Around Town: shaky ground; going platinum | News | Palo Alto Online |


Around Town: shaky ground; going platinum


In this week's Around Town column, read a firsthand account from a local executive in Mexico City during Tuesday's massive temblor and the city being recognized for its work in environmental conservation.

SHAKY GROUND ... An executive of a Menlo Park-based company was in Mexico City, Mexico when Tuesday's 7.1-magnitude earthquake shook the central region of the country. Janise Rodgers, chief operations officer at GeoHazards International, was attending a forum by the Mexican Society of Earthquake Engineering at National Autonomous University of Mexico, where she was invited to give a presentation when the temblor arrived, just two hours after a scheduled drill on the 32nd anniversary of the 8.0-magnitude earthquake centered in Michoacan, a state west of the capital. In a firsthand account provided by company President Brian Tucker, Rodgers described the calamity. "Power poles were swaying back and forth; fewer people stood under them this time. People poured into the street. Cars stopped. Everyone was on the phone trying to (call) loved ones," Rodgers said. The university is located on a hilly section of the city far from soft lakebed sentiments that engineers at the forum said contributed to damage in the 1985 earthquake. Once the building was inspected and all-clear was given, people were allowed back inside. The forum continued, but the presenter was competing with activated sirens outside. Rodgers was particularly affected by news coming from Colegio Enrique Rebsamen elementary school, where at least 20 students were reportedly killed. "New schools in the city are designed to be earthquake resistant, but, ... a stock of existing vulnerable buildings needs to be addressed."

GOING PLATINUM ... Palo Alto is the first city nationwide to receive the Platinum Level Beacon Award from the Institute for Local Government for its work in addressing climate change. The city has reduced its greenhouse-gas emissions in the community and at city facilities by 20 percent and 53 percent, respectively; saved energy at its facilities and operations by 22 percent; and recorded 35 percent in natural gas savings. Mayor Greg Scharff received the award during the League of California Cities Annual Conference on Sept. 14. "Palo Alto strives to create a community where sustainability is a way of life," Scharff said in his acceptance speech. "As a city, we have set a new bar, for ourselves and for others, to continue to strive for excellence in how we operate our facilities and integrate green practices into our everyday lives." The city previously won a Silver-Level Beacon Award in 2014, the second city to ever earn the distinction. "This is an honor and a proud moment for Palo Alto, as we have achieved a level of accomplishment that no city has ever reached before," City Manager James Keene said in a press release. "To be recognized with a Platinum award is confirmation of our city's well deserved reputation as a sustainability leader, and emblematic of our community's efforts to reach this goal." The city is home to the first utility company ever to supply its customers with carbon neutral electricity and natural gas as a standard.


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6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2017 at 10:23 am

Wow, a platinum award. So you've received a trophy for "saving the environment"?
If you look at what's happened to Palo Alto, the city government deserves to be fired, rather than to receive a medal.
In Palo Alto and the bay area at large, the cost of living has gone up, while the quality of life has gone down.

This climate change obsession reminds me of Druidism. Its like we've regressed from a productive, industrialist society to a pagan culture that wants to sacrifice humans and worship Gaia. Lets stop electing druids.

8 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 23, 2017 at 10:57 am

Sanctimonious City is a registered user.

This just highlights what is wrong with Liberal Progressive government. Problems in education, traffic, crime and housing do not matter as long as they get the coveted climate change trophy.

Like this comment
Posted by Blah Blah Blah
a resident of another community
on Sep 23, 2017 at 6:05 pm

So I gather the two commenters above *like* pollution?

Sure sounds like it.

6 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2017 at 5:23 am

Blah blah blah @ another community,

Everyone would like to reduce pollution, but what the previous posters are highlighting are politicians and city administrators who are focused on receiving awards, rather that focused on making actual quality of life better for the residents.

I for one have to question the criteria for the award, because the city has overbuilt offices rather than housing, causing traffic congestion to get worse. Traffic congestion has been one of the biggest source of greenhouse gas, yet the city through it's building policies keeps making it worse. Then the city tries a band-aid solution by having the residents pay for mass transit passes for those employees who occupy those offices, and they get an award because of this.

Like this comment
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 25, 2017 at 12:58 pm

@Resident, You are right on target. For example, our "carbon neutral electricity and natural gas as a standard" is a shell game. We don't produce those things, we just spend more money to source them and let poorer cities pay less for the more polluting sources.

2 people like this
Posted by EV driver
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 25, 2017 at 3:56 pm

If the city wants to encourage electric vehicles, they should provide a Time-of-Use option for electricity. They had a pilot program several years ago but nothing ever became of it:
Web Link

With Time-of-Use billing, EV owners are encouraged to charge at night, when electricity usage is lower.

Other peninsula cities use PG&E which offers a Time-of-Use plan:
Web Link

This is one area where Palo Alto is behind.

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