PTA website and look under advocacy, there is a list of all the resolutions and you can search for air quality. I am grateful for the energy of students.

I think the community would be more receptive if there had not been so much overdevelopment pressure, sold to the community as environmental but in actuality creating far more pollution, idling, fumes, and lost time, because of so dramatically hurting traffic circulation.


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