Note: The spring edition is mailed to BPA members only. The web editions are normally created long after the paper editions are mailed to members, and are not as complete.

-- Will Beckett, President

by Doug Moran

by Art Bayce, Chair

by Inge Harding-Barlow

by Mardell Ward

LEAFBLOWERS: "Good Neighbor" Practices
by Dorothy Bender

-- by Katie Edwards

by Doug Moran, Streets & Traffic Chair

by Maryanne Welton, Chair

by Matthew Costigan, City of Palo Alto Project Engineer

by Dorothy Bender, Chair

-- by Katie Edwards & Kan Tani

By Inge Harding-Barlow & Doug Moran, Committee Co-Chairs

By Christian Kalar, Chair

By Art Bayce. Co-Chair

NEW PRINCIPAL at Barron Park Elementary School
by Art Bayce


+ 12 years on the BPA Board

-- by Doug Graham, Barron Park Historian


BPA On-Line!


If you wish to become a Barron Park Association Member, email the Membership Chair and I'll fax you a form or,


Community Update

Will Beckett, President

Slipped in between the storms of our wet spring, the May Fete had very nice weather and everyone seemed to have a great time. By the time you read this we will have also completed the annual Garden Faire (June 7) which might also be dry. Good thing the organizers decided to move this from April to June. Planting at Bol Park got off to a slow start due to this especially wet spring but it looks like all the plants that could go in this spring are in, and have had a few rains before summer to get them off to a good start. Hope you are all taking advantage of this beautiful asset to the neighborhood.

BPA Board Members
We had some board members leave us in the last few months and three new members have been elected to the board. Add this to the two new board members we reported in our last news letter and the turnover represents a third of our full board. Details about who they are and what they are planning to do to contribute to our community can be found on page 13. All of these new members have a lot of enthusiasm and energy as well as some great skills they will be able to bring to the BPA board.

Building on El Camino
Major issues continue to include the building on El Camino Real as development continues. More projects are planned and proceeding and you should expect to see another year or two of activity. Blockbuster's project has been delayed due to the ARB rejection of the building design but it should be back soon with much nicer improvements including some very nice landscaping in the parking lot. Still no word on who the tenant or tenants will be with Blockbuster but as soon as we know we will pass the word. My understanding is that they are working hard to accommodate neighborhood wishes based on our survey.

Local Bus System
The Comprehensive Plan should be getting final approval soon but many of the elements of the plan are already showing up in staff proposals and studies. One such study will be to examine the feasibility of a local bus system. A consultant will be selected to review criteria for such a system and make recommendations for a test and a possible final citywide system. You should not expect to see new buses on the road for about a year but at least the process is moving forward. Mobility of Palo Alto residents is the primary goal. If you have ideas about what you feel would be the ideal system, please let me know since I am currently serving on this committee as the Barron Park representative.

Barron Park School
The new Barron Park Elementary School is moving along nicely with a lot of neighborhood support. It is great to see all the people that are working hard to make this a great school. Hoover's new campus is coming together and should be ready on time. We need everyone to be especially careful if you are driving during the first few weeks of school. Take some extra time to be sure everyone is safe, and be sure to yield to all those who are helping us reduce traffic by walking or biking to school. I am sure it seems strange to hear this at the beginning of summer but the next newsletter will not be coming out until school is underway.

I hope everyone will have a safe and happy summer and thanks for your continued support through your membership to the BPA.

Neighborhood Compatibility

by Doug Moran
In 1996, "monster houses" (see "Monster Houses: more than just large") had become a significant concern in Palo Alto. The tearing down of two significant older houses spurred the City Council to finally take up the issue. However, what is now widely seen as an issue of neighborhood compatibility (integrity, ...) was addressed as an issue of historic preservation. The BPA Board sent the Council a letter expressing concern that such an approach might provide protection for northern Palo Alto and shift the pressure from the undesirable developers to southern Palo Alto. This May, the BPA Board sent a followup letter, reiterating and expanding upon our concerns.

However, it is only with the recent controversy over the proposed historic preservation ordinance that the Council has finally instructed the City staff to start considering neighborhood compatibility.

People interested in neighborhood compatibility should be paying attention to the debate on historic preservation because there is likely to be a lot of spill-over. Repeating well-known mistakes casts doubts on one's knowledge, judgment or true intentions.

In November 1996, the BPA Board conducted a survey of BPA members and the results were sent to the City Council, published in the Winter 1996 newsletter, and are available on our Web site. The introduction accompanying that survey is reproduced below (lightly edited) because it is still useful.

The following is an introduction to some basic issues for people starting to think about the problem. Any proposal needs to be viewed from at least four perspectives. Consider both the case where you are doing the remodeling or rebuilding and where the property is near you. For each of these, consider the cases where all parties are reasonable and willing to consider other perspectives and the cases where they aren't (a "developer from hell" or a "neighbor from hell"). Thresholds

Historic preservation focuses on preserving the character of individual houses (varying levels of detail). Neighborhood compatibility attempts to prevent major disruption of the character of the neighborhood, and thus can be limited to apply to only major changes to individual houses. The problem is how to specify what is a change that is major enough to warrant review? One common idea is to have a set of thresholds that trigger notification of neighbors with some sort of review if there are potential problems. Aspects subject to thresholds could include remodels that change X% of exterior walls, X% increase in size of house, exceeding the setbacks that are customary for nearby houses (even though the change would still be within the limits set by zoning).

How big an area
One of the thorniest issues is defining which properties are affected by a change. Effects may not as limited as they might seem. For example, the immediate neighbors of a new 2-story house may be able to reduce the impact by screening it with landscaping, but their houses may create corridors/gaps through the landscaping that are difficult for others to overcome. For example, the house across the street from the house behind that new house may have few palatable options for screening it.

Currently, when a property owner requests a zoning variance, the city notifies people within 300 feet. This is a likely starting point if a distance measure is used. An alternative that has been discussed is to have the residents in a smaller area (two to four blocks) define their area's "character" - selecting relevant aspects and thresholds on those aspects. This has the considerable advantage of being adaptable to the many different neighborhood characters, allowing more protection while triggering fewer reviews. However, can you get enough of the homeowners together at one time to produce a meaningful result?

Dividing lines are often a contentious issue, and "block" can be a difficult unit of measure, especially in places like Barron Park. Consider Matadero Avenue (an extreme case). By conventional definitions (cross streets), Matadero is 3 blocks long: El Camino to the bridge, there to Laguna and then in Roble Ridge. And someone working from a street map would include Julie Court and La Mata Way as part of Matadero, but both were developed much later and have a very different character from Matadero Avenue itself. But Julie Court could be too small an area to be considered separately.

Similarly, with all our irregular street plans, it is not uncommon for a house "over the back fence" to be a long distance away following the streets. This adds to the difficulty of defining the area for compatibility. Following procedures

Government officials and activists often underestimate the strain and cost of working through "the process." In the May 19th forum, Mayor Rosenbaum attributed many of the problems with the interim historic preservation ordinance to unfamiliarity with the system and predicted that there would be fewer problems as a pool of architects and contractors developed familiarity with the system over the years. From his perspective, this is a reasonable statement: currently major developers who do not have experience here often hire a local architect or developer to help them navigate the approval process (and this situation is not unique to Palo Alto). Euphemism Alert: Palo Alto is said to be "process rich". Use in self-mocking manner.

However, is it reasonable to expect homeowners and smaller contractors to have this expertise? Non-experts can understandably become frustrated with a complicated non-answer to what appears to be a simple question.

In many major remodels (kitchen, bath or more), dealing with the contractors and the dislocation is exhausting for the owner. The additional burden of the approval process needs to be considered in determining what is reasonable. Delays

Government officials and activists also often underestimate the effect of delays on normal citizens. In 1987, the City reacted very belatedly to an increasing backlog for building permits: Even after it grew to a 5 month wait, it was months before the City decided to hire additional staff. Conclusion

In the consideration of ways to protect the character of neighborhoods, it is critical for residents to remember the complexity of the problem, and do "reality checks" against details, to think about the tradeoffs between new protections and new burdens, and to consider what is needed, what is good-enough and what is do-able.

Monster Houses: more than just large
The term "Monster Houses" is used widely in the press and public discussions. It is easy for forget that it is just a convenient shorthand for the most prominent aspect of a complex problem: houses that are a very bad fit to their locations. A house that is large for its lot makes it hard to use landscaping or setbacks (distances from the edges of the lot) to soften its impact. Add in an incompatible style and you have the makings of a monster.

The Creekside Inn provides a useful counterpoint: Although it is quite large, there are surprisingly many people who have driven along Matadero and have not realized that it is there (although they do notice the apartments and the Driftwood Market).

Historic Preservation: A much too-brief introduction

The following numbers are from a variety of different sources. Do not expect numbers to add up because different units and categories are used. For example, the items on the Study Lists are parcels (from Tax Assessor's Office) plus bridges ..., where a parcel may be a business or a residence or multiple residences. However, many people talk about the number of "homes" on the lists, which may mean parcels, residential parcels, or number of homes on those parcels. Because of this impreciseness, I have rounded off aggressively.

There are 20,135 "homes" in Palo Alto, with roughly 6000 built in the period being considered as potentially historic (through 1948). A consultant hired by the city "reduced" this to 3300 entries (not "homes") divided into two Study Lists: 600 in Priority 1 (very likely) and 2700 in Priority 2 (questionable/unlikely). The stated expectation is that 400 to 800 entries will be added to the 550 previously classified as historic.

There are roughly 200 parcels in Barron Park on the lists, almost all in Priority 2. This is 10-15% of the 1500 mailing addresses in what we consider Barron Park (these not-quite-comparable categories are driving the scientist in me crazy). The biggest clusters are in Roble Ridge and from El Camino to La Donna (especially around Magnolia and Military Way). Why such controversy?

Although virtually everyone seems to agree on the general goals, there is considerable concern because there are so many incompatibilities in the statements of the advocates. For example, at the May 19th forum, it was stated that the ordinance was strictly about the historic preservation of individual structures not neighborhood compatibility, but a little later one of the proffered prime benefits of the proposed ordinance was that it would "preserve neighborhood integrity".

Another problem has been that the statement of policy has been at considerable variance with how the City staff has applied the standards and that clear excesses have been discounted by various advocates as isolated, irrelevant misunder-standings. Based on experiences in other cities, some citizens are concerned that over-strict, over-detailed application of the policy is a very real possibility (see article by Cassandra Moore).

There are also very different perspectives: in the forum, Mayor Rosenbaum used the phrase "not too many" in apparent reference to the 3300 entries on the two Study Lists. Karen Holman, a leading Historical Preservation advocate, characterized going before the Historical Resources Board as useful and regretted that she could not get their advice when remodeling her house because it is outside the current area of coverage. Advocates and some city officials seem to not understand the problems caused by the delays inherent in the process.

The Palo Alto Weekly has created a section in its web site devoted to this topic and the Palo Alto Homeowners Association is another good source of information: (

Updated Introduction from the 1996 BPA Survey
The city is developing guidelines to preserve historic houses, both from being torn down and from having their exteriors substantially changed during remodeling. Neighbors of these houses have complained that replacing those houses with oversized, "cookie-cutter" houses has damaged the character of their neighborhoods. Many individuals and groups have started to push for design guidelines for the whole city (different guidelines to reflect the character of different neighborhoods). There are city design guidelines for residential development now, but they are voluntary and not very detailed. It is anticipated that protection for the city's "historic" neighborhoods, such as Professorville and College Terrace, will push these controversial construction practices increasingly into other the neighborhoods, such as Barron Park.

The balance between individual property rights and community rights is often difficult. When you bought your houses, you were probably considering many factors in addition to the lot and the house: the city, the schools, the look and feel of the neighborhood. For example, the generally rural appearance of Barron Park comes in part from the greater front and side yard setbacks compared to other neighborhoods.

You want to be free to make reasonable changes and improvements to your property, but you also want some protection from your neighbor making changes that might damage your property values or the livability of your home. Current zoning laws provide a basic level of protection. Design guidelines would provide an additional level of protection (what and how much is to be determined).

Building permits check that construction meets zoning restrictions and approved construction methods, and are highly quantitative. Design guidelines would be similar checks, but would involve judgment of other professionals (e.g., the City's Architecture Review Board), and taking into account any comments by neighbors.

Guidelines often handle common cases well, but work poorly for some uncommon cases.

Resident's Perspective on Historic Preservation

by Cassandra Moore

Returning from a vacation, I was pleased to read that the City Council had tabled the update of the historic preservation ordinance. Given the far-reaching practical and theoretical implications of such a measure, time for discussion and evaluation is essential.

At first glance, a preservation ordinance may seem common-sensical. Why not save homes that embody a bit of history? Isn't the current rush to tear down and rebuild destroying a valuable part of the city's heritage?

Elsewhere such ordinances have unquestionably salvaged a number of important structures. But they have also been the kiss of death for many neighborhoods, locking houses and streets into formats that may have been desirable decades previously but which stood desperately in need of modification to maintain viability. Change is the essence of growth; without it, neighborhoods begin to look like museum pieces, attractive to visit but difficult to live in.

Proponents who claim that such an ordinance would produce benefits at little cost are being disingenuous. Cathy Woods of the Palo Alto Homeowners Association has noted that gaining approval for changes is "a very difficult process."

Just how difficult could it be, even under a revised and "user friendly" ordinance? Pasadena provides an object lesson. Historic homes in that city have been so frozen that it can be difficult to replace a non-functional but "authentic" toilet with a streamlined model that works efficiently. Remodeling the entire bathroom or, perhaps worse, the kitchen becomes an expensive and time-consuming nightmare. Palo Alto should look carefully at the actual experiences of homeowners in Pasadena and elsewhere before enacting regulations.

Emergency Prepareness

by Art Bayce, Chair
Representatives of the Emergency Preparedness Committee attended the May 16, 1998 meeting of the Palo Alto Neighborhoods Organizations' Disaster Preparedness Steering Committee. We viewed demonstrations by several vendors regarding the effectiveness of their systems for community alerting in case of impending or ongoing disasters.

The Palo Alto Master Disaster Plan is still going through the approval process. It is hoped that the end of this process will be reached soon. In any case, we should not rely entirely on the City in case of disasters, whether they be earthquakes, floods, toxic spills or fire storms. The "Living with our Faults" booklet, distributed by the City, contains many suggestions that are useful for any major disaster. We have to be responsible for ourselves until outside assistance arrives.

The following is a letter from the BPA to the City of Palo Alto:

April 22, 1998

June Fleming, City Manager
250 Hamilton St.
Palo Alto, CA 94306

Dear June,

The Board of the Barron Park Association is concerned about the lack of preparation for emergencies in Palo Alto. We feel that the consideration of the problems with the response to the flooding on San Francisquito Creek on February 2nd and 3rd is being narrowly focused on that specific instance. We urge that your focus instead be part of a re-evaluation of the City's response to the whole range of potential emergencies and disasters, including floods, earthquakes, toxic leaks and any other unforseen disaster which could occur in Palo Alto.

We urge the City Council to expedite funding for this activity at an appropriate level, monitor progress, and keep neighborhoods informed.

It is our feeling that a single focal point not connected with any one branch of the city government would be more able to focus on emergency plans and coordinate these across departments. They would also be better able to give a realistic view of what citizens should expect in a major disaster. We believe that it is critical that the City's emergency preparedness activities take into account the participation of the residents and neighborhood groups. The current on-again/off-again activity, due in part to funding and staffing problems, is sapping the energy and interest of volunteers.

The Barron Park Association has a long history of working with the City on various disaster preparedness projects. We are ready to continue this partnership but vitally need to know that steady progress is being made to prepare our citizens for the next disaster.

Will Beckett, president
cc: Palo Alto City Council

Donkey Business

By Inge Harding-Barlow

As many of you know, Mickey made it through the long winter, but is not in the best of health. He is showing his age (90+ in human years) and his chronic hoof and leg problems are of concern. Perry is a fat and sassy young adult, who will have to drop some weight if he wants a long life! They will be joined during June by a middle-aged Mojave desert donkey, by the name of Miner Forty-Niner. Miner's owners are Colorado bound, so we hope he will like his new home and companions.

Third Annual House & Garden Tour

by Mardell Ward

House & Garden Tour Shows Barron Park at its Best

The third Barron Park House and Garden Tour, held June 7, was again a resounding success due to the graciousness of those opening their homes and gardens to the community.

Months of planning and preparation by both homeowners and the Barron Park Beautification Committee resulted in a tour that celebrated the character of Barron Park and brought the neighborhood together during the tour, at the refreshment areas as well as the plant sale, which featured plants and seedlings from local gardens.

Participants were also able to obtain information about the Street Tree Planting Program slated for November. The program is spearheaded by "Canopy" in cooperation with the City of Palo Alto. Sue Luttner is the beautification committee's liaison for the program.

Besides showing off Creekside homes and gardens, the tour was a testament to Barron Park residents' devotion to reshaping their homes to the lifestyles of the 90's. As a microcosm, Barron Park reflects the trend against moving on and "up," leaving behind neglected neighborhoods. According to Architectural Digest, more and more, homeowners are remodeling their longtime homes to life changes through remodeling to current needs, bringing older homes up to code, taking advantage of new materials and technology still retaining comfort and charm for several generations to enjoy.

Shirley Finfrock and Lois Prior, co-chairs of the tour, admit to a sigh of relief now that the event is over. In a separate article, their warm thanks to committee members and homeowners are expressed along with appreciation to board members of the Barron Park Association, who spend uncounted hours all year long looking out for the concerns and interests of the neighborhood.

The Beautification Committee would like to remind residents that it is also working to weed and plant "our" section of El Camino Real. Volunteers are most welcome for this ongoing project. Shirley Finfrock, committee chair, at 493-8051 will be delighted to receive a call from anyone who can spare a Saturday or Sunday throughout the year to assist in this beautification effort.

Many Thanks

by Shirley Finfrock, Chairman, Beautification Committee
& Lois Prior, House & Garden Committee Chairman

Many thanks to our Barron Park residents who attended and supported the efforts of the Beautification Committee¹s sponsored House & Garden Tour.

We especially wish to express our appreciation to the homeowners who graciously shared their homes and gardens with their neighbors in Barron Park for the 3rd Annual House & Garden Tour. Sharing their experiences of remodeling and horticultural insights was a real plus for the many attendees at the Sunday, June 7 event. Our special thanks to Judy and Kay Schultz, Sabra Driscoll, Sue and Manny DiMiceli, Andrea and William Benitz, Ralph and Yvonne Chang, Terry Achelis, Lois Bridges and Gary Davidian, Alice and Bob Frost, and Lois and Ken Prior for opening their homes and gardens.

We owe special thanks of gratitude to Val Tupper, who graciously offered her property for the plant sale. Also, thanks to Alison Collin, Mardell Ward, Erna Glanville, GeeGee Lenhart, and Val Tupper, who spent many hours starting, potting, marking, and transporting many of the plants for sale and finally selling and providing gardening advice to the attendees. Their efforts were above and beyond the normal duties of volunteers for this project. We wish to express our appreciation to the residents of Barron Park, who donated plants for the sale, and to those who purchased plants to help defray the expenses for this event.

A special thanks to Sue Luttner, Street-tree planting liaison for the Beautification Committee and David Muffly of Canopy for their efforts in getting the information about the fall planting program out to our Barron Park residents.

A special thanks to Lois and Ken Prior for opening their garden for our refreshment site, and ably managing and coordinating many activities for this year¹s event. A big thank you to Stephanie and Stan Sussman, and Bryn and Bud Homsy for their Refreshment Committee activities, and Gerald and Amrette Butler for mounting and placing the signs designed by Bryn Homsy throughout Barron Park.

Thank you to Carla Bliss, who contacted and coordinated the many host and hostesses that so pleasantly greeted the attendees. The host and hostesses were Gerald and Amrette Butler, Ken Tani, Katie Edwards, Ann Knopf, Mary Nicholson, Helen Rubin, Barbara Sater, Barbara Johnson, Barbara Stack, Peggy Whitson, and Virginia January.

I am especially grateful for all the efforts made by Clara Sharpless, Gwen Luce, Terry Achelis, Erna Glanville, Carla Bliss, Amrette Butler, Sabra Driscoll, Alison Collin, Bryn Homsy, Sue Luttner, GeeGee Lenhart, Ken and Lois Prior, Stephanie Sussman, Judy Schultz, Val Tupper, and Mardell Ward, who are active members of the Beautification Committee, and who made many contributions to our success throughout the year and to the 3rd Annual House & Garden Tour.

Leafblowers: "Good Neighbor" Practices

by Dorothy Bender

In December, 1997 the Barron Park Association conducted a survey in which Barron Park residents were asked to respond to questions about the use of leaf blowers on their property. We received 220 responses. Half the respondents said a leaf blower is used on their property; 3 out of 4 indicated that leaf blowers are at least a minor annoyance to them; and 9 out of 10 of them said they are at home some part of weekdays (9am-5pm).

Complaints about the use of leaf blowers were:

Palo Alto has a residential blower ordinance that limits blower noise to 75 decibels at 25 feet and hours of use to 9am - 5pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sundays and holidays. We are informed that noise enforcement is difficult because the police have to arrive during the event and take a reading of the sound level.

With the results of the survey in mind, here are some suggested practices to minimize the negative impacts of leaf blowers:

  1. Determine effects on your neighbors; ask if they are bothered by leaf blowers. If you have gardeners who work while you are away, you should periodically recheck with your neighbors because you may be unaware of changes in personnel or practices that can dramatically affect your neighbors.

    If your neighbors are having problems with your gardening service, talk to the service. They are much more likely to respond to you than to a neighbor.

  2. Be considerate of neighbors who are ill or at home during the day.
  3. Try to observe and listen to its use to better understand its effects.
  4. Try to schedule a time which works best for you, your neighbors, and your gardener. Tell your neighbors when your gardener will be working. If your neighbors are annoyed by the blower, see if you can make some changes to reduce the problems. Be considerate.
  5. Insure that no materials are blown onto your neighbors' property.
  6. Use an electric powered leaf blower instead of a gas powered leaf blower.
  7. Reduce the sound by operating the blower at less than full throttle. Improve its effectiveness by adding an extension to the nozzle to get the output closer to the ground.
  8. Reduce the frequency and duration of its use.
  9. Specifically instruct your gardener where to use and where not to use blowers. (Horticulturalists report that blowing removes valuable organic material from the topsoil. Soil will be depleted of its nutrients if it does not have sufficient mulch, leaf litter, etc.)
  10. Use a push broom on a driveway, porch, deck or walkway instead of a leaf blower. (The Calif. Landscapers' Assoc in the July 1997 issue of "Lawn & Landscape" says that gas blowers are not the most efficient on smaller tasks requiring debris collection.)
  11. Insure that your gardener does not use a leaf blower in areas where automobiles have parked such as a driveway or the street. Particles in these areas contain brake and wheel dust, copper, and other metals from vehicle deposits; when blown into the air the particles can aggravate lung disease and cause asthma attacks.
  12. Discuss the alternatives listed above with your gardener and consider giving a raise to implement them.

For further information: for the results of the Barron Park Association December 1997 survey. brochure/!pm10.htm for information from the Air Resources Board on the effects of particles blown into the air by leaf blowers. for the effects on California cities which have banned blowers. leaf2.htm for the Menlo Park Leaf Blower Ordinance.

See Consumer Reports, April 1997, page 8 and August 1997, Page 5 for a report on leaf blowers and some suggestions for electric-powered blowers.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Dorothy Bender at (email deleted) or call 650-494-2227.

Senior Chat

by Katie Edwards

Here we come a-piping
In summer and in June,
Green fruit a-ripening
El Niño's gone - none too soon!
-- paraphrased from "ANON."

Who of us can resist the call to get back out, and doing things again? And I have some suggestions for you, too. But first, do you remember last column, I was urging all of us to Ask For Help when we need it? A few days ago, I had occasion to practice what I preach!!

I was out at the end of my drive to pick up my morning paper and I reached for a snail climbing on my agapanthus. I stepped on the edge of the water meter cover, it tipped and my foot went in and I went down! Try as I might, I could not get into a position so I could get up. Just like the famous TV ad. Fortunately for me, my two-year old neighbor, Emma, eating her morning cereal, saw me scrabbling around on the ground midst my gone-by daffodils. "What's Katie doing?" she asked her mom, who then came out and gave me the help up I needed. Nothing was hurt except my dignity and the daffodils!!

Now, turning the coin over, I'm urging us all to offer our help where it is needed. Are you all familiar with RSVP (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program)? They have a variety of opportunities for us to help; I'm stressing only two, both areas that we all are well-equipped to give our aid.

  1. English In Action Program seeks people to give one hour per week to converse in English with Stanford & International students and scholars. I have friends who do this and find it most rewarding.
  2. Early Library Program, which is partially funded by a Federal grant, needs volunteers to go into classrooms on a one-to-one basis, and work with children, reading aloud, etc. This program is currently active at Juana Briones School here in Barron Park.

Both of these programs take minimal physical effort, but the returns are huge. If either of these opportunities appeal to you, or for other ideas, contact Louise at 326-5362, ext. 13.

The moral of this column is: We are never too old or too young to help. Oh, by the way, the snail got away!
-- Katie

Street Resurfacing

by Doug Moran, Streets & Traffic Chair

Much of the scheduled resurfacing of local streets scheduled for this summer has been moved into the Storm Drain project. The remainder are scheduled for resurfacing (not rebuilding): the new surface is roughly 4 inches at its thickest, tapering to 1 inch at the edges of the street.

The work of most interest is Amaranta: we emphasized to city staff that it is a critical part of the Juana Briones traffic circulation and that the work absolutely had to be done before school started in the fall. Because this work is a tiny part of the city-wide contract (much of which is downtown streets), the exact scheduling by the contractor will be driven by other other work.

Background: Palo Alto has roughly a 20-year maintenance cycle for its 200 miles of streets: repaving about 10-11 miles per year.

Zoning & Land Use (ZALU)

by Maryanne Welton

Several BPA Board members met with representatives from American Store Properties and McNellis Partners. They have an agreement to jointly develop the Lucky property on Alma. Their plans include tearing down the existing Lucky store and the adjacent two-story retail and office building. The existing one-story building that contains Bull's Pastries would remain and be refurbished to match the new Lucky building.

They propose to develop a 45,000-square foot, full-service market that would include a deli, bakery, florist, salad bar, hot-meals-to-go, and coffee. Bank of America and Sav-On Drugs would be included inside the store. They plan to send out a questionnaire to nearby neighborhoods to find out what types of items should be available in their store. The store hours would probably remain 6 AM to midnight.

Changes to access are also proposed. The location and access to the loading dock would be reconfigured so that it no longer goes around the side and back of the existing market next to the neighboring apartments. A pedestrian walkway along the south side of the building would connect to Ramona Street behind the store. A fence would prevent access from the cul-de-sac at the end of Emerson Street. The sure-to-be most controversial aspect of changed access will include their request for a new signal on Alma to allow safer access to and from the parking lot. They will work with a traffic engineer to design how this will work and synchronize the light with the one on East Meadow.

The plans for the All American Market site to accommodate Blockbuster Video and one to three lease spaces are being revised to reflect comments from the Architectural Review Board (ARB). The original plans were not favorably received by the ARB and the new plans should be ready for review early this summer. The proposed tenants for the lease space are not yet confirmed and BPA has given Blockbuster the results of the BPA survey that list types of desirable neighborhood-serving businesses, such as a produce market, bakery or coffee shop.

The site of the Goodwill trailer on El Camino between Kendall and Matadero is proposed for development next year. Developer Jim Baer and the property owner are proposing 12 apartments and a 40-unit, extended-stay hotel. They plan to target business executives visiting local corporations and families of Stanford hospital patients for the hotel. They will soon submit to ARB and foresee a year-long PC-zone approval process.

Jim Baer is also involved with Classic Communities on the Cameo Club site. They just received unanimous approval by the Planning Commission to develop 26 for-sale townhouses. They worked with the neighboring property owner to provide a pedestrian walkway that will allow residents to walk to Vista Avenue without going on El Camino.

The Zoning and Land Use Committee is involved in reviewing new developments and renovations proposed in our neighborhood. If you are interested in meeting occasionally to review and discuss these types of projects (and with no obligation to actually have to do anything else on the committee), please call Maryanne Welton at 493-3035.

Storm Drains Report

by Matthew Costigan, City of Palo Alto Product Engineer

June 1, 1998

PROJECT: Barron Park Storm Drain Improvements, Project No. 47712 SUBJECT: Construction Update No. 6

Dear Parents and Residents:
The City's contractor, McGuire and Hester, has constructed over half the new storm drain improvements within the Barron Park neighborhood. The work has been slowed because of the winter rains and the recent April and May showers but, once completed, will provide the neighborhood with improved storm water drainage.

As work progresses through the neighborhood, construction notices will be distributed to the residents of the affected streets.

Since the last update, the contractor has completed most of the installation of the new sanitary sewer, storm drain pipelines and valley gutters along one side of Whitsell, Kendall, and La Donna. The contractor is currently completing the final tie-ins of the new storm drain pipeline at both ends of Orme Street (at Los Robles and at Juana Briones School). Other items of work scheduled for the upcoming month are:

As a reminder, the contractor will need to store equipment and materials on these streets and adjacent ones during the construction activities. All equipment and materials stored on the street will be properly secured with barricades and signage.

Our goal is to minimize construction impacts to local residents and school traffic, and to provide a safe corridor for walking, bicycling, or driving through the neighborhood. Project construction hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday - Friday.

We apologize for any inconvenience this project may cause you, and appreciate your understanding and patience during construction. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at (650) 329-2469, or E-mail me at: (deleted)

Matthew Costigan, Project Engineer
Engineering Division

Membership News

by Dorothy Bender, Chair

As your newly appointed membership chair, I am excited to see our membership grow to 400 households. I encourage all of you who are not yet involved in one of our committees to consider joining one.

(The Committees are: Beautification, Community-Business Relations, Community Safety, Creeks, Distribution, Donkeys, Emergency/ Earthquake Preparedness, Fetes/ Festivals/Events Chair, Graffiti Hotline, History, Membership, Natural Habitat Restoration/Preservation, Neighborhood Safety, Neighborhood Watch, Newsletters, Noise, Parks, Schools Liaison, Seniors, Street Construction, ToxSafe (Toxic Safety) and Environmental Protection, Traffic, Welcoming, Zoning and Land Use)

Monthly meetings of the Barron Park Association Board of Directors are open to anyone interested - please contact Will Beckett, President at 494-6922 if you plan on attending. Meetings are held on the 3rd Tuesday of each month (except August) at the Creekside Inn on El Camino, 5th floor conference room from 7:15-9:30 p.m.

Be sure to check out our excellent website at: From this site, you can read the results of our surveys, read the newsletters, read about how the BPA uses the internet, send email to the board, read the bylaws of the association, etc.

We welcome your comments and participation.
Dorothy Bender, Membership Chair, (email deleted) 650-494-2227.

Bol Park May Fete

by Katie Edwards & Ken Tani

A BIG THANK YOU!! to our volunteers:

Paul Edwards, May Pole Dance & Music Director
Katie Edwards & Ken Tani, Co-Chairs

Thanks to the following folks:
Spring music -- Kevin Carr (fiddle) and Barbara Magown (piano)
May Pole music -- Gary Breitbard (accordian), Paul Edwards (drum and recorder obligatto)
May Pole basket and preparation -- Carol Atwood, Susan Ogle and Elsa Patton
May Pole ribbons preparation -- Paul Edwards and Sue Brown
Stage setup -- Will Beckett, Ed Jones, Jon Tani, Ken Tani and Daniel Lilienstein
Face Painting tent and Banner Making area setup -- Larry Breed, Peter Sachs, Patty Edwards and Art and Annette McGarr
Face Painters -- Patty Edwards, Stewart Armstrong, Susan Ogle, Liz Atwood
Banner Painting -- Michelle and Carrie Paul
Sound system setup and breakdown -- Paul Edwards and Peter Sachs
Flyer Distribution -- Will Beckett, Dorothy Bender, Norm Copperman, Paul Edwards, Shirley Finfrock, Deborah Harding, Bill Hilton, Susan Phillip, Gloria Sikora, Ken Tani, Maryanne Welton
Table/Chair Delivery and Setup -- Will Beckett, Larry Breed, Hoover School (for loan of tables and chairs), Ken Tani, Jon Tani
Balloon Sales -- Mark Georgia, Masoud Syed, Tara Syed, Jenna Smith.
Beverage Purchase/Setup/Sales -- Ann & Hank Sturtevant, Mimi Goodrich, Katie Edwards, Shirley Finfrock, Ken Tani, Martha Terry
Porta-Potty Ordering and "Receiving" -- Sue Benjamin & Katie Edwards
Fete Decorations -- Shirley Finfrock, Gwen Luce, Annette McGarr, Clara Sharpless, Maryanne Welton & sons, Sue Luttner
Lawn Sign and Flyer Posting + take down -- Ken Tani
Membership table -- Art Bayce
Canine Corps -- Police Dept., Officer Dave Hennessey & "4-footed friend."
Bike Registration -- Police Dept.
Fire Truck -- Staff from Fire Station #5 on Arastradero.
The Pet Parade -- Inge Harding-Barlow, Doug Moran, Perry

If we have overlooked anyone who helped, we do apologize. The success of the Fete would not have been possible without each and every one of you. Our thanks to all!
-- Katie & Ken

Natural Habitat

by Inge Harding-Barlow & Doug Moran, Committee Co-Chairs

Native Plants in Bol Park -- by Inge Harding-Barlow

Thanks to our weird and wonderful weather we are still planting in June! Hole digging is as always an on-going problem and we are deeply grateful to Bob Kelly and Dave Lagomarsino for use of their equipment. Also many thanks, during various phases of the project, to the Kelly family, Teclu Tesfazghi, Mike Gusman, Craig Seidel, Doloris and Bob Oakley, Mary Jane Leon, Ann Knopf, Will Beckett, Ed Jones, Doug Moran and several others who made the addition of a further 40 trees and shrubs to Bol Park possible.

We have a ways to go, but slow and steady will get us the baseline of a mini native plants garden by the year 2000. I would love to see it 50 years on!

Regional Creek Group Meeting -- by Doug Moran

The Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the Audubon Society sponsors an annual meeting (held in April) of representatives of groups working on environmental issues related to the creeks in the local area (roughly San Jose to Palo Alto). There is an interesting variety of groups. Some are focused on the creeks and aquatic life, for example reducing barriers to the few remaining fish runs. Other groups are concerned with the creeks and the vegetation they support not only on the banks, but extending out from there. These are called "riparian corridors" and are critical for a surprising range of wildlife. Some of the groups are concerned with very short segments of creeks, others for quite long segments. Most of the groups are citizen volunteers, but there are several (San Francisquito and Stevens Creek) are large (multiple organizations, significant grants, government participation, ...). Some of the groups are concerned with creek segments that have been "concreted-in", others with natural segments.

Understanding, and working within, this broad range of interests is important to influencing the Water District (the primary agency dealing with creeks), especially in light of the forthcoming vote (below).

Developing Issue: Water District, Taxes, and the Environment

The next 6-18 months are likely to see major policy changes related to the creeks because the Water District is facing a very difficult vote to renew a tax that provides 65% of current revenue. Since it is unlikely to receive much coverage in the mainstream press, you will need to be alert to find out about potentially important developments. This is also an opportune time for people interested in creek-related issues to have an impact.

Flood control is one of the most important responsibilities of the Water District, but it is involved in a range of water policy issues. The Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) is divided into five zones, each with their own tax base, budget, and reserves. We are in the Northwest Zone (also designated District 5) that extends down roughly as far east as Sunnyvale and Saratoga. Currently, the funding for the NW Zone comes two sources: $2.8M/year from property tax (1%) and $5.3M/year from a Benefit Assessment Tax that was passed in 1982, was extended in 1986, and is about to expire.

The Water District's budget for operations and maintenance of the existing system - no new construction - is significantly larger than the revenue from their portion of property taxes, so they want to get a new Benefit Assessment approved. This will be difficult because this tax is expected to be in the category that requires a two-thirds vote to pass.

The Water District has been re-evaluating and shifting its focus and approach to projects, and this approaching vote is accelerating this process. Because environmental issues are important to a significant number of likely voters, some sort of increased environmental focus is likely (see above article on the various aspects).

There is no decision yet by the Water District on when a vote on a new Benefit Assessment will occur: it could be as early as the November 1998 election. They are attempting to determine how to garner enough public support, and whether the crowded ballot of a general election would prevent voters from paying adequate attention to that item. The southern part of the zone is regarded as a much "tougher sell", so we will need to make sure our concerns don't slip between the cracks.

Creeks Update

by Christian Kalar, Chair

Well our creek issues just do not seem to go away. You are probably aware that the multimillion-dollar flood control project "completed" by the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) has a serious design flaw, hence Barron Park has approximately 20-year flood protection rather than 100-year protection.

During the storm of February 1998, we were able to raise, for a few hours, the flood protection level for Barron Park by adjusting the control gates at Gunn High School. Without 100-year flood protection, none of the houses in Barron Park were removed from the FEMA flood maps, hence the ultimate goal of the SCVWD flood control project was not achieved.

To fix the problem, the SCVWD has proposed a $12 million "remediation" project, which consists of increasing the channel depth and wall height of Matadero Creek downstream of El Camino Real. Unfortunately, funding for the remediation project is not secure so the Barron Park Association has been actively lobbying the SCVWD.

On May 12, I attended the SCVWD Board of Directors meeting and spoke on behalf of the Creeks Committee, requesting that the Board support funding for the remediation project. On May 19, I sent a letter to the SCVWD Board of Directors representative for Palo Alto, Greg Zlotnick. The correspondence reminded Mr. Zlotnick of an official SCVWD letter dated December 21, 1987 (yes, eighty seven) which outlined the importance of fixing Matadero and Barron Creeks.

To assure that we did not miss any opportunity for influencing the Board, three members of the Barron Park Association, Duane Kalar, Bob Moss and Ken Poulton, spoke before the Northwest Flood Control Zone Advisory Committee.

The three speakers provided a barrage of support for the remediation project, conveying an excellent message. If the SCVWD provides funding for the remediation project, it does not expect to complete construction until October of 2001, more than four years after the discovery of the design error.

Part of the delay is due to the environmental permit process but about a year of the delay is a result of the SCVWD diverting personnel from the flood control project to efforts for renewing the tax assessment, a topic that may show up on the ballot as early as November.

Barron Park residents will have to be especially aware of creek flooding for the next three rainy seasons - if you have any interest or concerns about the flood control projects, feel free to contact Christian or at 493-8022.

Flash Update On June 2, 1998, the SCVWD Board of Directors voted to provide funding for planning and design, but not construction, of the Matadero Creek remediation project. A successful remediation (if funded) will raise the flood protection on Barron Creek to a 100-year level. I attended the meeting and spoke in favor of the funding. Unfortunately, the SCVWD has placed the lowest priority on this project compared to other projects in the Northwest Zone. If the SCVWD eventually funds the construction of the project, it will begin in April of the year 2000.

The community must stay aware of the funding situation and be prepared to provide another round of public support when the Board must vote on approving the approximately $11 million for construction. On Wednesday, June 24, from 7 - 9 PM, the SCVWD is sponsoring a Community Meeting to discuss the status of the remediation plan. The meeting will be in the Theater Building in the Cubberley Community Center, 4000 Middlefield Road in Palo Alto.

Neighborhood Safety

by Art Bayce, Co-chair
New Police Chief

City Manager June Fleming announced on May 26, 1998 the selection of Patrick Dwyer as Chief of Police of Palo Alto. Dwyer's appointment will be subject to City Council approval, background check, and completion of other pre-employment procedures.

Dwyer comes from the City of San Jose where he is currently Special Operations Division Commander in charge of approximately 200 sworn officers. Dwyer is also responsible for planning police response to major events, dignitary protection and serves as liaison to the Office of Emergency Services for disaster planning.

As the new Chief of Police, Dwyer's focus will be on the construction of a new Public Safety Building and to provide the public with responsive, pro-active public safety services with an emphasis on community policing.

The present Chief of Police, Chris Durkin, is retiring. We thank him for all of his services to Palo Alto, and we wish him well in his future endeavors.

Crime Report

There was an increase in crime activity in the Barron Park area the past few months. An armed robbery of a juvenile occurred on El Camino. There were several burg-laries, a grand theft and some petty thefts. Some of the ways of gaining entry to homes was through an open garage, through an open screen window or by forcing open a closed window. There was an increase in thefts from vehicles including cellular phones, a wallet, and the removal of a stereo unit from a car parked in the owners' driveway. Vandalism included the slashing of tires on a vehicle. Several arrests were for possession of drugs and for possession of liquor by minors. We should all be alert to any suspicious activities and to report them immediately to the police. The pay phone on the bike path near the McGregor entrance is being repaired and should be in service soon.


There were many traffic violations at Amaranta and Maybell. Speeding was reported on Los Robles, Laguna and Matadero. Stop sign running occurred mainly at Amaranta and Los Robles, at Laguna and Los Robles and at Maybell and Amaranta. Violators were ticketed.

To report crimes in progress - immediately call 911.

Past or suspicious events - 24-hour police business number, 329-2413.

Graffiti - City of Palo Alto graffiti hot line, 496-5904.

For information on the Palo Alto Citizens Police Academy - 329-2665.

New Principal at Barron Park Elementary School

Prepared by Art Bayce

Barron Park welcomes Cathy Howard, the new principal of the Barron Park Elementary School which replaces Hoover School on Barron Avenue. She was introduced to the neighborhood at a community meeting at Hoover school on May 7, 1998. In her comments she stated that the "Barron Park Elementary School will be

(The "bullet points" were adapted from Ernest Boyer¹s "Report on Campus Life" from the Carnegie Foundation.)

Cathy has already become a part of the Barron Park community. She attended the May Fete at Bol Park at an information table for the new school. There she talked with residents of Barron Park, including many parents of prospective students for the new school. She also joined the BPA while at the May Fete! She is really a part of our community.

HOWARD has served as the resource teacher for mathematics in the District since 1994, overseeing staff development, curriculum implementation, and development of grade level standards in elementary mathematics. Before becoming the District's resource teacher for mathematics, Cathy taught at Ohlone for eight years in grades 1 through 5. Her previous experience also includes high school and college level teaching and leading workshops for teachers. She has also been a parent in the Palo Alto School District for 13 years. Outside of school time she enjoys gardening, hiking, and traveling with her husband and two daughters.

Welcome to Barron Park, Cathy Howard!

Interim Principal Leaving for Napal

We wish to thank Barbara Butterworth, Interim Principal, who has been invaluable in assisting in the planning for the transition from the present Hoover School to the new Barron Park Elementary School at the Hoover School site in Barron Park.

She has served the school and the community well. She will be leaving the area for several years to go to Nepal where she will be Director of Lincoln School, the K-12 international school in Katmandu. Bon Voyage and Good Luck!

Katie Edwards' 80th!! + 12 years on the BPA Board

Katie Edwards started her eighth decade by co-organizing the May Fete, with Ken Tani.

Several weeks earlier, dressed in her Mickey-Perry tee-shirt, she had been the toast of the BPA Board at a celebration supper held at the Creekside Inn.

Katie came to the West Coast over 50 years ago as a bride (and nurse), raised four children, and now proudly claims seven grandkids. She has lived in Barron Park for 22 years.

Katie's favorite saying is "yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift -- that is why it is called the present." For Katie, the glass is always half full and yesterday, today and tomorrow are filled with family, travel, volunteering at the Senior Center, peer counseling, and helping others.

She also takes delight in her garden and the creatures which dwell therein, including those from Wildlife Rescue.

We salute you Katie, and wish you many years of far-flung travel, with a bit of time to work on your many ongoing projects. (see photo at left)

New Members of the BPA Board of Directors

We are pleased to announce that we have five new members on our Board of Directors: Shirley Finfrock, Christian Kalar, Dorothy Bender, Maryanne Welton and Ed Jones.

Following are two profiles, the other three will run in the September issue:

Shirley Finfrock

BPA Board Member since Aug, 1997
Chairman, Beautification Committee

I am a 30 year resident of Palo Alto and California, and a 27 year resident of Barron Park, living in a 1956 vintage home on Ilima Court. Until my retirement in 1994, I was associated with several Silicon Valley corporations in their Marketing Communications Department. I worked for small to medium size firms, and wore a variety of hats, but primarily I was responsible for the trade shows and meeting planning activities. Because of my career background, I enjoy working to deadlines in retirement for the annual House & Garden Tour/Faire. This activity incorporates my long time interests in architecture and landscaping.

I am an avid traditional jazz and symphony fan, as well as, a Stanford Women¹s Basketball fan. I love to travel to new and unusal places incorporating my interests in art, photography, writing, nature, and hiking. I like taking advantage of free time on planes, for my eclectic reading interests of non-fiction and fiction; political history of the 20th Century, biographys, suspense and adventure tales.

As a BPA Board Member, I am particularly interested in building community spirit and pride by educating our homeowners to resources available to increase the beauty of our neighborhood. I welcome hearing of your concerns and issues related to Barron Park. Don¹t hesitate to stop and chat when you see me out walking our two black furry Puli companions, Dante and Andros.

Christian Kalar

Local resident, was this year elected to the BPA board and chairperson of the Ceeks Committee.

Christian is a lifetime resident of Palo Alto, having attended Green Gables, Walter Hayes and Hoover elementary schools before experiencing Jordan Junior High, where he studied English under the instruction of Chris Rich (present principal of Gunn High School). Christian spent his high school years at Palo Alto High, where his after school activities included the school football team and commitment to the Boy Scouts through the Eagle Scout rank. After finishing his aerospace engineering education at the University of Colorado, Christian moved back to Palo Alto and worked in Lockheed's Sunnyvale facility. Christian has lived in Barron Park since May of 1991 where he is active with the Barron Park Association, pursuing his interest in the local creeks and community history.

Advertising Donors


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(650) 493-3531

3516 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306


Driftwood Deli & Market

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3450 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306 (near Creekside Inn)
(650) 493-4162


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