MARCH 20: Ask Council Not to Gut the Comprehensive Plan

On Monday, March 20th, 2017 the City Council will discuss and give direction to Staff regarding the organization of the Comprehensive Plan.  This discussion is wide-ranging and is scheduled from 7 to 10 pm.

We encourage you to attend the March 20th City Council meeting at 7 pm to urge the City Council to respect eight years of work by numerous individuals including the current Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC). The City Council should re-think their Jan. 30th decision to “gut” the Comprehensive Plan by separating Programs from Policies.  In many cases, the Policies without the Programs are too vague to be meaningful.

Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater members and supporters attended various CAC meetings and provided input on the value of groundwater and soils, their importance on mitigating floods and droughts, groundwater and climate change and safety issues regarding dewatering and construction in areas with high water tables.  The CAC, Staff  and consultants listened and incorporated some of our input into Palo Alto’s draft  Comprehensive Plan.  All this input is lost and the Policies greatly weakened when we have the Programs that would support the Policies relegated to at-will appendices.

If you can’t attend, please email the City Council,, and let them know their decision, without discussion on Jan. 30th broke the community’s trust by not valuing the time and effort of the former and current members of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee, Staff and consultants plus the input of many residents, including Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater.

Thank you for your support!


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City Council Takes Steps to Reduce (but not Eliminate) Waste of Groundwater from Basement Construction

First, thank you to the nearly 100 supporters who came to City Hall on March 7th and to all those who wrote letters of support.  Not a single person spoke in opposition to our proposals, including three persons from the construction industry, thereby demonstrating strong community support for our position.  The Palo Alto City Council unanimously passed a motion to implement enhancements to the 2016 Dewatering Guidelines.  These will take effect for the 2017 dewatering season, with an exclusion for those properties that have already received their building permits.

Special thanks to Councilwomen Lydia Kou and Karen Holman who proposed an amendment, which passed, to  significantly reduce grandfathering by requiring projects that have preliminary conditions of approval but have not yet received building permits be included in the 2017 enhancements.

Check out Palo Alto Online’s coverage and this terrific video made by 8-year old Cate A. and presented at the March 7th meeting:

There is still work to do for 2018.  The current regulations help, but are still far from requiring no discharge of groundwater to the storm drains while avoiding increases in flood risks.  Read more for the details of Council actions and our comments.

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REMINDER: Council Meeting Tues. 3/7, 6 PM

REMINDER: Palo Alto’s City Council will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, March 7th, 6 pm at City Hall, 285 Hamilton, Palo Alto to discuss and determine dewatering regulations for 2017 and 2018.    Please join us and let the City Council know that this issue matters to you.

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Palo Alto Online Coverage for the Council Meeting, Tuesday March 7th

Palo Alto Online has just posted two articles on dewatering:

Doug Moran’s excellent blog, which provides an in-depth discussion of the issues and complexities surrounding groundwater pumping, along with links to references to earlier coverage in the footnotes section and, Palo Alto Weekly writer Gennady Sheyner’s overview of the upcoming Council Meeting on Tuesday, March 7, 6 PM in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 285 Hamilton.

At least since 2004, residents have been asking the City to protect our groundwater and our natural and built environment from the effects of dewatering.  It is time to show the City that we are seriously concerned about this issue. With climate change, the paradigm has changed:  it is no longer surface water, wastewater, groundwater, etc.  It is all ONE water and all water is important.  Please attend the City Council meeting on March 7th and/or write and let Council members (  know that you care about our groundwater, a valuable community resource.  It’s especially important that Council direct Staff to investigate simplifying the ordinance in 2018 to simply put an end to discharge of groundwater to the storm drains.  There are proven, better ways to build basements in areas of high groundwater.  Let’s make the following statement true:

We’ll be wearing blue.  Join us!  We hope to see you on the 7th!


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Please Join Us! Dewatering Regulations March 7th, 6 PM, City Hall

Palo Alto’s City Council will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, March 7th, 6 pm at City Hall, 285 Hamilton, to discuss and determine dewatering regulations for 2017 and 2018.    Please join us and let the City Council know that this issue matters to you.

City Staff is proposing to incorporate the 2016 dewatering guidelines as an ordinance in 2017, and to return to Council with a proposal for additional enhancements to the ordinance in 2018.  Continue reading

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