by Doug Moran, BPA President
by Doug Moran
EL CAMINO REAL/CALTRANS DESIGN STUDY
by Doug Moran
BARRON PARK HISTORY
by Doug Graham, Barron Park Historian
BARRON PARK ARTISTS
By Mary Jane Leon, Committee Chair
MEET YOUR BARRON PARK DONKEY HANDLERS!
by Don Anderson
Share the Road for Safe Routes to School
by Sue Luttner
NEIGHBORHOOD METING SUMMARY
by Maryanne Welton and Elaine Kearney
ZONING & LAND USE
by Maryanne Welton, Committee Chair
by Shari Daiuto
MAY FETE 2003
by Doug Graham
by Patrick Muffler, Committee Chair
The role of neighborhood associations (NAs) in Palo Alto politics has been a major news story throughout the spring. The story effectively started on April 14th when nine NAs along the Arastradero-Charleston corridor supported the proposal by City staff to have a coordinated traffic study for the corridor and to have a moratorium on large projects so that the study would not be made irrelevant by events. This was followed on April 25th by the Palo Alto Daily News publishing a "rogue's gallery" of pictures of various neighborhood leaders attending a meeting of PAN (Palo Alto Neighborhoods). Then on April 28th, the Mayor's State of the City address expressed concerns about the increased power of NAs. There has been a slow stream of stories since. In a way it is nice that the newspapers are finally taking note of the role of NAs, but it is discouraging how much misinformation and distortion has appeared. I will start by outlining how the BPA interacts with other NAs, both individually and through PAN, then speculate on some of the undercurrents on this issue, and finish by asking for some feedback in this area.
Interactions with other NAs
The policy of the BPA is to not take positions on issues that do not affect the Barron Park neighborhood. For example, on the proposed development at Rickey's Hyatt, the BPA Board could (and has) taken a position on the traffic impacts but would not take any position on most design aspects of the project. The exceptions are when an aspect of a project would set a negative precedent. This policy has two primary motivations: (1) it helps us avoid expending effort on issues unrelated to Barron Park, and (2) it helps us avoid inadvertently taking sides on an issue that is contentious within that neighborhood.
This policy can, and has, produced awkward situations when other NAs come to us asking for support for a position. If that position includes items on which the BPA takes no position, we do not endorse it, but rather issue a separate statement supporting those items on which the BPA does take a position. The BPA does not endorse positions taken by other NAs simply for solidarity.
PAN (Palo Alto Neighborhoods) is a loose umbrella organization of NAs that meets roughly bi-monthly and is primarily a forum for information exchange. The BPA is a prime example of a NA that has a significant reservoir of expertise on city issues. During my early years on the BPA Board, I had a steep learning curve about a range of City issues (special thanks to Will Beckett and Bob Moss), and I am fortunate to still be able to consult with neighborhood experts on a range of issues. However, many of the other NAs are not so fortunate; some are recently formed, and others go through long periods of inactivity, and thus they have very little organizational memory or expertise in many areas. Even the established NAs occasionally have gaps. For example, after more than a decade, flood control on Matadero Creek re-emerged as an issue for Midtown, and through PAN, the BPA learned that Midtown was having problems dealing with the Water District (the county agency handling the problem). Three BPA Board members with long experience in this area met with Midtown's representatives, and our advice helped them achieve a satisfactory result. In addition to this mentoring/advising, PAN also provides a mechanism for sharing effort across the NAs. For example, arranging get-to-know-each-other meetings with leaders of other civic groups. This reality is far different from what appeared in the Daily articles in April and May: They portrayed PAN as a group of neighborhood leaders plotting strategy in secret meetings.
In the Mayor's State of the City speech, she stated, "Neighborhood associations have banded together to create large and small e-mail communication networks that have changed the lobbying landscape significantly from the daysbut six years agowhen a neighborhood typically fought its battles in solo mode. The business community, in an attempt to level the playing field, is trying to find an effective way to respond. " (full text available at http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/civicax/filebank/documents/3574 [Updated: originally published link is dead: www.PaloAltoOnline.com/paw/paonline/news/2003_04_28.stateofcity28.shtml]).
This theme has been echoed by several other city leaders and by the local press. I have tried, unsuccessfully, to learn what is behind these statements. The immediate stimulus seems to have been the statement of support by the nine neighborhood associations for the Arastradero-Charleston traffic study and moratorium. E-mail played an important role in the fine tuning of the actual statement to make it something that all nine could support.
What I find strange is that this is presented as the neighborhoods gaining advantage over other interests, instead of the neighborhoods starting to catch up. The neighborhoods along the corridor have been complaining for many years that traffic had crossed a critical threshold: because of concerns about safety, an ever-increasing number of parents were driving their children to school, thereby increasing the amount of traffic. What it took was an impending crisis - a group of large-scale developments along the corridor plus the reopening of Terman - to spur action by the City. The moratorium would not have been necessary if the traffic study had not been deferred for so long.
A curious aspect of the comments of people decrying the increasing influence of the neighborhoods is the prominence given to e-mail and web sites. Some have speculated that those critics are simply uncomfortable with those modes of communication and therefore find it vaguely threatening. Others speculate that electronic communication is a proxy for cultural differences, both on policy issues and on decision-making processes. Another possibility is that electronic communication makes it practical for people with busy lives to become involved without huge ongoing investments of time. If this is the case, I suspect the concern is combination of "A little knowledge can be dangerous" as well as a concern about shifting political balances that could result from broader participation. The safe bet is that there is a bit of each of these in the reaction.
The town I grew up in (back East) had a paper named The Leader, but it was widely referred to as The Mis-Leader, and a common critique was "When I finished reading the story, I knew less than when I began." One would expect better in a city like Palo Alto, but the coverage of local politics is very poor (each of the papers in its own way). A common critique is that the papers hype peripheral issues, largely ignoring the substantive issues. A waggish assessment: rather than News you can use, it is Stories to amuse.
The "dysfunctional City Council" has been an ongoing major news story for a year, but is portrayed as an issue of personality and of style and method of interaction. My sense is that there is an unvoiced fundamental disagreement about the role and power of the Council relative to City staff, and this distorts how individual issues are decided. Personality and style differences then exacerbate the problem and muddy what is really happening.
I would appreciate feedback on (1) how well you feel you are being served by the local newspapers? (2) would you be interested in reading additional info? and at what level of detail? (3) what areas interest you. Scattered among the many messages I receive on civic matters are many interesting insights and details that warrant wider distribution. I don't forward these messages to the BPA lists because they do not stand alone. They depend upon information from messages earlier in the thread. They are written for people who are closely following issues, and hence assume background knowledge that a normal resident does not have. And they are often overloaded with details. There is discussion about whether it would be worth the considerable effort to produce analyses that are more accessible. These could include both overviews and explanations of various positions. Reply to me at email address [temporary email address, now deactivated] or by telephone at 650-856-3302. Email is preferred. And even if you don't have a comment, I would appreciate knowing how many people read the whole article.
by Doug Moran
Alma Plaza was included at the last minute by City Council in the Arastradero-Charleston traffic study and moratorium. This will effectively delay any decision on the renovation of the Albertson's grocery store and the rest of the Plaza until after the Council election, and possibly until next year.
The Council seemed to have been surprised at the success of the petition for a referendum on the proposed development at 800 High Street. Alma Plaza has some overlapping issues with 800 High. Reading between the lines of what has been said, some Council members didn't want Alma Plaza to become entangled with 800 High and others are looking to use the 800 High referendum as a guide on residents' opinion on a range of development projects.
EL CAMINO REAL/CALTRANS DESIGN
by Doug Moran
The Planning and Transportation Commission approved this plan on March 12. It was anticipated to go to the City Council in May or June. However, the backlog of other issues means that the earliest it could be considered is September, but it is being targeted for November or December. This would allow for some additional slippage in Council's schedule plus avoid having a hot button item just before the election.
BARRON PARK HISTORY
by Doug Graham, Barron Park Historian
Barron Park Pioneers
A Lawyer Founds Mayfield Farm
Conclusion of the Article
This is the second part of a biographical article on Elisha O. Crosby, who founded Mayfield Farm. As was described in first part, published in the Spring 2003 Issue of this newsletter, Mayfield Farm occupied the land that now comprises the traditional "core" of Barron Park.
In the winter of 1852-53, the State of California was only two years old and the land that is now Barron Park was still part of Rancho Rincon de San Francisquito, informally known as Rancho Santa Rita. It was owned by the Robles family, who deeded 250 acres of their rancho on April 10, 1853 to Elisha O. Crosby for $2,000. Crosby named it "Mayfield." This 250-acre estate, with a later 100-acre addition, was held as one parcel from 1853 until 1919. It constitutes the traditional "core" of the modern Barron Park neighborhood. Crosby was the third owner of our land.
Elisha Crosby, born and educated in upstate NY, was a prominent New York lawyer who specialized in admiralty cases (maritime law). In the first part of this article, we left Crosby's career in 1849, at the point when he was arriving in San Francisco on the steamship California to join the Gold Rush.
The California Arrives in
On February 28, 1849, the ship arrived in San Francisco, a nearly deserted town. The population had shrunk to about 300, mostly women, children and a few old men. The crew of the California immediately deserted to the gold fields (everyone referred to them as "the mines"). Newly arrived gold-seekers, including most of Crosby's fellow passengers, were desperately trying to find some way to get to Sacramento and the mines. There were no boats left in the city. Meanwhile, they were living on the streets or in canvas shanties. Some of them rented "lodgings" in freight crates on the streets, the more expensive ones equipped with some straw to sleep upon. But not Crosby. He knew Dr. Leavenworth, who was then serving under the Military Governor as the Alcalde of San Francisco (similar to a Mayor). Leavenworth invited him to share his quarters in the old City Hotel. "Connections" were as valuable then as they are in our day.
It was then that Crosby demonstrated that he possessed the qualities of initiative and leadership as well as good connections. Within three days he had located an abandoned whaleboat, had it repaired and lined up six fellow passengers from the California to row it up to Sutter's Fort (Sacramento). Each man contributed $50 for the privilegewhich paid for the boat. They shoved off on March first and arrived at the Sacramento landing on the tenth. As in San Francisco, Crosby was invited to stay with the local Alcalde, Frank Bates. At some point, Crosby encountered the Boatswain of the steamer California, Morris, who offered $300 to rent Crosby's whaleboat in order to return to San Francisco for suppliesa sweet profit for Crosby on a short-term investment that was already paid off.
Away to the Mines
Crosby soon left for the mines, with his friend Henry E. Robinson whom he had met at Panama. They spent most of the following two years together and became lifelong friends. First they traveled to Mormon Island at the confluence of the North and South Forks of the American River. Crosby traded coin that he had brought from New York City for gold dust at a handsome profit. Then they went to Sutter's Mill and met John Marshall who showed them how the gold discovery had been made. Somewhere along the way, they did some gold panning without a great deal of success. Crosby then returned to Sacramento and bought some city lots from Captain Sutter, who had just finished laying out the first city plat for Sacamento. Later in April he returned to San Francisco and sent his gold dust (mostly acquired by trading) home on the steamer Oregon, which carried the first mail and shipment of gold to the east.
His Town is Surrounded by a Lake
In July, Crosby was back in the Sacramento region speculatingbig timein real estate. He bought a large piece of land from Sutter and laid out the town of Vernon across from the mouth of the Feather River (at its confluence with the Sacramento) and sold lots. Vernon grew rapidly to a town of 600-700 people. Unluckily for Crosby's place in history, when the floods came that winter, Vernon was isolated by miles of water on all sides. This was intensely discouraging to its new residents, who dismantled their houses the next summer and moved elsewhere. Marysville became the local population and commercial center instead of Vernon, which disappeared. During this time, Crosby also guided a delegation from Washington DC that had arrived in Sacramento to carry out the official U.S. Government investigation of the California gold mines (apparently there were still disbelievers in the east).
The California Constitutional
Convention and Election
In August, Crosby's life took another significant turn when he was elected a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention. Everyone agreed that California needed a civilian government as soon as possible - preferably a democratically elected state government (as opposed to a congressionally imposed territorial government). The existing military government, which had already been in place about three years, was increasingly resented for its temporary and arbitrary nature and its inability to provide law and order. Congress, which was nearly paralyzed by the growing political conflict between the north and south, had not made much progress towards supplying California with a territorial government. The Military Governor, General Bennett Riley, called for a state constitutional convention and urged the people to take things into their own hands and bypass the territorial stage by creating a State government. He thought that by presenting Congress with a fait d'accomplis, Californians would get what they wanted. In response to his call, the Constitutional Convention convened in Monterey, (California's titular capital), on September 1, 1849. The meetings were held in picturesque Colton Hall, which still stands today in downtown Monterey (see photograph). Crosby was there as an elected delegate from Sacramento, and was elected Chair of the Finance Committee.
Crosby wrote a memoir of the convention. His manuscript has been evaluated by its editor as the best memoir from the Constitutional Convention. It is especially rich in pungent thumbnail descriptions of his fellow delegates and their individual contributions to the constitution-writing process. Crosby himself, at age 31, was one of the younger delegates, but better educated and with more legal knowledge and experience than most. His finance Committee dealt with two main issues; funding the expenses of the Convention itself, and funding the new state government-to-be. He persuaded Governor Riley to pay the convention's expenses from the sizeable fund of customs receipts (about $600,000) that the military government had been accumulating since taking over the Mexican Government's Monterey Customs House at the time of the conquest in 1846. In the meantime, the U. S. Government had decided that it had no rights to this money, but sent Riley no instructions on what to do with it. Crosby persuaded Riley and the Convention that the military government should turn this money over to the new state to get it going. Crosby's other main interest at the Convention was to argue for an appointed state judiciary, in order to insulate the judicial process from the heat and turmoil of politics. He lost, and today we have an elected judiciary.
During the Constitutional Convention the Military Governor appointed Crosby as Election Prefect for the Sacramento District. Crosby then returned to Sacramento on October 1 to organize the first state election in that region. The Constitutional election was held November 13, 1849. The voters ratified the state constitution and chose state legislators and executive officers. Crosby's district, which included many of the mining districts, returned nearly half of the total state vote (6,052 ballots out of 12,872). He had organized the polling and gathered the vote at his own expense, about $1,700 (later reimbursed). He was elected the State Senator for Sacramento.
The Father of California Law?
On December first, Crosby went to San Jose, the new State Capital, to get ready for the legislative session. His friend Henry Robinson, who had also been elected to the state senate, came along two weeks later. The legislature convened December 15, 1849 - this was the infamous "Legislature of a Thousand Drinks". This tag line originated in the practice of one heavy-drinking delegate who closed out each session with a hearty "Well, boys, let's go and take a thousand drinks". In contradiction of the image that the tag conveys, Crosby says that "Šthere was very little dissipation among the members in general compared to legislatures of later days..," However, that may be, the legislative facilities were cramped and relatively primitive, there was almost no lodging available in the pueblo for the legislators, and no real restaurants or inns. As soon as the legislature recessed, the promoters of Benicia, Vallejo and Sacramento began agitating to remove the Capital to their towns, each promising to build a capacious Capitol building. The "thousand drinks" label was widely used to disqualify San Jose. The capital was, in fact, moved to Benicia the following year, and finally to Sacramento several years later.
Crosby was elected Chair of the Judiciary Committee and held that post through the first two sessions (1849 and 1850). He led the committee and the legislature to adopt English common law as the basic system of law for the state, while retaining superior elements of Mexican law, such as joint property rights for married couples. He did most of the work, and he could be considered "the father of California's legal system". His committee also organized the State Supreme Court and District Courts, and divided California into Counties. Quite a string of accomplishments for a 31-year-old lawyer from rural upstate New York!
Private Law Practice in the 1850s
Crosby lived with his friend Henry Robinson during the winters of 1849-50 and 1850-51, and much of the time until 1860. He was practicing law in Sacramento. However, he may have spent time in either San Jose or San Francisco, as he was listed as a Director of the Pacific and Atlantic Railroad Company founded on September 6, 1851, a precursor company to the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad. By 1852 he was no longer a state senator, and he left Sacramento for San Francisco and private law practice. The 1854 San Francisco Directory lists him as an attorney with a San Francisco office address. However, he declared, in late 1854, that his residence was in San Jose.
Crosby specialized as an attorney for claimants of titles to land grants. He appeared on behalf of his clients, mostly Spanish-speaking californios like the Robles family, before the U.S. Land Claims Commission organized in 1852. He eventually argued over 100 of the total 812 claims presented during the commission's lifetime from January 1852 to March 1856. He handled the Mesa case involving land that eventually became part of Barron Park. He filed cases from all over the state - San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo and Yolo Counties - even a case for John A. Sutter in behalf of the Mokelumne Indians. In August, 1855 he was admitted as an Attorney of the U.S. Circuit Court, District of California.
Crosby's Short Tenure at Mayfield Farm
The first part of this article told how Secundino and Teodor Robles deeded 250 acres of their rancho to Crosby on April 10, 1853. Following Crosby's purchase, the legal process proceeded rapidly and resulted in a favorable ruling on the Robles claim to the original rancho grant from the Mexican government. Crosby benefited from the ruling, of course, since his derivative title to Mayfield Farm was now clear.
As noted in the first part of this article, it is impossible to know for certain whether Crosby ever lived at Mayfield Farm, but it seems most likely that he did, and built his substantial but unpretentious house. He may have lived in it about one year, from late 1855 until on or before September 23, 1856, when the ranch was conveyed by two sheriff's deeds to John W. Armstrong as trustee for Sarah Wallis. Wallis acquired the farm for $10,701 to satisfy Crosby's debt of $10,000 to her.
Vigilantism and Bankruptcy
Before that happened, Crosby may have already left Mayfield Farm. The 1856 city directory shows him with a San Francisco office address (remember that this was before the days of easy commuting; the city was still a day's travel from Mayfield Farm by the new stagecoach road). It is known that he was appointed, June 10, 1856, First Lieutenant in the Military Organization of the Vigilance Committee of San Francisco (the Vigilantes). In early December, Crosby went bankrupt with liabilities totaling $60,000 against assets worth $30,000. There was a general financial collapse in California at the time, which spread throughout the United States in 1857.
Crosby's Trip to New York
It seems that Crosby picked himself up and soldiered on. The 1858 directory shows a San Francisco office, and in 1859 a residence at Kearny and Vallejo Streets. However, health problems may have convinced Crosby that he should leave California. In 1859 Crosby said goodbye to California and sailed on November 10 for Guatemala, en route to New York. On November 25 he sighted volcanoes on the coast as the ship approached Guatemala. From December 1859 through mid-year 1860, Crosby sojourned in the Central American republic, at some point meeting President Carrera and establishing a relationship with that dictator. In February he wrote about a trip to Guatemalan Indian ruins, then in March about a visit to Totomcipan and Antigua. Before election day in November, he had reached New York City and was there when Lincoln's election was secured and the southern states began to secede from the union. During the winter he went to Washington, D.C. to argue some of his land cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Minister to Guatemala
Another high point of Crosby's life was reached on March 14, 1861 when the newly-inaugurated President Lincoln appointed him U.S. Minister to Guatemala. He was confirmed by the Senate March 22 and held the post for four years. This was not just a comfortable diplomatic post in a tropical backwater, however - it was high statesmanship and one part of Lincoln's last-minute attempts to save the Union. Crosby's real purpose was to persuade President Carrera to permit the United States to colonize Guatemala with freed American slaves. Lincoln's concept was that colonization would permit gradual emancipation without burdening the South with indigent freedmen and their families. This pie-in-the-sky plan was designed to attract support from moderate southern and border-state slaveowners and turn the tide of secession. Of course, it could not work and one can only wonder what Carrera said privately to his intimate circle after this preposterous scheme was revealed to him. However, he was apparently polite to Crosby.
Once the colonization scheme was shot down and the north and south began settling differences on the battlefield rather than in congressional debates, Crosby settled down to a comfortable, although probably dull life in the tiny diplomatic community of Guatemala City. He again made friends and impressed people, to the extent that he was selected to play a part in the most important diplomatic drama then unfolding in the Caribbean. The British and Honduran governments were preparing for war over issues arising from Honduras' claims of sovereignty over the "British Protectorate of the Bay Islands of Honduras and the Mosquito Coast and Territory" (later known as British Honduras, and now as Belize). As part of a final attempt to settle the conflicting claims by diplomacy, Elisha Crosby was appointed jointly by the Honduran and British governments to be Presiding Judge and Umpire of a "Mixed Commission" to adjust the claims. After winding up this dispute more-or-less satisfactorily to both sides (the war was averted), Crosby returned to the United States. Nothing is known of his activities during the second half of the Civil War. The next we know of him is when he went on a tour of Europe, visiting Paris during the 1867 Exposition.
Crosby's Return to California
In 1870, Crosby returned to California for good, and resumed his law practice in San Francisco. One wonders if he ever visited Mayfield and rode past the Victorian gingerbread mansion Sarah Wallis had built on his old farm. He renewed his friendship with Henry Robinson. In 1877 Crosby started going blind and one eye was removed in the belief that the operation would help. He moved to a small house in Alameda and must have had money problems again, because Robinson supplied $1,000 to help him with the purchase. Then in 1879 Robinson, his closest friend for thirty years, died and Crosby wrote a brief memoir and reminiscences for Robinson's sister in New York, in which he tells many details of their friendship and life together. He hints to her that Henry would have wanted her, as heiress, to excuse Crosby's debt. We do not know what response, if any, he got to this letter. In Alameda, as everywhere Crosby went, he became popular and was soon elected Justice of the Peace, a position he held for nine years. In 1889 he was appointed Judge of the Recorder's (or Police) Court of the City of Alameda. He died in Alameda, following a fall, when nearly 78 years old, on June 25, 1895.
I hope you have enjoyed this biographical sketch of one of Barron Park's pioneers, Elisha Oscar Crosby, founder of Mayfield Farm, lawyer, constitutionalist, father of California law, diplomat and friend. He is remembered in our neighborhood by Crosby Place, which is a tiny cul-de-sac off Georgia Avenue in the 1972 L'Hermitte Subdivisiona humble tribute indeed to one of early California's pioneers who is deserving of a far more prominent memorial.
BARRON PARK ARTISTS
Eight local artists displayed their works at this year's May Fete.
We appreciate their participation, and hope that more Barron Park artists will join the festivities next year. Please contact Mary Jane Leon at 493-5248, if you are interested in displaying your work.
More Barron Park Artists
by Mary Jane Leon, Committee Chair
Seniors Lunch in the Park
By the time you read this, we will have had our June lunch at Bol Park. Steve at Driftwood Deli supplies box lunches, as he did last year. Seniors really enjoy the lunches in the park, and we always have a big turnout. It's easy to walk around and talk to people, without any of the distractions one has in restaurants. Our next lunch in the park will be in August, so if you would like to join us, get in touch with one of the people at the end of this column.
Poking Around the Web
We don't spend a lot of time web surfing at our house, since we have old computers and sloooow dial-up service. But once in a while there is something worth the tedium of waiting for the screen to finish "painting." The site www.elderlawanswers.com is one that we recommend. We have been trying to get an honest evaluation of the worth of revocable trusts, to compare them with simple wills for people, like us, who have very simple estates. Of course, the trust lawyers can tell you all the advantageswhich seem to consist mostly of avoiding probate. But a trust, in itself, does not cut down on inheritance taxes, and your estate will still have to go through probate for anything not signed over to the trust. We found a good article about trusts at the web site given above, and so know a lot more now than we used to. Use it for other questions of concern about older peoples' issues.
New BPA Members, Courtesy of
This spring, the Barron Park Association initiated a new program to increase membershipa second mailing to any household that didn't sign up when the first membership forms went out in the spring newsletter. And who did all the work getting out that mailing to more than a thousand homes: stuffing, stamping, and sealing? A team of ten BP seniors: Ann Boeckling, Harriet Moss, Pat Eldridge, Denise Atherton, Jean Olsen, Jack Sutton, Bob Frost, Herb Goral, Mary Jane Leon, and straw boss Don Anderson. We spent an enjoyable morning at Jean Olsen's house and ended our work session with a nice lunch from Su Hong, courtesy of the BPA. A good way to get a job done quickly and well is to get the seniors on it.
Seniors Helping Children
Be sure to read an article elsewhere in this newsletter by Shari Daiuto about the volunteer work Sheila Mandoli is doing. She manages a program that gets seniors and others involved with children who attend our local schoolsreading or sharing other interests.
Referral Service for Local
One of our new members of the Barron Park Association wondered if we had a neighborhood referral service for home repair providers and local merchants. It would be nice, wouldn't it, to have someone we trust give us a recommendation when we need a plumber and don't know who to call, or when our gardener gets too sloppy. On the other hand, it would take a bit of time for an individual or group to maintain such a directory, and keep it current. Any interest? Contact Mary Jane or Julie, and we will help you get started.
We can certainly recommend Avenidas Senior Home Repair service. Last week they sent us a painter for a small touch-up job on the sun-damaged back of our house. He did thorough prep, priming, and painting, and cleanupreally careful and professional. A while back, Avenidas was getting some negative comments about their service, but recently we have heard nothing but good.
Our Services for Seniors
We continue to have a group of active volunteers who offer to help out their Barron Park neighbors by doing the following:
MEET YOUR BARRON PARK DONKEY
by Don Anderson
Without a doubt, the Barron Park Donkeys benefit from care by the most incredibly well qualified team of donkey handlers anywhere. As you will see in the profiles below, numbered among these volunteers are a malacologist (mollusk scientist), an experimental psychologist turned software engineer, a molecular biologist, and a railroad magnate. This is the first in a series of articles introducing the community volunteers devoted to the care, feeding, and parental nurturing of the Barron Park donkeys, Miner Forty-Niner ('Niner) and Pericles (Perry). Niner and Perry are the most recent in a long line of donkeys that have become a neighborhood institution in Barron Park over the years.
Our neighborhood's trademark donkeys are cared for entirely by volunteers from Barron Park and the surrounding community. In addition to feeding the boys twice a day, keeping their corral and shed clean and orderly, taking them for occasional walks, and bringing them out to meet the neighbors in Bol Park every Sunday morning, these volunteers also pick up and deliver loads of hay, make sure the donkeys receive regular attention from the vet and the farrier (horse shoe-er), and keep them clean and well curried. Read on, to meet some of the terrific crew that cares for the Barron Park donkeys!
Gene has been a donkey handler for the past two years. He says he enjoys having donkey "pets," while being able to share the pet owner duties and responsibilities with twenty other volunteers. Gene came to Palo Alto when he became a Stanford graduate student in 1964. He lived in various Palo Alto neighborhoods until 1970, when he moved into his present residence on San Jude in Barron Park. Professionally, Gene has specialized in the study of mollusks, and has served as president of the Western Society of Malacologists. He has also worked actively for the Sierra Club in various capacities, currently as Senior Advisor to the Executive Director. Gene received his AB from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and his PhD from Stanford University. In his rare moments of spare time, he enjoys trail running and backpacking.
When Brandy was in elementary school, she lived in Barron Park rode her bike with her family to feed carrots to Mickey, the then-reigning Barron Park donkey. After having lived in other parts of Palo Alto for the last 20 years, she's once again back in Barron Park on Shauna Lane. Since feeding of the donkeys by the general public is not encouraged these days for nutritional reasons, Brandy says she "decided to volunteer as a caretaker and handler in order to get my donkey fix!" Brandy has been a donkey handler for about ten months, and the thing she likes best about it is getting to work with both kids and animals on Sundays at Bol Park. Says Brandy: "I also find it very relaxing and healthy to go to the enclosure once a week (on my feeding shift) to feed Perry and Niner after a stressful day at work. They're always so happy to see me! I'm continually amazed and proud that we have such a progressive community, devoting such time and effort to making our community-owned donkeys part of the neighborhood culture."
Brandy attended Palo Alto High School before going on to U.C. Santa Cruz, where she received a degree in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. For the last 4 years, she has helped to run a non-profit shark research organization called the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation in Santa Cruz, specializing in shark conservation, education and advocacy. Her hobbies include mountain biking, surfing, rugby, and making hand-made soaps.
Norm has lived in his Barron Park house on Los Robles for the last 25 years. He has volunteered as a donkey hander since three years ago, and enjoys both the donkeys themselves (Who doesn't love Perry and Niner?), and the chance to do something for the community. Norm received a bachelor's degree from California State College at Hayward, and MA and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Toronto. His major all the way through school was experimental psychology, which he taught for just one semester after graduation and then spent the next 30 years as a software engineer. Norm worked for such companies as Honeywell, Litton, and Atari, before retiring in 2000. When he works these days, he's a jazz piano player, performing in combos at restaurants and private parties.
Eric was born in Barron Park and has lived here for all of his 38 years. He has been a donkey handler for the past four years, and is always ready to help out with Perry and Niner at neighborhood events like the May Fete and the Holiday Donkey Parade in the winter. Eric says he signed up because he wanted to help continue a community tradition that he remembers from his youth. He always loved to visit Mickey when he was a kid, and decided it was time for his generation to begin picking up the baton and carrying forward this noble neighborhood tradition. Eric has a fascinating hobby; in his spare time he is proprietor of the "Barron Park Garden Railway," an elaborate G-gauge backyard railroad right here in our neighborhood. Look for the yellow signs around Barron Park on weekend afternoons and take the kids to see this special attraction at Eric's house on Kendall Avenue. Are you a donkey fan?
Get to know the Barron Park donkeys better by becoming one of their
handlers! Just a few minutes a week, no experience necessary. Contact
Don Anderson, (650) 494-8672, or email.
Want to support the Barron Park Donkeys? To make a tax deductible
donation for the care of our donkeys, mail a check made out to "The
Palo Alto Donkey Project" to:
Share the Road for Safe Routes to School
by Sue Luttner
The team hopes to minimize traffic congestion around the school and to encourage low-impact commuting strategies such as biking, walking, and carpooling. Many students who live in the foothills will be able to take a subscription bus to campus. Terman is a neighborhood school, and most families polled reported plans to include bicycling, walking, and bussing in their commute.
In preparation for the fall opening, the City is making physical improvements to the Arastradero/Donald intersection, where left turn lanes on Arastradero will expedite turns into the school and onto Donald. On campus, the District is redesigning the parking lots to create both bus and car drop-off and pick-up areas and building a bicycle path to the new bicycle-parking cages.
Crossing guards will be in place at Donald and Coulombe to assist students crossing Arastradero to the school. For the first two weeks of school, crossing guards will also be in place at the following intersections: Margarita/El Camino, Maybell/El Camino, Arastradero/El Camino and Maybell/Coulombe. Traffic levels will be evaluated for the first two weeks of school, and crossing guards will remain posted only at locations with heavy crossing volumes.
Motorists who drive regularly during school commute times should be especially cautious. To share the road safely with students who are bicycling and walking, keep speeds slow and be aware of other road users. Make sure to eliminate hazards like foggy car windows and distractions like the last few bites of breakfast while traveling in school commute zones.
NEIGHBORHOOD MEETING SUMMARY
by Maryanne Welton and Elaine Kearney
BPA sponsored our annual Neighborhood Meeting on Sunday afternoon, April 6. While these meetings have enjoyed large attendance in the past (over 100 people last year), there was a much smaller group this year. There were updates on Rickey's Hyatt and Alma Plaza (see ZALU article), the Matadero pedestrian/bike path, Bol Park renovations and the El Camino Real design guidelines. City Manager Frank Benest gave a presentation about the City's budget planning process and proposed service reductions based on work by City staff and the results of public surveys and neighborhood meetings.
Mayor Dena Mossar talked about partnerships at the local, regional, state and national levels. In particular, she mentioned the Shop Palo Alto campaign that encourages Palo Alto residents to shop at local stores to keep sales tax dollars in our community.
During an informal Question & Answer period, residents voiced concerns about ways to encourage neighborhood-serving retail along El Camino and California Avenue, proposed reductions in City services, and traffic safety issues, both in our neighborhood and throughout Palo Alto. In addition, appreciation was expressed for the City's renovation of Bol Park last year.
The purpose of these neighborhood meetings is for the BPA Board to hear firsthand the issues that concern our community. The meetings also allow personal contact with City staff and officials for updates on programs that impact Barron Park. Next year, we will send postcard reminders about the meeting so that more voices can be heard. BPA Sponsors a Bench at the New Reading Garden at Barron Park Elementary School
A new Reading Garden is being built at Barron Park Elementary School. The main goals for the garden were to create a welcoming entry to the school and to provide an outdoor setting for classes, school events and celebrations. In addition, we know that many of our neighbors use the school grounds after hours as a place for recreation and relaxation.
The PTA worked with an artist hired by the School District to develop a concept that brings Matadero Creek out to the front of the school. Curving concrete paths reminiscent of creek beds are lined with tiles featuring students' drawings of the flora and fauna of the creek. Concrete amphitheatre seating faces a low platform with the arched trees overhead forming a natural proscenium. Low water use plants are used with decomposed granite and boulders to enhance the natural setting. Additional plantings, lighting, benches and trashcans are planned.
The Barron Park Association has approved payment for a bench that will be dedicated to all our Barron Park neighbors. It will be located in the shade under the trees with views of the playing fields and play structures. The BPA hopes to make similar donations to our other neighborhood schools in the future.
We know that many families are facing financial difficulties now, but are hoping that some of you could contribute to this beautification effort for the gateway to the school. The Barron Park owner of a garden featured in last month's Gamble Garden tour made a donation to kick off the campaign. A request sent to the BPA email list has resulted in several contributions from our neighbors.
Can you help out? You can drop off or mail your tax-deductible donation at the school office at 800 Barron Avenue. Be sure to make it payable to the Barron Park PTA and note that it's for the Reading Garden. Any amount will help out. Feel free to contact either of us if you have questions.
Thanks for making our Reading Garden a reality. Maryanne Welton email Elaine Kearney [email withheld].
ZONING & LAND USE
by Maryanne Welton, Committee Chair
The downturn in the economy has had a marked impact on new development in our neighborhood, although new single family homes continue to sprout throughout Barron Park. There has been little change since our last newsletter but here are some updates on current projects in (or near) our community.
4131 El Camino
A three-story, mixed-used project on the El Camino Island is currently under construction. It will contain two levels of underground parking, ground floor retail and office space, and residential units above. The owner has been talking to possible tenants to provide neighborhood-serving retail uses, such as a sandwich shop, coffee shop, or hair salon. Construction should be complete at the end of this year.
Old Blockbuster Site
A revised plan for a nine-unit condominium project was submitted for the Old Blockbuster site at the corner of El Camino and Vista Way, but the application is not yet complete. Neighbors have voiced concerns about auto access and adequate on-site parking for the project so that on-street parking is not unduly impacted along Vista. A final application is pending receipt by the City.
Albertson's at Alma Plaza
The proposed development at Alma Plaza has been put on hold pending the completion of a traffic study along Charleston between the Sun property and Gunn High School. The project sponsors were dismayed by the inclusion of their project in the Charleston Corridor moratorium and the viability of proceeding after the delay is in question.
While many Barron Park residents favor an enlarged and redeveloped market at the site, some neighbors adjacent to the property and in Barron Park oppose it. There is talk about possible public forums for discussions between people interested in the project, either supporting or opposed. Watch the BPA email list for information.
Ricky's Hyatt (at El Camino and Charleston)
The plans for an expanded hotel and 300 units of multi-family housing are also on hold pending completion of the traffic study for the Charleston Corridor. The Planning Commission and City Council will review the final Environmental Impact Report and plans after the study is complete.
Check this column in each newsletter for project updates or contact me if you have any questions on development in our neighborhood at 493-3035 or email.
by Shari Daiuto
We are so fortunate to live in a neighborhood where people are willing to share. Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with Sheila Mandoli, a 50-year Barron Park resident, to talk about a wonderful program that's taking place in both Barron Park and Juana Briones Elementary Schools.
For the past three years, Sheila has managed a program that connects volunteers, either older students or seniors, with elementary school children. Each volunteer is assigned to a specific child. The volunteer regularly spends time and engages that child in reading activities, music appreciation or simply sharing a special interest or hobby. Children enjoy having someone upon whom they can rely and look forward to seeing every week. Not only do the children learn new skills from their dedicated volunteers, they also benefit from the stability of seeing the same person.
Volunteers also benefit from working with our elementary students. Senior volunteers can enjoy connecting with a younger person who's just starting out in life. By sharing their wisdom of lifetime experiences, these volunteers may even learn something new about what's happening in the child's world. High school students who volunteer can earn community service credit while picking up some parenting skills.
Our Barron Park community also benefits from this special volunteer program. By getting involved, people get to know their neighbors. It also helps our neighborhood children gain a solid foundation for a lifetime of learning.
Please consider becoming a volunteer. Currently, there's a particular need for volunteers who are bilingual in Thai or Mandarin, but all interested are welcome. It's a volunteer opportunity thatís literally, close to home.
If you'd like more information or are interested in participating in this program, please contact Sheila Mandoli. She can be reached at 650-493-2361, ext. 19 or [email withheld].
Playgroups and Babysitting Playgroup for 0-4 year olds and their moms. Juana Briones Park. Second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 4:00 PM. Contact Shari -- email. Playgroup for incoming Kindergarten families. Bol Park. Second and fourth Saturday of each month from 2:00-4:00 PM. Call Katja at (650) 320-8743 or Jessica at (650) 424-9359. Barron Park's Babysitting Co-op is open for enrollment. Contact Katy Mast at (650) 856-6969 or [email withheld].
Just for Fun: It's summer and a great time to play outdoors with bubbles. The following recipe for homemade bubble solution is taken from www.kidsdomain.com:
MAY FETE 2003
by Doug Graham
[Editor's note: we chose to not show all of the wonderful photos published in the paper newsletter. To receive our quarterly newsletters, see our BPA Membership Form. However, to see some extra photos of the May Fete, click here].
May Fete 2003 was held in the newly-renovated Bol Park, its traditional home, on Sunday May 18. About 400 people attended the Fete in perfect weather. The park is more beautiful than ever with baby Redwoods more than 60 feet tall, and the new playground is the most popular play place the neighborhood has ever known.
As always in recent years, the Fete was kicked off by a neighborhood Pet Parade from Barron Park School, led by Inge Harding-Barlow and the Barron Park Donkeys. Following this, the Fete was on, with music, art and history exhibits and food and drink tables. The show "Dog Agility For Fun" was given by the volunteer group of the same name. The show was held in the back of the park where there was enough space for the dogs to be put through all their maneuvers. Later in the afternoon, the main event, the Maypole Procession and Dance, was orchestrated by our new Maypole Leader, Bob Frayley.
Focus on Kids
The focus of the fete this year was on children and youth, and the musical program reflected this with performances by both Terman Middle School and Gunn High School groups. The Terman Jazz Ensemble presented a half-hour of scintillating jazz and pops tunes to everyone's great enjoyment. Following them was the Gunn Jazz Combo with another half-hour of cool and sophisticated jazz. The main performance was by Harmon's Peak. Gary Breitbard played for the Maypole procession and Dance, while Lynn Michael started the musical program at Noon with her performance on the harp.
An essential part of every fete is plentiful refreshments. The BPA sold Senor Taco burritos, soft drinks and Baskin-Robbins ice cream, with profits going to defray some of the costs of putting on the fete, while Barron Park School PTA put on a bake sale and volunteers from the Leukemia Foundation sold lemonade and coffee.
Girl Scout Troop #504 did face-painting for the kids. Palo Alto Fire Department EMR Explorer Post #5 provided first aid services and parking control and the Palo Alto Police Community Services did bicycle registration. The Barron Park donkeys wandered through the crowd and Julia Dawson brought her two pet sheep for the enjoyment of kids young and old.
Eight Barron Park artists exhibited their artworks, many of which are locally oriented or inspired (see page 6). The Electric Car Association had several vehicles on display. Palo Alto Fire Department's PANDA group presented emergency preparedness information.
A new feature of this year's fete was the exhibit of one of the two original Barron Park Volunteer Fire Department fire trucksa 1950 GMC Pumper. The owner, Al Larsen of Paradise Way, was standing by to answer questions from the curious. A panel of photographs and clippings covering the 26-year history of the Fire Department and its parent body the Barron Park Fire Protection District was included in Doug Graham's ongoing Barron Park History Exhibit. The Palo Alto Historical Association displayed an exhibit focused on the history of the greater southwest Palo Alto area.
A Host of Volunteers
The May Fetes are one of the features that make life in Barron Park so enjoyable. However, they don't happen by themselvesit takes months of planning and an enormous amount of work to make them happen. This year, at least 60 volunteers collaborated to bring it about. We thank them all for doing their part in making this neighborhood celebration possible.
BPA Refreshments & Balloon Sales: John Benza, Erich Boehm,
Barbara Brown, Norm Copperman, Jeffrey Dean, Sharon Erickson, Alice
Frost, Bob Frost, Verna Graham, Ann Greaves, Anthony Jewett, Dick
Placone, Stephanie Sussman, Ken Tani, Jerry Underdahl, Joel Walmsley,
Doug Westover, Myrna Westover
Barron Park Elementary School PTA Bake Sale: Leslie Dorasin and helpers
Barron Park Volunteer Fire Department Historic Fire Truck: Al Larsen
Barron Park History Exhibit: Doug Graham
BPA Fete Planning Committee: Don Anderson, Will Beckett, Paul Edwards, Doug Graham, Inge Harding-Barlow, Mary Jane Leon, Ken Tani, Maryanne Welton
BPA Membership Table: Gwen Luce, Shirley Finfrock, Mary Jane Leon
Face-Painting: Girl Scout Troop 504Mia Cheeseman, Barbara Gretler, Julie Gretler, Lisa Jewett, Nicole Johnson, Lexi Marsh, Sunol Moss, Daniella Sirkin, Kathy Vining
Fete Setup/Takedown/Cleanup: Will Beckett, Chuck Katz, Jeanette Kennedy, Anne Knopf, Joe Melena, Bud Rubin, Richard Smith, Jack Sutton, Joel Walmsley, Bennett Woo
First Aid & Parking Control: Emergency Medical Response Explorer Post #5Mollie Crystal, Courtney Cooke, Jamie Gamble, Lawrence Jiang, Shirin Kasturia, Lynnette Tschabold, Yingying Zhang
Maypole Dance: Bob Frayley (Leader), Gary Breitbard (music), Paul Edwards
Maypole Decorations/Setup/Takedown: Paul Edwards, Susan Ogle
Palo Alto Fire Department PANDA Exhibit: Barbara Cimino, Nick McDonald, Mick Mickelson
Palo Alto Historical Association Exhibit: Beth Bunnenberg, Richard Lacey, Ruth Lacey, Jan Murphy, Tom Wyman, Susan Wynn
Palo Alto Police Community Service: Susie Jones
Seniors Pavilion: Mary Jane Leon
by Patrick Muffler, Committee Chair
Mick also was the Palo Alto City liaison with the Barron Park Association in the development of Living with our Faults, the now classic primer for dealing with the earthquake hazard in the Bay Area. The Barron Park Association thanks Mick for his years of dedication to emergency preparedness in Palo Alto and wishes him well in his retirement to Oahu. Aloha!
New Emergency-Preparedness Structure in the City of Palo Alto (adapted from an e-mail received from Palo Alto Fire Chief Ruben Grijalva on Monday 19 May 2003)
The City of Palo Alto has recently restructured its emergency-preparedness program. Previously, emergency preparedness was isolated in the Fire Dept. The city is creating an Emergency Preparedness Operational Group composed of key personnel from all city departments. This Operational Group is headed by Deputy Fire Chief Judy Jewell, who will oversee the Office of Emergency Services. In addition, Police Chief Lynne Johnson will head up the Emergency Preparedness Steering Group, composed of city department heads. The leadership of this Steering Group will rotate yearly between the Police Chief and the Fire Chief.
The City of Palo Alto also will convene an Emergency-Preparedness Round Table once a quarter with outside groups such as the Red Cross, neighborhood associations, and the Emergency Council. The City Manager's Office is charged with coordinating this effort. The Barron Park Association is represented on this Round Table. With regard to PANDA training and continuing education of existing PANDAs, Fire Chief Grijalva wrote that the Palo Alto Disaster Coordinator (Barbara Cimino) will be paired with a Palo Alto Fire Battalion Chief who has an emergency-preparedness background, so that the City will maintain the two-person training team and its on-going level of PANDA training.
Water, water everywhereexcept in an emergency!
We are all accustomed to "water on demand". Just turn on the faucet, and let the sprinklers run. Few of us have had any protracted experience in a situation where water was not immediately available from a reliable, virtually unlimited city source. We in Barron Park are certainly in that situation, since all of our water is piped in from the Sierra Nevada via the Hetch Hetchy water system.
But what happens in a big earthquake on the Hayward fault, that runs along the base of the East Bay Hills and is crossed by the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct? The probability is very high that a magnitude 6.7 or 7.0 earthquake on the Hayward Fault will rupture or severely damage the aqueduct. Barron Park, all of Palo Alto, San Francisco, and many other Peninsula cities will be abruptly shut off from this abundant water supply. Faucets, toilets, sprinkling systems, and hydrants simply won't work, probably for a period of many days.
The City of Palo Alto, the State Office of Emergency Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other local, state, and federal entities will do their best to supply emergency water for drinking and cooking. But even these stop-gap measures will take several days to a week to implement. Consequently, each household must be prepared to use its own emergency water supplies for up to a week.
Page 13 of Living with our Faults, published by the Palo Alto Fire Department, provides excellent guidelines for emergency water. These guidelines fall into three categories:
3450 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306 (near Creekside Inn)
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