News

Open Foothills Park to all? The costs are high, panel says

Experts: Expanded access can impact wildlife but careful strategies can protect preserve

The Palo Alto Parks and Recreation Commission's proposed pilot program that would expand access to Foothills Park will be considered by the City Council on Aug. 3. Embarcadero Media file photo by Veronica Weber.

More visitors — regardless of ZIP code — and the behaviors they exhibit would affect the health of Foothills Park, a panel of five experts said Tuesday before the Palo Alto Parks and Recreation Commission, which sought a deeper understanding of the impacts of opening the 1,400-acre preserve to residents from other cities.

The City Council is set to consider on Aug. 3 a yearlong pilot program the commission has proposed that would allow 50 passes per day to nonresidents to access the park, which since the 1950s has been the exclusive domain of Palo Alto residents. Opening the park would allow access to a diverse pool of people of all cultures and races, which advocates said is long overdue.

While the panelists said a wider opening would likely have impacts on the land, it would not be due to who comes to visit but rather on an increase in the number of people and their behaviors.

Wildlife would likely become less evident and native vegetation could be damaged if there were an unlimited number of users rather than the current limit of 1,000 visitors. But even with the current cap, a 136% increase in usage by Palo Alto residents in June during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the same time last year is having some negative impacts. The way Palo Altans use the park, including playing loud music in the meadow area while having a picnic and leaving dog waste behind along trails, is making for a less enjoyable experience for both its animal denizens and human visitors, panelists and some community members said.

To manage more visitors and their behaviors, more money should be put into infrastructure, staffing, habitat restoration, monitoring and other mitigations to maintain the park and to enhance it, speakers said. The city should carefully consider the steps it takes in allowing greater access, but at the same time, there would be many benefits to the larger community and ultimately, to the park and open spaces as people develop a stronger sense of belonging to the wild places and support to protect them, they said.

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The five panelists brought a range of expertise in social justice, habitat and wildlife sustainability, park support foundations and park management. They included Lester Hendrie, a former Foothills Park supervising ranger who worked at the preserve for 30 years; Stanford University Professor Nicole M. Ardoin, director of the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford's School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences; Alex Von Feldt, executive director of Grassroots Ecology; Roger Smith, co-founder and director of Friends of the Palo Alto Parks; and Taylor Peterson, director of biological analysis with MIG, an environmental consulting firm.

Hendrie said he has noticed that wildlife becomes more afraid on weekends when there are more people around in the lawn area, for example, and significant erosion can be found in areas such as Vista Hill where people sometimes go off trail. Those impacts can have a long-lasting effect if not managed, he said. Citing an extreme example, he said fire breaks made by bulldozers years before still scar the land and cause erosion.

Antiquated restrooms are strained during the weekends and asphalt breaks down as cars hug the road's edges on slopes, he said. The biggest problem, however, is staffing. As it is, staff is only at the entrance checking cars on weekends. Additional duties such as more staffing at the entrance; more garbage and restroom cleanup; more patrols; and handling the proposed online registration for nonresidents would strain existing employees, he said.

But the park also has benefited from a robust volunteer program that has brought hundreds of young people to revegetate areas of the park with native plants, Von Feldt said. Hendrie acknowledged that Grassroots Ecology has worked on multiple plant restoration and habitat enhancement projects that have made the park better than it was before.

Giving the public a stake in open spaces, which can in turn instill a love for the land, is an important consideration when thinking about opening the park beyond Palo Altans, some of the panelists said.

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Experiencing a special place such as Foothills Park and building in programs to educate the public can make people want to leave the preserve better than when they came, Von Feldt said. She spoke about the excitement of young people who visit the park for volunteer projects. About 80% of them are under the age of 18, and many are not Palo Alto residents, she said. They start out saying "this is amazing," she said, but "it takes the air out of it when they realize they are doing work on a park that isn't that public," she said.

Ardoin, who studies the interaction of people and the environment, said people are more likely to partner in environmental projects if they have access to Foothills.

Von Feldt said that opening Foothills, even with a limited number of people, would help take the pressure off Palo Alto's other open space in the foothills, Pearson-Arastradero Preserve, which is experiencing a huge influx of visitors due to increased usage during the pandemic. The park has had to hire more security personnel to handle the traffic and parking issues, she said.

Expanding access to Foothills Park also would provide great psychological and physical advantages to children who have been cooped up indoors. Von Feldt said children who are now taking part in volunteer activities and other events through Grassroots Ecology are showing the effects of being cooped up, stumbling on trails from being weakened by being indoors for so long. After a few weeks, she has seen significant improvements in their motor skills and outlooks.

Ardoin said early childhood education studies show the importance of having open places where children can go with caretakers. Having a place such as Foothills Park, where people can safely keep social distance, get out amid the pandemic and stay close to home is important to well-being, she said.

Increased usage doesn't have to mean the park will decline, the panelists said. Peterson said impacts are not only quantitative, but perhaps more importantly, qualitative. Two people being loud at a picnic site can have greater negative impacts than five people walking quietly in a trail, for example.

Hendrie said the length of time doing an activity also impacts the environment, such as preventing the return of wildlife to a grazing site.

Peterson said the city should undertake a baseline study to understand the existing conditions within the park and its current usage, then monitor the space regularly so that any negative impacts can be quickly addressed.

"Spend the time and money to do this right. Have a program of adaptive management so you can reverse issues right away. I think you could open (the park) to nonresidents and still keep a nice preserve. I don't think where somebody comes from impacts the park," she said.

Von Feldt said she is supportive of opening Foothills if the city decides to, but she also wants to have support for the rangers.

"We believe opening Foothills Park will have an overall positive effect. We need our wide, open public spaces now more than ever and this would be a really great time to do it," she said.

Smith, who has for decades spearheaded fundraising for the city's parks, said opening the park would increase costs to do all of the necessary mitigation and staffing improvements. To his mind, the most important consideration is the health of the park.

City Councilwoman Lydia Kou, who is the council liaison to the Parks and Recreation Commission, said further discussion must also include the funding for infrastructure and staffing to ensure the environment is going to be intact. Considering the city's nearly $40 million deficit, that could be a difficult prospect.

Commissioners largely supported the idea of opening the park to nonresidents, while some had reservations. Commissioner David Moss said the city should pursue the pilot study, but he acknowledged that a broader opening would impact the city's budget. He also expressed concern that there could be a great interest in visiting the park if the number of entrants isn't controlled.

"You know the power of social media. The minute this gets out, social media will take it and run with it," he said.

Commissioner Jeff LaMere said it's important to remember "that what we are doing is for a pilot program. We're not talking about opening the park and trying to reach limits of 1,000," he said.

Commissioner Jackie Olson said she would be comfortable if the council would choose to eliminate the ZIP code requirement while limiting the number of visitors.

Resident Winter Dellenbach also supported that idea, but she had strong words for the commission moving toward any expansion of visitors. She doesn't care if the visitors are from Palo Alto or out of the city as long as there are limits, she said.

"I've heard a litany of mitigations that would need to be made to protect the wildlife and plants," she said.

The $40 million budget shortfall is already causing cutbacks to libraries and many other types of services residents have relied on.

"Keeping the regulation of the numbers of people seems like a no-brainer to me," Dellenbach said. "Time will tell, but I'm not sure we have money to test it in a rational way. I think the 1,000 person a day (limit) should stay in place. It's vital — the wildlife and vegetation comes first before human beings."

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Open Foothills Park to all? The costs are high, panel says

Experts: Expanded access can impact wildlife but careful strategies can protect preserve

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Jul 29, 2020, 9:34 am

More visitors — regardless of ZIP code — and the behaviors they exhibit would affect the health of Foothills Park, a panel of five experts said Tuesday before the Palo Alto Parks and Recreation Commission, which sought a deeper understanding of the impacts of opening the 1,400-acre preserve to residents from other cities.

The City Council is set to consider on Aug. 3 a yearlong pilot program the commission has proposed that would allow 50 passes per day to nonresidents to access the park, which since the 1950s has been the exclusive domain of Palo Alto residents. Opening the park would allow access to a diverse pool of people of all cultures and races, which advocates said is long overdue.

While the panelists said a wider opening would likely have impacts on the land, it would not be due to who comes to visit but rather on an increase in the number of people and their behaviors.

Wildlife would likely become less evident and native vegetation could be damaged if there were an unlimited number of users rather than the current limit of 1,000 visitors. But even with the current cap, a 136% increase in usage by Palo Alto residents in June during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the same time last year is having some negative impacts. The way Palo Altans use the park, including playing loud music in the meadow area while having a picnic and leaving dog waste behind along trails, is making for a less enjoyable experience for both its animal denizens and human visitors, panelists and some community members said.

To manage more visitors and their behaviors, more money should be put into infrastructure, staffing, habitat restoration, monitoring and other mitigations to maintain the park and to enhance it, speakers said. The city should carefully consider the steps it takes in allowing greater access, but at the same time, there would be many benefits to the larger community and ultimately, to the park and open spaces as people develop a stronger sense of belonging to the wild places and support to protect them, they said.

The five panelists brought a range of expertise in social justice, habitat and wildlife sustainability, park support foundations and park management. They included Lester Hendrie, a former Foothills Park supervising ranger who worked at the preserve for 30 years; Stanford University Professor Nicole M. Ardoin, director of the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford's School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences; Alex Von Feldt, executive director of Grassroots Ecology; Roger Smith, co-founder and director of Friends of the Palo Alto Parks; and Taylor Peterson, director of biological analysis with MIG, an environmental consulting firm.

Hendrie said he has noticed that wildlife becomes more afraid on weekends when there are more people around in the lawn area, for example, and significant erosion can be found in areas such as Vista Hill where people sometimes go off trail. Those impacts can have a long-lasting effect if not managed, he said. Citing an extreme example, he said fire breaks made by bulldozers years before still scar the land and cause erosion.

Antiquated restrooms are strained during the weekends and asphalt breaks down as cars hug the road's edges on slopes, he said. The biggest problem, however, is staffing. As it is, staff is only at the entrance checking cars on weekends. Additional duties such as more staffing at the entrance; more garbage and restroom cleanup; more patrols; and handling the proposed online registration for nonresidents would strain existing employees, he said.

But the park also has benefited from a robust volunteer program that has brought hundreds of young people to revegetate areas of the park with native plants, Von Feldt said. Hendrie acknowledged that Grassroots Ecology has worked on multiple plant restoration and habitat enhancement projects that have made the park better than it was before.

Giving the public a stake in open spaces, which can in turn instill a love for the land, is an important consideration when thinking about opening the park beyond Palo Altans, some of the panelists said.

Experiencing a special place such as Foothills Park and building in programs to educate the public can make people want to leave the preserve better than when they came, Von Feldt said. She spoke about the excitement of young people who visit the park for volunteer projects. About 80% of them are under the age of 18, and many are not Palo Alto residents, she said. They start out saying "this is amazing," she said, but "it takes the air out of it when they realize they are doing work on a park that isn't that public," she said.

Ardoin, who studies the interaction of people and the environment, said people are more likely to partner in environmental projects if they have access to Foothills.

Von Feldt said that opening Foothills, even with a limited number of people, would help take the pressure off Palo Alto's other open space in the foothills, Pearson-Arastradero Preserve, which is experiencing a huge influx of visitors due to increased usage during the pandemic. The park has had to hire more security personnel to handle the traffic and parking issues, she said.

Expanding access to Foothills Park also would provide great psychological and physical advantages to children who have been cooped up indoors. Von Feldt said children who are now taking part in volunteer activities and other events through Grassroots Ecology are showing the effects of being cooped up, stumbling on trails from being weakened by being indoors for so long. After a few weeks, she has seen significant improvements in their motor skills and outlooks.

Ardoin said early childhood education studies show the importance of having open places where children can go with caretakers. Having a place such as Foothills Park, where people can safely keep social distance, get out amid the pandemic and stay close to home is important to well-being, she said.

Increased usage doesn't have to mean the park will decline, the panelists said. Peterson said impacts are not only quantitative, but perhaps more importantly, qualitative. Two people being loud at a picnic site can have greater negative impacts than five people walking quietly in a trail, for example.

Hendrie said the length of time doing an activity also impacts the environment, such as preventing the return of wildlife to a grazing site.

Peterson said the city should undertake a baseline study to understand the existing conditions within the park and its current usage, then monitor the space regularly so that any negative impacts can be quickly addressed.

"Spend the time and money to do this right. Have a program of adaptive management so you can reverse issues right away. I think you could open (the park) to nonresidents and still keep a nice preserve. I don't think where somebody comes from impacts the park," she said.

Von Feldt said she is supportive of opening Foothills if the city decides to, but she also wants to have support for the rangers.

"We believe opening Foothills Park will have an overall positive effect. We need our wide, open public spaces now more than ever and this would be a really great time to do it," she said.

Smith, who has for decades spearheaded fundraising for the city's parks, said opening the park would increase costs to do all of the necessary mitigation and staffing improvements. To his mind, the most important consideration is the health of the park.

City Councilwoman Lydia Kou, who is the council liaison to the Parks and Recreation Commission, said further discussion must also include the funding for infrastructure and staffing to ensure the environment is going to be intact. Considering the city's nearly $40 million deficit, that could be a difficult prospect.

Commissioners largely supported the idea of opening the park to nonresidents, while some had reservations. Commissioner David Moss said the city should pursue the pilot study, but he acknowledged that a broader opening would impact the city's budget. He also expressed concern that there could be a great interest in visiting the park if the number of entrants isn't controlled.

"You know the power of social media. The minute this gets out, social media will take it and run with it," he said.

Commissioner Jeff LaMere said it's important to remember "that what we are doing is for a pilot program. We're not talking about opening the park and trying to reach limits of 1,000," he said.

Commissioner Jackie Olson said she would be comfortable if the council would choose to eliminate the ZIP code requirement while limiting the number of visitors.

Resident Winter Dellenbach also supported that idea, but she had strong words for the commission moving toward any expansion of visitors. She doesn't care if the visitors are from Palo Alto or out of the city as long as there are limits, she said.

"I've heard a litany of mitigations that would need to be made to protect the wildlife and plants," she said.

The $40 million budget shortfall is already causing cutbacks to libraries and many other types of services residents have relied on.

"Keeping the regulation of the numbers of people seems like a no-brainer to me," Dellenbach said. "Time will tell, but I'm not sure we have money to test it in a rational way. I think the 1,000 person a day (limit) should stay in place. It's vital — the wildlife and vegetation comes first before human beings."

Comments

PalyGirl-OK
Crescent Park
on Jul 29, 2020 at 9:57 am
PalyGirl-OK, Crescent Park
on Jul 29, 2020 at 9:57 am
4 people like this

It is to be expected.


Chip
Professorville
on Jul 29, 2020 at 10:27 am
Chip, Professorville
on Jul 29, 2020 at 10:27 am
15 people like this

It's time to ban dogs from the park. Most are unleashed and chase wildlife. Owners often ignore the deposits of canine fecal matter their pets leave behind.

When was the park established? I thought it was in the early '70s, not the 1950s.


94303
Palo Verde
on Jul 29, 2020 at 10:28 am
94303, Palo Verde
on Jul 29, 2020 at 10:28 am
5 people like this

This has nothing to do with zip codes. My 94303 zip code is shared with East Palo Alto. I can enter the park because I live in Palo Alto even though I have an East Palo Alto zip code. Likewise, those who live in East Palo Alto and have the same 94303 zip code are not able.

Zip code has nothing to do with it!


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2020 at 10:47 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2020 at 10:47 am
1 person likes this

Posted by 94303, a resident of Palo Verde

>> This has nothing to do with zip codes.

Yes, this is particularly dumb slang that has turned into a slogan. The post office doesn't assign zip codes on the basis of property values or, "location", in the sense of real estate "location, location, location". But, people find it a cute shorthand. Who remembers "23 skidoo"? The above usage of zipcode will likewise be forgotten eventually, unless the assignment of zipcodes is farmed out to the California Real Estate Association.


Anne
Mountain View
on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:01 am
Anne, Mountain View
on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:01 am
5 people like this

Either it's a park or it's not a park. Parks let humans in to appreciate nature.
I appreciate all this work and study that's being done on the impact of people and dogs, but I failed to see how this is related to whether people outside of Palo Alto can enter the park. I think if they want to limit entrance it should be a certain number of passes regardless of residence.
This issue is so localized that I think people are failing to see the big picture.


Alice Schaffer Smith
Downtown North
on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:19 am
Alice Schaffer Smith, Downtown North
on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:19 am
53 people like this

As one of the original supporters of Foothills Park, I do not think it appropriate to open this park to the general public. My reasons are simple:
(1) increases fire risk hugely
(2) impacts from over-use would be profound on this beautiful venue
(3) increases the cost to the city at a time that revenues are tanking and far more important priorities need attention (housing, flood control, fixing Lucie Stern which is completely out-of-date with inadequate toilets, etc etc.)

This park isn't elitist. It was supposed to have been a regional park and that was turned down by our neighbors. We funded it and frankly, there are plenty of other places people can go who want to experience rural CA.

The road to the Park is already jammed with bikeriders and cars traveling too fast and not carefully.




Stephen Rock
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:32 am
Stephen Rock, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:32 am
11 people like this

Being retired, I have the luxury of visiting Foothills Park on weekdays. I either drive, or walk by way of Arastradero Preserve. My experience is that the trails have very very few people. Walking for a few hours on the Los Trancos trail and the various fire roads we typically see only a few other people. Even at lookout point there are very few people on the trails. On weekdays there were no employees at the auto entrance gate, so anyone could enter.
We were at the park one Sunday afternoon and there was plenty of space for groups to spread out under the trees. The loudest noises were from a large group of kids and adults playing some kind of game on the meadow.
While more people might make the meadow and lake area more crowded and less hospitable to wildlife, the huge 'back country' is almost human free. My impression is that the meadow and lake areas are artificial environments built and maintained by the city. I don't think a green lawn would survive without watering or the lake without the dam. To complain that wildlife in this human made environment would be adversely effected is a distortion of what is 'natural'.
I am completely in favor of opening the park up to everyone. Palo Alto people can go to any of the Open Space Preserves, the San Mateo County parks or the extensive system of paths and parks in Los Altos Hills. However, I don't think that a pilot program during the special circumstances of the covid crisis would measure what would happen once we return to normal life (hopefully).


Crescent Park Mom
Crescent Park
on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:43 am
Crescent Park Mom, Crescent Park
on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:43 am
37 people like this

Let’s just open up all our public schools to those living outside Palo Alto while we are at it.

This is an asset in Palo Alto that Palo Altons fund. Protestors already marked it with graffiti that had to be cleaned up. They don’t care about access to the space. They care about the IDEA of not having access to it. Buy and fund your own educational spaces.


Lynn
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:43 am
Lynn, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:43 am
32 people like this

Only open to PA resident if only PA will absorb the cost


Mike
Professorville
on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:47 am
Mike, Professorville
on Jul 29, 2020 at 11:47 am
41 people like this

I worry about overpopulation destroying the park. I also worry about the decreased revenue in the city. The park is open to the public during the week due to the absence of personnel at the gate.

Lets leave it the way it is right now.


resident
Community Center
on Jul 29, 2020 at 12:03 pm
resident, Community Center
on Jul 29, 2020 at 12:03 pm
23 people like this

If the costs are high, make sure the admission charge covers all the costs.

Don't build more parking lots. Stop admitting more cars when the parking lots are full. Monitoring and restricting parking is a good way to prevent overcrowding.


Preserve wilderness
Downtown North
on Jul 29, 2020 at 12:06 pm
Preserve wilderness, Downtown North
on Jul 29, 2020 at 12:06 pm
13 people like this

It is clear that there is not enough open space and park space for the over-popluated humans in this area. Demanding that we open protected areas to more people will only destroy these areas. What we really need is much more urban park space and more protected wilderness that restricts humans from destroying it. Remember that the city of Palo Alto has in its comprehensive plan that we are suppose to have a certain amount of urban park space per 1000 residents. At this point they are more than 100 acres behind.

Why isn't the Parks commission looking for ways to get funding to buy and develop more park space where people can use it. Why force them to drive and invade wilderness areas to play their music and BBQ. We need a dedicated funding source to buy and develop land for parks and to provide the services that were promised to us in the comprehensive plan.

What we don't need is more people given that there are not enough open spaces for the people who are here now. Don't destroy Foothills park and fight development/growth that adds more people to this area. Make people understand the ramifications of overpopulation and that they need more parks and open space in town open for usage.


Rich Lee
Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 29, 2020 at 12:10 pm
Rich Lee, Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 29, 2020 at 12:10 pm
1 person likes this

I agree with the observations of Steven Rock. Although my mailbox is within the city limits of Palo Alto, my house is in unincorporated San Mateo County and I usually restrict my visits to weekdays when nobody's checking. I rode my bike home yesterday afternoon through Arastradero Preserve into Foothills Park and up Los Trancos Trail. This was to avoid the increased traffic on Page Mill Rd. Members of the Lee family, including myself have been bicycling, riding horses and even driving on the firebreak (in my dad's '57 Porsche speedster) from Portola Valley to the top of Page Mill Rd. on some of the park trails over the past 50 years, long before bikes were banned on park trails. Yesterday I counted less than a dozen cars from Vista Point to the picnic area and nobody on the "backcountry" trails. I agree that the greatest population density, public use and source of impact are in the developed areas near the roads. If the noise and crowds bother you then simply get out on the trails where you probably find almost nobody.
It appears that the issue for opening the park to "outsiders" is really one of adequate funding for resource management. There are enough multi-millionaires and billionaires in the area that I'm sure could provide an endowment to cover those costs through existing or future philanthropy organizations. How much effort has been placed in approaching them?

If and when such funds are available, I would like to see some set aside for a "multi-use" trail (Hikers, bikes and horses) through the park to MROSD lands to the top of Page Mill Rd. The ideal route would be on Trapper's firebreak road that does connect to Los Trancos Rd., but that connection is now on undeveloped land owned by John Arrillaga.


senor blogger
Palo Verde
on Jul 29, 2020 at 12:43 pm
senor blogger, Palo Verde
on Jul 29, 2020 at 12:43 pm
14 people like this

Turn the study over to the Rail Committee. It will die a slow death there.


Henny Penny Analogy Is Apt.
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2020 at 12:47 pm
Henny Penny Analogy Is Apt., Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2020 at 12:47 pm
28 people like this

The "neighbors|" who are most likely to use it are those who live in close proximity. That is not EPA, it is Los Altos Hills and Los Altos. They declined to be partners in the purchase of this land. They are wealthy communities that can well afford to be partners in caring for it now if they want access. Engage them. Palo Alto is grappling with severe budget problems right now. If they are unwilling to share in the COST, then they don't get access.

Our city is already far more generous than other cities on the Peninsula creating and sharing our beautiful parks and public facilities. This is not just a park, it is a NATURE PRESERVE. We need to designate the preserve portion as such for starters. We need to invite the nearby wealthy communities who want access neighbors to be partners.

If they refuse again, they will have given a clear indication of their perception of our relationship.--that they prefer to abuse our generosity rather than cooperate and share in maintaining a resource they want to use. That is not a healthy relationship, and we should not allow it. LAH and Los Altos can fully afford to partner in paying for the additional cost of managing the land for more intensive use and the additional liability/insurance costs of increasing use.

Fire danger increases with increased use. Who do you think the owners of those LAH mansions will come to for compensation if a fire on the preserve spreads to their expensive homes (even though they love to point to the views they enjoy that add value to their real estate). I am feeling impatient with the PARC on this. They are entirely missing what the real issues are. This is not about EPA or BLM. This is about LAH and Los Altos who need to step up and do their fair share.

The Henny Penny analogy is apt. This matter should be a VERY low priority in this moment. Drop it.


Jennifer
another community
on Jul 29, 2020 at 12:47 pm
Jennifer, another community
on Jul 29, 2020 at 12:47 pm
19 people like this

I wonder if I'd be allowed in. I grew up on Palo Alto, my husband and I still own our home in Palo Alto. but we're currently living in "another community." Would I have to come as a "guest?" I do have friends and family in Palo Alto. Hmm.

Seriously, if Palo Alto residents are picking up the tab, then it should remain as is. This "everybody deserves a trophy" mindset needs to end.


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Jul 29, 2020 at 1:07 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Jul 29, 2020 at 1:07 pm
26 people like this

How much money and time are we doing to spend on this insignificant issue - at
a time when every ounce of extra bandwidth should be devoted to dealing with
Covid-19 and its many impacts?

End this needlessly annoying discussion with its many threads and endless buts.
There is simply no reason to change anything. If there was there would be one
simple straightforward argument, and it would be an up/down vote based on that
appeal. I've read most of the articles and most of the comments and they all say
the same thing in a slightly different way. We hear all these bizarre, appeals shooting
off in every possible tangent trying to make 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 add up to to something
other than 0.

Sorry to be blunt but I am tired of having my intelligence insulted by what are really
annoying and dishonest solutions to something that seems to be more about trolls
trying to alarm everyone about a problem that doesn't really exist.


Gale Johnson
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 29, 2020 at 2:30 pm
Gale Johnson, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 29, 2020 at 2:30 pm
14 people like this

I must be getting old! My wife, Garnet, and I went to the grand opening dedication ceremony at Vista Point. That was in 1965 and we were relatively new to the community then. We moved here in 1961 and bought our house in 1963. At the dedication ceremony we heard about the history of the area and the gift, for a price, from Dr. Lee, with restrictions. Our PA city council members voted to pay the price. Neighboring communities opted out on participating in the cost. The mayor spoke at the dedication but I don't remember who that was, and other dignitaries added their obligatory speeches to the event as well. I think there was a ribbon cutting ceremony and I remember food being served as well. I think it was simple but healthy food, but It might have only been cake. Come on, give me a break...let me live with my memories and not criticize me if I get some of them wrong. I have lived many years to allow them to be perceived as being wrong.

We visited the park as a family for many years while our kids were growing up. On trails our twin sons loved to chase lizards, and one day they learned about rattlesnakes from a ranger who met them at the bottom of a trail coming down to Wildhorse Valley. The ranger had killed a big rattlesnake on that trail just a little while earlier and he warned and admonished our sons about running way ahead of parents on the trails. A futile effort. After he made his speech our sons headed back to the trail to run down to the lower picnic area, way ahead of us and assuming the ranger had killed the only rattlesnake that would be on that trail that day.

On one trail hike a few of my family members said they think they saw a mountain lion flash by them off the trail.

On another outing with my son, Jeff, and his twin sons, (my grandsons) we saw a bobcat out in the middle of the road leading from the Interpretive Center up to Vista Point. It was in no hurry to move. It just nonchalantly moved off the road and over to a ground squirrel hole, waiting for it's afternoon snack to appear.

I watched my grandson. Ryan, catch a big bass at Boranda Lake. I watched my son, Jeff, tromp through poison oak to climb a tree to retrieve a kite. I've camped with our church youth group at the campsite available, and I've walked various trails alone, just to feel the peace and quiet of our beautiful park, only a couple miles away from a crowded Interstate highway. The only sounds were from birds and jets on their approach to SFO.

And at one time, many years ago, we'd harvest apples off the trees near the picnic area at the meadow...the last remnants of an orchard. They worked well in pies. Memories, sweet memories.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2020 at 3:27 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2020 at 3:27 pm
3 people like this

CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park:

>> We hear all these bizarre, appeals shooting off in every possible tangent trying to make 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 add up to to something other than 0.

That is arithmetic. Debate has a different set of rules. In debate, if you add enough zeros together quickly enough, you don't get zero, you a Gish Gallop. Web Link


Donya
Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2020 at 4:50 pm
Donya, Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2020 at 4:50 pm
33 people like this

I can't find a parking spot in Arastradero ever since the lock down started. I am afraid the same fate awaits Foothills Park if we open it to non Palo Altans. Please let us have a peaceful and beautiful place that we can go to.


YP
Crescent Park
on Jul 29, 2020 at 4:52 pm
YP, Crescent Park
on Jul 29, 2020 at 4:52 pm
26 people like this

So high level summary. More people not good for the flora and fauna of Foothill Park. Will cost more for the City of Palo Alto to manage that influx. Virtue signaling activists somehow see this is a "racist" policy. Palo Alto is a very diverse community, has any citizen of Palo Alto been turned away because of the color of their skin? I doubt it.
Keep the park as is, thank you and this should be decided by the citizens of Palo Alto not some small subset (City Council) of spineless individuals.


Helen
Downtown North
on Jul 29, 2020 at 6:07 pm
Helen, Downtown North
on Jul 29, 2020 at 6:07 pm
10 people like this

I think we all know where this is going. Time to pause and consider the consequences.


pares
Green Acres
on Jul 29, 2020 at 6:37 pm
pares, Green Acres
on Jul 29, 2020 at 6:37 pm
8 people like this

Currently the entrance is not staffed during the week, so anyone can go in. I know many hikers who have done so over the years who don't live in Palo Alto. This seems to work out well and the park is not overly crowded. This call to open up because otherwise it's a racist or elitist policy is nonsense, since anyone can go there during the week. Also, you can reach the park by going through Arastradero Preserve which we did when the Foothills Park was closed due to the pandemic. This openness to all comers during the week can continue until when and if problems arise.


Grew Up Here
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2020 at 6:38 pm
Grew Up Here, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2020 at 6:38 pm
19 people like this

The City Council will go all PC on us, lest the liberal anarchist will torch the entire park. Our other Palo Alto parks are overrun by non-residents already, why can't we keep Foothills to ourselves? Our Rinconada Pool also allows non-residents so it's more crowded than it would be if it were only for Palo Altans. We pay high taxes in Palo Alto and we have to share everything with non-residents?


Megan
Midtown
on Jul 29, 2020 at 8:33 pm
Megan , Midtown
on Jul 29, 2020 at 8:33 pm
Like this comment

Let’s do this Palo Alto! Past time to open up - we use other parks in the region. If the concern is numbers than monitor and close if gets overcrowded.


Just a thought...
Midtown
on Jul 30, 2020 at 1:54 am
Just a thought..., Midtown
on Jul 30, 2020 at 1:54 am
3 people like this

Huddart Park in Woodside which has similar types of amenities charges a $10 parking fee to encourage biking or other means of carpooling as well as to share the cost of the maintenance.

The cost of maintenance for the park should be paid for by all users of the park, not just by users who happens to live in the same city as the park. It seems odd that a user of the park (or non-user of the park) who happens to be a resident of Palo Alto would paying more for the upkeep (via taxes) than a non-resident.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2020 at 8:25 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2020 at 8:25 am
4 people like this

A couple of things that are worth saying.

The park is being used a great deal more this summer than previously. It is hard to know whether it is because of the pandemic and people are bored or because it is because of the publicity. Many non-residents of Palo Alto didn't even know it existed until recently!

Having had the park as a talking point in Palo Alto recently, it is interesting to me how many long time residents of Palo Alto have never visited it, or have not visited for many years. As a result, I wonder how many of the city council have been visitors over the years? I wonder how often former mayor LaDoris Cordell visited the park?

These may not be particularly important aspects of the debate, but it strikes me as worthwhile asking if the Palo Alto residents who are proponents of opening it to all are people who are very familiar with the park or not?


No Music or Dogs
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 30, 2020 at 10:13 am
No Music or Dogs, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 30, 2020 at 10:13 am
2 people like this

I'd be up for allowing 50 non-Palo Alto people per day (for a small fee) if they banned playing music and dogs.


Ormay B.
East Palo Alto
on Jul 30, 2020 at 1:06 pm
Ormay B., East Palo Alto
on Jul 30, 2020 at 1:06 pm
3 people like this

Or maybe, just start charging for everyone, more for non-residents, additional fee for cars and dogs. More on weekends. For non-residents that want free parks, there are plenty of free county and regional parks as alternatives.

I was originally for free access for all, but after hearing all sides, I really think this is the best solution and the debate has gotten tiresome.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North

on Jul 31, 2020 at 12:24 am
Name hidden, Downtown North

on Jul 31, 2020 at 12:24 am

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Blue Corn Moon
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:25 am
Blue Corn Moon, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:25 am
4 people like this

Who will speak for the animals?

How much space do they have left? They live in this "park"
It's not your right to disturb them

The people of Palo Alto literally embody the spirit of the seventies, how dare you accuse them of being racist???
What they are, is environmentalists.


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