Future of Foothills Park

History of the issue

In 1959 Palo Alto purchased the land that is now Foothills Park after having sought to make it a joint purchase with surrounding cities. As a result of their refusal, the bond measure included a provision that would restrict entry to Palo Alto residents and their guests. The City Council is now being asked to approve a one-year pilot program that would allow access to non-residents with a daily limit. However, many of the arguments on this restriction are for full revocation, not the pilot. Over the years, multiple attempts to revoke this restriction have been rejected.

There are three basic alternatives for the Park:

1. Retain the current residents only policy.
A key argument for this approach is to preserve and protect the pristine natural environment which the Park provides. But some have argued that this policy is ‘elitist’ or even ‘racist’.
2. A controlled / restricted opening to allow some degree of non-resident access to the Park.
3. Remove all restrictions to non-resident use.
Both options 2 and 3 may require various controls to limit the total number of users per day and / or an entrance fee for all or just non-residents.

Learn more about the issue

The Palo Alto Parks and Rec Commission will host a Panel Discussion on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 at 6PM. The virtual meeting will be held on Zoom (https://zoom.us/j/ 97930735263). If you want to learn more before taking this survey, below are some recent articles on this issue. Some of these articles focus on the advocacy for revoking the restriction with the counter-arguments appearing among the comments.

 The proposed pilot program.
 The Palo Alto ordinance governing Foothills Park (PAMC §22.04.150)
 The Palo Alto Staff Report (ID#11490) for the City Council meeting on August 3, 2020
 News: ” ‘Meet this moment’: Growing coalition calls for Palo Alto to expand access to Foothills Park”, Palo Alto Online, June 8, 2020
 “Guest Opinion: Please open Foothills Park to all”, Palo Alto Online, June 19, 2020
 News: “Activist group calls on city to ‘desegregate’ Foothills Park”, Palo Alto Online, July 7, 2020
 Blog: “The City Doesn’t Want to Hear From Most of You”, Palo Alto Online, July 27, 2020

The Palo Alto Parks and Rec Commission hosted a Panel Discussion on the future of Foothills Park on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 at 6PM.