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An Alternative View

By Diana Diamond

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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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'But baby, it's cold outside'

Uploaded: Aug 18, 2020
Local cities have been opening up their main streets to outdoor summer dining, providing a lovely way to spend a warm summer evening. The restaurants have carefully placed tables and chairs more than six-feet apart, all the staff are wearing masks (as are the customers who enter) and residents rave about what has been labeled as the "Summer Streets" program. All in all, it's great!

But Palo Alto has decided to keep this program open until Dec. 31. 2020 -- New Year's Eve. In large part that decision was made to keep the restaurants in business as long as possible this year, as their income has dropped considerably because of the coronavirus, but also because restaurants are building parklets by their front sidewalks, to provide an extended seating area for diners. The restaurants have to pay for the parklets, and evidently the city is extending the outdoor program to Dec. 31 so the restaurants can continue to earn some money.

But there are a couple of problems that haven't been solved yet.

Consider this scenario: It's Saturday night, Nov. 28, and a great night out for dinner. Restaurants are still serving, but only outside. A storm has come in, temperatures have dropped to 40 degrees, the wind is blowing hard, it's raining, and the restaurant table umbrellas are swinging back and forth. Their heaters are on, but the winds carry the heat away. The forecast is for a week of this weather. I don't know about you, but I'm not eating out in the cold and rain.

I've thought about putting heavy plastic curtains around the area, but then the restaurants created an outdoor room, where COVID-19 can easily spread. Forget that thought.

One other big problem is that University will be closed to cars during this entire period. That's great for restaurants, but what about other downtown stores, like Apple, CVS, Chico's, Footwear and other clothing stores. And what about stores on side streets -- they are losing money daily. Several closures -- and bankruptcies -- have already occurred.

"The city is working on these issues," Councilmember Eric Filseth told me. I sure hope so because what is imagined for summer evenings doesn't always work during late fall and winter days. It call it, "Plan Ahead."

Short agendas — long council meetings

Last week the Palo Alto City Council had two action items on its agenda. The first came up near 7 p.m. The second followed. The meeting ended at 11 p.m. This week there were also two items.

The first was on an application to tear down a one-story home at 2352 Webster St. and build in its place a much larger two-story home with a big basement.

The second agenda item asked the council to" amend the city's supply portfolio neutral plan and electric utility reserves management practices." Sounds like a real sexy topic, doesn't it.

The first item was really about an old house, a new house, and a very old tree on the property. Neighbors feared that the new basement would endanger this old tree, and the city arborist's view was different from a hired arborist's idea.

The discussion went on -- and on -- and lasted until midnight. The council never got to the second item.

Why does one single-family project take up nearly five hours of seven council members' time over what seems like a relatively routine item? Aren't there more important things to discuss? And why devote council meetings to just two items, when members used to tackle numerous issues?

When Jim Keene was city manager, there typically were several action items that drew a lot of public attention. I can't help wonder what happened. Are we more efficient as a city or is it the less discussed, the less the staff has to do? Your speculations are welcome.

"We're opening safely"

That's what the postcard from Palo Alto's Rec Department declared introducing their new fall programs, adding masks are needed and social distancing will be enforced. Will it? A lineup of activities makes me wonder: middle school athletics (girls volleyball, flag football and cross country), youth and teen Children's Theatre, outdoor cardio dance, tennis, and kids soccer, to name several.

I question whether this is the right time to hold these classes, especially when schools are staying shut and the number or coronavirus cases in Palo Alto is increasing. And BTW, we know kids have a hard time keeping on their mask, especially when playing volleyball or soccer.

We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?

Comments

 +   4 people like this
Posted by Justin Case, a resident of another community,
on Aug 18, 2020 at 2:11 pm

Justin Case is a registered user.

Inclement winter weather & colder temperatures will most likely make for a less than ideal/pleasant dining experience.

Though we have absolutely no intention of venturing outdoors to dine when wintertime arrives, would large tents (observant of proper social distancing advisements) suffice for those so inclined to 'stepping out' for a bite to eat?

Romantic/intimate dinners at a restaurant will most likely take on a new appearance & overall experience.

Why not just learn to cook & spend some of that hard-earned dining out money at Williams-Sonoma and/or some other utensil vendor?

Besides...the last time I checked, many women are appreciative of a man who knows how to prepare a satisfying & well-crafted meal.

In these uncertain times, there is no need to become a slave to dining out & if some restaurants eventually fold, so be it as countless restaurants, diners and cafes have ceased to exist long before the Covid-19 pandemic reared its ugly head.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Justin Case, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Aug 18, 2020 at 2:37 pm

Justin Case is a registered user.

>"Aren't there more important things to discuss?"

^ An emphatic YES but the PACC is known for its trivialization.

They are apparently adherents of a Mayberry mentality and besides, there are many PA old-timers who still yearn for a 'small-town' environment where pettiness is an actual council agenda topic.







 +   11 people like this
Posted by Victor Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Aug 18, 2020 at 3:44 pm

Victor Bishop is a registered user.

Well, Diana maybe you should continue to push for a complete lockdown, I suggest you push for 6 months. That will solve your concerns about outdoor dining and the rec department Programs.

As for the council, there is nothing that will bring out public discussion than the ability to micromanage property that does not belong to you,


 +   4 people like this
Posted by DIana Diamond, a resident of Midtown,
on Aug 18, 2020 at 4:32 pm

DIana Diamond is a registered user.

Justin --

Spoken like a true man!

You said: 'Why not just learn to cook & spend some of that hard-earned dining out money at Williams-Sonoma and/or some other utensil vendor?"

Well, I learned to cook when I was 21, and I cooked for years for my husband and four kids, and now I am still cooking for may husband -- six days a week. So I really appreciate one meal out when I don't have to cook!
And as for buying a new Williams and Sonoma trinket to inspire my cooking -- forget about it.

You also said, "Besides...the last time I checked, many women are appreciative of a man who knows how to prepare a satisfying & well-crafted meal."

Sure we do, but right now I want my husband and other men to do it six nights a week. Have you tried that yet, Justin?

Re the tent idea -- if you enclose all the tables in a tent, you've created a room where the virus can circulate, so it's the same as eating inside.

Best,
Diana




A

A


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Justin Case, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Aug 18, 2020 at 5:02 pm

Justin Case is a registered user.

Diana....
I cook dinner roughly 6-7 times a week as the other half cannot even boil water...in her favor, she is very adept at opening a bottle of wine which saves me some prep time.

Alternatives include take-out...usually Chinese or pizza

As for the dining tents, you brought up a good point...one that I overlooked given the current scenario.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Victor Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Aug 18, 2020 at 6:46 pm

Victor Bishop is a registered user.

“Re the tent idea -- if you enclose all the tables in a tent, you've created a room where the virus can circulate, so it's the same as eating inside.“

Diana you seem to be perpetuating the myth/hysteria that all indoor places are bad (I.e. restaurants, bar eats etc)

I wonder how many cases of COVID-19 in San Mateo county came from indoor dining and barber shops/hairstaylists when they were open for business.
I am sure you and the weekly could find this out


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Victor Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Aug 18, 2020 at 7:17 pm

Victor Bishop is a registered user.

Above should be “barbers" not “ bar eats"


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Justin Case, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Aug 18, 2020 at 7:35 pm

Justin Case is a registered user.

Victor...
Just a thought...in regards to enclosed indoor areas (whether they be outdoor dining tents or the interiors of existing buildings), could the implementation of exhaust fans (by drawing the air out) solve the inherent problems associated with stagnant air which may or may not contain contaminated Covid-19 air particles?

If so...perhaps some 'non-essential' businesses could reopen with limited customer foot traffic though it would probably be advisable not to be walking past or coming into direct contact with the expelled airflow (with or without a face mask).

Fire departments use exhaust fans to irradicate interior smoke and pot growers rely on them to draw moisture from the 'buds' during the curing process.




 +   3 people like this
Posted by Victor Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Aug 18, 2020 at 8:56 pm

Victor Bishop is a registered user.

Justin- non essential stores are already open with limited foot traffic - bookstores, Best Buy, shoe stores- basically any store that has an outside entrance can be open. But malls are evil.

Perhaps , Diana , who is pushing the “indoors is evil":mantra, could provide us with some evidence of that.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Justin Case, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 9:00 am

Justin Case is a registered user.

>"...basically any store that has an outside entrance can be open. But malls are evil."

Shopping malls (depending on their size) tend to attract a sizable number shoppers & casual browsers.

Good for the economy, business owners & general shopping convenience BUT a potential spreader of Covid-19 when/if recommended public health protocols (i.e. the wearing of face masks & maintaining proper social distancing) are either neglected or overlooked.

I have noticed that 6 foot distancing requirements are being regularly ignored even at the grocery stores while pushing a cart down the aisles. Folks are getting a bit complacent even if they are wearing face masks.

It will become increasingly difficult to enforce and maintain
Covid-19 public health recommendations if larger public gatherings (e.g. mega shopping malls, sporting events & various rallies etc.) are allowed to resume prematurely or unchecked.

The 'concerned' VS 'unconcerned' mindsets will outdoubtedly lead to further confrontations...both verbal as well as physical and this in turn will create an additional societal & law enforcement problem.

The coronavirus is still a mystery
so perhaps a controversial 'ounce of prevention' remains the best alternative measure at present.











 +   1 person likes this
Posted by dena, a resident of Midtown,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:55 am

dena is a registered user.

My husband and I both cook, but we LOVE our date nights! We so enjoy dining out and, especially now, we want to do everything we can to support our local restaurants during these difficult times. This is temporary folks - we will have a vaccine in a few months and this pandemic will be over. Let's do whatever we can until then to keep our local businesses open and not fuss over things like maybe bad weather on November 28, or not being able to park on University or California Avenues. Park, walk, shop, eat - be safe, help our community and have fun!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 12:22 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

My husband was more than willing to do all the cooking, cleaning, childrearing, yardwork, volunteering and breadwinning, while I faded into the backwound with a cold beer and a ballgame. Happily ever after...


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Justin Case, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 4:29 pm

Justin Case is a registered user.

>"This is temporary folks - we will have a vaccine in a few months and this pandemic will be over."

^ The vaccine will need to safe & effective as well as timely...how many folks are willing to bet the house on this outcome?

>"My husband was more than willing to do all the cooking, cleaning, childrearing, yardwork, volunteering and breadwinning, while I faded into the backwound with a cold beer and a ballgame. Happily ever after..."

^ Every woman's dream...count your blessings!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by J Zell, a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde,
on Aug 20, 2020 at 1:02 pm

J Zell is a registered user.

1) Diana, titling an article with the name of a song that celebrates date rape isn't ideal and takes away from the valid points you are making. There's so many ways to communicate your message without using the lyrics. The song has long been critiqued by intersectional feminist communities/activists against rape culture for its incredibly harmful ideologies
this article highlights many of the issues
TW: date rape, rape culture, graphic descriptions of slavery, racism ,
Web Link




2) Justin---
comments about learning to cook around gender are both sexist regardless of your intentions by reinforcing the idea of women cooking for men. This is 2020...we still have a long way to go but really? Not to mention it erases trans and non binary folks and queer relationships. its also an overall bizarre response.


2) Victor--
Malls aren't evil. But taking extra precautions to ensure that we reduce spread and the number of people who get Covid is a good thing. Its important to take care of the vulnerable in our community.




 +   5 people like this
Posted by Victor Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Aug 20, 2020 at 2:46 pm

Victor Bishop is a registered user.

J zell- anything indoor has been characterized as evil. I am not talking about opening bars. However movie theaters, malls, barbers, hairstylists can be open safely, with proper social distancing etc.

As I have said many times I would like to see the data showing the number of cases that arose in San Mateo county when indoor dining and hairstylists indoors were open. As well as cases from target, wal mart and Safeway.

Cody loves to tell us that her decisions are data driven. What about the case of the Missouri hair stylists? Two infected hairstylists came into contact with 100+ customers indoors. They were all wearing masks. There were no reported cases arising from that incident.

IMHO, it is not data that drives SCC decisions- it is Cody's desire to keep everything shut for as long as she can.

What about the mental health, domestic abuse, financial and health issues arising from deferment of surgery/procedure?
I guess since those numbers are not COVID related, they do not matter.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Justin Case, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Aug 20, 2020 at 3:12 pm

Justin Case is a registered user.

> "...titling an article with the name of a song that celebrates date rape isn't ideal and takes away from the valid points you are making."

^ Perhaps you are reading too much into the lyrics let alone the title of this blog article.

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" could also be taken into the wrong context...especially if Daddy was of the jealous type & happened to own a shotgun. Does this fictional image encourage holiday domestic violence?

>"...comments about learning to cook around gender are both sexist regardless of your intentions by reinforcing the idea of women cooking for men...
it erases trans and non binary folks and queer relationships. its also an overall bizarre response.

^ It doesn't matter who does the cooking as long as the food is edible & safe to consume. For those who wish to make it a debatable topic or issue, there's always McDonald's.

LGBTQ couples can do whatever they want in the kitchen as I could care less who's wearing the apron or washing the dishes.

Let them haggle over it.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Alvin, a resident of Professorville,
on Aug 25, 2020 at 4:25 pm

Alvin is a registered user.

Victor: "Well, Diana maybe you should continue to push for a complete lockdown, I suggest you push for 6 months." Funny, but I think they want to first push through the elections and see what happens.

I'm giving up on trying to talk sense with all these lockers and maskers. Better we just call the whole thing off, cancel school, sports and bars forever, and shelter in place until people stop getting sick.


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