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By Henrietta J. Burroughs                Follow East Palo Alto Today on
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November 21, 2017                   EPA Today Facebook page Follow epatoday on Twitter EPA Today Blog Icon

From the Editor's Desk

Headshot of Henrietta J. Burroughs
Henrietta J. Burroughs

 


Will East Palo Alto ever live down the reputation it gained in the 1990’s as the “Murder Capital of the world?” According to East Palo Alto’s Mayor, Larry Moody, East Palo Alto may well be on its way.

In his State of the City address, which he delivered at the Four Seasons Hotel on Monday, November 20, the mayor took as one of his themes the idea that East Palo Alto is carving out a whole new image.

In fact, Moody claimed proudly that East Palo Alto’s transformation is such that now many residents proudly proclaim that East Palo Alto is their home, unlike the time not too long ago, when some of the city’s residents were reluctant to say that they lived in East Palo Alto.

At the beginning of his address, the standing room only audience saw a Mural, Music & Arts project video in which “two young males rapped repeatedly, “We ain’t the 90’s.”

Moody repeated, then rephrased that refrain. “We are no longer the 90’s,” he said. “We are a safe, united, strong and diverse community thriving in Silicon Valley.”

Indeed, there were many accomplishments the mayor pointed to that supported the transformation, which he said is underway.

Topping the mayor’s list is the fact that there has not been one homicide in East Palo Alto thus far this year. “This is something worth ...celebrating and applaud(ing),” he said. He credited the city’s safety record to the Community Service Aid program and the Clean Zone and Fit Zone programs, which bring police staff closer to the community. He also recognized the work of various city non-profits that had received Measure C and TOT grants from the city.

A variety of projects are also transforming the city, like the Reach I project that will prevent flooding in the city’s Garden neighborhood.

Moody cited East Palo Alto’s balanced budget and its newly adopted City Debt Management Policy, which are leading to the city’s financial stability. He applauded the city’s efforts to protect its diversity and its immigrant community, which led to its opposition to indiscriminate raids by ICE and its efforts to inform and welcome all of its residents in spite of their immigration status.

The city’s agreements with its labor unions that result in the gains in benefits and salaries that were the largest in the city’s history also stood high on the mayor’s list, along with the Working Scholars program that allowed a number of city residents to pursue cost college degrees at no personal cost.

The attraction of Amazon to the new Sobrato building at 2100 University Ave and the opening of Target shows that East Palo Alto is a city that is attractive to the business community. This increase in city businesses enables the city to raise additional revenue that will allow it to provide more and better services to its residents.

Moody went on to cite the work Renaissance Start up is doing to develop small businesses; the opening of the Serenity Senior Apartments; the city water agreements, the plans underway to reduce the city’s traffic congestion; the study to consider ways to develop a network of city bike paths and lanes; the Highway 101 Bicycle/Pedestrian Overcossing Project; the Safe Routes to School improvement project; the city’s MTC award for having the most improved roads; and the new developments underway, like the Primary School, The Goldman Foundation Youth Art & Music Project and the two Class A office projects underway slated for Bay Road and University Ave., respectively.

Certainly, in many ways, the East Palo Alto of the ‘90’s is a place of the past. Transformation is, indeed, underway. But, the challenge now is for city residents to find ways to keep many of the positive things that they value about the city’s past and its present from being swallowed up by the many transformations to come.

Mayor Moody described East Palo Alto as “the little city that could.” Like their city, its residents will have to believe that they can do, too, if they are to find a way to protect what they value most about their city.



The above editorial by Henrietta J. Burroughs appears in the Fall 2017 edition of the East Palo Alto Today newspaper. In the print edition, the title of the article is, Giving thanks for "the little city that could." See the files of the issue here. The editor can be reached by email at epatoday@epatoday.org
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