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Green light for Edgewood Plaza Page 3
Rocketship founder launches charter schools to pull low-achieving students up page 28
N Arts Making an artistic point with pencils
N Sports Stanford guard is good as gold
N Home Honoring old, new at ‘charming’ tour
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Local news, information and analysis
New Edgewood Plaza wins final approval City Council OKs rehabilitation of Eichler plaza, which will include a Fresh Market grocery store by Gennady Sheyner dgewood Plaza, the only shopping area built by Palo Alto developer Joseph Eichler, will soon welcome a new grocery store along with 10 homes and a small public park under a proposal the City Council approved Monday night, March 19.
The council’s 8-1 vote, with Karen Holman dissenting, was the culmination of more than five years of planning by the developer, Sand Hill Property Company. It took a series of revisions and extensive negotiations with neighborhood residents for the project to win over its crit-
ics, get through Palo Alto’s planning process and reach the council. Sand Hill’s initial proposal, which called for more than 30 homes at the mostly vacant plaza near Embarcadero and West Bayshore roads, was soundly rejected by the surrounding neighborhood and had led to a lawsuit. Though council members expressed some concern about traffic and parking issues Monday, they agreed the new proposal would be
a welcome change for the plaza, which Councilman Larry Klein characterized as one of the city’s most unsightly areas. Edgewood was built in the late 1950s by Eichler and architect A. Quincy Jones. Klein, who lives about a mile from the plaza and who worked across U.S. Highway 101 from it for many years, estimated he has driven by the site about 15,000 times in recent decades. This included weekly trips to a dry-
cleaning establishment that finally moved out last year, he said. “Over the time, I sadly witnessed the gradual decline of the shopping center until now. It’s probably the biggest eyesore in town,” Klein said. The most significant change to Edgewood will be a new grocery store, an amenity that has been missing since Albertsons left in (continued on page 8)
Jury returns $22M verdict against clinic Menlo woman paralyzed during treatment for migraines by Sue Dremann
(continued on page 9)
(continued on page 6)
violence, said Marie Baylon, Night Outreach co-president. “Many women are on the streets because of domestic violence and so have support needs associated with that. For women, issues such as reproductive rights, diet and post-menopausal medical care can become important,” she said. All of the funding — more than $25,000 — thus far has come from Night Outreach, which raised the money from student groups, individuals, parents, church congregations and InnVision, student Ricardo Pinho said. Night Outreach members roam Palo Alto’s streets to make contact and build relationships with the city’s homeless population. The
he Palo Alto Medical Foundation was hit with one of the largest medical malpractice verdicts in Santa Clara County history Monday, March 19, after a Menlo Park woman suffered a stroke while undergoing treatment for migraines. Robyn Frankel, who was 43 years old in 2006, when the treatment paralyzed her, won a $22 million verdict from the jury of six men and six women. Frankel had suffered from migraines her entire life, said Summer Woodson, one of her attorneys. She went through several non-invasive imaging procedures, such as magnetic resonance imaging. In 2006, doctors decided to give her a cerebral angiogram. The procedure involved injecting a dye into a vein to inspect what doctors believed could be causing her headaches. But according to the lawsuit, Frankel was not told that the procedure was invasive and risky. The jury found she was not given informed consent, Woodson said. “She had a reaction to the procedure and stroked out,” Woodson said. “Nobody talked to her about why she is having it or the risks.” Expert witnesses testified that the cerebral angiogram was not medically necessary, and it did not provide any benefit. Nothing could be seen that wasn’t already visible in the non-invasive tests. Looking at the vein as a cause of her headaches was “baloney,” Woodson said the experts testified. Frankel had two small children
Vickie Boone, left, and Jeaneen Foreman move mattresses while setting up the Hotel de Zink Women’s Shelter, which is housed on a rotating basis at local churches. The pilot program has funding through April.
Stanford students’ dream of women’s shelter now a reality Rotating shelter offers hope of jobs, permanent homes by Sue Dremann or a dozen homeless women by homeless advocates from Stanstaying at the new Hotel ford University’s student group de Zink Women’s Shelter, Night Outreach. Like the longsleeping at night now feels much running Palo Alto-based Hotel de safer. Zink shelter, it is housed on a rotatThe shelter opened Jan. 29 as a ing basis by local churches. It offers pilot project managed by the non- services including case manageprofit InnVision and staffed largely ment, mental-health referrals, job
counseling, some meals and other support, said Philip Dah, InnVision director of peninsula programs. “It’s a safe place to go at night,” said shelter resident Vickie Boone, who previously lived in her car and said she escaped two years ago from an abusive home. “There are a lot more shelters for men and families and not many for single women. The Stanford students have really gone out of their way. They come and visit with us every night and stay overnight. They are there to listen and care.” With its emphasis on communication and connection, the shelter is based on a project established at Harvard University. Women said they are uncomfortable being in a coed shelter with men due to past experiences with domestic
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PUBLISHER William S. Johnson EDITORIAL Jocelyn Dong, Editor Carol Blitzer, Associate Editor Keith Peters, Sports Editor Tyler Hanley, Expressâ„˘ and Online Editor Rebecca Wallace, Arts & Entertainment Editor Rick Eymer, Assistant Sports Editor Tom Gibboney, Spectrum Editor Sue Dremann, Chris Kenrick, Gennady Sheyner, Staff Writers Eric Van Susteren, Editorial Assistant, Internship Coordinator Veronica Weber, Staff Photographer Kelsey Kienitz, Photo Intern Dale F. Bentson, Colin Becht, Peter Canavese, Kit Davey, Iris Harrell, Sheila Himmel, Chad Jones, Karla Kane, Kevin Kirby, Jack McKinnon, Jeanie K. Smith, Susan Tavernetti, Contributors Cristina Wong, Editorial Intern DESIGN Shannon Corey, Design Director Raul Perez, Assistant Design Director Linda Atilano, Diane Haas, Scott Peterson, Paul Llewellyn, Senior Designers Lili Cao, Designer PRODUCTION Jennifer Lindberg, Production Manager Dorothy Hassett, Samantha Mejia, Blanca Yoc, Sales & Production Coordinators ADVERTISING Tom Zahiralis, Vice President Sales & Advertising Judie Block, Adam Carter, Janice Hoogner, Brent Triantos, Display Advertising Sales Neal Fine, Carolyn Oliver, Rosemary Lewkowitz, Real Estate Advertising Sales David Cirner, Irene Schwartz, Inside Advertising Sales Cathy Norfleet, Display Advertising Sales Asst. Diane Martin, Real Estate Advertising Asst. Alicia Santillan, Classified Administrative Asst. Wendy Suzuki, Advertising Sales Intern EXPRESS, ONLINE AND VIDEO SERVICES Rachel Palmer, Online Operations Coordinator Rachel Hatch, Multimedia Product Manager BUSINESS Susie Ochoa, Payroll & Benefits Elena Dineva, Mary McDonald, Claire McGibeny, Cathy Stringari, Business Associates
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK
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Itâ€™s probably the biggest eyesore in town. â€” Larry Klein, Palo Alto City Councilman, regarding Edgewood Plaza, which will undergo a renovation. See story on page 3.
Around Town IN WITH THE OLD ... Little George. Baby George. George Jr. Georgina. George II. Boy George. Whatever you call him, her or it, Cowper Streetâ€™s newest resident received a hearty welcome from city leaders and area residents this week. The oak tree that the city planted on the corner of Cowper and Homer Street stands at a spot previously occupied by George, a coastal live oak that had graced the corner for about 150 years. George got the ax in February after various arborists had determined that its root system was weak and the danger of its toppling too high. About 20 people, including block residents, members of the urban-forest advocacy group Canopy and city staff joined Mayor Yiaway Yeh and Councilwoman Karen Holman for the brief ceremony and heaped shovelfuls of dirt around the new oak. The event, Holman said, â€œreally expresses how the neighbors, neighborhoods and community can come together for a special cause.â€? George also made a surprise appearance, albeit in a different form. The company Michael Meyer Fine Woodworking has taken parts of the oak and made several â€œGeorge bowlsâ€? out of it. The cured and finely sanded bowls vary in diameter from 7 inches to 15 inches. They were created by Seth Harpending, a cabinet-shop foreman at the company who detailed the process in a Youtube video. The company also highlighted its work with George on its website and noted that the new bowls â€œare not intended to be â€˜salad bowlsâ€™ but objects in homage to a magnificent tree.â€? RISKS AND REWARDS ... New board members and a new business plan have nudged Californiaâ€™s proposed high-speed rail project into a new direction, but local officials along the Peninsula still arenâ€™t buying what the California High-Speed Rail Authority is trying to sell. This week, members of the City Council decried the soonto-be-adopted agreement between the rail authority and various regional transportation agencies, including Caltrain and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). The agreement would further cement the rail authorityâ€™s decision to use the Caltrain corridor for the line and would detail a variety of â€œearly investmentâ€? opportunities that the rail authority can make in the Bay Area. On Thursday, the Palo Alto City Councilâ€™s Rail Committee characterized the new agreement as a â€œrush jobâ€? that gives the rail authority all sorts of rights without adequately considering feed-
back from cities along the rail corridor. â€œItâ€™s rare that good public policy is made in such a rushed manner,â€? committee Chair Larry Klein said. Local officials arenâ€™t the only ones skeptical about the rail authorityâ€™s â€œnew vision.â€? The authorityâ€™s peerreview group released a report on Wednesday that continues to question the agencyâ€™s strategy for funding the new project. The group, headed by Will Kempton, noted in its review that while it continues to support the â€œconcept of high-speed railâ€? in California it remains concerned about funding sources beyond the projectâ€™s first phase. The report also notes that â€œinternational experience with highspeed rail, confirmed by the direct personal experience of the members of the Group, shows beyond any question that HSR is a prototypical â€˜mega-projectâ€™ with significant risks in terms of potential optimism in the identification of demand, the estimation of costs and schedules, and the allocation of benefits.â€? SECURITY! ... The Palo Alto City Auditorâ€™s Office learned last year that the computer system that stores sensitive employee information has â€œsignificant security vulnerabilities.â€? The SAP Enterprise Resource Planning System, which stores records for thousands of current and former employees (including birth dates and Social Security numbers), allowed about 300 users access to sensitive information through the systemâ€™s search function. Though staff did not hear of any instance about misuse of this information, the findings were worrisome enough to instigate a long discussion with the cityâ€™s Administrative Services Department and vendors about cyber security at City Hall. This week, City Auditor Jim Pelletier released a special memo detailing the progress on this front. Early results are positive, according to the memo. Personal information is no longer susceptible to search functions, it notes, and the Administrative Services Department has demonstrated improvement in its ability to respond to problems. Still, the recently discovered security vulnerability â€œraises concerns regarding the overall security of the Cityâ€™s information systems and the Cityâ€™s ability to timely detect vulnerabilities,â€? the memo stated. The city may soon beef up its security efforts further. Palo Altoâ€™s Chief Information Officer Jonathan Reichental is requesting that the city create a new full-time position â€” an Information Security Manager. N
Upfront LAND USE
California Avenue redesign stalled by lawsuits Palo Alto plan to reduce lanes, improve streetscape loses grant funding because of litigation by Gennady Sheyner
alo Alto’s ambitious quest to turn California Avenue into the next University Avenue or Mountain View’s Castro Street is facing major delays and uncertainty over funding because of legal challenges from a small group of merchants opposed to the proposal. The long-debated project was unanimously approved by the City Council a year ago after public testimony from dozens of area residents and business owners, with most speakers enthusiastically supporting the proposal and urging the council to adopt it. Council members argued that the largely grant-funded project would make California Avenue more vibrant, walkable and economically prosperous. Now, the much-touted project is in danger of losing its funding because of two lawsuits brought by a handful of area business people. The courts have rejected many of the arguments in these lawsuits, but the project’s opponents have succeeded in at least one important respect: By tying up the project in litigation, they have forced the city to delay construction and to forego the $1.2 million grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) that officials were banking on to implement
the lane-reduction plan. Planning Director Curtis Williams told the Weekly in an interview that the city is still confident it can get the state money for the project in the next round of grant applications. City officials are now looking at other grant sources as well. “The MTC won’t move forward until we clear the lawsuit,” Williams said. “But we’re still very comfortable that we’ll move forward with the project and have a grant.” Officials had hoped to launch construction this spring and complete it by fall. Now, it looks like the plan, which would shrink the number of lanes from four to two, will be pushed forward by at least six months to a year, Williams said. While Williams called the delay “disappointing,” he said the project still enjoys enthusiastic support from the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), the agency that disperses MTC funds to local jurisdictions. Opponents of the streetscape project — a group that includes owners of Mollie Stone’s supermarket, Antonio’s Nuthouse, the camera store Keeble & Shuchat Photography and the California Paint Company — have argued in their lawsuits that
TALK ABOUT IT
www.PaloAltoOnline.com Should the City of Palo Alto proceed with its plan to shrink the number of lanes on California Avenue to two? Share your opinion on Town Square, the online discussion forum, on Palo Alto Online.
reducing lanes on California Avenue would slow down traffic and, as a result, decrease their business. They have also maintained the city violated state law in its environmental analysis of the impact of the streetscape project. The courts have already dismissed the first lawsuit that challenged the project — one that was filed by Terry Shuchat and resident Joy Ogawa. But Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Patricia Lucas determined that the city approved its environmental documents and grant applications in the wrong sequence, a ruling that forced the council to revote on these documents in November. Lucas also upheld the validity of the city’s environmental analysis, which indicated that the streetscape project would bring with it few traffic problems. But the city’s legal victory in the Shuchat case rings somewhat hollow these days. First of all, Shuchat and Ogawa are now appealing the court’s dismissal of their case. They are now joined in their appeal by the owner of Antonio’s Nuthouse, Tony Montooth, and by former Vice Mayor Jack Morton, an accountant whose office is located in the business district. William Ross, who is representing the plaintiffs, recently submitted a notice to the city stating the plaintiff’s intent to appeal the court’s de-
NONPROFIT Michael Collopy/Courtesy of Skoll Foundation
Tech ‘startup for good’ marks 10 years Disabled can access vast library on electronic devices through Palo Alto’s Bookshare by Chris Kenrick
alo Alto engineer Jim Fruchterman felt like he was violating an unwritten Silicon Valley code two decades ago when he ditched a character-recognition startup to launch a nonprofit that employed the same technology in service to the blind. “Here in the Valley we were trained that if it didn’t make money you should drop it,” said Fruchterman, president and CEO of Palo Alto-based Benetech, a nonprofit that aims to use “technology to serve humanity.” But the money-at-all-costs mentality has changed considerably since 2001, he believes. After the dotcom crash, climate change, Sept. 11 and globalization, “people have realized that a singleminded focus on making money maybe isn’t the most sustainable or rewarding thing to do.” This month, Fruchterman and Benetech mark the 10th anni-
versary of Bookshare — one of Benetech’s three major initiatives — which enables 190,000 disabled subscribers to access the print or audio texts of more than 140,000 books on any number of electronic devices, including PCs, iPads, iPhones and the like. The inspiration for Bookshare came to Fruchterman around 2000 when his then-teenage son showed him the peer-to-peer music-sharing software Napster. Fruchterman had been distributing reading machines for the blind, which were capable of transforming scanned text into audio. Seeing Napster made him realize that instead of thousands of his visually impaired customers individually scanning “Harry Potter” on their home reading machines, the book could be scanned just once by any member, proofread — and shared over the Web. Once lawyers cleared the idea,
Jim Fruchterman, president and CEO of Benetech Bookshare was born. Copyright law allows nonprofits that serve the reading needs of the disabled to share scans as long as distribution is limited to people with disabilities. “It was a common Silicon Valleystyle transition,” Fruchterman said. “First, we had a machine that did it, then a PC application that did it and eventually put it in the cloud — building a library for the blind disabled where, instead of us deciding what they were going to read, we say, ‘Whatever book you think is worth scanning, we think is worth sharing.’” In its early days, Bookshare’s main suppliers were visually impaired adults, who scanned and shared bestsellers, mysteries, sci-
cision to dismiss the Ogawa suit. Then there’s the second case, filed by Robert Davison of the California Paint Company. Earlier this month, Lucas agreed to hear his challenge, despite the city’s argument that it does little more than rehash the arguments from Ogawa and Shuchat’s suit. Davidson asserts that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act by splitting the streetscape project into segments rather than evaluating the impacts of the full project. It also argues that the city failed to fully evaluate the proposed lane reduction. The city’s environmental analysis, Ross had argued, “did not consider either the temporary or permanent impact of the Project construction, which is still undefined, or the permanent lane reduction that would impede access to existing businesses.” “Specifically, customers would be unable to reach businesses in the Project area, which could result in business disruption and closure,” Ross wrote. “Business closures and resulting economic blight is an impact on the physical environment that must be assessed in an environmental document.” In response to the Davidson lawsuit, City Attorney Molly Stump argued in a March 15 brief that the suit should be dismissed because Davidson did not bring his concerns forward at the “administrative level” during the planning process. She also contested “planning, funding, designing and constructing a project is not segmentation; it is the logical course of events for completing a public improvement.” Stump acknowledges that the merence-fiction, romance, religious and do-it-yourself titles. But the nonprofit ventured into education — overcoming the initial skepticism of textbook publishers — after hearing repeatedly stories about the needs of students with disabilities. Today, students comprise the vast majority of Bookshare subscribers. And the No. 1 suppliers to Bookshare have become commercial publishers, since they’re already creating e-books for sale to wider audiences. Bookshare still scans and shares titles from university presses and small-publishing operations. The book collection, now about 140,000, grows by about 2,000 a month, Fruchterman said. The venture got a huge boost in 2007 when it won a competition for a five-year, $6.5 million-a-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Other major contributors to Bookshare included nearly twodozen foundations, including the Skoll Foundation and the Omidyar Network. Subscribers — including a growing number of returning braininjured veterans — pay $75 for the first year, and $50 a year thereafter. Fruchterman said winning a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in 2006 provided external validation
chants had provided “substantial evidence in the form of personal observations” that the lane reduction would create traffic and economic impacts. But “mere observations without factual support that contradicts an analysis or study do not rise to the level of substantial evidence that the agency must consider,” she wrote. Palo Alto’s analysis concluded that the lane reduction would have a “less than significant” traffic impact. “In this case, the personal observations consist only of speculative lay opinions challenging a highly technical traffic engineering report,” Stump wrote. While the court cases slog ahead, city planners are proceeding with design work on the streetscape project. In addition to the $1.2 million in grants Palo Alto hopes to receive, the city is chipping in about $500,000 in local funds for the project. The council had recently asked staff to consider widening sidewalks at California Avenue and explore other improvements — including creation of a new plaza — on the commercial strip that stretches from El Camino Real to the Caltrain tracks. Williams said staff is tentatively scheduled to discuss the project with the Planning and Transportation Commission on April 25 and with the council in late May. The city hopes to finalize the design, he said, “so that once we get the grant funding renewed, we are ready to roll.” He said staff is also meeting with merchants to discuss the phasing of construction. “Regardless of when it begins, it will involve a certain level of disruption,” Williams said. “We want to get their input before we proceed.” N that forsaking the for-profit world to launch Benetech “maybe hadn’t been so stupid after all.” That recognition, and other highprofile awards, also helped him attract strong managers and staff to the organization, he said. Besides Bookshare, Benetech’s two other major initiatives are in the areas of technology for the human-rights movement and software packages for environmental projects, used by a variety of organizations including Audubon, Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund. New initiatives in the pipeline include Social Coding 4 Good, which Fruchterman describes as “an online matching site for geeks who want to do social good. You tell us your talent, passions and availability, and we’ll match you up.” Matches include organizations such as the Wikimedia Foundation, the Mozilla Foundation and various human rights projects. Another new program under development in partnership with Joint Venture: Silicon Valley is called City Options, aimed at helping local communities find the most effective initiatives against climate change and learn what neighboring or comparable cities are doing in that area, Fruchterman said. N Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at email@example.com.
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Neighbors, educators seek to encourage Palo Alto youth School board, city looks to resident groups for help in increasing teens’ resilience by Sue Dremann he majority of Palo Alto teens think their neighborhoods are unfriendly, but residents in Midtown say they want to change that perception. Residents brainstormed about ways to improve the sense of connection youth feel to their neighborhoods in a meeting with Palo Alto Board of Education member Melissa Baten Caswell Tuesday, March 20. Only 35 percent of Palo Alto high school students felt valued by their neighbors, and only 22 percent felt valued by their community, Baten Caswell said, referring to the results of the city’s 2010 “developmental assets” survey. “That’s very sad,” Baten Caswell told Midtown residents. The survey was taken by 4,055 students. The numbers aren’t much better for middle and elementary school students: 40 percent of middle school and 34 percent of elementary students feel valued in their community. The meeting was part of the city’s effort to engage neighborhood associations and community groups in supporting teens. Through an initiative called Project Safety Net, school board members plan to meet with neighborhood associations and community groups in the coming months, teaching them about 41 developmental assets that help youth stay resilient in the face of stress. Project Safety Net was started after
the series of student deaths by suicide that began in 2009. The developmental assets are divided into broad categories: support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, constructive use of time, commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies and positive identity. Within those groups, individual assets include whether a child feels support and protection from family or school, feels a sense of value in his or her community, is involved in sports or creative activities or feels that life has a purpose. Baten Caswell asked residents to sign a pledge to reach out to youth in one or two asset areas. The outreach could be as simple as saying “Hi” to teens or hosting a barbecue — anything that says youth are valued and recognized, she said. She cited as an example a teen who said being asked how she was doing on a day when she was feeling low changed her whole attitude. The more assets a child possesses, the less at risk he or she is to depression, suicide and risky behaviors such as drinking and drug use. Children with only 11 to 20 assets in their lives are considered vulnerable, and those with fewer are at risk, according to Project Safety Net. Among Palo Alto students, 38 percent are considered vulnerable, with 6 percent at risk, according to the survey. The survey asked students how
TALK ABOUT IT
(continued from page 3)
and a lucrative career as a property manager in her family’s business, Frankel Properties, prior to the stroke. She was in a coma for six weeks and woke up unable to use her right side and with limited use of her left. She requires full-time, round-the-clock care, Woodson said. The case was originally filed in 2008 but was dismissed in May 2010 with prejudice, which meant it could not be reopened, she said. Stanford University Medical Center, which was also a defendant, had petitioned the court for a summary judgment. Frankel’s previous attorney felt he would have difficulty opposing or winning the summary judgment and dropped the case, Woodson said. Frankel then hired David Bovino of Aspen, Colo., and co-counsels Emison Hullverson Mitchell LLP of San Francisco. The firms were able to get the case reopened by showing there were “triable issues of fact,” Woodson said. Stanford settled the case for an
What do you think of the verdict against the Palo Alto Medical Foundation? Talk about the case on Town Square, the online discussion forum, on Palo Alto Online.
undisclosed sum on Feb. 21, the first day of the trial, she said. The jury found Palo Alto Medical was negligent in Frankel’s treatment and care, and that negligence was a substantial factor in causing her harm. The verdict includes $2 million for past economic losses in earnings and past medical expenses, $14 million for future economic losses and Frankel’s future care, and $6 million for pain and suffering. The pain and suffering award would immediately be capped at $250,000, however, as required under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975, Woodson said. There aren’t many medical malpractice cases in California, due to the pain and suffering cap, Woodson said. The large verdict is probably because of Frankel’s young age and the long life she is expected to
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they felt about statements such as: “In my neighborhood there are a lot of people who care about me.” “Adults in my town make me feel important.” “Adults in my town don’t care about me or care about what I say.” And “No one ever says ‘Hi’ to me on the street.” Among elementary school students, 57 percent said they experience caring neighbors. For middle school students, the number was 49 percent. Baten Caswell asked residents to engage with their neighborhood youth. “You don’t have to have children to make a difference,” she said. Every contact, from complimenting the teen grocery-store clerk to just saying hello, matters. “Do you remember an adult who made a difference in your life?” Baten Caswell asked. Resident Cynthia Tham recalled two adults who had given her jobs when she was very young. The message she received? “I felt useful,” she said. Terry Godfrey, Project Safety Net member and vice president of the nonprofit Partners in Education, said she set up a trampoline in her yard and invited the neighborhood kids. At first, she was concerned the number of bouncing children would crush little ones. But she had the older ones be responsible for watching the small kids, she said. Some residents considered adding more social events, pointing to a monthly neighborhood soup party that attracts families. Annette Glanckopf, the Midtown Resident Association’s emergencypreparation chair, suggested perhaps block-preparedness coordinators could hold more social events or train youth in the program. Baten Caswell said the goal is that two thirds of Palo Alto youth will have 21 or more developmental assets (putting them in the “adequate”
live with her disabilities. Frankel’s medical care costs between $300,000 and $350,000 per year, Woodson said. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Carol Overton is expected to enter the final judgment on the verdict in a few weeks. Woodson said an appeal by the medical foundation is expected and is standard in such cases. It could be filed in about two to three months after the final judgment is entered. Dr. Richard Slavin, CEO of Palo Alto Medical Foundation, said in a statement Wednesday: “We deeply sympathize with Ms. Frankel and her family. While we respect the jury process, the medical group is presently considering its legal options. We believe that the care provided by the Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group was appropriate. We appreciate the trust that the community has placed in us for the past 80 years to provide the best possible care for our patients. The safety and health of our patients has always been, and will continue to be, our highest priority.” N Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
category) and that none will have fewer than 10 by 2021. An initiative by the City of Los Gatos, which was spearheaded by its mayor, shows that a dramatic turnaround is possible, she said. In 2006-07, 62 percent of high school students were termed “at risk.” In 2011, the number had dropped to 47 percent, she said. At-risk seventh- and eighth-graders
dropped from 42 to 21 percent. “The mayor did a youth-friendly business campaign; 17,000 adults signed pledged that they would commit to assets,” she said. Information about Palo Alto’s Project Safety Net is available at www.psnpaloalto.com. N Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at sdremann @paweekly.com.
CityView A round-up of
Palo Alto government action this week
City Council (March 12)
Edgewood Plaza: The council voted to approve the proposed redevelopment of Edgewood Plaza, which includes 10 new houses and renovations to three retail buildings. Yes: Burt, Espinosa, Klein, Price, Scharff, Schmid, Shepherd, Yeh No: Holman
Council Finance Committee (March 20)
Electricity: The committee recommended that the city’s Utilities Department adopt a “100 percent clean electricity” portfolio. Yes: Unanimous
Council Rail Committee (March 22)
Rail: The committee heard a report from its Sacramento lobbyist and discussed the latest legislation concerning California’s proposed high-speed-rail system. Yes: None
LET’S DISCUSS: Read the latest local news headlines and talk about the issues at Town Square at PaloAltoOnline.com
Public Agenda A preview of Palo Alto government meetings next week CITY COUNCIL ... The council plans to hold a retreat to discuss the city’s infrastructure backlog and ways to pay for the needed repairs. The retreat will begin at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 26, in the Downtown Library (270 Forest Ave.). CITY COUNCIL ... The council is scheduled to meet in closed session to evaluate and set goals for the city auditor. The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, at City Hall (250 Hamilton Ave.). BOARD OF EDUCATION ... The board will hold a 5 p.m. “tenure celebration” for 43 teachers who are receiving tenure under state guidelines, followed by its regular meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. The board expects to hear reports from Palo Alto Partners in Education, the Elementary Math Task Force and the Citizens’ Oversight Committee on the Parcel Tax; hear staff proposals on measures to mitigate concerns about the new academic calendar for 2012-13; and review a consultant’s report on high-school guidance counseling models; The regular meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, in the board room of school district headquarters (25 Churchill Ave.). UTILITIES ADVISORY COMMISSION ... The commission plans to discuss proposed adjustments to water and wastewater rates. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27 in the Council Chambers at City Hall (250 Hamilton Ave.). PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION ... The commission plans to discuss proposed changes to the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course, review the proposed design for the Magical Bridge playground and consider a proposal to limit amplified sound at Lytton Plaza. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, at Lucie Stern Community Center (1305 Middlefield Road). PLANNING AND TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION ... The commission plans to discuss the revised Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan and consider 885 Seale Ave., a request to remodel and build a onestory addition to a family residence. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 28, in the Council Chambers at City Hall (250 Hamilton Ave.). RAIL CORRIDOR STUDY TASK FORCE ... The city will host a public meeting to discuss the recently released Rail Corridor Study, which considers the community’s vision for the Caltrain corridor. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 29, at Lucie Stern Community Center (1305 Middlefield Road).
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News Digest Woman hurt during Palo Alto strong-arm robbery
Courtesy of City of Palo Alto
Ten two-story homes are planned for Edgewood Plaza, to be built in the Eichler tradition of straight lines, open spaces and glassy exteriors.
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2006. The new store will be operated by The Fresh Market, a chain that specializes in organic food and currently has about 115 stores in the nation. The Palo Alto store, which could open in early 2013, would be its first west of the Mississippi. “We’ve known this was always going to be a neighborhood shopping center, and a neighborhood shopping center means a grocery store,” John Tze of Sand Hill told the council. “We’ve known that we’ll need to bring a grocery store, and the grocery store is The Fresh Market.” The renovated plaza will also feature a small community park and 10 two-story homes, designed in an Eichler style, which emphasizes open spaces, natural light and glassy exteriors. The three existing retail buildings will be renovated, with one relocated. Councilman Pat Burt, who proposed approving the project, called the plan a suitable compromise between the developer and residents. “The community has been looking forward to this project for a long while, and I think we have something that’s a very good balance of a variety of competing interests,” Burt said. “We’re very pleased to have this market coming in, and I think the project as a whole is going to be a real net gain for the community,” he added. “I think the bulk of the surrounding neighborhood is really anxious to see it get built.” Most of the speakers who addressed the council Monday supported the project, though some called for the city to make sure it addresses anticipated traffic problems. Members of the Architectural Control Committee, the group of residents that challenged the pre-
vious proposal, came out in favor of the new one. Martin Yonke and Diane Sekimura, both of whom took part in the lawsuit, said Monday night that they look forward to Edgewood’s redevelopment. Others viewed the project in less rosy terms and criticized it for what they said was a shortage of parking and unsafe traffic conditions at the plaza. Some council members, including Greg Schmid and Klein, also raised questions about potential traffic issues — problems that staff plans to address in the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.
‘It has been a tortuous and winding process on this piece of property. I like the design. I like the way you honored the Eichler architecture.’ —Greg Scharff, vice mayor, City of Palo Alto The council’s approval also includes a condition calling for a leftturn-arrow traffic signal on Embarcadero at St. Francis Drive. Another condition that Burt attached to the approval was retaining an exit between Edgewood and the Shell gas station next to it. Holman voted against the project, saying she was concerned about traffic safety at the new plaza, given its location in a busy corridor next to Highway 101. She also questioned the adequacy of the city’s environmental review, which concluded that the new development would not have a “significant” historical impact. The finding was the subject of a dispute between two different consultants.
Despite questions over the project’s historical impact, the redevelopment proposal had no problem clearing the city’s approval process. In recent months, the city’s Planning and Transportation Commission, Historic Resources Board and Architectural Review Board had all signed off on the redevelopment plan. “It is a very important project in the city in that it revitalizes a really dead corner at one of the main entrances to town, so it’s really a significant project,” Architectural Review Board Chair Judith Wasserman said. “We felt it was very successful in doing what it intended to do, which was to really consider the viability of the retail component.” Wasserman said this was achieved by relocating one of the buildings, a move that allows all parking in the plaza to be contained in one place. The city’s Historic Resources Board had ruled that the relocation of the building would not reduce what Chair Martin Bernstein called the “Eichler feeling” or diminish the plaza’s historic significance. “When we looked at the level of detail the report focused on, it gave us confidence that it has spirit of Eichler,” Bernstein said. Council members agreed that Edgewood, despite the major changes, will continue to honor the Eichler tradition. The homebuilder will also be honored with a plaque in the plaza’s park. “It has been a tortuous and winding process on this piece of property,” Vice Mayor Greg Scharff told Tze. “I like the design. I like the way you honored the Eichler architecture. “I think you’ve thought carefully about this project, and it shows in the design.” N Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at gsheyner@ paweekly.com.
Good for Business. Good for You. Good for the Community. Page 8ÊUÊ>ÀV ÊÓÎ]ÊÓä£ÓÊUÊ*>ÊÌÊ7iiÞ
A woman in her 50s was injured in Palo Alto during a strong-arm street robbery after a man absconded with her purse Wednesday night, March 21, Palo Alto police said in a press release Thursday. The woman was walking at about 9:40 p.m. in the Midtown neighborhood, northbound on the east sidewalk of the 2400 block of Middlefield Road, just south of Oregon Expressway. A man approached her from behind and grabbed her purse. She tried to pull it back from him but was unable to prevent the theft, police said. The man ran north on the sidewalk and entered the passenger side of a vehicle waiting in a traffic lane on Middlefield. The victim last saw the vehicle speeding off eastbound on Oregon. The woman complained of elbow and back pain but did not require medical attention at the scene, police said. The man is described as about 5 feet 8 inches tall, wearing dark clothing and a dark, knit wool skullcap. The victim could not provide the man’s race or age. She described the vehicle as being small and darkcolored. Her purse contained miscellaneous personal property, police said. At the time of the robbery, she had been walking home after shopping at 7-Eleven, located at 708 Colorado Ave., and at Walgreens, at 2605 Middlefield Road. Officers are conducting a follow-up investigation. Police suggest that people remain aware of their surroundings when out for walks and report suspicious behavior immediately to 9-1-1. Anyone having information about this robbery is asked to contact the police 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to email@example.com or sent via text message to 650383-8984. N — Sue Dremann
Palo Alto picks new Human Resources director Palo Alto will soon have a new leader in its Human Resources Department — a veteran attorney whose experience with labor relations includes stints at Kaiser Permanente, Alcoa and Goodrich Aerospace. City Manager James Keene announced Monday, March 19, that after an “extensive search” featuring 83 applicants he has selected Kathryn Shen as the city’s “chief people officer.” Shen, who will begin her new job April 17, will direct a department that has been without a permanent head since Russ Carlsen retired at the end of 2010. The City Council unanimously approved her contract Monday night. She will receive an annual base salary of $185,000. An attorney with 23 years of business experience, Shen has spent the past five years in the Human Resources Department at Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California Regional Office. She has also recently published an article in the industry journal, People & Strategy, which discusses the role of predictive analytics to promote skill and career development. “I’m looking forward to fostering an environment of innovation, collaboration and shared accountability to help achieve the City’s goal of becoming the best high-performing city in the U.S.,” Shen said in a statement. Shen is joining the city’s Human Resources Department at a particularly sensitive time for labor relations. The city is seeking benefit reductions from all of its labor groups and has recently declared an impasse with its negotiations with its largest police union. The impasse came just months after the city reached an agreement with its firefighter union after 18 months of tense negotiations. N — Gennady Sheyner
Stanford study: Ibuprofen reduces altitude sickness “A really nasty hangover” is how Stanford’s Dr. Grant Lipman describes the feeling of acute mountain sickness, also called altitude sickness — symptoms can include headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and poor appetite. But Lipman has found that ibuprofen could help prevent the debilitating condition, which occurs in people when going to high elevations. More than 25 percent of the millions of Americans who travel to high elevations each year, often to hike, camp or ski, will suffer from acute mountain sickness. Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory medication often used as a painkiller, can significantly reduce the incidence of acute mountain sickness, according to Lipman, an emergency-medicine physician at Stanford Hospital & Clinics. His double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 86 men and women was published online March 20 in Annals of Emergency Medicine. The findings could prove especially useful for recreationists who have week-long vacations planned at high altitudes. “You don’t want to feel horrible for 15 to 20 percent of your vacation. Ibuprofen could be a way to prevent AMS in a significant number of the tens of millions of people who travel to high altitudes each year.” N — Sue Dremann LET’S DISCUSS: Read the latest local news headlines and talk about the issues at Town Square at PaloAltoOnline.com
$70,000 in jewelry stolen from Palo Alto home Rash of residential burglaries continues as police launch ‘Lock It or Lose It!’ campaign by Sue Dremann and Eric Van Susteren
burglar or burglars stole 23 pieces of jewelry and a laptop computer from a house on Maddux Drive in Palo Alto Tuesday, March 20, the latest of nine residential burglaries this week, according to Palo Alto police. Police said the combined value of the jewelry and laptop was $70,000. Agent Sal Madrigal said the burglar or burglars entered the residence through a smashed bedroom window sometime between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. A witness said that a Caucasian or Hispanic man in his early 20s or late teens driving a newer model black Chrysler sedan with silver rims and tinted windows may have been involved, according to Madrigal. Madrigal said police don’t know yet if this burglary and the others are connected. “It’s certainly part of the larger burglary problem that we’re having,” he said. “We don’t know who’s doing it, but it’s definitely part of the
problem we’re looking into.” The burglary comes on the heels of a new public-information campaign, “Lock It or Lose It!,” announced by the Palo Alto Police Department on Monday. A yearly statistical comparison of residential burglaries reveals a steady increase from 2010 to 2011 and a troubling spike thus far in 2012, according to the department. There were 110 reported cases in 2010 and 149 reported cases in 2011 — and 53 through March 12 of this year, police stated in a press release. An analysis of the 2011 residential burglaries shows that in 36 percent of the cases, the point of entry was through open or unlocked doors or windows. In another 36 percent, burglars used some sort of force (bodily force, a cutting tool, a pry tool, or a window smash) to gain entry. In the remaining 28 percent of cases, the point of entry could not be determined, but it is likely that doors or windows were left unse-
cured, police said. “It is these numbers that are driving the main message behind the Lock It or Lose It! campaign: If your property is left unlocked, it’s more likely to be stolen,” police said. The campaign will focus on how best to prevent burglaries, how to recognize suspicious behavior, and how to report that suspicious behavior to the police. As recent cases have shown, a partnership between alert residents and the police is one of the most effective ways to combat the burglary problem, the department said. Several persons, some with burglary tools, have been arrested after residents reported seeing suspicious behavior. A burglary is committed when a suspect enters a residence or a locked vehicle with the intent to commit theft or any felony. Burglary is a felony crime, and those convicted can be sent to state prison. Burglars are typically interested in avoiding confrontations and witnesses, so residential burglaries tend to occur during the day while homes are unoccupied, and auto burglaries tend to occur overnight while people sleep, police said. “Residents who take the time to always lock the doors and windows to their homes when they are out are less likely to be victimized. Burglars want to get into homes as easily and as quickly as possible, so leaving doors or windows unlocked makes their job simple. “Residents are also encouraged to
lock side yard gates. In many cases, burglars gain access to the rear yard after finding an unlocked gate. Once in the privacy of a back yard, they are free to break into the home unnoticed by passersby. This is often done after they ring the doorbell, posing as a solicitor or supposedly looking for someone who does not live there, to see if anyone is home. Residents are encouraged to speak through their doors to ask who is calling, or otherwise acknowledge in some manner that someone is home,” police said. The police department has made burglary prevention and burglar apprehension its top priorities, police spokesman Lt. Zach Perron has said. Patrol officers are focusing their time in the neighborhoods when not otherwise assigned to calls for service, and two day-shift officers are being reassigned to work with burglary detectives. They have been dedicated specifically to burglary suppression, he said. Other resources, including plainclothes personnel, will also be reassigned to stop the burglaries, as staffing permits. The police will discuss the bur-
glary trend and offer crime-prevention tips at a special community meeting Wednesday evening, March 28. It will be held at 7 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at Walter Hays Elementary School, 1525 Middlefield Road. Residents are encouraged to call 9-1-1 to report suspicious behavior, and allow the police to investigate if that behavior is innocent or criminal, Perron said. “It is always better to call and let the police do their job, rather than rationalize suspicious behavior and not call,” he said. Anyone having information about the current burglary trend can contact the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984. More information is on the Palo Alto Police Department’s website by visiting www.cityofpaloalto.org and searching under “crime prevention.” N Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at email@example.com; Editorial Assistant Eric Van Susteren can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Warren Slocum ballot revised after complaint Candidates for political office are expected to sing their own praises in hopes of swaying voters, but there are rules regarding what they can say, rules that county Board of Supervisors candidate Warren Slocum got a refresher lesson on this week. (Posted March 22 at 8:24 a.m.)
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Search for young man in Ladera swim club thefts Deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office are on the lookout for a young man who fled the Ladera Swim & Tennis Club at about 2 p.m. Sunday, March 18, in a tan or salmon-colored four-door sedan. (Posted March 21 at 8:32 a.m.)
Panelists to discuss tech, achievement gap The role of technology in closing the achievement gap is the topic of a free, public forum Tuesday, March 27, at Woodside High School. (Posted March 21 at 8:52 a.m.) Veronica Weber
group has advocated for the shelter since 2010, according to Baylon. Pinho said his role is to listen to the shelter residents. He and another “guest advocate” also maintain phone contact with the women and organize shelter meetings. Dah said 21 women have been served since the shelter opened, and there have already been heartening success stories. One woman found permanent housing, and one is in transitional housing. Three women found full-time employment, and two have entered full-time work programs. Pinho said the woman who now has traditional housing has full-time work and has other job offers. She is also talking about returning to school in the fall, he said. Rev. Andrew Burnham, recovery pastor at Peninsula Bible Church, said the process for churches to obtain a city permit to participate in the program was far more complicated than anticipated. “We originally assumed that obtaining a permit would require two to three weeks, but in the end it took around six. The Palo Alto planning department was very supportive. However, there was a somewhat lengthy process that included applications, discussions, emails, phone calls and inspections by the fire and building departments. “As we discovered, when you want to allow people to sleep at a church, it raises a number of safety concerns, even though, as one woman pointed out, people sleep at church every
Khalia Parish, a night supervisor for Stanford University’s Night Outreach program, carries the bedding and belongings of women who are staying in the Women’s Shelter. The group keeps the women’s possessions safely locked in a trailer during the day. Sunday! It’s just that in certain cities, sleeping in the pews requires a permit,” he wrote in an email. So far, everything has run “incredibly smoothly,” Burnham said. “These women are not criminals or threats of any kind. They are simply people who have fallen on hard times and need a helping hand, especially during the current economic downturn. The building is always left in immaculate condition. In fact, this past Sunday, the women even mopped the entire building to make sure that it would be ready for our worship service,” he said. The Stanford students have also benefited from the program, they said. At school, there are times when Brenda Mutuma, the food and meal coordinator, said she doesn’t
feel understood by her peers. But she finds acceptance in “expressing my ideas to these women, who have a bigger, broader expression of life. These women bring me back to the bigger picture — to the reality of life,” she said. Pinho and Mutuma said their mission is about “compassion and conversation.” And they want the women to feel welcome and loved. “At any given time, we want to provide an environment that feels like less of a shelter and more of a home,” Mutuma said. “That’s what anyone would want.” The Hotel de Zink Women’s Shelter is scheduled to end in April. N Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at email@example.com.
Gunn Robotics Team prevails in Baltimore contest Driving a robot capable of shooting basketballs into hoops, Gunn High School’s Robotics Team prevailed in a recent national competition. (Posted March 19 at 9:13 a.m.)
Open Space District buys threatened frog habitat A population of federally threatened red-legged frogs now has a protected home, after the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District purchased the 564-acre Madonna Creek Ranch near Half Moon Bay, the district announced Friday, March 16. (Posted March 17 at 11:12 a.m.)
VIDEO: VolunTEENS, Part 1 Filmmaker Carolina Moraes-Liu presents a monthly series of videos focusing on how teenagers in Palo Alto are finding ways to volunteer throughout the Bay Area. This first segment focuses on the nonprofit Special Needs Archery Program (S.N.A.P). The mission of the club is to help children with special needs learn archery. (Posted March 16 at 3:07 p.m.)
Burglars hit two homes, steal firearms, property In two separate incidents less than 24 hours apart, burglars made off with an estimated $24,000 in property, including three firearms, Palo Alto police said. (Posted March 16 at 11:48 a.m.)
Helicopter makes emergency landing in Palo Alto Nearly 100 feet from rush-hour traffic on U.S. Highway 101 near Embarcadero Road, a pilot approaching the Palo Alto Municipal Airport crash-landed a Robinson R-22 helicopter about 4:45 p.m. Thursday. (Posted March 15 at 6:14 p.m.) *>ÊÌÊ7iiÞÊUÊ>ÀV ÊÓÎ]ÊÓä£ÓÊU Page 9
A roundup of neighborhood news edited by Sue Dremann
AROUND THE BLOCK
SPEAKING OF WHOM ... Mayor Yiaway Yeh will be the guest speaker at the College Terrace Residents’ Association General Meeting this Saturday, March 24. The meeting takes place at 9:30 a.m. at Escondido Elementary School, 890 Escondido Road, Stanford. LEADING ‘Z’ WAY ... The City of Palo Alto has started a program that aims to help residents become Zero Waste block leaders — “experts” who can answer their neighbors’ recycling and reuse questions; supply information on ways to reduce one’s garbage to almost zero; disperse information about upcoming Zero Waste events and issues; and foster neighborhood waste-reduction efforts. The program was started in response to residents’ requests for local contacts to help understand what can and can’t be recycled, said Wendy Hediger, the city’s Zero Waste program coordinator. The first meeting was held Thursday, March 22. More information is available by emailing zerowaste@cityofpaloalto. org or calling 650-496-5910. PET DISASTER PREPAREDNESS EVENT ... “Disasters happen. Are you ready?” That’s the theme of a special event taking place at Palo Alto Animal Services on Friday, March 30, from 1 to 4 p.m. Securing and preparing for one’s pet’s well-being should be part of every resident’s preparedness plan, neighborhood emergency-preparedness leaders say. Pet licensing, microchipping and other information for how to secure pets in a disaster will be available at the event, which takes place at 3281 East Bayshore Road, Palo Alto. Information is available by calling 650-496-5971. N
Send announcements of neighborhood events, meetings and news to Sue Dremann, Neighborhoods editor, at sdremann@ paweekly.com. Or talk about your neighborhood news on Town Square, the online forum, at www.PaloAltoOnline.com.
Something to talk about Catherine Debs connects neighbors through celebratory lightscapes and ever-evolving decorations by Sue Dremann n a quiet section of Bryant Street in Palo Alto last November, a yellow road sign gave bicyclists a gentle, humorous warning: “Slow Turkeys,” it read, depicting a gobbler on a bicycle. But the sign — and accompanying amber lights on trees planted in the traffic island at Lowell Avenue — weren’t meant only as an admonition to speeders. These Thanksgiving decorations were also meant to bring together residents in Catherine Debs’ Old Palo Alto neighborhood. Since Halloween, she has turned her attention to creating eye-catching street displays: trees draped in hearts proclaiming romantic sayings for Valentine’s Day, shimmering blue lights with white stars for Presidents Day, hundreds of Girl Scout badges for the organization’s recent 100th anniversary and a Chinese New Year festival of swirling red lights, fiery dragons, bright parasols and giant decorative firecrackers. Debs, the former assistant chief of protocol for former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, is well acquainted with planning, decorating and bringing people together. She has traveled the world setting up events, organizing delegations and preparing special gifts for foreign dignitaries. Debs and her husband, John, have lived in their Lowell home for 13 years. Colorful, outgoing, amicable and energetic, she often hosts barbecues in their front yard. She is a cable-television reporter for “Everyday Angels,” a program highlighting the stories of everyday people who have accomplished extraordinary things, and is vice president of the philanthropic Bodri Foundation, which she and John founded. But for all of her social contacts, she said she had relatively few neighborhood connections. Debs decided to join the neighborhood-preparedness group after hearing of burglaries on her street — including her housekeeper’s car. “I was thinking, ‘Let’s watch out for crime,’” she recalled. Her approach: Bring people together. To get neighbors talking, she started by giving them something to talk about. Debs and the neighbor’s children planted flowers and two trees in the traffic islands to detract from unsightly signage. Then a chance encounter with Bernie Wooster, a Redwood City-based lightscape designer and co-owner of Firefly Landscapes, led to the holiday decorations, she said. Wooster was designing decorative lighting for a neighbor, and Debs decided to employ her for the traffic-barrier project. One idea led to another: Christmas and the New Year, Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, Presidents Day and the Girl Scouts anniversary. Each provided reasons to decorate. And people started gathering and talking, she said. “I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met. It’s getting people to talk to each other. ... It has gotten to the point where people expect this,” she said. She unfolded the numerous letters and cards she has received from gratified residents. “On Sunday someone brought over a big box of cupcakes, so we know it’s working,” she said. Wooster said she has also seen a change in the neighborhood. Driving by with her son one day in February, a man and woman approached
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MAYOR’S CHALLENGE ... There’s still time to sign up for this Sunday’s Mayor’s Challenge, Palo Alto Mayor Yiaway Yeh’s table tennis fest. Yeh hopes to bring Palo Alto neighborhoods together for fun and to foster more resident-to-resident connections. The event takes place from 2 to 5 p.m. at five locations: Palo Alto Family YMCA, Cubberley Community Center, Jordan Middle School, Terman Middle School and the Campus for Jewish Life. The event is open to City of Palo Alto residents, all Palo Alto school-district students, and those who commute to work in Palo Alto. Information and registration is available at www. ymcamayorschallenge.org.
OLD PALO ALTO
Catherine Debs, left, sits on a bench with Bernie Wooster at the Bryant Street and Lowell Avenue traffic meridian, which was just decorated for spring. So far the two have created nine different motifs, celebrating everything from Thanksgiving to the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary. the Valentine-covered trees. The man reached up and read one of the inspiring love quotes, whose authors ranged from Helen Keller to Shakespeare. “As they walked away, they held hands,” Wooster said. “It’s a different vision now. It’s about giving back to the community.” Debs said city code enforcement officers checked on the displays and found them in compliance. Only two people have complained so far — one who took offense at the “X-mas Crossing” signs she put up for Christmas, she said. Wooster and Debs said many neighborhood kids have responded positively; the displays are something they feel is being done for their benefit. The decorations reminded one passing cyclist of the 41 “developmental assets” adopted by Palo Alto’s Project Safety Net, which help young people grow up in a caring, supportive environment, Wooster said. “It’s a perfect example. They know their neighborhood cares about them,” she said. The decorations have built trust between Debs and at least one
of her young neighbors. A teenager approached her about funding special-effects lighting for a Palo Alto High School production of “Much Ado About Nothing.” Debs helped out, and the lighting design is now up for a statewide award, she said. Debs hopes a neighborhood bulletin board can also become a permanent fixture, where residents can share news and information. Meanwhile, to make her new passion pay for itself, she and Wooster are embarking on a joint business venture that involves decorative lighting — in particular, installing special trees composed of flower-petal lights. Debs has two of the red-blossomed trees glittering in her front yard and one in back. The women aren’t saying what’s up next for the traffic barriers. But it will be something surprising and wonderful, Debs promised. Her eyes twinkled at the prospect. “Perhaps we’ll be moving on into the cherryblossom theme,” she said. N Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transitions Births, marriages and deaths
Deaths Gordon Wilfred Newell Gordon Wilfred Newell, a 50year resident of Palo Alto, died in his home with family on March 14, 2012. He was 90 years old. He was born and raised in Madison, Wis., where he received his entire academic education, capped by a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the
University of Wisconsin. He was a Life Science researcher at Stanford Research Institute for more than 25 years, followed by a career at the National Academy of Science in Washington D.C. He continued his career as a toxicology consultant well into his 80s. He was an avid fly fisherman and wine connoisseur who once picked grapes with famed winemaker Martin Rey. He loved music, including
jazz and classical, and dancing and singing with the Forum Community Chorus. He was a Palo Alto community leader who helped to pass the local construction bond to create Gunn High School. A world traveler both professionally and in leisure, he provided scientific professional services to countries in Africa, Europe and Asia. He was married to Rosemary for 58 years before she preceded him
Eric Salvatierra Eric Cristian Salvatierra, age 39, passed away on Friday, March 9th in Menlo Park, California. Eric was a devoted father and husband who will forever be remembered for his compassion, humility, intellect, kindness, fun-loving wit, and unwavering loyalty to family, friends, and colleagues. Eric was born in Tucson, AZ on March 29th, 1972, the son of Hector and Joan Salvatierra. He grew up as the youngest of ﬁve children in a close family. He graduated from Brophy College Preparatory School in Phoenix in 1990, where he was voted most likely to succeed. Eric attended college at Georgetown University, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in Business Administration and Finance in 1994. He was President of Beta Gamma Sigma and received the Dean’s Citation for his leadership in 1994. Eric was also a member of the Georgetown Varsity Lightweight Crew team. Eric met his wife Meredith Ackley when they both worked as camp counselors during college and were married in Sonoma County in 1999. At Meredith’s 40th birthday party, Eric described her as “his star, his ever bright and guiding light.” Eric worked as an equity analyst for Goldman Sachs in New York before moving to California with Meredith in 1998 to attend Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. But before Eric was due to start at Stanford, his life changed course when he took a summer internship with a little known Internet company called eBay. Drawn by eBay’s innovative business model, Eric soon decided to defer his Stanford studies to stay at the company. As one of eBay’s earliest ﬁnance employees in 1998, Eric helped build the foundation for the company’s long-term success. Over the 14 years that Eric was an employee of eBay, PayPal and Skype, he held numerous high level leadership positions that made a lasting impact on the company, most recently serving as Paypal’s Vice President for Customer Advocacy and Operational Excellence. In the words of eBay’s CEO John Donahoe, “Eric was one of those unique and special colleagues who was loved and admired by all.” Although Eric was a successful business
leader, his true passion was his family: his wife Meredith and their three daughters, Lia (age 10), Eva (age 8) and Elena (age 3). His wife and children meant the world to Eric and his priority was to be present for his family. All three of his beautiful daughters inherited Eric’s soulful blue eyes and gracious spirit. Eric snowboarded throughout the winter and road biked in the summer. He never missed a concert by his favorite artist and was well known for his DJ skills that kept the dance ﬂoor hopping. Eric served the community in many ways through his generosity with his time, business skills and ﬁnances. He was on the board of Peninsula Bridge for two years and he was an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto. Sadly, Eric struggled with Bipolar II, an invisible illness that can be as deadly as cancer or heart disease. Since his diagnosis in the summer of 2011, he worked tirelessly with mental health professionals to manage his illness. In the end, he lost his ﬁght with this debilitating disease. In addition to his wife and children, Eric will be forever loved and missed by his devoted parents, Hector & Joan Salvatierra and his loving siblings: John Salvatierra, his wife Wilma and their children: Isabella & Mary Grace; Stephen Salvatierra, his wife Heather, and their children: Madeline & Natalie, Mary Salvatierra and her husband Doug Lively, and Marc Salvatierra; his uncle Dr. Oscar Salvatierra, his wife Pam; and numerous uncles, aunts, and cousins. He is also loved and grieved by his beloved in-laws, Molly & Harry Ackley, and his sister-in-law Julia Ackley and her husband, Cameron Burks and their children, Sadie and Hannah. In lieu of ﬂowers, the Salvatierra-Ackley family has asked that donations be given in Eric’s name to three organizations: NAMI Santa Clara (http://www.namisantaclara.org/), DBSA (http://www.dbsalliance.org), or Kara (http://www.kara-grief.org/joomla/). PA I D
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in death in 2006. He is survived by his two sons and two daughters and their spouses, Bill Newell and Roberta Roth of Redwood City; Allan and Gayle Newell of Irvine; Nancy and Jeff Thompson of Granite Bay; and Betsy and Albert Cuisinot of Menlo Park; grandchildren, Chris, Katie, Danielle, Traci, Paul, David, Bennett, Jacque and Nicholas. Family and friends are invited to attend a memorial mass Saturday, March 24, at 10 a.m. at St. Denis Catholic Church, 2250 Avy Ave., Menlo Park, followed by a remembrance memorial program and reception beginning at 2 p.m. at the Forum, 23500 Cristo Rey Drive, Cupertino.
Richard Duquette Ringe Portola Valley resident Richard Duquette Ringe died from pneumonia Feb. 22 after years of living with peripheral neuropathy. He was 88. He was born April 22, 1923, in Portland, Ore., where he attended Grant High School. He attended Oregon State University and then served as a supply officer for the Navy in World War II. After attaining his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1947, he earned his CPA while working with Arthur Andersen Accounting. His entire career dealt with accounting and finance in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. He was president of Trans Union Corp. in Chicago until retirement in 1985. He served for many years as treasurer of his church, Valley Presbyterian. He also served in this capacity at his homeowners’ association and
Births Jonathon Ontiveros and Toyita Martinez of East Palo Alto, a son, March 5. Christine and Christopher Peetz of Menlo Park, a son, March 8. Jennifer and Christopher Brust of Palo Alto, a son, March 12.
other clubs to which he belonged, including various residents’ committees at the Sequoias retirement community in Portola Valley, where he lived for many years. He and his wife, Jean, traveled to many parts of the world and they loved opera, symphony, ballet and theater. He is survived by Jean, his wife of 66 years; and his brother, G. Truxton Ringe of Lacey, Wash. At his request, memorial services will be private. A celebration of his life is planned for a later date. Memorial donations may be made to The Tomorrow Fund at the Sequoias, 501 Portola Road, Portola Valley, CA 94028; or Living Waters for the World, through Valley Presbyterian Church, 945 Portola Road, Portola Valley.
Memorial Services A memorial service for Owen and Peyton, newborns of Jessica and Benjamin Tolerba, will be held Wednesday, March 28, at 4:30 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, 3149 Waverley St., Palo Alto. Friends, Walter Hays Elementary faculty and staff, Walter Hays students and parents, and Palo Alto Unified School District employees are invited to attend.
Lasting Memories An online directory of obituaries and remembrances. Search obituaries, submit a memorial, share a photo. Go to:
Helen Chambers Burrill July 26, 1921–Feb. 25, 2012 Helen Chambers Burrill passed away on Feb. 25, 2012, in Redwood City, Calif. Born July 26, 1921, in Troy, N.Y., Helen was the daughter of James R. and Florence Chambers. She graduated from Troy High School in 1939 and from the Troy Business College Stenographic Course in 1940. On July 5, 1942, she married Nelson Willis Burrill. They moved to Palo Alto, Calif., in 1962. Helen was employed by SRI International in Menlo Park. Helen was preceded in death by her husband and by her three sisters, Marjorie Chambers, Mary Chambers and Arlene Hiscox. She is survived by two children, Marjorie Chamberlain (Adam Chamberlain) of San Jose and James Burrill (Camille Fischer) of Redwood City, and by three grandchildren, Amanda Chamberlain, Benjamin Burrill and Charlotte Fischer. A Memorial Celebration of Life for Helen will be held by Rev. Dr. Margaret Willis Boles at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 670 East Meadow Drive, Palo Alto, CA 94306 at 3:00 PM on Saturday March 24. Interment will be at Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto. If desired, donations in memory of Helen Burrill may be made to the South Palo Alto Food Closet, 670 East Meadow Drive, Palo Alto, CA 94306 (650-494-9310), World Wildlife Fund (www. worldwildlife.org), the American Heart Association (www.heart. org) or the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org). PA I D
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Lucy McNeely Tyler
Frank B. Cliff
April 8, 1927 - Feb. 18, 2012 Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge and loving father Frank B. Cliff passed away earlier this month in his home Feb. 18, 2012. The Honorable “Just call me Frank” was 84 years old and a Palo Alto resident since 1939. Prior to 1939 Frank served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He served in Alaska. Frank attended grade school in Palo Alto starting at Jordan Middle School and then onto Palo Alto High School. He went to college at Pomona then onto San Jose State University, where he met his wife and a loving mother, Shirley (Lee) Cliff (deceased Nov. 13, 2007). After graduating from Hastings Law school in San Francisco in 1952, he joined the law ﬁrm of Cliff and Nowinski Inc. in Palo Alto. At age 50 he was appointed to the bench by Gov. Edmond G. Brown Jr. in January 1978. Judge Cliff served on the Superior Court from 1978 to 2002. He has been quoted as being one of the most conscientious and disciplined judges. He would often stay up until 3-4 a.m. working on a case, and out the door to work by 8 a.m. Quote: “No judge worked harder then Frank Cliff, and no one enjoyed the work more.”
Frank Cliff was held with high regard and respect within the legal and judicial community. He had a reputation for doing things his own way, which his daughter Kelly will conﬁrm, “My dad was calling the shots all the way to the end.” For those who knew him personally, they will all agree that his joie de vivre was his family, friends, great sense of humor, good food accompanied with a nice bottle of “1958 Chateau Latour” along with good jazz music. We feel so blessed to have had such an amazing man in this community, a loving and supportive father. He will be truly missed! He is survived by his son, David Cliff of Palo Alto; daughter, Kelly Cliff Worcester, Hawaii; and his granddaughter, Megan Cliff of Palo Alto. “Celebration Of A Great Life” will be held on Thursday, April 12, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Lucie Stern Community Center (Fireside Room), 1305 Middleﬁeld Road, Palo Alto (cross street Embarcadero Road). PA I D
Longtime Mountain View resident Lucy Tyler, 91, passed away peacefully on March 14th, 2012, at a health care facility in Sunnyvale, due to declining health and following a short illness after a stroke. She was a member of the Waverley Writers poetry group in Palo Alto, served twice as president of the League of Women Voters of Los Altos-Mountain View, and worked for Reach to Recovery, Midpeninsula Citizens for Fair Housing and the American Red Cross. She is survived by her sons, Steven K. Tyler of Mountain View and J. Alan Tyler of Reno, NV, two grandchildren, Allison and Brian Tyler, and several nieces and nephews. A memorial service and celebration of her life will be held on Sunday, April 1st, 2012, at 3:00 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 505 E. Charleston Road in Palo Alto. A reception will follow in the church’s Fireside Room. PA I D
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Robert Thurman Albertson November 7, 1943-March 14, 2012
Robert “Bob” Thurman Albertson passed away unexpectedly on March 14, 2012. He was born in Palo Alto on Nov. 7, 1943. He attended Ravenswood High School in East Palo Alto. Bob served in the Air Force in the 1960s. He attended UCP School of Dentistry where he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery in 1978. He enjoyed both his patients and staff at his ofﬁce in Oakland, Calif. Bob will be missed by his beloved wife, Joan; loving children, Michael and Meagan; his mother, sister and many dear nieces and nephews. In lieu of ﬂowers contributions may be made to a Veterans charity of your choice. Internment at San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery in Gustine, Calif. Services have been held. PA I D
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Robert Gordon Stewart Robert Gordon Stewart, age 64 of San Francisco died peacefully with family at his side at Stanford University Hospital in the early morning of February 17, 2012, from the result of injuries suffered from a fall the evening before. Bob was a loving and loyal husband, brother, nephew, uncle, coworker, friend and neighbor. He had a deep love and affection for animals, particularly his wonderful Goldens. His sincere interest in people and his great sense of humor will be deeply missed by all who knew him. Bob was born on November 20, 1947 in Vernon, British Columbia, Canada the son of Gordon Turnbull Stewart and Bernice Rhoda Beardall both of whom preceded him in death. He was also preceded in death by his devoted aunt, Kathleen Fisher. On June 23, 1984, in Los Altos, California Bob married his best friend Carol Tooker. In addition to his wife Carol, Bob is survived by his sister Patricia Ann (husband Steven) McNeely of Sacramento; uncles Weston Clifford Fisher of Palo Alto and James Beardall (wife Liliaine) of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada; his cousin Weston Arnold Fisher (wife Shirley) of Stow, Massachusetts; parent–in–laws Edwin and Pauline Tooker; sister–in–laws Jean Elizabeth (husband Ted) Stephens of Palo Alto, Christine Ruth (husband Roger) Thomas of Lake Oswego, Oregon; nephews Matthew Wilson Stephens of Palo Alto, Brian Keith (wife Dianne) Stephens of Redwood City; nieces, Megan Elizabeth Thomas, and Jacqueline Marie Thomas both of Lake Oswego, Oregon and Brenda Kay Page 12ÊUÊ>ÀV ÊÓÎ]ÊÓä£ÓÊUÊ*>ÊÌÊ7iiÞ
(husband Scot) Smithee of Hollister. Bob graduated from Arizona State University in 1973, was an owner of Enzo’s Ristorante in the Embarcadero Center and was most recently employed as a Sales Representative for Southern Wine & Spirits of Northern California. Bob had many friends in the restaurant and food industry. He was a stanch Stanford, San Francisco Giants, and 49’s fan and loved walking his Golden Retriever, Button, in his North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. Bob was a member of the Teamsters Union, Local # 853. The family greatly appreciates the compassion and caring of the staff at Stanford University Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit and Neurology Department. Memorials on behalf of Bob may be given to the Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary www. home w a rd b ou nd golde n s .or g / don at i ng / howto or any other charity of your choice. A memorial gathering of family and friends will be held at a later date. Online condolences may be left for the family at paloaltoonline.com/obituaries or by leaving an e-mail for the family at rgsmemorial@aol. com. PA I D
Good for Business. Good for You. Good for the Community.
John S. Dore
Lasting Memories An online directory of obituaries and remembrances. Search obituaries, submit a memorial, share a photo. Go to:
September 12, 1938-November 22, 2011 Atherton, California
FREE Regular Size Fountain Drink or FREE Small Order of Fries Offer good per one sandwich purchase 2035-B El Camino Real, Palo Alto (Between Cambridge and California Avenues)
832 W. El Camino Real Sunnyvale, CA (408) 530-8159
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PALO ALTO CITY COUNCIL
William E. Green In describing the passing of Bill Green, 50, two titles come to mind: The 17th-century poem “Death Be Not Proud,” by John Donne, and “A Lesson In Dying” --- a slight paraphrase of Ernest Gaines’ 1933 novel. When Bill --- the ﬁfth in a line of William Ernest Greens --- made his transition March 4 at his home in Spokane, Wa., he had courageously endured a painful illness and crushing disability without anger, self-pity or complaint. Bill, who grew up in Palo Alto and had been a world-class sprinter, learned he had metastatic esophageal cancer in August when an undetected malignant spinal tumor caused sudden paraplegia. He is most remembered, by many, for his extraordinary talent as a runner who put the city’s Cubberley High School on the map in the world of track and ﬁeld. By 1978, as a junior, he won the California State championship in 440-yard race and track ofﬁcialdom took notice. The next year, as a senior, he ran 45.51 and set the national high school record having run it faster than any high schooler ever. In addition, he was a fail-safe, come-frombehind anchor in the sprint relays. Bill was selected for the Pan American Games, though he did not compete. At age 18, after placing in the top three in the U.S. Men’s National Championship meet in Southern California against veteran college stars, he found himself three days later on a ﬂight to Europe with a team of Americans sent to compete on the world stage. He had a large collection of trophies, but among his proudest recognitions were those earned at home --- his top athlete honor at Cubberley and the Peninsula Male Athlete of the Year Award, presented by the Peninsula Times Tribune in 1979. Some meet records still stand. In 1980, the ecstasy and agony of his running career were realized when he won the 400 meters in Eugene, Ore., at the Olympic Trials only to have then-President Jimmy Carter protest the Soviet war in Afghanistan by forbidding the U.S. team’s participation in the Moscow event. When news of Bill’s death reached friends, fans and coaches, they ﬂooded social media venues with tributes and photos of his track accomplishments. Friends and family recalled his love of animals [he leaves his cats, Max and Brooklyn]; his “techno-geek” interest in electronics and computers; his collection of vintage radios; and his status as a licensed ham operator.
John died unexpectedly at home in Atherton on Tuesday, Nov 22, 2011. Born near Broadway in the Cotswolds, he was educated in England where he received degrees in Chemistry and Geology. He worked as a Geologist in England and Canada before emigrating to the USA with his wife Janet where he became a consulting geologist at AMAX Coal and later SRI International. In 1984, John joined his wife Janet to become a successful husband and wife real estate partnership. John was an avid tennis player, historian and artist. John is survived by his wife Janet, son Jonathan, daughter-in-law Patrizia, grandchildren Jack and Juliana, and brother-in-law John Spiller and the Spiller family. His warm, generous spirit will be fondly remembered.
Bill spent long hours in the library, loved gardening, music, cooking, hiking, camping, metaldetecting and ﬁshing. Friends praised his sense of humor and his kindness and compassion. While in the Bay Area, he worked for companies including Rod-L Electronics and HewlettPackard; and he was a volunteer at a food distribution center in East Palo Alto. Bill was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., May 1, 1961. The family moved to Rochester, N.Y., where he attended the Harley School and later public school. The Greens moved to Palo Alto in 1971 and he attended Crescent Park School, Jordan and Wilbur middle schools, and was a graduate of Cubberley’s last class before it closed in 1979. He attended the University of Southern California on a track scholarship, exchanging his black and gold Cubberley Cougar jersey for the Trojans’ cardinal and gold and their “Fight On” mandate. As a freshman, he ran the anchor leg of USC’s record-setting 4x100 relay team. Bill is survived by his parents, Palo Altans Loretta Martin Green, a retired journalist, and William E. Green, an attorney and a former quarter-miler at the University of Pittsburgh. He also leaves his brother Roderic Martin Green (Tammy) of Commerce, Mich., who also was a member of the speedy Cubberley Cougars. Bill is survived by his sisters Inelle Lisa Green of San Jose and Nicole Elise Green of Oakland. He is survived by his girlfriend Karen Elwell, of Spokane, Wa., with whom he lived and who lovingly cared for him during his illness. Also mourning his passing are: his friend and former wife Kimberly Murray, of Palo Alto; his 97-year-old maternal grandmother Elise Martin, of Columbia, S.C.; and numerous nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins. A celebration of Bill’s life, led by the Rev. Edward Prothro-Harris of Palo Alto’s University AME Zion church will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 31 at the Unity Palo Alto Church, 3391 Middleﬁeld Road, Palo Alto. In lieu of ﬂowers, contributions may be sent in Bill’s memory to the Peninsula Bay Links Scholarship Fund, 1635 Candace Way, Los Altos, CA 94024. The money will fund a Bill Green academic scholarship to be presented in May to a local, college-bound senior track and ﬁeld athlete. PA I D
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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: http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/knowzone/agendas/council.asp (TENTATIVE) AGENDA–SPECIAL MEETING – COUNCIL CHAMBERS MARCH 26, 2012 - 5:00 PM 1. City Council Retreat for Further Discussion of Infrastructure Investment and Renewal; Direction to Staff. SPECIAL MEETING-COUNCIL CONFERENCE ROOM MARCH 27, 2012 5:00 PM The City Council will be meeting in Closed Session to set the City Auditor Annual Goals. The City Council meeting of April 2, 2012 has been cancelled. The Finance Committee meeting of April 3, 2012 has been cancelled.
NOTICE OF A PUBLIC MEETING of the City of Palo Alto Architectural Review Board (ARB) 8:30 A.M., Thursday, April 5, 2012 Palo Alto Council Chambers, 1st Floor, Civic Center, 250 Hamilton Avenue. Go to the Development Center at 285 Hamilton Avenue to review ﬁled documents; contact Diana Tamale for information regarding business hours at 650.329.2144. 145 Hawthorne [12PLN-00072]: Request by Zach Trailer for preliminary Architectural Review for the construction of three detached multi-family residential units on a 10,503 sq. ft. lot. Zone District: RM-15. 3127 El Camino Real [12PLN-00048]: Request by Heather Young of Fergus Garber Young Architects on Behalf of Silva Family Investments for minor Architectural Review Board review for a 1,270 square foot single story addition at the front of the existing building. Environmental Assessment: Exempt from the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) per Section 15301. 2650 Birch Street [11PLN-00083]: Request by Hohbach Realty Company Limited Partnership for Architectural Review of a new fourstory mixed use building consisting of eight multiple-family residential units, ground ﬂoor ofﬁce space, underground parking garage and related site improvements replacing three single family residential homes on a 19,862 sq. ft. site. Zone District: PTOD. Environmental Assessment: A Mitigated Negative Declaration has been approved for this project. The project was continued from the 12-1-11 meeting. Amy French Manager of Current Planning *>ÊÌÊ7iiÞÊUÊ>ÀV ÊÓÎ]ÊÓä£ÓÊU Page 13
Finally, Edgewood Plaza to get a facelift New grocery store, 10 homes will move into historic Eichler shopping area on Embarcadero Road
fter more than five years of effort, Edgewood Plaza, the forlorn relic of what once was the vibrant shopping core for hundreds of Eichler homes in Palo Alto, will be redeveloped, a major accomplishment for the neighborhood and the owner, Sand Hill Property Co. It is a welcome outcome for the historic center, built in 1957 by Joseph Eichler and other collaborators near Embarcadero and West Bayshore roads. The original plan included a grocery store, two retail buildings, as well as an office building that housed the office of Eichler Homes in 1959. A gas station was also part of the center and opened in 1957. But while most of the 2,700 Eichler homes built in Palo Alto in the late 1950s are still occupied, including many that have been upgraded, the Edgewood Plaza slowly deteriorated as residents found other shopping venues with more choices. The last active grocery store at Edgewood was Albertsons, which left in 2006. That will change in a dramatic way when the plan authorized by an 8-1 City Council vote Monday begins to take shape. One of the historic retail buildings will be moved and The Fresh Market, owned by a group that specializes in organic food, will occupy the grocery-store space. It hopes to open in 2013, according to the company, and will be the first store west of the Mississippi for the 115-store chain. The other key factors approved in the PC-zoned redevelopment are construction of 10 two-story homes and a small community park. The new homes, designed in the Eichler style, will feature open spaces, natural light and glassy exteriors, similar to the ubiquitous single-story Eichler designs that continue to remain popular with homeowners in the city. Karen Holman was the only council member to vote against approval, saying she was concerned about traffic safety, due to the plaza’s location on a traffic corridor next to Highway 101. Over more than five years in the making, the final plan is the product of numerous public hearings, a lawsuit filed against it by neighbors and many revisions in the design, including a reduction to 10 homes, rather than more than 30 in the original proposal. Neighbors mostly were concerned about traffic impacts and parking. Council members Gred Schmid and Larry Klein echoed some of Holman’s traffic concerns, but ultimately were able to support the project. City staff members said traffic around the plaza will be addressed as work progresses on the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. For many residents of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, who frequently drive or walk past the dilapidated structures in the plaza, a makeover will be a welcome sight, as will convenient access to a modern grocery store. “We’ve known this was always going to be a neighborhood shopping center and a neighborhood shopping center means a grocery store,” John Tze of Sand Hill Property told the council. “We’ve known that we’ll need to bring a grocery store, and the grocery store is The Fresh Market,” which should appeal to Palo Altans who frequent farmers markets and have come to expect fresh organic foods to be available in their grocery store. Many supporters of the often-revised plan spoke at the council hearing, including some who had opposed a previous plan and came around to back the final version. Two, Martin Yonke and Diane Sekimura, who were involved in a lawsuit against the project, said they now look forward to seeing the property redeveloped. A key factor in the approval process was noted by Architectural Review Board Chair Judith Wasserman, who said, “It is a very important project ... in that it revitalizes a really dead corner at one of the main entrances to town. It’s a significant project. We felt it was very successful in doing what it intended to do, which was consider the viability of the retail component,” which she said was achieved by relocating one of the buildings. When the city’s Historic Resources Board Chair Martin Bernstein said relocation would not reduce the “Eichler feeling,” or harm the plaza’s historical significance, it meant that all parking in the plaza could be contained in one place, alleviating a major neighborhood concern. In the final analysis, the successful plaza design was able to overcome the historical significance of the site by winning approval from the city’s Planning and Transportation Commission, Historic Resources Board and the Architectural Review Board. Along with the neighborhoods adjacent to the project, we look forward to seeing this once-forlorn site again become a vibrant asset at an important gateway to the city.
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Spectrum Editorials, letters and opinions
Sustainability, not development Editor, With the recent approval of the “Gateway” building on the corner of Lytton and Alma our council has yet again failed to represent Palo Alto residents. The developer got way more than the zoning allowed. Instead of a two-story office building, they got a four-story office building. And by one speaker’s estimation at Monday’s City Council meeting, the extra space is probably worth $30 million to the developer. Nearby residents complained of overflow parking from this monstrosity, while the property owner of the surrounding parcels whole-heartedly endorsed the Gateway plan. Undoubtedly he will soon present his own plans for multiple high-rise, extremely dense developments in keeping with the new land-use pattern that has been established. Meanwhile the real issues of sustainability persist. How many people can live in Palo Alto? How many can work here? What do we want our city to look like in 20 or 50 years? How do we expect our children to live when they are adults? At the rate we are going, there will be no open views, no green spaces, no quiet left. Office canyons and highrise housing complexes will be the norm. Driving and parking will be a nightmare. Schools for your children’s children overcrowded warehouses with no room to play. And the environmental toll is obvious. Wait until the next drought with twice the people in Palo Alto and the same water allocation. Sustainability was supposed to be a goal of the current city council. Yet every decision to make something bigger, higher and denser is anathema to that goal. We live in a world where the existence of limits is more and more apparent, yet our City Council blithely ignores the connection between overintensification of use and diminishing essential resources. Please let council know your vision and next city council election try to find people who support it. Tina Peak Palo Alto Avenue Palo Alto
Prioritize infrastructure Editor, Palo Alto Mayor Yiaway Yeh is obviously a kind and well-meaning man. But like many do-gooders with a cause, he has neglected the first principle of running a business. And make no mistake — running a city is a business. The principle is “Ask the Customer.” The poor response to his mayor’s challenge is easily predictable. Many residents of Palo Alto and neighboring communities have no interest in being more than acquaintances with their neighbors. That is because friendship and association are not based on geographical proximity. They are based
on commonalities, including educational, financial and cultural similarity, shared languages and ethnicities, and psychological compatibility. Of these, only financial similarity has anything to do with the juxtaposition of dwellings in a neighborhood. It alone is not an adequate basis for friendship and social interaction. There is also a larger principle to consider. As many recent letters to the Weekly have pointed out, the principal function of city government is to provide a safe, secure, efficient infrastructure for daily existence. That means fire and police services, emergency medical response, and a clean, well-maintained, and smoothly operating network of streets and utilities. It is not a major responsibility of city government to provide entertainment, education and social welfare. Only when the primary requirements have been satisfied and are operating at a profit can a city afford the luxury of spending time and money on peripheral activities. Palo Alto has a long way to go to satisfy the primary requirements — humdrum though they may seem — of city operations. Morton Grosser Lemon Street Menlo Park
355 Alma Giveaway Editor, The rezoning of 355 Alma to a “planned community” gives the developer millions and millions of dollars of rentable space at the expense of the surrounding neighborhood. It creates huge parking and traffic problems. The developer saves millions by not building adequate parking. This project’s underparking exacerbates the current parking shortage there. To paper over the harm done, there was talk of discounted office space on the street level for a nonprofit. Did the Council favor an agency that helps the disabled, seniors or children? No. The “worthy” organization proposed for this valuable space is (drumroll please) the Chamber of Commerce. The suggestion to reward the Chamber was made by a councilman who reportedly discussed it with them before the council meeting. He did not disclose his discussions and pushed the item to a vote. The conversation was reported in the newspaper days later. Isn’t it improper for council members to have behind-the-scenes discussions in cases like this? Perhaps the city attorney should look into it. Elaine Meyer Kingsley Avenue Palo Alto
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Reflections eight years after my brother’s death by Julia Tachibana n Nov. 14, 2003, I lost my brother Ben to suicide. I still remember that night vividly. My family phoned the police when we realized he was missing. At 6 o’clock the next morning there was that knock on our door. “There are some things as a policewoman that I wish I didn’t have to do,” said the officer sorrowfully, looking straight into our eyes. “I’m sorry to tell you that your son has passed away.” “What?” my mother cried, eyes wide in shock, disbelief. “Passed away?” That night was painful. To be honest, some days, even today after eight years, the pain is just as searing as it was when I looked across the table to see my mother crumple into a heap. The wailing that escaped her lips was horrendous, like that of a dying, wounded animal. Her deep anguish triggered mine, and I broke down sobbing, suddenly hit with the reality that Ben was gone forever. The pain does not go away. It shows up when you least expect it. When you are playing an ice breaker and asked how many siblings you have. What do you tell them? Do you lie? Or do you tell them the truth and make it awkward for everyone involved? You ask: Why does it have to be so complicated? Why does it have to be this way? Ben did not die in vain. I have learned many lessons from his death. Probably the most important is that I need to cherish life. I can change my circumstances by
living; by dying I will not accomplish anything. To be honest, sometimes I am afraid I will do what my brother did. There are days when I just want to give up and disappear, too tired to continue the fight. I cannot stop crying and I long for a concrete end to the painful feelings I am experiencing. But I realize that in those moments that it is not death I am truly seeking. I simply need someone to listen to me. Someone who will hold my hand and tell me that I am worth it, that I will get through the day. Thinking about it does not mean I am going to do it. All I am saying is, “Hey, I need to talk to someone right now. I need someone to listen to me. I need help figuring out just why I am so confused and lonely and scared.” Counselors can help. Some close friends can help. Some people need to physically remove themselves from certain situations. Dear Palo Alto, I love you. You are the town that gave me the individuals who saved me during my time of need. You are the town that sent my family flowers, the town that cooked and delivered heaps of food to console us. You are the town that put in place initiatives to ensure the safety of our youth. I thank God for the people who came alongside me to support me, the people who held me when I could no longer walk upright. But it is not just the initiatives; it’s the genuine connections between individuals that count. The daily interactions between parent and child, teacher and student. The teacher taking time to make sure that student is OK, really OK, and following up with him or her. It’s the friend who asks why her friend is looking so sad and skinny all of a sudden. It’s the friend who persists and finds out why his friend is drinking so much. It’s the teacher who remembers to ask if things
are improving at home. It’s the counselor who has the ability to discern what exactly the problem is, or just that there is a problem. It’s all of these things. I hope you, too, can learn from Ben’s death. If you are a youth, I hope you learn it is OK to talk about your feelings. It is OK to open up to a teacher. It is OK to say you can no longer bear it. It is OK to take alternative routes. Heck, I did. I ended up going to community college for the first two years out of high school and, although it was tough, in retrospect it turned out to be a blessing. I am in a much better place these days and I am glad I made myself vulnerable and reached out. I have so many people to thank, but I also remember I made the choice to receive help. Admitting that you are having trouble finishing your homework or managing your load does not make you a failure. You are so much stronger for having stepped up and shared what is troubling you. Life is hard. And you have the right to say that it is. It is OK to say that the pressure is too great, that you need support. Please do not let negative thoughts fester inside of you. I am telling you: Hold out. Talk to someone. It can change your life. It can save your life. You can change your life! If you are a youth of this town, please do not be afraid to speak up. And if you are a teacher, the teacher a student confides in, please be with that student in the moment. Do not hand them over to a counselor right away. Just listen first, since he or she approached you. If they are asking for a counselor, by all means please direct them to one. But it may be scary for them. Seeking a counselor still carries an enormous stigma. Many believe that signifies weakness. But it is actually the opposite: The strong help themselves. They take breaks and ask themselves why they feel shaky when they do. And we need
to encourage that. In these situations, please be a friend to the student. Please take the time, even if you are busy, to hear the child out, to approach the child gently if you believe he or she is struggling. We are all children after all, under the hooded sweatshirts, baggy jeans, the fierce makeup, and skin-tight midriff-baring tank tops. We are children and we need to know that we are not alone when we perceive the world to be a dark, scary place. This is not just for teachers, either. Parents, please listen to your kids. Please talk with them. They need you, despite the resistance. Please show them you care. Please do not let my brother’s death be a waste. Please learn from it, if anything, that there are so many more kids out there who are dying inside and close to the edge. These kids do not really wish for death. They just need a space to talk things out, to say they are not OK and to be accepted in whatever state they are in. Thank you Palo Alto, for all your prayers, for all of your efforts, the initiatives down to the hugs and phone calls. Thank you. I know that you have at least saved me, that you have given me a reason to live, those faces I have needed to look at to remind me that love and hope do exist and that yes, one day, it truly does get better. n Julia Tachibana is currently enrolled in a teaching credential program at UC Davis and is enjoying student teaching in a third-grade classroom. And she remains active in her pursue to raise awareness about mental health issues. For more information and help about suicide prevention, contact: Project Safety Net, http://www.psnpaloalto.com/ or the Santa Clara County Suicide and Crisis Hotline, toll free, 1-855-278-4204.
Would widening the sidewalks and narrowing the road increase the overall experience on California Avenue? Asked on California Avenue, Cambridge Avenue and Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. Interviews and photographs by Cristina Wong.
Stanford graduate student College Terrace “I think that’d be a great idea — more traffic would be good. I like the range of stores they have already; there’s a lot of variety.”
Maintenance worker Portage Avenue “I kind of like it the way it is actually, so I’d say leave it as is.”
Camera operator Maybell Avenue “For store owners I’m not sure what they would think. The traffic flow would be good for widening, but it would be bad for the store owners because they wouldn’t have much say in the matter.”
Unemployed Sutter Avenue “No matter how much room is made for vehicles to have access to the street, there’s always going to be traffic. In order to have eco-friendly transit, it’d be better for them to make the streets geared towards public transit and be pedestrian friendly.”
Mother San Antonio Road “I think it’ll be good for the businesses. ... It’ll be like another University Avenue.”
Palo Alto Weekly • March 23, 2012 • Page 15
Rail funds could give Caltrain a chance to electrify on two tracks By Yoriko Kishimoto and Adina Levin ast spring, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, state Sen. Joe Simitian, and state Assemblyman Rich Gordon put forth a vision to implement a “blended system” for Caltrain enabling high-speed trains to operate on two Caltrain tracks. The proposal came after the High-Speed Rail Authority’s original proposal for a four-track system was widely re- Yoriko Kishimoto jected on the Peninsula as expensive, disruptive for our historic downtowns and walkable neighborhoods, and excessive for likely rider demand. Then the rail authority’s Peer Review Group began to strongly recommend early funding for Northern and Southern California, rather than starting the project with just one segment in the Central Valley. The blended system could serve more people quickly and reduce the state’s financial risk, authority officials said. Against all odds and thanks to the hard work of many, this blended and “early” implementation plan is today gaining significant momentum. We believe that the emerging consensus is good for the Peninsula cities if key conditions and a clear roadmap for moving ahead are part of the package. One reason for optimism is that after the blended system was proposed, Caltrain took over the process of defining and analyzing its feasibility. Its staff is winning the respect of many city representatives and interested residents by working and communicating honestly
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and respectfully with the cities, and defending the needs of the communities in regional and state debates. The need is mutual: we cities need excellent regional transit if we want a vibrant economy without worsening traffic congestion or unhealthy air. Caltrain has been steadily gaining ridership every month for the past 18 months, reaching up to 45,000 Adina Levin boardings a day in peak months. Farebox and other operating revenue are up 23 percent over last year, thanks to the higher ridership and fare increases. Peak hour bullet trains are often standing room only. Our innovation economy depends on Caltrain. We can’t wait until 2034. The early investment proposal would modernize Caltrain by 2020 with an estimated $1.4 billion of funding: $700 million from Prop. 1A High-Speed Rail funds, and an equal match from local, federal and other funds. This will allow the electrification of the existing twotrack infrastructure and includes $342 million for new electric cars (Electrified Multiple Units or EMUs). The top speed will remain the same but the ability to stop and start more quickly will allow more service to more stations within the same timeframe. Emissions will drop by 90 percent. Community members will have the opportunity to review details of the electrification project as it will go through its own full environmental review process. The Metropolitan Transportation Commis-
sion (MTC), the regional board, just released the draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) on their website for public review Wednesday for their meeting March 28. The High-Speed Rail Authority recently approved a similar proposal for early investment in the Los Angeles area.
Conditions for participation In order to sign onto the plan, cities are insisting on conditions to protect the residents from the overbuilding and overreach that marred the early versions of the high-speed-rail plan. The four-track system originally proposed needs to be definitively out of the picture. In a letter responding to the recent high-speed-rail program environmental impact report, Caltrain officials declared that they will only support the blended system and fortunately, Caltrain owns the right of way. The draft MOU stipulates that the blended system will remain primarily a twotrack system “substantially within the existing Caltrain right of way,” designed to support existing passenger and freight rail tenants. Caltrain deserves a lot of credit for realizing that its decisions have a huge impact on its communities and committing to a methodical two-year process that will go through a complex review of changes to grade-crossings, impact on local traffic, service plans that balance express service with service to every local station, and other key trade-offs. The draft MOU calls for the blended system to be “planned, designed and constructed in a way that supports local land use and transit-oriented development policies along the Peninsula corridor.” Decisions about grade separations and future incremental changes need to be made with the stakeholders in the cities affected by these
changes. Caltrain must be the lead agency for environmental review, design and construction, although MTC has a key role to play in negotiating the complex funding agreement among the multiple parties.
What’s best for the cities? There are significant risks to the high-speed rail project overall. Many legislators and voters have concerns about the business plan. The state attorney general is reviewing legal issues. The prospects for further federal funding are dicey. High-speed rail might stall this year in the state Legislature, or it might stall later if future sources of funding fail to materialize. But if high-speed rail moves forward this year, the rail authority’s early investment plan offers the prospect for better transit service on the Peninsula, with more frequent trains, more station stops, and more riders, likely with lower operating costs and higher rider revenue. With a stronger agreement between Caltrain and the rail authority providing greater local review of design decisions, this should be a net positive for the region. The next steps include extension of Caltrain to the Transbay Terminal since the downtown area has 10 times the jobs as the current San Francisco terminus at 4th and King and a funding source for grade separations for Peninsula cities that want them. ■ Yoriko Kishimoto and Adina Levin are cofounders of Friends of Caltrain. Kishimoto is former Mayor of Palo Alto and currently a director on Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. Levin is a co-founder of Socialtext and the Drive Less Challenge. They can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
A weekly compendium of vital statistics
Help for your parents is just a phone call away! Attend an open house and receive a free gift! Thursday, March 29, 2 pm Thursday, April 12, 10 am
POLICE CALLS Palo Alto March 15-21 Violence related Battery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Child abuse. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Domestic violence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Sexual assault. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Theft related Commercial burglaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Grand theft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Identity theft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Petty theft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Residential burglaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Vehicle related Abandoned auto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Bicycle/safekeeping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Driving w/suspended license . . . . . . . . .4 Misc. traffic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Theft from auto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Vehicle accident/minor injury . . . . . . . . .3 Vehicle accident/property damage. . . . .2 Vehicle impound . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Alcohol or drug related Drinking in public . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Drunk in public . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Possession of drugs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Under influence of drugs . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Miscellaneous Found property. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Helicopter crash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Lost property . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Misc. penal code violation . . . . . . . . . . .1 Missing person . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Prowler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Psychiatric hold . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Resisting arrest. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Suspicious circumstances . . . . . . . . . . .1 Stalking. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Trespassing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Vandalism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Warrant arrest. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Warrant/other agency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
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Menlo Park March 15-21 Violence related Battery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Theft related Forgery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Fraud . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Grand theft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Identity theft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Petty theft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Residential burglaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Vehicle related Driving w/suspended license . . . . . . . . .6 Hit and run . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Vehicle accident/property damage. . . . .2 Alcohol or drug related Drug activity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Miscellaneous Found property. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Information case . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Missing person . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Outside assistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Prohibited weapons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Psychiatric hold . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Suspicious person . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Trespassing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Vandalism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Violation of court order . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Warrant arrest. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
Atherton March 15-21 Theft related Fraud . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Petty theft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Residential burglaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Vehicle related Parking/driving violation . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Suspicious vehicle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Vehicle code violation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Miscellaneous Animal call. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Disturbance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Flooding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Found property. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Hazard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Juvenile problem. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Medical aid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Meet citizen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Outside assistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Suspicious circumstances . . . . . . . . . . .4 Suspicious person . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Town ordinance violation . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Vandalism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Welfare check . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
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Arts & Entertainment A weekly guide to music, theater, art, movies and more, edited by Rebecca Wallace
Harriete Estel Berman’s installation “Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin,” soaring 12 feet tall and 28 feet across, will be on display through the end of March at Castilleja School.
Artist Harriete Estel Berman holds one of her marionettes made of recycled objects, including pencils, candy tins and game pieces.
Sculpture skewers standardized testing, celebrates art in schools by Karla Kane
arriete Estel Berman’s current installation in the Anita Seipp Gallery at Palo Alto’s Castilleja School hangs like a colorful tapestry, gently swaying in the breeze and flickering in the light. A closer inspection, however, reveals that the curtain-like sculpture is made not of standard beads or fabric but pencils — rows upon rows of recycled pencils in various hues and sizes. It stands about 12 feet high and 28 feet across but has the thickness of just one of those plentiful pencils. And its rocket-ship shape actually represents the bell curve used to measure student performance on standardized tests. The artist’s opinion on the role and impact of standardized tests in education is the inspiration behind the piece, titled “Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin,” which is on display through the end of March. Berman, a former Palo Alto resident who now lives in San Mateo, became concerned about the emphasis schools place on standardized testing while raising her now-grown children. Her son was in the first generation of California students to take the STAR test. Focusing so much on testing, she said, diverts invaluable time, funds and Page 20ÊUÊ>ÀV ÊÓÎ]ÊÓä£ÓÊUÊ*>ÊÌÊ7iiÞ
energy from encouragement of independent study, hands-on projects and the arts. “Problem-solving skills and creative thinking are buzzwords in every school’s mission statements, but I don’t think there’s anything that can teach those skills better than the arts,” she said. “Arts have really been devalued in education.” And the way test results are organized into the bell-curve graph, broken into nine “stanines” with the majority of test takers placed in the middle segments and the lowest and highest scorers on the outskirts, is also damaging, she said. “Everyone is put into these nine segments. They try and squeeze all the students into the center and then,” she said in a mock-spooky voice, “they say the three stanines on each side ‘deviate from the norm.’ It just sounds bad.” For “Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin,” Berman built the middle stanines out of standard pencils in classic yellow, representing the “average” students. The more colorful, less common pencils are to the sides. The farthest, least populated stanines are made up of black and white pencils to show that standardized testing is a polarizing issue, she said. “The students at the lowest and highest ends are the least served,” she said.
Berman’s son, who recently graduated from the University of California at Davis with a degree in mechanical engineering, helped design the piece’s structure. Though it seems simple, she said she quickly realized the complexities of the task, such as the need to change the pencils’ directions throughout so the balance and spacing would be right. To hang the pencils, she and her student assistants painstakingly drilled each and every one and threaded them with monofilament fishing line. In the finished project, the zigzags of the pencil points form a pattern that adds to the tapestry-like look. Yardsticks, attached to the bottom for weight, underscore the idea of measuring students’ academic performances. “It came out even better than I imagined,” Berman said, adding that the fishing line gives the surprising bonus of resembling graph lines. The project is more than four years in the making. Just collecting the massive amount of pencils needed — Berman says she has “absolutely no idea” how many there are in total — took a year. She decided, in line with her ecofriendly style (she often works with recycled tin cans), that used pencils would serve her vision better than new ones, both for environmental
and symbolic reasons. “I wanted pencils that could have potentially taken standardized tests,” she said. After she sent out requests by email and fliers, people sent in pencils from all over the world. Some were “cute and collectable” and others well-worn or even chewed. Some of her favorites came with notes attached explaining the pencils’ origins or with interesting observations. “Something so mundane as a pencil can have an emotional connection,” she said. Berman said she’s especially proud of how the piece works on both a macro and a micro level. The enormous bell curve is impressive to behold, but an up-close view, too, proves rewarding. The rows of varying pencils offer a treasure trove of material culture akin to an archaeological dig or patchwork quilt. A Halloween-themed pencil boasts festive ghost shapes, while a purple batch from Sequoia High School in Redwood City is decorated with a now-banished Cherokee mascot. Pencils advertising long-lost businesses and even the 1990 U.S. Census are on display, offering clues about how they were used and the lives of those who used them. Berman’s work with the piece is ongoing. She received a $5,000 Applied Materials Excellence
in the Arts grant from Arts Council Silicon Valley to hold a recent “Pencil Symposium” at which local high school students discussed their experiences with standardized testing. Footage of her creating the piece, the symposium discussions and more will be eventually edited into a video, for which she is currently raising funds via Kickstarter.com. She even envisions using pencils to create the video’s musical score. Berman is a longtime friend of Castilleja art teacher and gallery curator Deborah Trilling and has shown art Info:
in the Seipp Gallery before. For “Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin,” Castilleja — and Palo Alto — seemed to be the perfect place to debut the piece and hold its related events. “With Stanford University just across the way and education being a priority in this community, it does fit perfectly,” Berman said. Trilling added that the school’s math department is particularly interested in the piece. “Because the work is in the shape of a bell curve, it can be used to help students grasp the power of this graphing/statistical concept,”
Arts & Entertainment
No. 2 pencils make up the middle of the bell curve in Harriete Estel Berman’s installation “Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin,” inspired by the impact of standardized testing on education. Where:
“Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin,” an art installation by Harriete Estel Berman When:
she wrote in an email interview. “The world is interdisciplinary and Harriete’s artwork is testimony to that fact.” Student reactions, she added, have been very positive. Berman will be working with Castilleja art students this April (also covered by the grant), leading them through pencil-based and other recycled-material projects, including fanciful marionettes made of what some might call junk. These projects emphasize environmental awareness as well as craftsmanship. “I want them to think about using
and reusing materials and how we throw out tons of stuff every day,” she said, demonstrating how the puppets, with hats made of such material as discarded mustard tops, can wiggle about. She said she also hopes to teach them how simple objects can be turned into complex works of art. For Trilling, “Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin,” demonstrates just that. Berman’s “monument to the pencil,” she said, “combines imagination, a good idea and hard work to transform an everyday object into an artwork of incredible beauty.” N Cost:
Anita Seipp Gallery, Castilleja School, 1310 Bryant St., Palo Alto
The installation is up through March 30, with the gallery open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or by appointment.
Go to castilleja.org.
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Spring Down Equestrian Center
Spring Down camp teaches basic to advanced horsemanship skills. Ages 6-99 welcome! Daily informative lecture, riding lesson, supervised hands-on skill practice, safety around horses, tacking/ untacking of own camp horse, and arts/crafts. www.springdown.com 650.851.1114
Stanford Water Polo Camps
Ages 7 and up. New to the sport or have experience, we have a camp for you. Half day or full day option for boys and girls. All the camps offer fundamental skill work, position work, scrimmages and games. stanfordwaterpolocamps.com 650-725-9016
Summer at Saint Francis
Sports & Activity Camp (ages 6-12): This all sports camp provides group instruction in a variety of field, water and court games. Saint Francis faculty and students staff the camp, and the focus is always on fun. The program is dedicated to teaching teamwork, sportsmanship and positive self-esteem. After camp care and swim lessons available. www.sfhs.com/summer 650-968-1213 x650
Summer at Saint Francis
Advanced Sports Camps (5th-9th grades): We offer a wide selection of advanced sports camps designed to provide players with the opportunity to improve both their skill and knowledge of a specific sport. Each camp is run by a Head Varsity Coach at Saint Francis, and is staffed by members of the coaching staff. www.sfhs.com/summer 650-968-1213 x650
YMCA of Silicon Valley
Say hello to summer fun at the YMCA! Choose from enriching day or overnight camps in 35 locations: arts, sports, science, travel, and more. For youth K-10th grade. Includes weekly fieldtrips, swimming and outdoor adventures. Accredited by the American Camp Association. Financial assistance available. www.ymcasv.org/summercamp 408-351-6400
Academics GASPA German Summer School Camp Menlo Park Learn German by way of Fairytale! GASPA is taking Summer Camp into the world of fairy tales and everything that comes with it…in German of course! Offering a 4 week program for children ages 3-12. www.gaspa-ca.org 650-520-3646
Harker Summer Programs
Write Now! Summer Writing Camps
Arts, Culture and Other Camps Camp Imagineerz
Mountain View and Los Altos
Building i-can attitudes....In a FUN environment, children discover that when you believe you can, you can! Creating and performing original stories, building/making with recycled materials and lots of outdoor play. Grades 1- 4. Fabulous Early-bird discount up to March 15. See website for details www.imagineerz-learning.com 650-318-5002
Castilleja Summer Day Camp
Creative Kids Camp
iD Tech Camps - Summer Tech Fun!
Community School of Music & Arts (CSMA )
iD Teen Academies
Learn different aspects of video game creation, app development, filmmaking, photography, and more. 2-week programs where ages 13-18 interact with industry professionals to gain competitive edge. iD Gaming Academy, iD Programming Academy, and iD Visual Arts Academy are held at Stanford, and other universities. www.iDTeenAcademies.com 1-888-709-TECH (8324)
ISTP’s Language Immersion Summer Camp
ISTP Summer Camp is designed to give participants a unique opportunity to spend their summer break having fun learning or improving in a second language. Students are grouped according to both grade level and language of proficiency. Our camp offers many immersion opportunities and consists of a combination of language classes and activities taught in the target language. Sessions are available in French, Mandarin, Chinese and English ESL and run Monday through Friday, 8am-3:30pm, with additional extnding care from 3:30-5:30pm. www.istp.org 650-251-8519
Mid-Peninsula High School Summer Program
Mid-Peninsula High School offers a series of classes and electives designed to keep students engaged in learning. Class MondayThursday and limited to 15 students. Every Thursday there’s a BBQ lunch. The Science and Art classes will have weekly field trips. www.mid-pen.com 650-321-1991 x110
Castilleja Summer Day Camp (grades 2-6, CILT grades 8-9) offers ageappropriate activities including athletics, art, science, computers, writing, crafts, cooking, drama, music classes and field trips. Two and four week sessions available. www.castilleja.org 650-470-7833
K-12 offerings taught by exceptional, experienced faculty and staff. K-6 morning academics - focusing on math, language arts and science - and full spectrum of afternoon recreation. Grades 6-12 for-credit courses and non-credit enrichment opportunities. Sports programs also offered. www.summer.harker.org 408-553-0537 Take hobbies further! Ages 7-17 create iPhone apps, video games, movies, and more at weeklong, day and overnight programs held at Stanford and 60+ universities in 27 states.. Also 2-week, Teen-only programs: iD Gaming Academy, iD Programming Academy, and iD visual Arts Academy (filmmaking & photography). www.internalDrive.com 1-888-709-TECH (8324)
Emerson School of Palo Alto and Hacienda School of Pleasanton open their doors and offer their innovative programs: Expository Writing, Creative Writing, Presentation Techniques, and (new!) Media Production. Call or visit our website for details. Also Pleasanton. www.headsup.org 650-424-1267, 925-485-5750
Children entering Grades 1 to 8 are invited to explore the arts July 16 - 20, 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Workshops available in guitar, dance, voice, and songwriting. Put together a musical from start to finish. Performance on Friday night. Register online. www.mppc.org 650-323-8647
50+ creative camps for Gr. K-8! Drawing, Painting, Ceramics, Sculpture, Musical Theater, American Idol Workshop, more! Twoweek sessions; full and half-day enrollment. Extended care available. Financial aid offered. www.arts4all.org 650-917-6800 ext. 0
India Community Center Summer Camps
Palo Alto/ Sunnyvale/ Milpitas/Olema
Join ICC’s Cultural Camps which give campers a quick tour of India and its vibrant culture. These camps include arts, crafts, folk dance, bollywood dance, music, yoga, Indian history and geography. Over 10 different camps all through the summer for Grades K-12. To register or for more details visit: www.indiacc.org/camps 408-934-1130 ext. 225
Palo Alto Community Child Care (PACCC)
PACCC summer camps offer campers, grades kindergarten to 6th, a wide array of fun opportunities! K-1 Fun for the youngest campers, Nothing But Fun for themed-based weekly sessions, Neighborhood Adventure Fun and Ultimate Adventure Fun for the more active and on-the-go campers! Swimming twice per week, periodic field trips, special visitors and many engaging camp activities, songs and skits round out the fun offerings of PACCC Summer Camps! Registration is online. Open to campers from all communities! Come join the fun in Palo Alto! www.paccc.com 650-493-2361
TechKnowHow Computer Palo Alto/ & LEGO Camps Menlo Park/Sunnyvale
Summer at Saint Francis provides a broad range of academic and athletic programs for elementary through high school students. It is the goal of every program to make summer vacation enriching and enjoyable! www.sfhs.com/summer 650-968-1213 x446
Fun and enriching technology classes for students, ages 5-14 Courses include LEGO and K’NEX Projects with Motors, Electronics, NXT Robotics, 3D Modeling, and Game Design. Many locations, including Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Sunnyvale. Half and all day options. Early-bird and multi-session discounts available. www.techknowhowkids.com 650-638-0500
Synapse School & Wizbots
Theatreworks Summer Camps
Summer at Saint Francis
Cutting-edge, imaginative, accelerated, integrated, and hands-on academic summer enrichment courses with independent in-depth, project-based morning and afternoon week-long programs for children ages 4-12. Young Explorers, Thinking Math, Leonardo da Vinci’s Inventions, Nature Connections, Girls’ & Soccer Robotics, and more! synapseschool.org/curriculum/summer 650-866-5824
In these skill-building workshops for grades K-5, students engage in language-based activities, movement, music, and improvisation theatre games. Students present their own original pieces at the end of each two-week camp. www.theatreworks.org/educationcommunity 650-463-7146
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Arts & Entertainment
Worth a Look Art
refreshments will be on hand. Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door. For more information, go to rba.org or call 650-691-9982.
After working in marketing for 20some years, Michelle Jader was ready for a life change. In 2007 she started studying fine-art painting at the Academy of Art Doctor Noize University, and now Armed with a she’s a full-time artnew book and two ist. new albums, DocAppropriately, the tor Noize is coming San Francisco artback to Palo Alto. ist’s current solo exHe’s also known hibition at the Bryas Stanford music ant Street Gallery in graduate Cory Culdowntown Palo Alto linan, a children’s is called “Ready or musician who grew Not.” She explores up in Los Altos. the notion of diving Doctor Noize into a new phase of life through her bright “Clear For Takeoff” is one has been on call a lot lately. Besides oil paintings depict- of the vivid paintings by ing gymnasts and Michelle Jader in which the releasing the bookdancers, and people artist explores diving into a and-CD combo “The Return of Phineas flying through the air new phase of life. McBoof” and the over trampolines. “Transitions ... include the sense educational album “Grammaropoof falling, lack of control and the lis,” Cullinan has been scoring some feeling that anything is possible,” of his songs for full orchestra. He Jader wrote in an artist’s statement. recently performed with the North “We’re vulnerable in these moments State Symphony and the Juneau and despite our efforts, our actions Symphony. On Sunday, April 1, Cullinan is seem to be more public than other times in our lives. To capture these scheduled to play a 3:30 p.m. confeelings, images are painted on cert at the Cubberley Community Theatre at 4000 Middlefield Road. semi-transparent, acrylic panels.” “Ready or Not” is on display at His one-man band generally grows 532 Bryant St. through the end of during the course of a show, as kids March. The gallery is open Tues- get invited to join in and even help day through Saturday from 10 a.m. record songs on stage. As for Phinto 5:30 p.m., and Thursdays until 7 eas McBook, he’s a monkey with a p.m. Go to bryantstreet.com or call band and a plan. Tickets to the April 1 show are 650-321-8155. $10. For more, go to doctornoize. com or call the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre at 650-463-4970.
Bluegrass concert The latest in a series of regular concerts hosted by the Redwood Bluegrass Associates in Mountain View features a local fiddler making a homecoming: Menlo School graduate Brittany Haas. Now a five-string fiddle player living in Nashville, Haas also plays with the chamber-grass band Crooked Still and an “all-girl old-time band called The Fundies” as well as teaming up with Lauren Rioux in their fiddle duo. Rioux, who is from Maine, is a member of Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings and other groups. She and Haas share a love for Appalachian music The Mountain View concert is scheduled for this Saturday, March 24, at the First Presbyterian Church at 1667 Miramonte Ave. Also featured are the musicians Chris Stuart and Janet Beazley from the band Backcountry. The evening begins with a 5 p.m. pre-show jam session, with doors opening at 7 p.m. and the show starting at 8 p.m. Pies, cookies and other Page 22ÊUÊ>ÀV ÊÓÎ]ÊÓä£ÓÊUÊ*>ÊÌÊ7iiÞ
Theater ‘Cat’s Paw’
It’s not as cute as it sounds. In some criminal circles, a “cat’s paw” is a pawn in a scheme that isn’t very nice. In the William Mastrosimone play of the same name, a “cat’s paw” is indeed a pawn, and a tense catand-mouse game is being played between an environmental terrorist and a journalist. There’s a bombing; there are victims; and there are serious ethical questions. The story unfolds starting this weekend in the small Dragon Theatre in downtown Palo Alto, presented by Dragon Productions. Jeffrey Hoffman directs the play, which runs March 24 through April 15 at 535 Alma St. (Opening night is already sold out.) Performances are Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2. Tickets are $25 general, $20 for seniors and $16 for students. For more information, go to dragonproductions.net or call 650-4932006.
JAPANESE & SUSHI Fuki Sushi 494-9383
of the week
4119 El Camino Real, Palo Alto Online Ordering-Catereing-Chef Rental Sushi Workshops-Private Tatami Rooms Online Gift Card Purchase fukisushi.com & facebook.com/fukisushi
Armadillo Willy’s 941-2922
New Tung Kee Noodle House
408 California Ave, Palo Alto
1031 N. San Antonio Rd., Los Altos
520 Showers Dr., MV
Palo Alto Sol 328-8840
in San Antonio Ctr. Hobee’s 856-6124 4224 El Camino Real, Palo Alto Also at Town & Country Village, Palo Alto 327-4111
Voted MV Voice Best ‘01, ‘02, ‘03 & ‘04 Prices start at $4.75
Spot A Pizza 324-3131
115 HAMILTON AVE
Voted Best Pizza in Palo Alto
Dining Phone: 323–6852
PALO ALTO, MENLO PARK, ATHERTON
To Go: 322–4631 Winner, Menlo Almanac “Best Of”
POLYNESIAN Trader Vic’s 849-9800
4269 El Camino Real, Palo Alto Dinner Mon-Thurs 5-10pm;
3950 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto
Darbar Indian Cuisine
(Charleston Shopping Center)
Sun 4:30 - 9:30pm
Dine-In, Take-Out, Local Delivery-Catering
129 Lytton, Downtown Palo Alto
Available for private luncheons
Lunch Buffet M-F; Open 7 days
Lounge open nightly
Janta Indian Restaurant
Happy Hour Mon-Fri 4-6 pm (650) 462-5903 Fax (650) 462-1433 1067 N. San Antonio Road
Lunch Buffet M-F;
Cook’s Seafood 325-0604
on the corner of El Camino, Los Altos
751 El Camino Real, Menlo Park
Authentic Szechwan, Hunan Food To Go, Delivery
650.947.SPOT LOS ALTOS, LOS ALTOS HILLS, MOUNTAIN VIEW
Seafood Dinners from
2010 Best Chinese
443 Emerson St., Palo Alto
133 MAIN STREET SAN ANTONIO & MAIN STREET
369 Lytton Ave., Downtown Palo Alto
Jing Jing 328-6885
Chef Chu’s 948-2696
MV Voice & PA Weekly
115 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto
Green Elephant Gourmet Burmese & Chinese Cuisine
Su Hong – Menlo Park
8 years in a row! 494-7391
$6.95 to $10.95
La Cucina di Pizzeria Venti
254-1120 1390 Pear Ave, Mountain View
Sundance the Steakhouse
Fresh, Chef Inspired Italian Food
1921 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2:00pm Spalti Ristorante 327-9390
Dinner: Mon-Thu 5:00-10:00pm
417 California Ave, Palo Alto
1700 Embarcadero East, Palo Alto
Search a complete listing of local restaurant reviews by location or type of food on PaloAltoOnline.com
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Learn the Guitar this Spring Carol McCombâ€™s â€œStarting to Playâ€? workshop includes the FREE use of a Loaner Guitar for the duration of the classes.* Regular cost is just $160 for nine weeks of group lessons, and all music is included. *â€œStarting to Playâ€? meets for one hour each Monday night for nine weeks beginning March 26. Students are encouraged to bring their own guitar, but both nylon-string and steel-string loaner guitars are available. Other classes at more advanced levels are also offered. A full brochure is available at Gryphon.
Eating Out RESTAURANT REVIEW
Stringed Instruments Since 1969
650 U493 U2131
,AMBERT !VENUE s 0ALO !LTO www.gryphonstrings.com
Experts. Offer available for grades 1st - 8th
Free Trial Offer!
605 Cambridge Ave., Ste. A, Menlo Park
âœ” Call for assessment and free onehour Mathnasium session âœ” Learn about our Summer Programs
The charcuterie plate includes French cured smoked duck sausage, smoked duck breast, pork salami and cornichons.
High-flying French fare
www.mathnasium.com | email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bon Vivantâ€™s cuisine hits the heights, even if the service and menu fall short by Dale F. Bentson
he French restaurant has become an endangered species in these parts over the past decade. What survives is a handful of bistros and ubiquitous Medfusion cafes, with menus including selections from Provence, Italy, Greece, Turkey, the Iberian Peninsula and sometimes Morocco. Nothing wrong with the notion, but French cooking is one of the great cuisines of the world that has been pushed to our local back burner. So I was thrilled when Bon Vivant Cafe opened in downtown Palo Alto last summer. The space is restaurant nouveau: part art gallery, part bistro, part fine-dining establishment. As of this writing, the walls are adorned with the colorful, geometric works of Russian painter Andrey Anisimov for viewing and for purchase. The high-quality fare is a mosaic of colors, flavors and textures as well. The food has swagger. Prices are high, though. Salads run $11 to $13; appetizers are $15 to $19 except for an $8 soup du jour; and the four or five entrees are $20 to $29. On the other hand, desserts are a sensational $6 to $10, and the wine list is well composed and comfortably priced. Unfortunately, the waitstaff hasnâ€™t been properly trained. During my visits, servers were fairly clueless about ingredients and had to make multiple runs to the kitchen for answers. Plates were snatched up before all the diners were finished: a fundamental blunder in any fine-
dining establishment. The waitstaff couldnâ€™t sell the food and the menu offered little in the way of narrative. The charcuterie plate, for example, gave no description at all other than $18: not much incentive for the diner. Ditto the wine list. I was told the servers hadnâ€™t tasted most of the wines. Whereâ€™s the attention to detail that justifies the prices? What is polished in the kitchen is dulled by the rest of the dining experience. Itâ€™s too bad, because beautiful plates are being conceived and executed with impeccable timing. The menu is ever-evolving. On consecutive nights, the kitchen might vary the ingredients of the same dish. For instance, the foie gras appetizer was served with fried brioche, peaches, frisee and black truffle one night. Another night it was with sauteed apples, frisee, truffle oil and trimmed toast points. Prices can vary evening to evening as well. Not a problem; it was all memorably delicious. Lavender celeriac soup with leek straws ($8) was creamy, sweet, fragrant and delicate. The lavender was no more than a hint, a quick kiss that lingered without memory. The celeriac, also known as celery root, was lush with a slight woody taste. The first-course scallops ($18) had been sauteed with lardons and were served atop snappy frisee and sauced with an acidic citrus glaze, giving great balance to the plate. The charcuterie plate ($18) consisted of Russian czar salami
(smoked beef and pork), a French cured smoked duck sausage, smoked duck breast, a dry pork salami, toast points, cornichons and coarse-grain mustard. It was an artful presentation of tasty meats. Had I not been reviewing, though, the lack of menu description would not have piqued my interest. Entrees were all delicious. The filet of striped sea bass ($24) sat atop a pool of celeriac puree while flecks of anchovies, bits of olives, whole capers, chunks of potato and strips of sauteed pimiento complemented. The duck breast portion ($26) was generous and accompanied with confit of carrot, creamy polenta, fried Brussels-sprouts petals, pomegranate seeds and thin strips of sauteed plum. We ordered the duck on consecutive visits and had a slightly different but totally satisfying version each time. The vegetarian special ($20) was a mouthwatering combination of creamy polenta, fried leeks, sauteed mushrooms and Brussels sprouts tossed with a few leaves of frisee. It was a rewarding, nourishing dish. Desserts were special. The pumpkin pot de creme ($8) with whipped cream, candied pumpkin seeds and gingersnap cookies was mousse-like and simply glorious: something I wanted to bathe in. The crepes Suzettes ($10) were thin, sweet and buttery, with fresh grated orange, Grand Marnier and candied orange peel. This longtime French-restaurant standby
Arts & Entertainment p.m. Fri.-Sat. 5-10 p.m.
â€” Rebecca Wallace Heard a rumor about your favorite store or business moving out, or in, down the block or across town? Shop Talk will check it out. Email email@example.com.
Are you frustrated & overwhelmed by the clutter around you?
LET ME ORGANIZE YOU! Kelsey Kienitz
FRESH NEW LOCATION ... Fraiche Yogurt recently reopened in a new downtown Palo Alto spot, moving from Emerson Street to a larger home at 200 Hamilton Ave. (which previously housed A.G. Ferrari). â€œWeâ€™ve been in business for five years and our lease was up,â€? coowner Patama Gur said, adding that she and co-owner Jessica Gilmartin couldnâ€™t work out a new lease with their landlord. So Fraiche moved to a corner location â€œwith high ceilings and lots of windows,â€? she said. New menu items to supplement the fresh and frozen yogurt, coffee and oatmeal include yogurt lassis and smoothies, dips, salad dressings and yogurt-based baked goods. Fraiche also has locations at Stanford University and in San Francisco. For more information, go to fraicheyogurt.com.
Reservations: yes Credit cards: yes Parking: street Alcohol: wine Corkage: $25
Children: yes Catering: no Takeout: yes Outdoor dining: no Private parties: yes Noise level: moderate Bathroom cleanliness: very good
INTRODUCTORY OFFER & REALTOR SPECIAL s !LL #LOSETS s +ITCHENS
Reviewer Dale Bentson called the â€œbox of berriesâ€? dessert â€œspectacular.â€? The chocolate box is filled with blueberries, blackberries and raspberries in vanilla custard, over a layer of sponge cake, with white chocolate straws. has been refined and updated to dazzling heights. The delicious chocolate duo ($8) was a tulip bowl-shaped chocolate truffle torte filled with a rich ganache swirl and a cup of Guittard dark hot chocolate. The most spectacular dessert was the boite de baies (box of berries, $10). It was literally a box made of pure chocolate filled with blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, in a vanilla custard, over a layer of sponge cake, with white chocolate straws, all held together with a red ribbon. That was the wow dish. My heart beats faster when I think
De-Clutter & Re-Organize
of French cooking. At Bon Vivant Cafe, the diner is rewarded with first-class cuisine but the waitstaff needs educating and a more intelligible menu would help. Does the food justify the prices? Depends on how much you love French cooking. N
s /FlCES s 0ANTRIES s 0APER s 'ARAGE
Before & After Moving s ,ABEL 3ORT s 0ACK 5NPACK
Bon Vivant Cafe 535 Bryant St. Palo Alto 650-485-3228 bonvivantcafe.net Lunch: Tue.-Sun. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dinner: Tue.-Thu. and Sun. 5-9:30
$50 OFF (2%'
&REE -INUTE )N (OUSE #ONSULTATION Must mention ad.
Stress-Free Solution to Chaos &OR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
Marti Stewart (650) 906-3670 OR EMAIL ORGANIZE MARTISTEWARTCOM
Special Needs Trusts The Cornerstone of Estate Planning for People with Disabilities s 7HAT IS A 3PECIAL .EEDS 4RUST s 7HY IS IT A hMUST DOv IF A CHILD OR OTHER FAMILY MEMBER IS DISABLED s (OW CAN A FAMILY MEMBER WITH DISABILITIES HAVE A TRUST AND STILL KEEP PUBLIC BENEFITS s 7HAT CAN AND CANNOT 3.4 FUNDS BE USED FOR Co-sponsors include: Professional Fiduciary Assn. of California Morgan Autism Center Friends of Children with Special Needs Pacific Autism Center for Education (PACE) Parents Helping Parents (PHP) Brain Injury Connection (BIC) Older Adults Care Management Support for Families of Children with Disabilities Jewish Family and Children Services Alzheimerâ€™s Association
Thursday, March 29 2-4pm or 6-8pm Crowne Plaza CabaĂąa 4290 El Camino Real, Palo Alto S E AT I N G I S L I M I T E D !
Michael Gilfix, Esq. Gilfix & La Poll Associates LLP
To register, call 650-493-8070 or 650-971-7292 or register online at www.gilfix.com *>Â?ÂœĂŠÂ?ĂŒÂœĂŠ7iiÂŽÂ?ĂžĂŠUĂŠ>Ă€VÂ…ĂŠĂ“ĂŽ]ĂŠĂ“Ă¤ÂŁĂ“ĂŠU Page 25
The Hunger Games ---
(Century 16, Century 20) In the court â€” or, in this case, on the court of public opinion, the film version of â€œThe Hunger Gamesâ€? has already won. The young-adult novelâ€™s legion of fans, young and old, has largely embraced the casting and preview footage doled out by Lionsgate (ever after the â€œTwilightâ€? studio), culminating in reportedly record-breaking ticket pre-sales. Even those totally unfamiliar with Suzanne Collinsâ€™ book may find Gary Rossâ€™ film somewhat less than suspenseful. The intensity has been found more in the publicity blitz (are you Team Gale or Team Peeta?) than in the film it promotes. But if â€œThe Hunger Gamesâ€? on screen doesnâ€™t exactly catch fire (as does its hero Katniss Everdeen), its savvy pop culture mash-up and the charge of teens in life-and-death peril remain intact. In a retro-futuristic dystopia, the 1-percenters long ago crushed the revolt of the 99-percenters. The rule of fear hinges largely on â€œthe Hunger Games,â€? an annual compulsory lottery (thank you, Shirley Jackson) that demands 12- to 18-year-old â€œtributesâ€? to submit to a televised death match. Two weeks, 24 contestants, and only one victor allowed to walk away alive. Two contestants come from each of 12 districts. When the District 12 lottery demands 12-year-old Primrose Everdeen (Willow Shields), her 16-year-old sister Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) dramatically volunteers to take Primâ€™s place. Itâ€™s the first of many dramas â€” all, in some sense, manufactured â€” that characterize the Romanesque circus of the Games. From their rural, gray, utter impoverishment, Katniss and male draw Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) find themselves thrust into the colorful, unimaginable decadence of the Capitol, where privilege and ostentation go hand in hand. This world is embodied by flittering escort Effie Trinket (a zanily outfitted Elizabeth Banks) and maniacally happy TV host Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci), but two of the adults show sympathy for the teens: personal stylist Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) and official mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), an alcoholic former champion. Oddly, the early scenes laying this groundwork tend to be considerably
Jennifer Lawrence in â€œHunger Games.â€? more lively than the 74th Annual Games themselves, a sign of Rossâ€™ lack of experience as an action director and the filmâ€™s squeamishness when it comes to depicting the storyâ€™s gruesomely violent side. The battle scenes are blurs, shot on the choppy waves of shaky-cam and rendered yet more choppy by editors making the best of the footage (including Oscar-winning local hero Stephen Mirrione). Happily, Collinsâ€™ characters and universe are a darn sight more interesting than those of Stephenie Meyerâ€™s â€œTwilight.â€? Straight-arrowshooting Katniss makes a compelling feminist hero, and Lawrenceâ€™s resonant performance delivers. Though a bit hobbled by his characterâ€™s relative ambiguity, Hutcherson sells Peetaâ€™s whip-smart media savvy and his romantic vulnerability. For, like â€œTwilight,â€? â€œThe Hunger Gamesâ€? incorporates a swoony romantic triangle amongst TV-anointed â€œstar-crossed loversâ€? Katniss and Peeta and Katnissâ€™ hulking hometown sweetheart Gale (Liam Hemsworth). â€œThe Hunger Gamesâ€? is a little bit â€œThe Most Dangerous Game,â€? a little bit â€œLord of the Flies,â€? a little bit â€œThe Truman Show,â€? and a whole lot â€œBattle Royale,â€? the Japanese novelturned-film about teens forced to battle to the death. The latter filmâ€™s boldness overshadows Rossâ€™ work, but â€œThe Hunger Gamesâ€?â€™ striking production design goes a long way, and the story could be a conversationstarter for families about the voyeurism and willing manipulation of the
American viewing public. Rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images, all involving teens. One hour, 23 minutes. â€” Peter Canavese
(Aquarius) â€œNothing is nice,â€? says the old man at the center of the Israeli comedy-drama â€œFootnote.â€? Itâ€™s a statement that could summarize the troubles of a father and son dealing with the tensions of expectations in family and career. Writer-director Joseph Cedar introduces us to Talmudic scholars Eliezer Shkolnik (Shlomo Bar Aba) and his son Uriel (Lior Ashkenazi), two men in implicit competition. In his declining years and his own sense of superiority, the sour Eliezer resents the success of his son the pop academician, who has effectively supplanted the father. Meanwhile, the internationally renowned Uriel keenly realizes he can never win the approval of his father, whose glory has been cruelly denied by fate. Decades of research amounted to nothing more than a footnote when Eliezerâ€™s work wound up moot in the light of a competitorâ€™s chance discovery and rapid publication. Cedar launches the story by injecting a farcical element. Eliezer has long coveted the Israel Prize in recognition of his unjustly ignored lifelong labor, and while Uriel has been
a popular choice for some years, he has dutifully removed his name from consideration in deference to his father. In a miraculous turn of events, Eliezer finally gets the call: He has won the Israel Prize. Shortly thereafter, a baffled Uriel gets his own call, explaining that the win was a clerical error. The Prize was meant for Uriel. This knowledge touches off a moral dilemma for Uriel even as his suddenly pleased-as-punch father reaches new heights of insufferableness. â€œThere are things more important than the truth,â€? Uriel insists. Still, itâ€™s complicated. Uriel finds himself at one point charged with penning â€” and parsing â€” the language of his fatherâ€™s citation. Knowing the truth and harboring his own resentments against his father, the son reconsiders the word â€œgreatness,â€? erasing it even as, across town, his petty father criticizes him to a happily muckraking journalist. Obviously, â€œFootnoteâ€? is largely concerned with the prickliness and delicacy around legacy, and the attendant patrilineal complications (Uriel, too, has a son he says heâ€™s nearly ready to â€œgive up onâ€?). But itâ€™s as much about the egotism and dysfunction of academia, reflected in the complex personalities of Eliezer and Uriel. Touchy, grumpy Eliezer has succumbed to defining himself in reaction to his reputation (Uriel also runs into intimations of never-revealed sins of the father), and he doesnâ€™t wear his newfound swagger well. Uriel, meanwhile, is an essentially nice guy marred by swelled-head self-satisfaction and neediness (as a colleague says, â€œHe expects a kind of constant mild flatteryâ€?). â€œFootnoteâ€? ends not with a bang but with a whimper, a brave if dissatisfying choice thatâ€™s no doubt truer to life than the emotional or farcical crescendo audiences will be craving. On the way there, thereâ€™s enough whimsy and wit to earn comic credentials, and brilliant character work from Aba and Ashkenazi thatâ€™s alone worth the price of admission. Rated PG for thematic elements, brief nudity, language and smoking. One hour, 43 minutes. â€” Peter Canavese
The Artist --(Palo Alto Square) Any filmgoer undaunted by something different will walk out of this new silent film with a grin. Michel Hazanaviciusâ€™ feature has an emotional generosity that speaks louder than words. Opening in 1927, â€œThe Artistâ€? begins with a premiere of a silent film starring George Valentin (Jean Dujardin). When Valentin stumbles into a photo op with Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), the ground for a relationship is paved. Peppy sees her star begins to rise with Georgeâ€™s fall, precipitated by the arrival of talkies and the crash of 1929. Writer-director Hazanavicius mostly steers clear of comparisons to the eraâ€™s epics and screen comics, instead inhabiting melodrama. The acting is inventive, and the film joyously celebrates the movies. Rated PG-13 for a disturbing image and a crude gesture. One hour, 41 minutes. â€” P.C. (Reviewed Dec. 2, 2011) John Carter --(Century 16, Century 20) In dire need of a cinematic sugar rush? Look no farther than Disneyâ€™s blockbuster offering â€œJohn Carter,â€? a fantasy extravaganza brimming with eye candy. The visual effects are, literally, out of this world. Based on Edgar Rice Burroughsâ€™ groundbreaking novel â€œA Princess of Mars,â€? the film follows a Civil War-era cavalryman from Virginia who is whisked away to Mars courtesy of a mystical amulet. Meanwhile, a war is brewing between Marsâ€™ more human-looking denizens. A soldier is taking the fight to the land of Helium in hopes of conquering it and marrying its battle-ready princess. The picture drags at times and at least 20 minutes could have been left on the cuttingroom floor. The film relies heavily on its visual elements, so itâ€™s a boon that that portion is so stunning. â€œJohn Carterâ€? pays a nice homage to Burroughs and honors the novel while falling neatly alongside other Disney escapades such as â€œPirates of the Caribbeanâ€? and â€œPrince of Persia.â€? It might not be the healthiest dose of eye candy, but it certainly satisfies. Rated PG-13 for violence and action. Two hours, 17 minutes. â€” T.H. (Reviewed March 9, 2012) The Secret World of Arrietty ---1/2 (Century 16, Century 20) Great things come in small packages. Thatâ€™s one of the lessons of â€œThe Secret World of Arrietty,â€? the charming animated adventure based on Mary Nortonâ€™s kid-lit classic â€œThe Borrowers.â€? This is a tale of tiny people living underfoot of human â€œbeans,â€? and â€œborrowingâ€? what they need to survive. But itâ€™s also a reminder that the seemingly small package of a hand-drawn animated film remains a warmly welcome alternative to computer-generated imagery. Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi takes the story
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Fri-Sat 3/23-3/24 Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: 1:50, 4:30, 7:15, 9:50 The Artist: 2:00, 4:20, 7:25, 9:45 Sun-Wed 3/25-3/28 Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: 1:50, 4:30, 7:15 The Artist: 2:00, 4:20 Thurs 3/29 Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: 1:50, 4:30, 7:15 The Artist: 2:00
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MOVIE TIMES 21 Jump Street (R) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: 11 a.m.; noon, 1:40, 2:40, 4:30, 5:30, 7:40, 8:50 & 10:30 p.m. Century 20: 11:40 a.m.; 1:15, 2:20, 3:55, 5, 6:35, 7:55, 9:30 & 10:40 p.m. A Double Life (1947) Stanford Theatre: Tue.-Thu. at 7:30 p.m. A Separation (PG-13) (((1/2 Guild Theatre: 5:30 & 8:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sun. also at 2:30 p.m. A Thousand Words (PG-13) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: 11:10 a.m. & 4:20 p.m.; Fri.-Sun. & Tue.-Thu. also at 10:05 p.m.; Mon. also at 10:30 p.m. Century 20: 11:55 a.m.; 2:35, 5:10, 7:40 & 10 p.m. Act of Valor (R) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: 1:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sun. & Tue.-Thu. also at 7:10 p.m. Century 20: 1:50 p.m.; Fri.-Mon., Wed. & Thu. also at 7:35 p.m. The Artist (PG-13) (((1/2 Palo Alto Square: 2 p.m.; Fri.-Wed. also at 4:20 p.m.; Fri.-Sun. also at 7:25 p.m.; Fri. & Sat. also at 9:45 p.m. The Bodyguard (R) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: Wed. at 7:30 p.m. Century 20: Wed. at 7:30 p.m. Palo Alto Square: Wed. at 7:30 p.m.
at a leisurely pace, which allows it to breathe. Along with the gorgeously detailed art, lush color and swoony music, the film is all but guaranteed to entrance children. The animation style, emphasizing meticulous design, perfectly lends itself to the source material. Everything about â€œArriettyâ€? is as vivid as it is (deceptively) simple, which places it in the top ranks of animated movies. With tenderness, the story brushes against big fears â€” Shawn grapples with mortality, Arrietty with losing her home â€” while retaining the view that friendship can mean mutually solving, or at least alleviating, problems. Rated G. One hour, 34 minutes. â€” P.C. (Reviewed Feb. 17, 2012) A Separation ---1/2 (Guild) Even as she defends her divorce filing, an Iranian woman says of her spouse, â€œHe is a good, decent person.â€? But â€œA Separationâ€? â€” a film
Casa de Mi Padre (R) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: 11 a.m.; 1:10, 3:20, 5:30, 8 & 10:20 p.m. Century 20: 11:20 a.m.; 1:30, 3:40, 5:50, 8 & 10:10 p.m. Delicacy (PG-13) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: 11:35 a.m.; 2:20, 5 & 7:50 p.m.; Fri.-Sun. also at 10:35 p.m.; Mon.-Thu. also at 10:30 p.m.
from Iran that just won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film â€” tests its every proposition, from the wisdom of the coupleâ€™s separation to the ethical rectitude of the spurned husband. The opening scene of writer-director Asghar Farhadiâ€™s drama lets wife Simin (Leila Hatami) and husband Nader (Peyman Moadi) vent their sides of the dispute that threatens to end their marriage. The two separate, forcing 11-year-old Termeh (Sarina Farhadi) to play one parent against the other in the hope theyâ€™ll see the errors of their ways. The climate of cultural repression in Iran has only made its cinema more vital. The filmâ€™s separations can be familial, but also those of class and culture and between citizen and state; above all, Farhadiâ€™s parable teaches that a rush to judgment inevitably turns back on the judge. Rated PG-13 for thematic material. Two hours, three minutes. â€” P.C. (Reviewed Feb. 3, 2012)
Dr. Seussâ€™ The Lorax (PG) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: 11:40 a.m.; 2:10, 4:50 & 7:20 p.m.; In 3D at 11 a.m.; 1:20, 3:50, 6:30 & 8:55 p.m. Century 20: 11:05 a.m.; 1:25, 3:50, 6:10, 8:30 & 10:45 p.m.; In 3D at 12:25, 2:40, 5:05, 7:20 & 9:40 p.m. Footnote (PG) ((( Aquarius Theatre: 4:15, 7 & 9:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sun. also at 1:30 p.m. (No 7 or 9:30 showing Thu., March 29) Friends with Kids (R) (Not Reviewed) Aquarius Theatre: 4:45, 7:30 & 9:55 p.m.; Fri.-Sun. also at 2 p.m. Century 20: 11:10 a.m.; 1:55, 4:35, 7:15 & 9:55 p.m. The Hunger Games (PG-13) ((( Century 16: 11 a.m.; 12:30, 1, 2, 2:30, 4, 4:30, 5:30, 6:10, 7, 7:30, 9, 9:50 & 10:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sun. also at 9:30 & 10:10 a.m.; Fri. & Sat. also at 8, 11 & 11:20 p.m.; Fri. also at 11:30 a.m. & 3 p.m.; Sat.-Thu. also at noon, 3:30 & 8:10 p.m. Century 20: 10:50 & 11:25 a.m.; noon, 12:30, 1:05, 1:35, 2:10, 2:45, 3:20, 3:50, 4:25, 4:55, 5:30, 6, 6:40, 7:10, 7:45, 8:15, 8:50, 9:20, 10 & 10:30 p.m.; Fri. & Sat. also at 9:40, 10:15, 10:45 & 10:55 p.m. Jeff, Who Lives at Home (R) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: 11:30 a.m.; 2 & 4:40 p.m.; Fri.-Mon., Wed. & Thu. also at 7:20 & 9:40 p.m. Century 20: 11:25 a.m.; 1:35 & 3:45 p.m.; Fri.-Sun. & Tue.-Thu. also at 5:55 & 8:05 p.m.; Sun. & Tue.-Thu. also at 10:15 p.m.; Mon. also at 5:50 p.m. John Carter (PG-13) ((( Century 16: 3:30 & 10:10 p.m.; In 3D at 11:50 a.m. & 7 p.m. Century 20: 11:15 a.m. & 5:35 p.m.; In 3D at 1, 4:05, 7:05 & 10:15 p.m. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Not Rated) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: Mon. at 8 p.m. Century 20: Mon. at 8 p.m. Palo Alto Square: Mon. at 8 p.m. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (PG) (Not Reviewed) Century 20: 11 a.m.; In 3D at 4:10 p.m.; In 3D Sun.-Tue. & Thu. also at 9:20 p.m. The Kid with a Bike (PG-13) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: 11:20 a.m.; 1:50, 4:10, 6:50 & 9:30 p.m. Kismet (1944) Stanford Theatre: Tue.-Thu. at 5:40 & 9:25 p.m. Mirror Mirror (PG) (Not Reviewed) Century 20: Thu. at 12:01 a.m. Monumental: In Search of Americaâ€™s National Treasure (Not Rated) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: Tue. at 8 p.m. Century 20: Tue. at 8 p.m. Palo Alto Square: Tue. at 8 p.m. National Theatre Live: She Stoops to Conquer (Not Rated) (Not Reviewed) Century 20: Thu. at 7 p.m. Palo Alto Square: Thu. at 7 p.m. Othello (1952) (Not Rated) (Not Reviewed) Stanford Theatre: Fri.-Mon. at 7:30 p.m.; Sun. also at 4 p.m. Project X (R) (Not Reviewed) Century 20: 11:35 a.m. & 4:45 p.m.; Fri.-Mon., Wed. & Thu. also at 10:20 p.m. Safe House (R) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: 9:45 p.m. Century 20: 2:30 & 8:35 p.m. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (PG-13) (Not Reviewed) Century 20: 11:15 a.m.; 2, 4:40, 7:25 & 10:05 p.m. Palo Alto Square: 1:50, 4:30 & 7:15 p.m.; Fri. & Sat. also at 9:50 p.m. The Secret World of Arrietty (G) (((1/2 Century 16: 11 a.m.; 1:20 & 3:40 p.m.; Fri.-Tue. & Thu. also at 6:20 & 8:40 p.m. Century 20: Fri.-Tue. & Thu. at 1:40 & 6:55 p.m. This Means War (PG-13) (Not Reviewed) Century 20: 11:50 a.m.; Fri.-Wed. also at 2:15, 4:50 & 7:15 p.m.; Sun.-Wed. also at 9:45 p.m.
Wrath of the Titans (PG-13) (Not Reviewed) Century 16: In 3D Thu. at 12:01 a.m. Century 20: Thu. at 12:02 a.m.; In 3D Thu. at 12:01 a.m.
( Skip it (( Some redeeming qualities ((( A good bet (((( Outstanding
THEATER ADDRESSES Aquarius: 430 Emerson St., Palo Alto (266-9260) Century Cinema 16: 1500 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View (800-326-3264) Century 20 Downtown: 825 Middlefield Road, Redwood City (800-326-3264) CinĂŠArts at Palo Alto Square: 3000 El Camino Real, Palo Alto (493-3456) Guild: 949 El Camino Real, Menlo Park (266-9260) Stanford: 221 University Ave., Palo Alto (324-3700) Internet address: For show times, plot synopses, trailers and more information about films playing, go to PaloAltoOnline.com/movies
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Rocketship students spend at least 70 minutes a day in “Learning Labs,” where they use computers for self-paced, individualized instruction in basic math and literacy.
The game changer Palo Alto man launches charter-school effort to ‘eliminate achievement gap’ Story by Chris Kenrick. Photographs by Veronica Weber
an a Silicon Valley business guy retool his startup skills to transform the world of education? Meet John Danner, a Palo Alto resident who is betting his company on it. The Stanford University-trained engineer switched careers to education following the 1999 sale of his high-flying venture-backed startup, NetGravity, Inc. After three years of teaching second- and fifth-graders, Danner’s key observation — that kids need to be reached at the level they’re at, not where they “should” be — became the basis for co-founding his next startup. This time it’s Rocketship Education, a Palo Alto-based K-5 charter-school management firm. That six-year-old, nonprofit startup aspires to a goal as audacious as that of any cheeky tech venture — “to eliminate the achievement gap in our lifetimes.” Today, after launching five elementary schools that have propelled low-income kids in San Jose to top academic results, Danner believes he has an educational model that’s worth “scaling up.” A few dozen — even a few hundred — charter-school success stories won’t make a dent in helping the millions of kids across America who are stuck in failing schools, he said in a recent interview at Rocketship’s downtown Palo Alto headquarters. “There are 100,000 schools, of which the U.S. Department of Education has identified 13,000 as failing — so why does doing 100 or 200 matter at all? “It’s not a bad thing to dream big and hope to be a major game changer for an industry,” he said. “That’s in the water of Silicon Valley. If you’re not trying to do that, maybe you should be doing something else.” Page 28ÊUÊ>ÀV ÊÓÎ]ÊÓä£ÓÊUÊ*>ÊÌÊ7iiÞ
Rocketship recently got cleared to expand its five-campus network to more than two dozen in San Jose — and to enter the Milwaukee, Wis., public school system with charters for eight new campuses. The company is prepared to bring its model to any other failing school system that’s open to change, Danner said.
decade ago, after selling his technology company, Danner followed his wife to Nashville, where she took a job as a professor at Vanderbilt Law School and he began teaching elementary school. Like any new teacher, he immediately started puzzling over what to do about the handful of kids who were behind in his class.
‘It’s not a bad thing to dream big and hope to be a major gamechanger for an industry.” – John Danner, CEO, Rocketship Education “I’d ask the other teachers, ‘What should I do? I’m supposed to be teaching a lesson on two-digit addition, but these kids are still learning their numbers.’ They said, ‘You need to differentiate,’ and I said, ‘What does that mean?’” Danner started writing customized learning plans for the students most in need of help. He’d figure out where they were academically, what they needed to do next and create individualized worksheets, guiding them through the developmentally appropriate lessons to bring their skills up to par with those of the rest of the class. “It seems kind of obvious that kids learn
differently, at different speeds and have different gaps in their knowledge,” he said. “But we just had a pretty monolithic system dating from the mass industrialization era that tries to treat kids as if they’re quite similar, when that’s not really true.” Danner started thinking about engineering a system steeped in more self-paced learning for kids. Back in California a few years later, he teamed up with Preston Smith, a former teacher and principal, to create what they call a “hybrid” model that combines traditional classrooms with a daily dose of individualized online instruction. The pair opened their first elementary school, Rocketship Mateo Sheedy Elementary, in San Jose’s Washington Guadalupe neighborhood in 2007. In the following four years they opened four more — Sí Se Puede Academy, Los Sueños Academy and, just last fall, Mosaic Elementary and Discovery Prep. On the inside, Rocketship schools look much like those of a traditional elementary school system: classrooms containing cozy “reading corners” with rugs and books, cheerful purple cabinets, behavior charts and wall displays emphasizing phonics and vocabulary. They also incorporate features often seen in charter campuses serving low-income neighborhoods: college banners hanging around campus, daily 8 a.m. pep rallies where the whole school gathers to sing and chant its core values, and teachers who make a point of personally greeting each child at the classroom door. A key difference in every Rocketship school, according to the company, is the “Learning Lab,” where every student spends more than an hour a day at a computer screen, with at least 70 minutes of self-paced math, reading comprehension and literacy instruction.
Danner maintains the advantages of Learning Labs are twofold: “Academically, it turns out to be much more effective with the most at-risk kids — the bottom quartile of kids do quite well with this,” he said. “Ninety percent of kids move up to ‘basic,’ ‘advanced,’ or ‘proficient’ within a year of coming to Rocketship,” he added. Staffed by hourly workers, Learning Labs also afford a financial advantage for Rocketship, yielding a $500,000-per-campus savings (because they can hire fewer teachers). The organization invests that in other priorities, including “academic deans” on each campus and teacher salaries that are 20 percent higher than in surrounding school districts, Danner said. Rocketship’s track record is short, but in the startup years its schools have logged stel-
Palo Alto resident John Danner is the founder and CEO of Rocketship Education, which combines the traditional education model with a daily dose of individualized online instruction.
A focus on data and minding the gap At Rocketship’s newest campus, young teachers, students learn together by Chris Kenrick
Rocketship schools rely on young teachers and administrators. Teacher salaries are 20 percent higher than those in surrounding school districts. lar results on California standardized tests — particularly compared to other schools in which the substantial majority of students are English learners and qualify for federally subsidized school lunches. The three Rocketship campuses for which standardized test data has been posted achieved 2011 Academic Performance Index scores in the mid- to high-800s — on par with those in some of Palo Alto’s elementary schools. With that model and record of success, Danner says he feels ready to launch Rocketship in new venues. “For five years now we’ve been tuning the model, getting it right, figuring out what’s important and not important. We’ll accelerate, and expand to Milwaukee, now that we understand the basics of why our schools work. “You can plan only so far, and then you actually have to do it — and you learn a ton of stuff by doing,” Danner said. “We’re saying we think we know what to do, and we’re ready to do more and be of benefit to the country. Let’s solve this problem. Sometimes that attitude works, and sometimes you just get your head chopped off.”
mong the many things he’s learned, Danner said, is not to tread where he’s not wanted. After disastrous attempts to expand to East Palo Alto and Oakland — where local school boards sent them packing — Danner said Rocketship concluded it’s “not in the business of making people want to change.” In both cities — despite large numbers of parents petitioning for a Rocketship school in their neighborhood — the company was denied permission to operate by the local authorities who have the power to grant or deny five-year charter contracts. The 3-2 denial by East Palo Alto’s Ravenswood City School District board last March followed an emotional hearing that drew hundreds of local families. Ravenswood Superintendent Maria De La Vega recommended a “no” vote, saying a new charter school could lead to neighborhood school closures and otherwise “disrupt” a small district like Ravenswood, which is fighting for its own survival. Ravenswood already loses more than 1,000 students who live in the district but exit each morning for alternative programs, including the Tinsley Voluntary Transfer Program in Palo Alto and other neighboring school districts. Danner acknowledged it can hurt for a district like Ravenswood to make way for a Rocketship because state funds follow students when they enroll in a charter school. “I don’t expect that a school board that’s not
interested in change is going to come to a solution like ours because it’s incredibly painful. You’ve got to make cuts and do things you don’t want to do.” Still, he regrets the Ravenswood failure. “I’m disappointed, especially since East Palo Alto is a mile away, and the kids there are in just as bad a situation as the children in Milwaukee, but there’s nothing for us to do.” However, Danner sees increasing willingness among some community leaders across the country to look to new models.
‘You can plan only so far, and then you actually have to do it — and you learn a ton of stuff by doing.’ – John Danner, CEO, Rocketship Education In an initiative called “San Jose 2020,” the city, along with education, business and community leaders, has set a goal to “eliminate the achievement gap in San Jose by the year 2020.” They determined that 40,000 students in the city — nearly half of all public students tested — are not proficient in their grade level. In December, the Santa Clara County Board of Education authorized 20 new Rocketship schools, intended to be a sizable chunk of the San Jose 2020 solution. Critics argued it was unfair for the county board to authorize blanket charters for schools that will operate in eight different school districts inside the county. But board members disagreed, voting 5-2 Dec. 15 to grant the single largest charter approval in the state. “People get really practical about solving the achievement gap when it’s clear how big the problem is and you have a clear date when it needs to be solved,” Danner said. “When you talk about doing dozens of schools, it fundamentally changes the conversation about school reform. Because we can bring scale to the charter side of the solution, the goal of eliminating the achievement gap becomes a lot more real.” Danner sees a similar willingness to embrace “disruptive innovation” — particularly among younger superintendents — in other cities. Though he hadn’t thought of planting the flag in Milwaukee, the Wisconsin city became Rocketship’s “first expansion city” outside California after city leaders there approached the company more than a year ago. In November, Milwaukee’s Common Council backed a plan for Rocketship to launch a (continued on next page)
he new campus of Rocketship Discovery Prep wasn’t much more than a vacant lot near U.S. Highway 101 and McKee Road in San Jose a year ago. Today it houses 423 children who are heading into spring semester led by a staff of young teachers and administrators, armed with data and a passion to close the achievement gap. Discovery Prep, which opened Aug. 29, is the fifth of Rocketship Education’s five charter schools in San Jose — so new it has yet to log any standardized test data with the California Department of Education. But if it’s anything like its sister campuses, the oldest of which opened in 2007, its students will significantly outperform children who are similarly low-income and English learning on the upcoming California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) test. Classrooms in Discovery’s two-story building look much like those in any elementary school, but wall displays heavily emphasize phonics. In Holland Snider’s first-grade class, students sit on the carpet for a lesson on “inferring.” “How do you figure out what a word means if you don’t know it?” the teacher asks. Hands go up, and a student named Alisha answers: “You look for context clues on the same page. Look at other words on the page and predict what it means.” Down the hall, Tianay Perrault’s kindergarten class is studying the phonics and meaning of the word “transparent.” “What’s the last sound-letter?” Perrault asks the class, whose members answer in unison: “t.” She then asks for the first sound letters in the word, working through “sw” and “str” before the class agrees that the correct answer is “tr.” Perrault pulls out a flashlight, plastic wrap, foil and pink paper for a demonstration of “transparency.”
The youthful teaching staff at Discovery gets regular coaching from Academic Dean Amanda Chang, who herself taught for four years after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2007. Chang, who considers herself a fulltime teaching coach, said she holds a oneon-one weekly meeting with each new teacher, and every other week with those more experienced. “We focus on the students in whom we’re looking for more growth,” she said. “We dive into the student work, talk about what it shows us for what the next step should be.” “When I was a teacher, my principal was my coach and did the same thing with me. I was always stuck inside my own classroom, and it was really helpful to have another set of eyes in the room, someone who knew the kids and was invested in me as a professional.” Teachers also get real-time coaching from mentors such as Chang, who use video and earpieces to improve classroom practices. Rocketship schools rely on young teachers and administrators — many, like Chang, are alumni of the Teach for America program — to staff its growing network of campuses, projected to increase to more than two dozen in San Jose in the next few years. Young teachers can aspire to be principals by the time they’re 30 if they participate in Rocketship’s Network Leadership Program, providing a pipeline of talent to start up new schools. Another key feature of Rocketship schools are “Learning Labs,” containing banks of computers at which each child spends at least 70 minutes a day in selfpaced, individualized instruction in basic math and literacy skills. Teachers can see live data from any student at any point, and kids are assessed every eight weeks for feedback to parents (continued on next page)
Melissa Quintos leads her class at Los Sueños Academy. Students from Rocketship schools significantly outperform other children from similar low-income, Englishlearning backgrounds on standardized testing. *>ÊÌÊ7iiÞÊUÊ>ÀV ÊÓÎ]ÊÓä£ÓÊU Page 29
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From left, Aracelia Benavides, Aniya Tanner, Emily Hernandez and Kassandra Santillan play during physical education at the Rocketship Los Sueños Academy in San Jose March 20.
Game changer (continued from previous page)
network of charters in the fall of 2013 that will serve 4,000 low-income K-5 students by 2017. Philanthropists there have helped Rocketship raise $3.5 million in startup costs. Those funds will cover Rocketship staff heading to Milwaukee this spring to begin recruiting students and teachers; setting up business operations; and seeking regulatory changes needed in areas of facilities approvals and governance. Milwaukee also has sent prospective principals for the future schools to San Jose to participate in Rocketship’s leadership-training program. “We need cities with the political will to give us eight charters up front, as opposed to one at a time,” Danner said. “We don’t want to start with one or two schools and wait for the politics of a city to change. “And we need cities that will source leaders into our leadershipdevelopment program back here in the Bay Area so they’ll be ready to start schools in their city.”
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ently” — and more boldly. “What the business and technology background did for me was to say, ‘We have to design Rocketship to have the ability to move the bar. “Everybody told me I was crazy — and still do — for wanting to do more than a handful of schools in one city. “Having both a technology and business background was important. But if I hadn’t taught in a classroom, I’m not sure I would have gotten there. I think you have to experience what poverty is like as a teacher to understand the full spectrum of things you have to deal with.” N Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at ckenrick@paweekly. com.
anner’s own children attend Addison Elementary School in Palo Alto. Asked to compare a Rocketship with Addison, he said in many ways they are “totally different worlds.” “Palo Alto teachers are great at stretching kids’ thinking. Rocketship teachers are more focused on the fundamentals, what kids need to
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know,” he said. “There’s no question that if my kids don’t know something, I’m going to spend an hour with them at home and they’re going to learn it. It’s totally different from Rocketship, where a lot of the parents don’t know what the kids are learning because they’re learning English themselves. “But if we can move more of the basic skills to the Learning Lab, our classrooms can start looking more and more like Palo Alto’s, some of the highest-income, most privileged classrooms in the country. We want that kind of classroom.” As to the relevance of his business and technology background to the Rocketship venture, Danner says it probably helps him “think differ-
and teachers. Students in all grades are tested each fall and spring through the Northwest Evaluation Association, a nonprofit that says it tries to foster a school “culture that values and uses data to improve instruction and student learning.” Additionally, second- through fifth-graders take California’s
From left, Cesia Medina, Sarahi Mercado, Isabel De La Garza, Jeannie Do, Javier Jimenez, Anthony Esquivel and Angel Valdovinos line up and practice being quiet outside of class at Rocketship Los Sueños. STAR test each year, whose results can be compared with those of other schools. Five percent of Rocketship students receive special-education services — 60 percent of them for speech or language impairment, 33 percent for a specific learning disability, 3 percent for emotional disturbance and 3 percent for autism. The reason that number is below the 10 percent of special-education students typically found in Califor-
nia schools, administrators said, is because the individualized instruction in Rocketship’s regular program helps kids keep up. N About the cover: Rocketship Education CEO John Danner is a veteran of the Silicon Valley business world and a former classroom teacher. Photo by Veronica Weber.
ON THE AIR
Stanford freshman guard Amber Orrange (33) is congratulated by Chiney Ogwumike after Orrange scored a career-high 18 points to help the Cardinal women’s basketball team win its 30th straight game in a 72-55 decision over West Virginia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Monday.
Stanford freshman guard is as good as gold Cardinal coach VanDerveer says Amber Orrange compares favorably with 1996 Olympian Dawn Staley by Rick Eymer tanford freshman point guard Amber Orrange received Tara VanDerveer’s highest compliment yet. Her coach called her “the closest I’ve ever had to Dawn.” VanDerveer was speaking of South Carolina coach Dawn Staley, who was the point guard for the 1996 Olympic gold medal team coached by VanDerveer, a team that won all 60 games they played dur-
ing the 1995-96 season. Orrange will get an up close look at Staley on Saturday when secondranked Stanford (33-1) meets the 25th-ranked Gamecocks (25-9) at the Save Mart Center in Fresno in the NCAA Regional semifinals at 8:30 p.m. “Dawn is incredibly competitive,” VanDerveer said. “She was in the same vein as Amber. She was a great point guard and a winner.”
by Rick Eymer enior Josh Owens has to be feeling pretty good these days. He’s suffered through two of the most disappointing years a competitive basketball player could imagine and now he’s on top of the world. Owens and freshman Chasson Randle each scored 15 points as Stanford beat visiting Nevada, 84-56, in the quarterfinal of the National Invitation Tournament Wednesday night in Maples Pavilion. The next stop for the Cardinal (24-11) is Madison Square Garden in New York City, where it will play in the national semifinals against Massachusetts on Tuesday. Washington and Minnesota meet in the other semifinal, with the winners playing for the title on Thursday, March 29. “Getting the additional practice time, the
Monday College baseball: USC at Stanford, 4 p.m.; KZSU (90.1 FM) Men’s basketball: Postseason NIT: Stanford vs. Massachusetts, 4 p.m.; ESPN2; KNBR (1050 AM)
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Stanford’s Owens closing in on a successful finish
more of Amber,” Stanford sophomore forward Chiney Ogwumike said. “She is the quietest person on the team and her game is speaking volumes. You can see her evolving and see her personality expanding and we all really enjoy that.” Orrange was thrown into Stanford’s starting lineup five games into the Pac-12 Conference sched-
College baseball: USC at Stanford, 1 p.m.; KZSU (90.1 FM) Women’s basketball: NCAA Tournament: Stanford vs. South Carolina, 8:30 p.m.; ESPN2; KZSU (90.1 FM) College baseball: USC at Stanford, 1 p.m.; KZSU (90.1 FM)
Orrange was spectacular in Stanford’s 72-55 victory over West Virginia in the second round of the NCAA tournament Monday, scoring a career-high 18 points, grabbing a career-best seven rebounds, recording five assists and a steal, and did not turn the ball over. Orrange had a career-high 11 assists in the Cardinal’s 73-51 opening-round win over Hampton. “I think you’re starting to see
tournament experience, can only help us,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. “We have a good feel for the type of environment it’s going to be. It’s one of the best facilities for basketball in the world.” Owens missed out on the postseason fun when he sat out a medical redshirt season with an unspecified health condition two years ago and suffered through a losing season last year. He’s made up for lost time this year. “It’s special to still be playing basketball right now,” Owens said. “There are a lot of teams who’d like to be playing right now.” Josh Huestis added 12 points for Stanford, which played in the preseason NIT this season and becomes the fourth team to make two appearances at the Garden in the (continued on page 33)
OF LOCAL NOTE . . . Menlo Park resident F. Gabriel Morgan, 14, captured the U.S. Junior Squash Championship this past weekend at Yale University. Morgan competed in the Boys’ U15 division and was undefeated in five matches, held at Yale’s Brady Squash Center, en route to his first national title. Morgan defeated Timmy Brownell of Belmont, Mass., 11-7, 11-4, 6-11, 11-5 to wrap up the championship. During the weekend, 320 of the top-ranked U.S. junior squash players across five age divisions -- U11 to U19 -- competed in this prestigious tournament, which officially concludes the 2011-12 U.S. junior squash season. A member of the U.S. National Junior Team, Morgan is the No. 1-ranked squash player in the U.S. in his age division and is regarded as one of the top junior squash players in the world.
MAKING A SPLASH . . . Palo Alto High grad Liv Jensen, a senior on the University of California women’s swim team, helped the Bears defend their title at the NCAA Championships last week with a stunning victory in the 50-yard free. Jensen raced to victory in 21.48, the 14th-fastest time ever, to have .02 seconds from her fourth-ranked lifetime best of 21.50 from last year’s NCAA meet. Jensen became just the fourth swimmer ever under 21.5 while upending defending champ Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace of Auburn, which hosted the championships. The victory returned the title to Jensen, who won it in 2010 before losing to Vanderpool-Wallace in 2011. Jensen is one of only two Cal swimmers ever to win the race and the only to win it twice. The victory also moved the Bears into the lead, one they held through Saturday’s final day. The Bears finished with 412 1/2 points as fellow Paly grad Colleen Fotsch help provide points on the relays, as did Jensen. Stanford finished fourth, despite setting five school records during the three-day meet. The best mark came last as seniors Sam Woodward and Betsy Webb completed their Stanford careers as NCAA champions. Woodward and Webb joined Andi Murez and Maddy Schaefer to win in the 400 free relay in an American (and school) record 3:10.77 in the final race of the national championships.
Stanford senior Josh Owens (13) streaks in for two of his 15 points in an 84-56 win over Nevada on Wednesday. *>ÊÌÊ7iiÞÊUÊ>ÀV ÊÓÎ]ÊÓä£ÓÊU Page 31
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