Fall 1998 Newsletter

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What's Up in Midtown?
 
Long's Update
Starbucks is Coming!
Online Shopping at Co-op Now Available
Public Art in Midtown
Help Operate NeighborSpace
Large Houses Committee
Traffic -- Large Trucks
Service Exchange Network
Fiber to Home
Block Captains and Coordinator Needed
for Emergency Preparedness Network
What's Up at Scherba's?
Residents Win Effort to Move Phone Transmitter
Electronic Town Hall


What's Up in Midtown

Long's Update

Remodeling at Longs is coming along rapidly; the planned opening is January 1999. Longs' representatives report that the store merchandise will be very similar to a full size Longs, but due to space limitations there may be slight differences. The main merchandise categories will be featured, including Pharmacy, Photo, Cosmetics, OTC, Hallmark, Liquor etc. They hope to attract marry young people from the community to work at the store. Longs has a high standard for the quality of people they hire due to their focus on customer service. They are hopeful that the young people of Palo Alto will step up to meet this challenge.

Starbucks is Coming!

You have heard the rumors, and it is true. Starbucks plans a Midtown location -- on the corner of Colorado and Middlefield. Look for a grand opening around Valentine's Day -- a Koffee Kickoff! Jobs will be available; Starbucks hopes to staff up with local applicants. Look for postings in Midtown and other Starbucks stores -- University and on El Camino.

Palo Alto Co-op Market to Offer Internet Grocery Shopping Service--
NonDelivery Solution Proves Valuable for Local Lifestyles

Bob Claxton/Lara Lovera

Palo Alto, CA -- September (4), 1998 -- The Palo Alto Co-op Market today announced that it has selected eGrocer (TM) to develop an online shopping service at www.co-opmarket.com. Planning to launch the service in October, the Coop will use eGrocer technology to offer the store's entire inventory for shopping on the Internet. Shoppers will be able to place orders to be picked up at the store at the shopper's pre-selected time.

"We're very excited to be able to continue expanding the list of services for our customers," said Bob Claxton, Palo Alto Co-op Market's General Manager.

Larry Snyder, President of Fulgent Technologies, which develops eGrocer, is confident that the service will be well received in Palo Alto. He says "eGrocer's service is designed to save valuable time for shoppers without having to forgo the community atmosphere of the store."

Shoppers will register at www.co-opmarket.com and shop in the store either by choosing from aisles on a store visual map or textual category listings. They will be able to view current Co-op Market specially priced items and ad offerings, and choose their preferred day and time to pick up the orders. The Internet grocery store also offers a list building feature to help plan shopping trips and limit the time spent placing future orders.

Because shoppers pick up their orders, they have the option of choosing any last minute items, deciding for themselves on substitutions when necessary, and won't miss the pleasant interaction with their favorite Co-op Market employees. They will, however, skip all of the time spent walking up and down aisles when they're in a hurry to get home. One early eGrocer shopper found, "I spent more time putting groceries away than I spent in the store!"

Market researchers and consultants have predicted that Internet grocery shopping will burgeon in the next 2 years, citing a growing desire for convenience and saving time as the major attraction for customers.

The Palo Alto Co-op Market has been serving the residents of Palo Alto since 1935. Under the direction of Claxton, the store has been remodeled, added a full service deli department and celebrated a grand reopening in May of this year.

eGrocer is developed by Fulqent Technologies, Inc of San Jose, CA. Founded in October of 1997, Fulgent designed eGrocer to supplement the relationship between grocery stores and their customers. Currently operating stores in San Mateo County, the service is growing within the local communities and helping independent markets compete with the more generic larger grocery chains on service offerings as well as quality and selection.

Contacts: Bob Claxton, Palo Alto Co-op Market, at 650-327-8474 or email bbclaxton@aol.com
Lara Lovera, Fulgent Technologies, Inc. at 408-795-1545, or email lara@fulgent.net

Public Art Commission Allocates Funds for Midtown Art:
Volunteers Needed to Make It Happen

by Debbie Mytels

A rewarding opportunity awaits a Midtown resident with an interest in art, a flair for talking about it and some time available during the day.

Last spring, the City's Public Art Commission voted to provide $5,000 in funds for a public art project in Midtown. The MRA suggested the wall of Co-op, next to Baskin Robbins, as the location for a mural. Coop's new General Manager, Bob Claxton, is enthusiastic about this, and now we as a neighborhood need to get involved if we want to see this happen

The first step is to generate additional funds to match the City dollars. A volunteer is needed to help with this fund-raising. This person should be enthusiastic about art and available during the day to approach the other local merchants and ask them to make a modest contribution.

Once the funds are in place, the Public Art Commission will put out a "request for proposals" to artists who might be interested in creating the mural. We then need to put together a Selection Committee to review the artists' proposals and make a decision about who will be awarded a contract to do the work. This committee should include 3-4 residents and 3-4 merchants (including a rep from the Co-op). Volunteers are needed to serve on this committee, and to enlist committee members from among the merchants.

Please call Debbie Mytels at 856-7580 if you would like to get involved. A chairperson is especially needed -- if you have the time and interest, we can help you get started!

Contact Debbie Mytels: 2824 Louis Road: Palo Alto CA 94303; ph: (650) 856-7580 e-mail:dmytels@batnet.com
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Help Operate NeighborSpace

A web-based community conferencing network for Palo Alto. Seeking Internet-Savvy Volunteers to create a free marketplace of ideas and interests.

For more information contact Elliot Margolies at 494-8686 x14 or mpac@nanospace.com.
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(MRA) Committee on Large Houses

Annette Ashton

The builder community has been eyeing South Palo Alto. Many streets have properties under development changing the landscape from small friendly homes to large sunlight-blocking homes. In early 1997, at a MRA general meeting on the Impact of Housing Renovatations in Midtown, MRA formed a large house subcommittee. The progress of this subcommittee has been reported in previous newsletters. This committee feels that changes need to be made to R1 (Residential Zoning), and Residents must be part of that process.

On June 22, the MRA steering committee presented a letter to city council stating our hopes and concerns about the future of South Palo Alto neighborhoods. The fundamental issue expressed was neighborhood compatibility -- how new and remodeled homes fit in with existing homes. We stated we are not against remodeling or two-stories. What we support is maintaining our neighborhood character by protecting neighbor privacy and equitable access to sunlight. We asked for a review of single family residential zoning to be a high priority in the 1998-9 work schedule of the planning division and asked for a citizens committee to work with the planning department to mutually rewrite the zoning ordinance to focus on neighborhood compatibility.

On August 10 at the last city council meeting before the summer break, MRA led representatives of neighborhood and community groups to support the Comprehensive Plan Item L-12 to "preserve the character of residential neighborhoods by encouraging new or remodeled structures to be compatible with the neighborhood and adjacent structures." We again asked for this review to be high priority in the current planning department's work plan and asked again for a citizens committee.

If you are interested in participating on this committee, please contact Annette Ashton at 321-1280.

"If we lose the best of Palo Alto due to a lack of timely planning, it can never be retrieved."
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Large Trucks

Nancy E. Moss, Ph.D

Are you concerned about the number of large trucks on Palo Alto streets? If you see a truck that you think does not belong on our local streets, please call Sgt. Doug Keith at the Palo Alto Police Department at 329-2683 with the location, time and name of the truck's business. Large delivery trucks such as semis should only be moving south and north on Middlefield Road between Oregon and the Midtown Shopping area. They are not supposed to drive north on Middlefield from E. Meadow or Charleston to Midtown. When police officers see trucks on residential streets, they first find out if the driver is lost. If a driver is "lost" more than twice, he/she is cited.
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Midpeninsula Barter/Exchange Network Seeks New Members

Debbie Mytels

Want someone to help you weed your garden? Need help figuring out how to set up your computer so you can browse the web? Can't find a dog-sitter?

Midpeninsula Barter/Exchange Network (MB/EN), organized last spring, is open to new members. Participants fill out a membership form, listing the types of services they can perform (ranging from specialized and professional services to simple household chores) and are asked for a $3 annual membership fee. Members then receive a list of others in the network and are encouraged to call people offering services that they want to use. While members can trade services back and forth with each other, they may also use the skills of another member and provide their own service to a third person, using the MB/EN as a "bank."

For example, Mary may spend two hours helping Chris clean the garage. Chris is "minus two" but can earn "plus two" by editing a report for Terry. As service providers, bath Mary and Chris report their hours to the Network secretary, who keeps track of members' hours and sends out a monthly postcard with everyone's totals, news of new members, etc.

For more information, contact Debbie Mytels at 856-7580.
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Palo Alto Fiber to the Home

Dave Cortesi

This summer the City Council authorized the city utilities to look for ways to connect residential users to the city-owned optical fiber backbone, a high-speed data transmission medium that loops the city. Currently, the city leases access to the fiber to businesses that want to create fast network links between offices.

A residential fiber connection could offer the home computer user internet connection at 20 to 200 times the speed of a telephone modem -- a connection that is available at all times, without dialing delays, and without tying up a phone line.

The benefit to telecommuters and workaholic engineers is clear, but advocates say that when a high-bandwidth network connects every residence, applications will appear that cannot now even be imagined.

August Survey Response

The utility department's response was to initiate a limited trial beginning with a survey to find out the level of interest. A flier in the August utility bill brought an enthusiastic response: as of this week, 936 residents have signed up as being interested in fiber access. That's about 2% of all residents, and as much as 4% of all 25,000 residences, despite estimated connection costs as high as $2,000 and continuing monthly charges that are simply unknown.

Approximately 175 of the responses came from the Midtown area bounded by Oregon, Bayshore, Loma Verde and Alma. Of these, 65 also contacted Dave Cortesi in his role as volunteer coordinator for MRA. For a map of these, and other fiber to the home (FTH) links, visit the web page at http://www.dsp.net/cortesi/midtown.html

What Happens Next

he utilities department now will choose a few compact areas that can be wired (or "fibered'?) economically using existing utility poles and structures. A plan for this initial trial will be presented as a City Manager's Report to the Council for approval. The chosen sites will not be known until the report is made public.

Present estimates are that the report will be considered at the Council meeting of Tuesday, October 13 (October 12 is a holiday). To be put on the agenda, the report must be available for public review in all libraries at least seven days earlier. The Palo Alto Fiber-Net group will also put the report on the web as soon as they obtain it.

When the Council approves the report, the Utilities will offer fiber connection to all homes in the selected areas. After some period of time gaining experience, the utilities will presumably recommend offering the service in wider areas, ultimately to the entire city.

Getting Involved

The FTH trial was initiated because of citizen pressure, primarily from Community Center Neighbors, a resident group. This group recently reconstituted itself as Palo Alto Fibernet. Led by Warren Kallenbach to continue pressing the city to expedite the process of rolling out the fiber network.

PA Fibernet is likely to be the most important citizen influence on the progress of the FN initiative The group is loosely organized and welcomes new members. To participate, visit the group's web page at http://www.pa-fiber.net and sign up.
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Block Captains and Coordinator Needed for Emergency Preparedness Network

The flooding experienced by many Palo Altans this past winter underscores the importance of being prepared for disasters -- and of knowing your neighbors! Many of the flood victims were first awakened by a call from their neighbors rather than an "official" warning from city emergency crews. And while city staff and utilities workers struggled to bring back services many residents found themselves relying on neighbors and friends for hours, days, even weeks.

To assist residents in making connections with their neighbors, the Midtown Residents Association would like to set up a network of block captains. The task would be to connect with each of the residents on your block and help set up a communications chain that would be helpful in times of emergency, such as another flood or an earthquake. Block captains could also help share information about other community projects such as tree-planting, recycling and local events.

To get this project started, we need people who would like to take on responsibility for their block -- and one or more people who would like to help organize the block captains. Members of the MRA Steering Committee would be glad to help get the ball rolling, and resources are also available from the Neighborhood Watch program in the Police Department.

If you are interested in working on this project, please call MRA chair Debbie Mytels at 856-1580.
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What's happening at Scherbas?

Residents may hare noticed that Scherbas is no longer in business. The store will be occupied shortly by the Democratic Party as campaign headquarters through the November elections. The rumor is that this building will be taken over by a Midtown entrepreneur for a upscale Mexican restaurant.
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Residents Win Effort to Move Phone Transmitter

MRA members in the Marion/Middlefield area successfully won their effort this summer to prevent Pacific Bell Mobile Services from placing a radio frequency transmitter in their neighborhood atop the cross at the Crossroads Community Church.

In August, City Zoning Administrator Lisa Grote agreed instead to allow Pac Bell to place its mobile phone transmitter on a pole which will be erected next to the office building at 715 Colorado, which contains the offices of Bay Area Action and several local businesses. The transmitter will be 38 feet high (below the City's 45 foot limit) and will be located in a commercial zone, rather than in a residential area, as had previously been proposed.

MRA joined the neighbors in opposing such a commercial facility in the residential area on Marion, which the zoning administrator also ruled was not an appropriate location.
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Electronic Town Hall

Mid-Peninsula Access Corporation (MPAC), Channel 6, is launching a Town Hall meeting project, every two months, MPAC will partner with a local or national organization to create a televised "Common Sense Gathering."

The first meeting will be on Saturday October 3rd from 9:30 AM - 1:15 PM at the MPAC studios at 3200 Park Boulevard to discuss the future of Social Security. After a presentation, groups will be formed to discuss options. These options will be presented to legislators and the press. Please call 4948686 to reserve a spot and receive the materials.

On Saturday October 17th from 9AM - 1 PM, the League of Women Voters will sponsor the second public dialog in the series held at SLAC. The topic will be The Future of Medicare.

For more information, contact Shirley Rich at 969-2054 or Jean Meddaugh at 968-7622.


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