For new bike boulevard, it’s not smooth sailing

Palo Alto Weekly – by Sue Dremann / December 8, 2017

New Ross Road fixtures are confusing bicyclists and drivers, creating danger, residents say

The city of Palo Alto’s effort to turn a south Palo Alto street into a bicycle-friendly boulevard is encountering a chorus of complaints from residents who say that the changes are making the road more dangerous.

Editorial: The risks of secrecy

Palo Alto Weekly – by PA Weekly editorial board / December 8, 2017

School board splits on whether and how to accept large anonymous donations

When developing a new public policy, a sure warning sign should be when the policy has to thread a needle to avoid violating existing laws and, in doing so, becomes convoluted and irrational.

The Palo Alto school board struggled Tuesday night trying to balance competing interests of transparency and donor privacy, and a bare majority (Ken Dauber, Jennifer DiBrienza, Terry Godfrey) approved a new policy that, in our opinion, skates on the edge of the law and brings an unacceptable level of secrecy.

School board approves new rule for anonymous donations

Palo Alto Weekly – by Elena Kadvany / December 6, 2017

Members disagree on how to balance gifts and public accountability

The need to strike a balance between welcoming anonymous donations and providing transparency as a public agency divided the Palo Alto school board on Tuesday night, with its members ultimately approving in a 3-2 vote a new requirement for internally disclosing donors’ identities.

People or organizations who give the district more than $50,000 and wish to remain publicly anonymous will now have to disclose their identity to the superintendent, who would then inform each board member verbally, one by one. The board can waive this requirement in public session.

City seeks more protection from Stanford expansion

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / December 1, 2017

Palo Alto officials, residents question university’s plans to manage anticipated traffic and housing problems

The City Council plans to approve on Monday night a comment letter on the project’s voluminous draft Environmental Impact Report, which assesses likely consequences of the expansion. The letter takes issues with Stanford’s assumptions about traffic, groundwater and fire-service demand, among many other things.

Board: Stanford growth could require new school

Palo Alto Weekly – by Elena Kadvany / November 14, 2017

School trustees to discuss response to university’s proposed general use permit

Stanford University’s proposal to build hundreds of new housing units for graduate students, faculty and staff over the next 17 years represents a level of growth that a majority of Palo Alto school board members said will likely require a new school in the future.

Council: North Bayshore development must support schools

Mountain View Voice – by Kevin Forestieri / September 28, 2017

Proposed housing boom would require plans to house thousands of new students

Council members unanimously agreed to add language to the North Bayshore Precise Plan that would require the region’s two major landowners, Google and Sobrato, to submit a “local school district strategy” as part of any dense residential project, showing precisely how the developers would assist in building local, neighborhood-oriented schools in the area. The strategy is fairly broad, and could include land dedication, funding, transferring development rights or other “innovative strategies.”

School enrollment may double due to home-building boom

Palo Alto Daily Post – by Allison Levitsky / September 9, 2017

Mountain View Whisman School District is projected to double its enrollment in the next five to 10 years, Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph told the Post yesterday (Sept. 6).

A report last year suggested the 5,200-student district would see about 800 new students in the next five or six years. Then, Mountain View City Council began work on the North Bayshore housing project, which could bring in thousands of homes near Google’s headquarters, bringing the number of new students up to 4,000.

Is PAUSD the City’s Single Top Revenue Source?

Palo Alto Matters – Guest Commentary by Eric Filseth / June 11, 2017

Palo Alto City Council Member, Finance Committee Chair

Outlandish as it sounds, there’s actually a line of thinking for this.

Sales taxes are many cities’ largest revenue source, and they’re a major contributor in Palo Alto as well: normally about 15% of our General Fund, with the Stanford Shopping Center usually being our largest single contributor, last year about $5.5 million.

But in Palo Alto, our lead revenue source is actually property taxes, at about 20% of our General Fund. Most of our property tax revenue – about 75%, or $30 million for FY2018 – is residential. This is partly because our commercial base stays low (basically loopholes in Prop 13), but mostly because Palo Alto residential property values are high; and residential property values are influenced by school districts.

Wolbach and Fine oppose planning for school impacts from city growth

Palo Alto Matters – May 13, 2017

Maintaining the quality of schools and the sufficiency of local infrastructure to support them are of paramount importance to the Palo Alto community. Nevertheless, the current City Council has shown little interest in either planning to ensure that schools can support Palo Alto’s rate of growth or regulating land uses to accommodate future school expansions.

Instead, the Council majority frequently cites PAUSD’s current decline in elementary enrollment as excuse not to worry about how city growth will impact schools in the future. On May 1, Councilmembers Wolbach and Fine went further, opposing a longstanding City policy to consider school enrollment impacts in land use planning. They argued that school impacts should not be considered at all in the City’s land use decision-making, regardless of current or future enrollment, because doing so could restrain development, making Palo Alto “unwelcoming” to newcomers.