(NOTE: Because of SPAM, certain email addresses have been withheld in this on-line edition)

By Doug Moran, BPA President

By Doug Graham, Barron Park Historian

By Maryanne Welton

by Patrick Muffler, Committee Chair

by Mary Jane Leon, Committee Chair

by Don Anderson

By Don Anderson

By Will Beckett, Acting Traffic Chair

By Shari Daiuto


By Linda Lui

By Doug Moran


By his Goddaughter, Laura Totten

Advertising Donors

by Doug Moran, BPA President.

The Power of One Person
A near constant when I attend meetings with other groups is that at least one person will comment that they wish that their group or neighborhood were as well organized as the BPA. I hear from organizations many time our size who are bowled over by the content and layout of our newsletters, not to mention its size. Others are envious of the amount of useful information that we push out on our email lists and web site.

This is not just me — other BPA Board members report similar comments. Nor is it new — our predecessors reported similar experiences.

And this continues to be surprising to us because we know how much more could, and should, be done if only. . . The conclusion to be drawn is that one person can have an outsized impact in these areas.

In the case of some events, an event succeeds or dies on the basis of the commitment and enthusiasm of a single person who energizes all the other volunteers who work on the event. For example, the Holiday Parade and Caroling has become a major event due to the leadership of Don Anderson.

Conversely, the House and Garden Tour died even though it was quite popular with participants — the original key organizer (Shirley Finfrock) decided to move on and there was no one who would step up and push for the event to happen.

Last June, when the City's telephone alert system was used to alert a portion of Barron Park to possible sightings of mountain lions, the BPA Emergency Prep chair Patrick Muffler used the BPA email list to collect information about how well that system worked, and provided it to the Police Department. Even though that system has been used several times since, this is still the only assessment of that system in a real-world environment.

On the downside, the Police Dept. has been slow to follow-up on the deficiencies identified. Still, Patrick has become recognized City-wide as the "point man" on the larger issue: Improving and expanding the mechanisms that the Police and Fire Departments use to notify residents. Aside: in the process we discovered that the telephone alert systems has a number of legal constraints on when it can be used — constraints that prevented it from being used after one mountain lion sighting.

During one recent controversy involving multiple neighborhoods, I quickly slapped together a couple of web pages providing links to various reports, commentaries and background materials. The annotation of the links was terse and the formatting rudimentary. So I was taken aback to hear one of the key players describe those web pages as one of the two key events in the debate. It was a useful reminder of the importance of such collections. A person with basic skills creating web pages can make a major contribution to the public debate. For examples, see the "Issue" items at

Last spring, several Palo Alto residents were listening to the presentation on the City's plan to build a waste processing facility (called the "Environmental Services Center" or ESC). They became uncomfortable with the presentation, seeing too many comparisons of "apples to oranges." As they pushed for better explanations, more and more problems in the analysis emerged. The City Council wound up directing the City Auditor (Sharon Erickson) to review the numbers and produce a comparison of the alternatives.

One of the perpetual needs in Palo Alto is people who can take an issue, find the portions that are relevant to normal residents and then explain it in terms they can understand and act on. The reports produced by staff rarely fill this need, but this is not surprising given the origins of the current system. The old-timers tell me that in the 1970's the Council complained to the City Manager that he wasn't giving them enough information to make their decisions. In response, that City Manager had staff produce reports that were loaded with data, but he put no emphasis on organizing and filtering that information in a way that would be useful to the decision-maker. This organizational culture has continued to this day, largely through inertia: There is little mentoring or other training or other support from management for change. A string of Council members have sought to change this and my sense is that this is going to be a continuing battle, although it is often fought out of sight of normal residents.

I have been attempting to improve the sharing of information between the various neighborhood organizations with some success, but less than I hoped. My strategy has been to provide the "kernel" resource that then encourages others to contribute.

I would not just welcome but encourage people who would like to try to do this for a single pending issue to coordinate with me on expanding this facility.

The Day the Barron Mansion Burned
By Doug Graham, Barron Park Historian.

Significance of the Fire
It was a spectacular blaze. Barron Park has never seen anything like it before or since. When the 80-year old all-wood Victorian house burned on November 29, 1936, it went up in a holocaust of flame and smoke that attracted thrill-seekers from miles around. A lack of response by the Palo Alto Fire Department may have been a factor in the total destruction of the mansion: certainly, it led to bitterness towards the city that helped defeat several subsequent annexation attempts over the next thirty years.

A Renowned Showplace
The magnificent, rambling 3-story mansion with an octagonal fourth-floor cupola was locally famed for its opulence (see photograph). The first-floor veranda was almost obscured by the luxuriant foliage of a thick-trunked wisteria vine loaded, in season, with heavy purple blossoms. As you can see in the photograph, the second and third floor fa├žade was dominated by great, two-story-high gables framed with Victorian gingerbread woodwork. There was a Victorian entrance with lampposts on either side of the front steps and, inside, a large vestibule with gilt-framed mirrors from Paris. A wide staircase went up the center of the house, ending at the tower playroom. There were at least 26 rooms-perhaps as many as 40. These included two large dining rooms, a parlor and a billiard room. The servants' rooms were in the two-story back wing. This was the original "Mayfield Farm" house built by Elisha Crosby about 1856.

Sarah Wallis Built the Mansion
The main three-story mansion was built in front of the original structure by Sarah Wallis shortly after she purchased Mayfield Farm from Crosby in 1857. Sarah was an extraordinary person whose life experiences read like a romantic historical novel. She walked from Missouri to California in the first wagon train to cross the Sierra Nevada, when California was part of Mexico. She married three times and was deserted by her first two husbands. Her second and third husbands were both prominent men in the Bay Area, but Sarah made her own fortune and she was the owner of Mayfield Farm. She became one of the most prominent suffragettes on the West Coast. Sarah sold the mansion to Edward Barron in 1878.

Edward Barron Added to the Mansion
Barron had been an extremely successful meat-packer in one career and then a mining company executive in a second. He retired to Mayfield Farm and planted most of the 20-acre park of ornamental trees and shrubs that still surrounded the mansion in 1936. A few of the trees that he and Sarah Wallis planted survive today along South Magnolia Drive, Military Way and La Selva Drive near El Camino Real. Barron had the cupola built and later added a large, two-story West Wing to house his son's family. He died in 1893 but his estate trust managed the farm for 26 years more until it was sold to Driscoll and Reiter, land developers, in 1919. They broke up the 350-acre farm into small parcels for sale or lease to strawberry growers and orchardists.

The Mansion was an Administration Building
The mansion and park were bought in 1923 by Colonel Sebastian Jones and converted by 1925 into the California Military Academy. Jones was the man who laid out the original "Barron Park" subdivision of tiny lots in 1925. Jones used the mansion as the school administration building and their personal residence. The school passed through several hands after Colonel Jones' death in 1929, and E. Allen Rosebloom had just re-opened it as the "Interdale School for Boys" when it burned on Thanksgiving weekend of 1936.

The Fire Started in One of the Towers
According to the San Jose Mercury Herald, Joaquin Vienna, sports editor of the Santa Clara Journal, was driving by on the State Highway (now El Camino) when he saw smoke pouring from an upper window. He drove into the estate, rushed into the house, and phoned in the fire. The caretaker, Joe Carrasao, said the crackling noise of the flames in one of the lofty towers woke him from an afternoon nap.

Vienna phoned three fire departments-Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Redwood City. Those three, with Moffat Naval Air Station, all dispatched fire engines to the scene. Meanwhile, the fire began to blaze fiercely in the tinder-dry wood structure. Chief Thomas Cuff of Menlo Park took charge of the fire-fighting efforts when the Palo Alto firemen refused to move their equipment beyond the city boundary, then located 100 feet south of Wilton Avenue on the east side of El Camino. As one old-time Barron Park resident told me in the 1980s, "They only were there to keep the fire from spreading into Palo Alto-they didn't give a damn what happened in Barron Park" The truth is, the fire department was under orders from the City Council, upon the advice of legal counsel, not to fight fires outside the city limits, as their insurance would not cover it.

Joe Weiler was an Eyewitness
In any event, the fire-fighting was in vain, as the fire had become a monster that was attracting attention all over the peninsula in the late autumn afternoon that was winding down into dusk. Joe Weiler told the story in a 1977 oral history tape taken by Ann Knopf. Joe's family owned the Texaco Station at the Buena Vista Auto Camp, and he later became a volunteer fireman in Barron Park. In the recording, he told about the crowd that gathered on that eventful afternoon;

"It was on a Sunday and I was in the service station. It was just within minutes...the thing was just horrible flame of red and fire and everything and people started to see this, they pulled in, they stopped in the road. They pulled into the service station. They just jumped out of their cars and left them and they pulled into the station and blocked the driveways and it was just a sea of cars. They pulled in the park-at that time the center was all open. And they pulled in and another would pull in behind it and beside it and in front of it. There were hundreds of cars just jammed in like sardines. So I locked my station and locked the pumps, closed the door and went to look at the fire. It happened so fast and was like a July Fourth celebration. It was just so magnanimous (sic) in its size and everything. You just would stand there in awe and see this big thing."

"Unfortunately and I hate to say this, Palo Alto was called and they didn't respond but they did come to the end of the city limits with one of their units...and just sat there. They wouldn't answer the call because there was something about they wouldn't go out of their district in those days (sic). Then the County (sic) was called and they sent some pumpers down. They had their own water in the tanks and they got maybe one or two of those, but they were useless, because when you had so much heat like that, water just goes up in steam. You would have to dump the ocean on it to douse it. Once it got started, within a half hour's time it was beyond control as far as saving it. A lot of people were very upset at Palo Alto and still are today-the older people that still remember some of these things and the children of these people who have heard their parents talk about it."

The Swimming Pool was Pumped Dry
According to the Mercury Herald story, "When firemen were unable to locate a water (sic) plug to which to attach their hoses...they ran a hose into a nearby swimming pool and pumped it dry." The swimming pool had been installed by Colonel Jones and was part the Military Academy. During the school's summer vacation it was made available to Barron Park residents. This was an amenity that was important in attracting San Francisco buyers interested in buying land for a summer cottage away from the city's famous fog. The pool is still there, its walls forming a basement and below-ground garage for the house at 3878 South Magnolia Drive.

Dan Baker Took Pictures
At the fire scene was a young photographer for the Palo Alto Times, Dan Baker, who took photos of the fire (the one reprinted here may be one of his). After the fire, the land was cleared and a subdivision, Woodland Park was laid out. Eventually, Dan Baker bought the house at 3880 La Selva Drive, which he told me was built right where he stood to take pictures of the fire. He lived in that house until he died, some time in the 1990s.

A Historical Landmark Now Marks the Spot
On Saturday, October 11, 1986, California Landmark No. 969 was dedicated on La Selva Drive at the site of the Barron-Wallis Mansion. The dedication ceremony was co-sponsored by the Women's Heritage Museum and the Barron Park Association. Dan Baker, then President of the Palo Alto Historical Association was one of the honored guests. The bronze plaque on the fieldstone monument reads;

    "Homesite of Sarah Wallis-Mayfield Farm. Sarah Armstrong Wallis (1825-1905) was a pioneer in the campaign for women's voting rights. In 1870 she was elected President of California's first statewide suffrage organization which in 1873 incorporated as the California State Woman Suffrage Education Association. The home she built on this site, Mayfield Farm, was a center of suffrage activities attracting state and national leaders such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Ulysses S. Grant."
The "Wallis Mansion"?
I urge all the readers of this newsletter to take a short walk down to the historical marker. If you enjoy "what if..." speculations, take a minute and consider what our neighborhood might be like today if the "Barron Mansion" had never burned-what a magnificent focal point it could have been for our neighborhood-and it might well be known today as the "Wallis Mansion."

ZALU Update Winter 2005
By Maryanne Welton.

There has been little development on El Camino in our neighborhood during the last several months. Emek Beracha received approval of their Conditional Use Permit and have renovated the old Blockbuster building into a synagogue for their congregation.

Revised plans for the proposed subdivision at 797 Matadero were submitted to the City for review last summer. In the current iteration the developer would like to create five lots for new houses, where currently three lots and two houses exist. At a recent neighborhood meeting, nearby neighbors voiced concerns about privacy, protection of heritage oaks and the creek habitat, impact of additional parking and traffic on Matadero, and whether the new houses would be compatible with the neighborhood. The Planning Commissioners agreed and recommended that approval be denied. Their decision has been forwarded to the City Council for a final decision.

Check this column for project updates in or near Barron Park or contact me if you have any questions about development in our neighborhood at 493-3035, or email.

Emergency Preparedness-an example, and a reminder
Patrick Muffler, Committee Chair.

In 2004, the State of Florida got hit by four major hurricanes: Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. Perhaps the most devastating of these hurricanes was Ivan, which made landfall just west of Pensacola FL the night of 15-16 September. Sustained winds around the eye of the hurricane were 130 miles per hour, with gusts to 165 miles per hour. Ivan's worst damage was concentrated just east of the storm's eye in Pensacola, where winds spinning counterclockwise around the eye pounded the coast.

One of my college classmates is a resident of coastal Pensacola, exactly in the zone of worst damage. 33 of the 43 houses in his neighborhood suffered damage so severe that they were condemned, and 9 additional homes were flooded. My classmate's story (posted with his permission at is a powerful argument for emergency preparedness. Please read it.

My classmate and his family (including his 88-year-old ill mother-in-law) were unhurt, and his property suffered minimal damage. This wasn't by chance. He was aware of the potential of hurricanes (Hurricane Camile in 1969, for example, killed 269 people in Mississippi and caused $3.8 billion in damage; Hurricane Andrew in 1992 killed 55 people in Florida and Louisiana and caused more than $25 million damage). He had tracked Hurricane Ivan as it spread devastation in the Lesser Antilles (particularly Grenada), and he correctly foresaw that Pensacola was very likely to be squarely in Ivan's path. Accordingly, my classmate took aggressive protective measures, he evacuated his family before the last minute, he had multiple means of communication, and he served as a leader in helping his neighbors, both short-term and long-term.

My classmate's experience obviously is not specifically applicable to us in Barron Park; we don't have hurricanes. But we do have major rainstorms with associated flooding, and we certainly live in "earthquake country." The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that there is a 62% chance of at least one magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake striking the San Francisco Bay region before 2032 (see Such an earthquake, regardless of its exact epicenter, will cause major damage throughout the Bay Area. Sobering is the fact that the 1995 magnitude 6.9 earthquake in Kobe Japan, a bayside urban area not unlike the San Francisco Bay Area, killed 6,000 people and caused over $100 billion in damage.

In a major earthquake, we residents of Barron Park will experience disrupted water supplies (remember that the Hetch Hetchy water pipeline crosses right over the Hayward Fault), absence of electricity and gas, moderate to severe structural damage to our residences, and a number of injuries. Governmental resources will simply be overwhelmed, and the efforts of public agencies such as the Palo Alto Fire Department will be directed towards facilities of highest priority (e.g., hospitals). Community organizations such as the Palo Alto Neighborhood Disaster Activity (PANDA; will supplement City resources, but these volunteer personnel also will be severely taxed in the first phases of a major disaster. Consequently, each household in Barron Park will be on its own and must be prepared to provide for its basic needs for several days to a week after a major disaster. We all need to have sufficient emergency supplies to tide us over until outside assistance becomes available and water, electricity, and gas are restored.

Our emergency supplies should include water, food, a battery-powered radio, and first-aid supplies. Excellent guidelines for building emergency caches are presented in the 3rd edition of "Living with our Faults", published in 1994 by the City of Palo Alto ( A wide selection of Disaster Preparedness Kits is sold by the Palo Alto Chapter of the American Red Cross ( Finally, more expansive analysis of the need for household emergency preparedness can be found in the spring, summer, and fall editions of the BPA Newsletter, archived at

Referring back to my classmate's experience with Hurricane Ivan in Pensacola, certainly government and relief agencies do swing into action in response to a disaster. But their best efforts are no substitute for personal and household preparedness. In the first few days to a week after a disaster, each household will be on its own and must be prepared to take care of itself.

Senior Update, winter '05
Mary Jane Leon, Committee Chair.

Volunteers Available
Had a call the other day, asking if we would consider developing a network of daily phone calls to and from neighbors. We decided it was time to quit burying information about our services at the end of the column, so we are moving the information right up front. So here goes. We continue to have a group of volunteers who offer services to Barron Park neighbors. We can:

You can reach Mary Jane Leon at 493-5248 or email; Julie Spengler at 493-9151.

Computers Available Close By
We received this email from Sheila Mandoli a few days back:

    "Do you know of any one in Barron Park or Palo Alto who wishes to learn about Computers? At Ventura, the YM is providing (through a grant from the estate of Henry Page) computers maintained in room 12. Teenagers use them all of the time. Pari, the YM adult who supervises them, is willing, in fact, eager, to have older people come and learn. The teens will be volunteering their time to help. Pari thinks the experience of relating to the elders would be invaluable. Do you think it would be worthwhile to offer this service in the Barron Park newsletter?"
Do we??? What a great opportunity! And so close! Contact Sheila Mandoli at 493-9180 for details.

An Urge to Write?
Sometimes my brain seems to go on vacation right when it is time to write this column. Is anyone out there interested in doing a guest column sometime? Or do you have an idea that you would like us to explore? A paragraph that you want to contribute? We would love to hear from you.

Booklets Available
We have available brand new editions of two booklets directed toward seniors. They are:

    New Lifestyles, which is an area guide to senior residences and care options.

    Living Well 2005, a Resource Guide for Active Adults 50 and Over, which is published yearly by the Palo Alto Weekly, and covers such topics as health services, recreational activities, classes, home services, and planning for now and later.

If you would like to have a copy of either or both of these booklets, or if you have friends or neighbors who would like them, please let me know. You can pick them up at my place, or if you give me your street address, I will drop them at your front door.

First, a thought from, of all places, a Dear Abby column: "Attempting to drive yourself or a loved one to a hospital in an emergency is a bad idea. ...When you dial 911, paramedics bring the emergency room to your home....The biggest delay in receiving prompt care is delay in calling 911. (In the case of a heart attack), the more time you waste the more the heart muscle is damaged."

From the AARP Bulletin, September 2004: "The big drug companies spend at least twice as much on 'marketing and administration' as on research."

Group Lunch Time
We had our holiday lunch December 14, again at Su Hong. People enjoyed it so much in October that we decided to go back. Next one will be the second Tuesday in February. If you are not on our list and would like to come, just let us know. Or if you have suggestions for a place to go for lunch, let us know. We want to go places that you like.

Meet Your Barron Park Donkey Handlers!
Don Anderson.

This is the sixth 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 more of the terrific crew that cares for the Barron Park donkeys!

Chuck Katz
Chuck grew up in the Boston area, and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in mechanical engineering from Princeton. After working for several years as a research engineer in the field of combustion and pollution control, Chuck decided (for reasons still unclear to him) to attend law school.

At law school, Chuck met his lovely wife Gina, who is now employed as senior counsel for HP. Chuck currently works as intellectual property counsel for the Scientific Instruments Division of Thermo Electron Corp. in San Jose, which makes mass spectrometers for the life and laboratory sciences industries.

Chuck and Gina moved to the Bay Area in 1997 and to their present home on Barron Avenue in 1999. This past May they were joined by their handsome and talented son Mathew, who is a big fan of Niner and Perry. Chuck and his family have always enjoyed saying hello to the boys when walking in Bol Park, and they appreciate the semi-rural and eccentric character that the donkeys lend to our neighborhood. So Chuck jumped at the chance to become a donkey handler, a position he has occupied since this past July. He relishes the noisy reception he gets when he arrives to feed Niner and Perry, and he's getting used to the head butts that Niner gives him when he thinks Chuck isn't moving quickly enough.

Chuck's primary non-donkey interests are hanging out with his family and catching up on his sleep debt. In addition, he enjoys movies, reading, boogie-boarding, biking, gardening and generally avoiding hard work.

Tasha Brooks
Tasha grew up in North Palo Alto, graduated from Mid Peninsula High in1988 and moved north to Sonoma County to attend Sonoma State University. Tasha moved back to Palo Alto, settling in Barron Park with twin daughters in 2000. She fell in love with Barron Park's rural atmosphere while exploring the area by car. A Google search brought up the BPA online, and between the donkeys and the grassroots community spirit, this was the only choice in neighborhoods for her family.

Tasha has worked with animals most of her life, from volunteering at the local shelter in her youth to grooming dogs professionally through her college years. She received her BA in liberal studies just after the birth of her twins. Annie and Jordan, now in second grade at Barron Park Elementary School, are "old hands" when it comes to caring for animals. Helping with fostering and bottle feeding orphaned kittens and doing pet sitting for the neighbors are just a couple of the things that have prepared the girls for their role in caring for the Donkeys. Tasha is currently working as an animal handler with local trainer Sarah Westbrook through Piccadilly Pets, a retail store downtown in Palo Alto.

Barron Park Holiday Party and Donkey Parade 12/18-Rain or Shine
Don Anderson.

Barron Park Holiday Party and Donkey Parade 12/18-Rain or Shine The Gunn High School Chamber Singers will be featured in the fourth annual caroling parade through the Barron Park neighborhood starting at 2:30 pm Saturday, December 18. Festivities will begin at Bol Park (corner of Laguna and Matadero), and honored parade participants will be the community's famous donkeys, Perry and Niner.

Parents, grandparents, kids, teenagers, bikes, scooters, strollers, rollerblades, and pets are welcome! After the procession through the neighborhood, refreshments (including cookies home baked by the Barron Park Seniors group and other neighbors) will be served at Barron Park Elementary School at about 3:15 pm. At the party there will be a special performance by the Gunn Chamber Singers. For more information call Don Anderson at 494-8672 or email.

Will Beckett, Acting Traffic Chair.

There are plans for four speed bumps or "tables" in Barron Park but we don't know for sure if, how many, or what type, since the City Traffic Commission hasn't met on this yet.

Maybell will soon see some improvements to put emphasis on bicycle/pedestrian safety. Therehas been a significant increase in the amount of traffic in a 24 hour period over the last few years. Much of this is due to school traffic in the early morning hours but there has also been an increase in "cut-through" traffic. These measures are designed to discourage "cut-through" traffic and slow the vehicle traffic. In mid December a neighborhood meeting was held to review suggestions made by the city and a small representative committee made up of residents living on or near Maybell and school representatives. Gayle Likens, a city of Palo Alto traffic engineer, is leading this project which will be funded by a grant. For more details about this project, contact Will Beckett at 494-6922

Shari Daiuto.

Surviving the Remodel — One Family's Experience
You're planning to live there during your remodel? That should be... memorable," laughed my friend after I mentioned our upcoming project. Previously, whenever I spoke of our remodel plans to friends, other words such as, "delays," "dust," and "divorce," were mentioned. Little did I know how many times that word, "memorable," would be used to describe our remodel experience. I'd like to share some of those memorable moments and offer a few suggestions for living through a remodeling project.

What started out as a simple solution to our (lack of) space problem ultimately turned into an 800 sq. ft. addition, which included two new bedrooms, two bathrooms and some changes to existing rooms. I'm a SAHM (Stay-At-Home-Mom) with two small children. My husband operates his own business and occasionally needs to work at home. We tried to get along in our 1300 sq. ft. space, but there were a few tense times as we were literally tripping over each other. After looking into buying another home in Barron Park, we found it made more sense for us to add onto our current home. We met with our architect a few times and she not only created an impressive plan to efficiently expand our living space, she also made it look cool.

We investigated the idea of renting a place during the project, but decided to live on site after postponing the kitchen remodel. After all, "It'll be like camping," we told ourselves. So there it was, we were going to live among the dust and noise for six months (if everything was on schedule) and share one bathroom as well as a transient living space. One positive aspect to this approach is that someone is always on site to address construction issues, which can help keep the project on schedule.

The first part of the project involved destruction, which my older son particularly enjoyed watching. Soon enough, the foundation drilling started, which was a rude awakening. Not only did the noise sound like an intermittent jet engine, the vibrations were strong enough to rattle our light fixtures. However, a very nasty side effect occurred with all the drilling and digging around the existing foundation... fleas. Fortunately, the fleas affected only one person, but it was disgusting to have a flea infestation on top of the other inconveniences. With an open crawlspace, seemingly every neighborhood cat would play underneath our house. We'd occasionally hear some strange scratching noises underneath the house at night and hope it was only a cat.

After a month, the noise and ever-present workers became an expected part of our day and on weekends we missed them. Not really! Eventually, the dust and noise of the initial phase of the remodel soon become mere background processes. After a few months into the project, my husband came down with a fever/flu. At this point, the only room that hadn't been part of the remodel project was the living room. Where do you go to rest in such an unfriendly environment? Fortunately, our boys already had a small tent set up in the living room, so my husband slept in that tent for the entire day. It made sense because he was undisturbed by and distanced from the chaos. However, I had to chuckle whenever I looked at that colorful little tent in our living room with my husband inside of it. He was literally camping out in our living room.

Another memorable moment was the early September rain this year. The roof of our house wasn't yet installed. While cooking breakfast, I looked up and noticed a puddle of water in the kitchen light fixture. After looking around the house, we noticed drips coming from several light fixtures. Just as we lifted the phone to call our contractor, he arrived to cover the open areas with a tarp. The water drips were coming from run-off from the attic joists, so the leaks weren't too extensive. But the puddle in the kitchen light fixture was reminiscent of a certain Three Stooges episode.

Smells are another part of any remodel project. There are the usual smells of elements associated with a remodel, but we experienced a more organic smell. Because our garage area had been open for part of the project, our friendly neighborhood cats would often freely roam around the site. One kind-hearted cat left us a token (dead rodent?) in our garage. The problem is we can't find the token. We smell it, but it's hidden somewhere underneath all the fixture boxes and construction materials. This smell has been in our garage for over a month and thankfully, the scent is waning.

Another component of remodeling is water flow. There were some days when the plumbers would arrive and give a two-minute warning that the water would be turned off for the day. I'd often get more than two-minutes, but it was still something that made a change in the day. Hot water could also be an issue. I remember that feeling of dread after my younger son became ill with a stomach virus and I realized we had no hot water. This incident was probably the most miserable of the entire project because I had a child who needed a bath, but no hot water. I ended up boiling water in a kettle and slowly adding it to the cold bath water. Yes, "just like camping," except I also had soiled laundry that needed to be washed sooner, rather than later. Our next-door neighbor was so helpful and it was the one bright spot in a bad situation.

We're presently beyond the drywall installation and sanding phase. Everyone who's ever gone through a remodel will tell you that this is the worst part of the project and they're right. One Sunday, my husband spent over seven hours transforming our living room into our central living space. The rest of the rooms were going to be sanded, in addition to the new part of the house. I was grateful to my husband for setting up curtain dividers to make it like a room within a room and I told our children it'd be "Camp Daiuto". My older son looked at me and said, "Mom, it's like a hotel, but it's a 'home-tel' because it's a hotel inside of our home." Such a logical explanation and a five-year-old figured it out. Confidentially, I found it endearing that my son could sound so positive about this "home-tel" in our living room where we'd be sleeping and living for the next six weeks. It's been over a month now and we're still living in our "home-tel."

As I luxuriously lounge in our "home-tel," I've had the opportunity to suggest the following strategies for getting through a remodel project:

  1. Hire the best help. Sounds obvious, but after hearing so many negative remodel stories, this was our priority. So, ask for recommendations from people whose homes you like. Our architect asked important questions up front and created a design we were thrilled with. When choosing contractors, it's best to investigate no more than three. After three, it becomes geometrically more complicated. Also, check the state's Web site ( to confirm a contractor's license status.
  2. Post your plans in a central part of your house. This way, when the going gets tough, you can at least look at what it's going to look like when it's finished. In the midst of the noises, dust and the infinite decisions you'll be faced with, keeping a mental picture of the finished product in your mind's eye really helps keep your focus on the goal.
  3. Try to maintain your routines. At least, this will be one fairly consistent aspect of your life during the remodel. Miraculously, my sons were able to keep taking naps during most of the project.
  4. Get away for a few days. I was fortunate to have been able to take the boys to Half Moon Bay for a few days during the week while the drywall was going up. Sadly, the thing I most noticed during our trip was how nice it was to sleep somewhere that didn't have a fine layer of dust over everything.
Also, it helps to have good neighbors. We are fortunate to have wonderful neighbors who tolerated our construction noise and were so helpful to our family during this project. In particular, we have a dear neighbor who allowed us to park in his driveway the entire project and helped us in many ways.

There will be days when you feel as if you're living in a humongous laundry hamper or the dust, smells and noises are just getting to you. But I'm here to report that you can and will get through it if you keep focused on the finished product. As for our project, I'm happy to say there haven't been major delays or cost overruns and there's no pending divorce. I think back to what my friend said about this being a "memorable" experience and have to agree.

Bob Moss — Graffiti Abatement

In September 1992 there was a major outbreak of graffiti throughout Palo Alto, and particularly along school routes in Barron Park. This apparently was caused by a combination of a movie that glorified gangs and graffiti, and an outbreak of gang-related graffiti all over Palo Alto and nearby vicinities. Bob Moss began cleaning and removing the graffiti from hundreds of locations-signs, lamp posts, trash cans, walls, walks, mail boxes, etc. In January 1993 he made a formal presentation to the City Council during oral communications to apprise them of the problem, and to urge the City to take an active role in removing graffiti, particularly that which was gang-related. The Council and staff did not respond at first, but after repeated requests, including examples of graffiti removal kits, and photo displays of badly defaced locations which had been cleaned, staff agreed to establish and fund a graffiti removal office, and the City Council appropriated funds to support graffiti abatement. The BPA supported this effort by agreeing to pay for graffiti removal supplies such as solvents and paint. This support from the City and BPA continues currently.

In January 1994 the City Council passed a formal resolution recognizing Bob Moss for his outstanding efforts at graffiti removal. His efforts also have been recognized by the San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and KCBS.

In the past twelve years Bob has removed over 9500 tags all over Palo Alto, plus some in neighboring cities such as Mountain View and Los Altos. He still is an active graffiti removal volunteer, devoting several hours each month to keeping our community cleaner and better, free of graffiti. The amount and incidence of graffiti has gone down significantly in the past year. The last major incident was over Memorial Day weekend when 5 huge tags were put up covering entire walls on businesses along El Camino. They were all removed or painted over in less than 48 hours. Apparently rapid removal of graffiti does discourage taggers and keeps the area cleaner. Bob can be reached at email.

It's Time for the 2005 Juana Run!!
Linda Lui.

Rev up your running shoes! The ninth annual Juana Run is scheduled for Saturday, February 26, 2005. The 8K starts at 8:30am and the kid races have staggered start times throughout the morning. The 1-mile run immediately follows the kid races. In what has blossomed into the most effective fundraiser for the two Barron Park neighborhood schools' PTA, this winter ritual also has us running the streets of our beloved neighborhood with our neighbors! Can you beat that for community building? To register, go to Volunteers are definitely needed!! If you can help, please contact race founder and director, Karen Saxena. She can be e-mailed from the website or leave a message for her on the race hotline: (650) 599-3434. The race also needs publicity, if you can hang a few flyers at your company's gym or running club, contact Karen. This is a very effective way for you to support your local PTA!!

BPA E-mail lists
Doug Moran.

Membership Confirmation
It is easy to loose track of what e-mail lists you are subscribed to and under what address. It is not uncommon to inadvertently drop off a list because you subscribed under a former address and messages are no longer being forwarded from there to your new address. As list maintainer, I try to identify the resident associated with a dead email account and notify them, but it is often hard to do because the login names are too disconnected from real names.

To deal with this problem, it is a common practice to send out periodic reminders. The BPA does this annually in conjunction with this issue of the newsletter. Shortly before this issue is expected to arrive in your mail box, a message is sent to each member of each mailing list confirming their membership on that list. For example, if you are subscribed to each of bpa-news, bpa and bpa-misc, you will receive three messages, one for each list. If you have not received a message for a list that you thought that you were subscribed to, please resubscribe.

The BPA Lists
To review the purposes of the various BPA e-mail lists, go to and click on the button BPA Email Lists. Note: These lists reject long messages-currently anything over 20,000 characters-as a means to block a large class of SPAM messages. However, you can run afoul this limit if you attach a photo or if you compose a message with various fonts. See the above page for more detail.

From time to time, the AOL SPAM filters decide to block e-mail from the BPA lists. I have no similar problems with any other ISP (Internet Service Provider). For an overview of these problems, visit

Request: If a piece of SPAM slips through the SPAM filters for the BPA lists, please do NOT click the button for "This is SPAM" because a few instances of this may blacklist all of the BPA lists for yourself, and possibly for all customers of your ISP (I say "may" because it is extremely difficult to find out even roughly why a site gets blacklisted). This situation occurs because SPAMmers routinely forge the address for the origin of the message, and one trick is to list the originator as simply relaying the message from an uninvolved third party. Hence, ISPs cannot distinguish actual relays (such as the BPA lists) from SPAMmers using this trick.

Help Support the Barron Park Donkeys!

Support for Perry and Niner comes completely from the generosity of their neighbors and the community. The donkeys receive no tax dollars, no government funds, no funds from the City of Palo Alto, no grants from any animal welfare or humane organization. They are a part of the neighborhood simply because people who live here care about them and care about continuing this unique opportunity. In return, Perry and Niner provide warmth and joy to those who walk by their pasture; a rural equine experience for suburban children and adults who visit them on Sundays in Bol Park; an opportunity for humane education for children in Barron Park Schools; and a general reaffirmation for all of us of our connection to the natural world.

General farrier and veterinary expenses for the donkeys total about $1,000 a year. Food costs about $600 a year. Funds for the donkeys are managed by Acterra (formerly the Peninsula Conservation Center Foundation), which acts as fiscal agent for the Donkey Project, providing insurance and handling donations and financial affairs. Fees for these administrative services totaled about $200 this past year. All of these expenses are funded solely through donations.

All those who care about Perry and Niner seek to guarantee their proper on-going care and shelter, as well as to ensure that assets will be available for health concerns as the donkeys age. For this reason, it is imperative that more assets be added to the donkey's fund than are being spent for their general care on an annual basis. The handlers hope that those generous neighbors who have contributed in the past will consider increasing their support this year, and that those who have not yet made a contribution to the donkeys will consider doing so now. Contributions for the donkey's care may be sent to: The Palo Alto Donkey Project, ACTERRA (Action for a Sustainable Earth), 3921 East Bayshore Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303-4303.

For further information about making a contribution on behalf of the donkeys, or if you would like information about how to become one of the volunteer donkey handlers, please call Don Anderson at 494-8672 or email.

Art Bayce has Passed Away
By his Goddaughter, Laura Totten

Curiosity, passion and endless interests filled the deep heart and wide life of Arthur E. Bayce, who quietly left this earth at the age of 80, on the 7th of October. A professor, scientist, consultant, photographer, author, volunteer, guide and tinkerer, Art loved the science, nature and art of the many seasons and fruits of this world. Survived by countless lifelong friends, cousins, two goddaughters, students, neighbors as close as kin, it is clear that Art was deeply loved and led a rich life threaded with fantastic relationships. His unconditional love and honest interest in others' well being made him a rare and fantastic individual.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Slovene and Italian parents, Art grew up in Oakland and resided in California since the age of nine. Art attended UC Berkeley, earning his BS in Chemistry and an MS in Metallurgy. He then earned an MA in Education at San Jose State. Art was a chemist at Colgate for many years, and a metallurgist at the Stanford Research Institute, then an associate professor in the Materials Engineering Department at San Jose State University before retiring in 1991.

Joining the Barron Park Association Board in his neighborhood in 1964, Art served on the board as Traffic Chair for eight years, formed the Emergency Preparedness Committee in 1982 and contributed to Living with our Faults (which was distributed in various cities throughout California), supported the ToxSafe Committee, the Creek Committee, and represented his neighborhood on two Blue Ribbon committees of the City of Palo Alto. He was a member of the Citizen Advisory committee, and was appointed by the City Manager to the committee that revised Palo Alto's Disaster Preparedness Management Plan.

In a letter to a friend regarding his mother's death, Art wrote that he was thankful for all that his mother taught him. He learned from her kindness the importance of helping others, and giving back to society. His philosophy was that if he could enrich the lives of those around him, it would serve as a tribute to all she had done for him. Art lived a selfless, energetic life.

A Celebration of the Life of Art Bayce was held on December 19th at 2:30 PM, in the Fireside Room of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, 505 E. Charleston Road. In honor of his 40 years of service to his neighborhood, the Barron Park Association Board is graciously planting a tree in Bol Park in Art's memory. Donations in Art's name may be made to the Sierra Club, Habitat for Humanity and the Barron Park Association.

Art's biography can be found on the BPA Web site at:

Advertising Donors

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

James Witt, General Contractor

We have been buying and selling homes in Barron Park
for over 24 years.

(650) 494-2041


Computer support for the home. Frustrated with your computer?
Is it running much slower than when you set it up new?
— Let me make it easy for you!

(650) 494-6922

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