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City looks to open up newest Foothills Park site

Original post made on Oct 3, 2017

Three years after Palo Alto officials formally added a 7.7-acre site to Foothills Park, they are finally preparing to open it up to city residents.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, October 3, 2017, 12:55 PM

Comments (23)

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2017 at 3:02 pm

There are signs about improvements and altering the creek from beside the meadow to the center of the meadow, as well as signs about trail closures from last year's rains. Rather than worrying about opening the new area which has little to attract the average park visitor, is there any update on the feedback from the park users on the improvements or any estimate when the trails will be reopened?

Posted by mattie
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 3, 2017 at 6:26 pm

Here's the real story. Honestly folks, pay attention and better reporting!

(1) So, there's this chunk of land abutting Foothills Park that Palo Alto had forgotten it had. Something like 7 acres. The park is about 3,000 acres. Adding it would be something like a 00.5% increase to the park's size. [Yes, something like a HALF of a percent.]

(2) It backs up to Arrillaga's proprety. He likes giving money to cities (see Menlo Park). So he offers to give the city something like 20 MILLION for it (maybe it was 10 MILLION, but WAY over the property's value)... even though you couldn't sell it for a half million. It's steep, crumbling, un-buildable. But, billionaires like their privacy, and he likes giving money, and it's so useless we forgot we had it... so he offers to overpay to guarantee his privacy and build some ball fields for kids.

(3) Instead, we said NO and commissioned an expensive study. The Parks and Rec Commission (this is public... reporting?!?!) recently said that the results of the expensive hydrology study would be another COST of about 10 MILLION to rehab the area and add it to Foothills Park as usable space.

(4) I can't believe I'm still writing. If democracy and public attention is so broken in Palo Alto, there's no hope for the world.

Posted by mattie
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 3, 2017 at 6:37 pm

PS -- "Resident's" comment is dead on. It points out that Foothills Park currently has its biggest trail CLOSED due to insufficient maintenance. Rained out... trail gone until repaired. Who the heck is the Division Manger that doesn't have the fiscal prudence to keep a rainy day fund (no pun intended) to keep the CURRENT park in good operating condition but wants us to pay 10 million to add a small chunk?

Posted by Judy
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 3, 2017 at 6:53 pm

Mattie, why should Palo Alto give up their park land to a private citizen?

Also, have you ever hiked on the trails in Foothills Park? I used to hike the Los Trancos trail all the time and I can easily see how it would be very difficult to repair after this years above average rainfall.

Years ago there was a fee collected for Foothills Park visitors. For some odd reason that practice was discontinued. Maybe a fee should be collected again and used for park maintenance.

Sadly I am no longer a Palo Alto resident so I can no longer drive through the park entrance. When I visit the park I enter via the Pearson Arastradaro Park. I don't mind though - it's a nice walk.

Posted by Firefighter
a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2017 at 7:10 pm

Here's a idea. Let Mr. Arrillaga have the land and in exchange, have him build the city 2 new fire stations at the current sites of #3 and #4. We know he will do it right and on time. His track record around the university shows this.
The city couldn't build a library on time and on budget. Do we want to go thru this again?

Posted by mattie
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 3, 2017 at 7:21 pm

@Judy. Yes, I love Foothills Park! I'm sorry if in my frustration I seemed to denigrate the park. My frustration is that we had a great offer on the table (a ton of money for a slice so "special" we forgot we had it).

It's about trade-offs. We could have used that money from Arrillaga to do a lot for parks and citizens around the city. Instead, we're SPENDING money without the management or wherewithal to keep even the beautiful baseline up and running.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 3, 2017 at 7:53 pm

I am glad that this addition to the park is moving forward. However, I am also really disappointed that not only is the upper Los Trancos Trail closed due to rail damage, the Costanoan Loop is also closed. This means about half of the park is no longer accessible to the public. There are no signs that inform us about a plan to re open them and the rangers had no idea last time I checked. This is similar to the low priority the city staff placed on repairing the Baylands Nature Center and boardwalk. Can city staff use this thread to respond to the public or can the city manager give an update?

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 3, 2017 at 9:48 pm

Evidently there has been a culvert (6 foot corrugated tube) put in place where the creek goes. The entrance for the upstream part of the tube starts at Arriagas property. My guess is that this was installed, by Arriaga, to make his property flat and more usable. According to Mr. Anderson ,we have to remove 600 cubic yards of soil every year, so we do not flood Arriagas property down stream. Removing that much dirt is big $$$. That damn thing is a huge liability for the city.

As much as I hate to say this, sell the damn wasteland to him... But charge him $100,000,000 and make that S.O.B sign a clause to free us from indemnity.

While your at it fire Mr. Anderson, he was definitely in cahoots with Arriaga and the city for the initial sale of the property.

Posted by Se (a) Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 4, 2017 at 7:51 am



Posted by I've enjoyed FH park for decades
a resident of another community
on Oct 4, 2017 at 9:27 am

Only open to city residents? <snicker>. Uh-huh. ;)

Posted by Kya
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 4, 2017 at 10:32 am

All this money........1/2 the park trails clsed currently. No fiscal oversight!! This park is for the citizens of Palo Alto who paid for it. In terms of enforcement (which City is now beefing up in some areas), have an attendant at the gate to collect 2 - 3 dollars per Palo Alto resident. Even if it is a small amount, residents will welcome the oversight and know that our ASSETS, along with the rules and regulations actually are enforced.

Posted by Foothills Park user
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 4, 2017 at 10:50 am

Foothills Park user is a registered user.

According to the PA Weekly, Arrillaga only offered $175,000 for the 7.7 acres.

That's just $22,727 per acre, or about $3,130 per 6,000 square feet (the typical PA parcel size). While zoned as parkland there is Arrillaga's caretakers' home immediately adjacent to this parcel.

source: Web Link

Posted by Don
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 4, 2017 at 11:25 am

> Only open to city residents?

Non-residents have Foothills Park access from Pearson-Arastradero Preserve (via the Arastradero Creek Trail).

Posted by C
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 4, 2017 at 11:28 am

Waste, abuse, corruption, cronyism.

All options are bad, when you consider the bind we've put ourselves in with over regulation. Take the money, which is essentially a bribe as well as a benefit to John so he can grease the wheels and avoid the traps of over regulation? or funnel millions to a 'hydration study' (code for taxpayer rip off scheme)?

Welcome to beautiful Palo Alto.

Posted by Croc Dundee
a resident of another community
on Oct 4, 2017 at 12:22 pm

From the Palo Alto Website:
Residency Requirement

Foothills Park is open to Palo Alto residents and their accompanied guests only. Proof of residency is required. Guests must be accompanied by a Palo Alto resident. Limit of 15 guests per resident in two additional cars. Please call the Foothills Park rangers for clarification or for additional questions at 650-329-2423.

There may be physical access by walking, but it is still trespassing if you are not a Palo Alto resident. I learned this lesson years ago. I walked in and was kicked out.

Posted by David
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2017 at 1:21 pm

So much misinformation. Where does one separate fiction from the truth? It is not worth it...

Posted by jean struthers
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Oct 4, 2017 at 2:20 pm

the one user of this part of the park is Acterra, or Grassroots Ecology. they are doing great work with school kids at many of their restoration sites. These kids are learning about invasive weeds and native plants. I think this is a very unique program which is helping our Town and Los altos improve their open spaces and parks.

Also the SC Valley Water district and the Midpen Open Space district are using Acterra's plants for restoring Mt. Uhm and other public places. It is important to keep this valuable organization where it is. they have put into effect many ways of keeping the plants free from diseases so they wont infect other open spaces. They are non profit but they profit all of us with their work.Most of this work is done by volunteers. Using this new open space is never going to be as valuable as is this little nursery. Let's save it.

Posted by C
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 4, 2017 at 2:44 pm

Thank you jean struthers!

If it hasn't been a problem in the past, and it's being used for the good of the community in it's current state, leave it well enough alone. Stop throwing money at unnecessary 'problems' and projects.

Pure small government graft, if you ask me.

Posted by Cur Mudgeon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 5, 2017 at 7:25 am

Kya, no need for a gate keeper. An Iron Ranger will suffice. Random enforcement, as many of our state and county parks do.

I think the city missed an opportunity with Mr. Arrillaga's offer.

Posted by Wow
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2017 at 12:38 pm

The blatant ignorance on display here is rather impressive. Most of the posters’ claims are completely false while the rest are distortions of facts taken out of context. But anything to support their false narrative that the city is being run by a bunch of bungling bureaucrats.

Oh, if only these posters were running the city, then all of our problems would magically disappear!

Posted by C
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 5, 2017 at 1:15 pm

Sorry, if I offended any one by giving that impression. I never meant to imply that "the city is being run by a bunch of bungling bureaucrats" I meant to imply it is run by shady, quasi-criminal geniuses.

Posted by Judy
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 5, 2017 at 1:27 pm

David and Wow (are they the same person?) are so enlightened! They like to point out the "misinformation" of posters but fail to present any facts to support their claims of the "blatant ignorance" of the comments. Is this another trolling technique? Please enlighten us with your superior knowledge. It will benefit those of us making false claims.

Posted by Layers Upon Layers
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 5, 2017 at 3:13 pm

Re: Bloated Bureaucracy, Bumbling Bureaucrats

Look at the Layers upon Layers of management in the Community Services Department (or division, whatever it's called). Last I checked, we have a director, then a few assistant directors, then a budget director, then come a bunch of program directors, the Open Space and Golf Course Division Director, then under him the Foothills Park director (among others).

With that many six figure salaries in the mix, it's no wonder we forgot what land we actually own.

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