In this week's Around Town column, residents shift their efforts to name a park after World War II veteran Fred Yamamoto and the City Council prepares to formally oppose a state tax initiative.
YAMAMOTO PARK? ... Palo Alto residents who wanted to see a local middle school named after Fred Yamamoto lost their battle last week, when the school board opted not to do so. But they may yet claim a victory. This week, two members of the City Council said they would support a new proposal: naming a city park after Yamamoto, a Paly grad who fought and died in World War II. Their statements of support came after a group of residents, including a Human Relations Commission member, lobbied for a Yamamoto Park. Commissioner Steven Lee told the council on April 2 that he was disappointed by the school board's decision and said the city needs to make a "more concerted effort to listen more, to explain, correct and educate others within our community more." Naming a park after Yamamoto would go a long way to achieving this, he said. "This is a proposal supported by both sides of the recent debate and would go a long way in reaffirming the community's values and character, following last week's decision," Lee said. Sara Armstrong, who served on the committee that recommended naming a school after Yamamoto, concurred with Lee and called Yamamoto "an excellent role model and inspiring representative of the best of Palo Alto." Though the council wasn't scheduled to discuss the item, Councilmen Cory Wolbach and Greg Tanaka both said at the end of the meeting that they would support such an initiative. "It's something we can do to recognize a real hero, someone who was a hero and a leader in the community even before he was in the military," Wolbach said.
A TAXING EFFORT ... As Palo Alto officials continue to discuss a possible tax measure to place on the November ballot, they are also keeping a watchful eye on a California initiative that could scuttle their plans. Efforts are now underway to place on the ballot an initiative called "The Tax Fairness, Transparency and Accountability Act of 2018," which would require all new taxes to receive support from two-thirds of voters (currently, some taxes can be passed through a simple majority), reclassify some service fees as taxes and effectively nullify any local taxes that were passed in 2018 but fail to meet the new requirements, according to a new report from the office of City Manager James Keene. If the initiative is approved (signature-gathering efforts are still underway), the "measure would have significant fiscal impact in Palo Alto and require steep reductions in service levels," Keene wrote in the report. The council is set take a formal position against the initiative on April 16.