One thing not yet mentioned here is that the 'exclusion' ordinance was drafted after the neighboring towns of Portola Valley and Los Altos Hills refused to chip-in when Palo Alto purchased the land.
This park is in the hills, literally across the street from Los Altos Hills, and a windy drive or strenuous bike ride up the hill from most of Palo Alto.
The exclusionary ordinance is really aimed at these neighbors, rather than at the e.g. East Palo Alto residents who live ten miles away.
There's definitely a nasty history of racism in California, the Bay Area, and Palo Alto, but it's not quite accurate to attribute this particular ordinance on racist exclusionary policy. Los Altos Hills and Portola Valley are even more affluent and white than Palo Alto is...
It's probably a factor but to be the only factor you'd have to believe that right around the time Palo Alto was constructing itself a literal 'wrong side of the tracks' minorities ghetto, it also put together an exclusionary 'public' park but that exclusionary intent was really just aimed at other affluent white people.
California has a shameful past of adding racist restrictions into real estate through title documents and other means (ex. "no person of any race other than the Caucasian or white race" may use or occupy the property, with the exception of "domestic servants of a different race domiciled with an owner or tenant."). This meant as neighborhoods built up and out, people were excluded from them on the basis of race. Home values go up, and the wealth of those allowed to purchase property goes up along with it.
After some time, those restrictions became legally unenforceable, and then over more time more and more of those restrictions have eased and now things are a lot more egalitarian on the surface, but the racial discrimination of the past has already done its harm and contributed to white wealth and black and brown poverty and now these neighborhoods maintain their racial disparities without having to have it encoded in law. So, having residents-only restrictions on parks are, intentionally or unintentionally or accidentally on purpose, a way of keeping people out of the park based on race, and thus, unconstitutional.
You can argue that historical actions have caused unequal outcomes, but that doesn't mean that today this decision [to make access to a park based on residence] is racist. That doesn't logically follow.
I dislike this restriction, but it's hard to see how it's unconstitutional. Cities often exclude non-residents from many resources. It's quite common for parking permits, libraries, and schools to be exclusively for residents. The main reason for this is that residents pay taxes and non-residents don't. If you give non-residents the same privileges as residents, it incentivizes free riding. People would be encouraged to live in a place with lower taxes while taking advantage of the resources and services of a nearby city.
It's unconstitutional because disparate impact is the new commerce clause. Any democratic outcome you don't like, just run a calculation which will as a law of nature show that it disparately impacts some protected class, and file a lawsuit.
Private property rights have a disparate impact, and the endgame is to come after that. Take Harvard's going after final clubs; this is what they want for America.
The disparate impact is surely an outcome of historic policies of racial exclusion. But equally surely, it's not unconstitutional in general for Palo Alto to have nice things because of nasty policies they had in the past. So there has to be some middle ground.
As far as I'm aware, you can certainly enter a library outside of your city of residence and read the books there. You just can't borrow them out, presumably because if you then stole said book, they wouldn't be able to fine you.
> As far as I'm aware, you can certainly enter a library outside of your city of residence and read the books there. You just can't borrow them out, presumably because if you then stole said book, they wouldn't be able to fine you.
I've had many public library cards for libraries outside of my local city or county system; as long as you can document who you are and where you live so they can come after you at need, at least in CA as a CA resident, I've never
has a problem.
> it's common for parking permits, libraries, and schools to be exclusively for residents
It's absolutely not common for libraries or schools to restrict _access_ to non-residents. Public libraries don't check ID at the door. School grounds have visitor access protocols these days, but those protocols have nothing to do with residency of the visitor. School _studentship_, library _borrowing_, and roadside parking are constrained finite resources and therefore extremely different from walking across a threshold, which is neither finite nor constrained.
Really, this is a case of the residents of Palo Alto free riding on the surrounding cities. All other public parks in the region (including those maintained by Mountain View,
Redwood City, San Francisco, etc.) are open to all, while Palo Alto restricts this park. And this is ignoring the racist history of the restriction.
Some cities have neighborhoods where only residents can park on the street. If you park your car in parts of Berkeley or SF and you don't have a permit, you can be ticketed. They can also tow your vehicle, though I'm sure that almost never happens in practice.
If the park is routinely used for presentations and events, there's case law that says that residents-only restrictions infringe the First Amendment. Public parks are one of the archetypical "public fora" considered in constitutional law.
I think the key difference in all these examples you can still access all these services as a non-resident through a higher price. This effectively blocks out non-residents. The other question is can they prove that they never used state or federal funds for upkeep or the salary of that ranger?
I fail to see how this would apply to a public park. Certainly it would cost much more money to enforce the "resident only" rules, with security guards, cameras, identification check-points on the roads.
Hard to imagine how "free riding" a public park would work
> Hard to imagine how "free riding" a public park would work
Parks require upkeep. Parking lots and trails must be maintained. Litter must be picked up. Police are needed to evict anyone camping (you'd be surprised how often this happens in California). If you're a resident, your taxes pay for that upkeep. If you're a non-resident, you're free riding.
Banning non-residents is a dick move, but it's unclear how it's unconstitutional. Honestly, I think usage fees would benefit both sides. Non-residents could enjoy the park, and the city wouldn't have to worry about a potential burden on their budget.
Sadly that's true of business owners pretty much everywhere. Corporations can have many different ownership structures, so it's very difficult to determine who qualifies as an "owner" or not. To use a ridiculous example: I own stock in Berkshire Hathaway. I'm sure there's a GEICO office or some other Berkshire Hathaway property in Palo Alto. Does that mean I should have access to the park under the current rules? Probably not. It's hard to draw a bright line when it comes to admitting people based on business ownership. Even in the case that the business is a sole proprietorship, how does one prove both ownership and the business address? You'd need to bring a ream of documents. Residency is easier to check and simpler to judge, since it just requires showing ID.
Here's another example: Non-resident immigrants can found companies in the US and pay taxes to the US government, but many of them can't even enter the country.
Again, I think this law is stupid and I'd love to see the city of Palo Alto change it. But I don't see how it's unconstitutional. As history has shown us, the US Constitution allows legislators to pass many, many stupid laws.
You don't need a "ream of documents" to prove you own a business as a sole proprietor. Off the top of my head, a copy of the lease for the property, or the title record if they own the property, along with a copy of their business license and some form of personal identification should be enough. Unless commercial leases are now routinely multiple hundreds of pages, that looks to me like it should come in at well under 20 pages, and possibly less than 5. All of these documents should be easily, if not instantly accessible to any business owner.
For those asking abstract questions about how this is different from access restrictions on various other kinds of public facilities - it's probably worth reading up on a bit of Bay Area history for context with 'East Palo Alto' and 'blockbusting' being two good initial search terms. There's a long history of, to put it very mildly, efforts to keep the wrong sorts of people out, all across the Bay Area.
I don't have any deep (or shallow, for that matter) knowledge or expertise in this, I do wonder a bit if these are the sorts of problems we want to rely on IKEA or Facebook to address. There's no question East Palo Alto today is a much safer place than East Palo Alto in the 90s or 2000's and that can't be a bad thing.
I did mean 'context' because without it, it's quite reasonable to ponder what could possibly be so bad or 'unconstitutional' about Palo Alto having its own version of Gramercy Park. Grody, but maybe not actually illegal?
With the context of 'policy-ied their way to creating an actual ghetto which went on to become the statistical Murder Capital, USA by 1992', one might think of it somewhat differently.
There are tons of public facilities, parks, etc. that have restrictions for non-residents that have never been seen as an issue. The argument being that local taxpayers are the ones paying for the facilities and maintenance, etc.
For example, for my wedding reception we rented a barn in a park that's often used for weddings and other events. Since my sister is a resident of the city she was able to rent the barn at a discount, while non-residents would have had to pay significantly more. Never crossed my mind that such a thing might be "discriminatory" or "unconstitutional." I've seen plenty of similar things with public pools, out of state hunting licenses, library cards, and much more.
"Public" doesn't mean "free access for all," and that's independent of any alleged racial discrimination claims the ACLU is making.
That's a pretty different scenario. To recap: Palo Alto excludes anyone who isn't a resident (or guest of a resident) from using Foothill. At all. For any amount of money.
There's literally a gate with a guardhouse (with a guard) at the park entrance on Page Mill Road. They don't let you in without proof that you live in PA. You could, of course, hop the fence further up on Page Mill...
As for a wedding: you're paying for semi-exclusive access to the park because a large wedding or other event may be depriving other park users access and/or may cause excess litter which needs to be removed at taxpayer expense. That residents receive a discount on special event fees just means that they have already partially payed the fees via taxes.
You can certainly get into a school without being a resident. They might ask you to leave if you are disrupting classes or whatever, sure, but there's nothing that says you can't come from out of state and pick up your grandchildren after school, for example (provided that the parents have provided prior permission). Or just talk to the faculty, etc. Journalists do that.
Another example: before Covid, my kid's school provided parking spots in school grounds for a nearby festival as a fundraiser.
And in many schools, events like science fairs are open to the public.
As for landfills, I'm not sure there's a distinction between residents and non-residents. AFAIK, they're treated in similar ways to preservation areas, where mostly everyone is forbidden from entering, except the people who are working there (and happen to live nearby by proxy)
Sorry, I wrote "landfill" but I really meant "transfer station" -- i.e. the place you go to drop off rubbish/garbage/trash/recyclables, some of which gets plowed into the landfill.
Re: schools.. Many school grounds are not open to the public. Special events, perhaps, but you can't generally just wander in. In the odd circumstances you describe (journalists, parentally-designated temporary guardians), arrangements must be made in advance and can often be denied, or are on behalf of the resident.
Again, I'm just not sure where the line gets drawn. Parks are open space, and traditionally open to the public, but many other city-operated and -funded facilities are not.
You might conclude that the marginal operating expense of parks is not high enough for most towns to justify gatekeeping. But it's imaginable that some municipalities calculate expenses differently.
All of this is aside from PA's history of racial exclusion, which I know nothing about. Appearances matter too!
> You can certainly get into a school without being a resident.
in my city you cannot do this unless you have a really good reason. the doors are steel and controlled from a central office. the administration may choose to let a journalist in if they feel it is beneficial to the school, but they can absolutely choose not to.
For the last 35 years San Mateo County has run a Volunteer Transfer Program (VTP), also referred to as the “Tinsley Program,” that mandates the acceptance of 166 students of color per grade living in East Palo Alto to surrounding school districts, including 60 to the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD).
It looks like this one is different in the sense that you cannot enter even by paying a fee if you are not a resident, unlike e.g. the SF botanical garden (free for residents, but costs money for non-residents).
Outdoor public spaces typically are treated differently from a legal perspective. Preventing non-residents from using public roads or sidewalks isn't done anywhere that I'm aware of, for instance. My town on the east coast does this with local parks, and I'm fairly certain the motivation is (historically and currently) to prevent residents of the neighboring (less-rich/white) towns from entering, and for giving police a pretext to hassle them. I'm not aware of any non-affluent towns that have such policies and many affluent ones that do.
Public literally means "of or concerning the people as a whole".
California doesn't charge out of state tourists extra to visit their state park system. That would be absurd, as it's a public park for public use. Not to mention that all public lands in the Bay Area are funded in part through state and federal funds.
> California doesn't charge out of state tourists extra to visit their state park system. That would be absurd, as it's a public park for public use.
Many states do in fact do this; I don't think it's so absurd (not saying I necessarily agree/disagree with the practice). Certainly, there's much less of an institutionalized-racism aspect with such boundaries at a state level, than a neighborhood/city level.
It's definitely foreign to me when I can park my car for two weeks at a California state park for cheap, and backpack through half a dozen state and national parks, without hiking down to each ranger station and stuffing a $20 bill in the box.
"public" almost never means literally anyone can use the thing without restriction. I can't drive any vehicle I want on a public road, and I can't drive a motor vehicle on them at all if I don't have the proper license. in many places it is a crime for me to cross a road on foot if I don't use a designated crosswalk. most of the parks near me are closed from dusk to dawn, though I doubt this is an enforcement priority.
I don't see any inherent reason why it would be wrong to limit access to a public service or property to people who actually live in the jurisdiction that maintains it. the history of who lives in a particular jurisdiction and why is often sordid, but that's a separate issue.
>Making public parks an over-policed, over-regulated, time limited and admission only "adventure park" is a uniquely American obsession.
Having seen the huge amounts of homeless drug addicts in parks all over (in San Diego, LA, SF, Seattle, and Salt Lake City from my personal experience, and I'm sure it's similar elsewhere) I can definitely understand the motivation behind trying to limit access to parks. Whether or not it's right to do is a different matter
That's probably because none of the things you mentioned are "discriminatory" - anyone can rent them for a fee. The article is clearly talking about quite literal discriminatory action, that and group can and one group cannot.
That's as of the 2010 census. The demographics of EPA have shifted pretty dramatically since then -- Facebook moved into the old Sun campus around 2011, making the area highly desirable for their employees. Combined with the growth of Google (a few exits south on 101) and other tech companies in the area, EPA has seen some significant gentrification.
(This is a relatively recent effect, of course; the "residents only" limitations on the Foothills Park are much older.)
Where'd you find that information? It's not mentioned anywhere in the article, and Wikipedia says it was purchased by the city from a private owner:
> Most of the land for the park was bought from Russel V. Lee, a founder of the Palo Alto Medical Clinic (now Palo Alto Medical Foundation), who offered, in 1958, 1,294 acres of his land at $1,000 an acre ($1.3 million total) to the city to preserve as open space. The total cost was high so Palo Alto put it to a citywide vote in 1959 which passed with 62% of the voters supporting buying the land.
"""In 1959—at a time when the discriminatory practices described above were occurring—the City acquired the land comprising the Park from prominent Palo Alto residents Dr. Russel Lee and Mrs. Dorothy Lee for $1.3 million."""
This dispute is ostensibly about a rights issue. But am I wrong, isn’t this really about preventing homeless and other itinerant people from entering the park? And as a side effect, Palo Alto harasses visible minorities trying to enter the park?
It’s interesting, the main way many parks in San Francisco avoid the former problem is by simply being inhospitable - the tops of hills, slopes, the cold, the lack of facilities. In Pacific Heights and the Presidio the parks are hard to use with dignity because of their geography, climate, etc, not necessarily by design. But it goes a long way obviating the need to deploy the law to keep homeless and crunchy people out.
Compare to the Mission, which is a very habitable, sunny and flat part of town, with most services accessible by short walks, that has many small parks that itinerant people use, sometimes pretty intensively.
If it could, would residents in the Mission restrict its parks? I don’t know if it’s possible to restrict public access to things, have a positive experience of gentrification as a net seller of homes / existing resident, and not harass visible minorities all at the same time.
Palo Alto residents are so confident in their belief they will never someday be harassed, that the demographics of their town will not change. And maybe when it does change there will be both homeless people and a visible minority family, unmolested, in the park.
In this sense the confusion about, who owns the park - it doesn’t really matter. If Palo Alto wants to prevent itinerant people from using the park, and if it doesn’t care that that also means every black and Hispanic person is asked if they are residents and white and Asian people are not, they will get their way. The solution is through hearts and minds - through empathy and selflessness really. If the ACLU could get people to see that anyone’s family member could be homeless, anyone could have mental illness, that those very same East and South Asian immigrants almost certainly had relatives who were beggars, you could maybe move the needle.
Cities only operate under authority delegated to them by their state anyway. So seems pretty reasonable to think of it as state owned/controlled, even if the municipality is the legal entity that owns the land.
I'm not so sure it is different. California has a unitary form of government. An incorporated city isn't a separate entity. It's a subdivision of the county which is a subdivision of the state. They're allowed to make local ordinances (which they've done here), but, in what seems to me to be a very real sense, if something is owned by a city in California, it is owned by the state. Legally I have no idea how that plays out.
While I agree with the idea that parks shouldn't be restricted in spirit, what's the difference (other than scale) between this park and other resources such as libraries or pools that require you to be a member of the jurisdiction that pays for them?
There is a big difference between specific buildings/facilities and open land in general. This park is 1400 acres. A city-enforced "residents-only" neighborhood, for example, would be 100% illegal. The city pays to maintain streets as well but doesn't get do dictate who can use them.
The gated community where my parents live has streets owned by the city. I'm not going to link the specific one, because I don't want to dox myself, but it does certainly happen. I specifically remember it because there was a tiff in the neighborhood over it when the city installed new stop signs within the community against the wishes of residents, but there wasn't anything the residents could do because the streets were owned by the city and thus had to abide by city traffic laws.
edit: after looking into it, it appears that one common scenario is for an HOA to enter an agreement with the city where the city continues to provide street services on the community streets even though the streets are owned by the HOA. I'm not sure if that was the situation with my parents hood, but it certainly muddles the water a bit.
Would you be able to call the police and tell them a non-resident is trespassing if they are just on the street? Either the street is privately owned, in which case it makes sense for the trespassing charge to stick, or it's public, in which case it doesn't, no?
I don't know for sure! But when I was reading about HOAs and private/public roads, I came across this:
>With regard to law enforcement, the Texas Penal Code defines a “public place” as any place to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access and includes, but is not limited to, streets ... In Woodruff v. State, 899 S.W.2d 443, 445-46 (Tex. App.–Austin 1995, no pet.), the defendant was arrested for driving while intoxicated on the grounds of Bergstrom Air Force Base. The court held that Bergstrom was a public place, even though it was fenced and the only entrance was through a guarded access gate. Is a gated community a place where a “substantial group of the public” has access? The answer is unclear. Some city police departments may adopt a policy to respond to certain types of calls from gated communities, but not others. Again, the problem involves the provision of public funds for private purposes, which is prohibited by the Constitution and state law.
That's interesting, so it's as though the HOA becomes a local government. I wonder if it would withstand a legal challenge, and the only issue is that no one has bothered to invest the time/money to do so.
The road up to mt umunhum used to be gated off, even though it was paid for with gov money. It was always a hot spot for bikers. Ask any local ones that rode up there in the past and they probably have a story of a shotgun getting pulled on them.
I have a feeling that as a Canadian, I really cannot cross the chasm between our society and America's, but I'll try.
Here in Toronto, the libraries are open to the public. Borrowing material or using their online facilities requires membership, still known as "having a library card," and for that you need to live, work, or study in Toronto.
I also think there are other allowances, such as if you care for a relative who lives there, but the gist is:
1. Anybody can walk in and use the physical library, and;
2. There are additional resources for those who have a connection to the jurisdiction.
There are similar things around community centres. During public swim, everybody can swim. During certain programs, you may need to be a member of the facility. I am aware that some physical parks have special programs, and you may need to register with the city and be a resident to use them.
But the park itself is public, and anybody can go there. You just may not be able to drop into an outdoor yoga program.
So clearly, we have a two-tier system, and the broadest tier is literally "everyone." The second tier is the size of a municipality.
In a certain very generous sense, Toronto's libraries, community centres, and park programs are similar to "gated" parks for a neighbourhood, as they have some features/programs that require membership and/or some connection to the municipality.
But in another, they are manifestly different. Neighbourhood parks are usually set up to exclude "the wrong people." They're about constructing gated communities, with all the classist and racist implications associated with these structures.
Whereas, public libraries are exactly what they say on the tin: They're for the public. Rich, poor, from near, or far.
Nearly all parks and libraries and other public places & services in the US are exactly what you describe... there is no such chasm. The reason this article was written is because of one single ugly exception to what is a vast system of public access to community centers, libraries, parks and other open spaces. Please don't make assumptions and jump to the incorrect conclusion that a single example suddenly means that's how it works everywhere.
I have been to excellent public facilities in the US. Excellence is not evenly distributed anywhere, but the discrepancies of available public services between rich and poor neighbourhoods, between predominantly white and predominantly black neighbourhoods have been stark in my (n=1, granted!) observation of the US.
I think that the reality for the underclass in the US is that in theory, public services, voting, parks, community centres, education, jobs, and so forth are equally available, but that is not how it works in practice.
Excellence is not evenly distributed anywhere in the world including Canada, right? But the goal post seems to be walking away from me a little here. I'd agree that the US has social issues between rich and poor. Weren't we discussing actual stated policy restrictions to public access above? That's what the article is reporting on, and what @Arainach was talking about, isn't it?
What would be the solution to the much bigger problem you're bringing up? Perhaps the problem is that we allow our citizens to become poor in the US, not that we have some of our public facilities located near rich people?
Foothill park is located miles away from urban Palo Alto, in the midst of many other open-space preserves, which are all open to the public. Except this one. In fact, there is a guard house where you are asked for proof of Palo Alto residence, and are unceremoniously turned away if you can not produce said evidence. This is very unusual; I have never encountered such a thing anywhere else in the United States.
This is also emblematic of Palo Alto for me: hypocrisy through and through. Residents make a big fuss about being liberal: signs up on every other house declaring the occupants' high-minded support of illegal immigrants, gay, transgender, and bi people, the "reality" of science, and so on. At the same time, the city rips up comfortable benches on the sidewalks and puts in benches that are so uncomfortable, they make you think why the city bothered with this stuff (as you can guess, they are there to discourage homeless/indigent people from sleeping on them). City residents also made a big fuss about a neighborhood (private) girls' school from expanding enrollment (lots of flimsy reasons given, but the real reason is that the increase in traffic would have made a small dent in already astronomical home values).
I could go on and on, but on the whole, my take on this: Serves them right, and they deserve to lose. We need more cases like this to show these people they still live in the United States.
> Borrowing material or using their online facilities requires membership, still known as "having a library card," and for that you need to live, work, or study in Toronto.
I'm surprised at that. Here in the UK you can generally get a temporary library card pretty easily (as in, walk up to the counter and fill out a form and get one there and then easy) if you don't live in the area
Talk to librarians, who like hackers have a dedication to freedom of information, about the need to restrict access to libraries for all as society has allowed the general public mental health to crumble and make libraries unsafe without banning some.
I've never seen it at city-owned libraries, but IME it's fairly common for state universities to require a student ID before entering their libraries, classroom buildings, and even sometimes before entering the campus at all.
I know universities are somewhat of a different environment, but it does point out that restricting public access to publicly-funded property isn't as wildly farfetched and unacceptable as some other comments in this thread portray.
Whatever article/amendment of the US Constitution proscribes restriction to local parks on the basis of residency would ostensibly also proscribe any public government institution from discriminating on the basis of residency.
That's not the question, though — we're talking about what the theoretical bounds of the Constitution are. The ACLU appears to be arguing that a local government restricting access to some municipal/public property on the basis of residency is a violation of the Federal constitution (which part of it?). If that's the case, then what's the limiting principle?
In a nutshell, the basis is:
- Restricts right of travel, which is considered a fundamental right that has been repeatedly reaffirmed by the Supreme Courts of both the state and the country.
- Restricts free speech: people are being barred from exercising political speech (or speech of any kind) inside the park.
- Restricts freedom of assembly: Peaceful gatherings in the park to discuss these things are barred.
Basically, the beef is with the ordinances that fine and enforcement that harasses people who will enter the park anyway.
EDIT: There is another interesting basis: One of the plaintiffs is a black store owner (store located in Palo Alto), who pays taxes to the city (that presumably contribute to the upkeep of the park), but still can't enter the park, because she lives in Menlo Park, a neighboring town. So what is the basis for excluding her from the park? It seems to me that 'residents pay taxes but others do not' is not a valid argument for barring access to nonresidents, if you consider the plaintiff's complaint.
Right, what limiting principle makes government restricted areas like Area 51 or even Federal/State/Local legislature floors not violate the “fundamental right to travel” and “speech of any kind”, that also renders resident-restricted public parks a violation of those same rights?
Also, do the merits of the case change if the plaintiff was a white store owner? Why is their race relevant?
There are several plaintiffs of many races, including past residents of Palo Alto who have moved away. But one of the arguments being made in the complaint is that minorities are specifically affected. The NAACP is also either a party or helping minority plaintiffs file.
Palo Alto is a neighbor of East Palo Alto, which is on the (less desirable) bay shore. There have been racist covenants and exclusionary policies applied towards colored people in the past in Palo Alto, resulting in Palo Alto becoming majority white and East Palo Alto becoming majority colored. All of this is known fact, and lends credence to the complaint.
Personally, I think the case has merit even without the race aspect. But the race aspect certainly bolsters plaintiffs' arguments.
My experience with public libraries (and university libraries, for that matter) has been that they allow anyone to come in and browse the stacks. True, usually only local residents are eligible for library cards, but outside residents can usually request books via inter-library loan.
I lived in PA for a bit. A local who worked for the city told me about this park. I couldn’t believe it was residents only. Sure enough they won’t let you in when you walk up unless you can prove you live there. I was blown away because I felt that wasn’t really possible in this area. This was 2009. Long time coming I guess.
I got in with my hotel key card when I was staying for a week or two.
There's an argument about limiting the number of people who visit in order to preserve the natural environment, and residents who pay for it should have first priority, but an outright ban probably isn't best.
I'm surprised that the state doesn't just buy it off the town.
As a non-resident, I love this. I really wish we would do the same thing for rivers here in Utah (we've gone back and forth on that).
I visit California every couple years and it's one of my favorite vacation spots. My favorite beaches are the small ones with tiny walkways between residential homes. You feel like you're trespassing, but you're not.
I've also made use of dozens of parks in CA as my son was a professional BMX rider for a time and we went on a tour of as many CA skate parks as he could ride. It was a good time and we were allowed access to every park we visited.
Sure, but the ACLU has lots of options to open them up in other states that do allow that. Even Nevada for example doesn’t have the concept of “public easement” that CA does. You cannot get out of your canoe and walk on the beach on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe that is private.
One compromise is, like many public botanical gardens and parks do, is to enforce operational hours and make entry free for residents with proof of residency in the zipcode/city/county. My example would be the SF botanical garden which is free to residents with id and/or utilities mail with your sf address. No visitors after operating hours.
It would be a sad day if SF allows encampments in the gardens, welcoming urban decay into an urban escape.
Presumably Palo Alto could charge some reasonable fee, connected in a way they could justify to a judge to the expenses of keeping the park up, and then offer residents a discount. But there's no "gotcha" where they can recapitulate the current policy of outright restricting nonresidents with absurdly high fees; the law doesn't work like a computer program, and a human judge will shut you down if you try to treat it like one.
> But there's no "gotcha" where they can recapitulate the current policy of outright restricting nonresidents with absurdly high fees
In particular, in California, fees cannot be higher than the cost of providing the service. In drought years, there have been proposals to allow people to use water as they wish, but charge (steeply) progressively-increasing fees for each gallon of water used. The theory being that excess revenues could be put toward obtaining more water (via, e.g., desalinization). Such proposals have been shot down because the cost of providing water doesn't support the high fees that would be necessary to discourage frivolous use.
As someone down thread has pointed out, SF botanical gardens within golden gate park is free for residents, but charge $9 ($12 weekends) for non residents. It’s not “high” but I’d consider $30 “high” if they went up that far.
Another tactic I’ve seen in other circumstances is you have to get a “reservation” ahead of time.
What they do in Shanghai is have the park inside the apartment complex. (小区, a small walled residential district containing usually several buildings as well as other amenities like bicycle parking and, perhaps, parks for little kids. Amenities vary with the ritziness of the complex.)
Palo Alto is very racist. One other thing they do: they have "below market rate" housing, but it has to be for the "right kind" of poor people. They build special BMR housing for teachers and firefighters. Wouldn't want dishwashers, janitors, or home-health workers living nearby.
There's a park near me in Southern California that is 400 acres and was recently converted to be de facto residents only. Technically anyone can get in, but all of the parking spots are "residents only" except for legally mandated handicapped spots. The street parking was also converted to "residents only", allegedly to reduce COVID risk which IMO is total bullshit. Hopefully there's more of these lawsuits in the future!
Universities offer preferential pricing (in-state tuition) for state residences. University libraries typically disallow non-students from entering. It's an important example because it raises the question of where we draw the line as to what extent government institutions can restrict access to public property.
> Only residents of the city and regular or part-time city employees, members of their households related by blood, marriage, or adoption, and their accompanied guests are entitled to enter on foot or by bicycle or vehicle and remain in Foothills Park.... Upon the request of an authorized city employee or a member of the Palo Alto police department, a person seeking to enter Foothills Park at the main gate or a person within the boundaries of Foothills Park shall provide identification or information to satisfy the requirements of this subsection.... No person shall enter or remain in Foothills Park in violation of this subsection. Violations of this subsection shall be a misdemeanor.
I did read the ordinance. You've suggested as long as people don't park there, they are fine. That's wrong and anyone who takes your advice could be looking at a misdemeanor. They are restricted to using the Bay-To-Foothills trails (and entering and exiting at those specific points).
> Only residents of the city and regular or part-time city employees, members of their households related by blood, marriage, or adoption, and their accompanied guests are entitled to enter on foot or by bicycle or vehicle and remain in Foothills Park. (emphasis added)
Except that literally doesn't occur. No one is getting cited for deviating from the most direct ridge trail through the park or entering from Portola Valley. The residency restriction is ridiculous, but this isn't how it works in practice.
Enforcement can change at any time and on a whim. If violations of this sort are infrequent, that combined with difficulty of enforcement may result in a lack of enforcement. If, suddenly, many people illegally entered the park this way, enforcement may increase both to curb the behavior and because enforcement is a lot easier when there are a lot of violators. Additionally, not everyone is able to be so cavalier about committing a misdemeanor because in practice it might not be enforced.
In any case, this is just moving the goalposts. The fact of the matter is that as the ordinance is written this behavior isn't allowed and can net you up to six months in jail and a $1000 fine.
The article, linked article, photos of the park entrance, details from the lawsuit, and Palo Alto Municipal Code all indicate otherwise.
But really that last one is the only one you need to check:
"Only residents of the city and regular or part-time city employees, members of their households related by blood, marriage, or adoption, or their accompanied guests are entitled to enter on foot or by bicycle or vehicle and remain in Foothills Park." - https://codelibrary.amlegal.com/codes/paloalto/latest/paloal...
I mean...clearly they did not per the wording of Palo Alto Municipal Code.
That basically means that they've just chosen to only station enforcers at the entrance, not that it's allowed. The code says that PA police can charge you with a misdemeanor just for being inside the bounds of the park.
Anyone who takes a trail from Arastradero Preserve can enter Foothills Park, Councilwoman Liz Kniss noted Monday. The city was required to make this trail open to the broader public as part of an agreement with Santa Clara County, which contributed the funding the city needed to purchase 13 acres of open space next to Arastradero Preserve.
In addition, even though non-residents are banned from driving into Foothills Park on the weekend, many arrive during the week, Kniss said.
Yes, you can take a 45 minute hike and reach there, there is no on site security anyway, only at the front gate. It's no way a workaround for driving there by car and carrying picnic supplies. Palo Alto residents can happily do that.