Editorials

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 | No comments yet
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

2017

A 'force for good'

First-time donors give $25K to holiday-giving campaign
The Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund received an unsolicited and completely unexpected check for $25,000 from a first-time donor.

December 15, 2017 | No comments yet
The risks of secrecy

School board splits on whether and how to accept large anonymous donations
A new policy at the Palo Alto Unified is a clever attempt to appear to construct safeguards against improper influence of anonymous donors, but in fact would likely lead to rumors, suspicions and controversy.

December 8, 2017 | 20 comments
Stanford's ambitious GUP

Proposal rekindles old issues of housing, transportation and 'build-out'
The community is awakening to the need to carefully scrutinize Stanford's expansion plan to build another 2.275 million square feet of new academic facilities and 3,150 housing units.

December 1, 2017 | 5 comments
Give for the kids

Contributions to the Weekly's 25th Holiday Fund will be doubled
The Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, now in its 25th year, provides a grassroots opportunity for a community member to make a donation and know that it will combined with hundreds of others.

November 17, 2017 | No comments yet
Home stretch for Comp Plan

More than a decade in the making, updated long-range plan nears finish line
The vision document for city decisions over at least the next 12 years, now in its final phase of City Council review, is almost twice as good as the one it will replace.

November 3, 2017 | 7 comments
Targeting parent civility

Union pushes for civility policy for parent problems it won't quantify or detail
If the teachers' union truly believes abusive parent behavior is a problem, then it should come forward with a written proposal and evidence.

October 27, 2017 | 16 comments
Irrationality on marijuana

We voted overwhelmingly to legalize it, but ambivalent city officials still push back
In a community that passed Proposition 64, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, city officials are recommending a policy that prohibits even a single highly regulated retail dispensary from operating here.

October 20, 2017 | 40 comments
Our reporting on arrests

Why we're changing our policies on publishing the names of those arrested
We think the media has a responsibility to regularly look at the consequences of its editorial practices and to modify them as circumstances change.

October 13, 2017 | 6 comments
Next steps for school district

School board must focus on prioritizing the district's critical needs
The school board now has an enormous opportunity to not only select the district's next leader but to examine what is organizationally needed to shift away from a culture of secretiveness.

September 29, 2017 | 14 comments
Déjà vu for school district

New independent investigation reveals systemic failures, administrative disarray
Another disturbing portrait emerged this week of a school district still confused about its legal obligations in handling sexual-harassment complaints

September 22, 2017 | 22 comments
Our right to know

School board members need to disclose their views on McGee's future
A round of public apologies Tuesday night by Palo Alto school board members and Superintendent Max McGee for a blunder that will cost the district approximately $6 million fell far short of what the community deserves.

September 15, 2017 | 13 comments
The shriveling office cap

Council's split over office cap will surely return as an election issue next year
The irony and hypocrisy of the city's office cap is that the same City Council majority that voted Tuesday to make more commercial development easier has been advocating repeatedly for more housing.

September 8, 2017 | 49 comments
Time for McGee to go

School superintendent's latest blunder is the final straw
The revelation that top Palo Alto school district administrators never took the necessary steps to reopen negotiations with the district's two unions is a shocking display of incompetence and negligence.

September 1, 2017 | 102 comments
Judge Persky's misjudgment

With dubious legal challenge, Brock Turner judge seeks to derail his recall election
Regardless of whether one believes Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky should be removed from office because of his past sentencing decisions in sexual assault cases, he won't be helped by his shady legal maneuver last week.

August 18, 2017 | 48 comments
Buena Vista's finish line

After years of struggle, mobile home park will quietly become publicly owned
In less than a month, Palo Alto's most well-known and debated housing for low-income families will be officially saved from closure and redevelopment.

August 11, 2017 | 16 comments
Serious or mollifying?

FAA report raises hopes on airplane-noise reduction, but with a long and uncertain time table
A long-awaited Federal Aviation Administration response to recommendations made by a "select" committee of elected officials suggest an acknowledgment by the FAA that the South Bay's air traffic noise problems are real and can't be ignored.

August 4, 2017 | 7 comments
Facebook's proposed 'village'

Massive development proposal will only worsen housing, transportation problems
It's hard to imagine a better example of how messed up our region's planning processes and development policies are than Facebook's latest proposal.

July 14, 2017 | 62 comments
The war on cars

Palo Alto stays the course on bold paradigm shift on parking and transportation
There is uniform agreement that transportation management needs to be the city's top priority. The new parking and trip-reduction measures being implemented are important steps forward.

June 30, 2017 | 74 comments
The cannabis contradiction

Voters declared pot legal, but city officials seek to limit state law's impact — because they can
The community's strong support of Proposition 64 should prompt the city to actively work to implement the law rather than block it and to resolve any concerns as soon as possible.

June 23, 2017 | 39 comments
Castilleja's unwise stubbornness

Without a new approach, expansion plan may become a political Armageddon
Castilleja School is doggedly pursuing a major expansion plan that is alienating the very neighbors whose support it needs to head off a contentious community-wide controversy.

June 16, 2017 | 47 comments
The sex-ed tumult

Updated school curriculum and process for adopting it draw fire
There are far too many important issues facing our school district than to go through the motions of a review process for 10 hours of sex-education curriculum.

June 9, 2017 | 39 comments
A moment of truth

School board faces critical leadership test over sexual assault revelations
Unfortunately, many parents still do not understand that the school district's obligation to investigate reports of sexual assault applies regardless of whether an incident was initially viewed as consensual or an assault.

May 26, 2017 | 24 comments
Beyond weighted GPAs

As school board relents to parent pressure, a deeper look at school philosophy is needed
The Palo Alto school board succumbed Tuesday night to relentless pressure from a well-organized group and unanimously approved the reporting of weighted GPAs on the official high school transcripts of graduating seniors.

May 12, 2017 | 14 comments
A council adrift

Bizarre and poorly conceived 'symbolic' proposals are wasting time and disrespecting the public process
The erratic behavior of three Palo Alto city council members is beginning to become a tiring pattern seemingly more designed to stir up controversy and stake out a political philosophy.

May 5, 2017 | 87 comments
Resisting Donald Trump

In the wake of a disturbingly chaotic presidency, two local initiatives seek to blunt its harm
President Donald Trump's first hundred days of the new administration comes to a close Saturday with an unprecedented 61 percent of Americans believing that the president is not trustworthy.

April 28, 2017 | 84 comments
Misguided attempt to save money

Nonprofit pulls out of school district mental health services bid process
A decision by Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent Max McGee to seek formal competitive proposals for mental health services at its five secondary schools erupted in controversy this week as the district's current and longest-running partner announced it would not apply.

April 14, 2017 | 13 comments
Return of the parking meter

Palo Alto considers shifting to paid parking on downtown streets, lots and garages
Under a proposed downtown parking system, more short-term parking will become available as all-day parkers will have financial incentives to either find alternative ways of getting to work or migrate to less expensive parking garages.

April 7, 2017 | 9 comments
A failure to communicate

Rushed implementation of the new residential permit-parking program will have both residents, employees in for some big surprises once enforcement begins
The city's voicemail box for questions is full and unable to take additional messages. Emailed questions go unanswered. A website is nearly impossible to navigate. A complicated and poorly explained process for getting permits leaves people confused and frustrated.

March 24, 2017 | 12 comments
Making amends

Admitting its January 'irrationality,' council backtracks on Comp Plan
Faced with a strong backlash from residents across Palo Alto's political spectrum and angry colleagues who felt disrespected, the City Council majority that had in January abruptly voted to remove the implementing programs from the draft revision to the Comprehensive Plan reversed course with a do-over Monday night.

March 24, 2017 | 15 comments
A necessary investigation

State opens inquiries into Kniss and Tanaka campaign practices
State and federal campaign laws have long been rooted in the principle that the transparency of campaign contributions is the most effective way to discourage and expose special interests attempting to influence elections and public policy.

March 17, 2017 | 34 comments
Renaming schools

Well-intentioned campaign to rename Jordan, Terman has divided community
Over the past year a highly motivated group of Palo Alto parents has waged a campaign to rename Jordan and Terman middle schools because their namesakes, David Starr Jordan and Lewis Terman were proponents of eugenics.

March 10, 2017 | 96 comments
Renew stormwater fee

A wet winter should help with passage of fee to continue important upgrades
A proposed increase to the stormwater maintenance fee is not onerous to improve the system and to reduce flooding risk, and it is appropriately borne by property owners.

March 3, 2017 | 34 comments
Rescind, replace and approve

It's finally time for school district to take responsibility for past missteps with OCR
The Palo Alto Board of Education will make two important decisions next Tuesday night, and both will say a lot about what kind of district we are and the values of our current five trustees.

February 24, 2017 | 8 comments
The retail quandary

Vibrant retail districts can't be achieved or maintained by ordinance alone
In an era of increasing challenges for small-business owners, creating successful retail environments has been shown to be more art than science.

February 10, 2017 | 8 comments
A reckless majority

In stunning surprise, new council majority upends planning process
The five members who make up the new, more development-friendly majority on the Palo Alto City Council blatantly stuck it to their four colleagues and the community Monday night with what appeared to be a carefully orchestrated take-over of the critical land-use portion of the new Comprehensive Plan.

February 3, 2017 | 52 comments
Toward a mea culpa

New school board majority opts for more humble, collaborative course with Office for Civil Rights
It has taken two Palo Alto Board of Education elections and the replacement of four out of five trustees, a new Superintendent and a new law firm, but the majority of the school board is finally ready to lead us out of an expensive and unnecessary five-year battle with the federal Department of Education.

January 27, 2017 | 5 comments
A new parking mess?

Proposed parking program for Cal Ave neighborhoods needs fine-tuning or it will fail
The debate over who should be entitled to park in residential neighborhoods adjacent to business districts will be renewed Monday night.

January 20, 2017 | 26 comments

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