City Manager Weekly Update Blog Series: August 9, 2021
Learn about recent City of Palo Alto updates and news.
Each Council meeting, City Manager Ed Shikada provides “City Manager Comments” sharing recent City news, and updates for the community to stay informed on important issues. This blog series summarizes these weekly updates.
If you’d prefer, watch the City Manager share this week’s updates and news at the August 9, 2021 Council meeting.
Timestamped City Council Video: City Council Meeting — August 9, 2021
PANDEMIC RESPONSE AND RECOVERY
On August 3, 2021, eight Bay Area Health Officers announced a new mask mandate for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, while in public indoor settings and businesses including retail, restaurants, and local government offices serving the public.
Vaccines remain the most powerful tool in the fight against COVID-19, including the Delta variant. Nonetheless, the Delta variant is infecting a small percentage of the vaccinated in the Bay Area — who still remain strongly protected against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. In those instances of infection in a vaccinated person, a face covering prevents further spread. Bay Area health officials urge all unvaccinated residents 12 and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible. We also urge our community to get vaccinated as this is the most effective way of preventing and becoming seriously ill with the coronavirus.
The City takes the safety of our community and employees seriously, and we are working with employee groups to potentially implement required vaccinations for the workforce.
Free COVID testing continues weekly in Palo Alto. The County is hosting three testing events on August 23, September 27 and October 25 at the Cubberley Pavilion.
For Free COVID-19 vaccinations, go to sccfreevax.com
SUMMER RECESS REPORT
An informational report was presented to the City Council to provide a brief update on activities accomplished during the July recess.
The updates are organized by department and a few updates include:
- Race and Equity Framework Progress
- End of Fiscal Year and New Fiscal Year Activities
- Potential Community Project Funding of $11M
- Virtual and In-Person Summer Camps, Children’s Theater and other Community Events
- Safe Routes to Schools and South Palo Alto Bikeways
- Highway 101 Bike Bridge and Public Safety Building Projects
CITY FACILITY REOPENING PLANS
In response to the latest safety recommendations by County and State health officials — who have reported increasing concern over a rise in the number of COVID-19 Delta variant cases — the City now requires all visitors to City facilities to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, and continue maintaining social distancing protocols.
City Hall services are open by appointment from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for business with administration, code enforcement, public works, transportation services, police records services, utility billing services, and revenue collections.
The Planning and Development Services plan to transition from virtual to hybrid appointments, in-person and phone/virtual, starting August 9, 2021.
In-person appointments are available Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Phone/virtual appointments are available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
To save the public time, reduce carbon emissions, and continue business efficiencies found during the pandemic, City Hall will continue its phone and online services, which were well received during the pandemic restrictions when walkups were not possible. This includes City services such as parking permits and tickets, building permits and planning appointments, utility bill payments and police reports.
Although the City hoped to enable hybrid public meetings (blend of in-person and virtual) in August, safety concerns prompted the decision to continue the virtual-only meeting format for City Council and City boards and commissions, at least through the month of August. The City hopes to hold hybrid public meetings in September.
Read about the latest updates to hours and services here.
LIBRARY REOPENING PLANS
The library is now planning to implement a phased reopening and expansion of all locations as follows:
- Downtown and College Terrace branches to open in late August
- Mitchell Park and Rinconada will have expanded hours by mid-to-late September
- Mitchell Park and Rinconada will be open 6 days per week
- Children’s, College Terrace and Downtown will be open 3 days per week once all vacant positions are filled
Read more about the Library’s reopening plans here.
HOUSING ELEMENT COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
The Housing Element is one of the State-mandated components of the City’s Comprehensive Plan. It offers a comprehensive strategy for the City to provide enough sites for safe, decent, and affordable housing in our community.
This update is undertaken to identify the City’s housing needs and establish a strategic plan to meet those needs. The updated Housing Element must be certified by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) by a pre-determined deadline, which for Palo Alto is January 31, 2023. Additional information on the process and requirements can be found in Related Regulations and FAQs.
The Housing Element update represents Palo Alto’s sixth Housing Element, and plans for the years 2023 through 2031. The City values resident and stakeholder input throughout the update process and offers numerous opportunities to be involved.
The Housing Element engagement continues with another community meeting planned on August 10 from 6–8 p.m.
An online survey is also available to share input.
PALO ALTO AIRPORT REVIEW
A recent County study was released related to the San Jose based Reid-Hillview Airport where study results demonstrated high lead emissions from planes. In response to this study, staff will be meeting with the County to discuss applicability to the Palo Alto Airport.
Staff will share additional details as more is known about this issue.
SUSTAINABILITY AND CLIMATE ACTION PLAN AD HOC COMMITTEE MEETING
The Sustainability and Climate Action Plan Ad Hoc Committee was formed by City Council on April 19, 2021 to guide the development, implementation, and communication of the Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (S/CAP). This new City Council Ad Hoc committee will complement the work of the City Council and Staff on our sustainability and climate action efforts to help finalize the S/CAP.
We invite you to join the inaugural meeting of the S/CAP Ad Hoc Committee on Thursday, August 12 from 9:00–11:30 a.m. via Zoom to learn more and provide your input.
For the kick-off meeting, we invite you to provide feedback on (1) the proposed schedule and topics and (2) the overall S/CAP timeline. Participants will have the opportunity to provide a 2-minute public comment at the meeting, or you can submit comments and questions ahead of time to email@example.com.
Registration in advance of the virtual meeting is required.
THE BLACK INDEX: FINAL WEEK!
The Black Index exhibit at the Palo Alto Art Center is in its final week, closing on August 14.
There will be a closing celebration of the exhibit on Saturday from 3:30–5 p.m. where you can hear from curator Dr. Bridget R. Cooks and meet artists from the exhibit.
SUMMER TWILIGHT CONCERT SERIES
Connect with neighbors and the community for a fun night out at a live concert! There are two more concerts in the Twilight Concert Series this month. These concerts are free and local food trucks will be in attendance.
On Saturday, August 14 at 6:30 p.m. in Rinconada Park, Grammy-nominated Jazz singer Jane Monheit will perform.
Saturday, August 21 at 6:30 p.m. in Mitchell Park features the Latin rock band Carnaval San Francisco, formerly known as Caravanserai.
NOTABLE TENTATIVE UPCOMING COUNCIL ITEMS
- Several items related to the potential establishment of a Business Tax
- Continued Council consideration of Grade Separation Alternatives, specifically related to Charleston and Meadow
Late August and Beyond
- Foothills Fire Mitigation Strategies
- Parking management and updates on fees and other policies
- Several actions related to planning and development
- Study Session with the Independent Police Auditor
- Economic Development Follow-up Items
View these and more upcoming items at cityofpaloalto.org/councilagendas.
City Manager Comments Blog Series at: Medium.com/paloaltoconnect
Gain Coronavirus Updates at: CityofPaloAlto.org/Coronavirus
Sign Up for Coronavirus Updates at: CityofPaloAlto.org/newslettersignup
Call us: (650) 272–3181
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