Opponents of Measure D might have the signatures, but it's the supporters who have the funds, campaign-finance statements released Friday show.
Palo Altans for Affordable Senior Housing, a group working to uphold the City Council's approval of a housing development on Maybell and Clemo avenues, has raised more than $104,321 for its campaign between Jan. 1 and Sept. 21, records show, though almost half of the money came from the organization looking to build the project.
The amounts both raised and spent by the pro-Measure D campaign dwarfs the campaign chest of the measure's opponents, Palo Altans to Preserve Neighborhood Zoning. Opponents of the measure raised $7,588 in cash and received another $586 in non-monetary contributions relating to website services. While the Barron Park Association kicked in $1,000 to support the opposition, the remaining checks came from individuals, many of whom are residents of Green Acres, Green Acres II and Barron Park neighborhoods.
By contrast, the pro-Measure D campaign is receiving the lion's share of its backing from the Palo Alto Housing Corporation, the developer behind 567 Maybell Ave. The project, which the City Council unanimously approved in June, includes a 60-unit apartment complex for low-income seniors and 12 single-family homes. The Housing Corporation kicked in $50,000 to the pro-Measure D campaign, with a little more than $10,000 in cash coming from other sources. The remaining $44,000 came from monetary contributions.
The list of contributors to the pro-Measure D side includes former mayors and nonprofit volunteers and housing advocates. Jean McCown, who fits all three categories, chipped in $500; former Mayor Lanie Wheeler contributed $250 and the campaign of Assemblyman Rich Gordon gave another $100. Local resident Joseph Martignetti was one of the largest contributors, giving the campaign $1,000.
The pro-Measure D campaign has also spent $35,666 on political consulting, tapping the San Francisco-based firm Terris, Barnes and Walters for the job. Lesser sums were spent on surveys, flyers and advertising.
The opponents' biggest expense was $3,500 for the services of Sutton Law Firm, which helped the campaign analyze the city's attorney's impartial analysis for Measure D.
McCown, who serves on the Housing Corporation board and participated in Saturday's debate on Measure D, characterized the project as one that will both provide an important service and make a good addition to the neighborhood. Shooting the project down, she said, will "likely result in a market-rate development with far greater impacts on the neighborhood."
But even though her side has the overwhelming advantage when it comes to funding, opponents have one reason for hope. Earlier this summer, they gathered 4,000 signatures, far more than the 2,300 needed to place it on the ballot. Tim Gray, treasurer for Palo Altans to Preserve Neighborhood Zoning, said the high number of signature gives him confidence that opposition may still succeed.
"If each of them reaches out to a small number of people and explains to them that this is not about senior housing, it's about high-density zoning in residential neighborhoods, that understanding will allow the votes to go our way," Gray told the Weekly.
View the campaign finance statements: