Letters to the editors | February 8, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - February 8, 2019

Letters to the editors

Invest in green policies


I read with interest the guest opinion by David Coale in the Jan. 25 edition of the Palo Alto Weekly.

In short, I fully concur with Mr. Coale's analysis and conclusions.

Specifically, I believe it is important for Palo Alto to continue and extend its leadership in aggressively decarbonizing our local economy and infrastructure. We should be leading California, the nation and the world in eliminating dependence on fossil fuels for transportation, heating and cooling and electrical demand.

For far too long we've coddled the car by subsidizing roads, parking and fossil-fuel extraction and use. Let's end the subsidies that we can control, like parking garages. Let's invest that money in more robust active transportation infrastructure, EV charging and all the various rideshare and public transit options.

We can also accelerate progress in reducing natural-gas use by requiring all new buildings to be fully electric. Not only does this reduce our carbon footprint but will drive appliance innovation and encourage others to follow suit.

I thank the Palo Alto City Council for adopting climate change as one of its top priorities for the coming year and for helping Palo Alto, Silicon Valley, our nation and the global community press forward with the substantial decarbonization required to secure a meaningful future for life on Earth.

David Smernoff

Foxwood Road

Portola Valley

City should look into vaulting


Monday's City Council meeting regarding wireless communication-device placement and design was quite a disappointment. While the city's Architectural Review Board, the resident-driven United Neighbors group and a lawyer for residents whose property will be impacted all favored underground vaulting, city staff opted instead to approve the (less expensive) above-ground placement desired by the applicant, Crown Castle.

Kniss immediately made a motion to approve the item, stating residents like cell phone coverage (which was not the issue at hand); Mayor Filseth quickly seconded the motion. Other council members, notably DuBois and Kou, asked multiple relevant and important questions — and received nebulous answers from the city staff.

One example was Kou's question, "How loud will these be?" The city staff responded with multiple answers: "Perhaps 40-45 dB's"; "Depends on the device";"They are silent"; followed by "Some might require a fan" and ultimately "They must abide by the city's noise ordinance" without naming that requirement. Ordinance 9.10.050 (Public Property Noise Limits), which I found online, states the noise level be "no more than 15 dB above the local ambient at a distance of 25 feet or more..."

Another example was when city staff could not identify the equipment in existing underground vaults but didn't hesitate to state there would not be any room to add these devices.

The city staff's non-specific answers were hardly gratifying to the attending residents who wanted to see the city staff research options other than cluttering our streets with ugly, potentially noisy devices. The city stated it will likely receive many more such requests from Crown Castle and other applicants.

I wish our city staff had done more to determine if underground vaulting might be feasible, especially in a case-by-case situation. One device will be placed in front of a residence (where noise requirements are lower).

Ann Protter

N. California Avenue

Palo Alto


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