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Invest & Innovate

By Steve Levy

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About this blog: I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to the area in 1963 when I started graduate school at Stanford. Nancy and I were married in 1977 and we lived for nearly 30 years in the Duveneck school area. Our children went to Paly. We moved ...  (More)

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Bay Area Residents Invest in Their Communities

Uploaded: Jun 4, 2014
The title of this blog is Invest or Die. It reflects my opinion that communities like businesses need to continually invest. There are new technologies and the continuing need to upgrade existing facilities and plan to maintain the quality of life as the region grows. For the region as a whole these investments are part of our economic competitiveness by building communities that are great places to live and work.

Yesterday as in most recent elections residents across California made that choice to invest in their community and future. In fact the approval rate for bonds and taxes on June 3 at 76% was highest approval rate in the past decade.

And Bay Area residents had the highest approval rate for yesterday's investments in communities of very different levels of income and wealth.

Bay Area residents passed 15 school bonds and defeated 2. The state had five parcel tax measures, all in the Bay Area, and they all passed. Four Bay Area local governments had votes to increase the sales tax, 3 by ½% and 1 by ¼%, and all passed. There were four general obligation bond measures, all in the Bay Area. Two passed ($400 million in SF for earthquake safety and $2 million in Kensington for a community center) and we are waiting for the final result on our local open space bond, which either has just over or under 2/3 support.

Palo Alto residents will have an election in November about partially funding our new infrastructure investment with an increase in the transient occupancy (hotel) tax?the remainder will be funded from the general fund and Stanford money allocated to us for infrastructure.

Will we choose to invest in our future and quality of life?
And while we are at it, can Palo Alto residents move beyond complaining about crowded schools (a legitimate concern) and invest in more capacity instead of waiting for someone else to pay to solve the problem?

Sometimes reading the posts on Town Square could lead to the belief that there is little faith in government and similar small willingness to open our pocketbooks to invest in the future of our community. Fortunately most every election day my faith gets renewed that a majority of residents understand that if we do not invest in projects that make sense (not all do) that it is we who will suffer.
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 5, 2014 at 9:51 am

I voted against AA, and hope the final count shows that it fails. I am voting against any future bond measures on infrastructure. This is all a bunch of pork. The builders are great at swaying the public and swinging the votes, and laughing all the way to the bank. It seems that everybody with a cement truck wants his day in the sun or another couple victory laps.

Why don't you invest in East Palo Alto, or Ventura even?

I'd like to see a park at the former Fry's property -- that would raise the values of the non-conforming Ventura neighborhood homes, a more savvy and delicate type of gentrification.

[portion deleted]

I am certain you would disagree, Dr. Levy.

Your proposed title is a false dichotomy, and self-serving. The most obvious retort would be considered uncouth.

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 5, 2014 at 10:53 am

[portion deleted]
What would be the economic impact of creating a giant park on the Fry's property, hypothetically speaking? Might it add value to the undervalued Ventura homes?

And what is the difference between "investment" and "speculation"? Doesn't investment imply a longer term commitment? We see a building boom and a bunch of flipping -- isn't that bound to fail?

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 5, 2014 at 11:06 am

So even though I am in the super-minority or whatever, about Measure AA, and not to sound elitist, but I worry that many voters don?t do the legwork, even in Palo Alto.

[portions deleted}

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Jun 5, 2014 at 12:08 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.


I get that you are angry and not happy with development in PA

But this blog reports on and talks about investing in infrastructure and schools.

I favor improving infrastructure and school capacity in all areas of our city and if there are areas left behind, we should catch up there.

Do you disagree?

And why don't you start your own post if what you want to do is complain about PA in general?

It is fine to disagree about measure AA (about 13 of residents agree with you) but the blog is not about measure AA except to report that it is not decided yet.

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Terman Middle School,
on Jun 5, 2014 at 12:34 pm

[portion deleted]

I tend to read most of your writings as fairly indistinguishable, loosely translated as "growth is good".

Maybe it a better world where leaders lead (and are representative) the press is free, and people are well-informed, that might be adding to the discussion. But here it sounds, in my opinion, like more war drums.

And I do think that there are connections between the various projects, issues, trends. There are patterns.

I'm not sure "angry" is the word. "Bemused" certainly.

Next time I see you, I will most certainly reintroduce myself and assure you that I am not angry.

Thanks for inspiring in me such an output.

I'm a Gunn alum and walked the campus earlier this week, for first time in a while. I don't know to what extent investing in brick and mortars actually helps students learn. I'd invest in better teachers.

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Gunn High School,
on Jun 5, 2014 at 12:39 pm

And why exactly are your ideas "policy implications" and dissent to such is "complain(t)"?

And thanks for deleting 80 percent of my ideas. If your readers disagree with me, let me hang by my own rope.

I do have my own blog, of course:
Web Link
which explicates my original post to you with another 1,000 words or so.

Feel free to rip me a new one there as well if you like.

Peace. Namaste. Shalom. Aloha (which means hello goodbye and peace, which is like the semantic equivalent of green growth or density housing).

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Jun 10, 2014 at 10:33 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

It looks like the open space bonds will be approved.

This is exactly the kind of investment that residents can make to 1) improve the quality of life for now and 2) prepare for the future growth in the demand for and use of open space.

The same principle applies to other infrastructure including transportation, schools and parks.

Not only is there an ongoing need to improve existing facilities to take advantage of changing technology, tastes and opportunities, infrastructure should expand as the region grows to maintain our quality of life.

It is a hopeful sign that all around the region and state residents are willing to invest their money to improve our infrastructure and prepare for the future.

The alternative of not investing has few benefits if any that I can see, which is why Invest or Die is an apt motto for communities as well as businesses.

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