Midtown Residents Association Neighborhood Newsletter
Spring 2005

FROM THE CHAIR: Annette Ashton
BUILDING COMMUNITY: After participating in the city's April Emergency Preparation Drill, I am strongly impressed by the professionalism and seriousness of our Palo Alto Fire and Police Departments. During a time of emergency the City's primary duty is to ensure public safety. In a catastrophic event, City resources may be overwhelmed. The Red Cross informs us that in case of an emergency - earthquake, fire, flood, mountain lion sightings, industrial accident, or terrorist attack - it could be 72 hours or more before help would be available in our neighborhoods.

Our neighborhood, Midtown, will be well served by our 60+ Midtown PANDAs (Palo Alto Neighborhood Disaster Activity). PANDAs attend a free eight week class offered by Palo Alto Fire and are trained to provide the first level of assistance to the community in a disaster.

However we can do more. Each family needs to take one more step in being prepared. Neighborhoods (blocks) have to have a network of help and self-help for themselves. Knowledge is our best defense against panic in times of disaster.

The April Midtown Emergency Preparation Meeting was well attended. Participant pledged to TAKE ONE STEP FORWARD IN BEING PREPARED. These steps include:

  • General education - Attend a Red Cross class such as "Preparing for the Unexpected"
  • Have a plan - Develop a family plan for where to go, who to call in an emergency
  • Get supplied - Build a kit or buy one ready made for your home and your car
  • Take a class - Become a PANDA or a HAM radio operator, take CPR, First Aid, or the Citizen's Police Academy
  • Organize your neighborhood

With the onset of beautiful weather and warm nights, MRA encourages you to have a block party and get to know your neighbors. The good news is that this year block party permits are free; although you are still required to obtain a permit. Block party kits are available on the MRA web site, and MRA emergency preparation committee members will be happy to help you set up a block party. Develop a neighborhood list and a phone tree. Note where the disabled/elderly are as well as assess available skills - medical, maintenance, electrical, structural, etc. - that your neighbors have.

Midtown will participate in this year's "National Night Out" (NNO) program on the first Tuesday in August (the 2nd) to encourage neighborhood camaraderie. More publicity from the city will be forthcoming - contests, t-shirts, stickers, caps, banners etc will be available. MRA especially welcomes the traditional porch-sitting and 'lights on', block parties, cookouts, parades, and visits from law enforcement and council members. Please let us know about plans for your block so we can celebrate your fun in Midtown enews.

When are our local restaurants open? What churches or synagogues are nearby? What are the local activities for kids? Find the answers to these questions and more on the Visit Midtown Businesses link on the Midtown web site (www.midtownresidents.org). You'll find the types of stores along with their hours, phone numbers, managers, emails, and web sites. SHOP MIDTOWN!

MIDTOWN - People define our history…a continuing story… Places are just dots on the map until we connect them with the people who bring them to life and give them significance. In our series on notable people in the MRA News, we connect these people to the places we pass every day and show how our neighborhood has evolved.

JOE TERESI story by Stepheny McGraw

Joe Teresi is one of those people who can tell you what a box culvert is. He can also tell you what Midtown was like in the 1950s and 60s because it's where he grew up. He remembers that you could hear the frogs in Matadero Creek and often see numbers of them hopping across the road.

Every house had kids and there were "always about 50 kids playing" in the cul de sacs and streets. Hoover School had an after school program with board games and crafts and frequent carnivals. Traffic wasn't a big concern. There was a donut shop at Middlefield and Loma Verde.

The Teresis' first Palo Alto home, in between Middlefield and Ross Road, was bulldozed in the early 1960s to make way for the Oregon Expressway. Joe Sr. and wife, Mabel, still live on Wellsbury Lane where they moved the family then. As a Bellarmine student, the future Berkeley civil engineer would bike to the California Avenue train station and catch the train to school. On family outings in the car, however, it was Joe who his father counted on to read the maps and navigate.

Photo by Sharon Fox
Well known today as the Czar of Palo Alto Storm Drains and a 21 year member of the Public Works Department, Joe spent a brief stint with CalTrans before coming to the city as a multipurpose engineer. He initially worked on creating Greer Park.

Besides the Matadero Creek frogs, Joe has a vivid memory of the swimming pool at Chuck Thompson's where he almost drowned when he went too close to the uncovered grate in the deep end. His arm was sucked in up to the elbow, creating a vacuum from which the lifeguard couldn't release him. Luckily, a manager was on hand and threw the pump switch in time. The following week, Joe was back swimming at the pool. Many years later, when the City took over Chuck Thompson's and the pool was being demolished in the 1990s, he got to swing the first sledge hammer as his parents, his colleagues and the press cheered.

Now a resident of Millbrae, Joe is President of the Music Boosters at Millbrae High with his wife Shari, a substitute teacher, and his son Chris, a saxophonist and future animator. Daughter Karen, who followed her dad to Berkeley, is studying to be a history teacher.

Much cheered himself by the recent passage of the Storm Drains Measure in Palo Alto; Joe said of his fellow Public Works colleagues, "We all try to do a good job. I wish people would appreciate us."

BILL GARVEY'S IRRESISTIBLE FACE story by Jocelyn Dong printed with appreciation
to the Palo Alto Weekly

Bill Garvey is known to Palo Altans for many things: Former chair of the Parks & Recreation Commission, vice president and general counsel of Actuate Corporation, Midtown resident, tri-athlete, avid golfer, and father of 8-year-old son BJ and 6-year-old daughter Kate. But thanks to his wife, Jane, Garvey is now known for something else: His face.

Jane secretly entered Garvey in the Gillette Company's "Completely Irresistible Face" competition this summer, submitting a photo she'd taken last Christmas. The result? Out of 1,200 entries nationwide, Garvey was named one of 10 finalists. Though the top prize went to a computer technician from Richmond, Va., Garvey seems pleasantly surprised with his ranking. The Weekly caught up with the 39-year-old this week to talk about the contest and life in Palo Alto.

Q: So Bill, what makes your face so irresistible?
A: That's a tough one to answer. I don't know. I have gotten a lot of comments over the years about my eyes.

Q: Tell me how you got involved with this contest.
A: Unbeknownst to me, my wife had entered me in the contest. I hadn't even known about it until we got a call from the public relations agency running the contest that I'd been selected as one of 11 finalists (10 finalists plus the winner). I was surprised.

Q: How have your friends reacted to the news that you were named a finalist?
A: I haven't told a lot of people, but after this is published I expect to get some e-mails and calls.

Q: How long have you lived in Palo Alto?
A: 10 years.

Q: What's the best thing about the city?
A: There are a lot of great things about Palo Alto. I love the weather. Having Stanford University so close. I also like having a downtown area with a variety of restaurants and shopping. It's a friendly community, and a very active community in terms of schools.

Q: What's the worst thing about Palo Alto?
A: Having been a former Parks and Recreation commissioner, I believe the pace of city government is incredibly slow. It takes seemingly forever to get something accomplished -- even issues that have overwhelming support can be held hostage by a handful of vocal non-supporters. That's extremely frustrating. It doesn't help the city's reputation.

Q: If you were the mayor of Palo Alto, what's the first thing you'd do?
A: I think I would shrink the size of the City Council. I'd hold fewer council meetings and let staff do more of the work. I'd entertain public input on issues but I would work for what's best for the city, rather than research and study every issue to death.

Q: How did you choose your neighborhood?
A: We had rented the home on Emerson Street for four to five years. Then the landlord sold it to us. We tore it down and built a new home. So we've lived in the same place for 10 years in two different houses.

Q: On the friendliness scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), how friendly is your neighborhood?
A: I'd say 7 or 8.

Q: When's the last time you got together with any neighbors?
A: We have a block party every September. We get together with families from the elementary school on a regular basis.

Q: What do you think of the idea that parents should pay hundreds of dollars each year for their child's public education?
A: First, I think it's one of the things that makes Palo Alto so desirable -- the quality of public-school education that's provided. Clearly, to maintain the level of teacher staffing we've enjoyed, additional funds have to come from the parents. That being said, with the parcel tax proposed for the fall, there are people who may feel that reaching out and asking for more may be difficult.

Q: Do you think parents are feeling over-taxed?
A: Yes. And I'm wondering if the school district is doing everything they can to operate the district in the most efficient way possible.

Q: Have you received your prize for the Gillette contest?
A: No, I haven't received it yet. The $500 check and skincare products are in the mail.

Q: If I came to your house, what skincare products would I find in your bathroom?
A: Not a whole heck of a lot. Maybe a moisturizer.

Q: Will you use the Gillette's skincare line?
A: Yes.

Q: Any advice for men aspiring to have an irresistible face?
A: I think you have to rely on your wife to take a very good picture of you.

FROM Next Door- an occasional feature of the Weekly's Neighborhoods section, spotlighting noteworthy neighbors and asking for their views on life in Palo Alto.

In case you are wondering about Neighborhood Watch programs, here is a little overview.

I recently moved to Midtown from Menlo Park, where, a few years ago, I was the Block Captain for our Neighborhood Watch Program. We got so much out of it that we became a model program and continue to be a close-knit group even though the neighborhood has seen changes and people have moved on. Every program is different. In each neighborhood you create the program that works for you. In ours, we had meetings after dinner with cookies and coffee in one of our homes. We had wonderful talks and discussions with professionals in the community who volunteered their time, such as community police, Red Cross disaster program staff and Office of Emergency Service people. We also had block parties, and continue to do so, even though I've moved. And we continue to watch out for one another - not only in crime prevention, but in caring about one another when someone is sick or needs help in some way.

Did you know that Neighborhood Watch programs are one of the best ways to prevent crime and bring security to our neighborhoods, safety to our children and support for people with special needs? It consists of neighbors getting to know one another, watching out for one another and working together for the good of the neighborhood. The first program was created in 1972 by the National Sheriff's Association, based on the finding that communities could reduce the crime rate when residents were trained in techniques of crime prevention, home security, etc.

While thinking about what I would write for this article, I found a great website (go to http://www.oag.state.ny.us/ and click Neighborhood Watch) that tells you everything you need to know about Neighborhood Watch programs - how to create them and the wide variety of activities you can develop. Some suggestions from the website:

  • At neighborhood meetings, you discuss and decide what kinds of topics and activities you'd like. A few suggestions for meetings are: Personal safety, observation skills, self-defense skills, child security, safety strategies for seniors, home security, fire prevention and safety, traffic safety, scams and consumer fraud, internet security, and/or home and garden beautification.
  • Other activities you, as a neighborhood might like to do, could include events such as block parties, potlucks or pancake breakfasts, adult and/or youth recreation activities, children's parades, neighborhood "goods exchanges" of toys, books, etc., and special projects or workshops for your block with business, education or community leaders.

All the wonderful, invaluable and fun activities you can do as a neighborhood are endless once you get together with your neighbors and talk about what you would like for your Neighborhood Watch Program.

GREER PARK UPDATE - Annette Ashton

The history of Greer Park goes back to 1974. The park was developed in phases, the last phase never completed due to lack of city funding. After decades of neglect, MRA persuaded the Parks and Recreation Commission to form a task force to complete the last 1.5 acres of Greer. This unsightly area has been used for everything from an unkempt weedy lot to storage of city vehicles to a sandbag staging center. The task force's goal is to present recommendations to the commission with energy and motivation to get something approved.

The original master plan called for this area to be a community center; it was later amended to tennis courts. Why not follow the master plan for tennis? The city feels that there is not much need for tennis courts and that this location is too noisy and windy. In December 2004, the Parks and Golf Division surveyed city tennis courts usage. This survey concluded that there are sufficient tennis courts for demand, but that many courts are not in good shape. The Palo Alto Tennis club feels strongly that there are not enough courts and provided data after surveying their members. Their members feel there are not enough public courts available at peak times. Additionally the Tennis Club has several new tennis programs for youth; these are oversubscribed and cannot meet the demand. As we continue the public process, there will be much discussion on tennis courts -- the availability, location, site desirability.

The first step was to brainstorm possible options for this corner. We considered: Bocchi Ball Court, Community Center, Community Garden, Dog Park, Gymnasium, Do Nothing, PAR Course/Senior Trail, Parking Lot, Passive Park, Recycle Center, Skate Park, Sports Field, Swimming Pool, and Tennis Courts. The next step will be to examine these options, group them, develop pros and cons for each option and then prioritize our recommendations. Prioritization criteria that have been discussed so far include: Benefit to the Community, Community Expressed Need for the development, Cost of Enhancement, Diversity of Use (senior, adult, youth, child). We will then present our recommendations to the Parks and Recreation Commission. Any recommendation to move forward will be closely followed by a Midtown public meeting. There will be many opportunities for your input. We hope there will be robust dialog on future uses for this undeveloped precious piece of parkland in our city. Please join the conversation.

SCHOOL PARCEL TAX - "YES" - by Cindy Samos

Dear Midtown Resident Association Members, I would like to explain why I'm supporting Measure A, which will be voted on in a special election on June 7th, 2005.

I was born and raised in this area and am a graduate of Terman Jr. High and Gunn High school. I'm also a 13 year resident of Midtown. When my husband and I purchased our house we saved for the down payment for years. We knew housing in Palo Alto was expensive, much more so than surrounding areas, but we knew that one day we wanted children, and this is where we wanted to have them educated. I sometimes joke that we lived like grad students for years to save money to buy a house here, and now that we have three children, we still practically live like grad students. But it's worth it. We have peace of mind knowing that our children's future is bright. We also thank our lucky stars that we were able to purchase a house that has appreciated so much in value. Our house is our nest egg and we know that our great schools have played a significant role in its appreciation.

Why We Need Measure A (facts from the Palo Alto School District website)

PA schools have lost 4.4 million in funding from the state over the past 3 years, while enrollment growth (554 students) has added 3 million in annual expenditures (PA schools do not receive additional funds for increased enrollment).

Given the economic downturn and increased costs, such as workers compensation benefits and utilities, the District has already made program cuts of 6.5 million and tapped 3.4 million in limited emergency reserves. Most of the cuts so far have avoided the classroom, however, the 2004/2005 budget already includes cuts in language and AP physics courses, elementary reading, art and math programs, library hours, instructional materials, athletics, technology and custodial support.

Without Measure A this coming August the District must decide how to cut 5.5 million (the current parcel tax revenue) more from their budget. This would most likely result in the loss of up to 107 teachers, increased class sizes, possible reduction of one period of classes at the middle and high-school level, and the possible closure of an elementary school.

Are There Other Ways to Get this Money?

In order to make up the loss of revenue from the state and a parcel tax failure, tax revenues, including housing and commercial property, would have to increase by 15%. This possibility is close to zero, as the 2004-2005 growth was 5-6% and 2003-2004 growth was only 1%. Under proposition 13, the only way to increase funding for schools is through a parcel tax. You can get more detailed information on a privately funded, grassroots campaign working to pass Measure A at www.campaignforexcellence.org or general information from the school district by going to go to: http://www.pausd.palo-alto.ca us/community/downloads/brd_ed/parcel_tax.pdf.

Palo Altans have always supported their public schools because they know good public schools are the cornerstone of a successful community. You only have to read the morning papers or watch the evening news to see the devastating effects of declining public schools.

I urge your support of Measure A on June 7.

SCHOOL PARCEL TAX - "NO" - by Tom Ashton

Dear PAUSD Measure A Voter: On the upcoming PAUSD Measure A parcel tax on June 7, 2005, I can give no better message than Terry Bolash's letter to the editor in the Mercury News on April 23 for a school parcel tax in Redwood City. The only thing I can add is that Measure A here in Palo Alto will cost residents almost 6 times the amount in Redwood City of $85. Thanks, and don't forget to mark your calendar to "VOTE 'NO' ON JUNE 7".

NO ON SCHOOL TAX FOR REDWOOD CITY: I am looking at two mailers supporting Measure V, the Redwood City school parcel tax. One states that local newspapers, including yours, urge a yes vote on V. The other has pictures of 18 people who support V -- including four former Redwood City mayors, the current mayor, a sheriff and three former senior affairs commission members. It should be noted that seniors will be exempt from this tax, so they have nothing to lose by voting to increase their younger neighbors' taxes.

Am I the only one who looks at the property-tax bill and sees at least eight assessments for schools already? Plus an additional assessment for maintenance. Schools are taking in more money than ever, even with Proposition 13. The problem is that people who run the schools, like those in city, state and federal governments, always feel more money will solve any problem. And they are able to come up with ways to spend it faster than those they tax can earn it. If V fails, I wonder how many of those pictured on the mailers, and even those on newspaper editorial boards supporting this measure, will step up and write a check. I'm certain that many of those supporters can afford more than the $85 a year for only five years. After all, they apparently think I can. Terry Bolash, Redwood City

Editors Note: This parcel tax failed per the May 5th Mercury News.


Classics at Sterling Park is a proposed new community to be developed on the approximately 6.5 acre property located at the northern corner of West Bayshore Road and Loma Verde Avenue. The property is currently zoned for light industrial use with an underlying residential zoning of up to 30 units an acre. The final project, however, will most likely be closer to 15 units per acre, depending on the design eventually approved.

The proposed development is a mix of single-family and townhome style units, primarily three stories (35-40 feet in height), with attached one car or two car garages. The homes range in size from 1,400 to 1,900 square feet.

The MRA and concerned neighbors met with the developer on April 21 to voice concerns over the various aspects of the proposal. Major concerns include:

Architectural Style

  • A key issue is transition between the Classics development (three stories planned) and the current single-story homes on Maddux.
  • The proposed contemporary look fits neither with the neighborhood nor the Baylands.
  • Density and site plan of buildings.
  • Tree removal and use of the Sterling Canal wildlife area.

Neighborhood Impact

  • Impact of the housing units on schools and city services.
  • Impact of the proposed Bayshore sound wall.
  • Effect of the increased traffic on Loma Verde, Maddux, and Greer.
  • Overflow parking on Loma Verde and West Bayshore.

of planting and habitat improvements

Saturday, May 14 - 10 AM - 12 PM
Starting at the Municipal Services Center Parking Lot
3201 E Bayshore Road

MRA and the Santa Clara Valley Water District invite you to a tour of the Matadero Creek to celebrate the completion of the Matadero/Barron creeks flood protection project. The tour, along the bypass channel, is less than one mile.

View environmental improvements along the creek, including expanded habitat for the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse. Other enhancements include creekside plantings to improve the aesthetics and health of the waterways, and the removal of non-native plants.

Chair: Annette Ashton Events: Angela Bumbera
Vice Chair: Sheri Furman Media Relations: Peggy Kenny
Treasurer: Sylvia Gartner School Liaison: Cindy Samos
Membership/Development: Karen Lawrence Business Liaisons
Civic Affairs (Traffic, Water)
and Communications:
Sheri Furman,
Stepheny McGraw,
Preston Carter
Midtown Central:

Alma Plaza:
Karen Lawrence,
Stepheny McGraw
Jay Hammer
Emergency Preparation: Marsha Alper,
Terri Bognar
Public Art: Annette Ashton,
Sylvia Gartner
Zoning: Lynn Chiapella,
Tom Ashton
Sheri Furman
Sharon Fox

  Cynthia Berg Dan & Sunny Dykwel Lief Samuelsson
  June Cancell Dena Goldberg Talia Shaham
  Preston Carter Ellin Klor & Hal Jerman Derek & Sunny Smith
  Steve Crothers & Palo Alto Firefighters Audrey Szu-Tu
  Charlene Gliniecki Barry Rose  

Get the Latest Midtown News By E-mail or Let Us Know if Your Email Has Changed
To receive enews updates about events of importance to Midtown, just send your email address, name and phone to MidtownNews@att.net. If your email has changed send your new address to our editor at MidtownNews@ATT.net.

New List Serv
MRA has created a list serv (an email list service) so that Midtown residents can directly share their thoughts and opinions with each other. Most of the other large neighborhood organizations have both a news service and a list serv for conversations. This service also gives us the ability to generate polls so we can easily obtain your feedback. Midtown Enews will be reserved for items of public interest to Midtown residents and no longer carry individual opinions/editorials. Please visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PaloAltoMidtown, to learn more. As a member of the group you can easily send messages to the group by emailing PaloAltoMidtown@yahoogroups.com.

Support MRA
Midtown Residents Association is staffed by volunteers, and we do a lot with a little. But we need a little money from time to time to put out mailings, fliers, support our web site etc. Our regular dues are only $10/year. If you're not a current supporting member, please become one. If you already have your annual support in, we thank you; if you want to donate a little extra, that would be very much appreciated.

Every adult living in Midtown is a member of the Midtown Residents Association (MRA). You benefit from the activities and information that MRA provides. There's enews, the newsletter, the Ice Cream Social (this year will be our seventh year), the general meetings (remember the one on" Identity Theft" by our Palo Alto Police Chief), and co-sponsored meetings (e.g. the emergency preparedness, council candidates). We encourage you to let us know of any developments or issues in Midtown where MRA can play an advocacy role. Please let us know if there are events, awards, recognition or "bit of news" that you would like to publicize If you want to be more involved and have questions, call Annette Ashton 321-1280.

How to Renew
Please note the date on your label on this hard copy newsletter is the date you last paid or sent a check. To join or renew online: go to our web site www.MidtownResidents.org and click the left icon "Become a Member". If by check: please make your check out to MRA, and send to our treasurer, Sylvia Gartner, at 824 Moreno, Palo Alto, 94303.

Shameless Plug for the MRA Website
Have you visited the MRA website (www.midtownresidents.org)? You can find links to:
  • Upcoming events and an events calendar
  • Disaster planning information, including Emergency Preparedness Kits
  • Our ongoing History of Midtown
  • Current and past issues of our newsletters and eNews
  • The proposed new residential development at Loma Verde & West Bayshore
  • Our new Neighbor-to-Neighbor Email Service

What's Happening in Midtown?
  • May 14 - Santa Clara Valley Water District "show and tell", walk and celebration of the improvements at Matadero Creek.
  • May 21 - Baylands Nature Walk
  • Neighborhood Watch/Emergency Preparation
  • June 4 - CPR Training
  • June 8 - Story Telling from a master story teller - Tom Farley
  • July - Greg Brown Art Celebration
  • July 13 - A Developer's Perspective (TENTATIVE DATE)
  • October 23 - Seventh Annual Social Hoover Park, 2901 Cowper - 1 PM till 4 PM
  • October 13 - MRA Co-Sponsors City Council Candidate Forum at Mitchell Park Community Center
  • November 2 - PLEASE VOTE

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