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An Alternative View

By Diana Diamond

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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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Good – and not-so-good things -- that are happening in Palo Alto

Uploaded: Oct 25, 2018
Traffic problems again (not good) -- Residents are certainly not shy in letting the city know about their traffic problems. When Mayor Liz Kniss looked into the TV cameras at a July council meeting and told residents that the traffic problems in this city weren’t as bad as we all were making them out to be, and that the solution was simply to use alternate streets, some residents responded in anger. Crescent Park homeowners, who live on both sides of University Avenue near Highway 101, took it upon themselves to tell the city how bad the traffic is, particularly commuter traffic on late weekday afternoons. They presented last week a 36-page survey they had conducted themselves found it can take 15 to 30 minutes just to reach their homes from downtown. And the besieged residents surveyed clearly stated the city certainly had not done enough to solve this problem, much less pay much attention to it.

I am glad the Crescent Park neighbors had the wherewithal to conduct their own survey and present results to the city. That was good. But I also have to ask why it becomes the responsibility of the residents and not city officials to conduct surveys on the traffic problems?

Maybe it’s because some council members, like Adrian Fine, say we should learn to bike more and not drive our cars, and recently voted against building a new parking garage downtown to discourage cars from driving downtown. But Adrian, some of us have kids and haul big grocery bags to our home, or can’t take kids on a bike to special after-school classes, dentist appointments etc. or are older or are women who simply don’t want to get on a bike when it’s dark, like these late October days.

Telling residents it’s all their fault that we have traffic problems (“You should drive less”) is not the answer. It’s just words from the council dais that lead to no solution. Not good.

Council endorsements – It’s good we’ve cut the city council size down from nine to seven – there will be fewer members that for some reason feel obligated to opine on every agenda item and force the meetings to run into early 1 a.m. hours. But with three incumbents and only two newcomers running, the choice is a narrow one. I heartily endorse incumbents Eric Filseth and Tom DuBois, both of whom are knowledgeable, actually try to solve some problems, and are on top of many issues (like the escalating costs of city employee pensions). I also endorse Alison Cormack, but with a bit of hesitation. She claims she is for slow-growth (this council is now divided 5-4 into more growth vs. slow growth) but she is supported by several pro-growthers and seems to waffle between both sides. Incumbent Cory Wolbach is clearly a pro-growth person (I am not), while Pat Boone, a newcomer, seems like a nice guy but needs to study community issues in more detail to learn the complexities of, say, solving traffic problems.

Measure F and the Santa Clara County Democratic Party – I received a mailing this week from the SCC Democratic Party urging me to vote “yes” on Measure F on the city ballot. That’s the one that promises lower health care costs (good idea) but then requires the City of Palo Alto to monitor each bill from every patient going to Stanford Hospital. Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital, Palo Alto Medical Foundation plus local doctors and dentists – a Herculean task (and a bad idea). This city has no knowledge or expertise in health care costs or appropriate patient charges. The measure was sponsored by the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) and the United Healthcare Workers West Political Issues Committee, two unions with big pocketbooks who are angry at Stanford for not letting them automatically unionize at their facility in Redwood City. I am really surprised the Democratic Party endorsed this measure, particularly since so many Palo Alto Democrats oppose it. Incidentally, the flyer the County Democratic Party sent out was paid for by the SEIU. Surprised?
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Tito F, a resident of Esther Clark Park,
on Oct 25, 2018 at 3:48 pm

Yes on F.

Status quo isn't working.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 25, 2018 at 3:53 pm

I think you have dismissed Pat Boone too easily. In my opinion the fact that he is a newcomer and learning on the fly the various issues is something in his favor. His journalistic background has taught him to listen and has given him "people" skills. Even in the short few months of campaigning I have seen him become more knowledgeable on various issues.

At least with Filseth and DuBois he has the opportunity to grow as a council member as he appears to be very much aligned with their policies.

I would strongly suggest him over Cormack because I fear she is just going to continue supporting developers' interests rather than residents'.

Posted by The facts, a resident of Community Center,
on Oct 25, 2018 at 4:37 pm

Regarding the crescent park traffic survey, the weekly in their story, naturally forgets to emphasize the fact that while 90% of respondents said traffic was issue, over 600+ people did not respond. So that 90% is actually about 150 people out of 800+. That does not go with the weekly unconditional support of the anti- everything faction of the council. And that brings me to Dubois and filseth, who are a apart of the anti everything coalition. They both need to be voted out. And remember a few years ago Dubois tried bogus scare tactics to prevent grocery outlet from putting a neon sign up and thereby preventing a low cost market to open in Palo Alto�" part of the elites plan for Palo Alto.
And regarding the claim that we should drive less, that has been the mantra for decades in Palo Alto. The city has for years kowtowed to the bike coalition, who insists that everyone can and should bike everywhere, then you honor the queen of that kind of thinking, Ellen fletcher. So what do you expect ct?????

Posted by Norman Beamer, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Oct 25, 2018 at 9:15 pm

To "The Facts": the response rate for the survey was good by any standard, and to think that it doesn't represent the overwhelming opinion of the neighborhood is wrong.

Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Oct 25, 2018 at 9:37 pm

"Regarding the crescent park traffic survey, the weekly in their story, naturally forgets to emphasize the fact that while 90% of respondents said traffic was issue, over 600+ people did not respond. So that 90% is actually about 150 people out of 800+."

So what's your point? Remember, not everyone participates in elections either. Yet elections have consequences.

Posted by Random Resident, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 25, 2018 at 11:54 pm

No on F.

Palo Alto city council is not the right place to regulate health care. This proposition is a tool in the battle between the SEIU and the healthcare providers (employers of SEIU members). It's not going to reduce *our* healthcare expenses either -- it's worded so that it requires the healthcare provider to reimburse the insurance companies, but does not require the insurance companies to reduce our premiums. Most healthcare plans have healthcare providers (and patients) outside Palo Alto so it is likely that the insurance companies will just take this as a windfall profit.

Posted by The facts, a resident of Community Center,
on Oct 26, 2018 at 6:46 am

"To "The Facts": the response rate for the survey was good by any standard, and to think that it doesn't represent the overwhelming opinion of the neighborhood is wrong. "

Well, sorry Norman. You cannot make up your "facts" about the survey. 150 or so out of 800-900 people is not an overwhelming majority. And you certainly cannot say what the 600+ people that did not respond to the survey really feel about the matter. Pure speculation on your part.

"So what's your point? Remember, not everyone participates in elections either. Yet elections have consequences. "

This is not an election, so your comparison is not valid. I think I made my point clear--out of 800-900 people about 150 say that traffic is a major issue. You cannot conclude form that that everyone in CP see traffic as a problem (I realize that is the interpretation that you and others want, but it is not based on facts). Any other questions, Karen???

Posted by Random Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 26, 2018 at 10:34 am

Dear Diana -- thank you at least for not calling what the residents did a "traffic survey." The residents did an opinion survey on the topic of traffic. When the City does a traffic survey they are counting the cars... not the people's opinions of cars. If the residents have a negative opinion of the traffic situation then the City should do an actual traffic count and publish the data. Then we can talk about whether the data shows a problem relative to what is expected on a residential neighborhood street.

Posted by Kai, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Oct 26, 2018 at 12:29 pm

Many on this feed claim the vast majority of people did not respond to the resident-led traffic survey. I have lived in Crescent Park since purchasing my home here in 2003. I have watched these streets collapse under increased traffic and would have loved to provide feedback on any traffic survey whatsoever. I simply did not receive a survey -- not by mail, not by email, not by anything. I suspect a sizable percentage of the 600+ residents who did not respond never got the chance, just like me.

Posted by Allen Akin, a resident of Professorville,
on Oct 26, 2018 at 2:18 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@Random Resident: "If the residents have a negative opinion of the traffic situation then the City should do an actual traffic count and publish the data."

Yes, it should. I've been asking for that to be done for the past six years, and I certainly wasn't the first.

Eventually I gave up and started working on traffic counts myself. At my corner in Professorville traffic is now 5600 cars/day, up 33% over the past five years.

A Crescent Park resident asked to use my gear to survey traffic on his street, Center Drive. Because there are no earlier measurements we can't say how much it's changed, but we can say that traffic on Center now exceeds 2000 cars/day. At regular times on weekdays it's dense enough to prevent people from entering or leaving their driveways. Emergency vehicles probably wouldn't be able to get through.

Lincoln Ave is another problem area, with traffic up 85% over the past five years.

So whether or not the response rate for the survey was meaningful, I think we have some objective evidence that there are traffic problems in Crescent Park.

Posted by Elizabeth , a resident of Downtown North,
on Oct 26, 2018 at 3:52 pm

If every Palo Alto resident bicycled within town, that would have no effect on the commuters who fuel our economy. Palo Alto's population triples during business hours and many of those workers can only afford homes in some distant, car-dependant suburb.

Short of a business collapse, only two things that could get those cars off our streets: A) A BART loop around the Bay, and/or B) 10x more housing within walking distance of our business districts. I wish we had the political will for either.

Posted by Rational, a resident of Downtown North,
on Oct 27, 2018 at 9:10 am

No on F.
Yes on Eric Filseth and Tom DuBois.
Yes on Z.

Re: traffic �" Elizabeth, few look at the basic facts like you just did. Thank you. The issue is fundamental mechanics of Bay Area (American?) economy and will only be solved by radical solutions. If streets cannot be widened (oh God no!) demand must be reduced.

Posted by Ally, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 27, 2018 at 12:48 pm

VTA/Stanford Marguerite Buses, Trucks, Dirt Haulers, Cement Trucks, Cars Need To Drive In Two Lanes Due To Campers Parked On El Camino. Schools - Kids/Adults on Bikes. Safety Issue

Hello, The campers parked on very congested El Camino Real, from Matadero down past Maybell Avenue, with kids biking to schools, VTA and Stanford Marguerite buses, UPS trucks, cement trucks, durt hauler trucks (due to all the construction), cars, etc., need to drive in TWO LANES TO GET PAST THE CAMPERS PARKED ON EL CAMINO.

A number of pre-schools, elementary and high schools are located in this area.

Today, on this stretch of El Camino Real, two bicyclists riding on El Camino, were squeezed between the campers parked on El Camino and vehicles traveling on this road. It's a dangerous stretch of road. Kids biking to school will not be so lucky, and only then will something be done to alleviate this problem.

A total of five (5) campers are parked in the above referenced spot/location and have been parked here since Weds. Other times, the campers are parked in the same spot for weeks at a time. Hopefully the City of Palo Alto will enforcement its 72-hour parking policy and not allow campers to park in this area.

The problem is getting worse and worse. Also campers are parked less than a foot from bus stops creating a further traffic hazard for VTA/Stanford Marguerite buses to stop at the bus stop for bus passengers (kids/adults) to enter and exit the bus.


Posted by amaryllis, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove,
on Oct 27, 2018 at 1:59 pm

No on F. Besides the fact that it does us no good, does anybody really want City Hall reading about our every visit to the doctor or hospital? Isn't that a HIPPA violation?

Posted by Make you vote count, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 27, 2018 at 11:48 pm

If you strongly support Eric Filseth and Tom Dubois, and you are wishy washy on the third candidate, then you should vote ONLY for Eric and Tom. The reason is that we don't have ranked choice voting, and if everyone who is more development-centric votes for Wohlbach and Cormack, then Cormack could very well edge out Filseth or Dubois because of getting votes from both sides.

If you cast a vote for someone you are lukewarm about, then you are essentially voting against one of your favored candidates. That's just the reality since we don't have ranked choice.

Vote ONLY for Eric Filseth and Tom Dubois.

Posted by Make your vote count, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 28, 2018 at 12:05 am

Vote NO on Measure Z. It's not a choice between funding and not funding our schools, because they will come back with another one, probably by the next election. But voting NO on this one means the new Superintendent has a chance to review what's going on and to include Cubberley, as well as just making a more responsible measure that isn't such a blank check. When the district took the donated funds for the Paly Athletic center, they entered a disadvantageous lease-leaseback arrangement to allow it to be built without a bid process, the argument being that the district handled those badly. The board went along with it, essentially acknowledging that they were doing a bad job. We can do so much better, if we insist on accountability in the bond, which this one does not have.

The district never was really held to account for the last tax, which it pushed, hard, as necessary to avoid teacher layoffs, provide reduced class sizes, and hire mental health workers in the midst of a suicide crisis. None of those things were the recipients of that money, which went to teacher and administrative raises after the district had already given generous raises.

Also, taxes for local middle-income families will be going UP four and five figures under the new tax law, while billionaires will be doing well. We have a lot of billionaires locally, who have shown a great willingness to support schools. We should vote NO on Z, then the district should mount a donation drive to ask for donations first from those who can most afford it, before forcing those who are most impact to pay yet again first.

$150,000 locally is the equivalent of $20,000-$25,000 in many middle states, based on cost of living. That's largely because of housing and local taxes, and other non-discretionary spending, meaning, if you take out housing, most families are living on that $20,000/year for food, transportation, clothing, education, etc. This republican tax increase could cost half of discretionary income for many of those families. This is just NOT the time to hit up those who can least afford it with a blank check for the district, when we could get a better bond after first asking local billionaires and multi-millionaires to contribute what they can.

Vote NO on Measure Z.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 28, 2018 at 9:16 am

To Make your Vote Count

By only voting two surely that would give a good chance to getting one of the candidates you don't want. I would vote for a good third choice specifically for keeping others out.

Pat Boone is a great choice as he is learning as he goes. He is willing to admit when he doesn't know too much about something and then listens to find out more. He is willing to change his mind on an idea when he has learned more. How refreshing.

The biggest reason is he is not accepting donations from builders so he is not beholden to them. That has to be worth its weight in gold.

Posted by ol' home land, a resident of St. Claire Gardens,
on Oct 28, 2018 at 9:46 am

" I would vote for a good third choice specifically for keeping others out."

What the ????

Didn't you learn ANYTHING in November 2016?

(my bad, I read the post without seeing who wrote it - I know her answer)

If special interest donations are a concern of yours - PUBLIC FINANCING OF ELECTIONS.

Posted by It's not all absolute, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Oct 29, 2018 at 1:02 pm

"Maybe it's because some council members, like Adrian Fine, say we should learn to bike more"

Well, I don't see that as an issue. Does the authoer think she's are being asked to give up her car altogether?

Stupid not to vote for the parking garage, but equally stupid to think just because SOME trips cannot be made by bike, ALL trips cannot therefore be made.

It's going to take a MULTI-PRONGED approach to halp our traffic so once people stop thinking in absolutes, we may make progress. I'm a 40 year old woman with 3 kids and I cannot ride my bike on every trip, but I find a few I can now and then.
Instead of saying it will never work ever, think of the trips it could work, for many of us. All it takes is desire for most of us. It'll help me out when I drive if more people are on bikes. I'm helping drivers every time I ride a quick errand to the store or bank.

Also, cyclists make better drivers which helps keep everyone more safe: Web Link

Posted by Make Your Vote Count, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 30, 2018 at 6:33 pm


The problem is that you can't control the outcome the way your are suggesting, because we do not have ranked choice voting. If people have strong reasons to prefer 2 candidates (Filseth and Dubois, or Wohlbach and Cormack), and there is a division in the community where people on opposites sides of a major issue, then if everyone on both sides votes for Boone, then he will have twice as many votes as everyone else. That's okay if you can guarantee your first two favorites beat the two favorites on the other side, but that's too big of a risk. Thus, if you are voting for a third candidate that you are lukewarm about and that the other side is likely casting votes for as their third, then you are actually voting against your two favorite candidates. Frankly, that's how Wohlbach got into office in the first place.

The question is, do you prefer to try to ensure your two favorite candidates win, or is it okay with you if only one of them wins? For people who want Filseth and Dubois in office, the future of the city is at stake, and thus it makes sense to ONLY vote for Eric Filseth and Tom Dubois. Yes, that probably means the third person will be someone from the other side, but that's likely to happen anyway, and without ranked choice voting, it's not worth knocking out one or even both of the preferred candidates.

Anyone who wants Eric Filseth and Tom Dubois re-elected would do well to bullet vote only for them and don't use the third vote against them, basically.

Posted by dtnorth, a resident of Downtown North,
on Oct 31, 2018 at 10:47 am

I like the idea of Pat Boone being part of our city council. It seems like again we continue to follow the incumbents who truly have done nothing for Palo Alto.

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