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Learn the Guitar this Summer


Carol McComb’s “Starting to Play” 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.


Budget shows Palo Alto turning the corner

*“Starting to Play” meets for one hour each Monday night for nine weeks beginning June 17. 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.

Ten ways the city may change in 2014 by Gennady Sheyner Stringed Instruments Since 1969


You’ve made your house a home.

So who says you have to leave it just because you’ve gotten older? Avenidas Village can help you stay in the home you love. Attend a free open house on Thursday, June 27 at 2 pm. RSVP to (650) 289-5405

Your life, your way, in your home



june FOR THIShighlights MONTH: – Movie Night: “Makers: Women Who Make America” – Assertive Woman Workshop – “The Gifts of Imperfection”– an Eight Week Workshop based on the work of Brene Brown – Women’s Support Group – Uncover Your Calling For further details, visit our website: 555 Lytton Avenue, Palo Alto 650 /473-0664

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ver since the world economy tanked in late 2008, budget season has been the dreariest of times in Palo Alto. Gaping deficits prompted the city to slash employee benefits; freeze policeofficer positions; outsource some functions, such as printing and golfcourse maintenance; and nearly outsource animal services before relenting in the 11th hour after intense community opposition. Then, something changed. Business picked up, vacancies disappeared and property taxes returned to the pre-crash heights of 2008. In City Manager James Keene’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1, the Great Recession is a faded memory. According to the document, which the City Council is set to discuss and approve on June 3, just about every major revenue source has rebounded in a big way since the distant days of 2009. Sales-tax revenues grew from $18 million in 2010 to $23 million in 2013, spurred by strong performance by the city’s restaurants and electronics and apparel shops. Hotel-tax revenues — $7 million in 2010 — are projected to reach $10.4 million in 2013. Property taxes were $25.7 million in 2011 but are expected to total $27.9 million in 2013 and $29.1 million in 2014. In fiscal year 2014, the city’s revenues are projected to rise by 5 percent, or $7.6 million. Keene’s budget, for the first time since he was hired in 2008, proposes a host of infrastructure improvements, “unfrozen” positions and no service cuts. The General Fund, which pays for most basic services (not including utilities), would rise to $159.8 million, up 4.6 percent or $7 million from 2013. Managers throughout City Hall are slated to have their salaries readjusted to match the median compensation of their peers in other cities. Motorcycle-riding traffic cops will once again patrol city streets. The Palo Alto Airport, operated until now by Santa Clara County, will now be run by Palo Alto. And spending on bike projects and street repairs will get a significant bump, belatedly underscoring the city’s proclamation of 2011 as “Year of the Bicycle” and of 2012 as “Year of Infrastructure.” There are some clouds on the horizon. Water rates, for example, are set to rise by 7 percent on July 1, largely to pay for water-infrastructure improvements. And the costs of pension and health care benefits continue to rise at a rate far faster than revenues, a trend that the budget says is simply “unsustainable.” Still, if Keene’s proposed budget is any indication, most of the changes that Palo Alto will see in the next year or two will involve additions rather than subtractions. Here are some highlights:

Veronica Weber


ITTING THE PEDAL — When Palo Alto approved a broad and ambitious bicycle master plan last year, members of the City Council pledged not to let this plan languish like its predecessor, its lofty visions withering in a forgotten drawer. With the new budget, the city is putting its money where its mouth is. The proposed budget allocates $1.4 million for design work on a new bike bridge that will span U.S. Highway 101 over Adobe Creek. The bridge project has already received a $4 million grant from Santa Clara County, and more grant funding may be in the pipeline. Once completed, it will give south Palo Alto residents and employees a new pathway into the Baylands and help the city overcome one of its most formidable bike challenges — a shortage of decent east-west routes. The budget also allocates $1.3 million for other projects, which include bike boulevards, bike lanes and off-road trails.

been operating the facility since 1967 and has been reluctant to make major upgrades, agreed to terminate its lease by the end of the year. It’ll probably be at least another six months before all the paperwork is approved. City Public Works Director Michael Sartor and Swanson have toured the facility to inspect its condition and discussed the needed improvements with the Federal Aviation Administration, which provides grants for airport fixes. Sartor told the City Council Finance Committee on May 16 that he is confident the airport could be a profitable operation. A 2011 analysis by Ralph Wiedemann and Associates showed that the airport could have generated up to $16.4 million in profits by 2037 if the city were to take it over by July 2012. That deadline has come and gone, but the city’s optimism remains. Sartor said analysis “clearly shows that the airport can be a very major, functional, revenue-generating operation, and that’s where we’re heading.”

Don Feria


Veronica Weber


AKEOFFS AND LANDINGS — In April, Palo Alto signaled its intent to go fullspeed ahead with the takeover of its namesake airport when it landed Andrew Swanson as the city’s airport manager, a new position. Now comes the hard work of getting Swanson an airport to manage. The new budget proposes a loan of $325,000 from the city’s General Fund (which pays for most services not relating to utilities) to the new Airport Fund, to get the process off the ground. Santa Clara County, which has

IRDIES IN THE BAY — Palo Alto’s effort to inject a “Wow!” factor into its functional but unspectacular municipal golf course can be traced, in many ways, to the early morning of Feb. 3, 1998, when a violent storm caused the San Francisquito Creek to spill over local bridges, submerging entire sections of Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park. Fifteen years later, help is on the way as the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority prepares to break ground on a flood-control plan that will widen a channel and rebuild levees in the Baylands, including a levee that would infringe on Palo Alto’s golf course. The agency’s plan would have required the city to relocate six to seven of the course’s holes. Instead, the City Council decided to use the flood-control project as an opportunity to completely overhaul the 18-hole course and to imbue it with natural plants, muted colors and other design elements aiming to emphasize its

2013 05 31 paw section1  
2013 05 31 paw section1