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Palo Alto treads cautiously on expanding Foothills Park access

Original post made on Jul 24, 2019

A fresh effort to expand access to Foothills Park is reopening an old debate, with some residents saying that it's time let more people in and others arguing that doing so would imperil the very qualities that make the park special.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 24, 2019, 9:45 AM

Comments (109)

23 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 24, 2019 at 10:21 am

How about opening the park to outsiders on 3 weekdays every week. Residents can still have 2 quiet days. I am very concerned about adding more car traffic to Page Mill Road on weekends and holidays. The road is dangerous enough as it is.


34 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 24, 2019 at 10:36 am

My proposed simple fix. Non-residents welcome for free on bike (or foot if hiking in). Pay a non-resident fee to park, draft number $8 per car. No buses, large vans, or RVs. Residents continue as is.

This is fair, allows access, gives price sensitive folks the opportunity to opt for parks further down the road, or closer to 280 like Arastradero.

Problem solved! [Just kidding, I'm not that full of myself... but I do think we make this stuff too complicated!]


99 people like this
Posted by Downfall
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 24, 2019 at 10:38 am

I would like to see the current policy remains. What disturbs me most about other Palo Alto parks that are open to all is the parties in the parks where much trash is left behind and despite clear signage people play amplified music. I would hate to see this happen in Foothills. Opening the park to a broader set of people I believe would be make it more likely for these problems to be brought to foothills.

Regarding the comment in the article about Huddart park and Rancho San Antonio being open to all these are County parks while Foothills is a city park so not an entirely valid comparison.


13 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 24, 2019 at 10:39 am

PS -- It also is a simple and powerful tool for the over-crowding problem. If we see to many cars... adjust the fee until we have the cost-recovery / experience balance right where we want it.


23 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2019 at 10:55 am

As long as Palo Alto residents are fully utilizing the park, I don't see why people think that there is a moral issue involved. Foothills Park was practically unique when it was created, and, it is in very good condition compared to so many nearby county parks. I don't want the condition to deteriorate-- immoral, in fact, to allow it. Palo Alto has been the steward all these years, and, I think residents should have priority, and, others should be limited-- especially in the number of cars.

It is also still would be appropriate, after 50+ years, to get financial support from LAH and PV for park maintenance and fire protection. I know they were poor back in the 60's, but, I assume that, by now, they can afford to make a significant contribution.

Finally, if Foothills Park is open, we will need a strong traffic safety enforcement presence. The park roads are frequently used by pedestrians with the expectation that drivers will be careful of pedestrians. Opening the park to "everyone" will, for sure, result in opening it to a lot of aggressive, speeding drivers. That would seriously damage the enjoyability of the now-peaceful park. The park is for wildlife. It is for people. It is not for cars, even if that is how people usually arrive.


70 people like this
Posted by Gus L.
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 24, 2019 at 11:07 am

Please leave it the way it is.
If you allow outsiders in they will trash the place.
Nobody takes care of their own better than us.


12 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 24, 2019 at 11:20 am

What happened with the Crystal Springs access fight? That's 23,000 acres and to me a more significant case of a minority group excluding access to a public resource. Web Link


45 people like this
Posted by dejiii
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2019 at 11:26 am

dejiii is a registered user.

Lordy, this argument has been going on since I worked at Foothill Park on the firebreak crew summer of 1973.....
Per memory this dates back to 1950s when city of Palo Alto asked other cities to participate and buy the land with them. All local cities refused or did not participate in this land purchase.
Me, I believe if open it up to all communities, influx of trash, debris and other concerns will be the norm. Not to mention, city of Palo Alto will have to incur the cost of additional employees to manage the increase of patrons not from Palo Alto and the weekend trash they will bring.
I donno, we changed local school names, we have allowed increase in traffic and speeding, every Palo Alto home possible is being knocked down with a MacMansion being built in its stead. Cannot we leave one sacred Palo Alto cow alone? Even the Junior Museum I worked summers 1971-72 is now a MacZoo or becoming one...... Walk El Camino where all the new higher buildings are going up around old Elks Lodge. Sun is blocked out for blocks! Like being in New York City shade.
Yes I am getting old LOL..


73 people like this
Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2019 at 11:50 am

Foothills Park - such a beautiful pristine place. There's a reason for that.

The South Bay is filled with parks paid for by the general populace, including State Parks, County Parks, and multiple Open Space Preserves. These parks are open to the general public.

Foothills Park is actually a relatively small space, and it doesn't take too much of an attendance increase to markedly change the experience there and reduce the value of the habitat for wildlife. All other Palo Alto parks are used extensively by non residents, and thus are overcrowded or have no available parking, and many are absolutely trashed, literally with piles of garbage. Please leave our beautiful Foothills Park as it is ...


7 people like this
Posted by dtnorth
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 24, 2019 at 11:51 am

I do worry about the influx of many people. As it is our parks that take in money aren't kept up very well. They could use a power wash on all the lamps and garbage cans. They are horrible filled with webs and caterpillars, something we could pay HS kids to do in summer, similar to Mtv hires HS to do trail maintenance. The tables and bbq area aren't that much better. In Foothill it could use some park table and bbq maintenance. If charging for visitors and using the money for upkeep might make sense during the week. As Palo Alto likes to do things on trial basis maybe they could try for 1 year and see the outcome.


24 people like this
Posted by We're all in this together.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2019 at 12:00 pm

The wealthy communities of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills want access but they would not contribute toward the purchase of the land. They also want Palo Alto to pay for the land's ongoing maintenance and ranger staffing. (It's interesting that they also are even slower than Palo Alto to build affordable housing and housing for the homeless in their community.) A health professional who serves my family in Palo Alto (lives in Los Altos and drives a $200k car)asked me if I knew of any senior affordable housing in our community. He's looking for housing for his mother. Why doesn't he ask his City Council to work on creating affordable senior housing for seniors in his community?

Wealthy Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, do your fair share as you should have when this land purchase was made. I think we should open the space to our neighbors in East Palo Alto without requesting funding support from them. They have financial need. We should ask the wealthy communities who abut the Park who want access to contribute a fair share. That's just fair.


26 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2019 at 12:01 pm

I challenge anyone, including those on the Parks Commission, to find a SINGLE PARK ANYWHERE, operated by a town, county, state, etc., that restricts usage to residents only. See if you can find a SINGLE ONE, ANYWHERE. You can't. Non-residents are free to visit and use other parks all over our country - sometimes you have to pay a fee (as at National Parks), which is fine.

Resident-only parks are a mis-guided idea from our predecessors. No one else does this. Let's be grown ups, admit our error, fix the problem, and move on.


44 people like this
Posted by almunday
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2019 at 12:42 pm

I grew up in PA and was there a child when it 1st opened. I can see it now if the park is opened up to anyone
1) large groups arrving and monopolizig the park
2) loud music, rowdy, and leaving trash behind


27 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2019 at 12:45 pm

I frequently visit the park. How do they know how many people use the park and how many get turned away. I rarely find anyone at the gate but if I do, do they count me? I don't see them counting how many people are in the car. If they turn a car away, how do they know just how many people are turned away.

I visit the park because of its tranquility and because I can get to see nature, see deer, turkeys, wildflowers, and hear the birds. I would not want to lose that tranquility. It is clean without litter, pleasant to use restrooms, parking is OK.

Just how many people would they let in. I would suggest that a certain number of cars at any one time and when reached, no more cars in until a car leaves.

The beauty of Foothills Park is that it is completely unspoiled natural environment. There are many other parks which are heavily damaged by too many visitors. Even Yosemite has too many people in at any one time.

Please do whatever can be done to keep the numbers of visitors (from wherever they come) as low as present levels.


60 people like this
Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2019 at 1:05 pm

Re comment by "Resident" , how many cities own tranquil, pristine wildlife and nature preserves? Why are you trying to make us feel guilty for maintaining it in this condition? I disagree that this is a misguided idea. In fact, if other cities wanted to buy lands and maintain them as nature preserves, in part by restricting access to their residents, I would support it. The problem, really, is that an insufficient number of cities have made this investment, and that large tracts of land, which could be used this way, are passed from one wealthy owner to another, rather than to a city of folks who need respite from urban life. Foothills Park is a gem that should not be foolishly destroyed by overuse because other cities have refused to make a similar investment.


9 people like this
Posted by Non-Resident Park user
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 24, 2019 at 1:32 pm

There's plenty of access. Maybe not by car, but that's OK. Enjoy the park everyone. I've been enjoying it as a non-resident since the 80's.


39 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 24, 2019 at 1:33 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

A couple of months ago we had a big harangue concerning Foothill Park. Any time someone wants a distraction they start up on Foothill Park. Basic problem in comparing this park to other parks in PA is that this park is in the hills and does not have the same degree of protection in the event of a fire as does the other parks on the "ground floor". The other parks in PA have continual maintenance, access to water in the event of a fire, and proximity to fire stations in the city. The logistics of Foothill Park are that it is difficult to get to on the road up - difficult for fire trucks and emergency vehicles. The decision to keep the park limited as to number of people is the best one. I have a group that reserves twice a year - and pays for that reservation. The park knows how many people it can accommodate at any one time. Why not let them do their jobs and quit second guessing every things that goes on in the city.


46 people like this
Posted by Terrace Antelope
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 24, 2019 at 1:37 pm

I feel like the park is great just the way it is. I have many friends in Los Altos and Los Gatos who use the park with me. If we open up, it will only add to the crowds and the trash. Please dont expand it.


22 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2019 at 1:51 pm

Posted by Resident, a resident of Crescent Park

>> find a SINGLE PARK ANYWHERE, operated by a town, county, state, etc., that restricts usage to residents only. See if you can find a SINGLE ONE, ANYWHERE.

Sorry, I don't feel guilty about contributing to the -preservation- of a tract of land in a semi-pristine state. Let me ask you this: How do you feel about the highly restricted use of and access to the "San Francisco Fish and Game Refuge"?

Posted by almunday, a resident of another community

>> I grew up in PA and was there a child when it 1st opened. I can see it now if the park is opened up to anyone
>> 1) large groups arrving and monopolizig the park
>> 2) loud music, rowdy, and leaving trash behind

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> I visit the park because of its tranquility and because I can get to see nature, see deer, turkeys, wildflowers, and hear the birds. I would not want to lose that tranquility. It is clean without litter, pleasant to use restrooms, parking is OK.

>> The beauty of Foothills Park is that it is completely unspoiled natural environment. There are many other parks which are heavily damaged by too many visitors. Even Yosemite has too many people in at any one time.

--

OK, you heard it here first. Let's change the name of "Foothills Park" to "Foothills Wildlife Preserve". Because, a lot of people see "park" and think speeding cars, loud noise, trash, etc. And, they think that that's a good thing-- a place to drink and be obnoxious. So, people see the name "Park" and feel excluded. I see some neighborhood parks have big shindigs and people drink and leave trash &etc, and it is all great. To tell you the truth, that isn't my thing, but, I'm OK with people using my neighborhood park that way as long as someone cleans up. But, that isn't what Foothills is for.

Step One: Change the name: "Foothills Wildlife Preserve"
Step Two: Assess how many "outsiders" still want to go there once they realize that it isn't a place for shindigs.


21 people like this
Posted by So glad I left
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2019 at 2:11 pm

OMG Palo Altans, don't you realize nobody wants to go to your stupid park anyway. This town has become the most concieted group of elitists. There area many "foothills parks" in the county that are open to the public and they are not trashed or overrun with "those people". Ever been to Sandborne County Park, much nicer & more beautiful than Foothills Park anyday. Get over yourselves Palo Alto. All lip service from my hometown, you guys talk the talk about being inclusive and giving a @#$& about the 99% but your policies tell the truth. It's okay to be elitist d bags, just own it, people would have more respect for your bubble. So glad I left and joined the greater society and reality. Open up the stupid park charge a fee and get over it.


36 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2019 at 2:16 pm

Posted by So glad I left, a resident of Crescent Park

>> OMG Palo Altans, don't you realize nobody wants to go to your stupid park anyway. [...] . Open up the stupid park charge a fee and get over it.

If nobody wants to go there, that solves the problem. No changes. Next topic.


15 people like this
Posted by Former resident
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2019 at 2:17 pm

A lot of us who grew up in Palo Alto were not fortunate enough to be able to continue living in the community. And many of our parents and friends have moved on as well, which limits our options for visiting Foothills Park. Still, we have a bond to this amazing park as well as the city that is just as significant and meaningful as any person who currently resides within the city limits. Palo Alto made a lot of us better through the experiences it offered within its classrooms and in this case literally outside. It's also true that a lot of us who grew up in Palo Alto made it a better city through our past volunteer work (often at city parks) and tax contributions. Anyone who buys something in Palo Alto--including myself--helps pay for the park through taxes given that there are no user fees.

Yet I was denied at the gate when I chanced an "unauthorized" weekend entry to show my wife and kids a place from my childhood that held special memories. I expected it when I saw the ranger at the gate but I was still upset. Rejection is not a positive feeling but it goes deeper than just a simple "nope, sorry." It'd be like not being able to ever show your former schools to your kids on a rare weekend when you're in town because you're not currently a student - doesn't matter if you made the honor roll or did school service. All of you who are drawing a hard line against any nonresident access...not even allowing us nonresidents to pay to enter (a fine way to simultaneously moderate demand and offset taxpayer expenses)...are denying former residents a continued connection to a city we love and to our shared past. You shouldn't get a monopoly on a heritage resource just because you currently live there. We have memories and nostalgia just as potent as any long-term resident still getting their mail in Palo Alto. Foothills Park is a community resource and it is also a heritage for anyone who has spent significant time there. It will be the same for people who will do so in the future. Access can not only be granted without diminishing the quality of the park, but the shared enjoyment will strengthen the sense of common community beyond city limits.


9 people like this
Posted by So glad I left
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2019 at 2:47 pm

Anon, what it doesn't change is how Palo Alto is perceived. For a town that is obsessed with being the best at everything they sure are leading the pack at being the best of the worst, and to "Former Resident" from another former resident the many things you miss about Palo Alto in its golden era are no longer there, my advice is stop pining for what no longer exists. Used to be a great community but it peaked right before the dot com boom, and it's been all downhill since then. The constant fear from the current residents of Palo Alto that "those people" are coming for their houses, their parks, their schools is a sickness that I don't believe they will get past at this point. Foothills Park is representative of the exclusive nature and desire of this community to keep out others from the earliest days, don't even get me started about Ravenswood/East Palo Alto, the shameful history of Palo Altos exclusionary and racist mentality. I am telling you, to outsiders this park represents all those things


58 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2019 at 3:03 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

I have a distinct feeling that this whole tempest in a teapot is because of Corey Wolbach putting something up on Facebook about Palo Altans being elitist snobs or words to that effect. Think it made the national news.

Is it remotely possible that our City Council and/or Parks and Recreation officials could restrain themselves from being weather vanes responding to every accusation of being politically incorrect?

Foothills (it is plural) Park is a treasure. You can walk on the trails there and, many times, be completely alone. You can hear birds and see some wildlife. A good friend, who has lived in Palo Alto since the 70s, reserved one of the camp sites to celebrate one of those "new decade" birthdays. It was SO special.

Others here have made excellent points about possible damage to wildlife from overcrowding.

In my view, if it ain't broke, stop trying to fix it.


3 people like this
Posted by Former resident
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2019 at 3:31 pm

At "So glad I left" - Foothills Park hasn't changed because it can't be developed...if anything, there are fewer people than in the past. I also don't think there is anything wrong with wanting to reconnect with past places that shaped who we are and that we enjoyed. I think it is wrong to deny us that opportunity. I agree that it shouldn't have been exclusionary at any point. Yet it is obvious that there are ways it can be preserved and be more open to allow others the opportunity to enjoy it. Hopefully some current residents will see it that way - after all, one day they or their children may be former residents too. Until that day, I guess we just pick a weekday to visit.


23 people like this
Posted by Not so simple
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 24, 2019 at 3:55 pm

Not so simple is a registered user.

Palo Alto would incur significant employee expenses for the extra staff needed to staff the front gate from opening to closing during the weekdays as well as the weekends, plus extra staff to patrol the park and keep it clean. Then there would need to be an increased fire-fighting presence with the extra cost of equipment and personnel on site. The more people use the park, the greater Palo Alto's liability. In addition there are a limited number of barbeques in the designated picnic area which are well used on the weekends. Increasing the demand for barbeques beyond what is available may push some people to go elsewhere in the park to do so, a significant fire danger. Unfortunately there are always people who don't show much judgement.

If the park were opened to non-residents during the week for a fee, would those fees cover the staffing required? I doubt it.


32 people like this
Posted by merry
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 24, 2019 at 4:29 pm

merry is a registered user.

The name should be changed from park to preserve because that’s what it is. otherwise, leave it alone.


32 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2019 at 5:09 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

So here is the quote from a May Weekly article:

"For former Councilman Cory Wolbach, the change can't come soon enough. Last month, Wolbach tweeted that the Foothills Park policy exemplifies "institutional racism." The policy, he wrote, is "unacceptable and needs to change."

The operative word here is "former".


5 people like this
Posted by So glad I left
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2019 at 5:34 pm

@ Former Resident, No one is talking about developing Foothills Park, simply allowing the public to also enjoy it. As I mentioned in an earlier post there are other parks nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains that are open to the general public all of which I visit regularly and they are not trashed, or overrun with unruly groups of urbanites so the notions suggested here that this will certainly happen to Foothills Park rings hollow, not to mention it's concieted to assume that the whole of everyone not Palo Altan would even want to come to this park at all. It's the bubble mentality, you don't see it until you step out of it.
Statistically a fraction of a percent of all children born and raised in Palo Alto at this point will ever have a slight chance of living their lives there, this begs the question how great of a community is it when everyone raised
there is already priced out upon birth. Something to think about when evaluating how wonderful Palo Alto has become. Certainly not a town for anyone other than the most elite families at this point.


27 people like this
Posted by dog-lover
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 24, 2019 at 5:38 pm

As a responsible dog-owner who lives in Palo Alto and works full-time, I resent not being able to bring my dog to Foothill Park on the week-ends, the only time I have available to use the park. I sincerely wish the Parks and Recreation Committee would consider opening Foothill Park to responsible Palo Alto residents and their canine companions over the week-ends.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 24, 2019 at 5:47 pm

So no one has come with any parks (or nature preserves) that are restricted to residents only. No surprise. Are there parks that restricts total visitors, type of vehicles, means of access, or charge an entrance/parking fee? - of course there are, lots of them. Any or all of those would be fine - in fact, I'm sure many remember there was a time when Foothills DID charge an entrance fee.

If you want to restrict the number of people admitted to preserve the "pristine" nature of the park, that's fine - just apply it equally to residents and non-residents. The idea of "we paid for it, it's ours, you can't use it" just doesn't apply to public parks and open spaces, sorry.


9 people like this
Posted by So glad I left
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2019 at 5:48 pm

For those of you who do not know the racist, exclusionary history of Palo Alto here is some lite reading provided to you by Matt Bowling of paloaltohistory.org. It was no mistake or by chance that Palo Alto turned out the way it did, it was by design. And as for the "diversity" you see in Palo Alto today don't be fooled, the common denominator is affluency and wealth, there is no socioeconomic diversity in Palo Alto, there used to be but those days are long gone.
Keeping Foothills Park for the exclusive use of Palo Alto residents who are an exclusive class by definition only perpetuates how the greater Bay Area society feels about this town, I have stopped offering that it is my home town because of the way people look at me and immediately judge me. Trust me guys Palo Alto is not as well liked as you may want to believe outside of the bubble. Much to atone for. And no one cares about your "problems" because there is not much sympathy for Palo Alto when it comes to anything. But don't fear, you are not alone in the ire of the county, you have friends in Cupertino, Los Gatos and Saratoga.

Web Link


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Posted by So glad I left
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2019 at 5:48 pm

Web Link


17 people like this
Posted by Stewards of Nature
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2019 at 6:22 pm

Much agreement with @Downfall's proposition.

I've noticed that our public parks are dirtier during the holidays, such as July 4th where much rubbish is lying on the grass.

Even at Greer Park, you can truly experience an assault on the senses (if you dare set foot here). Bathrooms reek of the stench of unclean patrons, grasses dry and brown from the poor care that is given, and litter runs amok, only reminding us of how careless humans can be.

I urge you to think about the environmental implications if we open Foothills Park (as @merry did astutely present "Foothills Preserve") to all. Who is willing to foot the bill to clean up after our own filth? Think of the foot traffic that would disturb wildlife, who is already living in peace.

Yes, you might argue to monetize entrance to the preserve. But, I argue that it will open reap consequences for both the organisms living there and for us Palo Altans...

Please be considerate of the waste you leave, especially in delicate ecosystems.

Thank you,
Stacey "Steward of Nature"


15 people like this
Posted by James
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 24, 2019 at 6:24 pm

I'm glad someone is looking into changing this elitist and exclusionary policy. This is the only park I have ever heard of where entry is *criminalized* for non-residents. You may think a misdemeanor charge/conviction is not a major issue, but if so you probably don't know many poor people who have had the misfortune of dealing with one. It can affect employment, professional licensing, admission into professional schools, and more. It seems wildly inappropriate to saddle people with a permanent criminal record for going into a park.

Imagine if other local governments followed Palo Alto's example, carving off the public land into semi-private holdings that benefit only a lucky few. Thankfully other governments have not done so, but imagine the loss to all of us if they did! Palo Alto residents are free to go as welcome guests to any public park across the country, and should extend the same courtesy with their own holdings.

I am employed in Palo Alto but can't afford the roughly $2.5 million it would cost to live here. I don't even want to go to this park, and probably would not if it were opened to non-residents, but it is a slap in the face to know that despite my contributions to this community it would be a literal crime for me and my family to participate in this part of community life.


15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2019 at 6:49 pm

It is wrong to say that non residents are unable to visit. In fact, anyone can enter if they hike through and anyone can enter as a guest of a Palo Alto resident. A resident in a car can enter and bring the occupants of another car also. With large SUV type cars, that can be one resident bringing in 12 - 16 guests, approximately.

I have often brought guests with me to visit the park. It is always a pleasant experience to show my guests around and I am always told how impressed they are with the cleanliness and the tranquility.

For former residents visiting, I do think it is a shame you cannot enter to show your family the park. Perhaps you can arrange to visit with a present resident. I am sure there would be many of us who would be happy to take you in as a guest.


13 people like this
Posted by Rainer
a resident of Mayfield
on Jul 24, 2019 at 11:04 pm

Rainer is a registered user.

The poor rich, and shortsighted stingy, LA and LAH made a mistake not going in with Palo Alto to buy the nature preserve when the Lee's offered it at very favorable terms.

Lets give them a chance. I would guess the value now it about $150 Million. So with a third of the current price, $50 Million each, they can become partners. OK let's be good neighbors, give them a 20% discount to $40Million. That money put into a fond then should be sufficient for improvements and upkeep.

Since a $30,000 property in 1959 in Palo Alto now is about $5Million, this seems to be a fair bargain.


2 people like this
Posted by unsolicited
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2019 at 12:08 am

Here's Palo Alto's public greetings at Byxbee Park in our Baylands -- Web Link


19 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 25, 2019 at 7:43 am

Los Altos Hills and Santa Clara County were offered the opportunity to chip in and save the foothills from development years ago, but they declined. Palo Alto alone spent the equivalent of tens of millions of dollars to preserve the foothills.

Now billionaire Los Altos Hills residents demand to be let in unaccompanied. That's not how it works. The Foothills Park belongs to diverse Palo Alto residents, not un-diverse billionaires. Los Altos Hills, you made a bad decision years ago, and now you must take your own medicine. You don't get to change the rules just because you're the 1%.


33 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 25, 2019 at 8:58 am

I would leave access restricted to PA residents only. This is land that should be preserved for many generations into the future and as a preserve, use limited. I agree with all who are concerned with crowding the park, higher costs, destruction of a unique ecosystem, crime, etc. traffic up and down that narrow road is already busy at times. If the policy is changed at all it should begin with strong legal protections for the area as a natural, preserved, sanctuary with low impact limits to the numbers of visitors and ways it is used. There should not be a budgeting issue now - PA should be able to pay for it. As others have pointed out, more people = higher overhead. And there are other parks for non-residents to go. It should not be lumped as simply more space to run Fido, cook hot dogs, blast music, and play frisbee. Like everything else, as everything becomes overcrowded, people want to spread out into every available untouched space. Restrictions have kept this area protected and PA has, wisely, demonstrated good stewardship of Foothills for many years. As to other restricted parks, I have been to many places around the country that limited use - one with the goal of protecting an area for native, wild horses. That area, kept whole, by people with some future sense, persists on in its natural beauty for the future, protected by caring people. Los Altos and Los Altos Hills can build their own.
This will probably follow the same path as others - the minority proponents continue to resubmit until it finally passes. That will be a shame.


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2019 at 9:07 am

As others have mentioned in passing, the only access to the park by vehicle is Page Mill which is steep, very winding, and at times full of bikes in both directions. Vehicles are often forced to drive at 10 mph uphill because of a group of bikes and wait to overtake when they have good visibility. It is not just vehicles coming the opposite way that have to be watched for, but other bikes speeding downhill, that have to be taken into account of by anyone in a vehicle wanting to overtake uphill bikes.

Any increases in the numbers of people entering Foothill Park will make more traffic on that narrow road. The road is dangerous enough and any increases in traffic will be making it much more likely for dangerous accidents.

There was recently some type of bike race/trials on the road and the participants were wearing numbered jerseys over their bike wear. At the bottom of the hill there was a warning sign "Event in Progress". I have no idea if the event was permitted, but there were no police or event marshals anywhere to be seen. Should these "events" be allowed on such a busy road?

On another visit not too long ago, we were overtaken by an emergency vehicle just before the uphill started. We could hear the siren for most of our drive up to the park. We later saw the vehicle in the park with a ranger vehicle. Will more people mean more "rescues" by emergency vehicles required?


13 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2019 at 10:03 am

Posted by So glad I left, a resident of Crescent Park

>> For those of you who do not know the racist, exclusionary history of Palo Alto here

As you surely know, this was a postwar trend throughout the entire country, and, in Palo Alto, there was a counter-trend as well:

"A strong proponent of fair housing and deeply opposed to racial discrimination, the liberal Eichler was the first large, tract builder to sell to minorities, and even built a home on his own lot for an NAACP leader. Joe resigned from the National Association of Home Builders in 1958 in protest of racial discrimination policies and, according to reports from long-time Eichler owners, offered to buy back homes from those who had trouble accepting their neighbors.

"If, as you claim, this will destroy property values," Joe once told some disgruntled Eichler owners, "I could lose millions...You should be ashamed of yourselves for wasting your time and mine with such pettiness."

Web Link

>> the common denominator is affluency and wealth, there is no socioeconomic diversity in Palo Alto, there used to be but those days are long gone.

True enough. When I moved here, you could still find affordable houses in Palo Alto, and, the ratio of income to house price was "middle class". Now Palo Alto has joined Atherton and Hillsborough &etc as a "mature" community. I guess that is my fault. Mea culpa.

>> Keeping Foothills Park for the exclusive use of Palo Alto residents who are an exclusive class by definition only perpetuates how the greater Bay Area society feels about this town, I have stopped offering that it is my home town because of the way people look at me and immediately judge me. Trust me guys Palo Alto is not as well liked as you may want to believe outside of the bubble.

I don't expect to be well liked because I live here. ?! Some people over-generalize, some don't. "Whatever."


9 people like this
Posted by radar
a resident of another community
on Jul 25, 2019 at 10:16 am

I was fortunate to grow up in Palo Alto in the 50's and 60's. During the summers, I worked at Foothills Park building and maintaining the trails, and one summer as "Summer Ranger", the duties of which included manning the entrance gate. Because I no longer work there, I can't view or use the fruits of my $1.35/hr efforts.

Even then, it was a struggle maintaining the Park. Every Monday morning, the summer crew would walk the easily accessible public areas with our trash bags cleaning up from the "elite" allowed access.


11 people like this
Posted by Robert Neff
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 25, 2019 at 11:04 pm

Robert Neff is a registered user.

How about we do not open it to Los Altos Hills residents until they publish their Pathways map on the web?


21 people like this
Posted by another dog person
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 25, 2019 at 11:33 pm

IMO we should allow PA residents to enjoy Foothill Park with their dogs before we open the part to non-PA residents.


5 people like this
Posted by PV Access
a resident of Portola Valley
on Jul 26, 2019 at 9:27 am

So I think I’ll talk to our town manager about limiting access to Portola Valley trails for PV and Woodside residents only. On second thought, we’re going to install gates on the three entrances leading into town, non residents will have to pay a fee. And while we’re at it, we will build a wall around the entire town and have the sheriff patrol it. That seems fair!!! We were here first!!

PA residents get ur heads out of ur @sses and open up the park


1 person likes this
Posted by unsolicited
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 26, 2019 at 9:43 am

@PV Access, you have your license plate surveillance already installed. Web Link


20 people like this
Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 26, 2019 at 9:45 am

eileen is a registered user.

>>PV Access,
The trails that go through Portola Vally and Woodside are owned and maintained by the Midpeninsula Open Space District, AN INDEPENDENT SPECIAL DISTRICT IN THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA THAT HAS PRESERVED A REGIONAL GREENBELT SYSTEM OF OVER 63,000 ACRES OF PUBLIC LAND AND MANAGES 26 OPEN SPACE PRESERVES.

Foothills Park was purchased by the city of Palo Alto and is maintained by city property tax dollars. That does not mean it can't be opened up to the public, its just not the same as other trails in the area.


6 people like this
Posted by Shame on Palo Alto
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 26, 2019 at 10:48 am

Shame on Palo Alto. A community that virtues itself on welcoming refugees on at our nation's borders, won't welcome fellow people to their park?

Whether it be this park issue or housing growth, when will Palo Alto show that taking care of each other requires shared sacrafices. Proud to live in Mountain View, or in any city, that doesn't try to justify exclusionary policies.


6 people like this
Posted by @another dog person
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 26, 2019 at 10:50 am

Do know how awful it sounds to place Palo Alto dogs over people who don't live in your city?


1 person likes this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 26, 2019 at 2:56 pm

Posted by Shame on Palo Alto, a resident of Mountain View

>> Shame on Palo Alto. A community that virtues itself on welcoming refugees on at our nation's borders, won't welcome fellow people to their park?

I'm sorry, I don't see the analogy at all, or, what the source of "shame" is supposed to be. Think of it as Foothills Preserve, because, it isn't the kind of "park" you probably are thinking of anyway.

>> Whether it be this park issue or housing growth, when will Palo Alto show that taking care of each other requires shared sacrafices. Proud to live in Mountain View, or in any city, that doesn't try to justify exclusionary policies.

I'm not following your argument, but, you seem to ignore the history and other facts. Let me offer this: drive to Arastradero Park and go for a walk up to Foothills Park and up the Los Trancos Trail. Perfectly legal. And, I do it myself occasionally even though I live in Palo Alto. You can visit the park legally that way, just not drive into it.


14 people like this
Posted by San Jose Resident
a resident of another community
on Jul 26, 2019 at 3:21 pm

More picnic tables and restrooms are needed to accommodate additional visitors.

Perhaps food & drink concessions as well.

Many from San Jose and the south peninsula would come to Foothills Park for the outdoor experience.

Foothills Park should be purchased by Santa Clara County and opened up to the public at large.

Most Palo Alto residents don't use the park regularly anyway. The % of its city population/residents going to Foothills Park is minimal.

The south bay needs another recreational park & this one is ideal for multi-families wishing to spend the day outdoors. The lake would be good for small boats as well.

It's time for Palo Alto to step up & become broader based within the county...then it won't be considered so uppity!

People from Palo Alto come to San Jose and use its facilities...now it's time for reciprocity.

It's just a park for crying out loud...not your expensive/overpriced houses we'd be visiting.






9 people like this
Posted by Kb
a resident of another community
on Jul 26, 2019 at 8:49 pm

Sure, residents of Palo alto paid for this park. The same way that residents of San Francisco pay for Golden Gate Park. And the residents of Mountain View pay for shoreline park.

Maybe, as a resident of San Francisco, I should be petitioning our board of supervisors to ban Palo Alto residents from Golden Gate Park. Might once again become enjoyable without all of those vest wearing venture capitalists running around.

Or maybe, we could all learn about this concept of reciprocity. You take care of your neighborhood, and welcome visitors in with open arms. Others will take care of their neighborhoods and welcome you with open arms.

One commentor above asked what this had to do with refugees. None of them can afford to live in Palo Alto. So when you talk aghast about what Trump is doing, guess what. None of those refugees will ever visit this park. Palo Alto will never bear the burden. But the rest of us gladly will.


1 person likes this
Posted by pdbliss
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jul 27, 2019 at 8:16 am

I was born and raised in PA, visiting the park countless times. No longer a PA resident, but still living in the Bay Area, it would be awesome to have a chance to re-visit once and awhile. That said, I have also had the unique opportunity to take a 6 man raft down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. We had to wait 3 years for the costly permit (That was back in 85, so requirements may have changed - lol) but it was worth the wait and every penny. Now I am not comparing Foothills to the Grand Canyon, but it wouldn’t hurt to look at a permit program with fees that account for wear and tear. If you make the experience special, unique and memorable, people anticipating their visit will treat it as such. Nature can be respected given the right motivation, plus you know who they are if things go sideways. If it is good enough for the Grand Canyon, it should be able to work for Foothills Park.


2 people like this
Posted by College terraces 2000
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 27, 2019 at 8:17 am

25 people with reservation, 25 people without per day as Palo Alto guess, first come first serve, anyone who make reservations and no show without cancelation should not be able to make reservations again.
Kids 12 and under can come in with qualified ( guardian) adults.
People who cause garbage , noise or park rules violation should not be able to get in to the park the future.
And the commissioner McCauley should not be able to use opening Palo Alto private park to buy his political vote.


4 people like this
Posted by College terraces 2000
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 27, 2019 at 8:27 am

People should create their own no people land and give it back to natural.
Live in PA from 1999, never went to the park. In my mind it belong to the earth the less human disruption the better to the park.
The harder one can get in I hope it means the people who went in had more respect to the space.


4 people like this
Posted by College terraces 2000
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 27, 2019 at 8:31 am

To Kb
The Golden gate Park is built to attract tourist, it resigned for human not for presentation.


2 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 27, 2019 at 11:10 am

@College Terrace 2000 may have the core of a solution.
I think the first, and MOST critical step is to establish long term legal protections for the park as a natural habitat with PA ensuring that those protections are not subject to the whims of the city counsel or other short term interests. Settling this would settle the issue forever. The argument for preserving nature forever is a worthy public endeavor is well documented elsewhere.
1. Access is limited to a fixed number per day and requires a reservation. That limit is set with rigid regard for protecting the ecosystem - not how many people can be squeezed in.
2. Palo Alto pays for the park. Outsiders can use it up to the daily limit but pay a fee.
3. Residents have priority and are not charged.
4. Violations, as above result in fines and banning future use.
5. Number per day must fit budget, i.e. not be so high that more funds are needed for more police, rangers, rescue, enforcement, fire drive costs higher. Number per day should not result in traffic and parking jams on access roads, blocking local residents and service vehicles or require major expansions or repairs to existing road - the path up is already quite narrow and perilous.
6. Dogs should be kept out.
Before any outsiders - other than current guests of residents - are added, PA should consider that increasing population density in the future will naturally grow PA need for park and usage. Should be considered before giving it away.

One only needs to see this property to know it needs to be preserved - it’s a John Muir thing, not a public has an unlimited right to run everywhere thing.


1 person likes this
Posted by Kb
a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2019 at 11:53 am

Putting a daily cap and charging non residents is a great compromise solution. Require non residents to register and pay online. Then Palo Alto can manage the total number of visitors easily by dynamically adjusting how many passes are sold.

I would support this as a city non resident. $10 a person or $25 a family is in line.

“One only needs to see this property to know it needs to be preserved” - I hope you see the irony here. By blocking outsiders, they will never see the value in preserving it.


12 people like this
Posted by Miguel/San Jose
a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2019 at 1:00 pm

The area by the lake would be the one most utilized by outside visitors...for picnics, frisbee, sunning etc. Planted trout would add to its recreational allure.

The trails would more than likely be reserved for those who like to hike or take extended walks along the trail.

Would there be adequate parking for extended access or will visitors have to park along Page Mill Road?

Also, will motorcycles be allowed? My friends & I like to ride our Harleys on weekends & a pit stop at Foothills Park would be a nice break.

Our bikes are loud & some do not have spark arresters because they alter the airflow & performance of the engines. Blue flames are a trademark of our rides.


6 people like this
Posted by College terraces 2000
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 27, 2019 at 2:14 pm

Once open with fee , all kind of money hungry , power sucking people will all gather together and find all kind of reason to sell the place for personal gain.
There shoul be no charge at all, so no one can make a penny out of it. So no one can use it for any politic gain.
limit the number of visitor to minimum. only open to those who want to preserve the place.
Let people who like to sight seeing go to those place designed for tourist or for public population.
Human took too much space from nature.


8 people like this
Posted by Supply & Demand
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 27, 2019 at 2:37 pm

It is only fair to share the cost of acquisition and maintenance!!!
Pristine too that means a lot less visitors.
We already share other parks in the city, not too many cities as generous as us!!!


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2019 at 2:38 pm

Mountain View Voice is reporting on parking problems at one park. Web Link Not only would there be a danger of more traffic on Page Mill, but also more parking space would be necessary if there were no limits on the number of cars seeking access to Foothills Park.


4 people like this
Posted by College terraces 2000
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 27, 2019 at 2:40 pm

For those dog person,

I thinkg dog is better than human, it does not BBQ or picnic or driving a car.


7 people like this
Posted by College terraces 2000
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 27, 2019 at 5:24 pm

Supply and demand
You talk like human own everything and we have the right to share whatever not belong to us.
The only place that is almost human free that belong to nature, we should think how to give back to nature than thinking how to invite more people to destroy it together.


17 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 27, 2019 at 6:53 pm

As time goes by and population density continues to increase, Palo Alto will need park space. Before giving it away, PA needs to look well into the future.
All Palo Altans are temporary residents even if that stay is decades long. In a city that struggles to find common cause, it’s not such a bad thing to look back knowing that while you were there you were one of the stewards that kept it safe. While there are good arguments on both sides, with solid protections in place, it’s use should not be opened to others. If the city wants to do that, it needs to prove it’s plan to protect, show it’s plan for use, and provide ironclad assurances that the park would not be just another cash cow to cover fiscal mistakes. It should also be spun off as a separate preserve and not grouped in the same bucket as the picnic, sport, festival, and pool resources.


7 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 27, 2019 at 8:22 pm

Shame on Palo Alto: "Whether it be this park issue or housing growth, when will Palo Alto show that taking care of each other requires shared sacrafices. Proud to live in Mountain View, or in any city, that doesn't try to justify exclusionary policies."

Requires spell check too. I also find it hilarious the claim that MV "doesn't try to just exclusionary policies." Rent control by nature is exclusionary to newcomers. Let me hear all the twists and turns to justify existing renters at the expense of newcomers that 1) will have to pay higher rent or 2) can't find anything in Mountain View.

Ridiculous.


19 people like this
Posted by Supply & Demand
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 28, 2019 at 8:28 am

Palo Alto is not a City of Exclusion but need to have limits.

Look at other cities e.g. SF has Camp Mather, Saratoga has Hakone Gardens etc. only for residents or high paid visitors.

We need to have money for the park to do fire protection, hiking trail maintenance and Picnic/Camp sites, rest rooms and interpretive center cleaning and maintenance.

Ranger's salary is a big budget item too.


11 people like this
Posted by Times Change
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 28, 2019 at 12:40 pm

At one time, PA's Foothills Park had an exclusivity to it. There were fewer residents & the park was not over run by significant increased usage demands.

Today the SF Bay Area population is far more dense & residents from other communities are seeking alternative recreational venues.

Perhaps time to simply look back & reflect on the times that once were.

Even Disneyland was not as congested during the mid 1950s-1960s as it is today.

PA Foothills Park will simply have to arrange for the accommodation of added foot traffic on its trails, lakeside users, and parking.

It might even involve having to widen Old Page Mill Road and establishing a shuttle service.

The same thing happened to Yosemite as well. Times change.


5 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 28, 2019 at 12:56 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

So nice that people are thinking up ways to blow the budget on ways to "manage" the park. Every one has an opinion but none of those opinions concern the financial impact of all these suggestions. Every thing costs money and at this time we do not have a great deal of money. They are raising the utility rates. The School system is short of cash. We are spending money to meet state demands for housing. It is just spend, spend, spend.


8 people like this
Posted by Times Change
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 28, 2019 at 1:32 pm

Just a thought...one way to reduce the need for additional parking at Foothills Park when it becomes accessible to all would be to create a mandatory shuttle service from Page Mill & Foothill Expressway.

An admission & fare could be charged at the time & these resources could go towards the increased park maintenance expenses.

As an added revenue generating resource, food concessions could also be added to the Foothills Park experience as well. I think someone mentioned this earlier.

The current parking lot could then be reduced in size to accommodate both dining areas & the food concession vendors which would ideally offer a variety of cuisine choices.

Palo Alto Foothills Park would then become sort of a mini-local Yosemite though it naturally lacks many of the majestic imprints of the larger national park.

Once word got out, I would imagine that the place could get jammed with outside visitors & this in turn would add significant monetary resources to the CPA coffers.

Instead of thinking small & exclusive, it's time to explore the big picture.


12 people like this
Posted by fee
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 28, 2019 at 2:53 pm

One reasonable option IMO would be to charge a modest fee (i.e. $5/car + $1/occupant) for non-PA residents to enter Foothill Park. The extra revenue could be used to fund any extra clean-up crew member(s) needed.


31 people like this
Posted by merry
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 28, 2019 at 5:11 pm

merry is a registered user.

Why are we still discussing this? We tried, years back, to have a fee for all. There was even an annual permit for sale. It was a disaster. Let’s just leave as is and move on, it’s working just fine.


4 people like this
Posted by easong
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2019 at 6:13 pm

I live off of Skyline Blvd and have commuted down Page Mill into the peninsula cities for the past 22 years. Also a hiker and a frequent visitor to MROSD and various the state and county parks. Always marvel at the pettiness of PA in limiting access to Foothills park to verifiable city residents, whatever the historical reasons. Imagine if every county of city made you provide proof of residence to enjoy nature. How regressive is that?


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 28, 2019 at 6:56 pm

There was just a shooting at the Gilroy garlic festival.

Just sayin'


7 people like this
Posted by College terraces 2000
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2019 at 10:18 pm

Every recommendation, should find out For who? For what? Why? And at what cost?
Most over looked cost is the earth. Economic growth, humanity and environment are all cause the earth to pay price.
Once the earth pay the price, everything else also loss.


9 people like this
Posted by Real Slim K
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2019 at 7:48 am

I like to be original, so I don't find the charge that 'everyone else does it differently' daunting at all. So glad I left is worried at the expressions on peoples' faces? James sounds angry that, as a resident of Mountain View, he cannot tell Palo Alto what to do. And Anon is right. Those of you singling out P.A. for their 'racist' history, sounds like they haven't been to many other parts of the U.S.


20 people like this
Posted by Foothills Nature Preserve
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 29, 2019 at 12:15 pm

Foothills Nature Preserve is a registered user.

I completely agree with the comment that the city should name it Foothills Nature Preserve, not park. That makes clear its purpose so that people can understand the need to restrict access.

Further, if the folks in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills want access, they might offer to help pay for a fair share of maintenance of trails/land and provision of rangers to insure that additional visitors do not undermine the purpose of this space--to preserve nature in as pristine state as possible.

But they have not offered to do that--just has they did not offer to help pay for the purchase of this land when the opportunity was extended to them.


22 people like this
Posted by More Troubles Along The Way
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 29, 2019 at 2:25 pm

Increased park access will also increase the potential for more littering, fires, violence & public drunkeness. Costly monitoring measures will be required to curb such activities.

Rangers may now have to be armed + fire & EMT services on full/regular alert not to mention the need for additional park maintenance staffing.






2 people like this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 30, 2019 at 3:42 pm

When Foothill Park was first proposed, Palo Alto asked surrounding cities whether they wanted to participate[ate in buying the land. All the surrounding cities declined. Therefore when Footiill Park was built on land that was donated to Palo Alto, PA decided to limit access.
If residents of other cities want to use the park, I think they should be granted access on perhaps 3 weekdays if they pay a usage fee each time they visit. I think a fee of approximately $10 per carload of visitors would be appropriate. This fee would then be used for general upkeep of the park.
After about 1 year, the situation should be assessed. If problems develop as a result of outside visitors such as increased garbage, noise, fire danger, dogs, then the park should be closed again.


23 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 30, 2019 at 4:54 pm

Foothills park is in a dangerous fire zone.
We shouldn't be enticing more people to use it.
As another poster suggested, perhaps we could change it to a wildlife preserve.
Actually, if you look at the maps, there are not a lot of ways to get out of there once a wildfire starts. Think of Santa Rosa and Paradise.
Please don't add more traffic going up Page Mill or accessing these areas through the back ways.
The climate has changed around here, and the area west of Junipero Serra and 280 is downright dangerous!


11 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2019 at 9:31 am

Bought the Foothills annual pass for many years until it was quietly phased out as fiscal insanity - or saving the sanity of bored to tears rangers staffing the car entrance gate. Many residents I know refused to buy that pass on principal since they already paid for the park through their taxes.

I've always loved the quietness of the park and the fact the great majority of it is still wilderness.

Do NOT like the fact the lake has been choked in recent years with exotic aquatic weeds so badly any fishing tackle or boats used there must be carefully washed after use. Anyone notice the lawn by the lake is soggy much of the year ever since the dam was rebuilt? The long meadow lawn is often full of dog poop. Neither lawn is nice for frisbee.

Could Fastrak car transponders for park entrance make any fiscal sense? What percentage of toll fees does that system skim off? How about an online system to find out before going up the hill if there are available slots for various entry catagories? But, I dislike highly the Orwellian Big Brother idea of such a system for Foothills and it still sticks in my craw no town but Palo Alto was willing to buy the land to create the park.

Our City had to play a game of Twister to annex it just as San Francisco had to do to connect itself to SFO through other towns, too. Is anyone asking San Francisco to give up its control of SFO since that's "not fair" to the residents of Milbrae? Wonders never cease in regional politics: Palo Alto gave back to nature its yacht harbor in return for San Francisco being allowed to extend runways into the Bay.

How about three competing City ballot measures asking if voters here would be willing to:
(1) free gift entrance to all,
(2) free gift to anyone with a disabled car placard, or
(3) sell Foothill access to any non-residents on a space available basis.

If (3) wins maybe we can raise funds to lower entrance fees for some people, fix the weedy lake, its soggy lawn, and enforce dog poop and don't-harass-wildlife laws with a camera surveillance system like those to catch front door package thieves. Maybe then we could have a wonderful off leash dog run in the park that would not harm people or deer. Imagine a camera with artifical intelligence to photograph every squatting dog or dog that comes within 50 yards of a deer or a dog-phobic person! And film eveyone who does not get their picnic trash into the proper recepticle. Get up into the hills to meet Palo Alto's Big Brother's Big Eyes. Ugh.

Ironic thing is right now anyone can drive a car in any weekday since Palo Alto only funds one ranger to open and close the gates each weekday at Foothills and Baylands. And, as so many have pointed out, anyone can hike in from trail heads on all sides of the park which is surrounded by small parking areas. The only unfair discrimination I see is denial of access to those who can't hike in on a trail. Why not just make a policy that cars with disabled placards are welcome and call this debate over?


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2019 at 9:51 am

Mountain View Voice has two active threads about parking at Rancho San Antonio park. It seems that the parking lot is full by 8.00 am even on weekdays.

The reality is that we have so many residents in the Bay Area and all want to be able to find somewhere to spend their recreation time. We obviously have too little hiking space around the Bay as a region for the number of people who live here.

It seems wrong that places like Rancho San Antonio are basically limiting their numbers of visitors by providing so little parking. Some might say that is their way of doing the same thing that Foothills Park just wearing another hat. Those that hike that park say that the trails are far from pleasant hiking because of the many hikers they encounter. I think it is a fair comment that the idea of a pleasant hike is not so pleasant if the trails are crowded.

I would like to see more being done to improve the number of trails all around the Bay Area and to get some of the lesser used hiking areas, say our own Baylands, more popular. Muir Woods have closed their lot and made it somewhere needed to reserve ahead of time, using shuttle buses, etc. Yosemite can be a nightmare at busy weekends. Increased numbers of residents in the State of California means that these people need things to do.

It comes back down to what we are talking about all the time. You can't just keep increasing jobs or increasing housing and expect the people to live in dormitories and do nothing but work, hibernate at home, and do all their shopping online. People need things to do. People need to be able to breathe fresh air. People need to live apart from their jobs. It is time that finding ways for people to spend their free time is taken seriously. We can't keep losing things like bowling alleys, and other recreational places, without putting more demand on what is still available. There has to be some way of increasing recreational and pastime choices without putting pressure on places that are getting crowded.


11 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 31, 2019 at 10:58 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Rancho San Antonio and Foothills are very different. it's very easy and safe to get to Rancho:A visitor could use the Freeway or the Expressway almost all the way to the park. Foothills is just off a very narrow and twisty country road with many blind spots which cyclists use to get to and from Skyline. The cyclists using Page Mill would literally be in mortal danger from the increase in traffic. The road is dangerous and tricky even in perfect weather and perfect visibility. Opening Foothills to everybody would create many traffic nightmares and bad accidents, this would be tragically inevitable, and would seriously disrupt the life of local residents.

Foothills "Park" is actually not a park, it was a bad mistake to label it as such. It is actually a wildlife preserve. The last thing the precious wildlife in Foothills is increased stress from a sharp increase in humans trampling through that wilderness. Palo Alto has many city parks, many more than any local town with comparable size, and these parks are always open to out of town visitors. There is zero reason to open FootHills Wilderness to out oft owners and actually Palo Alto should even decrease the days it is open to local residents in order to decrease the pressure on the wildlife.


5 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside
on Jul 31, 2019 at 1:18 pm

Palo Alto is an ever-reliable source of obnoxious exclusiveness and snobbery dressed up in pseudo-progressive clothing.


14 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2019 at 1:22 pm

"Palo Alto is an ever-reliable source of obnoxious exclusiveness and snobbery dressed up in pseudo-progressive clothing."

LOL. From a person in Woodside. That's rich.


14 people like this
Posted by Outdoor Gal
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 1, 2019 at 1:08 pm

"Palo Alto is an ever-reliable source of obnoxious exclusiveness and snobbery dressed up in pseudo-progressive clothing."

^^^ Is that such a crime? We enjoy shopping at Patagonia, Banana Republic, North Face + the various back country internet clothing sites to procure our outdoor ensembles not only for Foothills Park but Castle Rock, Portola State Park and other outdoor venues as well.

It's all a part of being both stylish & functional. My latest acquisition was a small Silva compass that I can pin on my fleece vest. It is very outdoorsy-looking as a fashion accessory & potentially useful in the event we happen to get lost.

My husband recently bought a Rolex Explorer for our excursions & now he looks just like an outdoor adventurer in National Geographic.




8 people like this
Posted by casey
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 1, 2019 at 2:56 pm

casey is a registered user.

@ Resident: "I challenge anyone, including those on the Parks Commission, to find a SINGLE PARK ANYWHERE, operated by a town, county, state, etc., that restricts usage to residents only. "


Clarkstown, NY
See: Web Link

§ 202-1 Use of park property within Town.

"The use of pools, parks, lakes and immediate adjacent areas under the control of the Clarkstown Parks Board and Recreation Commission shall be deemed a privilege and shall be opened solely and exclusively to the residents of the Town of Clarkstown and their guests."


2 people like this
Posted by Dusty Trails
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 1, 2019 at 3:07 pm

@ Outdoor Gal

L.L. Bean serves our outdoor clothing needs for Foothills Park and elsewhere.

We order directly off the internet...free shipping included!

I would like to get one of those mini Silva compasses as well. They are a nice fashion accessory.

As for wristwatches, we wear Timex Expeditions...they are cheap & expendable + very outdoorsy-looking.

Only the geeks wear Apple Smartwatches & Fitbits on the trail!


2 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Woodside
on Aug 2, 2019 at 4:13 am

Me 2: mock Woodside all you want, but we open our parks and streets to ALL. It creates a bit of traffic on weekends, and parking lots fill up fast, but somehow we manage.

Palo Alto is the most hypocritical town in America. [Portion removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 2, 2019 at 5:58 am

mauricio is a registered user.

It's simple:Foothills is not a park, it's a wildlife preserve that was erroneously named. All Palo Alto parks are open to all visitors, regardless of where they are from. The last thing the wildlife in that area needs is a large increase in human activity in Foothills.


4 people like this
Posted by a community member
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 2, 2019 at 7:00 am

If the park is really a preserve, then everyone (PA+non-PA) should pay entry fees to reduce the impact.
If the issue is traffic, then non-PA should pay an entry free to get access.

Simply banning non-residents from a public park/reserve/land is not inline with the evolving sensibilities of inclusion and not right for the Bay Area.


5 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2019 at 8:16 am

"mock Woodside all you want, but we open our parks and streets to ALL. It creates a bit of traffic on weekends, and parking lots fill up fast, but somehow we manage.

Palo Alto is the most hypocritical town in America. Rename it Nimbyville."

You really need to look in the mirror. Woodside has a hard minimum on lot size that dwarfs Palo Alto, and a restricted construction calendar. It was vast tracks of underdeveloped space that could be used to fix our regional housing problem. Towns like Woodside are examples of why all this overdevelopment talk in the Bay Area here is completely ridiculous. You have horses, fer God's sake.

[Portion removed.] Compared to Woodside, Palo Alto is a Mecca of inclusion.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 2, 2019 at 9:45 am

Super NIMBY'ville


13 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2019 at 9:50 am

Foothills Preserve is largely, by some definitions, -wilderness-. I don't see what is so "hypocritical" about a city having a unique natural resource that other cities don't have. "Park", to many people, including people posting here who want to "open it up", see parks as busy, noisy places with lots of auto traffic. Palo Alto has those, too. Have kids? Check out the Magical Bridge Playground that is usually jammed with kids, some from all over the Bay Area. A real destination, actually. That -isn't- what Foothills Preserve is. I don't see why that is a problem.


13 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 2, 2019 at 10:14 am

mauricio is a registered user.

The only way to save the wildlife at Foothills preserve is to limit human impact on it, and the only way to limit human impact is to limit it to residents, whose taxes maintain this preserve. FH is not suitable for mess picnics, barbecues and games. The welfare of the animals takes precedence over family picnics, meat grilling and volleyball games


17 people like this
Posted by A Moral Compass
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 2, 2019 at 12:58 pm

A Moral Compass is a registered user.

Simple solution...sell Day Passes on a first come-first served basis & limit park usage to a restricted number of people per day.


2 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside
on Aug 2, 2019 at 1:56 pm

A Moral Compass - your idea is too simple and makes far too much sense for Palo Altans to be interested.


8 people like this
Posted by College terraces 2000
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 5, 2019 at 3:28 am

To those who think human activity is so sacred that One need to invade the nature as much as you can. And act like to invite other human to Intrude the nature is your right to be generous。
Please live simple, care and enjoy the little natural next to you, not go all out to destroy those just try to stay as is.


9 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 5, 2019 at 1:10 pm

Cory is just bitter he lost the election. Time to make the other developer-friendly council members bitter as well. Please.


12 people like this
Posted by lost
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 5, 2019 at 8:19 pm

Keep it as is - the rest of classic PA has been ruined. Don't let us lose another tradition.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 7, 2019 at 7:46 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Notes on Ranch San Antonio - I used to hike with a group every Monday. We all had to be in the parking lot by 8:00 AM. After that cars are wandering around looking for spaces to open up. RAS has a full crew of employees who are driving through to maintain bathrooms. A full crew who is driving through on the roads to make sure that everyone is on the paths. You do not get to wander around off the paths. Biggest problem is in the winter when some of the hill paths start collapsing because of too many people breaking up the subsystem. They have a different funding source so comparing any park land needs to include how the property is being financed. In the case of RAS that is the county and in part and state organizations.


2 people like this
Posted by I was there, plenty of parking
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 8, 2019 at 6:05 am

I was @ Rancho at 8:15 this past monday morning and I parked right away.
The claim that the lot is always full by 8 on weekdays is a 100% false narrative.
It may happen now and again, though I've never seen it that way on a monday, but I'll bet anyone $100 that you'll fund easy parking at that time on monday mornings. I'm frequently there weekday mornings so I'll even meet you there to collect my money :)


Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 8, 2019 at 7:40 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I think the whole bay area has a different traffic pattern during the summer when school is out then when school is open. Traffic on Charleston changes during the summer when people are on vacation and elsewhere. When people are at home base during the school year then traffic takes on a different pattern and people then have to stick to local locations rather than vacation patterns. Hikers usually want to be out exploring other places. That is the good news. There area a lot of hiker groups that go out exploring in a pack. And Mom groups that meet to walk the babies together.


Like this comment
Posted by Irwin Seltzer
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 4, 2019 at 3:32 pm

Irwin Seltzer is a registered user.

I am looking forward to a reasonable debate from a wider audience than those posting here. I am optimistic that the majority opinions posted here do not reflect those of Palo Altons more broadly. But if it turns out that is not the case, then as beautiful as Foothills Park is and as much as much as I've enjoyed my visits as a former Palo Alto resident, I will have no desire to set foot in it in the future, as a guest or otherwise. There would be no pleasure in it. In a way this is a symbolic issue more than anything. How do you want to be seen Palo Alto? The current arrangement is not defensible on any rational grounds.


2 people like this
Posted by native
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 4, 2019 at 6:27 pm

Symbolic issue? Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.


4 people like this
Posted by Kenny
a resident of University South
on Sep 4, 2019 at 6:28 pm

We should quit debating the issue and either do it or don't. It's time to move on, there are more important fish to fry.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2019 at 10:37 am

Posted by Irwin Seltzer, a resident of Menlo Park

>> In a way this is a symbolic issue more than anything. How do you want to be seen Palo Alto? The current arrangement is not defensible on any rational grounds.

I disagree. The current arrangement has kept Foothills Preserve as largely "wilderness" despite being in one of the hubs of an ~8M population metropolitan area. Your guilt over this is irrational. Rationally, Foothills Park, forms a wildlife bridge all the way from the lower hills of Arastradero Preserve to the west of I-280 to the open space of Los Trancos open space and beyond. That sliver of land is unique. I don't feel guilty about that at all. I am happy that the preserve was acquired to protect that land, and I am happy to have paid taxes to support it for over 40 years. I want that last remaining swath of land to stay protected from development and over-use.

I am also happy to support parks that everyone can enjoy, such as the rather busy Mitchell Park with its adjacent destination -playground- at Magical Bridge. But, parks like that aren't for wildlife (are two-year-olds "wildlife"?). While providing outdoor recreation, they are people-centric, from quieter horticultural areas, to loud playgrounds.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 5, 2019 at 12:47 pm

This has to be taken into account alongside the discussion about fire danger in the Palo Alto hills.

Foothills Park would be a deathtrap if there was a fire in the hills. There is no cell service for receiving alerts or calling to report a fire. There is one access point to the fire and one winding road either up or down and in the case of so much smoke, do you flip a coin to decide whether to turn left or right when leaving the park to outrun or outdrive the fire.

Page Mill is a narrow winding road and with fire crews attempting to access a fire, it would be particularly dangerous to use to evacuate the area. We have countless bikes on the roads as well as multiple residential cul de sacs, all wanting to use one road in a fire.

Allowing more people to use the park on days like the recent Labor Day holiday when fire danger is high, particularly if the usage is going to involve using grills to add to fire danger (as well as potential smokers disobeying the law) we are adding a severe potential fire problem for all park users.

This is a nature reserve, not a place for hoards of people on a day of high fire danger.


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