We’ve had an exciting, innovative and productive year in Palo Alto!
As 2012 year winds down, it’s a great time to reflect on all that we accomplished as a City organization and as a community. Many of these accomplishments have been highlighted in this monthly newsletter so let us know how we’re doing! Is this monthly newsletter a good way to learn about City initiatives and events? I’d like to hear from you. Please take a moment to fill out the online survey about this newsletter.
At the beginning of the year, I announced that 2012 would be the Year of Infrastructure to focus on our aging City facilities and the need for major renovation and replacement projects. We held many Council retreats to discuss a funding strategy for the numerous facility needs identified in the Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Commission report. The City is working on a plan and timeline now. We completed projects such as the Palo Alto Art Center renovation, the Cowper/Webster Parking Structure retrofit, a Cogswell Plaza update (ribbon-cutting is December 14), the Byxbee Park addition, and San Antonio Road improvements for a much improved roadway, sidewalk, landscape and drainage system.
The City has made a lot of progress on the Council’s five priorities: City finances, emergency preparedness, environmental sustainability, land use and transportation planning, and community collaboration for youth health and well-being.
Our financial situation is improving, we’ve restructured employee pension and health care costs, refinanced long-term debt at lower interest rates, pursued grants and outside funding for projects, and held the line on our operating budget.
We’ve enhanced our emergency preparedness efforts, trained Emergency Service Volunteers, held our annual community-based Quakeville disaster exercise, and continue to improve our City’s readiness for any kind of emergency.
We continue to be a leader in sustainability through our energy and water efficiency programs, green building practices, Residential Compostables Pilot Collection program, the Art Center’s Silver LEED certification, bike and pedestrian plan and electric vehicle charging stations. Our Palo Alto Green program ranked #1 nationally, again, in participation levels, and our solar rebate program ranked #3 nationally in per capita watts installed.
We’ve discussed complicated land use issues such as the future of Cubberley Community Center, High Speed Rail, closure of the downtown Hamilton Avenue Post Office, transfer of the Palo Alto Airport from the County to the City, a potential Art and Innovation District near the downtown transit center, and San Francisquito Creek improvements. There have been significant changes at the Development Center ranging from expanded customer hours and new staffing resources to a redesigned space to bring key employees from various departments onsite to enhance the customer experience.
We’ve also supported youth health and well-being by funding resources, services and programs such as Project Safety Net, after school activities, writing contests, parenting classes, and programs such as movie nights, theater performances, crafting activities, and reading programs. I enjoyed connecting with many of our youth and families through the Mayor’s Challenges that saw over 1,000 participants and the Mayor’s Youth Video Corps through the Media Center.
We’ve implemented innovative solutions such as civic-focused hackathons and mobile applications that compare our home energy use to others, connect us to the Police Department, emergency preparedness, report utility issues, reserve library meeting rooms and download music. Our transparency and open government efforts now include Open Data and Open Budget initiatives as well as social media for Twitter Q & As, virtual police ridealongs and storm updates.
It’s been a busy year. Our successes make Palo Alto a better place to live, work, and play, and help us all connect with our neighbors, and each other.
Mayor Yiaway Yeh
Thursday, December 6
Public Meetings on Disposal Checkout Bag Ordinance: 9 - 11 AM and 6 - 8 PM Learn about proposed changes to the City’s current Bag Ordinance (Municipal Code 5.35, Ordinance 5032). You are invited to comment on a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) evaluating options for the project. Visit the project website for project description, additional background and links to the DEIR. Comments are due on DEIR in writing (email or mail), by 5 PM on January 2, 2013. Two public meetings will be held at this location: Cubberley Community Center, 4000 Middlefield Road, Room H-1, Palo Alto.
Theater: Wind in the Willows: 7 PM Go on a wild ride of chases, jail breaks, and bandits with Mr. Toad as he is reunited with his beloved friends Mole and Ratty. Prepare to be enchanted by this faithful adaptation of the classic novel. Performances run through December 22; times and dates vary. For more information, click here or call the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre Box Office at (650) 463-4970. Location: Children’s Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto.
Friday, December 7
eBook Drop-In Center: 3 - 5 PM Drop in to informal monthly sessions to find out what your options are, ask questions and get help on checking out eBooks and eAudiobooks from the library. Help is provided on a first come, first served basis. Register here. Location: Downtown Library, 270 Forest Avenue, Palo Alto.
Wednesday, December 12
Planning & Transportation Meeting: 6 PM Tentatively scheduled topics for this regular scheduled meeting include a discussion of the proposed Downtown and California Avenue parking strategies and a study on the proposed Adobe Creek Pedestrian and Bike Bridge. To see the final agenda topics, click here. Location: Council Chambers, 1st floor, 250 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto.
Thursday, December 13
CivicMeet: 6:30 - 8:30 PM Join Mayor Yeh, City Manager Keene, Chief Information Officer Reichental and the Institute of the Future as your hosts for the first-ever CivicMeet Palo Alto. CivicMeet is a meetup that connects public and private sector innovators to help create a new generation of civic life. Start a conversation about creating a more open, engaged civil society. For more information and to register for this free event, click here. Location: Institute for the Future, 124 University Avenue, Palo Alto.
Friday, December 14
Ribbon-Cutting: Renovated Cogswell Plaza: 12:30 PM Join City officials and neighbors for the reopening of Cogswell Plaza after being renovated. Park features new plantings except for the existing mature trees and a new irrigation system. Site amenities include new tables, chairs, bike racks and drinking fountains. A new seating area was added and existing benches were rearranged to create more seating areas in the park. For information about the park, click here. Location: 264 Lytton Avenue between Ramona and Bryant streets, Palo Alto.
Mayor's Office Hours: 2 - 4 PM Come by during office hours if you prefer a more informal setting to chat with Mayor Yeh. The Mayor will be available to community members and have a chance to meet you and listen to your concerns or opinions on important issues. Location: Mayor’s Office, 7th floor, 250 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto.
Saturday, December 15
Pinterest Winter Party: 3 - 5 PM Are you Pinterested in meeting new people and sharing what inspires you? Then join us for a Winter Pinterest Party. We will show, tell and share a completed Pinterest project and/or recipe. Registration required. Location: Downtown Library, 270 Forest Avenue, Palo Alto.
Monday, December 17
Youth Video Premier: 6 PM Check out the video productions of volunteers who worked as part of the Mayor's Video Youth Corps this year. Location: Council Chambers, 1st floor, 250 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto. City Council Meeting: 7 PM A number of important topics will be covered at this final Council meeting of the year. Click here for final agenda. Location: Council Chambers, 1st floor, 250 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto. Residential Compostables Collection Pilot Program Staff will present the proposed Residential Compostables Collection Pilot Program to City Council. The City Council will consider approval of a small pilot program to evaluate the feasibility, benefits, challenges and costs of a weekly residential compostables collection. For information about the proposed residential compostables collection pilot program, click here. City's 2012 Accomplishments Attend the Council meeting for the summary of what was accomplished this year by City staff and the City Council in partnership with, and on behalf of, the community. Infrastructure Plan Update Learn more about the proposed plan and timeline for the City to move forward with addressing its unfunded long-term infrastructure needs.
Wednesday, December 26
Classic Film Series: 1 - 3 PM Extend the holidays by joining us for a showing of Bell, Book and Candle, a bewitching comedy starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak. This series is brought to you by the Friends of the Palo Alto Library. For more information, call (650) 329-2436. Location: Downtown Library, 270 Forest Avenue, Palo Alto.
Monday, December 31
Annual Senior New Year's Eve Day Bash: 11 AM - 2 PM Celebrate the New Year with dancing and a buffet lunch. Festivities start at 11 AM (doors open at 10:30 AM) and go through the afternoon, with champagne New Year’s toast at 1:30 PM. Pre-sale tickets are $13 and may be purchased at Lucie Stern Community, Cubberley Community Center, Senior Friendship Day, Avenidas Senior Center and the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center. Tickets at the door are $18. For more information, call (650) 463-4953. Location: Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto.
Saturday, January 5
Free Household Hazardous Waste Disposal: 9 AM - Noon This event is for Palo Alto residents only so bring your items (and proof of residency). The Household Hazardous Waste Management program provides Palo Alto residents with an environmentally safe, convenient way to dispose of unwanted hazardous household products-such as used or expired medication, paints, solvents, fuels, cleaners, pesticides, etc., which contain hazardous substances. This event happens, rain or shine. For more information about the Household Hazardous Waste Program and what is accepted, click here. Location: Water Quality Control Plant, 2501 Embarcadero Way, Palo Alto.
Connect with us!
Lacey Lutes from City of Palo Alto Utilities highlights many helpful energy efficiency programs available to residents. (Video produced for the City by the Media Center.)
Check out these FREE career and educational resources: eBooks, skill-building courses, practice tests and exercises. Great resources for students and career changers.
Renovation Completed on Downtown's Cowper/Webster Parking Garage
Completed two weeks ahead of schedule, the Cowper / Webster Street, Lot J, Parking Garage Structure Repair Project went smoothly and the renovated garage is ready for the Holiday Season! The existing wood trellis facades had deteriorated due to sun and weather exposure and were removed on all four sides of the parking structure. A new cable railing system was installed to the inside of the parking garage’s steel frame structure to comply with the current building code requirements. The renovation work on this downtown parking garage was started by the City’s contractor in August and finished in early November. The result is that there is no longer a danger of falling timbers and the inside of the garage is brighter because more natural light comes in. The outside appearance has also improved with a much cleaner look. The project was funded through the City’s Capital Improvement Project (CIP) #PF-10002 and Downtown Parking Assessment District fees.
December’s Asset of the Month is Family Support
It is important that the family provides a high level of love and support. Family support refers to the ways that parents, siblings, and extended family show love, encouragement, and comfort to each other—families are the cornerstone of the social support system for youth. A 2011 survey of Santa Clara County youth reveals that while younger youth generally experience and are aware of family support, teenagers do so much less often: 88% of 4th-6th graders reported family support, while only 69% of middle- and high school students reported the asset.
Because adolescents require greater autonomy and independence than younger children, effective family support for older youth takes a different form than in earlier years; however, their need for their families is still strong. Adults are challenged to find a balance between giving youth the support they need to navigate their adolescence and the independence they need to develop as individuals.