News


Palo Alto audit finds flaws in code enforcement

City Auditor recommends that the city adopt a clear strategy, improve coordination between departments

Palo Alto's ever-evolving and much maligned code-enforcement program will face new scrutiny from city leaders next week after an audit by the office of City Auditor Harriet Richardson uncovered a range of problems with how the city documents, responds to and resolves complaints.

The audit, which the City Council's Policy and Services Committee is scheduled to discuss on Tuesday, found that while the city addresses many code violations effectively, its response is often hampered by a host of factors: unclear roles and responsibilities, limited staffing, use of two different systems to accept and track complaints, incomplete and unreliable data, and fragmented Municipal Code requirements, among other issues. The city also has plenty of room for improvement when it comes to public communication, including the ease with which residents can track the city's progress on resolving their complaints, according to the audit.

In addition to the flaws with the city's current procedures, the audit also notes that some of the residents' frustrations stem from the city's broad code-enforcement strategy -- or lack thereof. Among its chief recommendations is a call for City Hall to clarify its code-enforcement strategy and priorities with the City Council.

The audit, which was conducted by Richardson and Performance Auditor Yuki Matsuura, has been in the works for more than a year and a half. It was sparked by concerns from council members and residents about festering violations not getting resolved, many pertaining to new developments and illegal uses of existing buildings. In 2017, a citywide survey showed only 52 percent of residents giving code enforcement a "good" or "excellent" rating (down from 62 percent in 2014), despite the fact that most respondents said that they had never actually observed a violation.

By nature, city code enforcement is a multi-headed beast: Violations include everything from the illegal use of gas-powered leaf blowers to fake "retail" stores that serve as fronts for offices or warehouses that violate the property's zoning. Handling that wide range of complaints falls to an equally broad range of departments: The Planning and Community Environment Department handles complaints about zoning violations while the Police Department responds to noise complaints, the Fire Department enforces requirements relating to fire safety and hazardous materials, Development Services tracks building-code violations, Community Services oversees violations in parks and open spaces (including those relating to feeding wildlife and illegal driving) and Public Works responds to violations involving the property damage and the public right of way. These include illegal dumping and graffiti.

Some code-enforcement cases, the audit notes, overlap departments. Planning and Building staff work together to abate situations like unpermitted construction and expired building permits. Leaf-blower violations have historically been the purview of both the Planning and Police departments.

City departments generally do a good job resolving violations when their roles and responsibilities are clear, the audit states. Recently, however, the city has seen "numerous organizational changes that have affected staffing and priorities, causing roles and responsibilities to become unclear for some functions."

"The city does not always resolve code-enforcement cases effectively and in a timely manner due to factors such as unclear roles and responsibilities and fragmented Municipal Code requirements," the audit concluded.

Problems with tracking cases

The different platforms that the city uses to receive and track complaints add to the confusion. Residents are encouraged to use the PaloAlto311 platform, which is available on the city's website and as a mobile app, to flag violations. Planning and Public Works departments both rely on PaloAlto311, though Planning also uses the Accela system to manage cases as they get resolved. Police, meanwhile, use its Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system, which is independent of the other two.

"This decentralized recordkeeping system produces incomplete or inconsistent data that is difficult to aggregate into a citywide view," the audit states.

The city audit focused on Planning Department's code enforcement data (mostly because it's the only useful dataset it could draw upon). Auditors found that while staff had documented detailed information in most cases, other information was missing.

"Data entry was inconsistent and the system was not configured to capture and produce reliable and useful data for management decisions," the audit found.

What's more, the audit concluded that the city "has not clearly defined what data should be tracked to assess the workload and performance of its code-enforcement functions on a citywide basis."

"Inconsistent and incomplete data limit the city's ability to identify trends for strategic policy discussions and resource allocation," the audit states.

When it comes to communication with the public, the auditors found some peculiarities: When the Planning Department receives the resident's complaint through PaloAlto311, staff opens a case, marks the complaint as "completed" in PaloAlto311 and uses Accela to manage the case. While the resident can monitor the case in Accela, the marking of the active case as "completed" in PaloAlto311 can cause him or her to assume that the case has been closed without correction, the audit notes.

The audit also found that the PaloAlto311 "request number" is not always recorded into Accela and that the Accela case number isn't recorded into the PaloAlto311 record, which makes it difficult for the public to track a case's status.

To clear up the confusion, the audit recommends that the city manager provide general, citywide information on code enforcement in a central location on the city's website, including the city's code-enforcement strategy and priorities, the enforcement process, a brief description of code requirements and instructions on tracking cases. The audit also recommends that the city assign to an employee the responsibility for administering PaloAlto311 on a citywide basis to better coordinate the code enforcement work currently scattered throughout City Hall.

A philosophy of correction, plus organizational schizophrenia

While the audit focuses on technical and organizational factors that hamper effective code enforcement, it also suggests that the city's broader philosophy on code enforcement, which prioritizes correction over punishment, is the source of some resident's frustrations.

Because the city's overall strategy is to achieve compliance rather than to impose sanctions, individuals subject to complaints are given an opportunity to correct the problem before a citation is issued, particularly when the violation does not create an immediate danger to health and safety. The city also grants people extensions as needed to allow them to continue their "good-faith effort to abate the violation."

In the past, the council has been on board with the lenient approach. The audit cites a 2005 report, approved by the council, that explicitly discourages formal enforcement, unless "absolutely necessary."

"Criminal and civil enforcement are available but will only be used as the last resort options," states the 2005 report, which was drafted by the offices of the city attorney and the city manager.

The audit notes that this strategy "may frustrate complainants who may urge the city to issue a citation when they are directly affected by a violation." However, the Municipal Code generally does not allow city staff to immediately issue a citation unless certain criteria are met, according to the audit.

"Issuing a citation could also result in costly and time-consuming administrative hearings or legal proceedings," the audit states.

The city's ability to effectively respond to complaints has also been complicated by a series of organizational changes that the city has made in the past two decades, which resulted in some functions become unclear. In fiscal year 2005, for example, the city tried to consolidate its code-enforcement efforts by giving the Police Department primary oversight over the work; the following year, the city scuttled its joint code-enforcement efforts by eliminating numerous positions, including the chief police code officer.

In 2009, code enforcement for the Planning Department was transferred to the Building Division, and in 2011, the Police Department saw its code-enforcement capacity dwindle from 1.5 full-time-equivalent positions to one position. The department also lost a part-time position charged with enforcing the city's ban on gas-powered leaf blowing in neighborhoods, which the city adopted in 2005.

"These staffing reductions affected response times and left some areas without effective enforcement in subsequent years," the audit states.

The program made a significant advance in January 2016, when the city hired its first lead code-enforcement officer, who was given the authority to oversee and improve the program within Planning. The lead officer, James Stephens, did just that and, according to the audit, made numerous improvements, including the creation of new categories for certain case types (including leaf blowers and short-term rentals), to make these violations easier to track, and standardizing the process for notifying parties of alleged violations. Yet his tenure came to an abrupt end in August, when he resigned to join Santa Clara County. The position has been vacant ever since.

Laws on the books, but no enforcement

Meanwhile, the city's enforcement of the leaf-blowing ordinance has plummeted, according to the audit. When the council created the lead code-enforcement officer position in fiscal year 2016, it wanted the person filling the position to be more proactive in enforcing Municipal Code requirements and taking on some responsibility for enforcing the leaf-blower ban.

"Although Planning proactively enforced leaf blowers in the beginning, it no longer does, and staff cited increased case workload as the reason," the audit states.

In some cases, the city has neither the will nor the resources to enforce what appears to be a violation. The audit alludes to cases in which the council "made a conscientious decision to implement regulations based on their community value rather than an intent for active enforcement."

"Planned community" (PC) developments, for example, do not face the type of scrutiny from code enforcement that the city's own laws require. The "planned community" zone, which grants developers zoning concessions in exchange for "public benefits," has long been a source of frustration for residents who pointed to public benefits that never materialized (the community backlash prompted the council to put a "freeze" on all new PC-zone proposals in 2014). While the city's code calls for the city to inspect each PC-zoned project once per year, that requirement has not been followed. The Planning Department, the audit notes, "has not established a process to meet the three-year inspection cycle and takes enforcement action primarily on a complaint basis."

Similarly, the city does not actively enforce the city's 2017 ban on smoking in multi-family buildings.

And when it comes to monitoring "conditions of approval" for developments, the city has effectively outsourced the function to the developments themselves.

"To efficiently use the limited staff time needed for enforcement, the city started requiring projects to self-monitor certain conditions and report annually on its compliance," the audit states. "However, the city still needs to establish criteria and procedures for verifying the adequacy of self-reported information."

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Comments

6 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 10, 2018 at 10:24 pm

What problem what problem are we trying to solve here? We need much more force, clarity, and purpose out of our audit function


41 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 10, 2018 at 10:40 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Remind me again why our city managers are the highest-paid in the state.


40 people like this
Posted by R.Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 11, 2018 at 8:50 am

R.Davis is a registered user.

Wow. This is like a 'Who's watching the store?' scenario. While city employees are not known for being the most industrious workers on the planet, the municipal bureaucracy along with its various unenforced 'gray zone provisions' have created an ineffective operating system.

QUOTE: In some cases, the city has neither the will nor the resources to enforce what appears to be a violation...the council “made a conscientious decision to implement regulations based on their community value rather than an intent for active enforcement.” (from the PA Weekly article)

>> AKA 'lip-service'?

QUOTE: However, the Municipal Code generally does not allow city staff to immediately issue a citation unless certain criteria are met, according to the audit. “Issuing a citation could also result in costly and time-consuming administrative hearings or legal proceedings,” the audit states. (from the PA Weekly article)

>> For something like a leaf-blower (noise abatement) violation?

QUOTE: Remind me again why our city managers are the highest-paid in the state.

>> Because they are highly-skilled/visionary administrators who are adept at running a city and its various divisions while addressing the needs and concerns of the residents. They also work in conjunction with the mayor and city council to implement critical concepts...like suggesting school children risk life and limb handing out 'idling reminders' to countless cars lined-up along our city streets while waiting for the lights to change. Since there is no actual traffic congestion in PA as per the mayor's insights, random automobile idling is a serious concern.

At over $300K per annum + generous CALPers benefits, the City Manager role is a very attractive and challenging professional position. Need we say more?



24 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 11, 2018 at 9:19 am

From the article:

"Similarly, the city does not actively enforce the city’s 2017 ban on smoking in multi-family buildings."

----------

Of course not. That doesn't stop the city, however, from boasting about winning awards for this fictitious smoking ban, see Web Link

Everyone who lives here knows the city does not enforce the ordinances it spends our tax dollars to formulate and enact.

The real question is whether or not this formal audit will make any difference. So far, citizen complaints and journalistic investigations have failed to pressure city leaders to do the jobs for which they are so abundantly rewarded, again, thanks to our tax dollars.


7 people like this
Posted by Venturan
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 11, 2018 at 12:09 pm

Venturan is a registered user.

I discovered weed abatement complaints (as shown in photo above) are handled by the Santa Clara County NOT the City.

The link to report weed hazards: Web Link


12 people like this
Posted by pares
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2018 at 12:55 pm

There is a neighbor in our area who has had many violations over the years and code enforcement seems hesitant to enforce the codes. So a neighbor can do whatever once he/she figures out that the city's citations won't really be enforced. Shame!


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2018 at 2:30 pm

Posted by pares, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> There is a neighbor in our area who has had many violations over the years and code enforcement seems hesitant to enforce the codes. So a neighbor can do whatever once he/she figures out that the city's citations won't really be enforced. Shame!

Violations like ... ? Can you be more specific? I ask because I enforcement should be proportionate and correctly prioritized. In another realm, for example, I'm not looking for handing out a lot of tickets to people for going 26 in a 25 zone, when, there are so many who go 40-45 in a 25 zone with elementary school kids nearby riding their bikes. Lets hand out tickets for recklessly going 45 before we hand out tickets for going 26.


17 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 11, 2018 at 10:55 pm

"Similarly, the city does not actively enforce the city’s 2017 ban on smoking in multi-family buildings."..."Of course not. That doesn't stop the city, however, from boasting about winning awards for this fictitious smoking ban."

Getting those awards is the whole point. Achieving the purpose of the law is not required for getting an award, so enforcement is unnecessary and bothersome.


12 people like this
Posted by Awards
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2018 at 11:03 pm

Curmudgeon

“Getting those awards is the whole point. Achieving the purpose of the law is not required for getting an award, so enforcement is unnecessary and bothersome.”

That’s definitely been a useful distraction for Keene’s tenure.




16 people like this
Posted by R.Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 12, 2018 at 8:48 am

R.Davis is a registered user.

QUOTE: That doesn't stop the city, however, from boasting about winning awards for this fictitious smoking ban.

The question is...who (or what) agency was responsible for handing out this award?

Maybe it was simply a 'participation' award for perfunctory measures.


6 people like this
Posted by wayne douglass
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2018 at 12:42 pm

wayne douglass is a registered user.

It's finally happened. To use a phrase much quoted by Black people in the deep South, "The chickens have come hoe to roost." Decades of stupid policy,inadequate funding, lack of staff. bad management, no co-ordination, and general incompetence, have ganged up on the city to make it unworkable on some of the simplest tasks.
For me the cream of the jest is to see my old house on Matadero as the centerpiece of city incompetence AGAIN (the first time, it was a COVER illustration to the Weekly's story about how new code inspectors were going to clean up the backlog of code violations. Yeah, right. How'd that work out?) OTOH, I did get cited by the city for blocking the sidewalk because the back bumper of the car my wife drove (she had died) protruded onto the sidewalk by about 2 inches. For the first time months, I unlocked her SUV, released the break, and pushed the SUV forward so that
the bumper no longer protruded onto the sidewalk space. To the city's credit, when they reinspected the "violation" they noticed that I had "moved" the SUV and was no longer was a scofflaw. For this apparent violation it took a city employee to write up the warning (cop or somebody else, I don't know) and another one to verify the rectification of the "violation." For this reason, I understand @Anon's point completely.
And I also understand @Venturan's point also, but I sold my house about 4 years ago to somebody offshore (Hong Kong or Shanghai), who paid cash for a place that was never something for House Beautiful, but kept the rain off my head. I needed the money, honey, so I could pay for my studio in a senior residence in Los Altos. I tried living at a similar place in Palo Alto, but the rent was too rich for my blood.


7 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 12, 2018 at 12:59 pm

R.Davis wrote:

"QUOTE: That doesn't stop the city, however, from boasting about winning awards for this fictitious smoking ban.

The question is...who (or what) agency was responsible for handing out this award?

Maybe it was simply a 'participation' award for perfunctory measures."

----------

A valid, if somewhat cynical point. Well, it's hard to say.

Lately, our fair city is touting recognition from the American Lung Association.

In previous years, the American Lung Association consistently gave Palo Alto a "D" for Tobacco Control. In their most recent ratings, however, they gave Palo Alto an "A" with perfect scores for Smokefree Housing citing Nonsmoking Apartments, Nonsmoking Condominiums, and Nonsmoking Common Areas.

In reality, *nothing* has changed. I know, because I own a condominium, and when my requests for enforcement of the smoking ordinance were ignored, I contacted then Director of Planning Hilary Gitelman who wrote me, "We do not have the resources to enforce the no smoking ordinance."

Now, I'd like to think the American Lung Association is serious about their mission to prevent lung disease and takes it in good faith that laws are actually enforced, but I don't have any real insight to their operations.

Unfortunately, the evidence shows that Palo Alto city leaders are clearly *not* serious about this mission. When the council was discussing potential priorities for 2018, former nurse and current Mayor Liz Kniss commented that since Palo Alto has received a couple of awards for healthy cities, the category may no longer need to be a priority.

Thanks, Mayor Kniss. Mission accomplished.


4 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 12, 2018 at 4:42 pm

@wayne, yes that's your old place all right. County tax assessor shows ownership change mid-2015, and values the house at a whopping $7392, not worth insuring. The land itself is more of course. I'll let others here risk chiming in on the merits of offshore ownership in our fair city.


11 people like this
Posted by yeh right
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 12, 2018 at 9:05 pm

Palo Alto has code enforcement?? I never woulda guessed.
From the number of times I've filed a complaint, gotten a receipt from the city, and then never saw any action whatsoever .. I had to conclude there's no code enforcement.

These were on situations that I know were code violations because a CPA code inspector told me. Back in the days when they actually did their work.


19 people like this
Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 13, 2018 at 8:14 am

I hold the City Manager Jim Keene responsible for the state of this City! In the 10 years he has been City Manager, he had eliminated traffic enforcement, pretty much ignored code enforcement and pushed his pet projects spending huge amounts of general fund monies on "Sustainability" and growing Palo Alto into an office park city under the pretense of being environmently friendly.

Then there’s the City Attorney, Molly Stump, who is incompetent and can’t write an agreement without loopholes. Perfect example is Edgewood Plaza where Stump screwed up regarding penalties.

Also, Greg Scharff for trying to get rid of the Auditor’s Office by outscourcing it and his bromantic mate, Eric Filseth following along.

But mostly, I hold Jim Keene responsible. He has made Palo Alto a city that has no diversity except to cater to the tech industry and it is disruptive. Palo Alto becomes an office park and Keene retires to Bainbridge Island, WA, population 25,000 with clean air and no traffic congestion.


8 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 13, 2018 at 8:15 am

Years ago, we were adding on to the house with the resultant bombed out front yard. Building materials, scrap pile, piles of dirt. We get tagged.

Called the city to demand why they don't use common sense and see if there's a building permit issued before a citation is written. No clear answer.

Meanwhile, the dump across the street has piles of pallets in the front yard and nothing is said. Maybe the inspector had a degree in shipping and receiving.


29 people like this
Posted by Simple Math
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 13, 2018 at 8:52 am

Just think...if there actually was code enforcement, maybe we would see fewer tax propositions and bond offerings/announcements.

Imagine the amount of municipal revenues that have gone uncollected due to the various oversights and lack of code enforcement.

YOUR PACC and City in action...or rather inaction.


18 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 13, 2018 at 10:03 am

Online Name is a registered user.

""Also, Greg Scharff for trying to get rid of the Auditor’s Office by outscourcing it and his bromantic mate, Eric Filseth following along."

Don't forget Adrian Fine.

Otherwise Echoing all of "Disgusted's" comments with a plea that the city beef up the auditor's office. How ludicrous that the city can't run their computerized feedback system any better than they can handle outreach and/or incoming handle calls, emails and petitions.

Maybe the auditor's office can focus on PA Utilities and its $19,500,000 "surplus" last year when it was managed by the new city manager Ed Shikada. That "surplus" -- ie over-charges -got siphoned from our pockets into the General Fund.

When asked about it on NextDoor, the utilities spokesperson kept hedging; fortunately it was a matter of public record. I wonder what the figure is for THIS year.


6 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 13, 2018 at 10:59 am

My pet peeves are
o the useless *expensive* bollards that obstruct Middlefield traffic

o the over-4.5 Million$ renovation of City Hall lobby and unneeded uglifying and re-upholstering of council chambers, but:

o No update or improvement of the inadequate sound system in council chambers (just look at other cities on TV, how much better sound they have.)


2 people like this
Posted by BlackbeardsMom
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 13, 2018 at 3:59 pm

BlackbeardsMom is a registered user.

"Also, Greg Scharff for trying to get rid of the Auditor’s Office by outsourcing it and his bromantic mate, Eric Filseth following along."

"Don't forget Adrian Fine".

It never ceases to amuse and disgust me that whenever ANYTHING is to the dislike of a particular group of residents in this city, your "go to" for attack is Scharff, Mayor Kniss, and now Fine. There was more than met the public's eye in this situation, (as happens in MANY difficult working situations). Decisions are made for good reason and never without merit or appropriate evidence to back them up.

What will Councilmember Scharff do now that he won't be plagued by vicious and unsubstantiated attacks from this online rag and it's supporters? As for Mayor Kniss and Councilmember Fine, I wish them strength and support as they face 2019 as the sole markers of intellect and professionalism on this new council.


15 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 13, 2018 at 9:31 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Unsubstantiated attacks? What's unsubstantiated? The attempt to gut the auditor's office was widely covered in May of this year. Here's just 2 of the articles.

Former city auditor slams plan to gut office
Finance Committee proposal would cut five of the six positions in Office of the City Auditor

"The entire review of the Office of the City Auditor budget lasted seven minutes and concluded with the committee unanimously adopting a proposal by Chair Greg Scharff to eliminate five of the six positions in Office of the City Auditor and to start outsourcing performance audits"

Web Link

Committee opts not to slash auditor positions

"Though the committee agreed at the May 15 discussion to outsource auditing work, one committee member had second thoughts even before hearing from Richardson. Councilwoman Lydia Kou said at the beginning of the Wednesday meeting that after giving this matter more thought and hearing from the community, she'd like to rescind her vote to eliminate the positions.

The office, she noted, was created in 1983 by a vote of the people.

"To eliminate it and to cut it out without any discussions with the auditor herself -- that was not wise at all," Kou said. "

Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2018 at 6:14 am

Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown North

>>My pet peeves are
>> o the useless *expensive* bollards that obstruct Middlefield traffic

I don't like that setup either, however, they are in keeping with a "trend" in the city to try to protect "wrong-way" bicycles near schools. In the more distant past, they used to tell students at Terman not to do it. I recall police occasionally stopping student bicyclists at various locations near schools and citing them for riding dangerously.

I bring it up because someone apparently decided to cut enforcement and just accept the "wrong-way" riders, and try to make things safer through realignment. Sounds OK on paper. When you see it in action-- suboptimal. This was a major policy change that was driven, -I am guessing-, through the general budget/retiree cost issues and the high expense of public safety personnel.

I just don't recall that budget debates ever actually debated these trade-offs. But, we are left with practically no traffic enforcement.

Likewise, cuts to auditing and code enforcement, and even lifeguards at public pools. With all the program staff cuts and outsourcing, what do all the people at city hall actually do all day?


5 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 14, 2018 at 10:50 am

Annette is a registered user.

This article points out quite a few shortcomings. They cannot all be new issues. This article also raises many questions. When was the last audit done? What recommendations were in that last audit? Have they been resolved? Does CC ask the CM to provide a progress report on this? And what is the established process for responding to audit recommendations?

As for the awards . . . going after those doesn't seem a great use of staff time unless there's some insurance break or other financial gain that attaches to an award. It is not unusual to hear CM Keene comment about the demands on his staff when CC is discussing a matter that will require staff time. Yet they have time to seek awards? Why not put a moratorium on that until the city achieves a passing grade on the audit? Would that not be the best award of all?

I doubt too many of us care about awards but I bet each one of us cares about having a well run, high functioning city.


5 people like this
Posted by wayne douglass
a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2018 at 10:59 am

wayne douglass is a registered user.

Howdy @neighbor a resident of Ventura
It's good to hear from somebody in the 'hood, probably the last neighborhood in Palo Alto where there are real people living there to form a community, instead of poseurs, politicians, and other people who are only interested in money. Of course, I want money, honey, because I'm trying to make a buck go as far as I can before I cash in my chips, which is why I sold the house and don't live in PA anymore because the rent for old geezers is too rich for my blood. Let everybody else live with the rat race if they want to. I just turned 72 and I'm enjoying what is laughably called my "golden years."


5 people like this
Posted by Leaf Blowers before 9am
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2018 at 11:07 am

Did you know it’s against the law to operate any leaf blower before 9am? That includes electric leaf blowers. On my daily morning bike commute I see many gas and electric leaf blowers operated before 9am. The law is a joke.


8 people like this
Posted by Leaf Blowers Are Just a Part of PA
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 14, 2018 at 1:54 pm

> Did you know it’s against the law to operate any leaf blower before 9am?

The various [portion removed] gardeners in a our neighborhood have a schedule to keep and some residences are first on their morning 'to do' list. Can't be helped as the laws are unenforced [portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by wayne douglass
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2018 at 11:26 am

wayne douglass is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 15, 2018 at 8:16 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Maybe some of PA's computer systems could get fixed if our Chief Technology Officer stayed around? Just a thought.

Complaint accuses Palo Alto’s top tech official of taking 28 junkets paid by firms linked to city business
United Neighbors member files ethics complaint against chief information officer over trips

Web Link

"Palo Alto’s top technology official violated California’s gifts law by taking at least 28 all-expense-paid trips funded by companies tied to telecommunications firms that do business with the city, according to a complaint filed with the state.

In her filing with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, Jeanne Fleming of United Neighbors contends Chief Information Officer Jonathan Reichental took illegal trips totaling 114 days between 2013 and 2017. United Neighbors is a group of local resident who unsuccessfully fought the City Council’s approval last year of a Verizon Wireless project to install 11 cell towers in the Midtown, South of Midtown, St. Claire Gardens and Palo Verde neighborhoods....."


2 people like this
Posted by Alison
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 20, 2018 at 6:25 am

It takes endless hours, tax payer money to constantly put notices on cars/trucks/campers/trailers parked for longer than than the City of Palo Alto's 72-hour parking policy limit. After two notices, issue a ticket to the illegally parked vehicle... why doesn't this happen?

Vehicles and campers have been parked in the spot/location on El Camino Real between Los Robles and Maybell Ave for 2 weeks and there is no enforcement of the 72-hour limit.

VTA oversized/double-sized and Stanford Marguerite buses, UPS trucks, cement trucks, durt hauler trucks (due to all the construction), cars, etc., need to drive in TWO LANES TO GET PAST THE CAMPERS/TRAILERS PARKED ON EL CAMINO.

A number of pre-schools, elementary and high schools are located in the area from Matadero down past Maybell Avenue.

On this stretch of El Camino Real, bicyclists riding on El Camino, are squeezed between the campers parked on El Camino and vehicles traveling on this road. It's a dangerous stretch of road. Kids biking to school will not be so lucky, and only then will something be done to alleviate this problem.

Thanks.


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