Headlines


We’ve started to collect and sort Palo Alto (and some regional) news coverage into general topics to help you see what’s been going on at a glance. Click on a link below to view a particular topic (or if you’d rather just see the latest, across all topics, click here).

Public Trust and Accountability

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 ...

Cities seek more time to vet Stanford’s proposed expansion

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / November 29, 2017 Palo Alto and Menlo Park request 60 more days; Stanford calls proposal 'unwarranted' As the comment period on Stanford University's proposed expansion winds down, city officials from Menlo Park and Palo Alto are calling for the Santa Clara County Planning Department to give them another 60 days to evaluate the potential impacts of the General Use Permit amendment that the university is seeking. In ...

Tanaka fined for campaign violations

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / September 11, 2017 Palo Alto councilman settles with FPPC after agency finds three violations Palo Alto City Councilman Greg Tanaka has agreed to pay $733 in fines after the California Fair Political Practices Commission found inaccuracies in the financial forms his campaign filed during last year's council race. The agency, which enforces the state's Political Reform Act, found that Tanaka's campaign had committed three violations in reporting ...

Councilman Greg Tanaka hit with campaign fine

Palo Alto Daily Post - by Allison Levitsky / September 12, 2017 In a City Council race that hinged on development in Palo Alto, now-Councilman Greg Tanaka failed to identify several donors as real estate developers, California Fair Political Practices Commission said yesterday (Sept. 12). Tanaka said he has agreed to settle with the FPPC for incorrectly reporting campaign donations and leaving blank or misreporting the occupations of Chop Keenan, Jim Baer, Roxy Rapp, Mark ...

Contractor errs, sells too many parking permits

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / September 8, 2017 More downtown employees than intended bought permits in five residential areas closest to central downtown An error in implementing downtown Palo Alto's evolving Residential Preferential Parking program, which aims to eventually stop commuters from parking in residential neighborhoods, caused the exact opposite to happen this summer: Too many permits were sold to employees wanting to park their cars in five out the area's 10 ...

Audit finds errors in hundreds of water bills

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / August 23, 2017 City of Palo Alto Utilities did not accurately record sizes of water meters in bills, prompting more than 500 errors Hundreds of water customers in Palo Alto received erroneous bills after the city failed to accurately record the size of their water meters, according a new audit from the office of City Auditor Harriet Richardson ...

Committee recommends no stakeholder group in rail redesign

Palo Alto Weekly - by Linda Taaffe / August 17, 2017 City staff directed to look at other options for public input Palo Alto could move ahead with plans to transform its rail corridor without a formal community stakeholder group to provide feedback on the project if the City Council approves its Rail Committee's recommendation, which runs counter to what the city's Planning and Transportation Commission supported last week ...

Enforcement reflects the community

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / July 14, 2017 Municipal code, city priorities guide officers' work More than perhaps any other City Hall program, code enforcement is a custom-built operation that mirrors its community ...

Code enforcement: one of City Hall’s most controversial, and misunderstood, jobs

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / July 14, 2017 Staff: Less than 5 percent of cases investigated each year leads to fines For a team that consists of just three people, Palo Alto's code enforcers have been facing an unprecedented level of public scrutiny of late. In January, the council received the latest National Citizens Survey that showed a troubling trend: only 52 percent of the respondents rated Palo Alto code enforcement as "good" or ...

Judge gives Edgewood Shopping Center developer a break

Palo Alto Daily Post - by Emily Mabach / July 13, 2017 A judge has ruled that a development company temporarily doesn’t have to pay the city of Palo Alto a $5,000-a-day fine for failing to provide a grocery store in the Edgewood Shopping Center ...

Palo Alto mulls ways to strengthen code enforcement

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / May 19, 2017 City auditor to review program as survey shows increasing citizen concern The most recent National Citizens Survey, which came out in January, shows only 52 percent of the city's residents rating code enforcement as "good or excellent" — though most respondents also noted that they had not personally observed any code violation ...

Complaint prompts state probe of Tanaka’s campaign

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / March 17, 2017 Fair Political Practices Commission launches investigation into whether Palo Alto council member inaccurately reported contributions The agency that oversees California's campaign-finance laws has launched an investigation into the campaign finances of Palo Alto City Councilman Greg Tanaka, who reported an influx of cash from developers after winning the election last November and who accepted and later returned $5,000 from a property owner whose project ...

Amid backlash, city to reconsider decision on Comp Plan

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / March 17, 2017 Citizens committee blasts City Council’s vote to remove programs from land-use guide Palo Alto officials will revisit on Monday their controversial January decision to strip all programs from the city’s guiding land-use document, the Comprehensive Plan — a move that some characterized as a “formatting” change and others decried as a betrayal of public trust ...

State probing Kniss’ campaign contributions

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / March 16, 2017 FPPC launches investigation into whether Palo Alto vice mayor improperly reported her contributions Prompted by a citizen complaint, the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has launched an investigation into the campaign of Palo Alto Vice Mayor Liz Kniss, whose re-election bid was boosted by a flurry of late contributions from developers and who did not disclose most of these contributions until well after ...

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Quality of Life

In Crescent Park, a push to end traffic gridlock

Palo Alto Weekly - by Sue Dremann / December 1, 2017 Residents to seek solutions for the daily line of cars on neighborhood streets Fed up with the daily traffic gridlock on their neighborhood's streets, Crescent Park residents are banding together to get the city of Palo Alto's attention. For hours each day, Crescent Park residents are plagued by the hundreds of vehicles that jam the streets within blocks of University Avenue, from Middlefield Road ...

Palo Alto council splits over roof decks

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / November 28, 2017 For some members, decks are a sign of vitality; for others, a waste of staff time The council didn't take any votes on the proposal, which is still in a conceptual phase and which has not yet been the subject of a formal application. The pre-screening session was a chance for the council to either nip the project in the bud and avoid unnecessary ...

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 ...

‘Behind the Headlines’: Palo Alto’s pension problem

Palo Alto Weekly - by Palo Alto Weekly staff / October 13, 2017 Transcript of City Councilman Eric Filseth's conversation with Weekly journalists Ever wonder what the real deal is with Palo Alto's unfunded pension and retiree medical liabilities (from $550 million to maybe even $1 billion)? How is the city going to pay for it? This interview with City Council Finance Committee Chair Eric Filseth breaks down the problem in a refreshingly clear way. Hear his ...

Commission pans parking meter plan

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / October 12, 2017 Proposal to overhaul downtown's parking scheme criticized as premature Downtown Palo Alto's move toward parking meters hit an unexpected turn Wednesday night when the city's Planning and Transportation Commission voted against implementation. By a unanimous vote, the commission rejected all four options that were presented by transportation staff for overhauling downtown's parking system. Citing uncertainty about the impacts of parking meters on downtown retail, ...

Appeals Court nixes FAA flight-path changes in early court test

Palo Alto Weekly - by Sue Dremann / August 30, 2017 'NextGen' procedures and routes overturned in Phoenix, Arizona; locals studying implications for Palo Alto A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday overturned the Federal Aviation Administration's controversial rerouting of flight paths in Phoenix, Arizona, calling the agency's approval of its NextGen flight-procedures program at Sky Harbor International Airport "arbitrary and capricious." ...

In south Palo Alto, a battle is brewing

Palo Alto Weekly - by Jocelyn Dong / August 20, 2017 Plan for hotel on El Camino Real encounters vocal opposition from neighbors The 51,600-square-foot project would be shaped like a U with a row of three-story townhomes on the north side stretching from El Camino back toward the rear of the property, the hotel lobby fronting El Camino, and a 50-foot-tall hotel wing to the south reaching from El Camino to the rear ...

For College Terrace Market, a shaky start

Palo Alto Weekly - by Sue Dremann / August 11, 2017 Mandated grocery store faces hurdles of competition, signage College Terrace Market, the longed-for grocery store at 2100 El Camino Real in Palo Alto, finally opened on June 14, but the hoped-for crowds of customers have been slow to materialize ...

FAA report looks to change SFO arrivals path

Palo Alto Weekly - by Sue Dremann / July 31, 2017 Federal agency evaluates the feasibility of 104 recommendations submitted in October A new flight path that would reduce noise over Palo Alto and surrounding cities is being developed by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to a recently released report ...

Palo Alto’s brick-and-mortar retailers face steep challenges

Palo Alto Weekly - by Sue Dremann /  July 27, 2017 Downtown Palo Alto stores are struggling with high costs, difficulties in finding employees who will work for minimum or low wage and a parking shortage, among other problems, a panel of business owners said Wednesday morning during a discussion on the future of retail ...

Retailers want more parking

Palo Alto Daily Post - by Matt Niksa / July 27, 2017 A shortage of parking is hurting retailers and restaurants in downtown Palo Alto and in the California Avenue district, not only because it reduces the number of customers but it is also making it hard to keep workers, panelists said at a discussion on local retail issues yesterday ...

Judge gives Edgewood Shopping Center developer a break

Palo Alto Daily Post - by Emily Mabach / July 13, 2017 A judge has ruled that a development company temporarily doesn’t have to pay the city of Palo Alto a $5,000-a-day fine for failing to provide a grocery store in the Edgewood Shopping Center ...

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Housing

City braces for impacts of new housing laws

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / December 5, 2017 Palo Alto council members, planning staff say recently passed bills could reduce local control, spur major change For Palo Alto's housing advocates, the broad package of bills that Sacramento lawmakers signed into law this fall are exactly the type of disruption that the city needs after years of sluggish residential construction and a deepening crisis of affordable housing. But for the Palo Alto City ...

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 ...

We found which Bay Area cities aren’t pulling their weight on housing

Curbed San Francisco - by Scott Lucas / October 12, 2017 An exclusive analysis of regional jobs and housing with surprising conclusions When you look at the data, the cities that score the worst in building enough housing units for their workers aren’t Palo Alto and similar cities. It’s our biggest cities, like San Francisco and San Jose, that really drive the problem. Here’s what we found ...

Palo Alto may ease parking rules to spur housing

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / October 29, 2017 Three council members propose eliminating off-street parking requirements for 'car-light' projects In the latest effort to combat Palo Alto's housing crisis, three council members are proposing significant revisions to the city's parking regulations, including eliminating parking requirements altogether for "car-light" developments that offer transit amenities to their tenants. The proposals in the memo target a wide range of disparate regulations -- including ones relating ...

Plan to boost renter protections fizzles

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / October 17, 2017 Palo Alto officials opt not to explore rent stabilization measures Palo Alto's foray into rent stabilization blew up at the starting line Monday night after the City Council majority struck down a proposal from three council members to strengthen the city's tenant-protection laws. After a marathon discussion that featured philosophical clashes, procedural disagreements, personal attacks and testimony from nearly 70 public speakers, the council ...

Cottage clusters becoming a thing of the past?

Palo Alto Weekly - by Sue Dremann / October 13, 2017 Advocates: Lacking city protection, eight bungalows could be razed Palo Alto could soon lose two more cottage clusters, small groupings of bungalows built between the 1930s and 1950s that some people say are a vital part of the city's diverse housing stock. According to City Councilmember Karen Holman, "Cottage clusters provide housing for many who otherwise would not be able to live in Palo ...

Palo Alto looks to firm up renter protections

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / October 10, 2017 Three City Council members propose limits on rent increases, restrictions on tenant evictions As rising rents continue to drive longtime residents out of Palo Alto, city officials are preparing to adopt regulations that would offer renters greater protection. The regulations are the latest attempt by the City Council to address the city's shortage of affordable housing, a problem that council members identified as a ...

New housing laws pose planning challenges for city

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / October 5, 2017 City had opposed SB 35, which creates 'streamlined' approval process for multi-family housing The housing crunch may be an official Palo Alto priority, but City Hall wasn't cheering last week when Gov. Jerry Brown signed 15 bills that aim to encourage residential development. State Senate Bill 35, which was sponsored by Scott Weiner, D-San Francisco, is among the most significant components in a package ...

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 ...

Google demands more office space, threatens to block North Bayshore housing

The Mercury News - by Ethan Baron / September 27, 2017 MOUNTAIN VIEW — In a standoff with city officials, Google is demanding more office space for its futuristic new “Charleston East” campus and is threatening to block nearly 10,000 units of critically needed housing if it doesn’t get its way. The company’s move could derail a plan — given preliminary approval by the Mountain View City Council early Wednesday morning and which Google says it ...

Palo Alto relaxes limit on office development

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / September 6, 2017 Split council votes to give developers more flexibility, scraps 'beauty contest' After two years of sluggish commercial growth, the Palo Alto City Council moved Tuesday to loosen the city's cap on office development so as to give builders more flexibility. The City Council largely agreed that the city's cap on office and research-and-development projects has been largely successful -- for some, a little too ...

El Camino plan offers hope to Palo Alto’s housing advocates

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / August 29, 2017 City Council lauds development plan from Palo Alto Housing; considers rule changes to stimulate more housing Palo Alto's elected leaders found plenty to like on Monday in a new proposal to bring 61 units of desperately needed affordable housing to a transit-friendly site in the Ventura neighborhood. There's just one serious problem: it would violate the zoning code in more ways than they can ...

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Traffic/Transportation

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 ...

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 ...

In Crescent Park, a push to end traffic gridlock

Palo Alto Weekly - by Sue Dremann / December 1, 2017 Residents to seek solutions for the daily line of cars on neighborhood streets Fed up with the daily traffic gridlock on their neighborhood's streets, Crescent Park residents are banding together to get the city of Palo Alto's attention. For hours each day, Crescent Park residents are plagued by the hundreds of vehicles that jam the streets within blocks of University Avenue, from Middlefield Road ...

City explores ways to pay for revamped Caltrain intersections

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / November 29, 2017 Rail Committee considers new studies on rail-crossing alternatives, financing Despite years of discussions about the need to separate the Caltrain tracks from the local streets that intersect the rail line, Palo Alto leaders are still struggling to figure out what the project would look like and how it would be paid for. On Wednesday morning, the City Council's Rail Committee considered two new studies ...

Rising costs strain Palo Alto’s infrastructure goals

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / November 28, 2017 City Council moves ahead with new fire station and bike bridge, despite major questions about latest cost estimates Palo Alto's ambitious plan to fix up the city's aged infrastructure and build a new bike bridge over U.S. Highway 101 is being strained by a sizzling construction market, which is adding millions of dollars to the price of each project and forcing local officials to ...

Beset by cars, East Palo Alto to develop ‘mobility’ plan

Palo Alto Weekly - by Sue Dremann / October 9, 2017 Commuter traffic, parking issues disproportionately affect residents, officials say Surrounded by U.S. Highway 101, Willow Road, Bayfront Expressway and Embarcadero Road, East Palo Alto is a gateway to Silicon Valley jobs. But the city's residents bear a disproportionate burden of commuter traffic while receiving little or no benefit, residents said. Since traffic is mostly due to Stanford University, Facebook and tech companies, the city ...

Lawsuit blocks Measure B funds

Mountain View Voice - by Mark Noack / August 30, 2017 Local transit projects delayed by legal challenge Santa Clara County's new Measure B sales tax has already collected tens of millions of dollars for a multitude of transportation upgrades, but that money is now embargoed from being spent. An appellate lawsuit filed by Mountain View attorney Gary Wesley on behalf of Saratoga resident Cheriel Jensen is blocking the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority from ...

Survey shows fewer downtown workers driving alone

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / August 24, 2017 Palo Alto Transportation Management Association sees signs of hope for getting employees to carpool, take transit They serve food, wash dishes, staff shops and hotels and play a leading role in keeping downtown Palo Alto buzzing for residents, employees and visitors. But as the city rolls out its effort to fight traffic congestion, downtown's service employees also represent the biggest obstacle and toughest challenge ...

Committee recommends no stakeholder group in rail redesign

Palo Alto Weekly - by Linda Taaffe / August 17, 2017 City staff directed to look at other options for public input Palo Alto could move ahead with plans to transform its rail corridor without a formal community stakeholder group to provide feedback on the project if the City Council approves its Rail Committee's recommendation, which runs counter to what the city's Planning and Transportation Commission supported last week ...

City Council OKs new South Palo Alto shuttle route

Palo Alto Weekly - by Elinor Aspegren and Shawna Chen / August 16, 2017 City staff to research dynamic 'fixed-flex' model for Embarcadero and Crosstown routes The shuttle plan recommended by city staff includes three routes: a new South Palo Alto route that will replicate Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority's Route 88, which is being eliminated, and add some new stops; an expanded Crosstown route that will extend to Stanford and San Antonio shopping centers; and ...

Early results of Dumbarton corridor study indicate improved traffic flow

The Almanac - by Kate Bradshaw / August 15, 2017 Bicycle and pedestrian path, expanded bus service among ideas eyed for 2020 Facebook sponsored study of the Dumbarton transportation corridor looks at feasibility to:  Increase the frequency and number of destinations of transbay buses by 2020; Convert a traffic lane on the road bridge to either an express lane or a shifting lane that matches commute direction by 2025; Rebuild the abandoned rail bridge and activate a ...

Push to redesign rail corridor tests ‘Palo Alto process’

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / August 9, 2017 Some planning commissioners fear new stakeholder group could slow city down in race for cash As Palo Alto moves ahead with plans to transform the rail corridor, city officials are struggling to reconcile two seemingly competing goals: catching up to other communities in a race for Santa Clara County funds and engaging in the type of prolonged deliberative process that has long been synonymous ...

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Parking

City braces for impacts of new housing laws

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / December 5, 2017 Palo Alto council members, planning staff say recently passed bills could reduce local control, spur major change For Palo Alto's housing advocates, the broad package of bills that Sacramento lawmakers signed into law this fall are exactly the type of disruption that the city needs after years of sluggish residential construction and a deepening crisis of affordable housing. But for the Palo Alto City ...

Palo Alto may ease parking rules to spur housing

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / October 29, 2017 Three council members propose eliminating off-street parking requirements for 'car-light' projects In the latest effort to combat Palo Alto's housing crisis, three council members are proposing significant revisions to the city's parking regulations, including eliminating parking requirements altogether for "car-light" developments that offer transit amenities to their tenants. The proposals in the memo target a wide range of disparate regulations -- including ones relating ...

Commission pans parking meter plan

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / October 12, 2017 Proposal to overhaul downtown's parking scheme criticized as premature Downtown Palo Alto's move toward parking meters hit an unexpected turn Wednesday night when the city's Planning and Transportation Commission voted against implementation. By a unanimous vote, the commission rejected all four options that were presented by transportation staff for overhauling downtown's parking system. Citing uncertainty about the impacts of parking meters on downtown retail, ...

Contractor errs, sells too many parking permits

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / September 8, 2017 More downtown employees than intended bought permits in five residential areas closest to central downtown An error in implementing downtown Palo Alto's evolving Residential Preferential Parking program, which aims to eventually stop commuters from parking in residential neighborhoods, caused the exact opposite to happen this summer: Too many permits were sold to employees wanting to park their cars in five out the area's 10 ...

Retailers want more parking

Palo Alto Daily Post - by Matt Niksa / July 27, 2017 A shortage of parking is hurting retailers and restaurants in downtown Palo Alto and in the California Avenue district, not only because it reduces the number of customers but it is also making it hard to keep workers, panelists said at a discussion on local retail issues yesterday ...

Foster City planners tackle in-law units

The Daily Journal - by Samantha Weigel / Jul 24, 2017 Foster City is considering updates to its regulations on secondary units as it aims to comply with state mandates promoting the residences as a means to address the affordable housing crisis ...

New budget signals city’s shift on transportation

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / June 27, 2017 City Council supports sharp hikes to parking rates, more investment in car-less alternatives Palo Alto fired a salvo Tuesday night in its war against traffic congestion when it approved a budget that dramatically increases the cost of parking in downtown and around California Avenue and invests nearly $500,000 in a new nonprofit charged with shifting drivers to other modes of transportation ...

Rate hikes aim to shake up Palo Alto’s parking scene

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / June 23, 2017 Drivers face sharp fee increases for permits at downtown and California Avenue garages The start of a new fiscal year rarely causes a stir in Palo Alto, where a healthy economy has helped the City Council invest in new bike boulevards, fire stations and garages without cutting any services. But while residents are unlikely to see earth-shattering changes on July 1, when fiscal year ...

Plan for ‘car-light’ development on El Camino draws mixed reviews

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / June 19, 2017 Palo Alto officials support having housing on busy intersection but wary of parking impacts Few projects epitomize the hopes of Palo Alto's housing advocates and the anxieties of the city's land-use watchdogs as clearly as 2755 El Camino Real, a four-story housing project proposed for the busy intersection of Page Mill Road and El Camino Real ...

Council backs shift to downtown parking meters

Palo Alto Weekly - by Gennady Sheyner / April 12, 2017 Palo Alto council members to explore different technologies, policies for paid parking Seeking to bring some order to downtown's chaotic parking scene, Palo Alto officials signaled on Tuesday night their intent to abolish the existing system of color zones and to bring back paid parking. The details of downtown's new parking program are yet to be hashed out, but members of the City Council ...

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