Around Town | September 14, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - September 14, 2012

Around Town

TAKE THE TESLA BRIDGE TO THE PACKARD PLAYGROUND ... Palo Alto's wish list for recreational amenities seems to grow every month or so, with current items including a bike bridge over U.S. Highway 101, a universally accessible playground at Mitchell Park, three playing fields at the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course and a host of trails and bike boulevards. The main wildcard is the cost. To deal with the hefty price tags of the coveted projects, officials are debating whether they should offer naming rights to companies that are willing to help turn the city's recreational dreams into reality. The idea surfaced this week, during the City Council's joint meeting with the Parks and Recreation Commission, and received a mixed reception from council members. Councilwoman Karen Holman said she is "all for leveraging money" from the private sector, but was skeptical about the naming-rights proposal. "It doesn't fit the complexion of the community to have, say, AT&T Bridge over 101," Holman said. Her colleague Sid Espinosa was more open to the idea and recommended a "thoughtful discussion" about how much is too much when it comes to naming public facilities after donors. Vice Mayor Greg Scharff, meanwhile, was enthusiastic and said he would have "absolutely no problem" with attaching company names to the city-owned structures. "I would have no trouble with the 'Palantir Bridge' over 101," Scharff said, referring to the downtown company that specializes in data analysis. "Palo Alto is intimately connected with the innovative companies we have here." Councilman Larry Klein noted that the city's existing policy allows the council to name things after people but not after companies. He also argued that getting companies to pay for naming rights would be a tall task, particularly in a tough economic climate. The ongoing campaign to raise money for the city's new Mitchell Park library, for example, so far has secured only one donation sizeable enough to get a significant portion of the library named after the donor, philanthropist Becky Morgan, Klein said.

BOW WOW! ... As the name might imply, Aris z Kaplickeho hamru is no ordinary dog. In fact, Aris is a crime fighter with an extensive record of capturing thieves, burglars and assailants and bringing them to justice. Once, Aris tracked down a murder suspect who was captured after a manhunt by numerous agencies. For the Palo Alto Police Department, Aris is also a public-relations asset, a past guest at Rotary Club and Boy Scout meetings and a participant in the department's Citizen's Police Academy classes. But after six-and-a-half human years in the department, the popular police-service dog retired in July. On Tuesday night, Aris will receive a bureaucratic scratch on the back when City Council passes a resolution citing the above accomplishments and recognizing the retiring canine for "his commitment to the community and his consistent efforts."

WINDS OF CHANGE ... What's the cleanest way to meet the world's energy needs? The answer to this question is blowin' in the wind. That's according to new research from Stanford University Professor Mark Jacobson and the University of Delaware Associate Professor Cristina Archer, who recently considered the question and determined that 4 million turbines, each 100 meters high, could provide more than half of the world's power demand without significant negative effect on climate. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Archer, an associate professor of geography, physical ocean science and engineering, would place about half of these turbines over water. The rest would be installed on land and scattered around high-wind sites across the globe, places like the Gobi Desert, the American plains and the Sahara. "We're not saying 'put turbines everywhere,' but we have shown that there is no fundamental barrier to obtaining half or even several times the world's all-purpose power from wind by 2030," Jacobson said. "The potential is there if we can build enough turbines." But, he added, the world still has a long way to go. "Today we have installed a little over 1 percent of the wind power needed," Jacobson said. To be sure, the professors' vision of millions of turbines powering the world isn't without its complications. The computer model they used calculated wind power potential but did not factor in real-world barriers such as economics or societal views toward wind power.


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