City may rename Foothills Park, offer annual passes

The entrance to Foohills Park in Palo Alto. File photo.

The Palo Alto City Council may change the name of Foothills Park and limit the number of visitors.

Foothills Park would be renamed to Foothills Nature Preserve to better distinguish the 1,400-acre area as an open space preserve, according to the proposal before council on Feb. 22. The park currently allows a maximum of 1,000 people at one time, but the ordinance will limit the number to 400.

Foothills Park was sold to the city of Palo Alto by Dr. Russel Lee, founder of the Palo Alto Medical Clinic in 1958. The park was formally dedicated to the city in 1965, and open exclusively to Palo Alto residents.

Following a lawsuit by the ACLU and NAACP, council members voted Nov. 2 to allow non-residents access to the park.

The decision to drop the residents’ only restriction has resulted in an increase in people visiting the park. The city is now charging $6 a car. The city is looking into possible changes in the fees.

The Parks and Recreation Commission formed a committee to make a recommendation on the fees. The commitee is recommending a:
•$65 annual pass for non-Palo Alto residents;
• $49 annual pass for senior, low income, or active military and veteran non-Palo Alto
• $50 annual pass for Palo Alto residents;
• $38 annual pass for senior, low income, or active military and veteran Palo Alto residents.

City Council will have the final say on fees.


  1. How about no fees for Palo Alto residents and we sue the ACLU and NAACP lawyers for the money to maintain the park? If it weren’t for those lawyers we wouldn’t have a problem with crowds overrunning the park.

  2. I agree with Ryan. And it’s not just more people, but also bad behavior that is incompatible with the purpose of Foothills Preserve. In the past few weeks we have experienced “hikers” blasting loud music on even very remote trails, kids running and yelling loudly on trails, and joggers who seem to think maintaining their pace is more important than respecting hikers and walkers on narrow trails – pushing past others with not even a mask. Also, lots o groups of adults on trails who are clearly just out for a social occasion – talking loudly and non-stop, clearly paying zero attention to the amazing, natural environment in which they are trespassing.

    For those who have always come to the preserve to appreciate it’s actual intent – the natural environment, peace and tranquility, and rare glimpse of wildlife: those days are over.

    I strongly urge the city council to adopt additional rules that align Foothills Preserve with a nature destination, not a city park. 1) Restrict any and all extraneous sounds (no music or speakers of any kind). 2) Have annual passes with photos and scanned at entrance – create a mechanism for accountability. 3) Ensure annual passes are only issued after the applicants have acknowledged and signed a Rules & Regulations agreement. 4) Enforce the rules with stiff financial penalties or cancellation of their pass.

    Anything short of the above will just be more hand-waving and pretend mitigation for the serious problem this city council created when they decided to settle a stupid, threatened lawsuit rather than do the hard work of protecting a real nature preserve.

Comments are closed.