Forty years ago, a group of political activist ecologists living in an intentional community, Ecomagic.org ( aka Magic), in the Evergreen Park neighborhood, lobbied the city and rallied the neighborhood for a system of street barricades. One of the purposes of Magic is to allow people to be minimally employed so they have time and energy to pursue projects for the community good. It took them seven years of constant effort on the part of about a dozen people to get the barricades installed.
At the time, the neighborhood was bitterly divided on the subject, with only the relentless effort on the part of these activists managing to get the project to move forward. After 30 years of living with barricades, they are unanimously loved. Every single resident supports them.
Residents on East Meadow Drive who could lose street parking are now vilifying the city for its lack of "community engagement." Problem is, the kind of community engagement needed to move a plan forward that makes real changes is way, way, way beyond the scope of city staff. No matter how good your engagement, there is always going to be a core group of people who resist change with all their might.
But when it comes to residents initiating change on their own? Heavens, no! They are all too busy for that: "The city should do it."
Birch Street, Palo Alto
Get serious about leaf blowers
Palo Alto encourages us to live a sustainable lifestyle, minimizing our impact on Earth as much as possible. Our electricity is carbon neutral, making us feel good when we live electrically, ridding ourselves of gas appliances. But some low-hanging sustainability fruit lies untouched. Gas-powered leaf blowers were banned more than a decade ago in Palo Alto, yet my ears, eyes and nostrils tell me they are still heavily used. Each gallon of gas burned puts about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide in the air. Think of hundreds of leaf blowers operating every day in Palo Alto and think of the unnecessary carbon added to the air. Palo Alto, let's get serious about banning leaf blowers. Make it clear to homeowners with your bully pulpit that these things are gross insults to the Earth we love. It is the homeowners who are responsible, not the hired gardeners, who will use whatever does the job the cheapest. This should be part of our sustainability action plan.
Ivy Lane, Palo Alto
311 service works
I'd like to commend the city of Palo Alto for its efficient 311 service. Earlier this year, I sent a picture of a dangerous sidewalk condition in my neighborhood to Palo Alto's 311 service. The next day, the city had put up a barricade around the dangerous hole in the sidewalk and had notified the company that was responsible for the deteriorated concrete lid on the cable box.
On Monday, Sept.13, I noticed graffiti on the beautiful underwater mural in the bike underpass at California Avenue. Once again, I used 311 to notify the city. They notified the Arts Department on Tuesday, and the graffiti was removed and the mural restored perfectly by Wednesday morning.
Kudos to Palo Alto for offering its citizens such an easy and efficient method for alerting the city departments of things that need to be fixed.
Webster Street, Palo Alto
Kudos to Palo Alto Players
I just saw "Working" at Lucie Stern Community Center and must say that the cast is quite talented. It is definitely a winner and worth the hour and 40 minutes of everybody's time.
Walter Hays Drive, Palo Alto
Protect the power grid
We must do more to strengthen our power grid against an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event. Such an event can result from an attack by terrorists or by another country (e.g. China may already have the capability, which it may use in an economic crisis) or it can occur naturally. It could result in devastating loss of life. There is disagreement on this, but why take chances?
We should also have a ground-based GPS backup system, like Russia has, or we could lose the internet, at the very least, in an anti-satellite attack.
Elm Street, Palo Alto
City needs backup power
In 2010, Palo Alto lost electric power for 10 hours due to a plane crash. We nearly had a repeat of that scenario on Sept. 13.
Why no redundant source of power?
There is a dormant electric line into Palo Alto right by the new Adobe Creek bridge. Why not activate it before the next plane crash?
Corina Way, Palo Alto