Around town | November 22, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 22, 2013

Around town

FLASHING LIGHTS ... Aurora — the luminous, interactive tree brought to Palo Alto from Burning Man by a group of children — was successfully installed, piece by piece, branch by branch, in front of City Hall last week. Passers-by might have noticed that by this week, some of Aurora's 40,000 LED lights were out, due to faulty electrical connections, Aurora organizer and Palo Alto parent Harry Hirschman said. But don't worry: This week's heavy rain isn't the culprit. "This all happened during the initial installation," Hirschman said. "Charlie (the artist) came down to check everything, and she's held up just fine in the rain." Hirschman added that while a team is doing some tweaks on the software that will allow people to interact with the tree via smartphones or tablets, Aurora's server will be offline. "We are shooting to have the system stabilized by the end of the weekend, best case," he said.

A CHIEF CONCERN ... After the resignation of Ron Davis, East Palo Alto's police chief of more than eight years, East Palo Alto is faced with the unenviable task of selecting a new chief. As the city's top administrator, the weight is by law on City Manager Magda Gonzalez, but East Palo Alto Mayor Ruben Abrica wants a say too. In an open letter, he encouraged Gonzalez to include in the selection process input from the City Council and a citizen selection panel, as was done in the 2005 selection of Davis. The letter also served as a gentle (or not-so-gentle) reminder for Gonzalez to expedite the process of releasing her plan to select a new chief. "For the good of the community and out of respect for our civic tradition, I think that in the spirit of dialogue, Ms. Gonzalez needs to present as soon as possible, and sooner rather than later, her ideas on the process for selecting a chief of police. For this sensitive process, the community needs an opportunity to dialogue and not be left in suspense for an indefinite period of time," he wrote. Federico Rocha, who served as a captain under Davis, has taken his spot as interim chief.

NO AVE IS AN ISLAND ... Palo Alto Planning and Transportation Commission meetings are rarely affairs one would describe as dramatic. Wednesday's meeting, during which the commission discussed the concept plan for the California Avenue area, wasn't an exception — but it did provide the opportunity for a bit of political grandstanding about Palo Alto's age-old clash between developmentalists and residentialists. The concept plan, which has been in the works for years, is meant to guide future land use and development in the area. It includes fostering mixed-use development on the avenue, designing Park Boulevard as a "tech corridor" for startups, and maintaining the area's existing character. Commissioner Michael Alcheck gave a speech with feet firmly placed in the developmentalist camp. He said that when considering developing the area, the city has to look at it on behalf of all the city's residents and all its future residents, not just the folks who live there now, many of whom espoused maintaining the quiet character of Palo Alto's sleepy California Avenue area. "Everything about this area screams opportunity," he said, calling the chance to add mixed-use development and multi-family housing to the area extraordinary. "I'm not suggesting Santana Row — it's not authentic; it's not organic; it's an island," he said referring to the massive, high-end San Jose shopping development. "California Avenue is an epicenter. ... When people say real estate is about three things — location, location, location — this is the kind of location they're talking about." Other commissioners such as Alex Panelli, cited the chief concerns that many of the area residents have — traffic and parking. Panelli wanted the plan to reflect and develop around concrete parking and traffic numbers.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.