Dec 282017

Acclaimed Stanford neuroscientist Ben Barres, MD, PhD, and long time resident of Barron Square, died on Dec. 27, 20 months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was 63. He had been in hospice at home for several weeks. Ben wanted no memorial service.  I suspect that given Ben’s stature in the world of science and medicine that his colleagues at Stanford will make some efforts to recognize the significance of Ben’s life. Barres’ path-breaking discoveries of the crucial roles played by glial cells — the unsung majority of brain cells, which aren’t nerve cells — revolutionized the field of neuroscience.

If you wish to read more about his amazing life and work, here are some references:



 Posted by at 10:08 PM
Dec 122017

Just a gentle reminder to all owners, especially those living on upper floors.

Hot water heaters age and can leak when they fail, causing serious damage to your own or your neighbor’s Unit. Is your water heater more than 10 years old?  It may be time for a new one.  This is especially important for upstairs units, because flooding affects your downstairs neighbor’s unit, as well as your own. 

Owners will be responsible for any of their own repairs and also that of their affected neighbors.  The CC&R’s state that “Each Owner shall maintain, repair and replace their water heater…” (Section 6.10) and that “Owners shall be liable for all damages caused by water leaks due to willful or negligent act or omission that originate inside their Units.” (Section 5.1.1). It will be less expensive for your costs, time, energy, and recovering from the disruption. 

For those who might want to consider a tankless hot water heater, these will require an enlarged vent pipe that will involve expensive retrofit work through the roof as well as installation of an additional electrical line.

Architectural board approval, a Palo Alto City permit and a licensed plumber are all required for this work.  Palo Alto code now requires a catch pan under the heater with a drain to the outside. This may be difficult in our 38 year old buildings, but Dominic from Boncore Builders negotiated some solutions with the city planning department. Call Julie at CIMS for information and remember to inform CIMS when the work is completed so that the new water heater will be included in our association insurance records.

 Posted by at 3:08 PM
Dec 122017


Your recycle, compost, and garbage collection day will change during the holidays. Collection will not occur on Christmas and New Year’s Day. If your regular collection day falls on or after one of these holidays, your collection day will be moved to the following day for the rest of the week. For more information about holiday schedule changes for waste collection, HHW Station hours, and street sweeping, visit http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/depts/pwd/zerowaste/news/details.asp?NewsID=879 You can also email zerowaste@cityofpaloalto.org or call (650) 496-5910.


For the four weeks following Christmas day, holiday trees will be collected curbside. Trees must be undecorated, unflocked, cut to four-foot lengths with stands removed, and placed curbside next to your compost cart.


Cardboard boxes and packaging materials that are not properly prepared can cause litter that negatively impacts our streets and creeks, as well as costly inefficiencies in our waste collection system. 

If you consistently have a lot of cardboard, you can get a larger or additional blue recycle cart by contacting GreenWaste of Palo Alto at pacustomerservice@greenwaste.com or (650) 493-4894.

For more information about What Goes Where, visit www.cityofpaloalto.org/wgwtools, email zerowaste@cityofpaloalto.org or call (650) 496-5910.

 Posted by at 11:39 AM
Dec 122017

Property theft is the major crime problem in Palo Alto

One of our Barron Square neighbors recently suffered the loss of a package which had been delivered to his door. Despite the fact that the entrance to their unit was upstairs in the rear of the building, the thief calmly walked back and took the package. The video of the theft suggested the same person who had been seen taking packages from other Palo Alto residences. One Midtown home was reported on NextDoor to have been hit by the same thief twice within three hours. The increase in online holiday shopping has made this a lucrative endeavor. 

Vigilance is the price of liberty. And also of security!

The Board will be asked to consider additional security measures for Barron Square. You may want to consider installation of a home security camera like a Ring doorbell or Nest camera (NOTE: Architectural approval is required).

We urge our neighbors to take action if you observe any suspicious person(s) within Barron Square. It is left up to you whether you choose to question the person’s intentions directly or call the Palo Alto police department, depending on your level of suspicion. But please do not simply ignore it. 

The Palo Alto Police Department published the following suggestions last year…

Shopping Online This Holiday Season? See Our Tips to Prevent Package Theft!
Be sure to read and share these tips to ensure your packages aren’t stolen off of your front porch.

This is a great time of year to get to know your neighbors and encourage them to keep eye out for suspicious behavior. Please call our 24-hour dispatch center at 9-1-1 or 650-329-2413 to report suspicious activity immediately.

If you’ve become the victim of a package theft, please give us a call at 650-329-2413.

For a full list of crime prevention tips, please visit our website at www.cityofpaloalto.org/StopCrime.


 Posted by at 2:35 AM
Dec 122017

Palo Alto City Council may require seismic retrofits

According to a recent story in the Palo Alto Weekly, hundreds of Palo Alto property owners could be forced to firm up the shaky foundations of their buildings under a proposal that the City Council will be considering in the coming months.

The city is embarking on a dramatic expansion of its Seismic Hazards and Identification Program, which was adopted in 1986 and created reporting requirements and retrofit incentives for owners of buildings deemed particularly vulnerable. The existing program focuses on the buildings that building officials deem to be particularly vulnerable: those constructed of unreinforced masonry; those built before 1935 and containing 100 or more occupants; and those that went up before 1976 and have 300 or more occupants. (Ed. note: None of these would apply to Barron Square)…

Now, Palo Alto is looking to add some teeth to the ordinance and to add four new buildings categories to the three that currently fall under its purview. The biggest addition to the list will be soft-story wood-frame buildings, a category that fared particularly poorly after the October 1989 earthquake in San Francisco and the 1994 tremor in Northridge. These multistory buildings typically have a ground-floor level that is weaker, has fewer partitions and is more flexible than the stories above it, making it more likely to collapse during an earthquake (Ed. note: Typically apartments built over garages or carports).

While it doesn’t appear that the new categories would include Barron Square we will be keeping an eye on City Council actions.


As you may know the Barron Square HOA carries Earthquake Insurance for the buildings and property. As noted in the 2018 budget package sent to you, the total valuation for Barron Square is $28,740,000 with a 15% deductible (minimum $25,000 per building for a single event). For the past several years the Board has chosen to pay a higher premium for the lower deductible rate. The small increase in your HOA dues for the premium is offset by a lower cost for your personal insurance.

If you assume a TOTAL loss of all buildings then the maximum deductible would be about $4,311,000 and this would be paid for by a special assessment of all owners in accordance with the assessment table in the CC&Rs (ranging from 1.25% to 1.79%). This means that an individual owner could be liable for between $54K and $77K.  THIS IS THE AMOUNT YOU NEED TO COVER WITH YOUR PERSONAL EARTHQUAKE INSURANCE, plus personal property and loss of use expenses.

California calculations!

 Posted by at 1:56 AM