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News From Our Neighbors

From: domainremoved <>
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2014 20:34:16 -0500

Honorable Mayor and Council Members,
The email below from our neighbors may be of general interest, as they,
like many cities, wrestle with issues similar to those in Menlo Park. The
email covers many topics, including, but not limited to parking, the general
plan, transportation and so on. Afterall, why reinvent the wheel, when
there may be helpful ideas, tools, systems and procedures to learn and
potentially modify to fit the unique needs of our community.
 From: _cityofpaloalto_at_(domainremoved)
Sent: 12/16/2014 10:11:35 A.M. Pacific Standard Time
Subj: Message From the Mayor, December 2014


In this final 2014 Mayor’s message, and before showcasing the active
accomplishments for the year, I want to look back for a moment to how the year
started—with an adventure that promised to open City Hall to include more
Palo Alto voices and rebalance the connection between civic engagement and
City services. Often, I would explain that 2014 is like a year of 52 card
pick-up—where we ask the community for their ideas, share current City
policies, trends and requirements, work to create a common understanding, and
search for rational solutions about the issues facing Palo Alto.
Reinventing the civic square with today’s social network tools has expanded the
community conversation. Thousands of community members have joined the Our
Palo Alto community conversation about our City’s future—some have
attended strategic sessions that dive deep into data and policy, others are
online sharing interests, or at coffee shops and pizza house gatherings to
generate conversations with staff about preserving the qualities of Palo Alto
that make it unique.

The goal this year has been to go beyond City Hall with strategies to
engage the broader community, solve problems, and protect Palo Alto's
small-town-like character and charm. A well-run city needs a good partnership
with the community but also with neighboring cities, regional agencies and
state representatives, so that solutions can be identified and championed

Next year this work continues. In February, author Peter Kageyama, whose
book “For the Love of Cities” helped to move this conversation to the
next level, will visit Palo Alto. He asks an important question, “Do
loveable cities matter?”

Kageyama explains, “The mutual love affair between people and their place
is one of the most powerful influences in our lives, yet we rarely think
of it in terms of a relationship. As cities begin thinking of themselves
as engaged in a relationship with their citizens, and we citizens begin to
consider our emotional connections with our places, we open up new
possibilities in our community by including the most powerful of motivators—the
human heart—in our toolkit of city-making.”

In my work on City Council, I have been inspired by Kageyama’s “
city-making toolkit” concepts. I hope everyone can be as inspired as I have been
with his innovative ideas and concepts that ensure cities use a human scale
to model progress—making certain that people remain the focus.

This year began with a long list of over 30 initiatives which shaped the
annual work plan. The primary focus was to tackle the issues of growth,
density, development, and urban planning by re-launching the 1998
Comprehensive Plan update. This is the City’s land use “bible,” which identifies
the common vision shared by the City Council, Commissions and the community,
 that the City Manager and staff use to administer City business. There
are seven elements: Land Use & Community Design, Transportation, Housing,
Natural Environment, Community Services & Facilities, Business & Economics,
and Governance. In each element there are vision statements followed by
goals and policies to support the vision, and programs to identify City

The Plan’s introduction states:

“The Comprehensive Plan is the primary tool for guiding the future
development of the City. On a daily basis, the City is faced with tough choices
about growth, housing, transportation, neighborhood improvement, and
service delivery. A Comprehensive Plan provides a guide for making these
choices by describing long-term goals for the City’s future, as well as
policies to guide day-to-day decisions.”

On Dec. 8, the Council approved a strategy to reframe and update the
vision, and policy statements that will come forward in spring 2015. New
concepts to be explored include additional retail protections, metered office
growth, trenching Caltrain south of Oregon Expressway, and shifting
state-required housing sites from South El Camino Real to Downtown and the
California Avenue area. Expect a vibrant community discussion about these
concepts and more, starting with a summit in the spring. The summit will be
informed by data and analysis, including an assessment of cumulative impacts
in an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The EIR will also identify
impacts to traffic, air quality, public services and schools, and other aspects
of the physical environment, as well as mitigation measures. This will be
ultimately incorporated into the update to the Comprehensive Plan that
will guide us in the future.

Here is a quick progress update on other 2014 projects:

Parking and Traffic:
    * In February, we identified a three-part integrated parking and
traffic strategy that includes a Residential Parking Permit Program, parking
supply enhancements, including satellite parking and new garages,
expansion of the City’s free shuttle program, and the formation of a
Transportation Management Association (TMA) to implement strategies to reduce car
trips. The goal is to reduce single occupant vehicle trips into Palo Alto job
centers by 30 percent. The Council approved the downtown RPP program
this month, and the TMA is scheduled to move forward early next year.
Council has also approved one new shuttle route, and we are looking at a second
new route and increased frequencies.

Growth & Density:
    * The update to the Comprehensive Plan continues into 2015. The
Council approved the Housing Element that complies with a state mandate to
zone for 1,988 housing units, while calling for continued study in 2015 of
the potential to relocate some housing sites from South El Camino Real to
downtown and the California Avenue districts, closer to transit and
services. We also froze the Planned Community zoning ordinance that will be
under review continuing in 2015.
    * Council also responded to Caltrain modernization and the Valley
Transportation Authority Bus Rapid Transit EIR, and commented on the East
Palo Alto General Plan. We directed the City to prepare an ordinance to
address residents’ concerns about land use conflicts from plating shops and
similar uses located in proximity to neighborhoods. We also launched a
data collection effort on downtown development, as we approach the cap on
non-residential space.

Infrastructure and Capital Projects:
    * The California Avenue streetscape improvement project will be
completed next year and features a modern design and vibrant pedestrian- and
bike-oriented update.
    * We opened the new Mitchell Park Library and Community Center to
the public in November, and the response from the community has been that it
 is FANTASTIC! The Rinconada Library (previously Main) is due to open to
the public in January, and by all accounts will be just as inspiring.
    * The City and the School District came to an agreement on a new
five-year lease amendment for the Cubberley site that calls for us to jointly
 develop a master plan for the entire Cubberley site within five years.
    * The Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan is underway with lots of
community meetings on the approximately 24 projects in design or scheduled for
    * Fiber-to-the-Premises and Wireless Master Plan study are ready for
 Council action.
    * The Palo Alto Airport (PAO) was officially transferred from Santa
Clara County to the City.

    * A request for proposals for an Anaerobic Digester was released to
vendors, with the compost facility decision tabled with annual update
    * Both the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority flood
protection project and the City’s golf course construction project have been
delayed awaiting permit approval by the Regional Water Board.
    * We launched the Urban Forest Master Plan update process, as well
as the Parks and Recreation Master Plan that includes active community
    * Finally, despite recent rains, we are still facing a drought,
which could be historic and possibly long lasting.
Nancy Shepherd
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Received on Tue Dec 16 2014 - 17:29:05 PST

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