Community Connections Editorials

5 Reasons Why You Should Attend the Palo Alto Summit May 30

Photo courtesy of SF Weekly

Palo Alto Summit 2030: a chance to shape Palo Alto’s future

Palo Alto has the good fortune to be at the hub of tech innovation, with proximity to Stanford University, fantastic weather, high quality public schools and other reasons why this is a great place to live. And with these many blessings come the challenges of growth, including rising housing costs, traffic and congestion.

Palo Altans have strong opinions about the strengths and challenges facing the community, but rarely do they get a chance to do anything proactive about their

Photo courtesy of Arastradero Open Space Preserve

Photo courtesy of Arastradero Open Space Preserve

concerns. That’s why the Palo Alto Summit on May 30th at Mitchell Park Community Center is a unique opportunity to make your voice heard.

The Summit is a key step in the City’s effort to update the “Comprehensive Plan,” (aka Comp Plan), which was last developed in 2002 and now needs to be revised to include the many demographic, economic and environmental changes that have taken place over the past 13 years. Ideas from the Summit will be integral in the revision of the Comp Plan, which is targeted for completion by the end of 2015.

Here are five questions important to all Palo Alto residents that will be discussed on May 30. If you care about any or all of these issues, show up and weigh in!

AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

1. How can we provide a mix of housing for different incomes? According to Zillow.com, Palo Alto home prices have risen over 21% in the past year, and median home values are over $2.3 million. This means that unless the City of Palo Alto is able to increase the availability of housing for people of all income levels, it will soon become difficult for anyone but the most wealthy to live here. And the lack of affordable local housing will mean that more people will commute into Palo Alto for jobs, which bring us to #2: traffic.

Caltrain-Station-and-130-Lytton-Palo-Alto-The-Registry-real-estate

Photo by SF Weekly

2. How can we decrease traffic and congestion? It’s pretty obvious that traffic around Palo Alto is on the rise; a drive that used to take five minutes can now take longer, especially along popular corridors. But as Palo Alto grows, traffic impact can be mitigated through placing housing closer to transit hubs, increasing bike access and safety, and other strategies. Summit participants will be asked to lend their ideas for how to accommodate growth and minimize traffic impact.

4. How can local retail businesses survive in a competitive marketplace? Do you miss local businesses like University Art and Shady Lane in downtown Palo Alto? If so, come to the Palo Alto Summit to lend your voice to discussions about how to help local businesses as consumers switch to e-commerce and commercial rents continue to rise in Palo Alto.

Photo courtesy of SF Weekly

Photo courtesy of SF Weekly

4.  How do we plan for Palo Alto’s aging population? In 1970, the median age in Palo Alto was about 32 years old, and by 2010 it was 42. As this trend is expected to continue, Summit participants will think about a vision that considers the needs of the next generation of Palo Altans, as well as their grandparents.

5. What’s the role of ‘regular’ Palo Altans in decisions made at City Hall? Palo Altans are busy people and it’s hard to follow the decisions being made by local government, let alone find a way to engage and get involved. But at the Palo Alto Summit, you’ll find out how the City of Palo Alto is using technology to reach out to the community and learn ways to get involved as the Comp Plan moves towards completion.

Photo courtesy of City of Palo Alto

Photo courtesy of City of Palo Alto

The Summit is FREE for all Palo Altans- register here to attend all or part of the day. And check out this video for more information about why the Summit and the Comp Plan matter for the future of Palo Alto.

Want to learn more about how Palo Alto works? Check out these resources from Palo Alto Pulse!

About the author

Victoria Thorp

Victoria Thorp

Victoria is the founder and editor of Palo Alto Pulse and has lived in Palo Alto since 2007. Victoria's diverse professional background includes working as the editor of GreatSchools.org , as a senior writer for KIPP and Teach for America, and as a radio producer for City Visions on KALW (91.7FM San Francisco). She is a graduate of Leadership Palo Alto and a member of the Palo Alto Partners in Education Advisory Board.

She has a BA in English from Tufts University and Masters in Education and Secondary Teaching Credential in English from UCLA.

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