Neighbors “Going out on a limb” to save a tree

818 Cowper St

A group of concerned neighbors have proactively taken it upon themselves to try too save an ancient heritage oak tree located on Cowper St which is currently red tagged and slated for removal sometime in the unforeseen future.

By some estimates the age of this Oak tree is about 300 years old.

What we do know thus far by way of my conversation with city director Mike Sartor, who is just one person in a long line of persons overseeing this project is that much more planning is to take place before any ultimate decision is made as to the removal of this beloved ancient heritage oak tree which, BTW has been affectionately named “George”.

In fact, a Facebook page has been created called, Cowper Heritage Oak Tree where surrounding neighbors and other tree lovers can go out on a limb as well and post comments photos and other concerns.

Thus far at last count there are approximately 27 concerned neighbors some of which if not all will be coming before city council this evening hoping that council will look to other alternatives offered to save this wonderful ancient heritage oak from succumbing to that dreadful chainsaw.   For more information Palo Alto city director Mike Sartor can be reaching by calling 650-329-2270 or his assistant  Dave Dockter at

Unemployed for More than 99 Weeks and it continues to grow

Our local Palo Alto politicians continue to remain silent and look the other way……

“The numbers are staggering and the need undeniable,” said Pam Harris, Chief Deputy
Director of EDD. “Unemployment benefits are a lifeline that keeps these families and their
communities afloat in these turbulent times. We have worked tirelessly to reach out to
those in need, and to help them along the road to economic recovery.”

Summary Highlights

California Unemployed

One of the characteristics of the recession that began in the United States in December 2007 and officially ended in June 2009 was the unprecedented rise in long-term unemployment. The longterm unemployed are usually defined as workers who have been unemployed for more than six months. But, many workers have been looking for work for more than a year, or for more than 99 weeks. Workers who have been unemployed for more than 99 weeks are defined here as the “very long-term unemployed.” They are sometimes called “99ers.”

Authorization for Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC08) is scheduled to expire on January 3, 2012. Legislation has been introduced to expand and extend the program. On September 8, 2011, President Obama proposed an extension of the program. Issues for Congress include whether to authorize the EUC08 program beyond January 3, 2012, and whether to provide the very long-term unemployed with more than 99 weeks of unemployment benefits.

As the national unemployment rate rose during and after the recent recession, so did long-term unemployment rates (i.e., the number of long-term unemployed divided by the size of the labor force). From December 2007 to June 2011, the unemployment rate for persons unemployed for more than 99 weeks rose from 0.1% to 1.3%. As of June 2011, there were an estimated 2.0 million very long-term unemployed. This estimate, which is from the Current Population Survey (CPS), is not a count of the number of workers who have exhausted all unemployment benefits.

An analysis of differences in the share of the unemployed who are very long-term unemployed (i.e., the number of long-term unemployed divided by the number of unemployed) shows that from July 2010 to June 2011, • unemployed men were more likely than unemployed women to be out of work for more than 99 weeks (12.3% compared to 10.8%);

older workers were more likely than younger workers to be unemployed for more than 99 weeks. While 8.1% of unemployed workers under the age of 35 had been looking for work for more than 99 weeks, twice the percentage (16.3%) of workers ages 45 and over had been out of work for more than 99 weeks.

unemployed workers with a high school degree were as likely as workers with a Bachelor’s degree to have been out of work for more than 99 weeks;

married unemployed workers were more likely than unemployed workers who have never been married to be out of work for more than 99 weeks (12.8% and 9.8%, respectively); and

unemployed black workers were more likely than unemployed white workers to have been unemployed for more than 99 weeks (9.9% and 7.3%, respectively); on the other hand, unemployed non-Hispanic workers were more likely than unemployed Hispanic workers to have been unemployed for more than 99 weeks (8.0% and 7.0%, respectively).

The number of very long-term unemployed may or may not continue to rise. On the one hand, the number of monthly layoffs has fallen since the official end of the 2007-2009 recession. On the other hand, both the number of jobs and of job openings have increased. But, the numbers have not returned to their pre-recession levels. In addition, as employers hire new workers, those who have been unemployed the longest may be among the last to be hired.

Click here Congressional Research Service for a further in-depth look into this growing national dilemma…….

Were talken’ trash again

♪♪Take out the papers and the trash….or you won’t get no spending cash….kick the rate increases in the ass….Yakety yak Palo Alto Free Press will talk back ♪♪

Mini- me

For many in Palo Alto the idea of having to pay more in refuse rates is bound to cause some to “trash talk” our civic leadership and the finance committee for the rate increases but that does not have to be the case.

For one thing, you can purchase a trash compactor and reduce the size of your weekly trash, to the size of a shopping bag.  Doing so, can in fact result in substantial savings.

As an example, if you currently use a 32 gallon container, your new monthly charge will become $37.48 under the new purposed fee schedule.

However, if you purchase a trash compactor you can down size from a 32 gallon to a mini at the purposed new rate of $20.52.

This would result in a monthly saving of $16.96 or annualized, the savings would be $203.52.

Trash compactors run anywhere from Whirlpool GX900QPP Under-$228.00 to $1000.00 depending on your needs and family size.  So from a ROI perspective [return on investment] you can hope to realize your savings after the first year.  So start turning in your old trash containers and stop talking trash and realize the green savings.

Originally published on: Jul 27, 2011 @ 11:28

Measure E Provides a Realistic Pathway Toward Sustainable Development

Dear Editor,

Last week, opponents of Measure E reiterated their central objection to the Palo Alto Green Energy & Compost Initiative: it entails “risk.” (Letters, Sept.16).

But the risks they identify are entirely speculative; their campaign’s strategy is to cast doubt on technologies already in use by other Bay Area communities, and which save ratepayers millions of dollars a year while dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The status quo of Palo Alto’s waste management is by no means risk free.  On the contrary, our community’s organic refuse policies are unsustainable by nearly every meaningful measure, from their effects on public health, to the resources they monopolize without any positive return.

Rather than perseverate on hypothetical risks, Palo Altans should consider the following real and immediate ones:

  1.  Palo Alto is home to one of California’s last two sewage incinerators.  In 2009, emissions testing revealed it released more than six times the legal limit of Chromium into the atmosphere. Chromium is listed as a known carcinogen by the World Health Organization; Erin Brockovich famously spent her career fighting Chromium contamination in poor communities.
  2. The ash produced by the incinerator is also a hazardous waste; our City spends $200,000/yr to dispose of it at a toxic dump in Kettlemen City—a low-income, largely Latino community in the Central Valley famous for its elevated levels of birth defects.
  3. We spend the equivalent of $1 million/yr to power our incinerator.

Walter Hays is absolutely correct when he says Measure E poses zero risk (Letters, Sept. 15).

If passed, Measure E will not cost ratepayers a single dime, nor will it allow any development without thorough environmental review.  Measure E simply expands our waste management options by making 10 acres (8%) of our landfill available as we consider the safest, most cost-effective policies going forward.

Vote YES on Measure E!

Thank you for your consideration,
Alexander Kates DiGiorgio, J.D.
Program Manager | Clean Coalition
            510.326.9672       |
Clean Local Energy Accessible Now

Palo Alto’s Proposed Vehicle Habitation Law Violates the Constitution

Society has established an ethnic/disabled/orientation group called the “homeless.” Various people for a variety of reasons become apart of this identifiable group just like “gypsies,” “gays,” “lesbians” and the “disabled” become a part of their particular minority groups. The “homeless,” are the only group that is not protected by hate crime laws which include: race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender.

In fact,”homeless” is the only minority group of people in which local and state governments are allowed to violate their Constitutionally protected rights.

In Palo Alto some “homeless” people are violating already existing laws such as “harassment, vandalism and littering.” The City of Palo Alto is going to outlaw the use of all vehicles by all homeless people because some of the homeless are violating existing laws in order to run the “homeless” people out of town despite the fact that most “homeless” people are law abiding citizens good for the community.

Replace the “homeless” people with “black” people and what do you get?

In Palo Alto some “black” people are violating already existing laws such has “harassment, vandalism and littering.” The City of Palo Alto is going to outlaw the use of all vehicles by all “black” people because some of the “black” people are violating existing laws in order to run the “black” people out of town despite the fact that most “black” people are law abiding citizens good for the community.

Replace the “homeless” people with “Jewish” people and what do you get?

In Palo Alto some “Jewish” people are violating already existing laws such has “harassment, vandalism and littering.” The City of Palo Alto is going to outlaw the use of all vehicles by all “Jewish” people because some of the “Jewish” people are violating existing laws in order to run the “Jewish” people out of town despite the fact that most “Jewish” people are law abiding citizens good for the community.

For all practical purposes, what does Palo Alto’s vehicle habitation law actually do?
It takes away vehicles, the property of a minority of people simply because they do not
have a fixed residence, that is Unconstitutional since the law will not be applied equally to all citizens but only to those who do not have residents even though all residents will be in violation of the law virtually every day that the law exists for everyone “inhabits” their vehicles every day they use their vehicle.

Palo Alto’s proposed law violates not only the City of Palo Alto’s own Charter, the California Constitution, the U.S. Constitution but also Federal Law as well.

Palo Alto Municipal Code
9.73.010 Statements of policy.

(a) Human Rights. It is the policy of the city of Palo Alto to affirm, support and protect the human rights of every person within its jurisdiction. These rights include, but are not limited to, equal economic, political, and educational opportunity; equal accommodations in all business establishments in the city; and, equal service and protection by all public agencies of the city.

(b) Freedom from Arbitrary Discrimination. It is the policy of the city of Palo Alto to protect and safeguard the right and opportunity of every person to be free from arbitrary discrimination on the basis of their race, skin color, gender, age, religion, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, housing status, marital status, familial status, weight or height.
(Ord. 4795 § 2 (part), 2003)


“All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.”

Notice that the Constitution does not say, “Only fixed resident people,” it states, “All People” have the right to possess and protect property, whether they are homeless or not, as such the City of Palo Alto cannot take punish a person for owning property simply because that person does not have a fixed residence.

The 14th Amendment of the United States forbids states from making discriminatory laws by stating that: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Palo Alto’s “vehicle habitation law” would punish people due to their economic status.”

Punishing citizens simply because they are poor would constitute a violation of the 8th Amendment of the United states Constitution which states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

To subject a citizen to any fine, jail time and the loss of his possessions simply because he/she cannot afford a place to live is both cruel and unusual.

Technically speaking, it could be argued that the “homeless” fall into the “disabled” group.

The 1964 Federal Civil Rights Law, 18 U.S.C. § 245(b)(2), permits federal prosecution of anyone who “willingly injures, intimidates or interferes with another person, or attempts to do so, by force because of the other person’s race, color, religion or national origin” [1] because of the victim’s attempt to engage in one of six types of federally protected activities, such as attending school, patronizing a public place/facility, applying for employment, acting as a juror in a state court or voting.

On October 28, 2009 President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, attached to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, which expanded existing United States federal hate crime law to apply to crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, and dropped the prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a federally protected activity

Community Thinking on Vehicle Habitation Solutions vs Outright Ban

People of Palo Alto demonstrated their solution-oriented forward thinking at last night’s meeting on Palo Alto’s proposed legislation regarding car dwellers.

Stanford Lutheran Church was filled with vehicle dwellers and home dwellers who expressed personal fears for safety, for their children’s well being; concerns about safety, sanitation, human rights, fairness; and possible solutions to create safety and community for all Palo Altans, whether homeless or housed.

The proposed legislation was viewed from many angles: without it, police have little they can do in cases of disturbance. But if disturbance is created by a handful of individuals, is restricting the rights of the many the elegant choice? Or is it the slippery slope?

If the legislation passes, how will it fare when taken to the courts – compare the proposed crime of simply living in a car with more familiar news stories of crimes, such as burglary. Living in cars is an economic break point, to criminalize this is to criminalize a choice rendered by poverty. There begins the slippery slope.

The idea that Palo Alto could become a magnet for homeless car dwellers without strict legislation was posed, then re-framed as a regional problem that should be addressed as such.

Problem with threats

Cubberley has opened the gym to car dwellers, which has brought a surge of car dwellers in recent weeks. One parent expressed concern for his children, who feel so uncomfortable about the car dwellers at Cubberley, that they go out of their way on a daily basis to avoid the car dwellers.

In other neighborhoods, some homeowners have experienced or continue to experience certain car dwellers as a threat to safety for themselves, their children, and/or their property.

Several parents outlined concerns that specific behavior of specific car dwellers are affecting their children – that the children are frightened and avoid them at all costs. Many people expressed sympathy for their ongoing daily experience –in some cases for two years, in others for a decade.

One woman’s house was vandalized after she asked a car dweller who was drinking from her outdoor spigot not to use her water. This brave woman underscored the issue as a regional problem. She urged Palo Alto to put pressure on other cities to respond in accord.

The sometimes concurrent and very pregnant problem of mental illness was shuffled around until one woman told about her son who had been diagnosed with a mental illness. Authorities had advised her that he should not live with his parents.

And through his process, her family learned that Redwood City has the capabilities to deal with his mental illness issues in conjunction with his homelessness. She referred back to the worry about becoming a magnet, and pointed out that perhaps it is Redwood City that will be the magnet, not Palo Alto.

One solution offered to families who routinely experience threat (verbal abuse, urinating in public) from a car dweller, is to get a temporary restraining order followed by a permanent injunction.

Several people spoke about parking regulations enforcement.  The idea was raised of no overnight parking without a permit, as is done in Menlo Park. Again, this refers back to the solution in Eugene, in which registration with the city helps keep track of who is where…to ensure safety for everyone.

One vehicle dweller pointed out that he takes care to avoid residential areas. He does not want to trespass, nor violate any sense of neighborhood serenity. He maintains a low profile and takes care of his surroundings.

College Terrace has experienced vehicle dwelling as a problem for ten years. Residential permits were an effective solution for the portion of the neighborhood to which it applies. But problems continue for the mixed use section. One resident expressed that many neighbors are fearful of the people living in vans. In fact, she was chased by someone while walking home after grocery shopping.

There is apparently another contingent of vans in that area that will likely face change, as it became clear multiple vans owned by one individual is cleverly “gaming the system” using the vans as personal storage facilities.

More than one person referred to a solution crafted in Eugene, Oregon for a similar issue. There, car dwellers receive a needs assessment, register with the city program, and are delegated to selected sites that can be easily policed for everyone’s safety. Each site has a limit of three car dwellers.

Problems with sanitation

An idea that drew applause sketched a non-residential location –perhaps near bay lands- where facilities could be built to with showers and toilets dedicated to car dwellers. Car dwellers initiated the applause.

One car dweller shared that he always cleans up the area around where he parks. He want a clean environment for himself and others. The concept of contributing to the community rang through as a shared ideal from car dwellers and house dwellers alike.

The opportunity for creating solution through this crisis was the ever present theme. People shared from personal experience. The knife-edge of need that spurs the decision to relinquish housing for vehicle may have become more visible tonight. Emphasis was on solution, fairness, and respect of others.

How to balance rights of homeowners, renters and vehicle dwellers?  The watchword is compassion.

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Living in Vehicles – Community Forum on September 15

Vehicle Habitation

Thursday, September 15, 2011
7 – 8:30 PM
University Church – 1611 Stanford Avenue, Palo Alto

Your input is invited as the Palo Alto community shares concerns, identifies issues, and brainstorms solutions related to living in vehicles and associated parking and other concerns.

Share your experiences and help bring a community solution to this important issue. Potential solutions will be presented to the Palo Alto City Council in the fall.

For more information, please visit

AT&T Open House at the Lucie Stern Community Center

Community Workshop Notice AT&T

Open House at the Lucie Stern Community Center

September 13, 2011

Please join AT&T for a neighborhood community meeting to discuss AT&T’s new distributed antenna systems (DAS) on existing city poles in or near your neighborhood. AT&T is working hard to improve wireless coverage in your neighborhood and Palo Alto.

Infrastructure upgrades like DAS will provide improved coverage and better wireless service. AT&T representatives will be available to answer questions and provide attendees with details about the proposed sites.

The meeting will be held on: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Community Room Lucie Stern Community Center 1305 Middlefield Road Palo Alto, CA


Shiyama Clunie

AT&T External Affairs