Note: The spring edition is mailed to BPA members only. The web editions are normally created long after the paper editions are mailed to members, and are not as complete.

-- Will Beckett, President

by Christian Kalar, Chair

by Inge Harding-Barlow

By Shirley Finfrock
(extended Web version by Doug Moran)

by Doug Moran, Traffic Chair

by Doug Moran


-- by Will Beckett, Acting Chair, and Maryanne Welton

"Sunday Afternoon in Barron Park" offers a Neighborhood Tour & Fete
by Mardell Ward

by Sue Luttner


by Katie Edwards

-- by Erna Glanville


By Teena James

By Doug Moran

By Dorothy Bender

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS -- by Art Bayce, Chairman

By Art Bayce, Chair

by N.O. Moore

BARRON PARK HISTORY -- by Doug Graham, Barron Park Historian

By Leda Beth Gray



BPA On-Line!


If you wish to become a Barron Park Association Member, email the Membership Chair and I'll fax you a form or,


Community Update

Will Beckett, President

Juana Run, the first event of the year, was a great success and will help support Juana Briones school. Paced by two Barron Park electric cars, the five-mile, one-mile and all of the kid races were completed before a major rain storm hit in the afternoon. Hats off to the organizers for managing the weather so well in this El Ni┬ľo year. Events such as this go a long way toward building community and showing support for our local schools.

Many of you know that the Hoover Elementary School program will be leaving our community this year, allowing a new neighborhood school to start in September at the Barron Park School site. Efforts are already underway to involve the community to help shape the new school. The interim principal, Barbara Butter-worth, was introduced at a general meeting February 4th, attended by key people in the school district and our community.

Although attendance in the first year will be lower than most schools in the district, it is expected that this school will gradually even out its attendance as the year progresses. The new school will be a big relief to the Briones community, which has been experiencing major space problems due to overcrowding. In addition to this, many families that have moved to the Barron Park neighborhood in the last few years were unable to have their children attend our neighborhood schools. They were forced to drive to other parts of town. So this much-needed neighborhood school is a welcome addition. The BPA looks forward to doing everything we can to make it a big success.

Along El Camino Real

There is a lot of activity on El Camino Real. There are buildings under construction, houses being planned, and new businesses moving into vacant sites. With rents up downtown, we should begin to see many new services moving into our area of town. Along with these changes, there will be some improvements made to two major intersections on El Camino in the Barron Park area. Los Robles and Maybell will undergo some curb cut and signaling changes developed from plans made about three years ago. The most significant change will be the closing off of the lower portion of El Camino Way. The intersection will be configured so that north bound traffic on El Camino Real will need to turn right at the light to get onto El Camino Way instead of the current off ramp configuration. Along with this, a crosswalk and bike lane will be added on the south side of the intersection, which will improve the safety for school children who cross at this intersection. Storm Drains, Gutters Construction on the storm drain and sewer projects should be completed soon. Many residents have had to endure inconveniences and noise during the last few months but it will be over soon. This summer some of our streets will be paved and some valley gutters will be added to help feed the new drains and add durability to the streets.

Survey Results

Survey results appear in this newsletter, and again track board positions. Surveys included lots of great comments and we will keep these in mind as we consider new issues.

Creeks Report

by Christian Kalar, Chair
Well, El Niño delivered a powerful punch and the new creek diversions worked! I realize that street flooding caused a number of residents to suffer significant water damage during the big storm "Surface Flooding" article, but on the bright side, the weaknesses of both Barron and Matadero Creeks were exposed without any creek-related flooding. The Santa Clara Valley Water District SCVWD has not completed their analysis of the level of runoff we received, but numbers ranging from "25- to 80-year flood" have been discussed. Remember that the flood of 1983 was classified as a "17-year flood", so Barron Park has definitely benefited from the new flood control project. Here is a brief review of the events surrounding the storm of February 2nd and 3rd.

Over the weekend of January 24th and 25th, Matadero Creek levels were noticeably higher than previously observed since the SCVWD installed the diversion structure. Further inspection revealed that the large floats attached to the "trash gates" were not floating so the gates did not swing outward to open. The floats instead acted as a dam, keeping water from entering the diversion until it reached at least four or five feet in depth. I telephoned the SCVWD on January 26 to inform then of the situation but unfortunately the big storm of February hit before they could take any action. During the night of February 2, the flow in Matadero Creek was so strong that the trash gates were forced open, albeit in the wrong direction. With the trash gates no longer creating a dam and the water free to flow through the diversion, the water level in Matadero Creek was visibly lower in the section from Mickey's pasture to El Camino. The SCVWD has since removed the trash gates from the diversion structure until a new design can be implemented. [Photos by Christian Kalar, see color enlargements.]

On February 2, the SCVWD initiated their real time flood control team by opening both gates at the Gunn sediment basin utilizing the new winch and posting an employee at the intersection of Waverley Street and Matadero Creek. The individual at Waverley Street had the responsibility to watch the creek level at that location and radio the individual stationed at Gunn if the water reached a critical depth, thereby requiring the closure of a gate blocking half of the diversion entrance (gate #2). Luckily, the water in Matadero did not reach the critical depth until about midnight so the water filling the Gunn sediment basin during the evening was able to escape down the new diversion culvert to Matadero Creek. When the critical water depth was reached at Waverley, the SCVWD closed gate #2 at the sediment basin and the basin water level began to rise. Within an hour of closing the gate, the water started to go over the basin spillway, indicating that Barron Creek was in imminent danger of flooding.

However, just as the creek crested, the rain slowed and the level of the basin slowly dropped back down below the banks. The bypass project had passed its first big test.

Last fall when the interim fix was first proposed, the Water District planned to have a fixed gate blocking half of the diversion structure. Because of intense lobbying by the BPA and numerous residents, this was changed to the adjustable gate we have now. If there had been a fixed gate, I am convinced that there would have been serious flooding from Barron Creek (the Water District estimated a fixed gate would provide protection only from a "20-year flood").

During this first major test of the moveable gate, the cable on the winch broke. The SCVWD, in response to strong concern from the Creeks Committee and other Barron Park residents, repaired the winch within days and installed a temporary fix to keep the cable from breaking in the future. As the rains pounded through the night of February 2, the Creeks Committee was busy patrolling the creeks and removing logs and limbs that had wedged under the bridges of Matadero and Barron Creeks. The Creeks Committee has a proactive attitude towards clearing the creeks of flow impediments and we appreciate all of the emails and telephone calls to inform us of new hazards. In what might amount to sabotage, someone has intentionally put logs and felled trees BACK into the creek after the Creeks Committee removed them! These malicious actions could result in the flooding of our neighborhood at one of these bridges. If you witness someone placing or pushing large objects into the creek, please immediately report them to the police.

Don't forget to stock up on sandbags while there is a supply. We were very lucky to receive so many pre-filled bags at our Hoover distribution station, and thanks to those using email to inform your neighbors of the arrival of the sandbag trucks!

Christian Kalar, Creeks Committee
-- 493-8022

It's Raining Cats & Donkeys!

by Inge Harding-Barlow
No matter what the weather, the donkeys need to be checked and fed twice a day. So, an especial thanks to our wonderful donkey handlers, Steve Luce, Doug Moran, Pat Rogow, Edith & Leland Smith, and Ted Thomas. Steve, your water changing has been a wonderful boon!

As we need more alternates, I will be holding handler training classes soon and will contact those who offered during 1997. Anyone else willing to cope, no matter what the weather, please phone Inge at 493-8146.

The donkeys have done surprisingly well, until Mickey bumped or fell on his bad leg and developed a blood blister. During the deluges we were putting down one or two bags of sawdust twice a week, under the Eucalyptus trees. We still need a truck to move wood chip loads up from Laguna to the pasture, to make it less of a marsh. At one stage, over half of the pasture was flooded.

Please keep the donations coming, the donkeys are a community resource and show piece. The handlers give their time and TLC as a gift to the neighborhood, but feed, medicines, sawdust, farrier and vet services require a constant flow of dollars. We sincerely thank all of you who so loyally give your donations.

Tax deductible donations may be made out to the:

BPA Foundation -- Mickey's Fund and mailed to:
Mickey's Fund
701 Kendall Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94306

-- Many thanks to all of you who've contributed!


By Shirley Finfrock
(extended Web version by Doug Moran)

Matadero Avenue resurfacing postponed yet again

by Doug Moran, Traffic Chair
The resurfacing of Matadero Avenue was expected to be done this summer (the City held a public meeting in December), but it is being postponed because the Utilities Department has scheduled major work on the water main for "within three years". This is the latest in a long, long string of postponements. First, for the heavy construction traffic expected for the creek bypass; later it would be scheduled and included in the City's budget, but get bumped off the list for various reasons.

With the accelerating deterioration and the conversion of the Hoover School site (see article next col.), the BPA is trying to get the City to prioritize these improvements.

Traffic and Hoover Conversion

by Doug Moran
The Hoover Elementary School draws students from throughout Palo Alto and has been a significant source of traffic in the neighborhood. Some Hoover students who live within easy walking distance are being driven to school because of safety concerns.

With the Hoover site being converted into a neighborhood school this fall, there will be significant changes in the levels and patterns of auto, pedestrian and bike traffic. The enrollment boundaries are not yet finalized, but will include portions of Barron Park and Ventura neighborhoods.

The BPA Traffic Committee is eager to address problems that might inhibit students walking or biking to school (all schools). Because there are significant delays in getting street improvements designed, approved, budgeted and implemented, it isn't too early for parents to be considering what needs to be done and expressing those concerns and ideas to the Traffic Committee, the School District and/or the City.

Habitat Committee

The activities of the committee are on temporary hold due to the marshlike conditions in many places and more pressing commitments, requiring the attention of the committee co-chairs. By the time you receive this newsletter or shortly afterwards, activities will recommence -- please watch the kiosk, BPA e-mail list, and our Website for information.


By Will Beckett

Since our last newsletter there has been a lot of activity along the El Camino Real. The new apartments at Los Robles on the old Rudolfo's site are well underway with expected completion to be sometime in the summer. The Cameo Club property is currently under review for 26 single-family homes in a row house configuration.

This project is unique because it will be the first project to have homes facing El Camino Real with no wall to hide behind. Jim Baer, a well known developer in the downtown area is working with Scott Ward of Classic Community, to get approval for a PC (planned community) zone change in order to do this development. The property currently has two zones, about 60% R-15 (residential, 15 per acre), and 40% R-30 (residential, 30 per acre). Unlike a condominium project, these units will have their own yards and will be individually owned, although there will be some common space maintained by all the owners cooperatively (see "Cameo Club" property article, next column).

Another smaller project just behind and to the west of the Cameo Club project is the Goebel Lane development which includes 13 individual condominiums. It will be replacing 7 small houses currently on Goebel Lane. Jeffrey Levin is the developer and by the time this letter is out, will probably have the required ARB approval. Unlike the Cameo Club project this one will be built within the R-15 zone with no exceptions or variances.

Jim Baer tells us that he will also be working on some other sites in our neighborhood soon. The property just south of Service Auto with the Goodwill trailer on it is one of these. The other is a possible development at the rear of the Hyatt near the corner of Arastradero and El Camino Real. We need to be mindful of traffic concerns and focus on ways to limit the impact. Senior housing would be a better option for us, and a letter campaign showing support for a local bus system would also be an important effort. As many of you know the loss of our market was a big blow, but in addition to the inconvenience this will have a negative impact on cross town traffic from this part of town. It is our intent to try to reduce these effects by trying to attract businesses which offer products and services that are needed more frequently during the week. Produce, milk, eggs and bread, although not a full grocery, would decrease the short trips to store traffic. Please encourage stores in the area to offer these products and be sure to support them and tell others about it when they begin to make these products available. For those who don't know where to get milk now that All American Market is closed, may I suggest Walgreen's or Driftwood Market.

It remains to be seen what tenants will join Blockbuster at the old All American Market site. It is our understanding that they have been overwhelmed with requests for the spaces. Blockbuster has configured this so they will occupy 5500 square feet in the center of the store and there will be one space on the north (2633 sq. ft.) and two spaces on the south (1418 sq. ft. each) of Blockbuster's space. The ARB hearing for design and landscape review is expected to conclude before the printing of this newsletter. The zone (CN = commercial, neighborhood) regulates the type of businesses which can occupy these spaces. The neighborhood commercial zone lists specific businesses that are "neighborhood serving." Based on the survey done in December and polls done on e-mail, the neighborhood tends to prefer produce for sure, maybe coffee and baked goods. This information was passed along to the Blockbuster representatives.

"Cameo Club" Property
by Maryanne Welton

Plans are in process to develop the former Cameo Club site on El Camino into a residential project. Scott Ward of Classic Communities presented plans to the BPA and Planning Commission in January. The plans were originally presented to BPA with 27 units but were revised to include 26 units for the Planning Commission hearing.

The design of the proposed development was inspired by the famous view of multi-colored Victorian homes on Alamo Square in San Francisco. The three-story row houses will feature a garage and bedroom on the ground floor, living spaces on the second, and two more bedrooms on the top floor. Additional on-site parking is provided for guests. The attached units are located in four buildings and connected by private driveways. Private outdoor space includes small front porches with larger rear decks connecting to fenced backyards. Although each unit is three stories in height, the top floor steps back at the rear yards to bring the scale down towards the residential neighbors behind.

The row houses will sell as individual homes with a planned asking price of $425,000. Although the City requires three below-market rate units for a project this size, the developer is setting aside four units which will sell for $187,000.

One block of the row-houses faces El Camino with a wide landscaped buffer and driveway providing some visual separation. This connection to the community is in contrast to most development along El Camino, where residential projects typically turn their back on the street with high, solid walls. The incorporation of this urban design concept of making connections with the community helps make the project more street-friendly.

At the BPA meeting and Planning Commission hearing, several people suggested working with the neighboring property owner to provide a pedestrian pathway to Vista Way. This would allow pedestrians to avoid El Camino if walking towards Briones Park or neighborhood schools. The developer will look into this.

The proposed plans will now go to the Architectural Review Board and come back to the BPA for another look before final Planning Commission and City Council approval.

House & Garden Faire

"Sunday Afternoon in Barron Park"
offers a Neighborhood Tour & Fete

by Mardell Ward

The Third Annual Barron Park House & Garden Faire will be held June 7 from 1 to 5 p.m. with a format designed to make this year's event even more enjoyable. This year, rather than spread the celebration of Barron Park throughout the neighborhood, open homes and gardens will be concentrated to allow visitors easier access and more convenient viewing. In subsequent years, other sections of Barron Park will be featured.

Homes and gardens open to the public can well be termed "Creekside Treasures". Properties to be on exhibit will be primarily along Matadero and Barron Creeks and on the streets in the immediate vicinity. The walking tour will be limited to approximately ten homes, ranging from full remodels and two story additions, to kitchen or small wing single story additions, or rearrangement of existing spaces. The gardens will include large creekside gardens to enjoyable small courtyard retreats.

Afternoon events will include designated homes and gardens, refreshments to be served at two convenient locations, and a plant sale. Designers and contractors will be on-site for each residence to explain garden plans, plantings, and renovations of the gardens, or home remodels and renovations as appropriate.

Maps of the walking tour, complete with addresses and descriptions will be available near the Kiosk at Bol Park. Also in the park, a garden advice center, a Canopy information and sign-up station for the street tree planting on Saturday, November 14. (See Canopy article next column)

The plant sale will be conducted at a home just off Laguna Avenue. Sales were brisk last year as Faire attendees snapped up potted shrubs and nicely started seedlings. The plant sale is dependent entirely upon donations. All plants donated must be potted or in suitable containers, healthy and pest free. If you need pots or cellpacks for your donations, Alison Collin--856-3891, has a supply. Plants for donations will be received just a few days prior to the sale on June 7. If you wish to donate plants for the sale or volunteer to work at the sale or prior, please contact Mardell Ward at 493-8051.

Two gardens will serve as House & Garden refreshment sites, providing neighborhood meeting places for a pause in the afternoon events. A nominal donation for refreshments will help to defray the cost of producing the event. The House & Garden Faire is organized and sponsored by the Beautification Committee of the Barron Park Association. Lois Prior--493-9292 and Shirley Finfrock--493-8054 are co-chairpersons for this event.

The Beautification Committee is actively soliciting volunteers from the Barron Park neighborhood to assist with "Sunday Afternoon in Barron Park" as garden/home and refreshment hosts and hostesses. Please do consider volunteering for a two-hour shift on this Sunday afternoon, June 7. This is a wonderful way to meet other residents in our neighborhood and share the camaraderie of like interests, and still have time to partake in the annual House & Garden Faire. Please contact Stephanie Sussman, Host/Hostess Coordinator, at 493-2141.

Save June 7 for "Sunday Afternoon in Barron Park" to enjoy its Creekside Treasures.

Street Trees in Our Neighborhood

by Sue Luttner

Canopy, a non-profit organi-zation dedicated to placing street trees in Palo Alto, has targeted Barron Park for a day of planting this fall. Street trees are the trees that grow in the easement between our property lines and the street. The BPA Beautification Committee is working as a liaison with the city, Canopy, and the neighborhood. The city supplies the trees and loosens the soil; Canopy provides technical support and a core group of volunteers; we provide local volunteers to prepare for, plant, and then care for the young trees.

Our Canopy goals for the next several months are:

The city has compiled a list of potential street-tree locations in the area. If your address sports one or more of the listed sites, you might be receiving a letter about the program this spring. We're limiting our outreach this year to the western section of Barron Park-- Chimalus to La Para, more or less. We will support requests for trees throughout the neighborhood; we will solicit tree hosts only in the west at this time.

We have an immediate need for volunteer "tree ambassadors," who will learn the details of the program and help their neighbors participate, and of course we're always ready to start compiling the list of people who want to move dirt on planting day.

If you're interested in having a tree installed in front of your house, or in helping before or with the planting, please contact Sue Luttner at 424-0824. You do not need to own your property to participate -- although you might want to check with the landlord if you don't.

For more information, check out our Canopy table at Bol Park during the Home & Garden Faire on June 7.

Happy Spring!

I hope by the time you read this we are all drying out a bit. I was lucky to be away during some of the worst of the rain, and came home to find my daffodils and tulips blooming bravely in the mud. (Except for those tulip bulbs that are still in my fridge vegetable drawer!)

I have two things I want to talk with you about this spring:

First, with the flood crisis many of us have experienced these past weeks it's time to assess our emergency preparedness. Check over your supplies -- extra batteries for flashlights and radio; canned soups and fruit that can be eaten cold in case of power outages -- and a manual can opener!

But more importantly -- Please make a point of knowing your neighbors, so we can help one another in times of need. I know it is hard to ask for help -- we all want to be independent -- but for our safety and well-being, lets promise to ask one another for assistance when we need it. We cannot count on the City to come to our rescue in a crisis situation.

If you are a younger neighbor -- maybe new to Barron Park, try to meet your close neighbors, and know who might need help. A phone call to offer aid would be very welcome in an emergency.

This brings me to my second request: I know many of you have offered your help on your membership applications. Here's your chance: we need a few people to do phoning in an emergency to check on our older shut-ins, just to make sure they are O.K. If you would be willing to help with this project, please call me at 493-8023.

Well, I think I'll wade out and plant the rest of my tulips -- I'll be the only one in Barron Park with pink tulips for Halloween!

'Till next time -- Katie

Beautification Committee Report

by Erna Glanville
This will be my last report for the Beautification Committee of the Barron Park Association.

Due to other commitments, and the help from Shirley Finfrock, as my Co-Chairperson these last six months, I am turning over the chairmanship to Shirley.

I appreciate the interest and efforts of Barron Park residents who have, in the past, given time to make this a more visually pleasing community.

After all this rain, think springtime. Look forward to blue skies, feeding the birds and enjoying your blooming gardens. The best is yet to come.
-- Erna

Bol Park May Fete May 17th!

Would you like to help?
Call Gary Breitbard 493-0693
food & drink, Maypole dance, live music,
face painting, balloons, pet parade, model trains, bicycle licensing.

Come join us at the 14th Annual May Fete!

Girl Scouts + Phone Books = A Recycling Combination

by Teena James
What do E.T. and The Girl Scouts have in common? Give up? Phone books!! If E.T. had had one, he might have phoned home more easily. The Girl Scouts, on the other hand, are glad to help you get rid of yours. The new 1998 phone books should be arriving on your doorstep the end of April or first of May. Hoover School's Fifth Grade Junior Girl Scouts, Troop 52, are offering you the chance to recycle your old 1997 phone books. Just drop them off at Hoover School outside the M.P. room, from April 27-May 8.

The Scouts will see that they are taken to the Recycling Center at the Baylands.

Hope you will join in and give them this opportunity to perform some community service for the Hoover and Barron Park communities.

Surface Flooding

by Doug Moran
During the storm of February 2-6, there was flooding in Barron Park, but not from the creeks. Some instances appear to have resulted from "simply" the sheer amount of water falling on that house and yard; some were low spots; some were unexplained. Most reports of surface flooding came from the area around Barron and Kendall between El Camino and La Donna and from El Cerrito (from runoff from the hills behind Gunn HS). I am compiling reports of surface flooding, particularly ones relevant to street drains (inadequate or needed). Please contact me at 856-3302 or (preferred) via email

Advice: Flooding can result from the sanitary sewers backing up or overflowing. There are multiple ways that rain water can get into the sewers: the one of most relevance to residents is (illegal) connections of gutter downspouts to the sewer. Basement and crawl space flooding can occur if the cap is left off the clean-out inlet.

Flood Insurance Workshop in Palo Alto

by Dorothy Bender
More that 75 people attended a workshop on flood insurance issues on February 18th at the Palo Alto City Council organized by Dorothy Bender (Barron Park resident), Dena Mossar (Palo Alto City Council) and Amy Bach (United Policyholders). Most of the attendees suffered serious flood damage and were given materials and advice from the following experts:

Vanessa Villery urged people to register with FEMA for federal and state disaster assistance programs. (Call 1-800-462-9029.)

Amy Bach distributed a handout entitled "Tips for Claimants," which suggested the following:

  1. report your claim promptly
  2. if the adjuster assigned to your claim says you have no coverage, don't just take their word for it.
  3. maintain a claim journal in a 3-ring binder
  4. consult with reputable construction professionals about what might have caused the damage to your home before giving recorded or sworn statements to your insurer.
  5. document your loss thoroughly to insure a fair recovery.
  6. hire your own experts.
  7. do not sign any releases or waivers of any kind until you know your rights.

The following were some of the concerns and suggestions raised by the flood victims:

A Red Cross document, "Repairing Your Flooded Home," was distributed listing some sensible safety tips.

Don Christianson discussed types of disaster loans and how to apply for an Small Business Administration disaster loan. (The deadline for filing applications from the Feb 2nd, 1998 flood for physical damage to homes, personal property, businesses is April 10th, 1998; the filing deadline for applications for economic injury is November 9th, 1998.)

Call United Policyholders at 1-510-763-9740 for further questions related to your rights as an insurance consumer.

Postscript: At the February 28th Town Hall Meeting on the 1998 Winter Storms, City Manager June Fleming responded to flood victims' criticisms in the way the City handled the flood and its aftermath and advised people to call her office, 329-2563, for further questions and concerns.

Other sources of information:

TV Channel 16
KZSU, FM (90.1)
KCBM, AM (740)
Emergency Operations Center Public Information Line: 329-2420
The City of Palo Alto's web page:

Emergency Preparedness

by Art Bayce, Chair
Surface Flow Flooding During this last series of storms, residents living on Cerrito Road, McGregor Way and Paradise Way near the Gunn High School property were still affected by surface flow flooding from the school property into the Barron Park neighborhood. The School District has not yet completed the corrections to the swales originally constructed to direct the flow to the creek bypass culvert. In addition, residents on Cerrito Road near Barron Creek had requested that a berm be constructed along the school district fence to drain surface flow directly to the adjacent Barron Creek. None of these corrections had been properly completed or even started. The drains that had been installed along the section of the bike path along the fence were not adequate to carry off the water coming from the playing fields. Residents in all these areas were affected, and some residents had to sandbag their homes.

Residents in other parts of Barron Park were impacted by surface flooding (see article page 12).

Note: Sand bags are available for Barron Park residents at the Hoover Elementary School site.

Emergency Preparedness Survey (1997)
If you have not yet completed and returned the survey, you can find it on the Web at:

If you would like a form faxed to you, fax 494-0741, or call Art Bayce 493-7058 to receive an emergency survey form by mail.

During an emergency, contact your nearest BPA Board member for information. The emergency database is confidential and will be accessible only during emergencies.

The information contained in the "Living with Our Faults" booklet is useful not only for earthquake emergencies but also for other emergencies including flooding. This would be a good time to read over the important information in the booklet.

Neighborhood Safety

by Art Bayce, Chair

Crime has been down in Barron Park this last quarter. The rains may have helped in that respect. There have been a few burglaries and petty thefts. Most arrests have been on El Camino. Suspicious persons and vehicles have been reported to the police by alert residents.

The pay phone on the bike path, near the McGregor Way entrance, was vandalized at the end of January. This was immediately reported to the Palo Alto Police Department and Pacific Bell, but the telephone has not yet been put into service, as of the end of February.

We wish to welcome Officer Rich Bullerjahn, who is now assigned to monitor traffic in Barron Park. We thank Officer Jennifer Nigh for her fine service to Barron Park during her assignment on traffic patrol here and for meeting with the Neighborhood Safety Committee on a monthly basis.

Recently, we had a larger than the usual amount of automobile accidents. They occurred at intersections within Barron Park and also in the vicinity of the intersections of Matadero, Barron and Los Robles at El Camino. There needs to be more awareness of stop signs in Barron Park, especially at intersections of Los Robles/Laguna, Los Robles/ Amaranta and Los Robles/La Donna. Please come to a complete stop. Also, speeding is still a problem.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety
The following information has been obtained mainly from brochures published by the California Highway Patrol. In Barron Park, we have streets with and without sidewalks. For personal safety, use sidewalks whenever they are available. In areas where there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the street facing traffic. At night, wear light-colored clothing and carry a flashlight so that motorists can see you.

The following are bicycle equipment requirements as stated by the CHP.

A white headlamp, attached to the bicycle or your body, visible from 300 feet to the front and from the sides


  1. Red rear reflector
  2. White or yellow reflectors on the front and back of each pedal
  3. White or yellow reflectors on each side forward of center of bike. and red or white reflectors on each side rear of center - usually mounted on wheel spokes (if you have reflectorized tires in front and rear, you do not need side reflectors.)

Again, wear light colored clothing. Fluorescent tape on the upper part of your body will help motorists see you in their headlights.

To report crimes in progress - immediately call 911.
Past or suspicious events - 24-hour police business number, 329-2413.
Graffiti - City of Palo Alto graffiti hot line, 496-5904.
For information on the Palo Alto Citizens Police Academy - 329-2665.

Overheard around town:

by N.O. Moore

Ponding in Bol Park: Permanent

There have been numerous complaints and questions about the standing water at various places in Bol Park: between the VA and the bikepath, across from Laguna Court, and at the foot of the hills behind Gunn HS. The Water District's response is that these are part of their design to restore the park to its previous state, and they cite documents describing the (irrigation) pond for which Laguna Avenue is named. Our suspicion is that the contractor was so slow fixing problems with grading and drainage that these areas became protected habitats.

The Water District is expected to be holding a public meeting on naming these ponds. Because of their long narrow shape, the tentative name is "The Laguna Lochs".

Japanese proverb: Those who believe everything they read shouldn't read.

Barron Park History

Doug Graham, Barron Park Historian

Flooding in Barron Park
Flooding is not a new threat in Barron Park. Our neighborhood is built on alluvial deposits from our creeks, dating back at least as far as the end of the Ice Age about 12,000 years ago. These deposits are mute evidence of the repeated inundations that brought soil and rock down from the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. When the Puichon Indians of the Ohlone Culture lived here, both creeks flowed approximately where they do today, but were probably not cut so deeply. Probably neither channel reached the bay in those days. Heavy storm flows simply spread out over the land in sheet flow, pooled in the low spots and drained to salt water slowly over a period of days or weeks, in effect creating seasonal wetlands. Low spots existed near Laguna Avenue and Los Robles where Barron Creek's channel lost clear definition (evidence of at least four channels can be seen on old aerial photos from the 1940s), and in the still-existing low spot between the creeks along Kendall and Barron Avenues near El Camino Real.

The existence of higher ground along creek banks and low spots away from the creek channels may seem unnatural to immigrants from humid regions, but is typical of creeks in semi-arid lands. Our topography is made up of overlapping "alluvial fans", each flowing from a canyon in the hills. Each creek reaches the flatlands, slows down and dumps its sediments. This is why creek channels in alluvial fan areas are often multiple and relatively indistinct, why land slopes away from the channels, and why areas between creeks tend to be low and seasonally marshy. I have often heard it said that we should not build flood control projects, but should instead remove structures from "the 100-year floodplain" and let the creeks rule there. That policy makes sense when applied to midwest rivers, but little sense when applied to California valleys such as ours where it would be difficult to find any flat land that isn't in a "floodplain".

Getting back to our creeks; Barron Creek's channels began spreading out from the point where it debauched from the foothills at the present intersection of Foothill Expressway and Arastradero Road. The principle channel probably ran between and roughly parallel with Los Robles and La Para and ended in a swampy area near the Buena Vista Trailer Court and All American Market at El Camino. One rather indistinct channel probably wandered across and joined Matadero Creek approximately at Whitsell Ave. This was the path taken by the deepest overland flow during the 1983 floods. The Matadero Creek channel, on the other hand, was right where it is now, at least as far down as El Camino. It almost certainly extended further north from there, possibly losing itself in a seasonally marshy area below present-day Alma Street between Loma Verde and El Carmelo. There may have been some sort of channel all the way down to the bay.

Artificial Channels Cut
Today's artificial channels on both creeks below Barron Park, from the railroad to the bay sloughs, were arbitrarily located in the late 1800s for the convenience of agricultural landowners. Likewise, Barron Creek's artificial channel along Los Robles was cut by the Barron Estate managers before 1890. The open dirt-walled channel was replaced with a five-foot diameter steel culvert and backfill in 1961, after flooding that was aggravated by the numerous private bridges on driveways.

Anyone who doesn't believe that there is a long history of flooding in our neighborhood should consider the many raised houses that were built here before 1940. The old Barron Mansion itself was located on a low rise of land in the Magnolia Drive neighborhood, that probably kept "Mayfield Farm" from ever being flooded, but note that it was built with the first floor about eight feet above ground level.

Record of Flooding
The early residents of this area either didn't keep records of the floods they experienced, or those records have been lost. The oldest documentary records specifically referring to our neighborhood that I have found are two clippings from the Palo Alto Times. One from March 22, 1937 reported automobiles in Barron Park garages with water almost completely covering the wheels, and debris deposited on front porches. On the 24th, the Times referred to Matadero Creek overflowing and "inundating large stretches of land three times this season". Floods from our creeks were reported in 1931, 1932,1943,1947, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1955 (the "Flood of the Century!") , 1957, 1958, 1959 and 1962. Then began what must have been the driest period in our history, with no flooding again until a relatively minor event in March, 1973 that washed away a chunk of my back yard and got me involved in Water District affairs. The next real flooding was another decade away, in January 1983, which was the flood that led to our Bypass project.

Some details from these floods; on January 12, 1952 the Times reported that more than 100 homes in Barron Park had their furnaces flooded out during the night, with the volunteer firemen going from home to home waking residents and helping them turn their gas off. Luckily, no fires resulted. On April 3, 1958 it reported 750 people fled their homes in Palo Alto and were taken or went to the Red Cross evacuation shelter at Jordan Junior High School. The article noted that "funds used in flood control paid off" in Palo Alto (they meant the new concrete channels on Matadero and Barron Creeks), but "upstream (in Barron Park), improvements have been delayed partly because Barron Park residents insist that no oak trees be removed from the channel or its banks".

The 1983 Flood
Following the 1983 floods, the BPA Creek Committee undertook a survey of damage. Comments from those survey forms tell the story. One resident of Barron Avenue wrote; "had eight feet of water in the basement -- sump pump got flooded out (and was needed) to save the floor boards. Bedroom and bath were flooded 2 inches deep. Wall-to-wall carpeting ruined. Furnace rusted out, heater ducts full of mud, gas lines full of muddy water -- entire property was under at least 12 inches of water". Another Barron Avenue victim wrote; "At 1:30 AM a 12-inch river came from neighbor's property in back of ours. Their lot flooded, came under fence up against back of our house and flowed into basement and filled it up. Water heater and furnace flooded, called City to shut gas off. Basement filled six feet to capacity. Water flowed through floor furnace vents. Left one inch of mud. Suitcases, furnace and kitchen appliances ruined. Spa and deck were moved (off their foundations). Back fence eroded under. Front yard was a lake for two days." A Kendall resident reported; "The street was like a small creek, flowing toward El Camino. Water still standing six inches deep by mid afternoon Monday (12 hours later). Wednesday flood somewhat less. Heavy silt damage to rugs, books, papers, file cabinets, etc."

I have some vivid personal memories from that Sunday night-Monday morning flood. I drove and walked all the flooded streets during the event. I'll never forget the Palo Alto police officer sitting in flood water up to his chest in the front seat of his flooded-out patrol car in the middle of Kendall Avenue, trying to raise headquarters on his radio to send a tow truck. He needed a boat! I'll also never forget the sound of the "standing wave" under the old railroad bridge (bikepath), which was reaching up and slapping the bottom of the bridge with a regular beat of about two seconds, "Boom! Boom! Boom!" That sound was the alarm that woke me and got me up and about to record the flood. I'll also always remember my friend who told of getting out of bed at 2 AM to go to the bathroom and stepping into six inches of freezing cold creek water in his bedroom.

After the 1983 flood we got lucky again; the weather held off and gave us fifteen years to get the flood control project built -- and we needed almost all of them. We had bad scares and "almost-floods" in 1986, 1995 and 1997. The recent events of 1998 would certainly have been floods if the project were not now in existence.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief recap of the history of our creeks. I would like to hear stories, particularly from the floods of the 1950s.

Birdhouses: Bluebirds, Chickadees, Titmice

By Leda Beth Gray

I am looking for volunteers for the California Bluebird Recovery Program, sponsored by the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society (SCVAS, www.scvas.org). We need people to monitor nest boxes that we hope to put up in Bol Park (if we get interested volunteers). This would include looking inside the boxes on a weekly basis starting soon and going possibly for several months, filling out forms on breeding activity of the bird occupants once the nesting activity has begun, and cleaning the box out between nestings. Boxes can be placed on posts only 4 or so feet high, or they can be hung from trees, in which case long-handled hooks must be used to retrieve the box and check the activity. I personally prefer the former set up if there is a suitable place for it.

There are several other species besides bluebirds that may also use the boxes, including chickadees, titmice, and swallows and we are interested in receiving the weekly forms on all of those species that might choose to nest in the boxes. In addition, we are interested in receiving data on bird boxes that may already be up in people's back yards, even if it isn't as complete as the forms that we fill out for the official program. We are trying to put this form up on the BPA Web site under "Hot Topics" + "Surveys".

The sponsorship of this program by SCVAS started last year and it was a very successful year as those of you who receive our monthly newsletter have already read. If you don't receive our newsletter, you may phone the SCVAS office (408-252-3747) for a complementary copy.

Please pass this information on to neighbors you think might be interested. Partnering with another person to monitor a box is a possibility for people who may be occasionally out of town. If you are interested or have questions, please contact me: e-mail (preferred) (email deleted) or telephone 650-424-8573. As well as helping to increase bluebird populations, we hope that this program will help increase the habitat value of Bol Park along with all the other efforts that are taking place by the Barron Park Association.

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