Community Services and Facilities Element

The Community Services and Facilities Element is an optional Element not required by State law. The Element reinforces the vital role library and school services play in shaping community life in Palo Alto.

Palo Alto is a full-service City, including park and recreation divisions, police and fire departments, library and cultural arts programs, and youth, senior and childcare services that are all committed to providing responsive customer service for residents and businesses.

The Current Plan: A Solid Foundation

Palo Alto residents have access to a rich array of public services that reflect its diversity; these services are provided by the City and in partnership with community organizations, other jurisdictions, and the adjacent Stanford University campus.

This Element calls for maintaining and enhancing existing services and supporting the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD), an independent local government institution separate from the City.

The existing Element provides a solid framework to help the City deliver the services required to meet the needs of the community and add to quality of life in Palo Alto The Element acknowledges that parks and recreational and social services play a significant role in shaping a healthy and dynamic community and calls for the City to encourage and enhance access for all Palo Altans. Recognizing that there are fiscal limits to what the City can provide, the Element calls for collaboration with outside agencies and jurisdictions to fill any service gaps.
The majority of its policy themes are carried forward into Our Palo Alto 2030, including:

  • Providing services that meet the needs of all cultures, ages, and abilities.
  • Solving fiscal challenges through partnerships with other agencies, jurisdictions, non-profits, and businesses.
  • Partnering with PAUSD to maximize the use of school facilities for community use outside of regular school hours.
  • Maintaining parks and facilities so they can be enjoyed by future generations.
  • Increasing access to recreational and public services for disabled and low-income residents.
  • Strategically locating public facilities and services to serve all residents.
  • Expanding existing and establishing new parks and community facilities to meet the needs of a growing community.

Our Palo Alto 2030

In response to new issues and trends that have emerged over the past decade, the updated Community Services and Facilities Element is expected to include the following new concepts:

  • Advocating for healthy lifestyles for all residents.
  • Supporting healthy development among youth and teens through a culture of peer-to-peer support and developmental asset building.
  • Expanding programs to engage seniors in the community.
  • Encouraging universal access to parks, public places, and community facilities.
  • Investing in the maintenance and improvement of public facilities.

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Vision Statement

“Palo Alto will provide high quality community services to its residents, businesses and visitors. Its schools, libraries, parks, community facilities and arts and cultural centers are treasured and will be enhanced to serve current and future generations. The City will continue to provide services and programs that meet the needs of special populations—including children, seniors and people with disabilities—as well as programs in recreation, lifelong learning and the arts that benefit all populations. Palo Alto’s success in providing these services will be expressed and measured by the satisfaction of the public at large. The City will pursue new opportunities to deliver community services in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. The City will coordinate its efforts with other public agencies, nonprofits and the private sector to reduce overlap and maximize the use of resources.”


Click here to view the 1998 Comp Plan version of the Community Services and Facilities Element.

Click here to view the June 30, 2017 version of the updated Element.

Click here to view view all CAC meetings where this Element was discussed.