Spring 2002 Newsletter

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From the Chair:
It has been a year of many successes for Midtown. We'd like to share some highlights:
City Council Rulings
Meetings & Events
New Programs
Priorities For 2002
Matadero/Barron Creek Long-Term Remediation Project
Midtown Commercial Businesses
Call For Event Chair

  1. New and Remodels for Residential Housing -- Since 1995, MRA has been a strong advocate to city staff and council on the need for changes to the residential zoning code. Our efforts resulted in a city-wide task force that produced crisp zoning. Please see the announcement on the back cover for the next Midtown Residents Association General Meeting on March 7th to discuss the new rules. Handouts as well as testimonials by some of the first residents to go through the Individual Review Process will be featured.

  2. Retail focus in our Commercial Areas -- MRA was a key proponent to establish ground floor retail zoning for Midtown. This was successfully passed by council mid-year.

  3. Walgreens agreed to lease part of their store to retail food use -- MRA took the lead in working with Walgreens to make this happen. MRA has been "interviewing" potential food retailers.

  4. Enhanced focus on visibility issues for pedestrians and cyclists.

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  1. Ice Cream and Issues Social -- Attended by residents and city council members and sponsored by Longs.

  2. Traffic Mitigation Meeting for Midtown Commercial -- MRA facilitated a meeting by City Transportation Staff, held at knOwhere. This productive meeting provided the basis for staff recommendations to move ahead to finally recommend implementation of a light in front of Long's.

  3. Telecommunications in Midtown Center -- MRA moderated meeting by Nextel and Sprint.

  4. Instigated and co-hosted City Council Debates for South Palo Alto -- Over 190 attended, making this the best attended city council event of the election.

  5. Successful Blood Drive co-sponsored with Family YMCA on January 2nd with 8 first time donors. Approximately 84 blood components were received which could be transfused to patients.

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  1. Initial Contributor to the MidPeninsula Access Community Journal Program aired on local Channels 6 & 77

  2. Enews -- Events and topics for Midtown Residents

  3. Public Art -- Elizabeth Lada, local artist, starts work on Longs mural, a retrospective life of teenagers. This mural will be installed on Longs in late February.

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Like the Palo Alto City Council, we strive to be more effective by focusing our efforts. Therefore, for 2002, we developed key areas of concentration. They include:
  1. Traffic (Chair Traffic Action Committee - Deborah Webb)

    An initial proposal was presented to obtain public feedback from interested MRA members and neighbors on November 13, 2001. The vision is for a village-like Midtown Shopping Center, with modifications needed to reconfigure Middlefield Road as a village arterial. A copy of the proposal is available online at http://www.mimi.com/mra/traffic.htm. I will also mail you a paper copy if you do not have online access (see contact info below).

    The plan: Phase One to implement the long-awaited traffic light at Bryson and Middlefield in the fiscal year July 2002 to June 2003; Phase Two to implement a comprehensive context sensitive redesign for Middlefield Road in the fiscal year July 2003 to June 2004. A traffic study currently underway will ensure that the new traffic signal and traffic calming designs will not adversely impact traffic flows nor cause traffic hazards. Next steps are review by the Planning & Transportation Commission, then review of the proposal by City Council.

    We have also formally requested implementation of the following interim traffic safety improvements in the next 90 days:

    • Re-striping the faded directional lines and arrows on pavement in Midtown Shopping Center
    • Frequent, irregularly scheduled police enforcement of posted speed limit on Middlefield Road.

    We have also formally requested the re-striping of the faded bike lane lines along Bryant in west Midtown plus along Colorado leading to Middlefield Road from both directions.

    To comment, contact me by e-mail at theweblion@hotmail.com or home telephone 856-9468.

  2. Matadero/Barron Creek Long-Term Remediation Project (Chair, Sheri Furman)

    A small group of Midtown residents is planning to meet with city council members Dena Mossar and Hillary Freeman and Greg Zlotnick of the Santa Clara Valley Water District to discuss the impact of the proposed flood control measures on Matadero Creek. Work, which is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2003, will include raising the Louis Road bridge as well as increasing the height of floodwalls from West Bayshore Road to Alma Street. The purpose of the work is to provide protection from 100-year floods on both Barron and Matadero Creeks. As we gain a better understanding of the project, we will pass the details on to you. For more information, contact Sheri Furman at sheri11@earthlink.net.

  3. Midtown Commercial Businesses (Chair, Business and Public Relations - Ron Wolf)

    Our focus is to continue to work with Midtown merchants, as we continue the revitalization of the Midtown center. The next major project will be to work with Walgreens as they renovate the Co-op building. Additionally, we are working hard to convince additional retailers to locate here to add to the diversity of services and food at the center.

    The Safeway project is targeted to complete in the next 30 days. We will continue to work with Safeway and the City of Palo Alto to address resident concerns.

  4. Telecommunications (Co-Chairs: Lynn Chiapella, Sheri Furman, Annette Ashton) Although no applications are currently in progress, the city has received many requests for telecommunications towers in the Midtown area. MRA worked with city staff to encourage a clear city wide plan for telecommunications. In addition, MRA has been a facilitator for residents who are concerned about health issues. This included several public meetings leading to documentation of residents' concerns for subsequent discussion with city staff. MRA will continue to work with staff and residents as requests are identified--especially about the location and visual effect of any tower placement in Midtown.
MRA serves the community through collaboration with other agencies and organizations on projects including:
  1. Public Art (Chair, Annette Ashton) with the City of Palo Alto Art Commission.

    Midtown Residents Association has worked with the Palo Alto Art Commission to obtain 2 grants for public art murals in Midtown Commercial. Soon the first mural will be in place at the front of Long's. If any business owner wants to offer their site for a large mural, please let us know. In addition, Walgreens has agreed to work with us to implement public art on their south wall after renovations are complete.

  2. Midtown Home Delivery for Shut-Ins (Chair, Deborah Webb)

    This service is for those who are unable to shop for their own groceries for various reasons, but are still able to live at home independently if groceries can be delivered. Operating since April, after the Co-op store closed, we now offer an affiliation with Partners In Caring at Stanford Hospital, which provides training, support and liability insurance at no cost to you. If you would like to be a volunteer who shops for groceries, delivers them, and stays for a short chat once weekly, please contact Deborah by e-mail at theweblion@hotmail.com or home telephone 856-9468.

  3. MRA is featured on Community Journal every six to eight weeks. Short segments on Midtown issues, such as traffic, public art, and our community garden are broadcast on local Channels 6 and 77 in cooperation with the Midpeninsula Community Media Center. (Chair, Stepheny McGraw)

  4. Emergency Preparedness with the City of Palo Alto (Chair, Annette Ashton)

    Midtown expressed concern to the city after 9-11 that residents weren't fully prepared for a large-scale emergency. How many of us know where to go for shelter, food or know the emergency frequency on the radio? MRA instigated the formation of a city wide task force on this issue. Our liaisons to this committee: Annette Ashton/Diana Diamond (Co-chairs along with principal Council Member Judy Kleinberg) and Greg Bell, PANDA (Palo Alto Neighborhood Disaster Activities).

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We are accepting applications for the MRA steering committee position of Event Chair. The person chosen will work with the Chair and the Steering Committee to hold MRA events. Activities will include obtaining speakers and locations for these events, as well as interacting with the Steering Committee on publicity and resident mailings. Please send your applications to MidtownNews@ATT.NET or call Annette Ashton at 321-1280.

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This year we have started a special email news bulletin to Midtown residents to highlight meetings or areas of interest for Midtown Residents. So please make sure that we have your current email. Our intent for this service is short, sweet, and low volume "news that you can use."

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MRA was originally founded in late 1993 to address issues surrounding the Midtown Center. Since then, we have actively represented the concerns of Midtown residents on such issues as traffic, residential development, commercial revitalization, and flooding. We continually seek member feedback about our focus issues and ongoing programs.

Of utmost importance, we want to represent you and your issues. There is strength in numbers! The more Midtown residents that join, the bigger our impact at City Hall.

By becoming a member (and sending on your email address, if you have one), you enable us to work for you and represent your issues to staff, commissions and council.

We thank our loyal members! New members are important, too. What a bargain for a yearly $10 membership fee! These fees enable us to hold events and fund our mailings, notices and flyers.

For those of you who aren't currently members, we invite you to join. For current members, please renew for 2002 at your earliest convenience. Support our efforts by sending a check for $10, made out to Midtown Residents Association, to our MRA treasurer Sylvia Gartner, 824 Moreno Avenue, Palo Alto, Ca 94303.

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