Tommy Fehrenbach to spearhead Palo Alto economic development | August 6, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 6, 2010

Tommy Fehrenbach to spearhead Palo Alto economic development

Former chair of Chamber of Commerce board named to city's economic development position

by Jay Thorwaldson

Tommy Fehrenbach, relationship manager at Borel Private Bank & Trust Co. and former chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, has been named the new economic development manager for the City of Palo Alto.

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Editor Jay Thorwaldson can be e-mailed at


Posted by Timothy Gray, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 6, 2010 at 8:52 am

Go Tommy.

I believe the new Palo Alto Economic Development Manager, Tommy Fehrenbach, will be the communicator that will allow an energetic conversation about taking actions outside the box.

Being from Palo Alto, he will be sensitive to our desire to preserve the qualities that make Palo Alto unique, but he also has the vision to lead a creative conversation about how to make the downtown more pedestrian friendly, including the possibility of closing some streets to car traffic.

There is a balance between the business interests of Palo Alto and the preservationists desire to retain Palo Alto qualities. Tommy will be able to bring those interests together.

He will just have to prove to the preservationist that his business background does not necessarily mean he is a hired gun of the high-density development interests.

Let's leverage what we preserve and find a win-win for both interests.

A lot of people will be watching your moves Tommy, so make sure your actions are inclusive and fair. (yes, fairness can be a principal in City Government). By the way, try to include residents from a broad spectrum of the City, and avoid the typical configuration of City insiders. And... no closed meetings, like other City managers have pulled (yes, I'm talking about you Chief Burns.) Show us how the power of sincere Citizen Participation and entrepreneurial energy can move the City forward.

Best regards,

Timothy Gray (former City Council Candidate)

Posted by Gillian Fish, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2010 at 9:06 am

Mr Gray, it appears that you missed the fact that Mr Fehrenbach is a member of the Community Advisory Group (or Chief Burns' secret meetings as you called them)

Posted by Don, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 10, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Mr. Gray. I note that Chief Burns is posting his meetings on the web albeit a couple of months after a meeting. The purpose of holding "closed" sessions was to allow participants to express their views freely without being verbally attacked by those who disagreed with them. Seems to be working.

That being said, Mr. Fehrenbach has a tough job. More than 85% of new businesses begin small, and do not pay much tax to begin with. But how can one identify the person who could start such a business in the first place? Since more than 1/2 fail in the first few years, this becomes an ongoing task.

A solution many residents have a visceral aversion to is large, box stores. Yet they are the ones that generate the most sales and most tax revenue. Mt. View takes full advantage of this to their credit.

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