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2011 Holiday Guide How we’re depriving teens of a sense of purpose page 33
Inside: Palo Alto Adult School winter class guide
Spectrum 14 Movies 21 Eating Out 23 Holidays 48 Puzzles 69 N News More clashes over high-speed rail
N Arts Rhapsodizing over viola memories
N Sports Axe at stake in 114th Big Game
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Local news, information and analysis
Critics and advocates clash over high-speed rail Palo Alto rail hearing draws hundreds by Gennady Sheyner
upporters and foes of California’s proposed high-speed rail system faced off Tuesday in Palo Alto over a $98.5 billion question: Is the voter-approved project a desperately needed job engine or
an out-of-control boondoggle that needs to be stopped? Both sides came out in full force to hear top officials from the California High-Speed Rail Authority, legislative analysts and leading rail
advocates and critics testify about the authority’s latest plans for the rail line. More than 200 people, including dozens of union workers and community activists, crammed into the Council Chambers for the afternoon hearing, filling every bench and foldout chair and spreading out against the chambers wall. The hearing centered on the rail
authority’s newly released business plan, a document that showed the rail system’s price tag spike from an initial estimate of about $33 billion in 2008 to $98.5 billion. The document attributes the tripled cost to new design elements such as tunnels and aerial viaducts, inflation adjustments and an increase in development over the past decade,
which made purchases of land more expensive. The plan, while generally seen as an improvement over the rail authority’s 2009 effort, has prompted a fresh set of concerns from city officials, state legislators, rail watchdogs and nonpartisan analysts — all (continued on page 6)
Mysterious meat peddler in Palo Alto Door-to-door salesmen falsely claim other neighbors bought meat, residents said by Sue Dremann
Triptych by Veronica Weber
Flutterings of fall Whoever said California lacks seasons must have missed Palo Alto’s fall foliage bursting in color this week, especially notable along Waverley and Ramona streets near downtown.
Palo Alto softens stance on living in cars After considering ban on vehicle dwelling, city looks at less drastic options by Gennady Sheyner
alo Alto officials are backing off their proposal to ban people from living in their vehicles and are now considering less stringent approaches, including designated lots for the homeless and no changes at all. The city had considered in July a new ordinance that would ban vehicle dwelling and make repeated violations subject to a $1,000 fine and six months jail time. After hearing from concerned homeless advocates and church leaders, staff decided to delay discussions of the new ordinance and to work
with the community on alternative ideas. The proposed ban was prompted by complaints from several neighborhoods, most notably College Terrace. Curtis Williams, the city’s planning director, said most of these complaints involve safety and sanitation issues. Staff said most cities in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties already ban vehicle dwelling. Palo Alto’s proposed ordinance was modeled on those. Over the past few months, however, staff and members of the
Community Cooperation Team, which includes advocates for the homeless, have developed new possible solutions, such as an ordinance similar to the one in Eugene, Ore., where certain churches, businesses and city facilities designate lots for vehicle dwelling. The Palo Alto City Council’s Policy and Services Committee Tuesday, in its first discussion of the controversial issue, was sympathetic to the group’s idea. Though the committee didn’t vote, members agreed that the city should consider various alternatives to its earlier proposal for a full-on ban. “We do have a quandary here — we have a mixture of objectives,” Councilman Pat Burt said. “We want to continue to be a safe community, and we want to continue to not just have compassion but to have programs that have people move out of difficult circumstances to the degree that we’re able.” Burt called the Eugene model a positive one, particularly if commercial properties benefit from
their arrangement with the vehicle dwellers. Councilman Larry Klein also said he would like staff to further consider the Eugene model. But he said another option on the table should be the “no action” alternative — doing nothing at all. “Maybe we were better off before we started poking around with this problem,” Klein said. Klein also had major reservations about allowing city facilities to be used as designated sites for vehicle dwellers. He said he would not support use of city facilities, arguing that this would create a significant bureaucratic process. Councilwoman Karen Holman agreed with Klein that the solution should not involve city facilities. She and Councilwoman Gail Price also advocated getting the city’s Human Relations Commission involved in this issue. Williams said staff plans to hold more meetings with the community group over the next month (continued on page 8)
arron Park neighborhood residents have been puzzling over mysterious meat salesmen in blue trucks who have been knocking on their doors recently. Mid-to-late last week, the salesmen from the company Prime Selection, Inc., claimed to have overstock to unload after selling the meats to neighbors whom they specified by name. But several residents said that when they checked, their neighbors hadn’t bought any. Lynnie Melena, Barron Park Association president, said a salesperson stopped by her home. “When we declined, they said they were actually wanting to give it away. We declined again, and they drove off,” she said. Prime Selection offers beef, poultry, seafood, wild game and other meats and has offices in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Jose, according to its website. Some residents said this was not their first encounter with door-todoor meat vendors. In the past few months salespeople have shown up in the Duveneck-St Francis and Old Palo Alto neighborhoods. But high-pressure sales tactics, only one brochure, no business cards and the previously mentioned non-existent customers have residents leery, they said. Francoise Lang said a salesman became upset last week after she told him her husband said she should not buy from them. He began to “argue” with her, demanding to know why, she said. “It wasn’t a pleasant experience as I felt I couldn’t just say ‘no’ and had to justify myself,” Lang said. A few years ago she experienced (continued on page 11)
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK
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Maybe we were better off before we started poking around with this problem. â€” Larry Klein, Palo Alto City Councilman, regarding a proposed ban on people living in cars. See story on page 3.
Around Town A BLOOMING CAMPUS ... Palo Alto cloud-computing giant VMWare made headlines earlier this year when it took over the massive Stanford Research Park campus formerly occupied by Roche â€” an acquisition that will allow the company to double its workforce and make it the largest employer in the city. This week, the company delighted the cityâ€™s Architectural Review Board with its ambitious proposal to create a â€œcampus in the forestâ€? atmosphere at the Hillview Avenue site. The property will feature various groves and pathways, along with a new central plaza, branded â€œTown Square,â€? featuring fountains, oaks and sycamores. â€œVisitors arrive and they know they arrived at the new VMWare,â€? said David Walker, the landscape architect for the project. The company, whose campus now makes up close to 3 million square feet, is thinking big. To accommodate the added workforce â€” which will boost its employee base to roughly 6,000 â€” it plans to build four new office buildings and three new parking garages, as well as two new â€œamenity buildingsâ€? featuring gyms and food services. The board didnâ€™t vote on the project Thursday, but members had words of praise for the companyâ€™s plans, which will continue to evolve in the coming months before they go through the formal reviews. Board member Judith Wasserman called it â€œgenerally a quite wonderful and exciting project,â€? while her colleague Alex Lew called the companyâ€™s landscaping plans â€œstunningâ€? and â€œreally beautiful.â€? The board expects to begin its formal review of the project early next year. A HOLIDAY TREAT ... Palo Alto shoppers will get a slight reprieve from the cityâ€™s parking laws this holiday season â€” an extra hour of free parking in the cityâ€™s garages. The city is extending the length of time drivers can park at all parking garages from three to four hours between now and Jan. 1, 2012. The idea is to support the cityâ€™s downtown economy during the hopefully busy shopping season, according to an announcement from the city. Visitors can also purchase all-day passes. â€œExtending the hours ... affords customers the opportunity to linger in downtown Palo Alto to enjoy the unique retail and hospitality experience,â€? Paul Wright, interim CEO of the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, said. The new rules apply to all public downtown
garages â€” City Hall; Bryant Street and Lytton Avenue; Alma and High streets; Cowper and Webster streets; and Ramona Street and University Avenue. They do not apply to designated permit spaces and surface lots. Street parking in color zones will maintain the two-hour limit. THATâ€™S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR ... The Palo Alto Childrenâ€™s Theatre has much to celebrate these days. This week, supporters of the theater announced that the facility received a National Big Read grant of $12,750, becoming the only childrenâ€™s theater in the nation to get this grant. It will provide funds to engage teens in the novel â€œIn the Time of the Butterfliesâ€? by Julia Alvarez, said Sylvia Sanders, president of the Friends of the Palo Alto Childrenâ€™s Theatre board of directors. The booster group also had a surprise for the City Council â€” an $80,000 check to commemorate the theaterâ€™s 80th anniversary. GODDESS-SPEAK ... Tara VanDerveer, Stanford University head womenâ€™s basketball coach, received the 25th annual Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce Athena Award Wednesday for excellence in her profession and for empowering other women. She credited her mother with keeping her grounded. In August VanDerveer was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, but she was characteristically humble as she received the Athena. â€œIâ€™ve been called many things in my life, but never a goddess,â€? she joked. BOOK PRIZE ... Palo Altoâ€™s library system continues to evolve, but according to one industry publication, it is already one of the best in the nation. For the third straight year, the Library Journal ranked the Palo Alto City Library as one of Americaâ€™s Star Libraries. The ratings are based on library visits, items checked out, attendance at library programs and public Internet use. Mayor Sid Espinosa said in a statement that he was proud â€” though not surprised â€” by the latest recognition. â€œWe Palo Altans love our libraries, as evidenced by our citizen-financed library reconstructions, but even more importantly, this national recognition is a tribute to our incredible library staff and volunteers,â€? Espinosa said. â€œWe have world-class libraries because of their hard work every day.â€? N
Offering comfort in grief Kara’s counseling service supports locals who’ve lost loved ones by Yichuan Cao
Fred Mitchell, left, Justin Brock, Ryder Booth, Garrett Mitchell, Holmes Futrell and Colin Gilboy — all developers of the app “Notability” — get together at the Mitchells’ home in Palo Alto to work on improving their top-selling iPad app.
Locally developed app hits No. 1 on iPad best-seller list Milestone offers window into the universe of app developers around the world
Palo Alto company’s iPad app last week shot to the No. 1 spot on Apple’s list of “top paid apps.” The youthful six-member development team celebrated by lighting candles, eating cake and blasting “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang. The story behind the note-taking app Notability — combining Stanford University and University of California engineering talent and the efforts of several graduates of Gunn and Palo Alto high schools — offers a glimpse into the universe of thousands of app developers working in dorms, kitchens and home offices around the world. Like several competing apps such as Notes Plus and AudioNote, Notability allows a user to record a presentation and simultaneously take notes. Later, the user can tap a piece of text in the notes and hear what was said at the same point in the lecture, or any audio recording. “For students, doctors and coaches, among others, this feature will be highly useful,” wrote New York Times “App Smart” columnist Bob Tedeschi of Notability last week. That small mention — plus the recent addition of a handwriting fea-
by Chris Kenrick ture to Notability — is what developers believe propelled them to the top of the charts last Friday (Nov. 11), where Notability remained as of the Weekly’s press time Thursday. More than 140,000 apps have been developed for iPad users. Apple does not post the proportion of paid versus free apps. “It was a great surprise to me,” said lead developer Colin Gilboy, who has worked on Notability, and a predecessor app for the hearing impaired, since earning a master’s in electrical engineering from Stanford several years ago. “We try to do what we do, and people like it.” The six full- and part-time members of the Notability team are physically scattered — from San Diego to Los Gatos to Palo Alto to San Francisco — and do much of their work through Skype video and chat. Engineer Holmes Futrell met his colleagues in person for the first time just last week after working remotely for more than two years from San Diego, where he is a graduate student in computer science at the University of California. Bay Area team members gather once or twice a week in the Palo Alto dining room of Fred Mitchell,
a former senior executive at Adobe Systems who in 2008 launched the app development company Ginger Labs. The company is named for the Mitchell family’s 13-year-old yellow Labrador retriever. Using customer feedback — Mitchell gets about 100 e-mails a day — team members go round and round about how to improve the Notability product. “We’re always thinking about the next app, but in the first week that we shipped the current version of Notability we heard from customers and tallied up the number of new features they requested — and it was over 100,” Mitchell said. “So, as complete as it seems, users have lots of ideas, and we’re going to keep pressing on Notability and improving it.” Mitchell estimates Notability will have 500,000 customers by the end of December. Besides Gilboy, Futrell and Mitchell, the team’s members are graphic designer Ryder Booth, Mitchell’s son Garrett Mitchell, who focuses on the app’s “library” or organizational screen, and Justin Brock, who does marketing.
ot long after Carol Pugh moved back from San Diego to the Bay Area in 2008, a tragic event struck her family. Her husband was murdered by a coworker, leaving behind Pugh and their two young children. Faced with the sudden loss, Pugh, new to the area, was not sure what to do. “I had no sense for the community yet. All of a sudden this happened to me, and I had no idea about how life should go on,” she said. Her friends, concerned, referred her to Kara, a Palo Alto nonprofit grief-counseling organization serving the Bay Area. Since its founding in 1976, Kara has offered peer counseling, providing clients with emotional validation and support from trained volunteers. After meeting and talking with people who had gone through similar experiences, Pugh said she learned what to anticipate in the process of grieving. She was able to gradually face the harsh facts and move forward. “They let us, especially my 5-year-old and 3-year-old kids, know that we are not alone,” Pugh said of her Kara peers. “I have learned that I was not crazy at all and the whole process of walking through grief is all natural.” This year, the agency received $5,000 from the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund to continue and expand its work. One of the key aspects of Kara’s approach is the peer-counselor match. A first appointment is made when a counselor who shares a common experience or personality with the client is identified. “Grief work is a very unique niche, and you have to find the right person that is extremely comfortable with an uncomfortable subject,” said Stephanie Demos, development director for Kara. “We know our volunteers so well. That’s why we are able to find the right match. Even if it’s not, both parties can say, ‘It’s not the match,’ and change.” Kara’s office is located inside an old house on Kingsley Avenue, a cozy alternative to a sterile therapist’s office or hospital. According to Demos, everything in the Kara office is maintained to make people feel at home.
“It’s like going to grandma’s,” said Jonathan Frecceri, community outreach and education director for Kara. Due to the complicated nature of human emotions, Demos said that what Kara does on a daily basis has always been very challenging. “Grief is an individual fingerprint,” she said. “And the problem is that we are a culture that doesn’t acknowledge death very well. It’s always going to be a hurdle.” Unfortunately, Demos said, the fast-paced corporate culture many people work in does not allow time for grief to be relieved, though she acknowledged people are sometimes better off busy. Today, Kara has grown from a peer-counseling service to include a variety of programs such as end-oflife counseling, a youth and family program, Community Outreach and Education (CORE) and a grief-related therapy program, all tailored to meet different needs of clients. Apart from grief-related therapy, all Kara services are free of charge. Daily operations, including training volunteers, need support from the local community, staff said. As a Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund recipient, Kara is now looking to expand its reach in surrounding communities, such as East Palo Alto. “After the recent crash that killed a school girl, we were there working with the Ravenswood School District to counsel students,” Frecceri said. “We found almost every kid there knows someone in his or her family who was shot or killed. There’s no reason that we should not help those on the other side of the freeway.” Training volunteers, especially those who are bilingual, to achieve a greater network is also on Kara’s outreach agenda. “I have not volunteered for Kara yet,” Pugh said. “But it is the thing I want to do in the future, to give back.” N Editorial Intern Yichuan Cao can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
www.PaloAltoOnline.com The annual Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund drive has a goal of raising and giving away $250,000 to local nonprofits serving children and families. People may donate at www. PaloAltoOnline.com/holidayfund. One hundred percent of donations go to the selected organizations, which will be chosen in April. The campaign runs through early January 2012.
(continued on page 10)
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High-speed rail (continued from page 3)
of whom were represented Tuesday. Farra Bracht, principal analyst at the California Legislative Analystâ€™s Office, said her office has several major concerns about the new business plan. Chief among them: Where will the money come from? â€œThe funding available now would only complete the initial construction segment,â€? Bracht testified. â€œThat leaves a lot of questions about where funding would come from to complete the rest of the project.â€? Bracht also criticized the business plan as failing to analyze a number of possible impacts of the rail line, including jobs and economic activity that would be lost because of businesses that would have to be displaced by the new line and increased congestion near station locations. William Kempton, who chairs a peer-review group that vets the rail authorityâ€™s reports, was more optimistic and called the plan â€œa reasonable approach to proceeding in a way that will allow high-speed rail to be implemented segmentally or incrementally into the future. â€œI think the plan does lay out a reasonable, logical sequencing approach and makes a very good case for segmented construction,â€? Kempton said. But he voiced some concerns about the extension of the projectâ€™s completion from 2020 to 2033. He said his committee would continue to evaluate the rail authorityâ€™s revenue and ridership numbers, a subject of major dispute among transportation experts. The rail authority is banking on getting most of the funding for the line from the federal government. The federal money would be matched by funds from the $9.95 billion bond state voters approved in 2008 for the project. The rail authority also is counting on local contributions and about $11 bil-
lion in private investments, which it anticipates receiving after the first segment is built. â€œWhat that initial operating segment would do is trigger the buildout of the rest of the high-speed-rail system both by establishing ridership and bringing in further investment to help build out further segments,â€? said Dan Richard, a newly appointed member of the authorityâ€™s board of directors. Tuesdayâ€™s hearing was organized by Assemblyman Rich Gordon, DMenlo Park, who chairs a budget subcommittee focused on transportation spending. Gordon was also one of three Midpeninsula lawmakers â€” along with state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto â€” to call for a blending of high-speed rail and Caltrain on the Peninsula, a proposal that the rail authority largely embraces in its new business plan. The meeting was a rare public visit for top rail officials to a city that has gradually emerged as a leading critic of the rail project. The Palo Alto City Council, which in 2008 urged voters to support the bond measure, last year took a position of â€œno confidenceâ€? in the rail authority. On Monday night, the council began considering whether to urge legislators to either kill the project or bring it back to the voters. It opted for continued deliberations. Michael Rossi, who along with Richard was recently appointed to the rail authorityâ€™s board of directors, defended the business plan and its finding that the rail system would operate under a profit. â€œThe finances in the plan are documented; they are transparent; they are current; and they are public,â€? Rossi said. â€œWe have a plan that justifies the statement that this is an operating-profit organization, and Iâ€™m pleased to have that discussion with anybody, anytime.â€? Elizabeth Alexis, co-founder of the Palo Alto group Californians Advocating Responsible Rail De-
NOTICE OF A PUBLIC MEETING Of the City of Palo Alto Transportation Division
Public Meeting Notice California Avenue Transit Hub Corridor Streetscape Improvements Project Park Boulevard Plaza Design DATE: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 TIME: 6:30 â€“ 8:00 PM PLACE: Escondido School 890 Escondido Road, Multi-Purpose Room This public meeting will be an opportunity for the community to provide input on preferences for the design of the Park Boulevard Plaza including landscape treatments, outdoor seating areas, streetscape furniture and bicycle parking facilities. For further information contact: email@example.com or call (650) 329-2442.
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sign, said the new business plan is an improvement of the previous version but called the new document a â€œvery risky plan.â€? Alexis, whose group was the first to point out flaws in the rail authorityâ€™s ridership methodology, urged the agency to take its time and to come up with a more realistic ridership model. â€œYou need another year to gather data; you need another ridership model,â€? Alexis told the rail officials. Jessica Zenk, transportation policy director for the Silicon Valley Leadership Council, said her group is now reconsidering its earlier support for the project because of all the recent changes. But Rail Authority CEO Roelof van Ark said the new business plan is based on fair, reasonable and conservative assumptions. He also defended the rail authorityâ€™s decision to build its first segment in the Central Valley, between north of Fresno and north of Bakersfield. The decision had led some state legislators and U.S. Congress members to dub the proposed system a â€œtrain to nowhere.â€? â€œThis is the way the experts in the rest of the world have implemented the high-speed rail systems in other countries,â€? van Ark said, referring to the agencyâ€™s decision to start construction at the center of the line. Labor leaders remained steadfast in their support for the project, which the rail authority estimates will create 100,000 jobs during construction. Union workers rallied outside City Hall just before the meeting, holding signs in support of the project. Cesar Diaz, legislative director for State Building and Construction Trades, said the rail project is exactly what the state needs at a time when so many construction workers, electricians and other tradesmen are out of a job. Some parts of Central Valley, he said, are seeing the unemployment rate for those in the construction industry rise above 45 percent. â€œWe need high-speed rail. We need more efficient transportation, a cleaner environment and less dependence on foreign oil,â€? Diaz said. â€œMost of all, we need jobs,â€? he concluded, earning an ovation from the union workers in the crowd. While most proponents focused on job creation and improved transportation, critics burrowed in on the details. Some said the rail authorityâ€™s latest proposal does not comply with the requirements of the 2008 bond measure, which specifies that bond funds could only be spent on a â€œusable segmentâ€? between two stations. The authorityâ€™s initial construction segment will not meet that objective, said David Schonbrunn, president of the Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund, one of the nonprofit groups participating in the suit against the rail authority. â€œThe emperor still has no clothes,â€? Schonbrunn said. â€œTheyâ€™re clearly hoping that politicians will overlook the projectâ€™s inconsistencies with Proposition 1A in their eagerness to do something to create jobs. â€œWe hope you wonâ€™t succumb to this pressure.â€? N Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at gsheyner@ paweekly.com.
Eeensy weensy preschools Tiny schools provide no small amount of nurturing, growth for tots, parents say by Elizabeth Lorenz
for their kids — and to those uncomfortable with sending their children to kindergarten before they are ready, a growing trend. Stephanie Agnew, parent education coordinator at Parents Place in Palo Alto and San Mateo, expects the demand for alternative programs for younger 5-year-olds will increase as the required birth date for kindergarten entry gets later. Therefore, she said, the need for these smaller preschool programs will likely increase. Many parents see larger schools as attractive because they have more resources. While those benefits help some children, Agnew said, a shy, slower-to-warm child can increase in confidence at a smaller school. “The biggest advantage is that the children get individual attention, and it’s less over-stimulating,” she said. Debbie Baker, a former kindergarten teacher, started her small preschool — Circle of Friends on Alameda de las Pulgas in Menlo Park — to meet children’s developmental needs and to keep her in the classroom. “Could it grow beyond this? Yes, but then I’d be sitting in an office,” Baker said, while showing a visitor her cheerful classroom with a painted sky and skylights on the ceiling. “It would be hard to keep (my) philosophy going in more than one classroom. This way, I can live the dream.” Baker tore down her old detached garage, received a license to run a home day care program from the state of California, and built a light, airy and compact preschool classroom where the garage used to be. Behind tall, double wooden gates, the school is invisible from the street and there is no sign. In less than 1,000 square feet, there is a rug area for miniature building projects, and a dress-up area tucked under a set of stairs leads to a cozy
ust before 10 on most weekday mornings, a handful of young children swing or slide at Johnson Park on Hawthorne Avenue in Palo Alto. Then out of nowhere, a dozen small tots — like ducklings behind their mother — trot into the park. It’s clear they are from some sort of preschool, but it’s not obvious where, since there are no advertised ones nearby. In fact, the school, known as Periwinkle, is in a deep brown Craftsman house on Byron Street four blocks away. There is no official sign out front saying that it’s a school, only telltale signs, like an easel, bright colors and a whiteboard on the porch with a schedule. Founder PJ Lents said the main advantage of her 12-child school is the ability to spend more time on activities. Formerly a kindergarten teacher who taught classes of 20, Lents is now able to split her class of 12 and have one half work with one teacher and one with another. “We make faster progress, which allows us to have really rich learning opportunities,” she said. Started by a group of Bing Nursery School parents in 2005, Periwinkle focuses on “young 5s” — children whose birthdays place them at the younger end of their peer group. Lents and her family live in the upstairs part of the house. More expensive than traditional preschools, several other “pocket” preschools, with enrollments under 15 children, have popped up in the Menlo Park-Palo Alto area. Most do not advertise, only one has a website, and tracking down a phone number or email address may involve a chance post on the ratings site Yelp.com. Yet these schools have no trouble filling up, as word of mouth among parents creates long waiting lists. They seem to appeal to people looking for something tailor-made
Children draw in the cheery classroom at Circle of Friends Preschool on Alameda de las Pulgas in Menlo Park. The school, with room for 12 children, is run by a former kindergarten teacher. loft book nook. Art project and puzzle areas await little hands, and the flexible space allows children to move from activity to activity. Two adults oversee 12 children. Some children come daily while others only attend two days a week. Circle of Friends enrolls 3- and 4-year-olds in a class together for very specific reasons. The mixed age group “allows the children to mentor each other,” Baker said. “When younger children learn skills, they usually do it imitating older children or adults. The older child scaffolds the younger child’s skills.” The smaller class size allows for a slightly quieter room and provides an opportunity for children to learn
problem solving. Baker is able to hear nearly everything going on in the room and can intervene immediately. Baker’s school is far from a simple home day care program, she said. She has stringent standards for herself and the other teachers. She also conducts twice-yearly developmental assessments of each child to track their progress. Baker said another advantage of the diminutive size of her school is she gets to know families intimately and often enrolls a succession of siblings from the same family. Avery Olesen, who teaches part time at Ohlone Elementary School in Palo Alto, sent all four of her daughters to Circle of Friends.
“The smaller size, at this age, enables each child to have a voice,” Olesen said. “The teachers really seem to know each child well and work to develop their strengths and support their learning needs.” Olesen’s youngest daughter just started kindergarten this fall. “My girls all did fine socially and academically. They seemed to adjust well to kindergarten. They have a healthy appreciation for learning and seem very inquisitive,” she said. That innate curiosity is also fostered at another small preschool, aptly named Our School. Located in the Willows neighborhood in Menlo Park, it is well known among both Willows and Suburban Park parents, but nearly unheard of in west Menlo Park. The school has no website, is unlisted in the telephone book, and one nearly has to stumble across a telephone number or email address to find it. Willows parent Jodi Robbins, on the other hand, had no trouble finding Our School and put her child on the waiting list at 18 months. Robbins also enthuses about the school’s way of teaching through experience. Most afternoons, the children are taken on an outing to get popsicles, hear a symphony, or go to a local bagel shop where each child is encouraged to order his or her own. “Regular preschools don’t focus on the things that her preschool does,” Robbins said. And kindergarten teachers can tell, she said. Her daughter’s teacher said she can recognize those who’ve gone to Our School because they can hold their attention better and they form tight social bonds with fellow preschoolers that carry over to elementary school. A Suburban Park mother said she chose Our School for her second daughter knowing that, with a fall birthday, she’d be starting kindergarten at almost 6. The school, said this mother, who is a former third-grade teacher, is “experience rich.” The children learn about spiders, look for spider webs, or talk about chameleons and blow toy whistles to practice making chameleon calls. Her daughter, she said, “skips” to school every day. “It gets her out of bed and she’s thrilled.” N Freelance writer Elizabeth Lorenz can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Principals present anti-bullying efforts ‘Social kindness’ programs among many discussed in yearly presentation by Chris Kenrick
ocial kindness” and “student connectedness” are oft-heard phrases among Palo Alto school administrators this fall. In a recent presentation to the Board of Education, Palo Alto’s three middle-school principals enumerated efforts to address bullying on their campuses, a particular challenge in the pre-teen years. The
discussion was part of the annual “Single Plan for Student Achievement” presentation mandated under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. “We’re working very hard to improve student connectedness and reduce bullying,” Terman Middle School Principal Katherine Baker said. Baker said the school has a “so-
cial kindness” program aimed at teaching empathy and inclusion, in which each grade level focuses on a different area. For sixth-graders, it’s Tiger Camp, a middle-school orientation program involving community-building activities. In seventh grade, students get anti-bullying curriculum connected to the content of a class. For exam-
ple, students write “I poems,” with a focus on what they stand for and believe in. The emphasis for eighth-graders is on leadership and teaching students how they can be role models and “upstanders” for others who might be bullied or need help. About 45 members of the class volunteer to become leaders in this regard. In other activities, Terman makes
an effort to mix students in various activities, pairing new students with eighth-graders or having eighthgraders play board games with sixth-graders, for example. “If we have a bullying incident, we’ll have a lesson on that,” Baker said. “If there’s cyberbullying, we’ll develop a lesson on cyberbullying.” (continued on page 12)
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NOTICE OF A PUBLIC MEETING of the Palo Alto Planning & Transportation Commission Please be advised the Planning and Transportation Commission (P&TC) shall conduct a public meeting at 6:00 PM, Wednesday, November 30, 2011 in the Council Chambers, Ground Floor, Civic Center, Palo Alto, California. Any interested persons may appear and be heard on these items. Staff reports for agendized items are available via the City’s main website at www.cityofpaloalto.org. and also at the Planning Division Front Desk, 5th Floor, City Hall, after 2:00 PM on the Friday preceding the meeting date. Copies will be made available at the Development Center should City Hall be closed on the 9/80 Friday. NEW BUSINESS. Study Session: 1.
1875 Embarcadero Road (Palo Alto Golf Course): Request by City of Palo Alto Community Services Department for Study Session review of the conceptual designs to reconﬁgure portions of the Palo Alto Golf Course and related Golf Course Master Plan
SB375 Update: Update regarding the status of review and responses to Alternative Scenarios and the One Bay Area Grant Program.
Questions. For any questions regarding the above items, please contact the Planning Department at (650) 329-2441. The ﬁles relating to these items are available for inspection weekdays between the hours of 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. This public meeting is televised live on Government Access Channel 26. ADA. The City of Palo Alto does not discriminate against individuals with disabilities. To request accommodations to access City facilities, services or programs, to participate at public meetings, or to learn more about the City’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), please contact the City’s ADA Coordinator at 650.329.2550 (voice) or by e-mailing email@example.com.
*** Curtis Williams, Director of Planning and Community Environment
Living in cars (continued from page 3)
and a half and then hold a public hearing before returning to the council in February with specific proposals.
“There has been a very positive approach on everyone’s part to try to work together, try to come up with, first, some direction for an approach to provide an alternative,” Williams said of the community group. “Then, if we need to regulate, how do we do that in
CHRISTMAS TREES &WREATHS Nativity School will be selling Christmas Trees & Wreaths beginning Friday, November 25th and ending on Saturday, December 17th. This is a fundraiser for Nativity School. HOURS – Closed Mondays Opening day has extended hours from 9:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday .....................4:00 Friday ......................................4:00 Saturday ..................................9:00 Sunday ....................................9:00
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Corner of Oak Grove & Laurel, Menlo Park For information go to www.nativitytrees.com Fire-Proofing and Delivery Service are available THIS SPACE IS DONATED AS A COMMUNITY SERVICE BY THE PALO ALTO WEEKLY
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p.m. p.m. p.m. p.m.
a way that does not criminalize those who aren’t causing a problem?” Williams said Palo Alto’s homeless residents are homeless for many different reasons. Some suffer from mental problems, while others are victims of the nation’s economic slump. “There are certainly those that we heard from who a few years ago had jobs and homes, and this wasn’t an issue. And now they lost their jobs, and they’re in financial straits,” Williams said. “There are others who find that while they’re homeless, living in a vehicle is a more secure environment for them than living out of the vehicle.” Fred Smith spoke to the committee Tuesday, saying he was forced to live in an RV after he lost his job as a software engineer. Smith said he’s now living off Social Security payments and looking for work. So far, however, he’s had no luck in finding any. “This is the only place I have to live,” Smith said. “It’s like I’m being punished for being out of work and trying to survive.” Complaints about vehicle dwellers making a mess are exaggerations, Smith said. “I don’t enjoy living in a vehicle. I want to get out of this as soon as I can,” he added. “Please do something that doesn’t hurt us.” N Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at gsheyner@ paweekly.com.
Still by Your Side
We are pleased to announce Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital have reached new health insurance provider agreements with Anthem Blue Cross. The contracts are retroactive to September 1, 2011. We wish to thank our patients during this period of negotiation. We are still by your side to take care of you and your family. To ensure easy access to a Stanford Primary Care Physician or Specialist, or if you have any questions about Anthem Blue Cross, please call us at 1.877.519.6099 (toll-free) 650.736.5998 (local). For information about Packard Children’s physicians and services, please call 1.800.308.3285.
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Held at The Santa Clara Convention Center Hours: Fri & Sat 10-7 pm and Sun 10-3 pm
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Palo Alto government action this week
City Council (Nov. 14)
Gas lines: The council heard a presentation from PG&E officials about the companyâ€™s plans to test, upgrade and replace sections of gas mains running through Palo Alto. Action: None Rail principles: The council directed its Rail Committee to consider adopting as the cityâ€™s official stance a position of opposing high-speed rail, asking legislators to either halt the project or send it back to the state voters. Yes: Burt, Espinosa, Holman, Price, Scharff, Schmid, Shepherd, Yeh No: Klein
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Council Finance Committee (Nov. 15)
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PaloAltoGreen: The committee recommended creating a new feed-in tariff program for energy generation and recommended getting local businesses involved in the program. The committee also recommended changing the programâ€™s name to PaloAltoClean. Yes: Scharff, Schmid, Shepherd Abstained: Yeh Electricity: The committee discussed the status of the cityâ€™s effort to place the cityâ€™s overhead electric lines underground and directed staff to return to the committee with options for the conversion. Yes: Unanimous Fiber: The committee discussed the cityâ€™s plans for a citywide ultra-high-speed broadband system. Action: None
Council Policy & Services Committee (Nov. 15) Vehicle dwellers: The committee discussed a proposal to prohibit vehicle dwelling and voiced support for considering an ordinance similar to the one in Eugene, Ore. Action: None Magical Bridge: The committee heard an update on the Magical Bridge Playground, a proposal to build a universally accessible playground at Mitchell Park. Action: None
Historic Resources Board (Nov. 16)
Main Library: The board discussed a proposal by the Public Works Department to make modifications to improve circulation between the Main Library, the Palo Alto Art Center and the community gardens facility. Action: None
s 3AFE ENVIRONMENT s )NTERESTING ACTIVITIES s 3OCIALIZING s 4HERAPIES s .UTRITIOUS LUNCHES
Council Rail Committee (Nov. 16)
Lobbyists: The committee voted to reopen the request-for-proposals process for a Sacramento lobbyist and to reconsider the pool of applicants in December. Yes: Burt, Price, Shepherd No: Klein Business: The committee discussed the Nov. 15 public hearing on the California High-Speed Rail Authorityâ€™s new business plan. Action: None
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Architectural Review Board (Nov. 17)
Call for your free visiting day!
VMWare: The board reviewed but did not vote on a proposal by VMWare to build four new office buildings, two amenity buildings and three parking structures, and to renovate several existing buildings at its campus, 3431 Hillview Ave. Action: None 1213 Newell Road: The committee discussed a proposal by the Public Works Department to modify the circulation between the Main Library, the Palo Alto Art Center and the community garden facility. Action: None
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la Evening of Join the Chamber for a Ga g Opportunitiesâ€” and End-Of-Year Networkin res euv Dâ€™o rs Ho , nks Dri Holiday e. All in a Festive Atmospher 2012 Board Officers PLUS Official Installation:
InnVision Opportunity Services Center Holiday Toy Shoppe Please Bring Unwrapped Gifts for Local, Low-Income Families Sponsor: Garden Court Hotel
Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce
400 Mitchell Lane
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(continued from page 5)
Brock keeps tabs on â€œcampus repsâ€? in K-12 and higher education who are willing to share their experiences with the product. It was feedback from math and science students, among other things, that drove the addition of Notabilityâ€™s handwriting feature, for easier use in the lab. Despite the proliferation of iPad apps, Fred Mitchell thinks itâ€™s â€œstill the beginningâ€? for the app business. â€œNinety-eight percent of the opportunity is in front of us,â€? he said. â€œThe iPad will get faster, thinner, lighter, with a more high-resolution screen. And the quantity of them sold so far is a small number compared to cell phones. So thatâ€™s a lot of growth opportunity for developers. â€œItâ€™s a very democratic place because we have hundreds of reviews by people we donâ€™t know, and they can say anything they want. Luckily, theyâ€™re saying mostly favorable things these days.â€? N Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at ckenrick@paweekly. com.
A preview of Palo Alto government meetings next week CITY COUNCIL ... The council plans to hear a presentation on Project Safety Net, the community effort to promote youth well-being; and to consider a monthly report on the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center construction project. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 21, in the Council Chambers at City Hall (250 Hamilton Ave.).
Meat peddler (continued from page 3)
the same thing, she said. Vanessa Leighton, who is a vegetarian, said the salesmen also approached her a few months ago when she lived in Old Palo Alto. “Same story ... extra meat, delivering to others in the neighborhood,” she said. Pepa Richardson, also a vegetarian, said salesmen approached her a few months ago, too. “I told them we were vegetarians, and that shut him up, and he left,” she said. Palo Alto’s city ordinance does not allow door-to-door solicitation without a permit, and Prime Selection does not have the permit, Code Enforcement Officer Heather Johnson said Monday. She had not received any complaints, but said she would contact the company. Prime Selection President Glen Dimino said the tactics residents are describing are “wrong” and that the company does not condone vendors trying to build their customer bases using such techniques. There is no reason for a vendor to misrepresent the product, Dimino said, adding that he stands behind his products’ quality.
Online This Week
These and other news stories were posted on Palo Alto Online throughout the week. For longer versions, go to www.PaloAltoOnline.com/news or click on “News” in the left, green column.
Mountain lion kills three goats in Woodside A large mountain lion entered a fenced enclosure containing three dwarf goats and two alpacas, killed the goats, and carried one off to feed on it outside a home on Tripp Court in Woodside sometime after 6 p.m. Monday (Nov. 14), the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office reported. (Posted Nov. 17 at 8:52 a.m.)
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After realizing his leather wallet had slipped out of his pocket during a trip to the Starbucks in Sharon Heights, Palo Alto resident Dr. Julian Gomez figured it was gone for good. (Posted Nov. 16 at 4:54 p.m.)
Menlo Park approves new union contract Despite a flood of emails protesting a time-off policy that gives some city employees a minimum seven weeks off a year, no one spoke during public comment as the Menlo Park City Council prepared to vote on a proposed two-year contract with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) on Tuesday (Nov. 15). (Posted Nov. 16 at 1:43 p.m.)
Attempted rape reported at Mountain View motel Police are searching for a man accused of sexually assaulting a female employee of a Mountain View motel on Sunday (Nov. 13). (Posted Nov. 16 at 11:50 a.m.)
Palo Alto is California’s ‘most educated city’ Palo Alto is California’s most educated city, according to a report by California Watch. Nearly eight in 10 residents aged 25 and older have earned at least a bachelor’s degree. (Posted Nov. 16 at 9:52 a.m.)
PALO ALTO CITY COUNCIL CIVIC CENTER, 250 HAMILTON AVENUE BROADCAST LIVE ON KZSU, FM 90.1 CABLECAST LIVE ON GOVERNMENT ACCESS CHANNEL 26
***************************************** THIS IS A SUMMARY OF COUNCIL AGENDA ITEMS. THE AGENDA WITH COMPLETE TITLES INCLUDING LEGAL DOCUMENTATION CAN BE VIEWED AT THE BELOW WEBPAGE:
LEGO robotics tournament needs volunteers
‘I told them we were vegetarians, and that shut him up, and he left.’ — Pepa Richardson, Barron Park resident
The company does sell to outside vendors who purchase from the processing plant, he said. The vendors buy the product by the pallet to resell. Those vendors can also carry products from other companies on their truck. The contractors are responsible for all licenses and permits and obeying laws, he said. The company also leases its trucks to vendors. The salespeople would not have Prime Selection brochures or business cards, since they often represent many other company products, he said. If residents are having a problem with a vendor who is delivering meat in a Prime Selection truck, they should note the truck number and the telephone number that is painted on the vehicle and call Prime Selection, he said. “If there are more than two complaints about a contractor, we won’t lease the vehicle to them. You want your representatives to be honest. Residents can call us to complain,” he said. Dimino said that about 90 percent of meat vendors sell other companies’ products from an unmarked car or truck. N Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at sdremann@ paweekly.com.
Palo Alto’s first LEGO robotics tournament is happening this Sunday (Nov. 20) but the event is still short on volunteers, organizers said. (Posted Nov. 15 at 4:41 p.m.)
Drive-by shooting wounds two in Menlo Park Gunfire shattered a quiet Sunday morning in Menlo Park along Sevier Avenue around 10 a.m. on Nov. 13. (Posted Nov. 14 at 5:37 p.m.)
‘Youth of the Year’ finalists share their hopes Words like “perseverance” and “sagacious” peppered the speeches of eighth-graders vying to be named “Youth of the Year” in a competition of the Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula. (Posted Nov. 14 at 12:36 p.m.)
Big rig overturns on 101 in Menlo Park The driver of the north-bound big-rig truck likely fell asleep at the wheel at about 2:20 a.m. Sunday (Nov. 13), causing the truck to overturn on U.S. Highway 101 in Menlo Park and block traffic for six hours, a California Highway Patrol officer said. (Posted Nov. 13 at 10:24 a.m.)
Palo Alto traffic stop yields shooting victim A driver stopped by Palo Alto police Saturday night (Nov. 12) was found to have been shot moments before in East Palo Alto, but the 22year-old man’s injuries were not life-threatening, police said. (Posted Nov. 13 at 10:19 a.m.)
Palo Alto residents honor veterans with gifts Carrie Manley leaned toward U.S. Army veteran Doug Tharp’s hospital bed at the VA Palo Alto Spinal Cord Injury Center, the light in her eyes twinkling. (Posted Nov. 11 at 5:37 p.m.)
Stanford’s Hennessy updates faculty on ROTC In a briefing to the faculty on Thursday (Nov. 10) — the day before Veterans Day — Stanford University President John Hennessy presented an update on the university’s plans to re-establish a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program at Stanford. (Posted Nov. 11 at 4:51 p.m.)
Equity prepares to buy East Palo Alto apartments Despite protests from the community and concern from the City Council, Wells Fargo Bank is now finalizing its sale of more than 1,800 housing units in East Palo Alto to a single buyer with a nationwide portfolio. (Posted Nov. 11 at 9:13 a.m.) Want to get news briefs emailed to you every weekday? Sign up for Express, our new daily e-edition. Go to www.PaloAltoOnline.com to sign up.
(TENTATIVE) AGENDA - REGULAR MEETING COUNCIL CHAMBERS November 21, 2011 - 7:00 PM SPECIAL ORDERS OF THE DAY 1. Community Group Presentation - Developmental Assets Initiative, Project Safety Net CONSENT CALENDAR 2. Approval of a Water Enterprise Fund Contract with Anderson Paciﬁc Engineering Construction, Inc. in a Total Not to Exceed Amount of $3,135,200.00 for the Seismic upgrade of the Mayﬁeld and Boronda Reservoirs WS-08002-501 3. Approval to Adopt Networking Equipment Standardization Based Upon Hewlett Packard Network Switching Equipment 4. Approval of City of Palo Alto Response Letter to Metropolitan Transportation Commission Regarding One Bay Area Grant Proposal 5. Approval of a Contract with RBF Consulting, Inc. in the Amount of $140,000 for Southgate Neighborhood Storm Drain Improvements and Green Street Project, Capital Improvement Program Project SD-10101 6. Approval of Final Map to Merge Four Parcels into a 3.62 Acre Parcel for Condominium Subdivision Into a Hotel Unit and 26 Residential Units, Located at 4301 and 4329 El Camino Real 7. Adoption of a Budget Amendment Ordinance in the Amount of $111,487.75 to Fund the Purchase of seven (7) Diesel Particulate Filter Devices; the Approval of a Purchase Order with Emissions Retroﬁt Group in an Amount Not to Exceed $60,550.72 for the purchase and installation of four (4) Diesel Particulate Filter Devices and the Approval of a Purchase Order with Diesel Emission Service in an amount not to exceed $50,937.03 for the purchase and installation of three (3) Diesel Particulate Filter Devices (Vehicle Replacement Fund Capital Improvement Project VR-07002) 8. Clariﬁcation of Percent for Art Policy in Municipal Projects ACTION ITEMS 9. Submittal of Mitchell Park Library and Community Center Monthly Construction Contract Report and Council Direction to Staff to Continue Construction Contract Monthly Reports
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