Around town | August 23, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 23, 2013

Around town

FEEDING FRENZY ... Today, "Do not feed the animals" is just a friendly suggestion at Palo Alto parks. Soon, it could become the law of the land. The city's Parks and Recreation Commission is scheduled to consider on Tuesday night a new ordinance that would prohibit feeding of wildlife and feral cats at all parks and open space areas. The feeding of wild animals is most common at the Baylands Duck Pond, where visitors have been offering snacks to geese, ducks and squirrels for decades. These days, the feeding of wildlife and feral animals is "causing problems in our urban parks and all our open space areas," Open Space Manager Daren Anderson wrote in a new report. The feeding of crows, ravens and jays only attracts more of these nuisance species to the city's neighborhoods, parks and natural areas, Anderson wrote. "These aggressive species prey on nesting birds throughout Palo Alto, consuming eggs and chicks of songbirds, raptors and even endangered species in the Baylands," he wrote. Those who feed feral cats unwittingly exacerbate the problem by luring other animals to feeding stations, including rats, skunks, racoons and opossums. Anderson lists many other unintended consequences of human generosity: park benches and walkways covered in bird feces; an uptick in coyotes at the Pearson-Arastradero Preserve; increasingly aggressive squirrels and waterfowl; and foxes that appear to take a page out of Yogi Bear's playbook. "At the Palo Alto Golf Course, visitors have fed grey foxes, a practice that has led to aggressive animal behavior," Anderson wrote. "There have been several reports of foxes taking food out of golf carts, and approaching people who have food without any fear." If the ordinance is approved by the City Council, residents will have a new reason to respect the signs asking them not to feed the animals: a fine of up to $250.

LAPTOPS FOR ALL? ... It's far from the $100 million that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg donated to Newark, N.J., public schools in 2010, but Facebook — a relative newcomer to Menlo Park — is making its way into the local philanthropy scene. On Thursday, flanked by East Palo Alto Mayor Ruben Abrica, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier and new Ravenswood Superintendent Gloria Hernandez, Facebook officials presented new Mac laptops to the entire eighth-grade class at Cesar Chavez Academy in East Palo Alto. The company also will provide laptops to eighth-graders at Belle Haven and Willow Oaks schools.

YOU GOTTA HAND IT TO THEM ... When the Public Arts Commission met Aug. 15 to discuss how to spend money developers set aside for art projects on private buildings in Palo Alto, commissioners espoused the need for really big ideas — literally. "A project can be as big as a building. I mean, literally, a building itself could be a work of art. There could be components of the building. It could be as small as literally a flat panel display. So think broadly," said Commissioner Kathleen Kavanaugh during a presentation on the topic. Sources of inspiration include the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport's parking structure, whose exterior wall is covered with a mural featuring hands of prominent people in Silicon Valley, and the uber-green San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Headquarters, a LEED-platinum building that boasts built-in wind turbines, rooftop solar panels and a very modern design. The commission will continue to "think broadly" until Sept. 10, when members will meet with the City Council's Policy and Services Committee to gather input on how to revamp Palo Alto's Percent for Art Program, which currently requires developers to set aside 1 percent of construction funds for public-art projects. After that, they will return in October with specific language to amend existing Percent for Art policy. Then the full City Council will deliberate on, and possibly approve, the policy.

DOUBLE WHAMMY ... This week was a busy one in the accolades department for Mary V. Hughes and her husband, Joe Simitian. Hughes, a veteran political strategist and Palo Alto resident, was honored as Woman of the Year on Wednesday at an evening reception in Sacramento by California Women Lead, a nonpartisan association committed to encouraging and training women to be leaders in our communities. Simitian, the former state senator and current Santa Clara County supervisor, was the guest of honor at an event put on Tuesday by the Palo Alto Opportunity Center.


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Posted by Carroll HarriNgton
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 23, 2013 at 1:29 am

Kudos to Mary and Joe for their well-deserved honors! Joe is also being honored by Save Our Shores for working to protect the ocean when he was n the Senate.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2013 at 7:35 am

There is a difference between feeding the wildlife and the wildlife helping themselves to our food.

Black crows have attacked my groceries as I was unloading my car, one actually pulled a baguette out of the bag while I was taking in other bags. They are very aggressive and a big problem. I don't remember them being here 10 years ago.

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Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Animals become aggressive when people feed them. Get your neighbors to stop feeding the animals and they will leave you alone. this includes people being sloppy at picnic grounds, leaving food on the table unguarded and not picking up food scraps from the ground.