Palo Alto has selected a new citizens panel that is charged with helping the city update its land-use bible, the Comprehensive plan.
The 13-member group includes neighborhood leaders, land-use watchdogs and representatives from the city's nonprofit and business communities. Its purpose is to advise city staff on how to reach out to the public and engage residents and businesses who don't usually participate in the city's planning processes.
Its members include Elaine Uang, co-founder of citizens group Green Planning Action; College Terrace land-use watchdog Doria Summa; Human Relations Commission member Mehdi Alhassani; Cheryl Lilienstein, president of Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, a group formed last year in opposition to new high-density developments; and David MacKenzie, president and CEO of the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce.
Other members of what is known as the "Leadership Group" are Jackie Schoelerman of Coldwell Banker, Ellen Uhrbrock of Avenidas, Rebecca Sanders of the Midpeninsula Community Media Center, Helen Li of Fenwick and West, Catherine Ballantyne of Absolute Mortgage Banking, Michael Nelson of the Adobe Meadow Neighborhood Association, engineer and investor Hemant Bahnoo, and housing advocate Mila Zelkha.
The group is scheduled to hold its first meeting later this month. According to a report from planning staff, the group will help with community engagement "for the balance of the planning process."
The Leadership Group was appointed by City Manager James Keene based on feedback he received from the City Council in March. While it is not subject to Brown Act requirements (because it was not appointed by the council), Planning Director Hillary Gitelman said its meetings will be open to the public and advertised in advance.
The city plans to adopt a new Comprehensive Plan in late 2015.