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Opinion: What you need to know about the Foothills Park referendum

Original post made on Dec 9, 2020

As two City Council members, we wanted to share what we've learned on the issue of access to Foothills Park so people are informed about what is at stake when asked to sign the petition that is now circulating for a referendum.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, December 9, 2020, 8:05 AM

Comments (186)

Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2020 at 8:24 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"Let us therefore try to clarify the substance of the lawsuit."

^ 'After the fact' disclosures, explanations, & excuses following 'closed door sessions' does not instill trust in the PACC.

>"the decision to place this bet will be made not by majority vote but by the 4% of residents (2,500 out of 67,000) who sign the petition. Those 4% will irreversibly commit the other 96% of Palo Altans to this course. This places a significant responsibility on the 4%, and signers should understand the financial risk here."

^ On the other hand if MORE than 4% of Palo Alto residents sign the petition, the overall picture changes.

The referendum could also be viewed as an objection to the lack of overall transparency & full disclosures on the part of the PACC when it comes to adequately informing residents of key issues...in a timely manner.


Posted by NeilsonBuchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 9, 2020 at 8:34 am

NeilsonBuchanan is a registered user.

Thanks for the explanation. I hope that the supporters of the petition will reconsider. Our new Council has a lot to do now and during the next two years.


Posted by Clarification Please
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2020 at 9:29 am

Clarification Please is a registered user.

Good explanation. Just one question: If the referendum gets enough valid signatures, does that again trigger the lawsuit, or only if subsequently ratified by voters?

Thank you Council member Filseth and Vice Mayor DuBois for writing this.


Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2020 at 9:53 am

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

To answer "Clarification Please", the ACLU has specifically said the deal would be off if a referendum gets enough signatures. It will be their decision to take the next step


Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 9, 2020 at 9:58 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

There's an important distinction to be made in the politics of this issue between residentialism and populism, which at this moment in our history is too often drawn on to resist changes that are reasonable and popularly supported but challenge the established order. Council members Filseth and Dubois, both "residentialists," are doing Palo Alto a service by laying out the argument for why, whether or not you agree with the social justice arguments brought forward in this iteration of the effort to end the residence requirement, it is wise to accept the settlement. With that simple move, Palo Alto can dramatically change the perception of our wonderful city, both outside our borders and within. Thank you, councilmen.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2020 at 10:26 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"...the city may also be required to pay high plaintiffs' attorneys' costs...
Those expenses would divert funds from already pandemic-challenged programs like the Children's Theater, Youth Community Services, public safety, and ironically, parks."

^ 'Ironically' & in lieu of any veiled threats...how about the PACC revising & diverting some of those bloated upper-tier city management salaries & PERS benefits towards resolving this contentious legal matter?

Fat chance...as full accountability for this ongoing mess is also being diverted (at PA resident expense).


Posted by tpencek
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2020 at 10:34 am

tpencek is a registered user.

Many that I have talked to voice concerns about over utilization of Foothill Park, if non-residents are allowed unlimited access. I note the following sentence from your article:

"Although we have the right to manage the park, limit the number of visitors, charge fees and so forth, the suit asserts we can not discriminate on the basis of residence in allowing access."

Would the settlement allow Palo Alto to charge use/admission fees to non-residents that are not charged to residents? In other words, charge a fee that accurately reflects staffing, and maintenance costs for the park?


Posted by RPopp
a resident of Monroe Park
on Dec 9, 2020 at 10:35 am

RPopp is a registered user.

Thank you Eric and Tom. This is helpful and clear. I appreciate the effort and am hopeful others will listen and respect the information shared. Now is not the time to be spending our tax dollars on a battle like this.


Posted by Dan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2020 at 10:49 am

Dan is a registered user.

I'm with tpencek. My concern with the "settlement" was that there was no mention of the opening of the park being "revenue-neutral". Increasing the use of the park by people who don't have any "ownership" in it, results in overuse and uncaring use of the nature preserve. It costs $$ to clean, manage, police the park, and increasing the use will increase those costs. There was a lot of talk about charging non-residents for the use of the park, but the "settlement" just let all that slide by and opened it to anyone for free. This is what the pilot plan was meant to study and determine. Where did all that go?


Posted by TorreyaMan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 9, 2020 at 10:50 am

TorreyaMan is a registered user.

Forget all the hair splitting arguments. Simply put, there is no rational reason to limit attendance to PA residents, least of all the position that opening the park to other (not necessarily more) visitors will harm the "nature preserve" aspect. Use of the lake, picnic grounds, and grass field does not impinge on any nature preservation aspect, and few park visitors venture beyond these three locations, where, arguably, nature needs preserving.


Posted by Was ambivalent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2020 at 10:59 am

Was ambivalent is a registered user.

Thank you for the explanation. A shame this explanation didn’t come sooner, from the council, when it passed the pilot program.


Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2020 at 10:59 am

YP is a registered user.

Douglas Moran in his nearby editorial raises an interesting point that do current restrictions really run afoul of First Amendment rights.

A portion of his editorial

We were told that we would almost certainly lose the lawsuit on First Amendment grounds. Yet when I read the court decisions commonly cited as declaring the park in question to be subject to freedom of speech and assembly, the enumeration of those qualifications did not match Foothills Park in the slightest. the descriptions of what qualified those parks to be were vastly different from Foothills Park. For example:
"In places which by long tradition or by government fiat have been devoted to assembly and debate , the rights of the State to limit expressive activity are sharply circumscribed. Such locations include streets and parks which have immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind , have been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions." (Emphasis added)
and further down "...distributing literature or pamphlets in the parking lot, walkway or at a picnic table, participating in a silent vigil anywhere in the park, and soliciting signatures for a petition at the entrance to the park."
"... candidates for public office have campaigned at Greenwich Point, and that both the Democratic and Republican parties and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have hosted gatherings there."(foot#7) To my understanding, family picnic and camp-outs, wedding ceremonies, lectures on the natural world (at the Interpretative Center), and activities such as fishing, boating, and hiking don't qualify as constituting a "public forum" (a commonly used legal term in these decisions). The lawsuit cited nothing other than the word "Park" that aligned with those precedents. Nor could I find such using a wide variety of web searches.

The other influential cases I found were for parks in downtown areas where speakers and demonstrators would have the opportunity to gather an audience from passersby as well as media coverage. One was a grassy mall across the street from the county government building complex. Several were for the National Mall in Washington DC (^map^). Another was a Seattle park intertwined with museums, theaters, a stadium, and the Space Needle, effectively grassy surroundings for what would otherwise be urban sidewalks and streets (^map^).


Posted by tom kearns
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 9, 2020 at 11:13 am

tom kearns is a registered user.

I've been using the park for over 3 years and I have never seen
any Palo Alto employee manning the entrance gate. Never, not once!!!! So anyone can come in. You're fixing a problem that doesn't exist.


Posted by Penny
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2020 at 11:22 am

Penny is a registered user.

Thanks for this explanation, Coucnil Members Filseth and DuBois. I have been hoping Council would provide information on the facts and reasoning that went into their decision.


Posted by Chris Dewees
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Dec 9, 2020 at 11:25 am

Chris Dewees is a registered user.

The authors may characterize the nature of the legal complaint (barely a suit) however they want, but they ignore the reason for justifiable outrages by so many of us. The crux of the matter is the shabby way in which a lawsuit, brought on highly debatable grounds -- a first amendment basis for universal access to a remote public space is questionable -- was settled. The case ended barely after it had begun quickly, behind closed doors and without any assessment of the merits (again, questionable) by the City. This type of settlement is typical of matters in which a public body is clearly at fault, not where highly debatable legal issues are at stake, particularly where settlement means the disenfranchisement of a large percentage of voters on a matter of significant interest. The access to Foothill Park debate has been long and contentious. To circumvent the democratic process by hasty, facile, lily-livered capitulation in the face of a recently filed, debatably dubious legal complaint reflects extremely poorly on the authors, the City Attorney and the City Council in general. Somebody forward me the petition so I can sign it immediately.


Posted by PaloAltoCitizen
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 9, 2020 at 11:40 am

PaloAltoCitizen is a registered user.

Let's sell this land! It is not worth the cost, the bad press, the risks. Mid-peninsula Regional Open Space District would probably be very happy to operate it as a nature preserve, along with the many others that they currently own. Then, the preserve would be open to the general public and PAID FOR by the general public. Palo Alto citizens would have as much ability to use the preserve under MPROSD ownership as they will under these new regulations. In addition, Palo Alto citizens will have MUCH LESS cost and angst.


Posted by Stepheny McGraw
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2020 at 12:12 pm

Stepheny McGraw is a registered user.

Thank you, Tom & Eric for this thorough and timely explanation of what is at stake if Palo Alto withdraws from the proposed settlement with the NAACP & ACLU. I had planned to sign the petition, but will not do so now.

What I will do is withdraw any future support -- either monetarily or otherwise -- for either the NAACP or the ACLU in their other campaigns. They are bullies, painting everything with the brush of racism. As for BLM , this movement should focus on the removal of racist policies and police officers everywhere, as well as advocating for mental health specialists and training in all police departments.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 9, 2020 at 12:12 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

Thanks to council members Filseth and DuBois for their explanations! I am especially impressed by their elucidation of the irrelevance of a referendum in a lawsuit concerning constitutional laws.

I thnk it is time for council members Kou and Tanaka to speak up for their objection of the settlement and their support for the referendum petition. They should have had access to the same information as other council members, but seemed to have arrive at very different conclusions from all other council members as to the chance of the city winning the lawsuit. I think the city's residents have a right to know how they arrived at their conclusions.


Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2020 at 12:27 pm

Midtown Resident is a registered user.

Tom, Eric, considering the fact that neither of you are constitutional law experts, exactly whose legal advice are u relying on? Our city attorney who has backed away from every legal challenge? The consulting law firm that was also working for the NAACP? Please state exactly who you have spoken to and what their credentials are. Have you only spoken with one expert before making this important decision? Are there potentially multiple views?

By the way, I have been up to the park recently, and can report the following:

- bags of dog poop lying around
- out of control dogs scaring deer on the trails
- dogs off leash
- bicycles illegally using trails
- trail damage and widening from bicycles
- garbage strewn around
- barbecues on parched tinderbox hillsides
- cars speeding on the roads
- not a ranger in sight
- rules posted on the side of the entrance station instead of clearly in front
- no maps of the park at the front gate
- limited capacity bathrooms now closed
- most parking involves driving to the far back of the park, adding substantial noise and pollution to the valley.

In other words, you are not ready for increased use of this park, let alone doubling the use against the advice of Palo Alto's Parks Department, and, as far as I can see, you show no indication of taking preservation of this wild area seriously, which was paid for and carefully preserved by generations of Palo Altans.


Posted by rita vrhel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2020 at 1:06 pm

rita vrhel is a registered user.

I am glad this Referendum is causing 2 City Council members to finally address resident's concerns.

This entire fiasco could have been avoided withe better planning and oversight. The August CC decision to implement a revenue neutral pilot program and a vote in 2022 was not brought back to Council timely.

Instead of accepting the Council majority vote 5-2, mayor fine went running off to KPIX and wailed against the decision. What a surprise!!!!! when 50 days latter a lawsuit occurred!!!!!

Rather than a simple request to open the Park to non-residents on Constitutional grounds, there were 30 pages of racial inequality, which really offended many, including me. Whose axe was being sharpened?

I have been gathering Petition signatures hoping our City Manager, Attorney, Staff and City Council would realize their continued lack of transparency and apparent belief that residents do not deserve to know what is going on or can't be trusted to "vote on civil rights" (mayor fine) is disturbing and must end!

Almost everyone who has signed the petition in my presence has said they have no problem opening the Park to non-residents but object to being called racist and to the democratic process, as outlined in the August City Council meeting, being usurped. This was all so unnecessary.

BUT the bright side is that maybe the City Council is finally listening or maybe the new City Council will. How can something so important be so badly mismanaged that 2 council members must write a "trying to save the day" Opinion piece.

Council member Kou, thru her newsletter, was advising residents of the Referendum Petition and letting residents know what they could do if they were unhappy with the 'behind closed door" negotiations and lack of factual information.

We will see what the future brings to Foothills Park. If the above email about Park degradation is true, additional solutions will be required. Hopefully they will be discussed in public. Thank you


Posted by Jennifer Landesmann
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2020 at 1:41 pm

Jennifer Landesmann is a registered user.

@ Filseth & Dubois

"The council discusses the details of lawsuits in closed session with legal counsel, including outside specialist counsel, in order to protect our ability to litigate without disclosing strategy to the opposing side. "

Several things bother me about this summary,

- You don't have realistic estimates of the legal costs, please where are they? Don't you weigh all costs and benefits with dollar amounts where applicable?

A ballpark is a minimum, did you not have one when making decisions? This can't possibly be protected information.

- Dividing communities by 4% and 96% can be very high and last I checked that is not democracy. It was probably 4% who had been asking PACC for decades to open Foothill to all. The City ignored these voices and failed to let the rest of us know that we had this train coming our way, or failed to assess the meaning of putting the City in a situation like this.

- I suggest that the only strategy you had left in the closed session was to respond to the lawsuit which was to benefit a broader strategy for someone else which -as someone pointed out - invites more lawsuits.

- It is actually the decades of lack of strategy about Foothill that resulted in this situation and also failure to raise the issue and concerns to the public. That means that our voices don't matter because PACC alone decides what counts.

I wonder if you doubted that Palo Alto residents would open the park to all.




Posted by Lawyers are Risk Adverse
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 9, 2020 at 1:44 pm

Lawyers are Risk Adverse is a registered user.

The idea that the park is critical as a place to publicly assembly for freedom of speech is total BS.

Excellent points by Douglas Moran. Unlike Eric & Tom, I place a lot less faith in the legal analysis of the City's legal attorney. Attorney's are naturally risk adverse and I feel our city's often gives legal opinion based on a political agenda based on numerous observations in the past (e.g. the Presidents hotel, asking residentialist council members to recuse themselves but not development friendly ones, etc...), etc...

What I would recommend is once the new council comes into session, they setup a policy for the park that makes sense. This includes a pilot program but also reducing impact to make it a more viable nature preserve, such as banning amplified music, fines for misuse and limiting the total number of daily visitors.


Posted by eyeswideopen
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 9, 2020 at 1:52 pm

eyeswideopen is a registered user.

I have also noted many dog poop bags thrown near trails.

Lots of garbage around that was never the case and groups without masks hiking on narrow trails.

Never saw a ranger. We are in for a mess with more people and no or insufficient control.
I agree that the NAACP and ACLU took a cheap shot with this law suit for wrong reasons.


Posted by Jean
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 9, 2020 at 1:58 pm

Jean is a registered user.

Why not just have a two-tiered charge for park use? That could pay for a staff memeber at the gate.


Posted by PaloAltoCitizen
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 9, 2020 at 2:14 pm

PaloAltoCitizen is a registered user.

Write your city council -- [email protected] -- asking them to immediately reduce the maximum daily visitor limit to 416! This number is the average daily visitor count for the past 20 years. This needs to be done, regardless of what happens in the future, in order to protect this precious nature preserve. The current limit of 1000 is UNSUSTAINABLE. It doesn't matter if the visitors are Palo Alto residents or not. The current daily limit is WAY TOO HIGH.


Posted by eyeswideopen
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 9, 2020 at 2:19 pm

eyeswideopen is a registered user.

I will write to city council regarding limiting entry to 416. The 1000 limit seemed quite odd, considering all the cars and parking places needed.

Getting a ban on bikers on trails is also important. The park was not meant for bikers on trails, ever.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2020 at 2:36 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"Thanks to council members Filseth and DuBois for their explanations! I am especially impressed by their elucidation of the irrelevance of a referendum in a lawsuit concerning constitutional laws."

^ Hindsight is often 20/20...and perhaps any & all 'elucidation' should have been conveyed earlier before things got to this point.

>"...exactly whose legal advice are u relying on? Our city attorney who has backed away from every legal challenge?"

>"I place a lot less faith in the legal analysis of the City's legal attorney."

^ Which is why municipalities hire outside consultants & attorneys...to do the actual work (at additional taxpayer expense).

Many upper-tier (and highly paid) city administrators are 'generalists' who specialize in reviewing completed studies prepared by outside vendors & signing off on RFPs (Requests for Proposals).

It is a very lucrative profession for those so blessed.




Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 9, 2020 at 3:42 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

I donated to ACLU for the first time this year, precisely because of the sort of comments that appear above.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2020 at 4:31 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"I donated to ACLU for the first time this year, precisely because of the sort of comments that appear above."

^ No problem...as Bob Dylan once wrote in A Ballad of A Thin Man...

"You have many contacts among the lumberjacks
To get you facts when someone attacks your imagination
But nobody has any respect, anyway they already expect you to all give a check
To tax-deductible charity organizations"

On the other hand & as expressed by a previous poster...

> "What I will do is withdraw any future support -- either monetarily or otherwise -- for either the NAACP or the ACLU in their other campaigns. They are bullies, painting everything with the brush of racism."


Posted by Corey Levens
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 9, 2020 at 5:32 pm

Corey Levens is a registered user.

For all of you thanking Messrs. Filseth and DuBois for their "explanation" of the issue, can you please illuminate me as to what exactly they explained to you? Maybe they explained the basis of their vote but you surely cannot have a better understanding of the issues behind the lawsuit based on their "explanation." After rightly pointing out that the claims based on segregation and past racist policies are a bunch of crap, they then, again correctly, point out that the real claim, the one that is of legal concern, is the First Amendment claim. They then explain that issue by telling us before their closed door session with the City's attorneys they were against settling, but after the closed door session they understood the issues and were for settling. Great explanation. Sorry guys, I can't recall whether either of you is an attorneys but I know that I am and my cursory research into this lawsuit tells me the City has a much better defense than you give it credit for. Maybe tell us exactly what legal theory you heard behind closed doors made you change your vote. The law and legal cases impacting this lawsuit are well known; you won't be giving anything away by telling us what you know...if anything. I'm with Mr. Dewees, where do I sign?


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 9, 2020 at 5:51 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Someone is donating to the ACLU and NAACP who have worked to gut the budget for the Parks and Rec? And turn a nature preserve into a tourist attraction? Sorry - I do not understand that type of thinking. Single-minded, smug, self-satisfaction at it's worst. Neither of those organizations will see a penny from me.

Meanwhile the ACLU is over in Mountain View getting into the RV mess. The city has a plan to get the RV's off residential city streets and that offends the ACLU?

Contaminated oil and sludge going down the drains to the bay? This all going on at the same time the EPA is trying to prevent toxic waste from Moffett from going through the sewer systems. At high tide the sludge in the sewers is pushed inland.

I would like to find where the ACLU hang out and park a whole bunch of RV's around their building. It does not take long for the mess to build up.

Meanwhile - close FHP. We are now in a high fire danger period. FHP is hard to get to and it is in a residential neighborhood - Palo Alto Hills. The shrubbery is bone dry. If something happens up there the city is going to get sued for lack of control of city property.


Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2020 at 5:59 pm

Me 2 is a registered user.

Build affordable housing on it.

I abhor BMRs as a policy, but I would enjoy having the ACLU be responsible for the destruction of a nature preserve.

Unintended consequences, indeed.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2020 at 6:03 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"For all of you thanking Messrs. Filseth and DuBois for their "explanation" of the issue, can you please illuminate me as to what exactly they explained to you?"

^ Just guessing...when one plays with matches & let's the fire get out of control,
it is very difficult to extinguish the flames with a squirt gun?


Posted by Make Foothills a Nature Preserve
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 9, 2020 at 6:25 pm

Make Foothills a Nature Preserve is a registered user.

Make it a Nature Preserve. Take out the road, no BBQs, no bathrooms, no water fountains, no amplified noise, only hiking and limit the number of people daily. Problem solved. Let the animals have it. The people are too dirty and nasty to let them in - they just destroy everything.


Posted by Alex
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 9, 2020 at 6:25 pm

Alex is a registered user.

"Palo Alto has been racially progressive in other ways, so we should get off the hook for this!"

This is basically the equivalent of "I have a black friend, so I can make racist jokes!" Just because you did something good once doesn't mean you're off the hook for other racist actions. But honestly this is exactly what I'd expect coming from clowns like DuBois and co.


Posted by PaloAltoCitizen
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 9, 2020 at 7:55 pm

PaloAltoCitizen is a registered user.

Foothills ALREADY IS a nature preserve. People call it a "park" but it has been a nature preserve for over 60 years .... unfortunately with some exceptions like fishing i the lake, picnic tables, and BBQ grills. Great idea to strip it of all the "exceptions" and return it to pure nature preserve activities, like hiking and birding.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 9, 2020 at 7:55 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

I have to say that reading the replies to my earlier comments alone is worth my donation to the ACLU, which is clearly doing something right that needs to be done.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Downtown North

on Dec 9, 2020 at 8:56 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 9, 2020 at 9:08 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

@Resident 1-Adobe Meadows wrote:
"Someone is donating to the ACLU and NAACP who have worked to gut the budget for the Parks and Rec? And turn a nature preserve into a tourist attraction? Sorry - I do not understand that type of thinking. Single-minded, smug, self-satisfaction at it's [sic] worst. Neither of those organizations will see a penny from me."

May I ask how ACLU and NAACP "worked to gut the budget for the Parks and Rec" and "turn a nature preserve into a tourist attraction"? So far as I can tell, under the settlement, the city can run Foothills Park pretty much as before, with the only exception that non-Palo Alto residents can also enter the park. Will we then see Foothills Parks being overrun by unwashed hordes from outside Palo Alto? I doubt it. Even now, it is not very hard for non-residents to enter it if they really want to:

Web Link

Indeed, reading the numerous comments above, it is not clear to me which side of the controversy is showing more of the symptoms of "single-minded, smug, self-satisfaction at it's [sic] worst." The supporters of the referendum certainly do not seem to show any interests in how the resident-only rule is perceived outside Palo Alto. Perhaps they are expecting that when the lawsuit goes ahead, our neighboring cities will all submit amicus briefs to show their support for Palo Alto's excellent policy of excluding their residents (while none of them excludes Palo Alto residents from their parks).


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 9, 2020 at 9:27 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

Curious...did anyone take a look at the FHP survey conducted by PACC member Lydia Kou?

Web Link


Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 9, 2020 at 9:49 pm

TimR is a registered user.

I agree with PaloAltoCitizen. Especially about the BBQ's. You don't need a BAAQMB study to know how toxic all that smoke is, and the last thing we need is more people using them. But there a many more issues, like traffic, trash, sub-standard bathrooms, new visitors not following the rules (like riding bikes on the trails) etc. All of which have been pointed out before. The increased use of the park during the pandemic has exposed many of the problems associated with it. If the park does end up being opened to everyone, the City needs to have a plan BEFORE opening it up, and not kick the discarded face mask down the trail. In short, we're being railroaded, and people don't like that.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 9, 2020 at 9:53 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

It is indeed curious that a survey that has only 1,129 responses out of a population of 67,000 residents is being touted as representing the "public opinion" of the city. This is an even lower threshold than the number of signatures required for the referendum.

And there is nothing on Kou's website about the methodology of the survey, so no one knows how representative (or unrepresentative) the survey sample is. What a joke.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 9, 2020 at 10:28 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Anonymous - The ACLU is not doing this for free. They want to be paid for their legal costs by the city. And the people who brought this legal action want to be paid. People do not initiate law suits and expect to lose. The price tag for all of this is yet to be determined but it will be a sizeable amount. And the money is coming out of the cities budget - Parks and Rec.

We are being tasked to support a law suite at a time when the city is not functioning in a normal manner. Stores are closed, restaurants are closed, hotels are hanging on - there is no normal sales tax and income going on here. And worse - the people who are coming to FHP are leaving trash. This is not a win-win situation. If you know going in that you are going to gut a cities budget and then proceed then don't duck the consequences of that intentional action.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Downtown North

on Dec 9, 2020 at 10:38 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 9, 2020 at 10:41 pm

TimR is a registered user.

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows,

Yep, the ACLU and NAACP are kicking us when we're down, and they know it. What saints they are. But Palo Alto is now so weak and penniless, like some abandoned coal town, what else can we do but cave to much stronger powers?


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 9, 2020 at 11:20 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

@Resident 1-Adobe Meadows:

Did you read Filseth and DuBois's piece at all? They wrote:

"If the city loses the litigation, then Palo Alto's "residents-only" policy, including the pilot project, is struck down. A referendum becomes meaningless; the park will be opened on terms determined in a federal court. The current settlement, which waives us paying the ACLU's legal fees and allows a few things like residents' priority access to facilities like campgrounds, would not apply."

In other words, the city does NOT need to pay legal fees if the settlement goes into effect. The city pays the legal fees only if it is forced by the referendum to renew the lawsuit and loses. So if the park and recreation budget should disappear, the onus is on those who pushes for the referendum, not on ACLU.


Posted by Eric Filseth
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 9, 2020 at 11:24 pm

Eric Filseth is a registered user.

Thanks everybody for reading all this. Let me try to field a few of the questions.

Counsel expertise: the City Attorney standard practice is to bring in outside domain experts any time there’s Litigation; it’s expensive to keep specialists on hand full time if they only get used occasionally. In this case it’s an outside firm with specific expertise in Constitutional Law. The meetings are in closed session also because things said in Public can actually be used as evidence against the City in court. For better or worse, it’s the way our legal system works. So the question of, “why don’t you guys ask Experts what they think, instead of just your in-house Generalist counsel?” – we did, and they told us. I found them quite credible.

And believe me, we asked them absolutely everything you would ask – we were as surprised by this turn of events as anybody. How has FHP been open 60 years and this never came up? Just, nobody ever brought a case like this.

Conflict of Interest: a few people have asked this. It appears a different partner at the outside firm we retained has done work for the NAACP on unrelated cases. The NAACP uses lots of attorneys for lots of things, obviously, and law firms have many clients. Everybody deals with this by keeping the actual people apart. There’s nobody working on both sides in this case.

Park Utilization: this is a really important issue, but kind of independent. We can limit utilization to whatever we want. It’s currently pegged at 1000/day, but it could be anything, even zero. The Constitutional issue is only that we need to treat residents and nonresidents the same way. As long as we do that, we still control everything else: how many visitors, where they park, whether they have dogs or not, all the usual things.

Doug Moran’s column: I don’t think there’s fundamental disagreement here. Doug’s a very astute individual and he understands the issues. Beyond all the sound and fury, what really matters is the odds of winning the Constitutional lawsuit.

On the ACLU et al campaign: I wish they had not tangled up the social-justice issue with the First Amendment issue. I don’t think that has been good for anybody, including the Plaintiffs themselves. In the Legal domain this is about Palo Alto vs the Constitution, not Palo Alto vs the ACLU/NAACP. If we settle, it’s really with the Constitution. Reasonable people can regret the divisive rhetoric, yet still respect the Constitution.

As partisan on this as I am willing to get in public on this, is that I agree with @Stepheny McGraw above: the best way to express frustration with the ACLU et al is to not send them money; maybe send them letters instead if you want. Rekindling this lawsuit – which again is really between us and the Constitution – has a considerable chance of punishing not the Plaintiffs or even City Hall, but simply other Palo Altans.


Posted by Jennifer Landesmann
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2020 at 12:20 am

Jennifer Landesmann is a registered user.

@ Eric Filseth,

"And believe me, we asked them absolutely everything you would ask – we were as surprised by this turn of events as anybody. How has FHP been open 60 years and this never came up? Just, nobody ever brought a case like this."

I wonder if I am getting this right, but if the constitution says something that I was not aware of was unconstitutional and we didn't get caught because nobody had ever raised the issue in 60 years - does this mean that "losing" to the constitution is bad?

Settlements to me are ways to hide bigger problems. FAA likes to settle their NEPA cases by agreeing to do some tweak for one neighborhood so they don't actually have to do an Environmental review for all. Desperate neighborhoods don't bother with pushing FAA to do environmental reviews (for all) when they can settle and get a little something for their neighborhood.. so many settle and that settlement is a loss for everyone out there because the FAA never does an adequate review (for all).

Settling in this case feels like the people who brought this out of the blue, are actually winning something bigger than pointing out the infraction. An infraction which the people of Palo Alto were not opposed to correcting because remember nobody ever asked the rest of us anything about this until now.

So, the assumption I guess is that Palo Alto would be punished by the court declaring we committed an infraction. I could sleep at night if the court made us do something right. What I don't understand is if the entire reason for not letting the constitution win is legal costs or will the court also suddenly demand that Foothill be used as a water park (I would be happy with that BTW because one can't ever have enough public swimming pools).

Which is why I really would appreciate knowing what the full estimate is to "lose" here is.



Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 10, 2020 at 2:51 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I am sure that the people who brought this law suit on are celebrating at the French Laundry in Napa. That is where all of the people who have successfully gutted the taxpayer's dollars go to congratulate each other on a fine job done. Can't wait to see what the price tag for all of this is. And they will be joined by the "Constitutional Lawyers" who are having a field day running from case to case.

A regular bee hive of activity. Just think - the "Constitution" and "Social Justice". Someone forget to add our "Values" - but that was the theme about two years ago. Mr. Becerra has done well with that theme. He has processed over 100 law suites.

Meanwhile the park is getting trashed and the animals are spreading out on the street getting hit by the "tourist". But that is secondary to this drama.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2020 at 6:27 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

A fortune cookie prediction...

'December 17th will be a day of reckoning in Palo Alto.'

In other words, the referendum succeeds OR the park opens it gates (aka floodgates) to ALL non-residents as per the strong arm of the ACLU & NAACP.

Second fortune cookie prediction...

If the event of the latter, the PACC will designate December 17th as 'Diversity Day' to acknowledge the city's blatant racist past & to make amends for the elitist portrayal of the residents who opposed opening the park to all visitors.

Representatives of both the ACLU & NAACP will address the proclamation at the Foothills Park entrance along with five PACC members & the city attorney.

The keynote message will be one of mutual sharing & how our founding fathers envisioned Foothills Park in the drafting of the Constitution.


Posted by PaloAltoCitizen
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 10, 2020 at 7:40 am

PaloAltoCitizen is a registered user.

REGARDLESS of the future, let's preserve this beautiful nature preserve. LIMIT the number of daily visitors to 416, which is the daily average for the last 20 years. Write the City Council -- [email protected] -- ask them to immediately reduce the maximum daily visitor limit to 416. The current limit of 1000 is UNSUSTAINABLE. It doesn't matter where the visitors come from. The current daily limit is WAY TOO HIGH.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2020 at 7:59 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"LIMIT the number of daily visitors to 416, which is the daily average for the last 20 years...The current limit of 1000 is UNSUSTAINABLE.

^ Concurring but...the words LIMIT & UNSUSTAINABLE are 'red flags' for the likes of the ACLU & NAACP as they infer discrimination & ostensible intentions.

The ACLU/NAACP are primarily focused on social equality issues rather than eco-friendly concepts & ideals as flora & fauna do not have civil or constitutional rights.


Posted by Observer
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Dec 10, 2020 at 8:10 am

Observer is a registered user.

Re Eric Filseth's comment "The meetings are in closed session also because things said in Public can actually be used as evidence against the City in court." It certainly doesn't help when our rabid mayor Fine states publicly that, with regard to the constitutional lawsuit, we will certainly lose.


Posted by ACLU supporter
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 10, 2020 at 8:13 am

ACLU supporter is a registered user.

Democrats generally support the ACLU's fight against systematic inequality, until they have to acknowledge things in their own backyard.

A tale as old as time.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2020 at 8:23 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

Curious...in light of the modern-day acknowledgments of non-PC terminologies & respective revisions, shouldn't the NAACP be changed to the NAAAA (i.e. The National Association for the Advancement of African Americans) as 'CP' is now considered a derisive term?

An elderly neighbor asked me that question the other day as she was deeply concerned about being branded a Palo Alto racist.


Posted by Birds
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 10, 2020 at 8:33 am

Birds is a registered user.

I dont believe this is really a first amendment case, I think it’s a charade and a mis-use of the first amendment, but lets assume it is and that we lose....

Can we handle this like airports and set up a stand in the parking lot or somewhere else in the park where a limited number of people can go to exercise their first amendment rights? Or are protesters going to be allowed to wander around and distribute leaflets on hiking paths?

If we win the case can we force them to pay our legal fees, if we could be forced to pay theirs if we lose?


Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2020 at 8:48 am

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@ Jerry Underdal - I don't think that the "perception" of people would change with this lawsuit. There are (*unfortunately) some activists who are never satisfied. After this, they would simply move on to the next accusatory claim about Palo Alto.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2020 at 8:50 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"Can we handle this like airports...or are protesters going to be allowed to wander around and distribute leaflets on hiking paths?"

^ A potential litter problem...on the other hand and speaking of airports (back in the day), enlisting the dervish dancing Hare Krishna sect in their saffron robes might get some sort of message through.

After all, the park will now be a welcoming retreat for all visitors.


Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 10, 2020 at 8:56 am

ndn is a registered user.

What about if there is a referendum and Palo Altans decide to open the park to all?
That possibility is never mentioned which makes me believe that Filseth and DuBois have a preconceived notion of what the result of such referendum will be. And also that. they believe that transparency, on balance, doesn't much matter.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2020 at 9:08 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"...which makes me believe that Filseth and DuBois have a preconceived notion of what the result of such referendum will be. And also that. they believe that transparency, on balance, doesn't much matter."

^ Just like Louie #13 & Marie Antoinette watching from the Bastille...trying to have their 'cake' & eat it too.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 10, 2020 at 9:10 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

In the Opinion Section of the BAN/SJM today (12/10) is a resident of Los Altos Hills who is dictating what the rules concerning the "park" should be. Of course "Open to all". It is called a "Shared Resource". However we should not expect that "Fund Development' is part of this policy. His examples are street level parks in other cities - flat lands.

Goggle "Parks in Los Altos Hills" and there are a number of parks. La Purisima Park requires a reservation and approval. Happy Hollow Park requires a $10.00 entry fee - it is a small zoo with strict instructions as to who can play with the animals. Call first to reserve your space in the parking lot.

Look at the Google Map. All of the surrounding properties are called a "Preserve". Various carved out Preserves. If we call it a Preserve do different rules and restrictions apply? We are not on the flat lands that have streets, parking lots, fire and police in the immediate area. Being on the flat lands is totally different than being in a Preserve which is in the hills in a less protected location.

Suggest that we rename this from a park to a Reserve. A reserve more closely identifies the limitations relative to parking and availability of parking spaces. It gives us the right of placing limitations on the location. Also closure when in high fire times - like now when other state parks are closed. Note that state parks do require a parking fee.
1. Rename to Preserve. It tells the person reading what to expect.
2. Charge a fee for parking. This tells a person that parking is limited and the park can be closed when the parking lot is full.
3. Provide a site for reservations with payment.
4. Preserves follow the guidelines of the state relative to status of closures.

Bottom line is that when you read "opinions" in the paper you only get a half of the story - the outcome the opinion maker wants. Do some research and find out what they are not telling you. Find out how their city is handling the same type problem. Be willing to change up if someone has a better idea than your city.

And time for you all to go visit he Parks in Los Altos Hills - looks like they have good hiking trails. Send the tourist up the streets of Los Altos Hills to explore what they have to offer. I am sure they will appreciate all of the attention.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 10, 2020 at 9:56 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Get out your dictionary - Check out the definition of PARK and PRESERVE. Picking your definitions a PARK is a piece of open land near a city which is open for public use. Typically has walk ways, playgrounds, -etc. Based on what Eric said earlier I think this is what the Constitutionalist are looking at - walkways, sidewalks/playgrounds - their interpretation of a PARK. This assumes it is sitting in the middle/edge of a city - like all of the parks we have in our portfolio - Greer Park.

A PRESERVE is concerned with keeping from harm, protecting, keeping game safe.

The naming of the location changes the legal classification of the piece of land.

It is not a PARK. It is a PRESERVE. Call is a PRESERVE. Change the definition of what the piece of land is.


Posted by PaloAltoCitizen
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 10, 2020 at 9:57 am

PaloAltoCitizen is a registered user.

Foothills is ALREADY named Foothills Nature Preserve.
It has been a nature preserve for over 60 years.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2020 at 9:57 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

From the SJ Mercury 12/03/20...

"Mayor Adrian Fine, who has long opposed measures to continue restricting non-residents from entering Foothills Park, said Palo Altans should not sign the petition. In the past, Fine has said the policy infringes on people’s rights and is an outdated law that keeps low-income people out unless they can afford to live in Palo Alto.

He said he did not agree that the city skirted a democratic process to open the park. The lawsuit, he said, forced the city into closed-door negotiations and added that when considering a sensitive legal matter in public, making any comments could undermine the city and resident’s position.

“We considered that matter confidentially,” Fine said."

^ The proof is in the pudding along with the other 5 PACC members.

Apparently they believe Palo Alto residents are 'entitled' to be kept in the dark on such issues...until these tribal leaders clandestinely mandate their unilateral decisions.

This is not America...but perhaps Palo Alto.

*another community > CP


Posted by Limit Park Attendees
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 10, 2020 at 10:06 am

Limit Park Attendees is a registered user.

@ Eric Filseth, I believe the settlement agreed to set the limit at 1,000. I think a lot of what folks objected to was giving concessions that were unnecessary. All you had to do is make the park open to everyone and then set your own other rules rather than agreeing to theirs.


Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2020 at 10:13 am

Citizen is a registered user.

Doesn’t the ACLU and NAACP have better things to do right now, like defend our democracy against the relentless attempts by the Republican minority to keep power and disenfranchise the 80 million people who voted for change?
Web Link

Republicans are somehow running things for the benefit of the few without having had the majority of votes or even the most votes in a really long time. They’ve had the majority in the Supreme Court for fifty years, with decision after decision for the most wealthy at the expense of everyone else. And decisions very heavily weighted in favor of white litigants and against black litigants in similar criminal cases.

There are now 14 Red states with Trump taking another case to the Supreme Court to invalidate the votes of the majority. When is someone going to stand up for the interests of the majority, which includes numerous life and death issues. When are they going to take up the case for our right to competent governance? If they do not, Republicans in the minority will keep up the bullying and denigrating of our nation. The 2008 crash after 8 years of near total Republican control, the massive deficits Republicans always run up, the recessions that always seem to begin under their watch with very few exceptions. Not to mention the abysmal management of the pandemic when some countries like South Korea had far fewer deaths and no recession with a better managed national strategy. There is no amount of fiscal reality or just plain reality that will wake their voters up to what they are doing to damage our nation; groups like the NAACP and ACLU should be trying much harder to at least make the case. They will not simply stop. Do you remember the lie about the crowds at Trmp’s inauguration? It was the trial balloon to see just how bald faced the lying could get and people let it go. These suits attacking our democracy will continue and the strategies get bolder and worse if people don’t push back harder and just as relentlessly. How many of the people engaged in this suit are even writing Republican lawmakers to tell them to respect THEIR voices as citizens, too, or attempting to get them out of their echo chambers by getting a real letter writing campaign going? People could save the US postal service AND make themselves finally heard with such a massive letter writing campaign that Republicans would find it harder to ignore.

It’s just ridiculous that people who claim to be about social justice would waste their energy on this when there is so much real work to do.


Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2020 at 10:56 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Citizen

"It’s just ridiculous that people who claim to be about social justice would waste their energy on this when there is so much real work to do."

Defending civil rights and the constitution isn't real work? This is exactly the job of the ACLU--to uphold constitutional rights for all. I recall when In 1978 they defended the rights of a Neo-Nazi group to march in Skokie, Illinois, when the city tried to block a march down city streets. Why with many of its own supporters in strenuous disagreement, did the ACLU take the case? Because while the ACLU firmly rejects everything the Neo-Nazis represent, constitutional rights to freedom of movement and expression would be violated without a challenge to the city. If neo-Nazis could be blocked despite constitutional guarantees, so could civil rights demonstrators, and if the ACLU didn't act to defend those rights in this instance no one would.

The court ruled in favor of the ACLU, buttressing the constitutional rights of all of us, including those who might want to exercise those rights in Foothills Park. (BTW, the march never occurred. Instead the Neo-Nazis staged a rally in downtown Chicago.)

This *is* real work. You just don't agree with the job.


Posted by Eric Filseth
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 10, 2020 at 10:58 am

Eric Filseth is a registered user.

@Limit Park - "@ Eric Filseth, I believe the settlement agreed to set the limit at 1,000. "


No, the Settlement says nothing about the number of park attendees. The full Settlement is online here: Web Link. It only says we have to treat nonresidents and residents equally (with some minor exceptions). It says nothing about the overall number.

The 1,000 limit was set by the City. We can make it anything we like. We can make it 416 if we want. We can make it 100 if we want, or 14, or even zero.

To some extent the number of visitors is also affected by the number of parking spaces available, and we can change that too.

Once the lawsuit is no longer hanging over our head, by whatever mechanism, I expect the Council and the Parks and Recreation Commission will want to review all these policies and see if we should update some of these things.


Posted by Jennifer Landesmann
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2020 at 11:08 am

Jennifer Landesmann is a registered user.

@limit park attendees

"I believe the settlement agreed to set the limit at 1,000. I think a lot of what folks objected to was giving concessions that were unnecessary. All you had to do is make the park open to everyone and then set your own other rules rather than agreeing to theirs."

The governance and leadership failures that led to this situation are very serious but I disagree with the Preserve vs Park technicalities and creating rules to limit people from going - until there is a report that explains why limiting people is necessary and then we should still use more than one side of our brain.

The "limit number of people" without solid analysis is an assumption that people cannot be trusted to make the experience at Foothill one that is enriching from enjoying nature without an undesirable footprint. Nature is meant to be enjoyed.

I've spent several months of my adult life in Vienna, a city which is known for their parks. You don't know Vienna if you have not taken your shoes off and felt the grass at Burggarten Park together with people from all walks of life in sitting or lying there for some moments of pure enjoyment of the park. Palo Alto should be proud of the parks and the trees that are a place which can inspire and fulfill many. The Viennese do have rules, but it's to promote the enjoyment and respect of nature. Parks there have long rows of seating nicely placed so lots of people can sit and enjoy.

The outrage about citizens not being trusted with key information without any justification seems hollow if now we cannot trust anyone else to be a steward.

Moving on to other PACC work, as some have suggested is also a concern because how to trust leadership that appears to think that the only democracy that counts is electing them and not to have responsible governance.

What shocks me is that if you are 4% of a minority advocacy platform, PACC is saying they get to decide on behalf of the 96%. That means that if say 4% of the Palo Alto population is a higher risk of health issues from particulate matter from SFO air traffic, PACC gets to spare the 96% from the trouble of caring about the 4%. Tough guys in the 96% who are not vulnerable can handle it, so why bother. Cold actuarial calculus.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2020 at 11:17 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"Doesn’t the ACLU and NAACP have better things to do right now...?"

^ Apparently not as the major social injustice cases are being handled by high-profile civil rights & personal injury attorneys.

A park entrance issue is easy fodder for the ACLU/NAACP...especially when an outgoing mayor & 5 city council members consumed by their 'progressive' imageries simply roll over & play dead.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 10, 2020 at 12:21 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Eric Filseth - the constitutional lawyers have used a dictionary description of a PARK. You talked about walkways, etc.

It is not a PARK. It is a PRESERVE. Look at the dictionary description of a PRESERVE. That changes up the constitutional description of this piece of land. Call it a Preserve and treat it like a Preserve.

A preserve does not allow 1,000 a people a day. It is the cities job to protect this piece of land - not treat it like Greer Park - which is a park.


Posted by [email protected]
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 10, 2020 at 12:57 pm

[email protected] is a registered user.

If anything I understand the City of Palo Alto here.

This preserve is in a highly dense populated area, where there is practically no open spaces like this in the county, unless you drive to say Morgan Hill.

The pictures are really gorgeous.

So there is simply an overwhelming demand to visit there.

I wish I had some answer to that problem for you. But you do know that it might take some ugly fencing to be constructed around it so prevent unauthorized access.

I understand why Palo Altoans want it to be their exclusive access. Practically it will be hard to secure without paying for the cost of it. One option is to charge an non-resident a visiting fee?


Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2020 at 1:01 pm

Citizen is a registered user.

"Defending civil rights and the constitution isn't real work? "

Yes, it is, which is why the ACLU, NAACP, and anyone concerned with civil rights should be focused on defending the voting rights of 80 million Americans whose rights are being relentlessly assaulted with no commensurate response.

And no, I don't think this is a civil rights issue. You have to twist yourself into a pretzel to see how anyone's rights are being violated. The park issue is the kind of thing that should be discussed and resolved without costing so much of the public funds (on all sides) or overlaying such TENUOUS arguments about civil rights when there is so much to be done.

This is nothing at all like the example you gave, especially since our democracy has never been in such peril. This is more like someone worrying about suing over dog poop on the street while their house burns down since ideologues attacked and pulled down the fire department because they oppose any government. The example you gave would be a different situation if it was happening in the context of WWII. Context matters and energy and efforts of social justice warriors are not only finite, but clearly not being employed much (if at all) in the more serious issues. This is a full-scale national emergency on several fronts. If people do nothing, this park issue will not matter one whit.

If you wanted to take on a constitutional issue locally about public space, this forum is more appropriate, since any time I say anything that is eminently provable (with nonpartisan facts) but makes "conservatives" look bad, it gets deleted. Yes, it's a private paper, but it gets used as a public forum. I expect that to get deleted.





Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2020 at 1:08 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"Check out the definition of PARK and PRESERVE...a PARK is a piece of open land near a city which is open for public use. Typically has walk ways, playgrounds, -etc. Based on what Eric said earlier I think this is what the Constitutionalist are looking at - walkways, sidewalks/playgrounds - their interpretation of a PARK."

Eric Filseth - the constitutional lawyers have used a dictionary description of a PARK. You talked about walkways, etc.

^ Curious...if ALL of the dirt trails at Foothills Park were paved over with asphalt (to reduce wear & tear from the anticipated increase in foot traffic) & a swing set installed near the lake, would FHP now be considered a PARK rather than a nature PRESERVE?

If so (as per the Constitutionalists)...an easy solution for Mayor Fine, the five PACC members, and City Attorney.

Just subcontract a paving crew & order some playground apparatus.

Debate would then be over.


Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 10, 2020 at 1:17 pm

TimR is a registered user.

Lee Forest,
"...dancing Hare Krishna sect in their saffron robes ...

Oh no, I didn't think about that, but yes, we'll probably have Hare Krishas in the park exercising their First Amendment rights, too. I don't mind them in Lytton Plaza on Friday evenings, but the park isn't for that kind of thing, even if the NAACP and ACLU are trying to claim otherwise.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 10, 2020 at 1:40 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Goldy - I assume that you have some proficiency in Google Maps. Foothill Park Preserve is not in a densely populated place. It is sitting in a locations surrounded by by Rancho San Antonio Open Space, Los Trancos Woods Vista Verde, Coal Creek Open Space, Russian Ridge Open Space, Atascadero Open Space Preserve, Windy Hill Open Space, La Honda Creek Open Space and more.

Since you live in Mountain View then you have never been there - I am guessing. If you had been there then you would realize that it is not in a populated area. The city of Los Altos sits between MV and Open Space. Go to Rancho San Antonio which is a continuation of the whole open Space sections going across the hills. If you go up any up the trails them you will see that there is continual open spaces going up to Half moon Bay and beyond.

If you google Los Altos Hills Parks you can see more options - places to visit. None of those locations qualify as "densely populated". As to Morgan Hill a lot of that land is not accessible.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2020 at 2:03 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

Still pondering this PARK vs nature PRESERVE designation...

If Foothills Park is indeed a public park rather than a nature preserve (as per the ACLU/NAACP, constitutional originalists & PACC definitions) what's to prevent the city from holding the annual Chili Cook-Off there as well?

This 'open to the public' gathering could then rival the Gilroy Garlic Festival for it's outdoor festivities and assorted vendors.

FHP might also serve as an alternate venue for the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.

As a designated public park, more lights would also need to be installed along the now paved hiking trails to ensure added public safety during dusk hours...just nail them to the remaining evergreens for a more 'natural-looking' appearance.

And in the process...all of the skunks, rattlers, raccoons, possums, coyotes, bobcats & deer would seek refuge in Portola Valley & Los Altos Hills (with the skunks & rattlers ideally selecting LAH as their new abode).


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 10, 2020 at 2:16 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

Some commentators above seem to imagine that we live in a Populist Republic of Palo Alto which has the sovereign power to legislate as it pleases. Well, unfortunately, such a country does not exist and your referendum means nothing, nada, in a constitutional lawsuit. This point has been clearly made by city council members Filseth and DuBois in their piece, but somehow seems to have a hard time penetrating into some people’s heads. Arguing about whether this is a constitutional issue or whether Foothills Park is a “park” is just silly: ACLU lawyers are smart and experienced and they know what they are doing. Apparently this point is understood by most of the city council members except for two who seem to imagine that they are better constitutional lawyers.

Secondly, it seems to have never occurred to some of the commentators that the resident-only restriction has always been and always will be perceived by most residents outside Palo Alto as elitist and small-minded. Severely limiting the number of visitors to Foothills Park will not change that perception and will only enhance the impression of pettiness and exclusiveness. No neighboring cities ban Palo Alto residents from their parks, even though Palo Alto is richer than most of them.


Posted by Mind the Gap
a resident of Triple El
on Dec 10, 2020 at 2:35 pm

Mind the Gap is a registered user.

This isn't a strong lawsuit, it's a weak one because of the lack of precedent. Foothills isn't a sidewalk, it's not a transit corridor. All sorts of properties are publicly owned but have restricted access for a variety of reasons. There are a few categories that can't be used as grounds for restriction--i.e. race, religion--but lack of residency doesn't constitute a protected class.

Even if the basis of the lawsuit were stronger, the city council did a bad job of handling it--the settlement was rushed, secretive (we still don't know all the details and it was voted upon the night before the election.) and hidden from the voters.

Filseth and DuBois are concerned about the financial risks of defending the city from a lawsuit, but they don't seem to take into account the financial exposure of opening the park under the terms of the settlement. Foothill's western boundary was at the edge of the CZU fire complex last summer. The wrong lightning strike could result in a massive fire at a later date. The restrictions on fees in the settlement--i.e. nonresidents can only be charged 25 percent more than residents--means restoring the preserve would cost millions, but the city would be severely limited in how it could raise that money. In less dire circumstances, opening the park to non-residents will cost increased maintenance and adversely impact the ecosystem. At the very least, the city should have taken time to estimate the increased costs and how they would be paid for before rushing into this settlement.

The long-term costs of opening and maintaining Foothills far outstrip any lawsuit, particularly one with such weak standing. I'm really not sure, also, why Filseth and DuBois are convinced that Palo Alto would be saddled with the plaintiff's legal costs in this case. That's a big jump to make.

I am really curious as to what was behind the timing of this lawsuit--there was already a pilot plan and vote that had been agreed upon in August. If opening the park was the aim, this should have been sufficient AND it would have taken the park's ecology into consideration, but instead this lawsuit popped up, with one of the plaintiffs being a former PA mayor who'd tried to open the park years earlier and appears to be aimed at permanently removing Palo Alto voters right to have a say in the matter. It's frankly a terrible precedent hiding behind high-flown rhetoric and fear-mongering about lawsuits.

All lawsuits are not created equal. This one's lousy.

Sign the petition.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2020 at 3:00 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"...your referendum means nothing, nada, in a constitutional lawsuit."

^WRONG...there are two types of direct democracy mechanisms which are commonly labelled as initiatives, because they are invoked when citizens collect enough signatures in support of or to challenge a measure. An agenda initiative is a “special” direct democracy instrument because it enables a number of citizens to submit a proposal which must be considered by the council but which is not put to a vote of the electorate.

>"...the resident-only restriction has always been and always will be perceived by most residents outside Palo Alto as elitist and small-minded."

^ Who cares what other people superficially think?

>"This isn't a strong lawsuit, it's a weak one because of the lack of precedent...lack of residency doesn't constitute a protected class...Sign the petition."

^ Keeping mind of the December 17 deadline.


Posted by Mind the Gap
a resident of Triple El
on Dec 10, 2020 at 3:08 pm

Mind the Gap is a registered user.

Anonymous,

Actually, the lawyers in this case don't seem to be a pile of Constitutional law experts--they're some litigators specializing in technology doing some pro bono work on the side to make themselves feel better, probably, about being hired guns for big tech companies. Most of them are associates (which is to be expected).

I will say that if there was a precedent for this kind of thing, they would have found it. This is a reach, to put it mildly.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 10, 2020 at 3:08 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

Perhaps @Mind the Gap can share his legal credentials, as he speaks so confidently about legal matters (indeed, about budgetary matters as well).


Posted by Jennifer Landesmann
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2020 at 3:12 pm

Jennifer Landesmann is a registered user.

@Mind the Gap

"At the very least, the city should have taken time to estimate the increased costs and how they would be paid for before rushing into this settlement.

The long-term costs of opening and maintaining Foothills far outstrip any lawsuit, particularly one with such weak standing. I'm really not sure, also, why Filseth and DuBois are convinced that Palo Alto would be saddled with the plaintiff's legal costs in this case. That's a big jump to make. "

The lack of realistic estimates of all costs is the most alarming. It means that PACC probably did not have any realistic estimates. On something as simple as legal fees, how hard is it to get an estimate for attorneys to do any case, you ask for an estimate of hours, multiply by their hourly rate and you call it a ballpark figure.

I don't blame the ACLU at all for succeeding or taking on the case. I wish they would take other issues that the City is too disorganized or lax to take on because it only matters to 4%.

I know how I feel about City leadership with no gene for transparency, causing a community to be left in the dark about stuff that has no reason to be hidden, like realistic cost estimates. What I can't decide is if the referendum will fix the underlying problems at City Hall. It's unnerving to hear the back and forth about 1000, 456, or 10! Really? Now @Eric Filseth you can give citizens a voice to bicker about that and that I guess makes nice with some? That will be yet another battle among people but what/who wins will be completely arbitrary as long as there is no substantive analysis and transparency.

We lost. Now if only the City took on cases to defend the City such as FAA NEPA abuses instead of being circumspect about that. Oh forgot, it's each resident out for themselves.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 10, 2020 at 3:15 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

And perhaps @Lee Forrest can tell us where in the US Constitution the "“special direct democracy instrument" is mentioned. Last time I checked, I did not see any. But of course I am not as much a constitutional expert as Mr/Ms Forrest. Please enlighten us.


Posted by Mind the Gap
a resident of Triple El
on Dec 10, 2020 at 3:22 pm

Mind the Gap is a registered user.

Anonymous,

What matters here are my research skills. I looked the lawyers up and their backgrounds. Even the lead counsel at the ACLU is a securities litigator, not a Constitutional law guy. No First Amendment experts--and, yes, that is a specialty.

They're not the guys I'd hire for a First Amendment case. I might hire them, though, if I were facing an SEC investigation.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 10, 2020 at 3:28 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

@Mind the Gap: Did you also look up the lawyers that the city hired to provide advice on constitutional laws? Perhaps they are also muppets and not up to your exacting legal standards. But they seemed to have change the views of some city council members who do not seem to me to be stupid. (But of course, they may not be up to your standards, either.)


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 10, 2020 at 3:29 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

@Lee Forrest also wrote: "Who cares what other people superficially think?"

Thanks for confirming the point that I was trying to make in my comment!


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 10, 2020 at 3:39 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Anonymous - I have no idea what your credentials are from an educational POV. Get out a dictionary and read what the description of a PARK is. It describes what is a public place. Then go over to what a PRESERVE is - it is not a public place. FHP is not sitting in a the middle of a city - or the fringes of a city on flat land with a kiddie section. That is what describes every other park in PA with some exceptions - Baylands and Arastadero which is controlled by the number of parking places.

Webster Dictionary is following Constitutional Law. The problem we have here is that somewhere in history the city called this a PARK. And the ACLU is picking up on the lame description and running with it. And the city is allowing that to happen. Because it was not an issue in the past. Now it is an issue. It is a Preserve - like every other piece of property surrounding it. Every piece around it a PRESERVE - or OPEN SPACE. The constitutional description of a PARK does not apply.

As a PRESERVE our duty is to protect it and the animals that are there. We have actually done that up to now. We have limited the number of people. We have rangers there. WE are treating it like other Preserves and Open Spaces are treated.
We are surrounded by Open Space Conservancies - is the ACLU chasing them around? NO


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 10, 2020 at 3:50 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

@Resident 1-Adobe Meadows:
I'll be the last person to imagine that I have any legal expertise. Unlike some other commentators here, I know my limitations and will not keep babbling on on things that I do not really understand.

But it seems to me that most city council members are not stupid people who do not even know what they don't know. If they changed their views after listening to legal advices, I respect their judgments.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 10, 2020 at 4:00 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

By the way, the following link was provided by a user named "Maryan" in a different comment thread. I eagerly await the analysis of the many constitutional law experts who have been so generously sharing their expert opinions here.

Web Link


Posted by Mind the Gap
a resident of Triple El
on Dec 10, 2020 at 4:01 pm

Mind the Gap is a registered user.

Anonymous,

I certainly hope the city hires lawyers with the right kind of expertise to defend itself if it comes to that.

You made the claim that these lawyers were "smart, experienced and knew what they were doing". So, I checked your claim. I admit I was surprised to find out even the ACLU guy was an SEC litigator.

It's like using a bunch of dermatologists to deliver a baby. Yes, technically, they're all doctors, but an OB/GYN really is a better bet.

Since the lead council was (still is?) a securities litigator at Jones Day in Palo Alto, I'm guessing this is some kind of someone-knows-somebody situation.

Despite Filseth's claim that the lawsuit is deadly serious, it continues to read to me as a sledgehammer of convenience--some local people like Adrien Fine, Cordell and Cory Wolbach want Foothills open--and wanted to force the issue while Fine was still in office. The case isn't meant to go to court and the lawyers on the case lack the experience to argue this kind of case in court.

NO ONE, including the ACLU, want this to go to court for that reason. The ACLU would have to get its real Constitutional lawyers involved and they have way more important issues to which to attend. The city doesn't because, hey, expensive.




Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 10, 2020 at 4:51 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Anonymous - it starts becoming obvious here as to who is on the side of the people who initiated this action. If they lose in "court' then do they pay?

People tend to be knowledgeable about topics they work in their everyday life at the office. However the current topic is not an every day topic so that leaves many grasping for straws and subject to some subterfuge by the perpetrators = aka the PERPS. We have already noted Corie's intent in this matter - he would have festivals, etc. That would swing us out of the "conservancy" definition into the "profit motive" definition. Better those activities occur at Mitchell Park which is what the purpose is for that location.

WE have a lot of PARKS and they are used by everyone who wants to come. We should be proud of that. We are not racist. Everyone who wants to come to those parks does.

The topic of constitutional law came forward during the election when one of the contenders was very vehement about that. She lost.

We have treated FHP as a Conservancy and Preserve and we should be very proud of that. We have taken care of it, the animals, the trails. And we have rangers there to help people. Many people have parks in their cities. Some that only residents can go to by reservation - LAH. So no complaining here please.


Posted by Jennifer Landesmann
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2020 at 6:13 pm

Jennifer Landesmann is a registered user.

@Resident 1-

“People tend to be knowledgeable about topics they work in their everyday life at the office. However the current topic is not an every day topic so that leaves many grasping for straws...”

Which is indeed frustrating. Besides the slippery slope issue, without a battle the public will never know the truth about anything.

I am one who is satisfied with the actual outcome of opening Foothill to non residents because nature is a health asset and more power to all if we can all share in something positive- provided the City can ensure fair rules to keep Foothill wonderful. Just the education value of future environmentalists is appealing.

But the bizarre conclusions and speculation about the case are so annoying with the “expensive” legal fees when we don’t have a dollar ball park number and PACC apparently has no estimate. For an FAA NEPA challenge I got an estimate and the number was under 50K which smaller towns not nearly as fancy as Palo Alto undertake that as an investment to stand up for their communities.

None of the “expensive” to fight back is credible without an estimate.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2020 at 7:19 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

In the end, if and/or when Foothills Park deteriorates into an unpleasant recreational environment due to the ecologically unfriendly impact of unrestricted open access, 'do-gooder' mentalities, & acquiecense to outside 'progressive' forces...the outgoing mayor, five PACC members, city attorney & ACLU/NAACP will bear the ultimate responsibility for the outcome.

Simple as that.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 10, 2020 at 8:19 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Just for the fun of it put Foothill Park - Palo Alto into Google search. Note that it is an OPEN SPACE PRESERVE - says that on the sign. The park is positioned correctly for legal purposes.

You can click on various news videos and other videos about the preserve. ABC news with the person who originated the law suit. WOW - vitriol. Video of camp for kids, Our Mayor with his two cents.

I found the ABC News video disturbing. An opinion that the majority of residents would not relate to. That is in part what you are dealing with. All on the evening news. You know that they would not be showing that unless it was brought to them.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 10, 2020 at 8:39 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

I propose that those who sign the petition should put up the money to fund the lawsuit. After all, the city had already settled with the plaintiff and that should have been that in the normal course of events. I personally would hate to see my tax dollars being spent on a lawsuit that I think the city should not engage in in the first place. Let those who want to take their chances in the court pay for it themselves, instead of drawing on the public coffers.

We should urge the city council to defund the lawsuit. The city is not under any obligation to fight every lawsuit in which it is a defendant. It can simply say: "we agree with the plaintiff."



Posted by Mind the Gap
a resident of Triple El
on Dec 10, 2020 at 8:50 pm

Mind the Gap is a registered user.

Anonymous,

We do pay for the lawsuit--and the cost of maintaining Foothills. What do you think taxes are for? Indeed, one of the reasons I support the referendum is that the settlement leaves Palo Alto with a great deal of financial exposure and little way of recouping costs from non-residents who use the the preserve.

I've noticed that the city is making a PR push over Foothills right now. Sounds like the petition on the referendum is gaining steam.

By the way, I'd be interested in which lawyers spoke to the Council about the solidity of the lawsuit--I've only found a mention of the city attorney and city manager, though I came across another reference to an outside council from the same law firm that was doing the pro-bono work for the plaintiffs. More information would be useful.


Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 10, 2020 at 8:54 pm

TimR is a registered user.

Lee Forest,

"...five PACC members, city attorney & ACLU/NAACP will bear the ultimate responsibility for the outcome."

Don't forget auto and cyclist injury and/or death due to traffic problems at the entrance, which sits below a VERY tight, steep corner. I've seen a couple of close calls already due to increased pandemic traffic (mostly because the parking to the left of the entrance only holds a handful of cars, and newcomers don't seem to realize there is more parking father in), but those risks will only increase. Add in the parade of gravel trucks currently going up and down to the road construction at the top of Page Mill, and PACC is cooking up a recipe for a serious safety issues. And the blood will be on their hands.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 10, 2020 at 9:17 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

@Mind the Gap: I am happy to pay for the upkeep of Foothills Park. I doubt very much the number of visitors will increase by lot even after it is opened to non-residents. In any case, as council member Filseth has explained very clearly (and multiple times), the city is still free to impose reasonable limits on the number of visitors under the settlement. All the talks about the park being overrun by too many visitors (or worse) is just fear-mongering without any basis in reality.

But I will write to city council members to urge them to defund the lawsuit, should one be renewed. I would hate to see my tax money being spent on a thing which is not only frivolous, but reek of elitism and pettiness.


Posted by Gary G.
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 10, 2020 at 9:50 pm

Gary G. is a registered user.

I have passed by Foothill Park for many years and I rarely visit. I took my children, and they thought it was fine but not as much fun as Montebello and Russian Ridge and Vasona Creek Park. I have tried trail running the entire park, the drop is brutal in terms of descent, and the climb is not overly pleasurable. I've never had a warm feeling over Foothill Park. It is just not my style to visit places that discriminates. I have no idea why Palo Alto continues the practice of exclusionary open space land use. Everyone is welcome to use the Dish at Stanford, and also attend Church on Sundays for religious services, and the Stanford organ concerts are free. Freedom is the California way, and we should not be selfish over natural preserves.


Posted by Jennifer Landesmann
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2020 at 10:28 pm

Jennifer Landesmann is a registered user.

@Gary G

“I have no idea why Palo Alto continues the practice of exclusionary open space land use.”

Palo Alto City Hall or Palo Alto residents? There’s a big difference.

It’s nearly impossible to put something on a Council agenda. Even when something is registered as a citizen concern there’s really no method to get representation or follow up communication. Thus the ACLU was very effective. But good luck if you are a regular resident and your issue does not make PACC political priorities.

In six years of my observing PACC annual priority setting sessions, I do not recall anyone registering it as a request for attention by PACC or residents in the surveys to set priorities or public statements. I apparently missed the older sporadic attempts to call out the issue which one council member called the “Halleys comet” of issues.

The answer is buried in how the City works but it’s fair to say that nobody ever put the question to open Foothill to the public and the public means not just those who read Town Square.




Posted by Duveneck neighbor
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 10, 2020 at 10:35 pm

Duveneck neighbor is a registered user.

The quality of the foregoing discussion is depressingly poor. False assumptions, logical fallacies, reliance on anecdotes to make sweeping generalizations. False dichotomies and false equivalences. Straw-man arguments. Diversion to non-essential issues. Obfuscation. Breast-beating. Egoism and egotism.

Wipe the slate clean. Begin anew. Ask, What is right-action?

In my opinion, right-action is, above all else, to commit to open Foothills Preserve to the public.

Legal precedent in parks and preserves across the county, at every level of government, confirms the right of the City of Palo Alto to set, through its elected government, rules and regulations regarding use, and costs for each use. Precedent also confirms the right of the City to have a different cost structure for residents versus non-residents. These precedents are given; they are beyond dispute.

Council should direct staff to ascertain the range of possible uses; the impacts of each use type; and, the annual number of visitors who may exercise each use type, consistent with long-term sustainable use. This task establishes the fact basis for making policy decisions.

After the establishment of facts, Council may move to the political realm. Namely, it should engage the public for input regarding use types. I, for instance, wish to forbid mountain biking; the impact on trails of illegal mountain bike use is already substantial, especially on the lower portion of Los Trancos Trail. However, whether to forbid mountain biking or not, transcends my personal wish, and is a political matter for the community entire, and not for a single individual.

If Council would simply stipulate to the foregoing process, both the referendum and the lawsuit become moot.


Posted by Jennifer Landesmann
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2020 at 11:03 pm

Jennifer Landesmann is a registered user.

@Duveneck neighbor,

You assume that the referendum initiative will not have enough signatures but if it does, lawsuit is back on. Unless you have connections, this mess is not up for blank slate.

The decision to not challenge the lawsuit was apparently based on “we’ll lose” and it’s too expensive to fight. It was a vote about how to deal with the lawsuit. It would have been different if PACC had said they are settling because it’s the right thing to do to open Foothill to all. If that was a reason I missed that communication.


Posted by Squidsie
a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2020 at 10:10 am

Squidsie is a registered user.

It is refreshing to read a calm and rational explanation of the city's position, instead of the racial hyperbole which has characterized much of the discussion. However, I am unable to understand how the park is different from facilities that other cities maintain solely for their residents, like San Francisco's Camp Mather. Is there in fact a strong legal principle that all public facilities must be made available to nonresidents?


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 11, 2020 at 10:51 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"I've noticed that the city is making a PR push over Foothills right now. Sounds like the petition on the referendum is gaining steam."

^ 'Egg in the face' or getting caught with one's pants down?

In any event...by December 16th, Palo Alto residents will be better informed of where this issue is headed.

Unfortunately, it took a citizen referendum for certain PACC members to offer some vestige of clarity...along with their questionable excuses for not keeping Palo Alto residents in the loop.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 11, 2020 at 11:00 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

It is noted above that the city has already settled with the "Plaintiffs". If that be true then what was the settlement amount?

Squidsie - racial hyperbole is what started this whole situation. You can go to Foothill Park on Google Search and see videos - including the ABC news video which was the cannon across the bough. A total insult to the city and it's residents.

What is worse is that I go to FHP twice a year for a large sports club event which has all kinds of people. The club pays for the reservation and has the names at the gate. If the person who started this reserved for a group of her friends then she could be there with her friends as many times as she wanted. There is a whole system to make that happen. It was so needles for this to happen. And is costing the city for a bunch of ambulance chaser lawyers.

Now they are over in Mountain View attacking that city.


Posted by Jennifer Landesmann
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 11, 2020 at 11:34 am

Jennifer Landesmann is a registered user.

@squidsie,

"However, I am unable to understand how the park is different from facilities that other cities maintain solely for their residents, like San Francisco's Camp Mather. "

Aside from the conclusion by PACC that the City would lose the lawsuit, the substance surrounding the legal questions are a gray area, and why the referendum is likely the only way that there will be answers to all citizen questions.

Aside from the loss of argument, the other loss is legal fees. Per the City - the lawsuit just "expedited" the opening to non=residents. The urgency to acquiesce to the lawsuit thus seems unnecessary except to satisfy the racial accusations of the case.

Per the City Web Link
"The final action to open Foothills Park to the general public may have been expedited by the legal challenge, but the topic has been under consideration for several years with many opportunities for the community to weigh in and share their input."

So it's a loss without a real disagreement about opening to non-residents and the non-fight was not worth it for the amount of legal fees to be reimbursed which nobody has provided an estimate for. If it's 30, 300k or 3 million.

Not included are the costs to handle the park with more usage, which somehow was not calculated in the rush either. These costs are real, a story about the topic on yesterday's NYT

The Newest Challenge for Europe’s Parks: A Surge of New Nature Lovers
Web Link


Posted by JB
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 11, 2020 at 11:56 am

JB is a registered user.

I just read the latest Coronavirus Report from the City of Palo Alto, which includes other city information besides coronavirus. There is a well-produced video about the opening of Foothills Park. It claims that this was a democratic process. How can this video claim that this was a democratic process when the citizens of Palo Alto were not allowed to address the ACLU/NAACP lawsuit at the city council meeting? The city council made a decision behind closed doors, and the survey conducted by Lydia Kou (it was not only a yes or no survey; it allowed plenty of room to include personal comments) was not allowed to be a part of the process of responding to the lawsuit. Just because you received a survey from Lydia Kou does not make you a special interest. Who paid for this video I saw on the latest Coronavirus Report? Did the citizens of Palo Alto pay? We all don't feel that this was a democratic process. I know that the opening of Foothills Park has been argued on this link and on another link on Palo Alto Online. Some people want the park to open and avoid any other lawsuits. Some people feel that their opinions were not taken into account and have signed the referendum since they feel that they were not part of an open, democratic process. Now this professional video paid by somebody, claiming this has all been a democratic process. Phew! What's coming next??


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 11, 2020 at 12:47 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"There is a well-produced video about the opening of Foothills Park. It claims that this was a democratic process. How can this video claim that this was a democratic process when the citizens of Palo Alto were not allowed to address the ACLU/NAACP lawsuit at the city council meeting?"

^ The same way Russia is considered a democracy...of sorts.

The PACC & it's members are more along the lines of a 'steering committee' duly elected via their party platform...which remains nebulous until it's too late

Or you could apply the old adage from George Orwell's 'Animal Farm' where all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Web Link


Posted by Mike-Crescent Park
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 11, 2020 at 3:20 pm

Mike-Crescent Park is a registered user.

This appears to be blackmail by the ACLU, or at the very least bluffing like a professional poker player.

Comments about the fine legal minds at the ACLU might be true. But they also have a long history of pushing defendants to acquiesce by forcing them to calculate the odds of a loss no matter the underlying issues. And backing up their bluff with the immense budget the ACLU has along with a huge staff of legal specialist. A lot like a major company slapping down a much smaller competitor by sheer weight of resources.

I am fortunate to have enjoyed many years I could go to the park to enjoy watching a sunset from on top while surrounded by pristine and unmolested beauty.

As soon as the first issues about Foothill and budget came up a few years back the gates became unmanned weekdays. I immediately noticed the areas I went before now had trash and even some vandalism. Something I never ever saw there before.

It will be a shame if this beautiful and serene place becomes like most other public parks. Worn from overuse and disrespected.

I hope it never happens.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 11, 2020 at 3:45 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I agree that this is blackmail. The ACLU position is that the policy is Unconstitutional. If you read the definition of a PARK in Webster then that definition is not applicable to FHP. Webster is consistent with the Constitution. That policy is used throughout PA on all of it's other parks. No issue there.
Foothill is not a PARK as defined by Webster. It is an Open space Preserve. A Preserve is not a PARK - it has other criteria describing it. The ACLU does not have a Case if they are crying that the policy is unconstitutional. We should have thrown them out.

The ACLU is pulling the same type of mobster activity in Mountain View relative to RV's. The people voted and now they are trying to stall it. Mountain View - Lenny Siegel - there is a whole raft of toxic chemicals going through the sewers that the Navy and EPA are trying to clear up. RV's dumping human waste down the sewer lines is worsening the situation.

PACC / SCC - don't even consider pulling the same type of stuff here in PA. Toxic Waste does not belong on residential streets or city streets - or ECR.


Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 11, 2020 at 4:28 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

A dictionary definition doesn't often suffice to resolve a question of constitutional law, but maybe it's worth a try--as long as there is no disagreement between dictionaries. Would Websters carry more legal weight than American Heritage, for example, if there is a disagreement over what constitutes a "park?" Or would lawyers still find a basis to argue their respective cases?


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 11, 2020 at 4:30 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Here is a thought - the individual who initiated this activity is currently a retired judge. BORING. This may be a political side show to get in the news so the Judge earns an appointment when the new year starts up. This may be all political staging. There is more to this story than what we see right now.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 11, 2020 at 4:36 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"...the individual who initiated this activity is currently a retired judge. BORING. This may be a political side show to get in the news so the Judge earns an appointment when the new year starts up. This may be all political staging. There is more to this story than what we see right now."

^ A compelling theory.


Posted by PaloAltoCitizen
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 11, 2020 at 7:41 pm

PaloAltoCitizen is a registered user.

As we argue this issue, Foothills is being destroyed every day by over use! The current daily visitor limit of 1000 is TOO HIGH. Keep discussing this issue -- it is important-- but ALSO write your city council -- [email protected] -- and ask them to immediately reduce the maximum daily visitor limit to 416, which is the average daily visitor count for the past 20 years. This needs to be done, regardless of what happens in the future, in order to protect this precious nature preserve. The current limit of 1000 is UNSUSTAINABLE.


Posted by Jennifer Landesmann
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 11, 2020 at 8:36 pm

Jennifer Landesmann is a registered user.

@PaloAltoCItizen,

"...ask them to immediately reduce the maximum daily visitor limit to 416, which is the average daily visitor count for the past 20 years."

Until there is a real and very public study of what the City can manage to keep Foothill wonderful I would agree that instead of an arbitrary number, that 416 makes sense. A trial - without conditionality of residence- would make complete sense because you could sort out what it takes to manage Foothill.

Where did 1000 come from?

This being said, the daily visitor number for the past 20 years was possibly due to the fact that only Palo Alto residents had access. I am of the preference that we GROW access with commensurate protections of the park which takes money$$$$.

To all the influential folks who pressed for greater usage of Foothill, I would urge you to help fund this endeavor. From the faith based organizations to Congresswoman Eshoo, please help find funding to be good stewards of Foothill and to increase usage. There are real costs when usage increases, and this is just reality. Web Link

I have not made up my mind about signing the petition for referendum, because I agree with the ultimate outcome to open to non-residents, and I would like to see more people enjoy the preserve/park and learn everything there is to know about being good stewards.

The main reason I am leaning to sign the petition for referendum is that as bad and ugly as our City bureaucracy operates where an average person cannot put something on an Agenda or get follow up, it is worse that - even for good deeds - there is outright disregard for citizen stakeholders.

The people who brought the suit have not been visible at any of the "regular" paths to get PACC attention, whether it is at annual PACC priority sessions, or organizing appeals to the public. It was just a swift, letter here, letter there, and and boom, front page news, lawsuit, settlement.

I also see that knowing that the regular democratic process doesn't work that the ACLU pushed us all to action. I don't blame them, they can take a bow.

However this goes, it's a wake up call that City Hall needs to CHANGE.


Posted by PaloAltoCitizen
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 11, 2020 at 8:55 pm

PaloAltoCitizen is a registered user.

1000 was the limit that was in place for at least 20 years. Howeer, that maximum was reached only ONCE in those 20 years. Now that maximum is being reached day after day after day !! This is a 240% increase in impact. The preserve is being heavily damaged.


Posted by Jennifer Landesmann
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 11, 2020 at 9:13 pm

Jennifer Landesmann is a registered user.

@ PaloAltoCitizen,

“1000 was the limit that was in place for at least 20 years. Howeer, that maximum was reached only ONCE in those 20 years. Now that maximum is being reached day after day after day !! This is a 240% increase in impact. The preserve is being heavily damaged.”

Thanks, until there is a funding plan for growth 1000 looks more like pulled out of a hat.
I wonder if that is understood but really anyone who wants more should put up the $$$$ to do more.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 11, 2020 at 9:15 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

The bottom line...the elected PACC members answer to the residents of Palo Alto & not the other way around.

Clandestine meetings resulting in blanket resolutions & obsequious acquiecense to the likes of the NAACP & ACLU is your gateway ticket to not being re-elected.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 11, 2020 at 10:17 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

@PaloAltoCitizen wrote:

"1000 was the limit that was in place for at least 20 years. Howeer, that maximum was reached only ONCE in those 20 years. Now that maximum is being reached day after day after day !! This is a 240% increase in impact. The preserve is being heavily damaged."

May I ask where you got the information that "that maximum is being reached day after day after day"? Did the city publish those numbers, or you have been sitting at the entrance gate counting?


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 12, 2020 at 6:48 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

From the other FHP thread,
Eric Filseth is a registered user wrote...

>"I believe the ACLU and NAACP are widely admired in Palo Alto,"

^ Given the current debacle over Foothills Park accessibility, this particular perspective (as a whole) is subject to speculation.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 12, 2020 at 9:39 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Based on Eric's comments about the ACLU and NAACP they have little impact on the tax base of the city. They qualify as "special interests" or "advocacy groups".

The biggest advocacy group in Palo Alto is the Residents. That is who the PACC is reporting to. And the taxpayer Residents are not happy. The Residents are the cities main advocacy group.

I appreciate the groups of people get together to try and influence the goings on in a city but this year has seen an out-of-control situation across the country and very destructive to a SAFE, LAW ABIDING existence.

FHP is no longer going to be safe for the animals, people driving on Page Mill Road, the local residents who have to put up with this all. It ls like we are in a self-destruct mode because a group of people - most who do not even live here, are complaining. This city, county, state do not have to participate in self-destructive activities because advocacy groups say so. Most are not even tax payers in this city, county, or state.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 12, 2020 at 10:00 am

Anonymous is a registered user.

@Lee Forrest wrote:

I do not know if ACLU and NAACP are widely admired in Palo Alto. But this year I donated to ACLU for the first time in my life, precisely after reading comments like yours. In my donation I specifically commended ACLU on their great work on the Foothills Park issue. I thank you for showing me a good cause to donate my money to.


Posted by PaloAltoCitizen
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 12, 2020 at 11:09 am

PaloAltoCitizen is a registered user.

I have been monitoring the 370 parking spaces three to four times every week for months (since June 2020). On a large majority of those days, ALL the parking spaces are filled. The City uses 2.7 persons per vehicle as their statistic: 2.7 times 370 = 999.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 12, 2020 at 11:22 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

If you go to the ACLU web pages on Google search it is very obvious where their political position is. My guess is that groups go to them for help and then ACLU positions them in a specific set of topics that they have already developed for use on other like-type cases.

And of course the advocacy group only provides their specific gripes, leaving out other information that may be pertinent. I am guessing that a lot of their legal positions are boiler plate for their organization. And if what ever they said before works then keep using it. Many times the "facts" they have provided are partial and tinged with opinion.

In the case of FHP the sign outside says it is an Open Space location. That changes up what any one would expect to happen there. Protection and Preservation are the landmark qualities of Open SPACE. Totally different then a PARK on the flat lands of a city.

In the case of Mountain View and their RV tangle I suspect that the "Housing Advocates" are not aware that MV is bordering on a Super Fund site. And a major issue right now is when we have high tides water is pushed inland - it is not going out in the bay. But being a Super Fund Site - Moffett and bordering locations they are working to remove the toxic waste. I am sure that the "Housing Advocates" are totally unaware of that. Stacking RV's around locations that have no protections for disposal of waste is not in their attention span.

That is what you are dealing with and all the reason that everyone needs to be involved to make sure that all aspects of the problem are addressed. You have to be able to move organizations out of pre=prescribed approaches that do not apply.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 12, 2020 at 11:27 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"1000 was the limit that was in place for at least 20 years...Now that maximum is being reached day after day after day !! This is a 240% increase in impact. The preserve is being heavily damaged."

^ With that in mind, will the ACLU be pressing for additional parking accomodations to ensure that no one's civil rights (or constitutional rights) are being violated?


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 12, 2020 at 11:28 am

Anonymous is a registered user.

@ PaloAltoCitizen: Do you have a log book of your counts over time? Have you taken pictures of your monitoring? Are there any corroborating records or witnesses other than your words?

Thank you.


Posted by Jennifer Landesmann
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 12, 2020 at 12:10 pm

Jennifer Landesmann is a registered user.

@Anonymous,

"I do not know if ACLU and NAACP are widely admired in Palo Alto. But this year I donated to ACLU for the first time in my life, precisely after reading comments like yours. In my donation I specifically commended ACLU on their great work on the Foothills Park issue. I thank you for showing me a good cause to donate my money to."

Anonymous I wonder if I have seen you at the dozens of public comment opportunities over the years, or maybe you are an official who has run for office before and I wonder if you ever thought to speak up about Foothill. I have been around chambers for other issues and I have seen nothing spoken about Foothill until the recent campaign. A campaign that has been launched by many whom I respect including the ACLU whom I commend for doing their job.

You have convinced me that I need to sign the petition for a referendum because I am not fighting the ACLU or against the right for all to use Foothill. I must sign the petition for the referendum so that the same tools of outside influence are not used for bad deeds. This time it was a good deed.

I have 1000% confidence and trust that Palo Alto residents given a chance will vote to open the park to all. So I do not risk anything in terms of the final outcome. In terms of speed and expeditiousness to be inclusionary - clearly there's some work to do to increase usage in a way that is good for all as well.

Given the opportunity, I will help campaign to open the park to all. I suggest that if the referendum happens for there to be a PACC ordinance to allow non-residents until the vote actually happens.

PACC and the bureaucracy have not represented me in the decades this issue has languished.

Palo Altans never had a chance to vote on a ban or a lifting of a ban, that was all PACC and staff management.

Outside influences can be well meaning and great, but the tools can just as effective for bad stuff and am sure the ACLU understands that. I would be happy to share examples of how legalistic arguments by more powerful entities push innocent people around.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 12, 2020 at 1:48 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

@Jennifer Landesmann: Perhaps you should do some research before writing "I have been around chambers for other issues and I have seen nothing spoken about Foothill until the recent campaign". For example, you may read this article:

Web Link

which has the following tidbits:

"The suit further argues that in 1964, the City rejected an offer from Santa Clara County, which was willing to contribute $500,000 toward the $1.2-million purchase.

“The City turned down the offer — which would have defrayed a significant portion of those costs — because accepting the County’s offer would mean that the Park would need to be open to all,” the suit reads.

The City opened the park in 1965 and applied its standing non-resident ordinance four years later.

A recent City Council staff report shows that there has been interest in opening the park to non-residents since the implementation of the ordinance; however, in 1973, the Council unanimously voted to keep the residents-only ordinance, citing the fact that the City originally purchased the park out of its General Fund and therefore did not use any federal monies. The issue was brought up again in 1991 and 2005, but the City voted to keep the ordinance both times."

and:

"In 2005, the City Council voted to allow non-residents into the park via the Bay-to-Ridge trail, a series of roads and trails that runs through Palo Alto, in exchange for $2 million in funding from the California Coastal Conservancy and Santa Clara County to purchase additional acreage to expand the park."

The article has a lot of other good information as well. Indeed, the high-schoolers writing for Talon seem to have done more research and are more knowledgeable than many of the commentators here.

You may also notice that one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Judge Ladoris Hazzard Cordell, served on the Palo Alto City Council for 4 years and had tried to push for the opening of Foothills Park and got nowhere. Presumably she understands the politics of Palo Alto well and knows more about the constitutionality of Palo Alto's exclusionary ordinance than the several commentators who have been freely dispensing their legal opinions here.

If you want to sign the petition, I wish good luck on your lawsuit. (Yes, the lawsuit, should it be renewed, belongs exclusively to those who sign the petition.)


Posted by Jennifer Landesmann
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 12, 2020 at 2:24 pm

Jennifer Landesmann is a registered user.

@Anonymous,

All your references are to "the City" in 1964, 1965, 2005 - prior to my observing meetings and PACC news. I have been more closely observing PACC elections and meetings during the last six years and in the dozens of meetings and annual PACC priority setting meetings, I cannot recall anyone going up to the podium or from the podium talk about Foothill. I admit that I do not closely follow commissions and so I missed commission specific events. I do follow Policy&Services and again I do not recall seeing it as an item there either.

Palo Alto residents however never voted for a ban of non-residents. And a vote to repeal the ban would probably be overwhelming to open Foothill to all.

I share the frustration that issues from years past, get buried. Or languish as a Council member called the Foothill issue, a "Halley's Comet" of issues. That needs to change so that people who can't follow up on advocacy for something can still have their issue taken up in the future. If anything City bureaucracy probably relies on citizen activism petering off so that they have less to think about.

As far as the need for funding to increase usage, that is a responsible and important request. I encourage all who have been leading on the campaign to open Foothill to also find funding for increased usage. Right now the City probably doesn't have as much responsibilities because they know the usage is limited to the amount of residents who go there. If you increase the population who will have access then usage goes up and the costs are much greater.


Posted by JB
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 12, 2020 at 2:24 pm

JB is a registered user.

Hello. I just contacted Irina Beylin last night to see if she knew how many signatures have been obtained so far in the petition drive. She said that she knew of about 1000 so far, but she will be in contact with 20 petition circulators this weekend to get a better count. She said that, even if the 2561 petition signatures aren’t obtained, she feels good that people signing the petition had their voices heard. I think we all want our voices to be heard.

She also said something I didn’t know. If you circulate the petition to your friends or family, you can’t sign the petition yourself and have it count. You have to sign a new petition yourself and have somebody else witness your signature. If anybody else doesn’t know this, here is a link to the petition:

file:///C:/Users/steve/AppData/Local/Temp/ReferendumFoothillsFinal%20(4).pdf


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 12, 2020 at 3:37 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

RE Anonymous - Judge Cordell's knowledge of Constitutional Law in this situation is not a given. In the ABC clip that can be viewed on the Foothill Google Search her interest is focused on racial aspects of the PA population. The timing of this brawl is directly related to the current political happenings in the city, county, state, and federal gov. It is an opportunistic and racially motivated law suit - enter the NAACP. During this tough times the financial requirements of a law suit are especially dire. The impact is to all of the Open space and Parks managed by the city.

If you donate to any of the state and federal park systems you would recognize that all are struggling and unable to manage their properties in these tough times. We all recognize that there are a lot of opinions concerning the policies, but she was very specific in her ABC news clip. In part it is because she felt ignored in her previous attempts regarding the Open Space. I also suspect that she did not recognize the difference between Open Space and Parks. This is very personal to her - that is her overriding take on the issue. Erik did not recognize many aspects of the situation.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 12, 2020 at 4:53 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

It is clear from the history of this issue that without the threat of a serious lawsuit, nothing will happen to change the status quo, despite the loud protests from many of the city's residents about how progressive they are. Well, talks are cheap. Let's see how their actions match their rhetoric.




Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 12, 2020 at 4:59 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

According to outdoor writer Tom Stienstra of the San Francisco Chronicle, Foothills Park is NOT the only municipal park in CA with a residents only policy.

Web Link


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 12, 2020 at 5:19 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Anonymous - it is clear that you are lining up with the cabal that started this and the timing was a quirk dependent on the current mayor and his departure. The cabal did not count on the Covid issues disrupting the whole city, state, and world. And now you are threatening who ever because the chips are not being played the way the cabal thought.

The problem here is that talk is not cheap - as the story unfolds and many opinions get expressed what ever the cabal concocted at the beginning is not playing out the way the cabal thought. Few people are now impressed with the ACLU and they are just digging themselves deeper into an opportunistic law suit at a time when cities are struggling. Not a good look for them and their "progressive" policies and agenda.

We are all donating to organizations and groups that need money and food. I guess the ACLU is scratching around for the same.


Posted by dbaron
a resident of University South
on Dec 12, 2020 at 6:53 pm

dbaron is a registered user.

Reducing the daily visitor limit to 416, which is the *average* number of visitors per day over the past 17 years (staff report, August 3 council meeting), would lead to a substantial reduction in the number of visitors to the park. That average of 416 includes weekdays and it includes all types of weather. This means that a weekend day with nice weather gets a lot more than 416 visitors; many (probably most) days also have fewer than 416 visitors.

Lots of people in the area have time to visit the park on weekends but not on weekdays. That's not a constraint for many retired people, though -- and the campaign to make 416 the daily visitor limit seems like yet another policy to govern Palo Alto in the interests of retired people, and against the interests of younger people and families with children, many of whom (like me) would like to enjoy the park when they can.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 12, 2020 at 7:22 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"Reducing the daily visitor limit to 416...would lead to a substantial reduction in the number of visitors to the park...Lots of people in the area have time to visit the park on weekends but not on weekdays. "

^No different than tourist venues & ski resorts.

Considering the potentially adverse environmental impact of larger weekend crowds, perhaps this factor is the best way to preserve a 'preserve'...unless the ACLU & NAACP decide to initiate yet another lawsuit to ensure that hordes of non-resident visitors are also entitled to inundate Foothills Park on weekends as well.


Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 12, 2020 at 7:31 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@ Jennifer Landesmann
"I have 1000% confidence and trust that Palo Alto residents given a chance will vote to open the park to all."

I appreciate your sincerity and am confident that there wouldn't be a more stalwart supporter of opening the park if a city-wide vote were held. But I don't share your confidence in the outcome. The two ongoing threads on this topic suggest that a campaign to open the park to non-residents would be very divisive, with an uncertain outcome. I appreciate Irina Beylin's comment that the important thing is not the outcome of the signature gathering effort but that it be made. I'll buy that, but I really hope people will take heed of the warnings from Eric Filseth, Tom Dubois and others and drop the petition effort. Qualifying a referendum could be bring really bad, if unintended, consequences.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 13, 2020 at 6:50 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"The timing of this brawl is directly related to the current political happenings in the city, county, state, and federal gov. It is an opportunistic and racially motivated law suit - enter the NAACP."

> "LaDoris Cordell, a former judge who previously served on the Palo Alto City Council, said the restrictions at Foothills Park are an expression of racism past and present."

"They see the browning of America, and they’re concerned. They don’t want to see things change,” Cordell, who is Black, said. “It’s so racist to me, and so elitist. So privileged and so full of white supremacist thinking.”

source: Web Link

^ It is unfortunate (and to some extent unbelievable) that Palo Alto residents primarily concerned with PACC transparency issues & Foothills Park ecological impacts are now being branded with a 'white supremacist tag' courtesy of the 'current political happenings' taking place both regionally & nationally.

No statues to tear down...just the front entrance gate.



Posted by Jennifer Landesmann
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 13, 2020 at 9:54 am

Jennifer Landesmann is a registered user.

@Lee Forrest

"It is unfortunate (and to some extent unbelievable) that Palo Alto residents primarily concerned with PACC transparency issues & Foothills Park ecological impacts are now being branded with a 'white supremacist tag' courtesy of the 'current political happenings' taking place both regionally & nationally."

I would like to thank Council members Kou and Tanaka for their dissents in responding to this lawsuit. So far, two council members have given their reason for voting as solely because they believe the defense was not worth it because they estimate a loss.

It appears some of the other council members were activists as one likened the Foothill rules as nazi and thus may have voted because like Jerry Underdal think that somehow a resident vote would be "uncertain" and so had to save people from us residents.

However this story continues, I maintain my trust in residents and wish the City would give this community more credit, more transparency, instead of making decisions behind closed doors, unjustly shamed and pushed around by outside influences.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 13, 2020 at 3:07 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"...two council members have given their reason for voting as solely because they believe the defense was not worth it because they estimate a loss."

^ Fiscally prudent...or legal beagles?


>"It appears some of the other council members were activists as one likened the Foothill rules as nazi and thus may have voted because like Jerry Underdal think that somehow a resident vote would be "uncertain" and so had to save people from us residents."

^ So the PACC mobilized in an effort to circumvent the potential 'uncertainties' of totalitarianism & ethnocentrism in our fair city?


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 13, 2020 at 3:15 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

@Lee Forrest wrote: "According to outdoor writer Tom Stienstra of the San Francisco Chronicle, Foothills Park is NOT the only municipal park in CA with a residents only policy."

Well, let me reproduce the whole quote from the article below:

Web Link

"A handful of communities in the Bay Area and beyond have a residents-only policy for facilities: a dog park in Foster City; a small city park in Mountain Home (San Joaquin County), and recreation sites in Rossmoor, a gated community near Walnut Creek. None have the scope and opportunities of Foothills Park."

Palo Alto is not a gated community, nor is Foothills Park a dog park. I could not find a city named "Mountain Home" in California, but perhaps the SFC article was referring to this place:

Web Link

It is a planned community.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 13, 2020 at 3:31 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

Speaking of pooches...

Dogs are welcome in Palo Alto Open Space preserves as long as these rules are followed:

All dogs must be on a leash and under physical control at all times by an able-bodied person. See Municipal Code Chapter 6.16.100.

Foothills Park exceptions:
Dogs are permitted in Foothills Park on weekdays only. Dogs may not enter Foothills Park on weekends or city holidays. Dogs may not be left in the car or tied up outside the park. See Municipal Code Chapter 22.04.150(l).

Web Link

A thought...to decrease environmental impacts at FHP, maybe apply the 'dog days' scheduling to non-resident visitors with weekends & holidays reserved for PA residents.

Providing the ASPCA doesn't threaten with a lawsuit as well.


Posted by Palo Alto resident for 45 years
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 13, 2020 at 11:49 pm

Palo Alto resident for 45 years is a registered user.

There are a number of us who paid taxes for decades to protect the Foothills Nature Preserve. Compared to other lands at similar altitudes (and thus with similar ecosystems) on the east side of the Santa Cruz Mountains, it is relatively pristine. This is mainly a result of relatively low usage. There are a large number of citizens, like myself, who are interested in sharing the park with non residents, but not in a way that destroys the pristine nature of the preserve. Pristine means thousands of plant and animal species living as they have for centuries. This means trees, shrubs, vines, ferns, wildflowers, lichens, thousands of insect species, mammals from shrews to mountain lions, amphibians, hundreds of bird species. The vast majority of Foothills Nature Preserve has no resemblance to a city park. We don't feel that simply declaring the park open to non residents and doubling the number of visitors is acceptable. In fact, we feel that the process should be carefully thought out. We need to know what the current costs of maintaining the park are and what the cost is of backlogged maintenance. We need a careful estimate of what increased costs will be. And importantly, we need a way for folks to gain entrance in a fair way if - and this is likely - demand exceeds capacity - a way other than having folks drive up the winding road, find they can't get in because the park has met capacity, then turn around at the hairpin curve or park on the road. And how about a safe plan for fire evacuation? And finally - we need a way to monitor the entire park for damage and overuse - not just the first 250 feet of trails that are many miles long - to catch any problems well before they become irreversible.

An important point here is that we are trying to explain our concerns and convey our ideas, which are important enough to merit serious consideration. And we are being called racist, elitist, privileged, white supremacists, nimbys, and Nazis some members of the Community. In my Palo Alto neighborhood, we have folks of numerous heritages, appearances, backgrounds, races, and religions, and we care about and enjoy each other. We do not appreciate being called names and bullied by fellow citizens, folks who ran for the PA City Council, folks we elected, former employees of the Parks Department, or former Council members. Please - if you have points you'd like to make, set forth your ideas in a respectful fashion.

In addition to valid and important concerns about park management, many of us have valid concerns about transparency, the way the decision was made, the actions of the ACLU and the NAACP, and so on. Again, perhaps you do not concur with our concerns. In that case, please speak or write your opinions and give your reasoning rather than resorting to offensive name calling.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Downtown North

on Dec 14, 2020 at 12:20 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 14, 2020 at 7:43 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

Sans a comprehensive environmental impact report addressing ALL increased park usage factors (i.e. parking accomodations, area maintance, park security, preservation of flora/fauna etc.) + addressing any/all potential traffic hazards along Page Mill Road...a premature open access policy will create further problems down the road (no pun intended).

Park rangers will also have added responsibilities to ensure a quality FHP experience for ALL visitors in addition to monitoring random litter & potential bad behavior from outside guests who may be unfamiliar with nature preserve customs/courtesies & basic protocols as Foothills Park is somewhat different than visiting a typical municipal park in an urban/suburban setting.

The original inhabitants of this area, the Ohlones had minimal impact on the local natural environment. Can we aspire to do the same OR...
Web Link


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 14, 2020 at 11:52 am

Anonymous is a registered user.

It is curious that whenever the issue of opening Foothills Park to the general public comes up, many proponents of the exclusionary policy retreat into "environmentalism", as if the residents of other localities are not capable of orderly behavior that respects the environment. This is doubly curious when the city's currently settlement with ACLU still gives the city the power to regulate the use of the park, including limiting the number of visitors. Yet some proponents of the exclusionary policy still want to roll the dice and drag the city into a lawsuit that has the potential of making the city lose its power over regulating the park (not to mention the legal fees).

It is worthwhile to compare how Stanford University manages the dish area:

Web Link

and how Palo Alto manages Foothills Park. As a private entity, Stanford is under no legal obligation to open the dish area to the public. But it does, and (from I can tell, as I do the dish walk multiple times per week) it spends considerable resources on making it a convenient and pleasant place to visit for the general public. Compared with this, how can anyone wonder why Palo Alto’s exclusionary policy is viewed as elitist or worse by the outside world?


Posted by JB
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 14, 2020 at 12:01 pm

JB is a registered user.

Hi again. I’m sorry I didn’t check earlier to see that my link to the petition didn’t work. If you signed a petition and had other friends sign it, you can’t be the witness to your own signature. You need to sign a new petition and have somebody else witness your signature. This link from an earlier post of mine should work. I apologize for the mistake. Signatures need to be received by December 15. The addresses are listed in the link below.

Web Link


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 14, 2020 at 12:35 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Anonymous - you are dodging the legal issue. The ACLU is using a legal tactic forcing us to call this a PARK - which by definition requires us to open to everyone. That is a misapplication of the law - it is not a PARK - it is a Open Space Preserve which has a different legal description.

We need to retain the legal description of the land parcel in the event of any future legal issues. If it is defined correctly then we do retain authority to control how we manage the property. Open space Preserves are not by law to be required to be open to everyone.

Once you establish the correct legal application - not open to everyone - then you go to the next step - the OPINION discussion. The Opinion discussion will be wide ranging and should be put up to a vote by the residents.

SU can have many reasons as to why they make the choices they do. Since this property is associated with the dish there can be some residual toxic waste in the soil that disallows building on that site. But that is not the topic of this legal issue. Looking for comparative examples will produce incomplete data.


Posted by Jennifer Landesmann
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 14, 2020 at 12:57 pm

Jennifer Landesmann is a registered user.

@Anonymous,

"Compared with this, how can anyone wonder why Palo Alto’s exclusionary policy is viewed as elitist or worse by the outside world?"

Stanford and the City of Palo Alto are completely different governance structures.

Per the process that the rest of us mortals have to operate, to get anything done by the city we have to labor hard. To put an item on an Agenda, to get the City to act, and to include all community stakeholders in decisions. So we go through various channels. And we often do this for YEARS.

Please don't forget that a trial was in motion to balance both the interest to change the residency rules at Foothill and to do so in an environmentally appropriate manner. This lawsuit "expedited" something the City had been working on.

I am active on another environmental issue and what I have learned is that this is what environmental issues are all about -pesky and burdensome questions and considerations which nobody likes to bother with but it is the very "stop and think about what you are doing first" that matters.

The residency rules are/were to limit usage not to be discriminatory. If you open up access, it is a new responsibility. Which BTW I am in favor of and support, but how this all happened is unnecessarily messy.


Posted by Jennifer Landesmann
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 14, 2020 at 1:13 pm

Jennifer Landesmann is a registered user.

adding this,


The Newest Challenge for Europe’s Parks: A Surge of New Nature Lovers
Web Link

"Overcrowding, irresponsible behavior and parking issues were among the top challenges identified in the study, led by researchers at the University of Cambridge, that analyzed the experiences of 14 European protected areas during the coronavirus pandemic. All of the areas saw an increase in visitors from the previous year, especially during the summer.

The study identified some of the most effective responses to the year’s challenges, including public information campaigns, online education programs and careful planning of visitors’ movements.

But finding the time and money to implement those responses is another matter, especially given that, unlike in the United States, very few national parks in Europe charge visitors an entrance fee."


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 14, 2020 at 2:09 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

@Jennifer Landesmann:

I find your quoting of the NYT article puzzling. Are you implying that residents from other localities are less law-abiding than Palo Alto residents and therefore less deserving the use of the park? If that is not what you intended to say (and I hope it is not), then why can't the city regulate their behavior as it regulates the behavior of Palo Alto residents? After all, as council member Filseth has pointed out multiple times, the city still retains the power to limit the number of visitors under the current settlement with ACLU.

@Resident 1-Adobe Meadows:

No, it is not ACLU who calls Foothills Park a "park". The city's website and brochures have always called it "Foothills Park". See the word "park"?

In any case, is there an "open space reserve" around here which is not open to everyone when it is open at all?


Posted by Jennifer Landesmann
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 14, 2020 at 2:27 pm

Jennifer Landesmann is a registered user.

@Anonymous,

"Are you implying that residents from other localities are less law-abiding than Palo Alto residents and therefore less deserving the use of the park?"

No, and thank you for asking. My point was that any changes in usage means added challenges. The usage at Foothill now is limited to access by the limited population of Palo Alto which is 64,000 with ebb and flows for seasonal type stuff. When access expands, demand should go up and usage could go up to boundaries which are so far unknown as to what is ok. That is what an environmental impact analysis would establish (which costs money and time).

Usage with a population of 64,000 is all the City has known to be able to handle. Any changes means a new look. The NYT article was to show that when you change usage, there are new challenges and they cost resources.

I hope the referendum goes through because all of these questions are important to calmly sort out. If the point was to only change who can go to Foothill, and then limit the usage to 10 people that doesn't make sense to me. So yes I was assuming a change in usage not by whom.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 14, 2020 at 2:30 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"Overcrowding, irresponsible behavior and parking issues were among the top challenges identified in the study,"

>"Are you implying that residents from other localities are less law-abiding than Palo Alto residents and therefore less deserving the use of the park?"

^ Let's hope not but with open access, what's to prevent Foothills Park from becoming haven to a number of homeless encampments?

1,400 acres is a lot of ground for park rangers to cover & Foothills Park does present a nice bucolic setting for those tired of living on the streets...with lots of privacy.

This in turn would require armed park rangers or a PAPD unit assigned to park patrol duties.

A worst case scenario but a consideration as San Jose has experienced this issue in some of their more remote parks.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 14, 2020 at 7:26 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

@Lee Forrest wrote:

"1,400 acres is a lot of ground for park rangers to cover & Foothills Park does present a nice bucolic setting for those tired of living on the streets...with lots of privacy."

Ah, the hordes of homeless may overrun Foothills Park, so Mr/Ms Forrest worries. May I inquire how the homeless, who don't have cars, can manage to get to Foothills Park in the first place?


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 14, 2020 at 7:33 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

@Jennifer Landesmann:

If you have cared to do some research by reading (for example):

Web Link

you have have read:

"The suit also counters environmental concerns by asserting that nonresidents would take equal care in protecting the park as Palo Alto residents and that the park is “significantly underutilized”; Anderson reported that visitation has remained steady at around 152,000 visitors per year for the last 20 years. Historically, visitation peaked at 372,000 visitors in the early 1970s and declined through the ’80s and ’90s. "

If the city could handle nearly 2.5 times of the number of visitors to Foothills Park back in the 1970s, I see no reason why it cannot do so now. And, remember, as long as the settlement stands, the city has the power to limit the number of visitors. It would be truly ironic if the city loses that power after losing the lawsuit.



Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 14, 2020 at 7:59 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"Ah, the hordes of homeless may overrun Foothills Park, so Mr/Ms Forrest worries. May I inquire how the homeless, who don't have cars, can manage to get to Foothills Park in the first place?"

^ 'Where there's a will, there's a way'...but we'll leave that issue up to the ACLU & its ardent supporters to defend squatter's rights.


Posted by Jennifer Landesmann
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 14, 2020 at 8:23 pm

Jennifer Landesmann is a registered user.

@Anonnymous,

"The suit also counters environmental concerns by asserting that nonresidents would take equal care in protecting the park as Palo Alto residents and that the park is “significantly underutilized”...."And, remember, as long as the settlement stands, the city has the power to limit the number of visitors."

The lawsuit is not an environmental impact analysis. I would want to see a comprehensive impact review to understand what is ok for Foothill and not to get the estimates from a lawsuit argument.

I am in favor of the referendum because all of these discussions and information about Foothill should not be set by an outside party and there are many unanswered questions.


Posted by Balance
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 14, 2020 at 11:45 pm

Balance is a registered user.

As I mentioned on another thread, having the word "Park" in the name doesn't necessarily mean that the entity is legally a "Park". Case in point: the city of Menlo Park.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 15, 2020 at 6:34 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

Getting back to squatter's rights for a moment...unrestricted access to Foothills Park could in theory provide an added opportunity for civil trespassing & homeless 'homesteading' on park land.

Web Link

As noted in the above URL, beautification efforts (i.e. picking up litter or planting some vegetation) is an extension of squatter's rights & these means could easily be accomplished by those wishing to establish residence in the park by picking up a random soda can or two (for recyling later) and/or planting some 'flowers' in a secluded area.

The ACLU, NAACP & BLM could also get involved by threatening additional litigation citing Sherman's Special Order No. 15 which was later rescinded by President Johnson...a government betrayal that remains a contentious issue in regards to deprivation of property ownership & subsequent economic hardships.


Posted by EmmaP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 15, 2020 at 4:27 pm

EmmaP is a registered user.

First those that are homeless are not likely to try to live in Foothill Park given its distance from services such as food. Sweeping the park for cars not associated with registered campers is probably already done which would mean they have to walk to Foothills Park (I estimate at 4 miles to the nearest bus stop). Survivalists who plan to live off the land would almost certainly go to more remote areas than Foothill Park
Second those that are homeless can establish residency in Palo Alto (at least for the purpose of voting or education of children) and those that do already had the right to visit Foothills Park.
Third the web link on squatting applies to private not public property. Foothills Park is public property.



Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 15, 2020 at 5:10 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

EmmaP...squatting is squatting whether on private or public property.

As far as access to services, the resourceful always manage to find away.

To date...residing on CA public land is gaining court approval & in places like Hawaii, squatting on public beaches & inland areas has been a way of life for many.

Web Link

Web Link

1,400 acres is the equivalent of over 2+ parcels (640 acres) of land, plenty of potential area for some folks to seek a rustic retreat...distanced from the everyday hustle & bustle of suburban/downtown PA life.

And chances are, the transient homeless with addiction and/or mental health issues are probably not overly concerned with voting or pursuing further education.


Posted by Chris Dewees
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Dec 16, 2020 at 9:47 am

Chris Dewees is a registered user.

Mr. Filseth in his comments above once again at best elides whatever legal advice the City Council considered in preemptively settling a highly questionable lawsuit concerning a matter of important public interest. He correctly notes that outside legal expertise likely would be required to defend the City in this matter, but that fact in no way excuses the Council's clear failure to reasonably consider the appropriateness of defending against the suit. A reasonable consideration would have taken into account the City's legal position (strong) and the cost to defend (impossible to determine without an assessment of the merits of the case and the possibility of early dismissal). Nothing in Mr. Filseth's comment suggests that this obvious and basic obligation was performed. If it was, we would have heard about it.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 16, 2020 at 10:39 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

> "Mr. Filseth...correctly notes that outside legal expertise likely would be required to defend the City in this matter, but that fact in no way excuses the Council's clear failure to reasonably consider the appropriateness of defending against the suit....Nothing in Mr. Filseth's comment suggests that this obvious and basic obligation was performed. If it was, we would have heard about it."

^ Concurring...the overall lack of PACC transparency in this matter + the obvious acquiescence to ACLU/NAACP demands/legal threats + the 'semantically challenged' explanations (aka excuses) justifying the Filseth/Dubois positions makes one wonder.


Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 16, 2020 at 12:07 pm

Sunshine is a registered user.

At one time I saw the ACLU as a group of people who wanted to further the rights of all. This lawsuit has changed that view. I now see it as a group of bullies similar to our current President who cannot accept that anyone might view things differently. As a result I have decided to stop all my contributions to the ACLU; they do not deserve any more support from me.
Foothills Preserve is just that, a nature preserve. As such it must be maintained carefully. This past fire season the fires came within a few miles of its boundaries. Must we wait until someone sets a fire or lightening ignites a fire that burns through the whole area to see this treasure properly preserved?
Until a full time Ranger is is place, trails are repaired, someone is hired to manage the entry and behavior within the area, there must be no increase in use and no outside visitors. There are many other parks in the area that non-residents (those who refused to contribute to build and maintain the area, but want to use it now) may use. I see Foothill Preserve as a piece of property owned (we paid for it) and cared for (we pay for the maintenance) by the City of Palo Alto and its residents, therefore like your personal residence it is private property.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 16, 2020 at 12:54 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Anonymous - the sign outside the location says it is an Open Space Preserve. If you go to the Google search you can see it on the videos. It is sitting in the middle of other Open Space Preserves. We have rangers there. There is no PARK within the PA residential areas that have rangers. The only other ranger station is in the bay lands.

I think that based on this discussion you have already conceded the legal distinction between a Park and An Open Space Preserve. A Park allows anyone to go there. A Open Space Preserve does not.


Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 16, 2020 at 1:18 pm

TimR is a registered user.

Lee Forest,

"Getting back to squatter's rights for a moment...unrestricted access to Foothills Park could in theory provide an added opportunity for civil trespassing & homeless 'homesteading' on park land."

Unrestricted access to the ajoining and nearby Open Spaces hasn't led to homeless "homesteading," and I don't see how Foothills would all of a sudden attract them were it to be open to all. Now, it's true some parks are more secluded than others, but if I were to pick one to live in full time, I'd go with Los Trancos. It's a very un-loved park that sees a lot fewer visitors than others. And that seclusion includes a year-round water source, Lost Creek. But no one's camped out there that I've ever seen. I just don't see it happening. Open Foothills will bring other big problems. But it's too far away from the free food downtown to attack the homeless away from the camps along San Francisquito Creek.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 16, 2020 at 1:47 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"Unrestricted access to the ajoining and nearby Open Spaces hasn't led to homeless "homesteading," and I don't see how Foothills would all of a sudden attract them were it to be open to all."

>"Open Foothills will bring other big problems. But it's too far away from the free food downtown to attack the homeless away from the camps along San Francisquito Creek.'

^ Concurring to certain extent TimR as I originally presented the possibility as a 'A worst case scenario but a consideration...'

That said...perhaps it will be best if the transient homeless stayed clear of Foothills Park so as not to disrupt or annoy park visitors whether resident and/or non-resident.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 16, 2020 at 4:57 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Hopefully we are no longer in the OPINION department here. We are in the FACT department.

If homeless people end up in FHP then you will be dealing with major fire danger. No - that is NOT allowed. That is what our job is here - land conservation. Every city is closing their parks when in a high fire danger. We all have friends and relatives who live in the bay area and know what other cities are doing. We have a basis of comparison. Also we do not have a fire station in that vicinity.

Here is another FACT - the ACLU got played in the beginning with what they thought was a slam dunk case. Not so slam dunk.

PA has over 30 parks that are open to everyone and anyone. No restrictions on park use based on race.

PA is not racist in the TODAY world of high technology. Anyone today can buy a home who can afford a home. People I have worked with live in this city. They are not going around complaining. They were star athletes while in high school here in PA and enjoy a certain recognition for their athletic ability.

PA is a responsible conservator of city owned property.

Note the complaining cities who have their own parks which are limited by reservation - some by city residents. We are not unique


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 17, 2020 at 7:08 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"the ACLU got played in the beginning with what they thought was a slam dunk case. Not so slam dunk."

^ Some will concur that it was the PACC that 'got played'...due to a lack of backbone.


Posted by Crescent Park Mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 18, 2020 at 1:49 pm

Crescent Park Mom is a registered user.

Why is it ok for Clarkstown, NY to only allow use of ALL their parks by residents (except 2) but it’s not ok for Palo Alto to only allow use of ONE park by residents? Why is Clarkstown not getting sued? What do Clarkstown lawyers know that our lawyers don’t? You can Google other cities that operate this way, too. It just feels like our lawyers couldn’t be bothered and perhaps don’t have the spine for their jobs.


Posted by jc
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 19, 2020 at 12:27 pm

jc is a registered user.

As mayor this past year, and with responsible for setting council agendas, Adrian Fine (as a proponent of the lawsuit) appears to have had some influence in the timing of the council's vote on the city's plan for rolling out access to Foothill being preempted by the timing of the lawsuit.

Those who support how Adrian Fine set council agendas this past year will agree with council member Alison Cormack who (along with Liz Kniss, Greg Tanaka, and Adrian Fine) voted for Fine to be mayor. If not, and should Alison Cormack should run for a second term on council, voters will have the choice of not voting for her reelection.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 19, 2020 at 1:34 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

The bottom line...a proficient & astute PACC would have not allowed Foothills Park to become the contentious issue it has deteriorated into.

Perhaps it's time for new leadership reflecting the best interests of existing Palo Alto residents rather than acquiescing to pressures generated by outside parties decrying the city's alleged racism & elitism...enough is enough.



Posted by Rainer
a resident of Mayfield
on Dec 20, 2020 at 7:22 pm

Rainer is a registered user.

One reader wrote:

To circumvent the democratic process by hasty, facile, lily-livered capitulation in the face of a recently filed, debatably dubious legal complaint reflects....

---and this reader adds----

....typically the City-interest averse Molly Stump.

How fast can we fire her? Or at least reduce her, and all Palo Alto City Employee's, salary to that of a United States Senator, the maximum salary anybody in the US Government (except for the President) can draw.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 21, 2020 at 7:14 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

Some PA resident/Foothills Park enthusiasts are now citing a deterioration of the overall park experience given the added influx of outside visitors.

A further sign of the times?


Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 21, 2020 at 8:18 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

I arrived at Foothills Park at 11:30 am yesterday. I expected I might see a long line of cars at the entrance due to media attention to the opening of the park to non-residents. In addition, it was a beautiful Sunday morning (the first since the change). It would be a rough check on the immediate impact of the change.

There were three cars ahead of me at the gate. A park staffer briefly greeted each driver and answered any questions before they passed quickly through. Out of habit I fished out my wallet to show my driver's license but put it away before it was my turn when I realized it was no longer necessary.

I drove through the whole park. There were open spots everywhere, although it was a little crowded close to Boronda Lake and near the bathrooms and picnic area. The trails were not at all crowded.

After a lovely two hours of forest bathing, I headed back to town, thankful to Palo Altans in the past for establishing this environmental treasure and optimistic that the city will manage it successfully far into the future.


Posted by Observer
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Dec 21, 2020 at 6:34 pm

Observer is a registered user.

Received today an email from the Environmental Volunteers organization. They cited an event last week at the preserve scheduled to celebrate the full opening. Here is a literal quote from their communication:

"We were excited to play a part in a special moment at Foothill Nature Preserve last week. The "residents-only" sign was removed, families from everywhere visited, and nothing happened. Nothing but joy, adventure, learning, awe, connection, and elevated heart-rates. We gathered to share excitement about the future with a small collection of the team that made it happen: Ryan McCauley, retired Judge LaDoris Cordell, Mayor Adrian Fine, Bill Friedman, and a little delegation from the next generation. We are proud to share that Environmental Volunteers helped make this happen. "

Note that our "honorable" Mayor Fine was included as part of the team that made it happen, per the EVs. Seems to fit with his public statements that seeing the preserve opened was a significant personal goal of his - wonder how this impacted his objectivity in the private city council sessions that decided to cave in to the unimpressive lawsuit.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 21, 2020 at 7:07 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"We gathered to share excitement about the future with a small collection of the team that made it happen: Ryan McCauley, retired Judge LaDoris Cordell, Mayor Adrian Fine, Bill Friedman, and a little delegation from the next generation. We are proud to share that Environmental Volunteers helped make this happen. "

^ Sounds like a touching 'Patagonia Moment' for those so inclined.


Posted by Finally
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 21, 2020 at 11:38 pm

Finally is a registered user.

I was at Foothills park today, a Monday, at 3 pm. I counted approximately 150 cars. All the parking lots in the front were full, and there were a line of cars parked all the way up to the Vista Hill. There were kids running around the areas with posted erosion signs, and also around places that were they should clearly not have been running (tall dry grasses). I only saw 4 places where people could throw away trash.

It was so crowded, I had to park past the Interpretive Center and did not feel comfortable with social distancing.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 22, 2020 at 6:38 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"I counted approximately 150 cars. All the parking lots in the front were full, and there were a line of cars parked all the way up to the Vista Hill...It was so crowded, I had to park past the Interpretive Center..."

^ Sounds like Foothills Park should be renamed 'Little Yosemite'.


Posted by City Manager Ed Shikada behind the scenes.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 22, 2020 at 10:48 am

City Manager Ed Shikada behind the scenes. is a registered user.

Our city manager likes behind-the-scenes negotiation. Council needs to insist on more open process again. I appreciate this clarifying article, but it's late. Was it really necessary to keep this information so secret for so long after the decision was made? I never signed the petition.--It's a bad time for a referendum, but why did council enable a situation that motivated people to pursue one? The city manager set up council poorly for public support on this with a closed-door process.

The city manager has done the similar things with other initiatives and projects. He needs closer supervision and a clear directive attached to performance measures to improve public engagement. Council, the city manager works for you. You have the power to fix this.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 22, 2020 at 10:56 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

Just a bunch but...the Foothills Park referendum would probably have reached the required number of qualified signees had the PACC brought this issue and the back-door negotiations to PA resident attention sooner.

Pretty sneaky eh?


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 22, 2020 at 2:06 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

Meant to initially write 'just a hunch' but for the purpose & sake of running with 'bunch'...the entire PACC process of opening up Foothills Park sans further considerations was 'a bunch of baloney'.


Posted by Pat Markevitch
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 22, 2020 at 2:26 pm

Pat Markevitch is a registered user.

"There were kids running around the areas with posted erosion signs, and also around places that were they should clearly not have been running (tall dry grasses)."

Not an issue now but some folks will learn lessons the hard way when it's rattlesnake season.


Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 22, 2020 at 2:33 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"...some folks will learn lessons the hard way when it's rattlesnake season."

^ Or when lifting up rocks to what is beneath.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Downtown North

on Jan 8, 2021 at 11:32 am

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