News

Palo Alto plans further cuts to police, fire and community services

City Manager Ed Shikada's proposed budget would also keep libraries closed, reduce citizen surveys

Discussions of Palo Alto's fiscal year 2022 budget starts this week with an overview to the City Council on May 3, 2021. Embarcadero Media file photo.

Even as the state slowly begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, Palo Alto City Manager Ed Shikada is preparing for a second year of budget cuts, with libraries, community services and the public safety departments all facing significant service reductions.

Under Shikada's proposed budget for fiscal year 2022, the Children's, Downtown and College Terrace libraries would all be closed to the public, though each would be equipped with vending machines that allow for contactless distributions.

Fire Station 2 in the College Terrace neighborhood, which already experiences "brownouts" during weekday nights and weekends, would see these brownouts extended to all day, every day. This means it would be effectively shut down when firefighters in the department are on leave for any reason.

The Police Department would lose five more patrol officers under the proposed budget, following a year in which 11 positions were cut.

"As a result, the Department anticipates increased response times and non-response to various types of calls for service, a transition to mandatory online reporting for certain report types, reduced capacity to perform patrol-level investigations and respond to quality of life issues, and reduced adopt-a-school (K-8) traffic enforcement," the budget states.

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Community services would also suffer. The Children's Theatre would lose a costume designer and administrative support staff. The theater, Shikada wrote, "will need to find ways to creatively reuse their existing costume collection, or seek donations instead of fabricating new costumes." And the Palo Alto Art Center would lose all city support for its exhibition programs for the first time in its 50-year history, according to the budget.

Shikada is proposing to eliminate all teen programs and free Family Day programs at the Rinconada Park institution, as well as scrap the Cultural Kaleidoscope, a bridge-building program that brings artists to elementary schools in the neighboring communities in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

Even with these cuts, the proposed general fund would be about 4.4% higher than in the current fiscal year, when the city cut $39 million in response to the economic impacts of the pandemic. The budget includes a $205.6 million general fund and $152.9 million in capital spending in the coming fiscal year. The budget also eliminates the dozens of positions that the council froze last year during its budget-setting process. Combined, the current budget and the proposed one eliminate 96 full-time-equivalent positions and 129 positions, resulting in a workforce of 939 employees, which includes 490 in the general fund.

In recommending the latest round of service reductions, Shikada stressed in his transmittal letter that the strategies proposed in the budget "are neither recommended nor sustainable for the fiscal health of Palo Alto in the long-term."

The budget, he wrote, "reflects our current fiscal reality as a result of the ongoing, extended pandemic, related economic challenges and continued resource limitations."

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"As the hopeful signs for recovery continue, this Proposed Budget positions Palo Alto well to respond quickly and adapt should more moderate growth occur than forecasted," Shikada wrote. "However, the City's long-term fiscal health must be addressed through more sustainable approaches to address the community's service priorities into the future."

That said, some changes are expected to remain for the long term. The city, for example, has been partnering with a national organization (currently known as Polco Citizen's Survey) for nearly two decades to poll residents about their satisfaction with various city services. Traditionally, the survey has been coordinated by the City Auditor's Office and released in time for the council's priority-setting process in the beginning of each year.

But over the past two years, as the council outsourced auditing services and eliminated all auditor positions at City Hall, the responsibility for the survey was shifted to Shikada's office. Now, he is proposing conducting the survey every two years rather than every year. This means the next survey would take place in fiscal year 2023.

This, he wrote in the budget, "will ensure the feedback from the community is received on a routine and consistent basis in order to assist in informing staff and the City Council on its priorities and areas for further focus and improvement" (the budget doesn't explain how conducting the survey less frequently than in the past would help with this effort).

He acknowledges, however, in the budget document that the city is expecting to see some negative feedback in response to the many cuts being proposed in the Community Services Department.

"There will likely be a reduction in satisfaction and quality of service due to the lower level of service, however the department will ensure that the services provided will be of a continued high quality," the budget states.

The budget process will kick off this week, when Shikada provides an overview to the council in a Monday night study session and then presents the budget to the Finance Committee on Tuesday afternoon. The committee will then go through each department's budget in the coming weeks and either recommend approval or modifications.

Some residents are already suggesting that the budget goes too far in gutting popular programs. Supporters of the Children's Theatre have been urging the council in letters not to approve the cuts being proposed in the budget. In addition to positions reductions, Shikada has proposed the full closure of the theatre as a "Tier 2" strategy that would be undertaken if the revenues plummet even further than expected. The closure, and other more significant service reductions (including the complete closure of Fire Station 2), are not being recommended at this time, thanks in large part to the fact that the city has received federal aid through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Michele Wang, a board member at Friends of the Palo Alto Children's Theatre, wrote to the council that the theatre "provides a safe community for children to express themselves and connect to like-minded youth."

"With these deep cuts, our children will no longer have access to their strong community or opportunities to express themselves," Wang wrote. "It devastates me to see this city jewel dwindle."

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

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Palo Alto plans further cuts to police, fire and community services

City Manager Ed Shikada's proposed budget would also keep libraries closed, reduce citizen surveys

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Sun, May 2, 2021, 8:44 am

Even as the state slowly begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, Palo Alto City Manager Ed Shikada is preparing for a second year of budget cuts, with libraries, community services and the public safety departments all facing significant service reductions.

Under Shikada's proposed budget for fiscal year 2022, the Children's, Downtown and College Terrace libraries would all be closed to the public, though each would be equipped with vending machines that allow for contactless distributions.

Fire Station 2 in the College Terrace neighborhood, which already experiences "brownouts" during weekday nights and weekends, would see these brownouts extended to all day, every day. This means it would be effectively shut down when firefighters in the department are on leave for any reason.

The Police Department would lose five more patrol officers under the proposed budget, following a year in which 11 positions were cut.

"As a result, the Department anticipates increased response times and non-response to various types of calls for service, a transition to mandatory online reporting for certain report types, reduced capacity to perform patrol-level investigations and respond to quality of life issues, and reduced adopt-a-school (K-8) traffic enforcement," the budget states.

Community services would also suffer. The Children's Theatre would lose a costume designer and administrative support staff. The theater, Shikada wrote, "will need to find ways to creatively reuse their existing costume collection, or seek donations instead of fabricating new costumes." And the Palo Alto Art Center would lose all city support for its exhibition programs for the first time in its 50-year history, according to the budget.

Shikada is proposing to eliminate all teen programs and free Family Day programs at the Rinconada Park institution, as well as scrap the Cultural Kaleidoscope, a bridge-building program that brings artists to elementary schools in the neighboring communities in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

Even with these cuts, the proposed general fund would be about 4.4% higher than in the current fiscal year, when the city cut $39 million in response to the economic impacts of the pandemic. The budget includes a $205.6 million general fund and $152.9 million in capital spending in the coming fiscal year. The budget also eliminates the dozens of positions that the council froze last year during its budget-setting process. Combined, the current budget and the proposed one eliminate 96 full-time-equivalent positions and 129 positions, resulting in a workforce of 939 employees, which includes 490 in the general fund.

In recommending the latest round of service reductions, Shikada stressed in his transmittal letter that the strategies proposed in the budget "are neither recommended nor sustainable for the fiscal health of Palo Alto in the long-term."

The budget, he wrote, "reflects our current fiscal reality as a result of the ongoing, extended pandemic, related economic challenges and continued resource limitations."

"As the hopeful signs for recovery continue, this Proposed Budget positions Palo Alto well to respond quickly and adapt should more moderate growth occur than forecasted," Shikada wrote. "However, the City's long-term fiscal health must be addressed through more sustainable approaches to address the community's service priorities into the future."

That said, some changes are expected to remain for the long term. The city, for example, has been partnering with a national organization (currently known as Polco Citizen's Survey) for nearly two decades to poll residents about their satisfaction with various city services. Traditionally, the survey has been coordinated by the City Auditor's Office and released in time for the council's priority-setting process in the beginning of each year.

But over the past two years, as the council outsourced auditing services and eliminated all auditor positions at City Hall, the responsibility for the survey was shifted to Shikada's office. Now, he is proposing conducting the survey every two years rather than every year. This means the next survey would take place in fiscal year 2023.

This, he wrote in the budget, "will ensure the feedback from the community is received on a routine and consistent basis in order to assist in informing staff and the City Council on its priorities and areas for further focus and improvement" (the budget doesn't explain how conducting the survey less frequently than in the past would help with this effort).

He acknowledges, however, in the budget document that the city is expecting to see some negative feedback in response to the many cuts being proposed in the Community Services Department.

"There will likely be a reduction in satisfaction and quality of service due to the lower level of service, however the department will ensure that the services provided will be of a continued high quality," the budget states.

The budget process will kick off this week, when Shikada provides an overview to the council in a Monday night study session and then presents the budget to the Finance Committee on Tuesday afternoon. The committee will then go through each department's budget in the coming weeks and either recommend approval or modifications.

Some residents are already suggesting that the budget goes too far in gutting popular programs. Supporters of the Children's Theatre have been urging the council in letters not to approve the cuts being proposed in the budget. In addition to positions reductions, Shikada has proposed the full closure of the theatre as a "Tier 2" strategy that would be undertaken if the revenues plummet even further than expected. The closure, and other more significant service reductions (including the complete closure of Fire Station 2), are not being recommended at this time, thanks in large part to the fact that the city has received federal aid through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Michele Wang, a board member at Friends of the Palo Alto Children's Theatre, wrote to the council that the theatre "provides a safe community for children to express themselves and connect to like-minded youth."

"With these deep cuts, our children will no longer have access to their strong community or opportunities to express themselves," Wang wrote. "It devastates me to see this city jewel dwindle."

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

CP
Registered user
Community Center
on May 2, 2021 at 9:18 am
CP, Community Center
Registered user
on May 2, 2021 at 9:18 am

Good call on the City Manager's part.

Instead of succumbing to defund pressures, laying off five police officers is the step in the right direction.

The College Terrace Library is very small and does not serve the majority of Palo Alto residents. It is a local neighborhood luxury and suitable for closure.

And as far as the Children's Theater goes, if parents want it continued then step-up to the plate and volunteer for the positions now being eliminated.

The details regarding the fire station closure, are unclear (to me) so no comment.

Austere times call for fiscal responsibility and many Palo Alto residents have gotten too spoiled.


The Voice of Palo Alto
Registered user
Crescent Park
on May 2, 2021 at 10:02 am
The Voice of Palo Alto, Crescent Park
Registered user
on May 2, 2021 at 10:02 am

Now we have a total of 16 police officers cut over the last year! I really hope none of you need a cop for anything soon because there just won’t be enough around to service our community. With 16 police officers cut over the last year I feel a lot less safe in my beloved Crescent Park. “As a result, the Department anticipates increased response times and non-response to various types of calls for service”-So good luck if you need a cop and way to green light criminals.
Also, can someone please explain the library situation. If schools can be open with a teacher being exposed to 20+ students during Covid, I don’t understand why the library can’t be open in a reduced capacity and has to remain “contactless.” Is this just Ed fining a “cheap way” to run the library so the city has to pay less staff?
I agree with the poster above the fire station explanation is very unclear. From what I gathered if all fire workers are off duty or gone for some strange reason the station will be closed and no one gets paid. But again, i am just trying to guess what the “brown outs” mean. If everyone is off on a “brown out” and there is a fire in my beloved Crescent Park, who is going to be available to put it out? I don’t understand this at all.
Finally, one last negative shout out to Ed for cutting the teen programs and Palo Alto children’s theatre program. That seems pretty heartless! What other programs are there available for the children? This one seemed unique in that it allowed our precious children to express themselves. Now I’m concerned that without this program the children may not have that outlet to express themselves and may turn to some bad things like getting caught up on the streets and possibly doing crime. If they do turn to something illegal we wouldn’t have enough officers to stop them and their potential crime spree anyway because Shikada cut 16 officers! I can’t stand these cuts and I didn’t even mention the art program also being cut! Leave the kids alone.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 2, 2021 at 10:21 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 2, 2021 at 10:21 am

Of course he wants to defund the city survey because he obviously doesn't care about OUR priorities and/or dissatisfaction as he speeds up his consultant gravy train for nonsense like Fiber-to-the-Home and the Climate/Sustainability Program that will single-handedly end global warming in our time while flooding city coffers with new revenues from more electricity which costs three times as much as cheaper. more reliable natural gas.

By the way. how's the city doing with paying US back the $12.000,000 we're owed from that class action suit against their illegal practice of over-charging us $20,000,000 a year? Are they still wasting OUR money appealing that decision?

Guess they've got to save/make more money to fund all those police brutality lawsuits. Maybe limiting police reports will help.


Mark Michael
Registered user
Community Center
on May 2, 2021 at 10:22 am
Mark Michael, Community Center
Registered user
on May 2, 2021 at 10:22 am

After scanning the proposed budget and clicking on the budget web app, the biggest revenue drops were sales tax and transient occupancy tax, which were adversely impacted by the pandemic-related shutdowns and behavioral changes. Businesses generally use a 3-year forecast to provide perspective for decisions about the next 1-year operating budget. The City hasn't shown estimates for years 2 and 3, raising questions whether (or what) assumptions are being made regarding the scope and nature of economic recovery. If the post-pandemic economy takes the form of "next normal" rather than a simple reversion to the way it was, perhaps the tax base and revenue sources will continue to be squeezed. Remote working and business travel decline, together with online shopping, may be persistent, if not permanent, changes. Tough choices about service reductions and City staffing may need to be examined in light of explicit assumptions and a transition to the "next normal." Very difficult and painful, certainly. Necessary? Meanwhile, topics like railroad grade separation and the projected price tags for capital improvement projects have a surreal aspect. Private public partnerships anyone?


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 2, 2021 at 10:57 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 2, 2021 at 10:57 am

From what I can see, these are all quality of life reductions for residents.

I see nothing about cutting jobs at the top! Rather than losing people residents interact with, we should be losing the pen pushers, and the costly studies that tell us nothing except for what we who live here already know.

Not impressed.


No Loss
Registered user
Downtown North
on May 2, 2021 at 11:11 am
No Loss, Downtown North
Registered user
on May 2, 2021 at 11:11 am

° With 16 police officers cut over the last year I feel a lot less safe in my beloved Crescent Park."

^ No need for any consternation. The remaining police officers will simply put in some welcomed overtime hours and the city's reserve officer division can easily clock some community service credit.

Besides, Palo Alto isn't exactly an inner city with a festering crime rate.

Realistically, the internet has replaced most public libraries as a viable source of current periodicals and Kinder covers most books.

In addition, many public libraries have deteriorated into a washroom and daytime crashpad for the homeless making for a most unpleasant library experience.

The Children's Theater serves only a handful of resident parents and their children as many older residents cannot be bothered with these productions.As another posted noted, make it a volunteer effort or close it down.

Palo Alto isn't Broadway so why does it need to pay a costume designer?

The key is to eliminate any frivolous or duplicate paid positions.


White Senior fears Palo Alto Police
Registered user
Professorville
on May 2, 2021 at 2:55 pm
White Senior fears Palo Alto Police, Professorville
Registered user
on May 2, 2021 at 2:55 pm

I hope that the the police layoffs target those police who have been accused of excessive force.
This will greatly reduce the exposure to future payoffs from lawsuits and the related legal costs.

Let's get rid of the bad apples in the PAPD


Paly Grad
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 2, 2021 at 5:35 pm
Paly Grad, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on May 2, 2021 at 5:35 pm

I wonder how much is collected from our 14% Transient Occupancy Tax: 14% of the listing price for reservations 30 nights or shorter?

I wonder how many of our local airbnb and vrbo hosts actually pay the 14% Transit Occupancy Tax?


Jeremy Erman
Registered user
Midtown
on May 2, 2021 at 7:21 pm
Jeremy Erman, Midtown
Registered user
on May 2, 2021 at 7:21 pm

This suggested budget is outrageous. 4.4% increase from the current fiscal year but drastically reduced services? Staggering cuts to programs for children and families which would take effect in the middle of the summer just as many programs which have been closed for the last year are expected to be able to reopen?

Children's Library historically has the highest circulation rate of materials after Mitchell Park. Closing it makes no sense. My understanding is that the budget also calls for eliminating not just the costume designer and administrative support staff at the Children's Theatre, but most of the performances as well, which would also cut off much of the revenue that the Theatre produces. Madness.

And cutting teen programs? Support for Art Center exhibits?

This is all outrageous, and most galling, these are small parts of the City's budget overall. Cutting these programs to such a degree that their very existence is threatened makes no sense--these would be difficult cuts to restore down the road.

Children's education, social development, and mental well-being have been one of the most discussed issues during the last year of the pandemic. The City Manager's response seems to be "THROW OUT THE BABY WITH THE BATH WATER!"

Last year the entire council discussed the budget in public city council meetings. I urge the entire council to do that again and not relegate this to the Finance Committee. This budget is insulting.


Jeremy Erman
Registered user
Midtown
on May 2, 2021 at 7:27 pm
Jeremy Erman, Midtown
Registered user
on May 2, 2021 at 7:27 pm

It also seems that the current fiscal year's budget includes money for many programs that didn't happen because of coronavirus closures, many at the institutions that are now slated for even deeper cuts. Shouldn't the fact that closures were longer than expected have saved the City money? Shouldn't this money roll over to next year? Why cut programs so deeply before they even have a chance to reopen?


Paly Grad
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 2, 2021 at 8:15 pm
Paly Grad, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on May 2, 2021 at 8:15 pm

The Children’s Library and the programming associated with the Children’s Library are important to the development of literacy in the youngest members of our community. Built in 1940, the Children’s Library was the first freestanding library in the United States intended solely for children.

Our Children’s Library is a treasure!


Rebecca Eisenberg
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 2, 2021 at 10:03 pm
Rebecca Eisenberg, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 2, 2021 at 10:03 pm

For years Palo Alto has relied on profoundly insufficient sources of funding - sales and TOT tax - both of which were devastated by the pandemic, not to return any time soon.

Knowing this, Palo Alto could have and should have done what other cities throughout California have done over the past 18 months: enact emergency large business taxes to support community services at a time when our community needs them the most.

Even though Palo Alto is owned 80% by corporate interests, Palo Alto is the only city in the country with such a business presence that refuses to tax its most profitable commercial base. While the typical Californian lost as much as 40% of their net worth due to the pandemic, the most profitable businesses - many of which have offices in Palo Alto - have had unprecedented, multi-billion-dollar gains.

All other cities are benefiting from those unprecedented corporate gains because all other cities have business taxes. Only Palo Alto gets poorer as its largest local corporations become rich beyond imagination.

That is the entire purpose of taxation! Telsa, Palantir, Google, Facebook, and Amazon hit new profit highs in part due to the benefits of being located in Palo Alto! It never made sense to exempt our largest companies from taxation.

Yet, confoundingly, our City Council continues to argue that taxing our largest corporations would harm them, or even "put them out of business." To insist that Tesla, Palantir, Amazon, Facebook, Google, top VCs, law firms, and commercial developers would be hurt by a business tax is ludicrous. These companies pay taxes to every other city where they have a presence.

All other cities use the proceeds they receive from profitable companies' tax payments to fund small businesses and serve residents. Not here!

Why does Palo Alto City Council provide tax exemptions to billionaires while cutting essential services to residents? Because the Weekly endorsed these council members, and residents voted as instructed.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 2, 2021 at 10:07 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 2, 2021 at 10:07 pm

Indeed, our librarians are among the smartest and most responsive of our city employees as well as among the least drain on the budget. Just look at some of the employees of Palo Alto Utilities who amuse themselves writing long, irrelevant responses under different names on different days.

The City Manager staff publishes the Covid newsletter but when when questions about Covid arose, our highly paid PR/Communications people could only recite what was written; if the questioner persisted in wanting answers, they finally referred us to the city librarians who then "researched" the answers -- for 1/3 of the cost!

When questioned about a missing email response, one guy said, "Oh, check under Tim, not Pete. I use the name Tim on Tuesdays." This REALLY happened. This was under the "management" of our City Manager when he was responsible for CPAU!

How about if they cut the real waste in the budget!!


ALB
Registered user
College Terrace
on May 2, 2021 at 10:29 pm
ALB, College Terrace
Registered user
on May 2, 2021 at 10:29 pm

In this pandemic young people are harmed by the lack of social interaction. The Children’s Theater and the College Terrace Library provide critical venues for their development. The theater is an obvious means to providing a stimulating learning experience. The College Terrace Library is a community resource for Barron Park, Evergreen, Stanford, Ventura and the CT neighborhood to name more than a few. The city manager is wrong to dismiss these
important assets. Why did he not strike the expensive luxury called the bridge to the Baylands and use that funding for these valued community treasures? He needs to reconsider these decisions because the outcome will harm our youth and other residrnts as well. Shame on you Mr. Shikada.


Amie
Registered user
Downtown North
on May 3, 2021 at 8:05 am
Amie, Downtown North
Registered user
on May 3, 2021 at 8:05 am

Wait a second, everyone's favorite programs are getting cut yet the police share of the budget went up 3% from last year and police and fire make up 35% of the entire city budget. This is insane for a town with a violent crime rate that is 75% lower than the state average. Let''s not also forget the millions paid our for police misconduct lawsuits. THIS IS THE WRONG DIRECTION.

No, I dont want to close down the entire PD (please people). I just believe that after reading the 8 pages of poetry in the budget about our city values, and remembering that ridiculous BLM rally and mural that all the white people put together to make themselves feel better, that we should walk the walk.

Cut the police further, I promise we will manage, and keep the awesome programs and services that really do impact people's lives for the better. It is a trade off worth making.


K Shields
Registered user
another community
on May 3, 2021 at 8:08 am
K Shields, another community
Registered user
on May 3, 2021 at 8:08 am

Hey, Palo Alto, wake up!
Home sales have been strong, even during the pandemic. Where is that money going?
Why are you going to let them essentially close down the Children's Library, one of the most popular and well used facilities in the City? A vending machine? Seriously?
I worked for the Library system over 10 years. Great folks, great services.
I hope you all rise up and make sure your well served community remains that way.
Good luck. And get active.


anon1234
Registered user
College Terrace
on May 3, 2021 at 8:12 am
anon1234, College Terrace
Registered user
on May 3, 2021 at 8:12 am

Deja vue all over again!
Why is the city once again trying to cut the College Terrace library?
The library has only one full time employee
And operates even pre COVID at less the full time operation. Last year empasdionrd members of the community spoke and the library was “saved” during the pandemic year even though the libraries were initially all closed.
Amongst all the things the city could save $$$$$$$ on the very small annual cost of operating the CT library is not one of them; and the library is a greatly used amenity in the community.
The city council needs to look carefully at another draft budget that relies so heavily on cuts to essential services rather than deferring capital program expenditures.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 3, 2021 at 8:41 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 3, 2021 at 8:41 am

The city does appear to have it out for College Terrace. I'm wondering if Shikada's paving the way for Stanford to take over more of that neighborhood.

Also, the fallacy of depending on funds from hotel tax revenues is obvious. Too bad our previous pro-development majorities had such short memories that they couldn't remember the last economic crash a mere 20 years ago. DUH!

Finally today's announced sale of The Fish Market restaurant site to another luxury housing developer made me wonder what happens to our sales tax revenue when more of our sales-tax-producing businesses disappear and are replaced by housing and offices??

Just another reason to stop caving to the Town & Country landlord who wants to replace sales-tax-generating retail with medical buildings.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 3, 2021 at 9:37 am
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 3, 2021 at 9:37 am

Palo Alto is rapidly becoming anti-family, and anti-children and anti-teen.

The people who will be hit most by these are those with children. As it is, there is very little for children to do in town outside school hours. All the hangouts and family oriented restaurants appear to be closing or forced to move. There used to be a bowling alley, laserquest and twisters in Mountain View, Miniature Golf in Redwood City and probably more if I spent time thinking about it. The zoon and museum is now a huge complex rather than a small friendly place for a 30 minute add on to a library outing.

Now when city services are talking about closing the Children's Library, it is also going to hit children very hard. Childrens Theater has been wonderful for families.

These things are what we expect in a community that values family values. We need our young people to feel part of the community. We need to give them more choices for the time not spent in school. Not everyone wants AYSO, Little League, etc. Not everyone wants music. Those who are passionate readers and writers often received their passion by going regularly to the Childrens Library. Those who are passionate about the arts, probably got their passion from the Theater. Taking these things away from our children are going to be so detrimental to the well being of future children.

Apart from anything else, a safe place for children away from other library users (of all types) makes sense not just for the children but for the other library users in other libraries also. Ever been in Mitchell Park when it is overrun after story time or by a school field trip?


Amy
Registered user
Crescent Park
on May 3, 2021 at 10:57 am
Amy , Crescent Park
Registered user
on May 3, 2021 at 10:57 am

Kids have basically been out of school for a year. Some elementary kids were in school thank goodness. But middle and high school have been at home on zoom for most of the past year and they had a summer with extremely limited ways to engage. So the answer the city is coming up with us cutting teen programs and the community theater? I thought our community was in support of student mental health-? These closures are not aligned with that mindset that I hear a lot of talk about. Actions speak louder than words. And FWIW the Children’s Theater already relies on a lot of parent volunteers.


DtnNorth
Registered user
Downtown North
on May 3, 2021 at 12:00 pm
DtnNorth, Downtown North
Registered user
on May 3, 2021 at 12:00 pm

These are truly unbelievable "solutions" to our city's problems -- this plan almost reads like a joke. I remember when the town turned out for the grand reopening of the beautifully remodeled children's library. My kids have largely aged out of it now but for many years we spent hours each week there, enjoying not just books but fantastic story hours and special after-school programs led by the thoughtful and caring professional staff. That collection of experiences simply can't be replaced by a vending machine. And the PA Children's Theatre is one of the special places that used to make Palo Alto unique and desirable (and worth the high prices). Taking part in the productions and enjoying year-round plays there has been central to my children's experience growing up here. The staff there, too, are priceless. They are talented professionals who are incredible mentors to hundreds of kids in this town. Gutting the theatre budget (already reduced after the last difficult year) effectively destroys this gem. Who does the city care about in this town? Clearly not kids, or their tax-paying parents.


OldPA Resident
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 3, 2021 at 12:40 pm
OldPA Resident, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 3, 2021 at 12:40 pm

Look up Washington Monument Syndrome. “ The Washington Monument syndrome, also known as the Mount Rushmore Syndrome,[1] or the firemen first principle,[2][3] is a term used to describe the phenomenon of government agencies in the United States cutting the most visible or appreciated service provided by the government when faced with budget cuts. It has been used in reference to cuts in popular services such as national parks and libraries[1] or to valued public employees such as teachers and firefighters.[2] This is done to put pressure on the public and lawmakers to rescind budget cuts. The term can also refer to claims by lawmakers that a proposed budget cut would hinder "essential" government services (firefighters, police, education, etc.)”

Sounds familiar?


Noel
Registered user
Crescent Park
on May 3, 2021 at 1:30 pm
Noel, Crescent Park
Registered user
on May 3, 2021 at 1:30 pm

Take a look at this article about Palo Alto Government salaries to see where some of the problem is. It mentions two police sargents earning well over $300,000 due to overtime and our city manager earning over $400,000. I assume that OT pay is included in calucuating penisons so we pay twice for this largess. I am all for paying our police well, but this is not reasonable.

Web Link


Novelera
Registered user
Midtown
on May 3, 2021 at 2:30 pm
Novelera, Midtown
Registered user
on May 3, 2021 at 2:30 pm

Perhaps if the City hadn't squandered so much money messing up Ross Road and other areas with unneeded nutty bike lanes, bollards, and roundabouts, we might have a bit of a cushion to have gotten us through the pandemic.

One of the posters above stated that "Kinder" replaces books. Obviously a person who doesn't love reading. First of all, it's Kindle. And some of us like real hardback books. I, for one, do not allow any devices in my bedroom to promote better sleep. I'm not a Luddite. I have a computer, a tablet, and a smart phone. But, every night I read myself to sleep with a real book. I'm lucky that Mitchell Park is nearest me, and I've been able to pick up holds during the past year. I can't tell you how grateful I am to our hardworking library staff. I hate that ANYTHING is cut from the library budget. Does Shikada every read anything?


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on May 3, 2021 at 3:05 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on May 3, 2021 at 3:05 pm

"Palo Alto is rapidly becoming anti-family, and anti-children and anti-teen."

Palo Alto is a liberal town. If you want "family values" you live in a conservative or moderate city or area. Where they fly the American flag, and families and children come first. Where the police are respected and you here "thank you for your service" quite often. Where happily married couples are in church on Sunday. And libraries are utilized by families with children. And the 4th of July parades in town -- proudly filled to capacity. Families with children will be hurt the most by budget cuts.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 3, 2021 at 4:13 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 3, 2021 at 4:13 pm

Jennifer, hardly fair to blame "liberals" for the lack of funding for libraries!

Or the lack of family values. Want to compare the records of the last 3 presidents in terms of assault charges, adulteries, etc.?

Maybe the "family values" crowd" wants to comment on the "19 and counting" Duggar family and their son Josh's LATEST arrest for child porn after assaulting his siblings and their babysitter while his wife is pregnant with their 7th kid. Remember Mommy Duggar and her robo-calls warning about the risks of letting trans kids into school bathrooms??


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on May 3, 2021 at 4:40 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on May 3, 2021 at 4:40 pm

Liberals have different priorities. Climate change, emissions, etc. There is a strong difference in family values between conservatives and moderates (me) compared to liberals, and most liberals (that I know) are willing to admit it. Liberals aren't "traditional" and this is hardly breaking news.

I struck a raw nerve. You know by now I'm a straight shooter.


TimR
Registered user
Downtown North
on May 3, 2021 at 5:00 pm
TimR, Downtown North
Registered user
on May 3, 2021 at 5:00 pm

Police budgets should always be the last to be cut. Without law and order, no other aspects of society are fully possible. The homeless problem downtown alone will hamper businesses fully coming back, which thus impacts the budget. And quality of life issues like being able to visit Mitchell Park without fear of being robbed by a child with a gun are similarly hugely important. Sure, housing prices are strong, and people can remain "sheltering" inside them, but that's nobody's ideal.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 3, 2021 at 5:46 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on May 3, 2021 at 5:46 pm

@Jennifer, lots of "liberals" I know are strongly opposed to Palo Alto's new push on Climate/Sustainability whereby they'll ban all gas appliances and cars in a bid to single-handedly wipe out climate change while spending huge amounts of money to gridlock traffic with "road furnuture" and other traffic "calming": devices like bollards.


Please stop stereotyping.


MA midtown
Registered user
Midtown
on May 3, 2021 at 10:27 pm
MA midtown, Midtown
Registered user
on May 3, 2021 at 10:27 pm

Make your voice heard! sign this petition:

Web Link

and if you can, join the City Council Meetings and the Council Finance Committee to express your concern. We know cuts may be needed, but our children and youth programs should not be sacrificed, especially this year when the COVID19 pandemic has taken a huge toll on our children and youth.


It.is.what.it.is
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2021 at 1:27 am
It.is.what.it.is, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 4, 2021 at 1:27 am

What?! Cut more police officers?! Safety is the most important aspect of life! Yet, they are spending $23 million on a pedestrian/bike bridge that maybe 25 people will use. Mismanagement of money, typical of government employees. To those who don't keep up with the crime stats, there are criminals constantly visiting Palo Alto to commit crimes. It's tough enough to hire police officers these days, they should be kept!


It.is.what.it.is
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2021 at 1:36 am
It.is.what.it.is, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 4, 2021 at 1:36 am

@Noel: What is wrong with police sergeants earning $300K? What should they be paid for risking their lives for YOU and the public? Who do you call when you are scared because it sounds like a prowler is in your backyard? Don't be ignorant.


PA Community Advocate
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2021 at 6:21 am
PA Community Advocate, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 4, 2021 at 6:21 am

Dear Ed Shikada,

We found some uses for the $20,000,000 that was stolen from Palo Alto residents by the inept Palo Alto Utilities. Please assist.

Signed,
Palo Alto community


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on May 4, 2021 at 6:37 am
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on May 4, 2021 at 6:37 am

@It.is.what.it.is - did you mean to evoke the description of that given by Bill Murray in St. Vincent? Seems sadly apropos.

I am drawn to the conclusion that our City Manager does not understand the city he manages; the proposed cuts go after the soul of Palo Alto. Neighborhoods, the Children's Library, the Children's Theater, our parks, our ENTIRE library system, our fire departments, our restaurants and retail establishments, our safe bikeways are what has defined Palo Alto as a special community for decades. The budget should support, not erode those things. Even now, cuts that impact those things should be last on the block, not first. Look first at consultant fees, capital projects that can be deferred or even eliminated, and any administrative excess that can be trimmed.

And please address the valid issues and concerns raised at last night's CC meeting and the many comments made by Rebecca Eisenberg that impugn this city's fiscal model: too much reliance on TOT and sales tax; no tax on the large businesses that happily HQ in PA.


Lester Woo
Registered user
Mountain View
on May 4, 2021 at 8:01 am
Lester Woo, Mountain View
Registered user
on May 4, 2021 at 8:01 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names.]


Michaela Johnson
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2021 at 8:22 am
Michaela Johnson, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 4, 2021 at 8:22 am

Asian hate crimes are not a problem in the midpeninsula.

They are more prevalent in cities like Oakland and San Francisco.


Carol Scott
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on May 4, 2021 at 8:35 am
Carol Scott, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on May 4, 2021 at 8:35 am

Meanwhile, the City is rolling back the non-discount price of employee parking permits in the California Ave and Downtown areas — and RPP areas. What? High tech office workers cannot afford to pay at least $5 a day to park in the Cal Ave area and surrounding residential neighborhoods? Lower-wage workers will still get a discounted rate that is very low, so this is not about restaurant and retail workers. Plus, the City still wants to sell all-day employee parking permits in the residential neighborhood of Evergreen Park even though demand for parking in the commercial area is falling???? Why not charge high tech workers at least $5 a day to park — possibly reducing traffic and greenhouse emission while improving safety for bicycles and people — and raise the price of parking violations? This City favors large property owners and businesses in many, many ways that negatively impact residents.


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on May 4, 2021 at 8:55 am
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on May 4, 2021 at 8:55 am

@Online Name wrote:

"When questioned about a missing email response, one guy said, "Oh, check under Tim, not Pete. I use the name Tim on Tuesdays." This REALLY happened. This was under the "management" of our City Manager when he was responsible for CPAU!"

WHAT? That is well beyond the pale. Is Tim/Pete still on our payroll? Molly Stump: you need to look into this and take steps to assure nothing like this ever happens again. Ridiculous!


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2021 at 1:43 pm
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 5, 2021 at 1:43 pm

Wow, Jennifer. I am a liberal, my family comes first, I was a stay-at-home mom and community volunteer, and I attend church. I fly the flag. I believe that people of all ethnicities deserve to be treated equally. I believe that climate change will destroy the livability of our planet if we don't make meaningful progress toward addressing it right now...and we have a responsibility to do that for our children and grandchildren. My daughter is gay, and I love her and her partner. They are both very good people. I believe women should have the right choose, and we could have a robust Biblical argument on that subject.

Life is a lot less black and white than you draw it. People and their political beliefs and faiths are complex. Even amongst Christians, there is not agreement on what God wants or thinks. You are not always right, and everyone who disagrees with you is not always wrong.


TS Member
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 5, 2021 at 3:23 pm
TS Member, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 5, 2021 at 3:23 pm

@ Paly Grad

I was an Airbnb host in Palo Alto for 5 years (January 2015 to... March 2020). Airbnb automatically adds and collects the Palo Alto occupancy tax on any booking and gives it directly to the city. So, yes, Airbnb hosts and guests do pay the occupancy tax in Palo Alto. They cannot escape it. I was fine with it by the way.
On the other hand, I did put an end to my hosting in my home (I rented a bedroom and bathroom suite) in March 2020, when the pandemic hit. People were cancelling their bookings anyway.
I suspect the city lost quite a bit of money when all travel stopped with the pandemic.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 7, 2021 at 5:42 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 5:42 am

Yes - we have budget problems. I received notification concerning the South Palo Alto Bikeways Project which goes from Alma, down East Meadow, onto Fabien from Charleston down to West Bayshore. End to end this is a costly project. We have a potential real estate issue on Fabian that is under review by the city. That is a huge amount of equipment and land movement. The road work there will be interrupted. This is a project that can wait so that other safety issues can be properly funded. All of the priorities need to be reviewed in context of the larger picture.


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on May 7, 2021 at 11:08 am
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 11:08 am

Consider Your Options... I speak three languages. English, French (not fluent) and tongue-in-cheek. When I poke fun at liberals I'm teasing my liberal friends (in Palo Alto) who recognize my comments. Try not to take life too seriously...


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on May 10, 2021 at 10:59 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on May 10, 2021 at 10:59 am

Palo Alto is a small suburban city next to a major university which does it's own thing. Due to numerous people posting under numerous names using numerous locations, a lot out of the city - we are subjected to a large number of political activist groups and advocacy groups all pushing their own agendas. They tend to use grandiose statements and statements to a number of activities of which we actually have little control. Many of these activities require federal and state approval to proceed and get funding. And we spend money on consultants to show that we are "connected and concerned".

[Portion removed.]

Now that the Covid is relenting and we are returning to Normal the activist groups do not want to lose their edge. We need NORMAL which is funding the libraries, Children's Theater, sports teams on all fields, and the right amount of police to reign in the anti-law groups who are busy looting and pillaging. Include in there the groups that want to usurp our budgeted and paid for locations to house the homeless [portion removed.]

One nice thing - had dinners on both closed off streets - Ramona and California and that was really pleasant.


Cherjo
Registered user
Midtown
on May 10, 2021 at 4:19 pm
Cherjo, Midtown
Registered user
on May 10, 2021 at 4:19 pm

I began reading this article after reading the article on the State Housing bills.
I couldn’t even finish it I became so upset. I began living in PA in 1967. After my elementary schooling I worked hard living and educating myself on my own locally. I lived 2 long decades in places worse than the houses I provided my dogs so I could return and buy a home here four blocks from where I was raised and raise my own daughter. My first job in 1977 was working on University Avenue. Not the same street in anyway. Who wants to come hang out here on the weekends when all we have now is one Theatre “gifted” our town, and less than 5 decent restaurants to host friends without embarrassment. I tire of observing the ruination of PA and see it will only continue with plans to defund the Art Center, libraries, etc…..what next? Fence in and lock up our parks? We use our smartphone to pay to unlock the gate just to sit on some grass? I never complained about high taxation here because this town was the best around. Those days are for history books. I have spent decades enjoying our Public Education and art instruction at the Art Center. I was shocked many artists would come from as far as Dublin and Santa Cruz for the Art Instruction they could not find elsewhere. After tearing down the old PA Med Center when PAMF was built on El Camino, developers were able to build 2 substandard housing developments in it’s place but the CC excused their Public Benefit to the city. Yes, restoring the original historic Palo Alto Medical Building to become a city museum. All can see it has been left to sit and further decay without a plan. Perhaps the plan is to wait until it crumbles down and they can brush that off their hands. The CC couldn’t care for our two donkeys here. Do you seriously think we believe you are incapable? So, the community gets an urgent appeal to “Save the poor donkeys”! I am beginning to feel like the donkey. Please give more thought before the next “Kick” please!


James Wong
Registered user
Downtown North
on May 10, 2021 at 5:23 pm
James Wong, Downtown North
Registered user
on May 10, 2021 at 5:23 pm

>>>"Who wants to come hang out here on the weekends when all we have now is one Theatre “gifted” our town, and less than 5 decent restaurants to host friends without embarrassment."

° Though I no longer step out to drink anymore, downtown PA once had a vibrant bar scene with 42nd Street, Henry's, Emerson Street Bar & Grill, Rudy's, and the Rose & Crown packed to the gills.

California Avenue was lively as well with The Winery, Talbot's, Antonio's Nut House, and The Edge.

What happened?

Don't people enjoy drinking anymore?


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