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


Subject :

City of Palo Alto Releases Annual Service Efforts and Accomplishments Report
Contact : Sharon Erickson, City Auditor    (650) 329-2629
Palo Alto, CA – The City Auditor’s Office has just released the 6th annual Service Efforts and Accomplishments report for FY 2006-07. The report provides a broad range of data on City services and performance, including comparisons to other jurisdictions and five year trends.  

The report includes the 5th annual National Citizen SurveyTM of Palo Alto residents that asks residents their opinions of City services and about their experiences dealing with the City. This year, 86% of Palo Alto residents rated City services good or excellent overall. More than half of the respondents reported having contact with a City employee last year; 79% rated that contact good or excellent.

Here are some other highlights:

Over the last five years, General Fund spending increased from $119 million to $132 million, or 11%.  However, with an estimated population increase and inflation, the General Fund spending power was less.  Enterprise Fund expense increased from $152 million to $190 million, primarily due to increased costs to purchase electricity, gas and water.

The net General Fund cost per resident was $1,518 including:

  • $335 for police services
  • $207 for community services
  • $186 for fire and emergency medical services
  • $152 for public works
  • $136 for administrative, legislative, and support services
  • $90 for library services
  • $45 for planning, building, code enforcement
  • $136 for non-departmental expenses (including $99 paid to the school district)
  • $231 in operating transfers out (including $140 for capital projects)

Asked whether they receive good value for the taxes they pay, 67% agreed, placing Palo Alto in the 91st percentile compared to other jurisdictions.  57% were pleased with the overall direction of the City (down from 62% last year).

Infrastructure remains a City priority.  Capital spending last year totaled $46.4 million, including $17.5 million in the general governmental funds and $28.9 million in the enterprise funds. 

Community Services:  92% of residents reported they visited a Palo Alto park last year.  82% of residents rated the range and variety of recreation classes as good or excellent, and 91% rated the quality of City parks good or excellent.  Last year 42% of class registrations were online, compared to only 11% five years ago.

Fire:  In FY 2006-07, the department responded to about 7,200 calls for service, or about 20 calls per day.  This included almost 4,000 medical/rescue calls and 221 fire calls.  Average response times were slightly higher last year – 5:48 minutes for fire calls and 5:17 minutes for medical/rescue calls.  98% of residents rated fire services good or excellent.

Library:  79% of residents said they used the Palo Alto library or its services during the year.  Palo Alto has a higher circulation per capita than many other local libraries – total library circulation topped 1.4 million last year.  The number of reference questions was down 35%, while the number of online database searches was up 192%.  There were more than 900,000 self-checkouts last year, compared to about 45,000 self-checkouts 5 years ago.  81% of residents rated library services good or excellent.

Planning and Community Environment:  299 planning applications were completed in FY 2006-07.  The average time to complete those applications was 13.4 weeks.  76% of building permits were issued over the counter; for those permits not issued over the counter, the average time to issue a building permit was 102 days.  The department reports that 99% of building permit inspection requests were responded to within one working day.

Police:  The department handled more than 60,000 calls for service in FY 2006-07, or about 165 calls per day.  The average response time for emergency calls was up slightly to 5:08 minutes.  The percent of residents feeling very or somewhat safe from crime went up last year, recovering from a one-year decline in perceptions of safety, with 98% of residents reporting they felt safe in their neighborhood during the day (Palo Alto ranked #1 in this category compared to other jurisdictions). 91% of residents rated police services good or excellent.

Public Works:  Palo Alto’s recycling program ranked in the top 3 in customer satisfaction compared to other jurisdictions, with 93% rating the service good or excellent.  67% of residents rated street tree maintenance good or excellent; 56% rated sidewalk maintenance good or excellent; but only 47% of residents rated street repair good or excellent.

Utilities:  The electric utility delivered 977,000 megawatt hours of electricity in FY 2006-07, with 86% of residents rating service good or excellent.  The gas utility delivered over 31 million therms of natural gas, with 85% of residents rating service good or excellent.  And the water utility delivered over 5.4 million cubic feet of water, with 79% of residents rating service good or excellent.  

The City Auditor presented the report to the City Council Monday night, January 14. You can find the entire report on the web at: or you can pick up a copy from the Auditor’s Office on the 7th floor of City Hall.