News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 06/19/2014
Subject :

City Manager James Keene Initial Response to Grand Jury Report
Contact : Claudia Keith, Chief Communications Officer    650/329-2607
The City has 90 days to formally respond to the Grand Jury Report and will take that formal response to the City Council for approval, as is done with all Grand Jury reports.  The City wanted to provide some initial comments on the report today, following its issuance.

"There is nothing surprising or new in the report that hasn't been written about previously or that we have not discussed already.  The report talks a lot about inadequate process, whether the public process for the initial considerations on the 27 University site or recommendations related to public records act responses, or considerations of a possible sale of the City owned 7.7 Foothills site. 

“We have already acknowledged that the public process around 27 University could have been better, and we have been clear about that.  That said, the City’s intention was always to try to guide the preliminary project in a better direction. While the project as initially proposed by Mr. Arrillaga was focused on new office buildings, the City saw the opportunity to begin to master plan and redesign the transit center and road network at this gateway entrance to the City. There was also the potential to explore the addition of a major public benefit through a regional community theater.  Funding for that work did come from the Stanford Hospital Development agreement, which specifically set aside funds to use for planning at this site.  As everyone knows, the 27 University project never came to pass and current planning for that site will be included in our very public Comprehensive Plan review process now underway.

“The Grand Jury report acknowledges the unique nature of this project, and says, 'the developer’s proposals represented an unprecedented opportunity to address major traffic problems at an intersection where little change had taken place for many years, despite decades of planning attempts.’ 

“Another concern in the report relates to City responses to Public Records requests.  The City receives many requests for information every single day and we do a really good job of responding to the public.  That said, even formal requests under the Public Records Act can come in through many different points across the City organization.  For the formal public records requests, we have added a Public Records Request webpage where there is a form that can be can filled out to better track requests.  Still, not everyone will go to the website first, so we are also looking into software that can be deployed across the organization to manage requests.

“Finally, some of the issues included in the Grand Jury report related to the Lee Gift Deed go back 30 years.  We are accountable for contemporary decisions on this land today, and to that end, on March 24, the Council has directed that the 7.7 acres be dedicated as parkland.  The City is in the process of preparing that dedication for formal Council action."