News

Palo Alto leaders could decide Monday whether to open Foothills Park to nonresidents

Controversy on who can enter 1,400-acre preserve heads to City Council

On Aug. 3, the Palo Alto City Council will consider a yearlong pilot program that would expand access at Foothills Park to non-city residents. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

A thorny issue that has created controversy for decades is about to get a hearing on Aug. 3 before the Palo Alto City Council: whether the city should launch a pilot program to allow non-Palo Alto residents access to the exclusive 1,400-acre Foothills Park.

Spurred by a renewed push for racial and socioeconomic equity amid the recent Black Lives Matter protests, advocates for opening the park to all say its exclusivity is a relic, the product of an antiquated mindset.

Emotions are running high on both sides of the debate. Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ryan McCauley — who helped create the proposal that the council will consider Monday for a one-year pilot program to expand park access — resigned in frustration on June 23 after the council postponed its discussion of Foothills until after its July break.

A group of local residents, including former Councilwoman LaDoris Cordell, have formed a group, Parks for All, and launched a website to lobby for opening up the park. They also recruited more than 100 faith and community leaders to sign a letter that urges the repeal of the city ordinance that makes it a misdemeanor offense for nonresidents to enter the park.

On the other side are people like Roger Smith, co-founder and director of the fundraising group Friends of the Palo Alto Parks, who has said that opening the park to more visitors would increase costs for maintenance — costs the budget-strapped city can't currently pay for. In a July 24 op-ed in the Palo Alto Weekly, he argued that now is not the time to make a decision about opening the park, given the pressing financial and staffing issues facing the city because of the pandemic.

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Besides the financial considerations, opponents of opening the park to all assert that doing so would inflict damage on the fragile ecosystem. Residents such as Shani Kleinhaus, who is an environmental advocate for the nonprofit Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, argue that Foothills is a special place that has remained so because access is limited. Opening this unspoiled gem to all is an act that would take away from the very qualities that make it special, they say.

A squirrel forages for acorns in Foothills Park near the Orchard Glen Picnic Area. Embarcadero Media file photo by Veronica Weber.

On Tuesday night, during a Parks and Recreation Commission meeting about Foothills, Kleinhaus said that she is used to taking frequent hikes in the park. The expansive open space preserve offers opportunities to find bird species as varied as the red-pompadoured, pileated woodpecker, the second largest woodpecker in the U.S.; the belted kingfisher; majestic golden and bald eagles and colorful Western bluebirds and lazuli buntings.

But on a recent visit, she said she encountered plastic bags of dog waste along the trails and loud music blaring from picnickers' boomboxes in the verdant lower meadow. Deer by the dozen usually frequent this spot to graze, but not when humans create a racket.

These problems, while perhaps not new, have been increasing steadily during the COVID-19 outbreak, Kleinhaus said, as residents seek outdoor spaces as relief from the county health officer's stay-at-home order.

Based on what she has seen, Kleinhaus, who was speaking on her own behalf and not for Audubon, told the commissioners she worries giving more people access will damage plant and animal habitats and frighten wildlife away.

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"I really don't care who is there and I never have," she said. It's the number of people and their behaviors that make a difference to the environment.

The city should take the park opening to the voters to decide, she said, and perform an environmental-impact study.

Resident Winter Dellenbach told the commissioners she also doesn't care if the visitors are from Palo Alto or other cities but is concerned about moving ahead with a change at this time.

The city had a $40 million budget shortfall that forced the closure of libraries and curtailment of other city services. If opening the park will require added costs for security, registration and infrastructure improvements, now is not the time, she said.

Tracing the roots of the restriction

Bounded by Portola Valley, Los Altos Hills, Pearson-Arastradero Preserve and Los Trancos Open Space Preserve, Foothills Park offers spectacular vistas of the Bay Area and 15 miles of trails through rugged chaparral, fields, streams and woodlands.

A checklist of flora and fauna on the iNaturalist website shows that at least 574 different types of plants, spiders, butterflies, moths, birds, amphibians, fish, reptiles, mammals frequent the park. Videos show an elusive bobcat slinking across a remote trail; a flock of wild turkeys pecking in a field; and purple, spotted checker lilies during a spring wildflower jaunt.

The city purchased 1,294 acres of the land from Dr. Russel Lee, founder of the Palo Alto Medical Clinic, and his wife, Dorothy, in 1958 on the condition that it would be preserved as open space. The council put the $1.3 million purchase on a ballot in 1959, with 62% of voters supporting the purchase.

The council also asked neighboring cities Los Altos and Los Altos Hills to share the cost. Those cities declined, so Palo Alto restricted access to Palo Alto residents and their guests, Greg Betts, former director of the city's Community Services Department, told the Weekly in 2013.

'It's the number of people and their behaviors that make a difference to the environment.'

-Shani Kleinhaus, environmental advocate, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society

Daren Anderson, division manager of the city's Open Space, Parks and Golf, told the commissioners on Tuesday there was another reason for the exclusivity, however. Residents who feared Foothills would become a regional park formed Citizens for Good Governance to challenge a proposed plan. They filed a lawsuit against the council, which the California Supreme Court rejected, Anderson said, quoting a 1980 Stanford Daily article.

To appease the citizens group, the council voted to limit access to Palo Alto residents only. They followed up with an ordinance making it a misdemeanor to enter the park illegally, a violation that carried a $50 fine. The city formally dedicated the park in June 1965.

That decision wasn't the end of the debate. In 1974, the American Civil Liberties Union considered suing the city over the residency restriction, according to a story that year in the Stanford Daily. Larry Sleizer, then-chairman of the Midpeninsula chapter of the ACLU, told the Stanford Daily: "The effect of the original decision has prevented Blacks from East Palo Alto and students from using the park."

The city allowed its employees who don't reside in Palo Alto and their families to use the park, he argued, so it should be open to the public.

"Discrimination against nonresidents is unlawful," he said.

The threats of a lawsuit haven't abated: Cordell recently sent the city a letter warning of a lawsuit if the council doesn't immediately agree to stop enforcing its ban on nonresidents.

Similar discrimination claims have been upheld by courts. In a case that is similar to Palo Alto's, a 2001 lawsuit, "Leydon v. Town of Greenwich," the Connecticut Supreme Court found the municipality violated the plaintiff's First Amendment rights when it restricted access to a 147-acre municipal park to only its residents and their guests.

Moss and plants grow along the rocks contained in wire gabions at Foothills Park. Embarcadeo Media file photo by Veronica Weber.

In a 2001 analysis of the case, legal scholar James C. Kozlowski, an associate professor at George Mason University School of Sport, Recreation and Tourism Management, noted the Connecticut state appeals court first ruled the ordinance violated a general legal principle that "municipal parks are deemed to be held in trust for the benefit of the general public and not solely for the use of residents of the municipality."

The state's Supreme Court affirmed the decision, finding that a municipal park is a constitutionally protected public forum, much like a sidewalk or town plaza. Even if a nonresident can find a town resident to accompany him or her to the park, "the mere fact that he or she is required to do so places more than an incidental burden on the nonresident's expressive and associational rights," Kozlowski wrote.

Legal threats notwithstanding, the city did in 2005 open access of Foothills Park to nonresidents, though not by the front gate. That year, Santa Clara County and the California Coastal Conservancy together gave the city $2 million to help Palo Alto purchase 13 acres of private land from the Midpeninsula Open Space Trust to complete Pearson-Arastradero Preserve.

Palo Alto agreed as part of that deal to open a trail through Foothills Park to all visitors, regardless of residency. The trail links part of the Bay-to-Ridge Trail to Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve. Nonresidents who can hike through can visit Foothills Park.

How much can the park handle?

If the park is opened to all, would Foothills become overly burdened by the newcomers? Parks and Recreation Commissioner David Moss, who supports the pilot program that would allow nonresidents in 50 cars or bicycles a day to access the park, 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.

But the city's estimates of current park attendance cast some doubt that there would be a rush on Foothills Park. Anderson said the city hasn't reached its 1,000-persons-at-a-time limit in more than 20 years. Likewise, rangers have only given out one administrative citation — the equivalent of a parking ticket — and no citations for misdemeanor illegal entry into the park in about the same time frame.

The 1,000-person cap isn't necessarily tied to concerns about human wear-and-tear on the park either. It's based on the number of available parking spaces and an estimate that each vehicle would carry 2.5 occupants, which gets close to the 1,000-person figure, Anderson said.

Foothills had a 2,000-person cap when it opened in 1965; that number was revised down to the current number in the 1990s, he said. But park usage has actually declined. Approximately 292,000 visitors came in 1969; that figure peaked at about 372,000 in the early 1970s. It declined thereafter and through the 1990s. From 2002 to 2019, the park has averaged 152,000 visitors per year, he said, a figure that is based on rangers' periodic counts of vehicles in the park.

The number of nonresident visitors has also been modest. Between 2015 and 2019, about 3,100 nonresident vehicles were turned away, Anderson said.

Palo Alto purchased 1,294 acres of the land from Dr. Russel Lee, founder of the Palo Alto Medical Clinic, and his wife, Dorothy, in 1958 on the condition that it would be preserved as open space. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

(The front gate is only staffed by rangers on weekends, however, so the exact number of nonresidents coming to the park is hard to know.)

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a turnaround, however: a 136% increase in resident-visitors on weekends for the month of June, compared to 2019 and a 7% decrease on weekdays during the same time period, he said.

Five experts invited by the Parks and Recreation Commission to weigh in on the potential impacts and benefits of expanding park access argued on Tuesday that damage to the park isn't due to who comes to visit but rather how those people behave.

Taylor Peterson, director of biological analysis with MIG, an environmental consulting firm that has worked with the city in various parks, including Foothills, said increased usage doesn't have to mean the park environment will decline. Impacts are not only quantitative; they are, perhaps more importantly, qualitative. Two people who make a lot of noise at a picnic site can create more problems than five people who walk quietly on a trail, for example.

Lester Hendrie, a former Foothills Park supervising ranger who worked at the preserve for 30 years, said the length of time a person spends doing an activity also affects the environment — preventing, for example, wildlife from returning to a grazing site.

Peterson recommended the city undertake a baseline study to understand the existing conditions within the park and its current usage, then monitor the space regularly so that any problems 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.

A 7.7-acre portion of Foothills Park that the City Council annexed to the park in 2014 currently includes a nursery, which is maintained by Grassroots Ecology. Embarcadero Media file photo by Gennady Sheyner.

Nonprofit groups and volunteers have been on the front lines of maintaining the park. Ironically, the majority of their work involves repairing damage done by invasive, nonnative plants, not people, according to panelist Alex Von Feldt, executive director of Grassroots Ecology.

Seeds from these plant species, including the highly invasive stinkwort, travel on the tires of construction vehicles working on private developments outside the park and even come in on visitors' shoes.

Grassroots Ecology, which maintains a native plant nursery at the park, has managed hundreds of young volunteers who revegetate areas of the park with native plants, Von Feldt said. But while they've benefited the park, saving the city hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, many of these same volunteers — those who do not live in Palo Alto — feel their enthusiasm wane when they find out they can't use the park.

They start out saying, "This is amazing," Von Feldt said, but when they realize they're doing work on a preserve they can't return to, "it takes the air out of it."

Stanford University Professor Nicole M. Ardoin, a director of the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford's School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, studies the interaction of people and the environment. People are more likely to partner in environmental projects if they have access to Foothills, she told the commission.

'I think you could open (the park) to nonresidents and still keep a nice preserve.'

-Taylor Peterson, director of biological analysis, MIG

And isn't that what a public open space should strive to instill? Von Feldt and others asked.

When people come to love a place, they want to preserve it, to make it better than when they left and to invest in more open space because they understand its value, she said.

Von Feldt also argued that the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 epidemic makes now the right time to open Foothills Park; it would help alleviate some of the strain on Palo Alto's other large open space areas: the Pearson-Arastradero Preserve and Palo Alto Baylands.

Pearson-Arastradero Preserve is experiencing a huge influx of visitors as people have sought open areas where they can keep their social distance. The park has had to hire more security personnel to handle the traffic and parking issues, Von Feldt said.

"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.

The decision facing the council

If Palo Alto were to lift the park's residency restriction, access wouldn't need to be an all-or-nothing affair. The council could continue to restrict the number of people it allows into the park, as the pilot program proposal recommends. The council could also address environmental concerns by placing limits on people's activities.

Hendrie warned that consideration should be given to the additional burdens that more visitors would place on park rangers: more staffing of the entrance; more garbage and restroom cleanup; more patrols; more upkeep.

He urged the city to go slowly with whatever plan it decides upon.

Smith cautioned that the city will need to fund additional staff, the improvement of infrastructure, such as restrooms, and to maintain habitats.

'We need our wide, open public spaces now more than ever, and this would be a really great time to do it.'

-Alex Von Feldt, executive director, Grassroots Ecology

City Councilwoman Lydia Kou, who is the council liaison to the Parks and Recreation Commission, likewise said that further discussion must also include the funding for infrastructure and staffing to ensure the quality of the environment is maintained. Considering the city's nearly $40 million budget shrinkage this year, that could be a difficult prospect, she said.

Dellenbach, the Palo Alto resident, summed up what many on the commission and expert panel seemed to agree on.

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

"I think the 1,000-person-a-day (limit) should stay in place," she said. "It's vital. The wildlife and vegetation come first before human beings."

The City Council meeting will be held virtually on Zoom on Monday, Aug. 3, and can be viewed at Zoom.us (meeting ID 362 027 238) or by calling 669-900-6833. The Foothills Park item is scheduled to be discussed at around 7 p.m.

What the pilot program proposes

On Monday, Aug. 3, the Palo Alto City Council will discuss a pilot program for opening up access to Foothills Park to people who do not reside in Palo Alto. Here's what's been proposed.

• By purchasing a permit, nonresidents could enter Foothills Park. Up to 50 vehicles or bicycles with permits would be allowed per day.

• Permits would cost $6 each. Reservations would be made online.

• Residents would continue to have free access to the park.

• The city could adjust the quantity of permits sold per day in response to visitor numbers.

• The park's existing limit of 1,000 visitors at a time would continue.

• The pilot program would last for one year.

• Reservation of group spaces would be restricted to residents.

• The penalty for entering the park by the front gate would be downgraded to an infraction (from the current misdemeanor) for people who aren't residents, city employees or guests of residents or employees.

• The city's student field-trip policy would be formalized to include nonresident students.

The city would assess the quantitative and qualitative impacts to the park’s ecology, infrastructure and maintenance at the end of the pilot program.

Source: City of Palo Alto

Take the survey. Watch the panel.

Councilwoman Lydia Kou is surveying residents about Foothills Park access in advance of Monday's council meeting. To take the survey, go to tinyurl.com/KouFoothills. Also, a video of the panel discussion hosted by the Parks and Recreation Commission on July 28 will be posted at tinyurl.com/ParksAndRecPA or midpenmedia.org.

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Palo Alto leaders could decide Monday whether to open Foothills Park to nonresidents

Controversy on who can enter 1,400-acre preserve heads to City Council

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Jul 31, 2020, 6:58 am

A thorny issue that has created controversy for decades is about to get a hearing on Aug. 3 before the Palo Alto City Council: whether the city should launch a pilot program to allow non-Palo Alto residents access to the exclusive 1,400-acre Foothills Park.

Spurred by a renewed push for racial and socioeconomic equity amid the recent Black Lives Matter protests, advocates for opening the park to all say its exclusivity is a relic, the product of an antiquated mindset.

Emotions are running high on both sides of the debate. Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ryan McCauley — who helped create the proposal that the council will consider Monday for a one-year pilot program to expand park access — resigned in frustration on June 23 after the council postponed its discussion of Foothills until after its July break.

A group of local residents, including former Councilwoman LaDoris Cordell, have formed a group, Parks for All, and launched a website to lobby for opening up the park. They also recruited more than 100 faith and community leaders to sign a letter that urges the repeal of the city ordinance that makes it a misdemeanor offense for nonresidents to enter the park.

On the other side are people like Roger Smith, co-founder and director of the fundraising group Friends of the Palo Alto Parks, who has said that opening the park to more visitors would increase costs for maintenance — costs the budget-strapped city can't currently pay for. In a July 24 op-ed in the Palo Alto Weekly, he argued that now is not the time to make a decision about opening the park, given the pressing financial and staffing issues facing the city because of the pandemic.

Besides the financial considerations, opponents of opening the park to all assert that doing so would inflict damage on the fragile ecosystem. Residents such as Shani Kleinhaus, who is an environmental advocate for the nonprofit Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, argue that Foothills is a special place that has remained so because access is limited. Opening this unspoiled gem to all is an act that would take away from the very qualities that make it special, they say.

On Tuesday night, during a Parks and Recreation Commission meeting about Foothills, Kleinhaus said that she is used to taking frequent hikes in the park. The expansive open space preserve offers opportunities to find bird species as varied as the red-pompadoured, pileated woodpecker, the second largest woodpecker in the U.S.; the belted kingfisher; majestic golden and bald eagles and colorful Western bluebirds and lazuli buntings.

But on a recent visit, she said she encountered plastic bags of dog waste along the trails and loud music blaring from picnickers' boomboxes in the verdant lower meadow. Deer by the dozen usually frequent this spot to graze, but not when humans create a racket.

These problems, while perhaps not new, have been increasing steadily during the COVID-19 outbreak, Kleinhaus said, as residents seek outdoor spaces as relief from the county health officer's stay-at-home order.

Based on what she has seen, Kleinhaus, who was speaking on her own behalf and not for Audubon, told the commissioners she worries giving more people access will damage plant and animal habitats and frighten wildlife away.

"I really don't care who is there and I never have," she said. It's the number of people and their behaviors that make a difference to the environment.

The city should take the park opening to the voters to decide, she said, and perform an environmental-impact study.

Resident Winter Dellenbach told the commissioners she also doesn't care if the visitors are from Palo Alto or other cities but is concerned about moving ahead with a change at this time.

The city had a $40 million budget shortfall that forced the closure of libraries and curtailment of other city services. If opening the park will require added costs for security, registration and infrastructure improvements, now is not the time, she said.

Bounded by Portola Valley, Los Altos Hills, Pearson-Arastradero Preserve and Los Trancos Open Space Preserve, Foothills Park offers spectacular vistas of the Bay Area and 15 miles of trails through rugged chaparral, fields, streams and woodlands.

A checklist of flora and fauna on the iNaturalist website shows that at least 574 different types of plants, spiders, butterflies, moths, birds, amphibians, fish, reptiles, mammals frequent the park. Videos show an elusive bobcat slinking across a remote trail; a flock of wild turkeys pecking in a field; and purple, spotted checker lilies during a spring wildflower jaunt.

The city purchased 1,294 acres of the land from Dr. Russel Lee, founder of the Palo Alto Medical Clinic, and his wife, Dorothy, in 1958 on the condition that it would be preserved as open space. The council put the $1.3 million purchase on a ballot in 1959, with 62% of voters supporting the purchase.

The council also asked neighboring cities Los Altos and Los Altos Hills to share the cost. Those cities declined, so Palo Alto restricted access to Palo Alto residents and their guests, Greg Betts, former director of the city's Community Services Department, told the Weekly in 2013.

Daren Anderson, division manager of the city's Open Space, Parks and Golf, told the commissioners on Tuesday there was another reason for the exclusivity, however. Residents who feared Foothills would become a regional park formed Citizens for Good Governance to challenge a proposed plan. They filed a lawsuit against the council, which the California Supreme Court rejected, Anderson said, quoting a 1980 Stanford Daily article.

To appease the citizens group, the council voted to limit access to Palo Alto residents only. They followed up with an ordinance making it a misdemeanor to enter the park illegally, a violation that carried a $50 fine. The city formally dedicated the park in June 1965.

That decision wasn't the end of the debate. In 1974, the American Civil Liberties Union considered suing the city over the residency restriction, according to a story that year in the Stanford Daily. Larry Sleizer, then-chairman of the Midpeninsula chapter of the ACLU, told the Stanford Daily: "The effect of the original decision has prevented Blacks from East Palo Alto and students from using the park."

The city allowed its employees who don't reside in Palo Alto and their families to use the park, he argued, so it should be open to the public.

"Discrimination against nonresidents is unlawful," he said.

The threats of a lawsuit haven't abated: Cordell recently sent the city a letter warning of a lawsuit if the council doesn't immediately agree to stop enforcing its ban on nonresidents.

Similar discrimination claims have been upheld by courts. In a case that is similar to Palo Alto's, a 2001 lawsuit, "Leydon v. Town of Greenwich," the Connecticut Supreme Court found the municipality violated the plaintiff's First Amendment rights when it restricted access to a 147-acre municipal park to only its residents and their guests.

In a 2001 analysis of the case, legal scholar James C. Kozlowski, an associate professor at George Mason University School of Sport, Recreation and Tourism Management, noted the Connecticut state appeals court first ruled the ordinance violated a general legal principle that "municipal parks are deemed to be held in trust for the benefit of the general public and not solely for the use of residents of the municipality."

The state's Supreme Court affirmed the decision, finding that a municipal park is a constitutionally protected public forum, much like a sidewalk or town plaza. Even if a nonresident can find a town resident to accompany him or her to the park, "the mere fact that he or she is required to do so places more than an incidental burden on the nonresident's expressive and associational rights," Kozlowski wrote.

Legal threats notwithstanding, the city did in 2005 open access of Foothills Park to nonresidents, though not by the front gate. That year, Santa Clara County and the California Coastal Conservancy together gave the city $2 million to help Palo Alto purchase 13 acres of private land from the Midpeninsula Open Space Trust to complete Pearson-Arastradero Preserve.

Palo Alto agreed as part of that deal to open a trail through Foothills Park to all visitors, regardless of residency. The trail links part of the Bay-to-Ridge Trail to Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve. Nonresidents who can hike through can visit Foothills Park.

If the park is opened to all, would Foothills become overly burdened by the newcomers? Parks and Recreation Commissioner David Moss, who supports the pilot program that would allow nonresidents in 50 cars or bicycles a day to access the park, 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.

But the city's estimates of current park attendance cast some doubt that there would be a rush on Foothills Park. Anderson said the city hasn't reached its 1,000-persons-at-a-time limit in more than 20 years. Likewise, rangers have only given out one administrative citation — the equivalent of a parking ticket — and no citations for misdemeanor illegal entry into the park in about the same time frame.

The 1,000-person cap isn't necessarily tied to concerns about human wear-and-tear on the park either. It's based on the number of available parking spaces and an estimate that each vehicle would carry 2.5 occupants, which gets close to the 1,000-person figure, Anderson said.

Foothills had a 2,000-person cap when it opened in 1965; that number was revised down to the current number in the 1990s, he said. But park usage has actually declined. Approximately 292,000 visitors came in 1969; that figure peaked at about 372,000 in the early 1970s. It declined thereafter and through the 1990s. From 2002 to 2019, the park has averaged 152,000 visitors per year, he said, a figure that is based on rangers' periodic counts of vehicles in the park.

The number of nonresident visitors has also been modest. Between 2015 and 2019, about 3,100 nonresident vehicles were turned away, Anderson said.

(The front gate is only staffed by rangers on weekends, however, so the exact number of nonresidents coming to the park is hard to know.)

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a turnaround, however: a 136% increase in resident-visitors on weekends for the month of June, compared to 2019 and a 7% decrease on weekdays during the same time period, he said.

Five experts invited by the Parks and Recreation Commission to weigh in on the potential impacts and benefits of expanding park access argued on Tuesday that damage to the park isn't due to who comes to visit but rather how those people behave.

Taylor Peterson, director of biological analysis with MIG, an environmental consulting firm that has worked with the city in various parks, including Foothills, said increased usage doesn't have to mean the park environment will decline. Impacts are not only quantitative; they are, perhaps more importantly, qualitative. Two people who make a lot of noise at a picnic site can create more problems than five people who walk quietly on a trail, for example.

Lester Hendrie, a former Foothills Park supervising ranger who worked at the preserve for 30 years, said the length of time a person spends doing an activity also affects the environment — preventing, for example, wildlife from returning to a grazing site.

Peterson recommended the city undertake a baseline study to understand the existing conditions within the park and its current usage, then monitor the space regularly so that any problems 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.

Nonprofit groups and volunteers have been on the front lines of maintaining the park. Ironically, the majority of their work involves repairing damage done by invasive, nonnative plants, not people, according to panelist Alex Von Feldt, executive director of Grassroots Ecology.

Seeds from these plant species, including the highly invasive stinkwort, travel on the tires of construction vehicles working on private developments outside the park and even come in on visitors' shoes.

Grassroots Ecology, which maintains a native plant nursery at the park, has managed hundreds of young volunteers who revegetate areas of the park with native plants, Von Feldt said. But while they've benefited the park, saving the city hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, many of these same volunteers — those who do not live in Palo Alto — feel their enthusiasm wane when they find out they can't use the park.

They start out saying, "This is amazing," Von Feldt said, but when they realize they're doing work on a preserve they can't return to, "it takes the air out of it."

Stanford University Professor Nicole M. Ardoin, a director of the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford's School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, studies the interaction of people and the environment. People are more likely to partner in environmental projects if they have access to Foothills, she told the commission.

And isn't that what a public open space should strive to instill? Von Feldt and others asked.

When people come to love a place, they want to preserve it, to make it better than when they left and to invest in more open space because they understand its value, she said.

Von Feldt also argued that the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 epidemic makes now the right time to open Foothills Park; it would help alleviate some of the strain on Palo Alto's other large open space areas: the Pearson-Arastradero Preserve and Palo Alto Baylands.

Pearson-Arastradero Preserve is experiencing a huge influx of visitors as people have sought open areas where they can keep their social distance. The park has had to hire more security personnel to handle the traffic and parking issues, Von Feldt said.

"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.

If Palo Alto were to lift the park's residency restriction, access wouldn't need to be an all-or-nothing affair. The council could continue to restrict the number of people it allows into the park, as the pilot program proposal recommends. The council could also address environmental concerns by placing limits on people's activities.

Hendrie warned that consideration should be given to the additional burdens that more visitors would place on park rangers: more staffing of the entrance; more garbage and restroom cleanup; more patrols; more upkeep.

He urged the city to go slowly with whatever plan it decides upon.

Smith cautioned that the city will need to fund additional staff, the improvement of infrastructure, such as restrooms, and to maintain habitats.

City Councilwoman Lydia Kou, who is the council liaison to the Parks and Recreation Commission, likewise said that further discussion must also include the funding for infrastructure and staffing to ensure the quality of the environment is maintained. Considering the city's nearly $40 million budget shrinkage this year, that could be a difficult prospect, she said.

Dellenbach, the Palo Alto resident, summed up what many on the commission and expert panel seemed to agree on.

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

"I think the 1,000-person-a-day (limit) should stay in place," she said. "It's vital. The wildlife and vegetation come first before human beings."

The City Council meeting will be held virtually on Zoom on Monday, Aug. 3, and can be viewed at Zoom.us (meeting ID 362 027 238) or by calling 669-900-6833. The Foothills Park item is scheduled to be discussed at around 7 p.m.

On Monday, Aug. 3, the Palo Alto City Council will discuss a pilot program for opening up access to Foothills Park to people who do not reside in Palo Alto. Here's what's been proposed.

• By purchasing a permit, nonresidents could enter Foothills Park. Up to 50 vehicles or bicycles with permits would be allowed per day.

• Permits would cost $6 each. Reservations would be made online.

• Residents would continue to have free access to the park.

• The city could adjust the quantity of permits sold per day in response to visitor numbers.

• The park's existing limit of 1,000 visitors at a time would continue.

• The pilot program would last for one year.

• Reservation of group spaces would be restricted to residents.

• The penalty for entering the park by the front gate would be downgraded to an infraction (from the current misdemeanor) for people who aren't residents, city employees or guests of residents or employees.

• The city's student field-trip policy would be formalized to include nonresident students.

The city would assess the quantitative and qualitative impacts to the park’s ecology, infrastructure and maintenance at the end of the pilot program.

Source: City of Palo Alto

Councilwoman Lydia Kou is surveying residents about Foothills Park access in advance of Monday's council meeting. To take the survey, go to tinyurl.com/KouFoothills. Also, a video of the panel discussion hosted by the Parks and Recreation Commission on July 28 will be posted at tinyurl.com/ParksAndRecPA or midpenmedia.org.

Comments

Nayeli
Midtown
on Jul 31, 2020 at 9:53 am
Nayeli, Midtown
on Jul 31, 2020 at 9:53 am
151 people like this

I hope that the city votes not to cater to the demands of agitators. After all, those same agitators will not be happy. They will argue that a permit (even one that costs $6) should be construed as "racism" in some way, shape or form.


PA Resident
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:21 am
PA Resident, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:21 am
84 people like this

Not sure the park can handle. It is already very crowded. MV/SV residents have similar parks, already. Also, basing the arguments on racial disparity does not make sense.


Voter
College Terrace
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:27 am
Voter, College Terrace
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:27 am
114 people like this

Palo Alto resident voters will be watching this one. Any "leader" who votes against the interests of their own constituents and ruin this open space will be voted out of office. For an issue like this , voters have a long memory.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:41 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:41 am
9 people like this

So, after 50+ years, LAH gets the last laugh?

Time to transition FHP to MidPen.


Hiker
Palo Verde
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:50 am
Hiker, Palo Verde
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:50 am
83 people like this

Palo Alto provides public access to its parks, most notably Arastradero.
My husband and I, Palo Alto residents, are rarely able to obtain a parking place at Arastradero, but we have been able to park and hike in Foothills Park. I would hate lose accessibility to this park too. I doubt those who are criticizing the favoring of Palo Alto residents will be satisfied with anything but complete parity. And in terms of charging a non-resident fee, although I'd personally be OK with both residents and non-residents being charged a high enough fee to maintain our beautiful park-- this would be financially discriminatory. Yet if the fee is not high enough to maintain the park, Palo Alto residents will be responsible for the difference. Is that fair? And there are apparently questions about whether opening the park could cause damage to its ecosystem. I think we need more time to make this important--irreversible-- decision. Can't we wait until after the pandemic is over to re-open this question?


Astonished
Barron Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:03 am
Astonished , Barron Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:03 am
109 people like this

Just wanted to say, can you please leave this issue ALONE. We are in the middle of the biggest crisis in recent world history. I would think that Palo Alto politicians have better things to work on. Also, please please please not another "study" or "pilot project" to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on while the local economy and schools continues to collapse.


Heather
Los Altos Hills
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:04 am
Heather, Los Altos Hills
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:04 am
97 people like this

As a resident of a wealthy neighborhood ALSO BARRED from Foothills Park, I can assure you the park issue is NOT about race, and it's NOT about class, and it's NOT about privilege. If any of those were the issue my rich neighbors would be waltzing into the park daily. I have two primary concerns about opening it up. Page Mill Road is narrow & windy and dangerous. People get killed on it. Pedestrians have been killed, bicyclists have been killed. Increasing the traffic could be a recipe for disaster. Secondly, the City of Palo Alto has essentially abandoned maintenance of the park from a fire prevention standpoint. Misguided "environmental" policies have left downed wood in place and now that park is a tinderbox just waiting to explode. The more people inside building fires, dropping cigarettes alongside paths, the greater the chance that thing is going to blow. And as a resident of the area obviously I don't want it to blow. And if it does, the City of Palo Alto willl have a fleet of very high powered LIABILITY lawyers knocking on their door when the rich folks get burned out. Finally, not a concern but a point. If the multitudes of Bay Area residents who feel they deserve access to Foothills Park want a fabulous regional park experience, they've got about 17 others to choose from, in the area. How about we wait until those parks are crowded to capacity before bringing another one online?


Crescent Park Mom
Crescent Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:08 am
Crescent Park Mom, Crescent Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:08 am
4 people like this

Give the property to PAUSD. Redirect budget to PAUSD. Hire Park Dept to manage it. This gives access to PALO Alto residents and students. Then the PAUSD policies for using PAUSD properties can be used by non-residents.


Financial discrimination?
Ventura
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:11 am
Financial discrimination?, Ventura
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:11 am
12 people like this

In what world does charging a $6 entrance fee constitute “financial discrimination“ but requiring a residency that costs millions to buy or $3k+ to rent does not?

Palo Alto has long used exclusionary zoning and Byzantine process to keep out low-income communities of color. The stark segregation between Palo Alto and East Palo Alto is an abomination, as is keeping our park for residents only.


anonymous
another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:27 am
anonymous, another community
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:27 am
12 people like this

How is this really an issue in this day and age? It reeks of privilege and a lack of thinking.


Fair
Crescent Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:37 am
Fair, Crescent Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:37 am
12 people like this

In order to make usage of the preserve fair, we will need to collect racial and ethnic identity of each visitor as they enter the preserve. Multiracial children will need to identify their parentage on the entrance forms.

For example, 37% of California is LatinX, yet Palo Alto is 6.2% LatinX. Therefore we will need to ensure that on any given day, 37% of the people admitted identify as LatinX. California is 6% Asian , while Palo Alto is 27.1% Asian, therefore we will need to make certain that 6% of preserve admissions are Asian. The same is true for all other races, children of mixed parentage will count as .5% towards the non-white parent or the parent of their choice. This is only fair solution.


Anne
Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:43 am
Anne, Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:43 am
10 people like this

The city of Palo Alto bought the land for this park over 50 years ago and limited access because the neighboring cities wouldn't chip in. That's where all this came from.
Residents who don't want to "lose access" would not, they would have the same access everyone else would - who buys a ticket. This decision is not irreversible, because the city is proposing a pilot program. Those posters who want this "left alone" and are worried about "agitators" have not added any reasonable defense of this situation, which is way overdue for a change.
The city of Palo Alto should have made this park accessible to all many years ago. Certainly Palo Alto residents were not going to volunteer to change things. It's indefensible to claim any basis for excluding non-residents, and saying "leave things as they are" is how a lot of bad things are left to continue.
There are lots of mentions of $$ and parking, and harm to wildlife, but how is this different than with any other park?


Josie
Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:45 am
Josie, Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 11:45 am
38 people like this

'But on a recent visit, she said she encountered plastic bags of dog waste along the trails'

I'm also seeing bags of dog poop along local trails. Really, people?? If you can bag it, you can pack it out!!!


Local
Charleston Meadows
on Jul 31, 2020 at 12:20 pm
Local, Charleston Meadows
on Jul 31, 2020 at 12:20 pm
4 people like this

Why not just allow access to PA residents plus black and hispanic members of our neighboring communities?


Nayeli
Midtown
on Jul 31, 2020 at 12:38 pm
Nayeli, Midtown
on Jul 31, 2020 at 12:38 pm
94 people like this

As a Hispanic American woman who has visited Foothills Park quite a few times, I can attest that this has nothing to do with "racism." This claim is a straw man based upon no credible statistical evidence.

There is no racial prohibition for living in Palo Alto. There is no racial discrimination to visit Foothills Park. It is no more "privilege" than being able to check out books at the Palo Alto City Library.

It's a shame that these types of ridiculously illogical claims are used by agitators in this day and age.


Resident
Community Center
on Jul 31, 2020 at 12:44 pm
Resident , Community Center
on Jul 31, 2020 at 12:44 pm
10 people like this

The article does a good job of laying out the actual proposal for limited access by nonresidents rather than unlimited access than many posters seem to be concerned with.
There would only be a maximum of 50 nonresident vehicles allowed per day and those users would need to pay a fee and purchase passes online ahead of a visit. The park would keep its limit of not more than 1000 visitors at a time.
There are legitimate concerns about dog walkers needing to take greater responsibility and other issues, but they need to be addressed regardless of this limited access proposal.


KJH
Stanford
on Jul 31, 2020 at 12:54 pm
KJH, Stanford
on Jul 31, 2020 at 12:54 pm
19 people like this

Not to mention the closing of the fire station #6.


Bob Gleason
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:18 pm
Bob Gleason, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:18 pm
71 people like this

Why don't you focus on the things that can get us back to opening our businesses. How many more of our local restaurants need to permanently close. Spend time on opening up Foothill feels like a "I did something" checklist item. Leave it as is and put the decision out to the VOTERS...


jc
College Terrace
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:41 pm
jc, College Terrace
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:41 pm
33 people like this

Very easy for those who do not have financial or liability responsibility to demand Foothill Park be opened to non-residents. Reminds me of children begging mom and dad for a swimming pool.


Dixie Storkman
Greenmeadow
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:46 pm
Dixie Storkman, Greenmeadow
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:46 pm
56 people like this

As I recall Palo Altons were asked to vote on an additional cost if they wished the lake at Foothill Park to remain when the dam was being repaired ... Exclusively a Palo Alto cost. No outside help!! Which we paid!!


Rick
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:52 pm
Rick, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:52 pm
59 people like this

This shouldn't be up to the council.


also vote
Barron Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:31 pm
also vote, Barron Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:31 pm
26 people like this

There is a pandemic, the GDP just went down by 33% and there is a psycho-maniac in charge of the White House...and our local leader worry about this?


Gale Johnson
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:31 pm
Gale Johnson, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 31, 2020 at 2:31 pm
50 people like this

Shame on those who want to bring the race issue into this discussion. Unfortunately LaDoris Cordell can't refrain from doing that as a black women, former County Supreme Court judge , and PA city council member. Currently, the debate should only be about residents and non-residents using the preserve...and about the original deed agreement and subsequent ordinances limiting access.

I think the days of the redlining of homes and property sales in PA is long past. We are more accepting and more welcome to diversity in our community than ever before. I see it everyday in my end of town...probably more than in the really well off neighborhoods of the really rich folks on the north end of town. That's what makes us special. Yes, we are a special city, and we welcome newcomers who will add to the experiences and diversity we enjoy in our city. And, yes, that means being able to afford to pay a higher price for housing here.

Please don't degrade us and bring down our level of acceptance into this great community. It took dedicated people to get here, to stay here, and to make it what it is.


also vote also vote
College Terrace
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:28 pm
also vote also vote, College Terrace
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:28 pm
6 people like this

Re: also vote's comment.
This is a "hot button" issue, so news websites and the media will NOT leave it alone, it grabs attention, gets people upset and thus - drives revenue. Tackling real issues is not as exciting but more important.


Sally
Downtown North
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:33 pm
Sally, Downtown North
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:33 pm
54 people like this

This council just cut Community Services budget by 40%. We cut arts, theatre, jmz, seniors... council's "blow with the wind" cowardice will be on full display again if they open without the needed funding boost... which we simply don't have right now.


cmarg
Palo Alto High School
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:14 pm
cmarg, Palo Alto High School
on Jul 31, 2020 at 4:14 pm
41 people like this

Please don't miss race and tie this to Black Lives Matter. It is so sad to try to put this type of issue in that bucket --- why to make us all feel guilty or something. Really, we need to focus on the more important issues within City Council. We are in very unusual times. We may not even be able to be out and about so why are we even talking about Foothills Park. Focus on what matters right now and that is health, safety, education, and the economy. Stop waisting time please.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 7:40 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 7:40 pm
29 people like this

Depending on things, this may be my last post on this subject. 40-and-some years ago, there were a number of "special" things about Palo Alto that were the result of-- luck, prosperity, but, also, a willingness to tax ourselves for shared community services. That included FHP, but also, the libraries, the schools, the bike-friendly routes, the street-tree program, and so on. Some of the amenities contributed to "peace and quiet". Many people found it attractive, many others thought it was a waste of tax money that could be better spent on a new family car or whatever and chose to live elsewhere.

Over the last two decades, actions by the city government have helped erode that specialness. I wish that PACC could find it in its collective heart to look at how our quality of life has been reduced and try to take corrective action. FHP will probably be the next chapter. Palo Alto will become like the joke, "Palo Alto? Nobody goes there any more. It's too crowded."


Lifetime Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 8:06 pm
Lifetime Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 8:06 pm
31 people like this

Foothills Park is a rare treasure and an amazing animal habitat because it restricts access so severely. Rather than see the downside of the fact that we don't hit the max entrants, I see the upside which is it remains a sanctuary. If we start hitting the max of 1000 per day we will definitely see a different level of impact, so the actual comparison should be "current usage and impact" versus potentially "1000 people per day and impact."

If we can agree that limiting access is the right, best thing in order to maintain this amazing place, how is it fair that the residents that pay for it (tax dollars) may find they cannot use it because nonresidents whom pay almost nothing ($6 per carload could mean less than $1 per person) have already filled the quota?

For Anne of Mountain View, your question as to how is this different than "any other park" epitomizes the real issue: This is not just "any other park," and the residents striving to protect this place fear that exact attitude.

Also, it makes no sense to limit the number of visitors to 1000 people while considering allowing 50 vehicles on non-residents. There is no way to regulate how many people are in a vehicle. For an extreme example, if 50 vehicles that each have 8 people in them (not impossible in this day of SUVs and minivans) that is 400 of the 1000 "visitors" allowed.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 1, 2020 at 10:13 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 1, 2020 at 10:13 am
21 people like this

Article today in the SFC concerning all of the parks in the surrounding counties. They are all overloaded. Some are on reservations only. And cars all over the streets leading into the parks. And many will be closed during the high heat time period due to fire threat.

Bottom line is that there are parks all over the place where ever you live. You are not isolated in this region - there are parks galore. And they are not counting race and ethnicity. That last time I was up there - about a month ago - it was dry and the air quality was bad due to fires in other areas which contaminated the air quality throughout the bay area.

If you look at the entrance to the SU dish walk there is a checkpoint going in. Cars backed up on the residential street. And dry. The hills are a fire trap.

Why people focus on this park given all of the parks in the area is a matter of people trying to make a point- the point having nothing to do with the health and well being of the park itself and the animals that live there.


Annette
College Terrace
on Aug 1, 2020 at 12:12 pm
Annette, College Terrace
on Aug 1, 2020 at 12:12 pm
34 people like this

This issue strikes me as unnecessary given that ANYONE can go to Foothills ANY weekday, which means the access issue is effectively about weekends. How can something relevant to so few days be a priority topic at this particular point in time given all that is going on and the budget cuts this city faces? And how can open access ever be considered without a simultaneous commitment to staff the fire station full time most of the year?

It's my understanding that today, the first day of the new budget, PAFD is operating under "brown out" conditions, meaning it is down one engine. This impacts response time city-wide. Imagine if an engine had to get up to Foothills. Like it or not, in addition to the obvious need to protect the preserve in order to keep it as wonderful as it is, finances and public-safety must also be taken into consideration - and given their due.


mauricio
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 1, 2020 at 1:42 pm
mauricio, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 1, 2020 at 1:42 pm
26 people like this

As a Left wing Democrat I can attest that this issue as absolutely nothing to do with racism. There is so much racism in our country that there's no need to bring it up where it doesn't exist. It makes no sense to increase the traffic on a narrow winding road that's already unsafe to drivers and cyclists. Additionally, neighboring communities that refused to join in when the property was up for sale have no right to demand anything. This is a property that was purchased by Palo Alto tax payers, has a unique location that makes it unsuitable for mass visitation, and since all other Palo parks are open to visitors who aren't residents, there's no problem.

This country is in an existential disaster and is ruled by a dictatorial incompetent madman, we should pay our entire attention to that, not to this silly issue, and not to allowing an exclusive girls private school located in a residential area to receive special dispensation despite years of user permit violations.


Annette
College Terrace
on Aug 1, 2020 at 4:16 pm
Annette, College Terrace
on Aug 1, 2020 at 4:16 pm
15 people like this

CC: please print out Mauricio's comments and keep that paper in front of you while you debate this topic and the Castilleja expansion.

Priorities matter, as does common sense.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 1, 2020 at 6:43 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 1, 2020 at 6:43 pm
47 people like this

I am reading the printed copy today of the Weekly and the header for one opinion is "Desegregate Foothills Park". Does the Weekly have a vested interest in perpetuating
nonsense? FHP is NOT SEGREGATED. Newspapers do have opinions and push their own interests but perpetuating nonsense should not be one of those editorial adventures. We see that in the SJM and SFC where the header to an opinion has presented a conclusion or opinion as a given. That is what is called fake news. The criteria for entry at FHP is residents of the city. And the city is not segregated. Perpetuating any opinion that it is segregated is fake news.


Nayeli
Midtown
on Aug 1, 2020 at 7:45 pm
Nayeli, Midtown
on Aug 1, 2020 at 7:45 pm
42 people like this

@ mauricio: I agree that the issues surrounding Foothills Park have nothing to do with racism (as alleged by various protesters in the area).

Yet, I noticed that you went a bit further with your post (again) and made certain to include yet another partisan political shot. Those aren't helpful in discussions like this. They have nothing to do with the problem. They offer no real solution.

Besides: You don't REALLY believe all of the things that you posted, do you? You can dislike President Trump all you want; however, it is laughable to call him a "dictatorial incompetent madman." While Trump is far from perfect, he has nothing to do with this issue. He has little to do with many of the local issues in which I've noticed the same people bring him up.

Now, it is possible that your self-identity as a "Left-wing Democrat" might cloud the lens through which you view individuals from "the other party" or those with whom you might disagree. However, I personally cringe when I read such wild generalizations or rhetorical caricatures. There's no need to bring up divisive, partisan political rhetoric ad naseum.

Maybe I see things differently. Of course, that could be because I was born in Mexico (a nation with plenty of skin color and class warfare issues). I've traveled throughout this nation as a migrant farm worker. I also have studied and traveled abroad. America is an amazing nation.

I'm always struck by those who visit this nation and discover it is much better than the deranged generalization presented by Hollywood or the media. Unfortunately, the exaggerated caricatures used as straw men to fight against don't really help in conversations about things like this.

Yes, some activists and agitators raised this issue as if it were a "racial" issue. Some of those same individuals are the ones who point fingers at "systemic racism" in the Palo Alto Police Department, Palo Alto's public schools, various city policies and even the cost of simply living in Palo Alto.

One of the people who was demanding that Foothills Park be "opened up" also claimed that attacks on certain minority groups suddenly increased in this area over the last four years (which isn't true) -- and stated that this would be one of many concessions that the Bay Area needs to implement to "make things right."

Unfortunately, trying to reason with this sentiment is like trying to reason with those who point the finger of blame at Republicans or President Trump when their car doesn't pass smog, the cost of tuition goes up, their utility bill increases or when they simply stump their toe.

It's better to focus on the issue at hand.


CGPA
Downtown North
on Aug 2, 2020 at 12:03 am
CGPA, Downtown North
on Aug 2, 2020 at 12:03 am
40 people like this

Great. And once we get this issue settled, we have a lengthy list of other things we're coming after:

Palo Alto schools are among the best in the country. This is an injustice. We intend to force you to open your schools to all the peoples of the country. You are a wealthy town and should pay for the education for all. Medicare for ALL and education for ALL. We intend to put 50 of our disruptive students into *each* of your classrooms so that our kids can learn in our own classrooms in peace and quiet.

Fire department. We should NOT have to pay for our own fire department, when Palo Alto has a perfectly good one to be used by ALL. Why should the firefighters you pay for sit at your lilly white fire stations protecting your homes, most of which are sprinklered and alarmed? Send them and the equipment you paid for to OUR firehouses. If your house burns down while the fire fighters you paid for are busy saving my house, that's merely the price of equality.

Libraries. Our cities are sick and tired of funding our own libraries while yours are not nearly filled to overcrowding. That needs to change. It's an injustice to black lives and all lives that you have it better than we do and your libraries are ripe for the picking.

Utilities. Why does the richest city in the area have the cheapest utilities? It is an injustice. You should be swapping rates with the poorer areas so that they take your lower utilities and you take theirs. This is not even up for discussion.

Yes, we are SALIVATING at your capitulation on this first issue. That's right, the first, as in, one of many. We are going to come back to the well over and over until you finally say no. We'll send our minions into your council meetings to scream and protest like we did pulling down statues and burning down buildings. Power to the people! As soon as you show weakness on this issue, we will show you NO MERCY with our subsequent demands, which will be endless. Go ahead, and vote for this out of guilt, in spite of the fact that everyone slammed the door in your face when you went looking for help to fund this park.

We're going to milk your guilt for all we can. We can always find some way to twist race into the issues above. Your even discussing them will be branded as racist, because the term ha slost all meaning. And if you refuse, we'll get you to stupidly agree to a "pilot program", as if you'll be able to take these privileges away without being branded as racist. Think of how bad that's going to look if we tear your park apart, burn half of it down, and you even *try* to shut the doors. Just try to take away your "pilot program" and watch the real fireworks begin!


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 2, 2020 at 12:34 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 2, 2020 at 12:34 pm
6 people like this

WOW - I am not keeping up here. Who - or what is CGPA? If the person lives in the city as indicated then they are benefiting from the closed restaurants, shut down streets, children in their home classrooms, and the police who are being beaten up. They get to benefit from an increased tax because there are few open businesses and hotels which support the city tax base. Since it was posted around midnight then assume there is some drugs or alcohol fueling these sentiments.

Justin Phillips is a new writer for the SFC. He is young and black and spends his allotted section trying to explain what is going on. Latest entry is "Black protestors pay price for bad behavior of others." In Oakland a group of white Antifa went over to burn down a car dealership and came back and changed clothes under a tree to get out of their descriptive attire. The local Neighborhood Watch viewed this all and were reporting on it.

As in Portland and Seattle, Chicago, and NY there is no bottom line - just destruction. No one is going to go on vacation to these places - no hotel tax, no restaurants, no bars, no festivities. No one is going to move there or start a new business there. And people who do live there are going to leave to calmer, less obtrusive places.

the people who participate in these activities have no vested interests in the locations where they gather. What is the end result they are looking for?

Take that down to FHP - it is a small location in a difficult place to get to with limited resources and in fire prone area. Yet a lot of people are intent on damaging it beyond repair and the homes surrounding it. What is the point of it all? Do homosapiens poop in their own nests?


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2020 at 1:38 pm
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2020 at 1:38 pm
12 people like this

[Post removed.]


S_mom
Community Center
on Aug 2, 2020 at 8:30 pm
S_mom, Community Center
on Aug 2, 2020 at 8:30 pm
23 people like this

If they do the pilot program I hope they track the city of residence for the people who buy the permits. If would be useful to know at the end of the pilot when they are deciding whether to make the program permanent whether the it actually attracted visitors from less wealthy cities or whether it just added visitors from Los Altos Hills.


Novelera
Midtown
on Aug 3, 2020 at 4:23 pm
Novelera, Midtown
on Aug 3, 2020 at 4:23 pm
7 people like this

Watching to see what the City Council does tonight. Anyone who is up for re-election who votes for this "pilot program" won't get my vote. And kudos to the poster above who said that once the "pilot program" gets the camel's nose into the tent, they'll never un-do it.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North

Registered user
on Aug 3, 2020 at 10:01 pm
Name hidden, Downtown North

Registered user
on Aug 3, 2020 at 10:01 pm

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supply & demand
Registered user
Green Acres
on Aug 4, 2020 at 7:48 am
supply & demand, Green Acres
Registered user
on Aug 4, 2020 at 7:48 am
4 people like this

Keep status quo! Don't do any experiment during pandemic time!


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