Crime makes council priority list – Palo Alto Daily Post

BY ELAINE GOODMAN
Daily Mail Correspondent

The Palo Alto City Council will focus on crime this year as part of a new “community health and safety” priority for 2022, council members decided during a retreat Saturday.

“Social justice”, which was one of the council’s four priorities last year, was dropped as a standalone priority for 2022. The council retained three other priorities for 2021: economic recovery; housing for social and economic balance; and climate change – protection and adaptation. The priority “economic recovery” was changed this year to say “economic recovery and transition”.

Community health and safety can encompass a range of issues. In a memo added to the priority, council members said crime, mental health, air quality, noise and sense of place were targeted issues.

Similarly, the board included a memo with the priority of economic recovery and transition, identifying a “coherent vision for our business cores” as an area of ​​focus.

Council voted 7-0 to approve the 2022 priorities. City Manager Ed Shikada said he would return to council with a work plan based on the priorities.

Councilor Greer Pierre proposed the priority of community health and safety. He pointed to the recent “passionate plea for help” from residents of Altaire Walk, who say they have been terrorized by thieves. Thieves have taken mail, packages and bicycles from the closed house complex, and residents are worried the thieves will turn violent.

“Throughout 2021, and sadly appears to be continuing into 2022, property and violent crime have seen an alarming increase,” Stone said. “We are really seeing this tragic impact that increased crime is having on residents and disrupting their ability to feel safe in their own homes.”

Councilor Greg Tanaka said the rise in violent crime is a new trend for the city.

“Who would think you would have armed robberies in Palo Alto, right, and shootings?” he said. “What the hell?”

The Stanford Mall is hit by blitzkriegs, Tanaka said, and the city has responded to regular parking lot fires.

Last month, a man who was part of a group lighting cars in south Palo Alto fired a handgun at a resident who was pursuing them, police say. In August, a Palo Alto high school student walking downtown at 10 a.m. was stabbed by a woman in an unprovoked attack, police said.

Tanaka said crime prevention should be the city’s No. 1 priority. He proposed changing the priority from “community health and safety” to “community health and crime prevention”, but the other council members rejected his idea.

The council’s adoption of the priorities came after members of the public weighed their own ideas.

Many speakers asked the council to focus on reducing aircraft noise. Jennifer Landesmann of Sky Posse Palo Alto said the reduction in air traffic during the Covid-19 pandemic has been a relief.

“A quieter Palo Alto is amazing,” she said. “I don’t want to see noise reach pre-Covid levels.”

Others called on the council to prioritize mental health, including the impacts of the pandemic. For some, controlling noise from leaf blowers was a major issue.

Kathy Miller of the Palo Alto League of Women Voters asked the council to prioritize campaign finance reform for municipal elections. According to the League’s website, the reforms include a $500 limit on campaign contributions; a voluntary spending limit of $30,000; and disclosure of donors who contribute $2,500 or more to political ads during municipal elections.

The reforms would help ensure that a more diverse set of candidates can afford to run for city council, Miller said.

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