Editorials

2019

Hoping for goodwill and leverage, Stanford may wind up with neither

'Agreement' between Stanford and school district triggers strong objections from Simitian
The self-congratulatory press release issued late Monday by Stanford University and Palo Alto school Superintendent Don Austin brought the intended headlines, leading the public to believe that an actual deal had been reached to mitigate Stanford's future development impacts on the schools.

April 19, 2019 | 46 comments
Not-so-free parking

Valet parking program needs audit, not a million-dollar extension
Palo Alto has to be the only city that provides valet parking at no charge in a city parking garage -- at a cost of some $15 per car parked -- while at the same time saying that reducing car use is one of its top transportation priorities.

April 12, 2019 | 26 comments
'Safe Lot' bill is a start

State legislation would permit community-college students to sleep in cars on campus
The Student Senate for California Community Colleges has now enlisted Palo Alto Assemblyman Marc Berman to carry a bill, AB 302, that would require each community college to allow registered students to park and sleep in their cars in one or more designated campus parking lots.

April 5, 2019 | 22 comments
The perils of state action

For Dems, state pre-emption of local zoning carries growing political risk
State legislators who are pushing for new laws forcing cities to allow dense, multi-family housing developments in single-family neighborhoods threaten to divide the state's Democratic voters and may open the door to political challenges of incumbents even in Democratic strongholds like the Bay Area and Peninsula.

March 29, 2019 | 52 comments
The audacity of privilege

College-admission bribery scandal exposes sense of invincibility and entitlement of the wealthy and powerful
Sadly, the most frequently heard reaction among local residents last week to the news that 33 parents across the nation, including six who call the Palo Alto area home, had bribed their children's way into college, was not shock or surprise.

March 22, 2019 | 39 comments
Using his bully pulpit

Filseth blasts state housing proposal and urges focus on growing tech firms
Palo Alto Mayor Eric Filseth challenged Sacramento legislators to focus on how to get cities, growing companies and commercial office developers to recognize that we lose ground with every new office development approved without corresponding housing.

March 8, 2019 | 61 comments
A new Cubberley in sight

After decades of neglect and failed planning efforts, a plan is rapidly emerging
The former Cubberley High School site, likely the most valuable piece of publicly owned real estate in Palo Alto, has been waiting a long time for the dawning of a new day.

March 1, 2019 | 5 comments
Don't give up on rail

As high-speed rail project is scaled back, leaders should look for new options
It is hard to argue with Gov. Gavin Newsom's decision to abandon the original vision for a high-speed rail system enabling travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles in just two hours and 40 minutes.

February 22, 2019 | 37 comments
Council repeal of downtown cap is set-back for housing

In repealing cap on non-residential development downtown, council chooses the wrong path
Monday night's 4-3 decision to repeal a decades-old downtown growth policy designed to trigger a one-year pause on non-residential development when a cap is reached is a setback for both housing advocates and those concerned about traffic congestion and parking.

February 15, 2019 | 70 comments
The case for a train viaduct in Palo Alto

Compared to a berm, trench, hybrid or tunnel, a viaduct alternative offers more
While there is much investigation still to be done, we believe the viaduct option offers Palo Alto not only a solution to grade separation but an opportunity to create something truly magnificent for the community.

February 1, 2019 | 147 comments
Solving the rail puzzle

In a race against time, solving the grade-separation problem remains elusive
Each grade-separation option has its benefits and problems, and time is running out for residents to have their voices heard and for the Palo Alto City Council to prepare itself to choose a solution.

January 25, 2019 | 91 comments
From nine to seven

With two fewer council members, new leaders and a new city manager, an uncertain year awaits
Only one new face will be on the dais at Palo Alto City Council meetings this year, but that belies the fact that dramatic and unpredictable changes are afoot for our city government and local politics.

January 11, 2019 | 3 comments

2018

Give for the kids

Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund contributions have a far-reaching impact
It is a powerful statement when hundreds of local people unite around a common philanthropic objective and combine their giving to help others in the community.

December 14, 2018 | 1 comment
A stealth agenda for President Hotel

Eleventh-hour move by city staff and a lame-duck council may decide fate of President Hotel
An attempt to sneak through a series of actions that would pave the way for the new owners of the President Hotel Apartments to proceed with their hotel project has quietly appeared as the last agenda item on Monday night's penultimate City Council meeting of the year.

December 7, 2018 | 58 comments
A broken system

Audit gives city code enforcement a well-deserved failing grade
The failures of Palo Alto's code-enforcement program are part of a broader problem that we hope incoming City Manager Shikada's operations and engineering experience will solve.

November 30, 2018 | 23 comments
The voters speak

Palo Altans send a warning to incumbents looking to seek re-election in two years
Tuesday's local election should send a strong message to current office holders about what will help them win -- and lose -- local races.

November 9, 2018 | 56 comments
Our election recommendations

Also, information on returning vote-by-mail ballots
Learn about the Palo Alto Weekly's recommendations on local, regional and statewide candidates and measures, in addition to state propositions, on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

October 26, 2018 | 26 comments
Re-elect Sheriff Laurie Smith

Incumbent seeks sixth term on Nov. 6
In spite of her shortcomings, which include an uninspired and weak administrative record over her two decades in the office, we believe Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith is the better choice.

October 19, 2018 | 16 comments
Karen Holman for Midpeninsula Open Space District Board

Open space district needs Holman's experience, passion and temperament
After 46 years representing the Palo Alto area as an elected board member of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD), Palo Alto resident Nonette Hanko has decided to step down when her term ends this year.

October 16, 2018 | 49 comments
Filseth, DuBois and Cormack for City Council

Two incumbents, newcomer should take three open seats
For a more productive council that hopefully will focus on solutions rather than political gamesmanship or personal insults, we recommend the election of Eric Filseth, Tom DuBois and Alison Cormack to Palo Alto City Council.

October 12, 2018 | 229 comments
Ken Dauber, Shounak Dharap for Palo Alto school board

Incumbent, newcomer stand out from pool of six candidates
With the strongest board in decades and a new management team, the Palo Alto school district is in the process of a desperately needed turnaround.

October 5, 2018 | 42 comments
Yes on school term limit Measure Y

Without term limits, no one can plan for an election with an open seat
If passed by a simple majority of voters, Measure Y will mirror the same two-term limit that applies to the Palo Alto City Council and many other elected bodies.

September 28, 2018 | 1 comment
Yes on school bond Measure Z

Measure Z will fund the continuing upgrades needed in our schools
While the Palo Alto school district's timing for Measure Z isn't ideal given the financial and management turmoil of the last few years, those problems don't diminish the need for capital improvements.

September 28, 2018 | 34 comments
Yes on Measure E hotel-tax increase

Measure would help fund priority infrastructure projects
We reluctantly recommend voters support the city of Palo Alto's proposal to raise about $2.5 million a year in new city revenue by increasing the transient-occupancy tax from 14 to 15.5 percent.

September 21, 2018 | 26 comments
No, no, no on Measure F

Initiative to give city oversight over health care pricing deserves overwhelming defeat
It is difficult to imagine a more poorly conceived idea to present to voters than the Measure F health care initiative pushed by the union representing health care workers throughout California, including Stanford Hospital employees.

September 21, 2018 | 30 comments
Unprecedented obfuscation

After a debate filled with disingenuous comments, council turns its back on renters
The Palo Alto City Council bickered late into the night Monday over whether one of its committees should even discuss rent-stabilization strategies among other means of addressing the plight of renters in the city.

September 14, 2018 | 64 comments
Stanford's development potential

Study shows no need for future expansion into the foothills
A new independent analysis aimed at determining how much more development is possible under a maximum "build-out" scenario of Stanford University's academic campus has concluded that the institution has space available to roughly triple its current square footage, to more than 44 million square feet.

September 7, 2018 | 7 comments
This week, the minority rules

With just three votes, a plan to help evicted Palo Alto renters is watered down
In a housing market like ours, generous relocation assistance should have been the easiest measure to adopt, and it is regrettable that three votes were able to block its adoption early Tuesday morning.

August 31, 2018 | 23 comments
More bad legal advice

Law firm leads school board into sham 'confidential' settlement provision
The Palo Alto school district needs to hire a competent general counsel who can manage the legal strategies and expenses and help the board understand the line between legal requirements and transparency.

August 24, 2018 | 39 comments
Your friend, not enemy

Unprecedented attacks on the media hit the very protectors of our democracy
In an effort to focus public attention on the dangers of the President Donald Trump's attacks, we join in an unprecedented coordinated expression of concern by newspapers across the country.

August 16, 2018 | 18 comments
At risk of misleading voters

When does tactical ballot language become dishonest?
The Palo Alto City Council should have sought to be extra careful about accurately describing the reasons for the proposed hotel-tax hike that will be decided by voters this November.

August 10, 2018 | 22 comments
Averting an unneeded election

In surprise vote, council adopts measure to cut office-growth cap in half
We have little doubt that Palo Alto voters would have approved the citizens initiative if it had been put on the November ballot instead of adopted by the City Council.

August 3, 2018 | 31 comments
Stanford's housing obligations

With push for more housing, Stanford and Palo Alto struggle for the proper response
As Stanford approaches the final months of county review of its proposed new general use permit, a new analysis of housing needs is throwing a major monkey wrench into the process.

July 13, 2018 | 27 comments
Suddenly, a new manager

Without any public involvement, the No. 2 will become City Manager
The city sudden announcement on Monday about the promotion of Ed Shikada, the assistant city manager, to take over for Keene early next year is a stark departure from the way public agencies typically select their CEOs.

June 29, 2018 | 9 comments
Our incivility contagion

A divided City Council has helped create a toxic political atmosphere for the fall election
This fall's municipal election campaign season will be an important test for Palo Alto City Council candidates but perhaps even more so their supporters and voters.

June 22, 2018 | 58 comments
Hendrickson for judge

Santa Clara County assistant district attorney has overseen prosecutions in Palo Alto courthouse
Veteran Santa Clara County prosecutor Cindy Hendrickson's extensive experience in the criminal court system makes her an easy choice for Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky's seat.

May 25, 2018 | 6 comments
Hirokawa for sheriff

After Laurie Smith's 20 years as sheriff, a strong challenge is overdue
In spite of being opposed by four challengers, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith could squeak out the necessary 50 percent plus one vote on June 5 to avoid a run-off in the November election.

May 25, 2018 | 8 comments
No on Regional Measure 3

Ballot measure to increase bridge tolls by $3 over next six years is too much
Regional Measure 3's toll increases, along with the implementation of inflation escalators, ask for too much and attempt to leverage the public's frustration over bad traffic to disproportionately penalize bridge commuters.

May 14, 2018 | 29 comments
Recall Judge Persky

Accountability to the public does not threaten judicial independence
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Persky abused his discretion, disrespected a jury, failed a crime victim and broke trust with the public he serves.

May 11, 2018 | 51 comments
A failure to communicate

Traffic and bike 'improvements' draw stiff push-back across city
The frustration being felt by many Palo Alto residents over a flurry of confusing changes to streets and traffic patterns is approaching a boil, with the latest outcry coming from parents of Walter Hays Elementary School students.

May 4, 2018 | 64 comments
Hold firm on office cap

Beware of last-minute attempts to loosen office-development restrictions
Palo Altans should take careful note of what City Council members say and how they vote Monday on how much future office development should be allowed each year in three commercial areas.

April 27, 2018 | 50 comments
Of church and state

As use of First Baptist Church has evolved, neighbors ask city for relief
Immediate neighbors of the First Baptist Church of Palo Alto are understandably frustrated and wary about the parking, traffic and noise impacts from the non-religious activities taking place on the property.

April 13, 2018 | 23 comments
The housing 'overlay'

Innovative approach to encourage affordable housing projects should be approved
The Palo Alto City Council on Monday will consider whether to approve a new mechanism that would allow for the easing of some zoning requirements for housing projects designed for lower income individuals and families.

April 6, 2018 | 44 comments
The Eichler challenge

New draft design guidelines need teeth or won't be effective
Among the many consequences of Palo Alto's extraordinary high housing prices and the region's housing shortage is a growing divide between new owners of Eichler homes and those who have lived in them for decades.

March 30, 2018 | 5 comments
Rename the schools after people

Given the open process and honorable intent, it's time to push forward
Naming schools for people carries far more power to inspire our students than place names, of which the district already has plenty.

March 23, 2018 | 79 comments
Blame to go around

In response to letter of reprimand, Paly principal turns table on the district
What began as an effort by Paly Principal Kim Diorio to block the public release of a letter of discipline issued to her by the school district has turned into an unprecedented public conflict.

March 9, 2018 | 14 comments
Toward less secrecy

Proposal to open up labor negotiations is a welcome and overdue reform
Facing huge long-term pension costs and financial obligations that threaten future public services, government agencies at all levels are struggling to find a new, more transparent approach to labor negotiations.

March 2, 2018 | 1 comment
Progress on school reforms

From term limits to a new seating chart, school board eyes improved governance
The Palo Alto Board of Education is looking to implement changes that could significantly improve district decision-making and create a predictable flow of new perspectives and ideas.

February 23, 2018 | 17 comments
Missing a housing opportunity

Council prematurely nixes what may be the best way to create real affordable housing
The single greatest obstacle to creating additional housing in Palo Alto for anyone other than highly paid professionals is the high cost of land.

February 16, 2018 | 26 comments
with PCs, it's complicated

Legal stand-off on Edgewood Plaza is another reason why 'planned community' zone shouldn't exist
It would be smart for Sand Hill Properties to settle its dispute with Palo Alto over Edgewood Plaza at a price that provides substantial compensation to the city.

February 2, 2018 | 24 comments
Caution on teacher housing

Simitian vision for subsidized teacher housing has long road to travel
The value of teachers living within the community may very well be worth making it the priority, but the public deserves a lot more analysis showing such a plan will actually result in the desired outcome.

January 26, 2018 | 30 comments
Eight is enough

This fall is the ideal time to submit school-board term-limit measure to voters
The Palo Alto school district has a rare opportunity to put a term limit measure on this November's ballot without it being personal or affecting any of its "young" members.

January 19, 2018 | 10 comments
new year, new mayor

An elephant lurks during City Council election of new officers
The surprise, if one can call it that, wasn't the unanimous election Monday night of Liz Kniss as mayor of Palo Alto for the third time, it was the choice for vice mayor and commentary on the ongoing investigation into Kniss' reporting of 2016 campaign donations.

January 12, 2018 | 17 comments

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