NEWS ALERT:Fatal collision under investigation by police



Interests collide over Buena Vista's future

Vulnerable residents of Palo Alto's only mobile-home park need and deserve support as redevelopment plans evolve
There has been a certain inevitability to the situation now unfolding at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, located behind El Camino Real in the Barron Park neighborhood.

December 14, 2012 | 6 comments
A needed step back

Responding to intense community feedback, City Council hits re-set button on ambitious Arrillaga proposal
A growing public concern about the magnitude of a proposal made by developer and Stanford benefactor John Arrillaga and the planning process was heard loud and clear by the Palo Alto City Council before and during a five-hour discussion Monday night and early Tuesday morning.

December 7, 2012 | 22 comments
The push for 27 University

Never has City Hall moved so fast on a development proposal, nor been so awed by a developer, particularly when the stakes are so high
If you're confused by the process by which the City Council is considering a massive commercial office project put forth by developer John Arrillaga dubbed "27 University" you aren't alone or crazy.

November 30, 2012 | 51 comments
Kicking the can down the road

Council approves more studies on downtown parking problems, leaving residents waiting for relief, again
Once again, residents of downtown neighborhoods have been told to be patient about the impacts of employee parking spilling onto their streets.

November 16, 2012 | No comments yet
Yes on Measures A and B

Santa Clara County has been whipsawed by the economic downturn and the state's perennial budget crises. When funding runs short for state-supported safety-net programs that serve low-income residents, legislators pass the problem down to county governments, who at the same time are overburdened by more residents who need services just to survive.

October 26, 2012 | 16 comments
State ballot recommendations

The Weekly's recommendations on state Propositions 30-40, as well as Foothill-De Anza College Board, Santa Clara County Board of Education and other local races. Related material:
ELECTION 2012: Stories, editorials, videos and resources

October 19, 2012 | 34 comments
Caswell, Dauber, Emberling for school board

The last time there was an election for school board in Palo Alto was five years ago, just a few months after Superintendent Kevin Skelly had been hired to bring order to the chaos created by the board's poor handling of the proposed new Mandarin Immersion program and a widespread lack of confidence in former Superintendent Mary Frances Callan.

October 12, 2012 | 59 comments
Burt, Schmid, Berman, Kniss for council

With mixed feelings about Kniss returning to the City Council, we conclude her regional experience could serve the city well
In the last Palo Alto City Council election in 2009, with 14 candidates, voters overwhelmingly reelected Larry Klein to his second four-year term after he had previously served two terms in the 1980s.

October 5, 2012 | 43 comments
ELECTION 2012: Stories, editorials, videos and resources

Palo Alto residents to vote on City Council, school board in Nov. 6 election
Stories, editorials, videos, photos and links regarding the Presidential General Election on Nov. 6, 2012. Palo Alto Online will update results live on election night starting at 8 p.m. Related material:
The Weekly recommends

October 2, 2012 | 2 comments
A breathtaking proposal

Arrillaga concept for high-rise offices, theater and new transit center is unprecedented in both exceeding zoning limits and providing public benefits
The largest and boldest commercial development proposal in the history of Palo Alto, located at one of the worst traffic pinch-points in the city, would have been viewed by most as a non-starter under almost any circumstances.

September 28, 2012 | 42 comments
Stretching the Brown Act

Tight-lipped, city staff defends closed council sessions to discuss selling small foothills parcel
In the end, the idea of selling a small, seven-acre land-locked city-owned parcel in the foothills above Arastradero Preserve may have merit. It could bring the city some welcome revenue without any obvious negative impacts. But, alas, it's not that simple.
Related story:
Palo Alto mulls sale of land near Foothills Park

September 21, 2012 | 12 comments
No on Measure C

Other cities' experiences with medical-marijuana shops show it's a bad idea
With Peninsula cities having almost uniformly passed ordinances prohibiting so-called medical-marijuana dispensaries, Palo Alto has been targeted by medical-marijuana advocates and libertarians as a place where a liberal electorate might be persuaded to overturn that ban.

September 14, 2012 | 47 comments
Errors exacerbated mosquito problem

County districts should have foreseen the problem, communicated with public
Demonstrating that one never knows where danger lurks, an unprecedented mosquito infestation suddenly erupted across areas within a few miles of the Palo Alto Baylands early last week, signaling a significant problem with the flood-control equipment that protects us against flooding.

August 23, 2012 | 21 comments
Bike-sharing plan readied

Innovative pilot program will allow Caltrain commuters biking option
A transportation grant designed to provide 100 bikes for Palo Alto-bound Caltrain commuters unfortunately got tangled in a discussion at the Architectural and Review Board (ARB) last week, delaying approval of the sites selected for the automated stations where bikes could be checked out and returned as part of a pilot program.

August 10, 2012 | 11 comments
A dearth of candidates

Non-competitive local races are a threat to democracy and to healthy debate of important issues
With just 12 days remaining before the Aug. 15 extended filing deadline for candidates running for City Council and Board of Education, the November school board election is in danger of being cancelled entirely and the City Council race is looking uninspired.

August 3, 2012 | 26 comments
A pair of strong City Council decisions

With purpose and decisiveness, Palo Alto council moves forward with major improvements for California Avenue and the golf course
It is infrequent when one can celebrate decisiveness in process-obsessed Palo Alto, but Monday night's City Council meeting demonstrated that the current council is ready and willing to leave some constituents unhappy in order to move forward with important projects after doing their homework.

July 27, 2012 | 18 comments
Heading off looming pension crisis

City's leaders seek ways to bring rising employee retirement costs under control
Driven by increasingly higher pension and benefit costs, employee compensation now makes up 63 percent of Palo Alto's General Fund budget, an unsustainable situation that could cripple the city in the years ahead.

July 20, 2012 | 22 comments
Medicine doesn't offset poison of HSR bill

While Caltrain and the Peninsula come out as winners from high-speed-rail vote, state still can't afford this 'plan'
In a political drama that has potentially massive financial ramifications for California, last week's razor-close vote to move forward with high-speed rail will keep the uncertain project alive but give the Peninsula the benefit of Caltrain electrification.

July 13, 2012 | 4 comments
City should jump on cellular solution

Locating antennas at power substations could be start of comprehensive policy
The City Council has an opportunity to end the often divisive neighborhood fights over installation of small cell phone antennas by simply making space available to install much larger and more powerful antennas at a few city-owned utility substations, and even one on the roof of City Hall.

June 29, 2012 | 8 comments
A worthless permit parking test

Without changing downtown garage policy, employees will simply relocate to and impact other streets
If the city is truly committed to giving Professorville and other residents living in homes adjacent to downtown some protection from the daily invasion of workers seeking a free parking space, it will take much more than the trial run that was unveiled last week.

June 22, 2012 | 32 comments
A tipping point for school board?

With rebuke, trustees attempt to reassert their role as policy makers in wake of poorly managed process
Faced with a mess largely of their own making, Palo Alto Superintendent Kevin Skelly and the school board sought this week to clear the air, put aside emotion and defensiveness and chart a fresh and more deliberate course forward on the subject of high school counseling.

June 15, 2012 | 29 comments
Last chance for Hohbach project

Frustrated council digs in for improvements to large project at Page Mill Road and Park Boulevard
Developer Harold Hohbach's stubbornness in improving the design of his proposed mixed rental housing and research and development project may get him a defeat next time he returns to the City Council, if comments from council members are to be taken seriously.

June 10, 2012 | 31 comments
Bike bridge -- good idea, bad execution

Kniss's attempt to rush through plan for using Stanford trail money was a misstep that served no one well
Without any prior discussion with Stanford University officials and on just a few days notice, County Supervisor (and candidate for Palo Alto City Council) Liz Kniss's proposal to allocate more than $8 million to construct a bike bridge over highway 101 and a bayfront trail fell abruptly on its face last week.

June 3, 2012 | 20 comments
Weekly endorses Hill, Gordon, Simitian

Voters should welcome opportunity to elect effective and experienced candidates on June 5
With at least one veteran legislator running for seats in the state Senate, state Assembly and the Board of Supervisors, voters will have an easy task when they go to the polls June 5.

May 18, 2012 | 15 comments
Colin, Sevely best choices for judgeship

Five in running for two Superior Court seats
Along with the more publicized races for state legislative offices and county supervisor, Santa Clara County voters also will elect two Superior Court judges when they go to the polls June 5. The Palo Alto Weekly endorses Paul Colin and Cynthia Sevely.

May 18, 2012 | No comments yet
Park-saving plan; grad requirements

'Sustainable Parks' proposal aims to stop closure of state parks
As he prepares to leave Sacramento due to term limits, State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) is hoping to leave one final legislative mark: saving as many California parks from closure as possible.

May 13, 2012 | 14 comments
Money as a 'public benefit'?

Alma-Lytton project offers cash to city in exchange for ability to build an over-sized and under-parked office building
Today, May 7, the City Council will consider approving the controversial "Lytton Gateway" office building at the corner of Lytton Avenue and Alma Street, a decision that once again points out the need for stronger criteria and follow-up for developments to qualify for Planned Community status, which is awarded to projects that exceed normal zoning but offer offsetting public benefits.

May 7, 2012 | 2 comments
Toxics don't belong next to homes

Zoning should prohibit use of industrial toxic chemicals near Barron Park and other neighborhoods
The six-year conflict between Barron Park residents and Communications & Power Industries (CPI) over the company's use of toxic chemicals illustrates the difficulty of removing a legal non-conforming use from a neighborhood that is threatened by a spill or the accidental release of these dangerous substances.

April 28, 2012 | 5 comments
Lessons from car-train accident

Culture of defensiveness and secrecy reflects poorly on city and disrepects the public's right to know
No one has suggested that the death of Judith Goldblatt on the train tracks at Charleston Road a year ago was anything other than a tragic accident, in spite of the secretive and evasive handling of the case by Palo Alto and other officials. Related story:
One year later, questions remain about train/car collision

April 22, 2012 | 4 comments
New massage rules still not right

Skeptical council members continue to question need for client logs and increased regulation
In what is becoming almost an amusing struggle between city staff and the City Council, how Palo Alto regulates massage therapists once again occupied the time and attention this week of the four-member Council Policy and Services Committee, police and city administrators and a city attorney.

April 15, 2012 | 3 comments
An unsustainable animal shelter

With a facility in need of an estimated $7 million in upgrades and the loss of Mountain View as a partner, Palo Alto has little choice but to outsource animal services
Palo Altans are big pet owners, and the prospect of not having the convenience and top-level service of the city-run Animal Services Center is not a popular one.

April 6, 2012 | 127 comments
Improving high school counseling

Palo Alto school board asks for major changes to Gunn counseling model
An unusually impatient and resolute school board made clear this week that it does not believe students at Gunn High School are receiving comparable counseling services to those at Palo Alto High School and asked administrators to return in June with a reform plan.

March 30, 2012 | 18 comments
Generous offer to electrify Caltrain, but at what cost?

High-Speed Rail Authority changes course to gain 'bookend' support
In its struggle to gain credibility in the wake of more than doubling the cost to build a high-speed-rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles, state rail authority officials Tuesday offered nearly $1 billion to help electrify Caltrain and a similar amount to a Los Angeles rail system.

March 18, 2012 | 27 comments
Grandiose proposal needs careful study

Arrillaga project will raise important questions over how to trade-off the negative impacts of a large development with the community benefits it provides
The makings for an unusual public-private-nonprofit development that would transform the city's western gateway at El Camino and University Ave. into a vibrant office and performing arts complex was unveiled with much excitement at Monday night's City Council meeting. Related story:
Downtown plan could give TheatreWorks a home

March 11, 2012 | 6 comments
More pressure on city wages, benefits

Police union final hurdle in city's quest to close budget gap
After years of paying higher and higher costs for salary and pension benefits to its public safety employees, Palo Alto finally gained some leverage when voters approved repeal of binding arbitration last November.

March 2, 2012 | 7 comments
Golden opportunity to acquire downtown post office

Birge Clark building is surplus, but could be adapted to other uses if price is right
Palo Alto residents have been picking up their mail and buying stamps at the downtown post office since 1932, but change is coming and with the financial meltdown of the Postal Service, 380 Hamilton Ave. is likely to have a new owner before the year is out.

February 24, 2012 | 7 comments
Lin rocks the Big Apple

Former Paly and Harvard basketball wizard takes NBA by storm
Local basketball fans haven't had this much to talk about since Jeremy Lin helped Palo Alto High School win the state championship in 2006, knocking off a favored team that included a 7-foot-1-inch center and three starters who had signed for Division 1 schools, including Duke.

February 17, 2012 | 9 comments
Service hub needs new home

Decision to rebuild municipal services center, animal shelter would provide opportunities for creative solutions
If Palo Alto has an Achilles Heel most city officials would say it is the handful of public buildings that easily could crumble when a major earthquake hits the region.

February 10, 2012 | 5 comments
Boosting grad standards

Aligning high school graduation requirements with UC/CSU admissions standards is the first step toward eliminating achievement gap
After a false start last spring, when a similar plan was met with resistance, the Palo Alto school board took a major step in the right direction last week when it gave its informal blessing to an updated plan for phasing in graduation requirements that are in sync with what is required to attend state universities.

February 6, 2012 | 9 comments
New HSR challenges

Simitian urging one-year delay, other legislators push bill to halt bond sale
Strong criticism about the financial viability of the High-Speed Rail project is making it more likely that its funding plan will either be delayed or scrapped.

January 14, 2012 | 20 comments
Antenna angst unwarranted

AT&T's low-power distributed antenna system should be approved
The debate over whether to allow ATT to improve cell service in Palo Alto using small antenna positioned on the top of existing utility poles will finally come to a head later this month.

January 10, 2012 | 29 comments


Support local charities with a Holiday Fund gift

Join the hundreds of local residents who make donations to support nonprofits serving the needs of children and families in the Palo Alto area
Despite Palo Alto's well-deserved reputation as the home to some of Silicon Valley's most innovative and caring residents, there are many children and families in this community and others nearby who are barely making ends meet this winter.

December 19, 2011 | No comments yet
Handicapping the golf course

lood-control project creates opportunity to examine options for uninspired Palo Alto Muni
Perhaps there is a silver lining in a flood-control proposal that would place a new levee on part of the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course and force some redesign.

December 9, 2011 | 3 comments
The achievement treadmill

Parents are fueling a competitive environment that is jeopardizing the health of our teens and their development of 'purpose' in life
There is some irony that the same week we learn that Palo Alto is the most educated city in California, if not the nation, the Weekly publishes an extensive look at the culture in our community surrounding student "success" and the effects that this culture is having on our kids as they try to find their way in the world.

November 18, 2011 | 5 comments
Strong majority approve Measures D, E

Binding arbitration will end for public safety unions; space reserved for compost facility
Despite the absence of a City Council race on the ballot, Palo Alto voters strongly approved measures that will improve the city's oversight of its two public safety unions and set the stage for a possible new method of dealing with its waste and compost.

November 10, 2011 | 29 comments
Yes on E, with caution

Measure E will allow, but not require, exploration of innovative alternatives to trucking yard clippings and food waste to San Jose or Gilroy
It is difficult to imagine any other city engaging in the kind of hard-fought battle that has characterized the debate over Palo Alto's Measure E, an initiative that does nothing more than reserve 10 acres next to the sewage treatment plant currently designated as parkland as a possible site for a state-of-the-art composting facility.

October 21, 2011 | 137 comments
Yes on D: Repeal binding arbitration

Palo Alto's unusual binding-arbitration requirement for fire and police contract disputes should have been repealed long ago
Palo Alto voters are finally being given the opportunity in Measure D to decide whether a single outside arbitrator should continue to have final say on police and fire compensation, benefits and work rules when the city and unions reach an impasse.

October 15, 2011 | 33 comments
Creative genius, respected neighbor

As tributes pour in from around the world for Steve Jobs, Palo Altans feel the loss more personally
The scene outside of the Old Palo Alto home of Steve Jobs on Wednesday evening was a remarkable and emotional display of affection by a community that deeply admired and respected our most famous resident.

October 7, 2011 | No comments yet
A time for Cubberley planning

With Foothill College vacating aging complex and a looming 2014 lease expiration on the entire site, it's time for a careful school-city process to create a new vision for the site
There are endless possibilities for how the 35-acre former Cubberley High School site on Middlefield Road in south Palo Alto could be used to meet the future needs of the school district and broader community.

October 1, 2011 | 2 comments
The economics of downtown parking

Employees opt for free neighborhood parking, leaving garage permit spaces empty
A Planning and Community Environment Department study that will be reviewed by the City Council Sept. 12 shows that despite an overabundance of spaces in the numerous parking garages and surface lots scattered around downtown, Palo Alto has a parking problem.

September 2, 2011 | 7 comments
A little sanity from fire union

Effort to stop public vote on binding arbitration is withdrawn, for now
After apparently rethinking its "shoot first, ask questions later" strategy, Local 1319 of Palo Alto Professional Firefighters sensibly agreed to withdraw its attack on the binding-arbitration ballot issue that will go before Palo Alto voters in November.

August 15, 2011 | 10 comments
The slow death of high-speed rail

Loss of federal money will be the nail in the coffin of doomed project
Back in 2008, Palo Alto voters, the City Council and the Weekly liked the idea of bullet trains zooming at more than 200 miles an hour between the Bay Area and Los Angeles, providing an alternative mode of travel that was economical and more environmentally friendly.

August 8, 2011 | 31 comments
What to do with $40 million?

Stanford money tied to approval of hospital expansion will require disciplined process by Council and the community
The Palo Alto City Council and administration set the stage Monday for what we hope will be a serious and productive discussion about how to bring the most benefit to the city from the $40 million that will begin flowing from Stanford later this summer.

July 29, 2011 | 9 comments
Breathing room for car dwellers

Palo Alto wisely delays consideration of ordinance banning sleeping in cars to allow time for more outreach, discussion
Surprised by the intensity of the negative reaction from some segments of the faith community and others grappling with the problems of the homeless, City Manager Jim Keene spared the City Council and the community a long and emotional meeting next Monday night by putting off the issue of car dwelling until September.

July 22, 2011 | 31 comments
Outlook brightens to replace Newell Road bridge

City will seek major grant to pay for a bigger, safer span over flood-prone creek
Helped along with the prospect of a generous grant from the state Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and funding from the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, the City Council wisely took advantage of a generous opportunity and voted 8-0 Monday to replace the Newell Road bridge that the state has declared obsolete and unsafe.

July 15, 2011 | 17 comments
Whither the recycling center?

With use of Recycling Center declining and the city facing a budget shortfall, talk of closing center is not environmental heresy
While the primary focus of Tuesday night's meeting of the City Council Finance Committee was how to address a $3.7 million deficit in the city's Refuse Fund, the newsworthy discussion focused on the idea of closing the Recycling Center in the Baylands.

July 8, 2011 | 1 comment
The Cubberley conundrum

As Foothill College seeks to upgrade or move its Cubberley campus, Palo Alto school and city officials struggle over how to plan for the community's own future needs for the site
As with many Palo Alto issues, the current debate over whether the City of Palo Alto should enter into negotiations to sell part of the Cubberley Community Center to Foothill College is like a Rubik's Cube.

July 1, 2011 | 17 comments
Deja vu on arbitration

City Council once again puts itself under time pressure in deciding whether to place repeal of binding arbitration on November ballot
There was at least some logic a year ago when the City Council voted 4-5 to punt on placing a measure on the November 2010 ballot to repeal the city's unusual 33-year-old binding-arbitration requirement whenever an impasse is declared in police or fire labor negotiations.

June 24, 2011 | 15 comments

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