Town Square

Post a New Topic

Palo Alto fiber vote, Eruv. Hmm -- an Idea.

Original post made by Palo Parent, Greenmeadow, on Jun 19, 2007

Why don't the folks who must put up an Eruv around the city instead put up a free and available to all high-speed fiber network and call it their Eruv too?

One rock would then kill two birds.

Comments (10)

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 20, 2007 at 1:35 am

Marvelous idea. I suggest we call it the e-ruv. If we can get the holy fibers to sequester some carbon, we can put the new $181K environmental coordinator in the charge of the project and we're up to a quartet of birds. This RFP just writes itself...

Like this comment
Posted by Peter
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 20, 2007 at 7:24 am

And, since it's unique and involves religion, Palo Alto should be able to get a generous grant from the Office of Faith Based Whatevers in the Bush Administration.

Like this comment
Posted by Jay Thorwaldson
editor emeritus
on Jun 20, 2007 at 8:31 am

Jay Thorwaldson is a registered user.

Well, here we go again, it seems. By way of some background, here's the Weekly's editorial from 2000 at the close of the last eruv saga. Check the end if you like nutty ideas:

Publication Date: Wednesday Aug 2, 2000

Editorial: Eruv proponents blindsided with painted-line scheme

Subhead: Council committee "approval" amounts to a rejection of eruv, reflecting the city staff's increasing frustration with the time invested in a perceived no-win idea

Just when it appeared that nothing more could possibly be said about a more than year-old proposal to add twine to two dozen locations around Palo Alto, the city staff and a City Council committee have added new fuel to the controversy over creation over the city becoming one of about 100 communities around the country with an eruv.

In an action that startled and angered the Orthodox Jewish community that has been pushing for the eruv, the Council's Policy and Procedures Committee voted 2-1 last week for a so-called compromise involving painting lines on utility poles to "represent" a continuous enclosure.

But what might have seemed like a nice way out of a messy political situation is destined to backfire, since the recommendation doesn't satisfy the requirements of an eruv and therefore accomplishes nothing. Perhaps there is still a way for a further amendment to make the eruv effective, but the staff and committee's refusal to allow any attachments to the utility poles seem to doom the concept.

The community is tiring of this debate, and of the hostility it has created among those believing that permitting some twine to be attached to some utility poles is a harmless action that demonstrates tolerance and diversity and those who believe strongly that it crosses the line between church and state.

When we first editorialized in support of creating the eruv one year ago, we commented on the extraordinary outpouring of opinions, both for and against. We said it was an opportunity for the community to demostrate our diversity without any hardship, burden or obligation on the members of any other religious group.

Now, a year later, it is as much an outrage that this issue remains unresolved as it is that we now offer the Orthodox Jewish community an alternative that accomplishes nothing -- and which the city staff and committee members knew in advance would not work.

The eruv proposal should have been voted up or down months ago. It now symbolizes exactly what new City Manager Frank Benest wants to put an end to: issues that aren't priorities that sap energy and emotion, create wounds and drag on and on.

But the fact that the eruv proposal should have long ago been decided by the City Council doesn't mean that it should now be killed by the proposal of a clever, yet unworkable, alternative. We accept that members of the city staff and City Council would prefer that this issue simply go away, but the community members who have so passionately debated it for so long deserve to see their political leaders vote on the eruv as proposed.

We continue to believe the eruv is a harmless and positive idea and support its creation. But it is far more important to make a decision and move on.

Here's one possible solution: In the late 1960s, when the council was approving a utilities-undergrounding project that would bury telephone and power lines, the late Stan Norton -- on the council at the time -- expressed concern about what would happen to squirrels that use the phone lines to get from tree to tree.

Norton proposed, in a tongue-in-cheek memo to colleagues, that the city create a "Squirrelways" system of ropes between trees so the squirrels could get around without fear of ground-level cars, cats, dogs and kids.

Well, the squirrel-hazard problem still exists, and a line of ropes around the city might just do double duty as an eruv without raising the pesky church/state question.

This plan isn't any nuttier than the "solution that isn't" recommendation of the council committee.

Like this comment
Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 20, 2007 at 9:09 am

Thanks, Jay, for re-printing the editorial from back then. It is to the eternal shame of the City Council at that time that they did not have the guts to actually vote on the issue. Of course not much has change here in PA--the city council still refuses to address controversial issues in a timely manner--either hoping they will just go away or else focusing energy on pipe dreams (i.e. climate change).

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2007 at 9:23 am

Pesky issues never go away - they just get buried in the sand and all of a sudden when you least expect it, raise their heads and the argument starts all over.


Like this comment
Posted by Equal treatment
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2007 at 8:38 am

If we can have an Eruv then perhaps we need a big statue of the Buddha downtown. How about a giant crucifix towering over University Avenue? A city sponsored mosque perhaps? Why is it that one group always seems to demand special treatment while preventing others the same? How is this fair? I truly wouldn't mind the Eruv if other religions, groups and practices were given equal treatment. Sadly, and this is the source of so much strife, they are not.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2007 at 9:36 am


In other countries, statues of religious nature, are considered beautiful pieces of art, landmarks and tourist attractions. To many of the residents and visitors they do not even think of them as religious, just beautiful. In Palo Alto, we cannot put up anything with a religious connotation and enjoy it for any reason. Instead, we have ugly pieces of nonsense that are called art e.g. the egg at Lytton Plaza, the ugly whatever outside City Hall, the strange car on legs in the park beside Alma, etc. etc. Come to think of it, what happened to the large people sitting on a bench on Embarcadero that was constantly vandalized? That was at least whimisical.

Like this comment
Posted by Judge Judy
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 25, 2007 at 3:24 pm

When is somebody going to compare and contrast the current City Attorney's opinion on the eruv with the opinion of former City Attorney Ariel Calonne on the same subject?

Or is my comment going to be deleted from this forum again?

Like this comment
Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 25, 2007 at 3:41 pm

judge judy--you original comment was not deleted--there are two eruv threads going--your original post is on the other thread:

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Palo Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 25, 2007 at 9:25 pm

Another idea: If I understand correctly, the media that is planned to be tacked up to establish the Eruv will be monofilament fishing line(?). Since that is obviously a technological upgrade from the original twine Eruvs, why not bring it up-to-date and establish a wired or wireless Eruv using the internet. It could indeed travel from computer/router locations spanning the roughly the same geographic boundaries as a stringed Eruv. It would even be much, much easier to verify and maintain as you could tell instantly when it was not continuous. Plus, the people who want it up could do so without disrupting other's rights to not be infringed by it, simple?

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

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

Get the most important local news stories sent straight to your inbox daily.

Is there a polite way to say "Too much plastic"?
By Sherry Listgarten | 25 comments | 3,922 views

Community catering: How one SF Malaysian restaurant is delivering food to Peninsula neighborhoods
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 3,160 views

What I will remember about Ruth Bader Ginsburg
By Diana Diamond | 5 comments | 1,911 views

A Rainbow After the Storm
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 910 views

Premarital and Couples: See "Buck" for Couple's Tips
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 662 views


Benefiting local non-profits

The 36th annual Moonlight Run and Walk is Friday evening, October 2, wherever you are! Proceeds go to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, benefiting local non-profits that serve families and children in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Join us under the light of the full Harvest Moon on a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon.

Register Today!