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Hail to the Residents

Original post made by Fred Balin, College Terrace, on Aug 5, 2014

Excerpted from prepared comments at last week’s invitation-only "Meet the Candidates" at the home of Janet Dafoe:

This story contains 911 words.

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Comments (8)

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Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 8, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

I really appreciate learning the history and hearing the stories of how Palo Alto became what it is today. The examples Fred cites - protection of open space, the beginning of the fifty foot height limit, the battle with HSR (ongoing), drive to address downtown parking, and the PC zoning referendum are inspiring examples of citizens taking action.

There are a lot of election year residentialists, but these folks are the real deal.

I've met a ton of inspiring people already during my city council campaign, and look forward to meeting even more.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 9, 2014 at 10:43 am

Can imagine what it must of been like to bring in a height limit. Very visionary.

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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 9, 2014 at 4:57 pm

I respect Fred Balin, even if I disagree with him on a particular issue. He does his homework, for the issues that concern him...sometimes to a fault.

I opposed HSR from the outset, because it was so flawed, while our CC unanimously supported it. This is what I would call 'green anxiety/guilt'. I don't know if Fred is infected with this virus, or not. Larry Klein is Ebola-infected with it. Why are there so many non-rational true believers in PA?

Facing us, coming up, is the anaerobic digestion industrial plant in our park lands. Complete disaster.

When will rationality prevail amongst our leaders?

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Posted by dumb question
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 9, 2014 at 5:11 pm

I'm not very well informed about all the issues about HSR. I like the idea of a speed train to LA, and seems like most developed countries have speed trains.

What is confusing is why all the push to get to LA really fast, let's say, compared to addressing all the deficient public transportation in the main urban areas.

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Posted by citizen
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 11, 2014 at 1:38 am

Dear Fred,
One very important factor in all of this is whether residents change the election code in Palo Alto to get an impartial ballot process like they have in San Francisco.

Even though Measure D won, the even stronger victory of a similar measure in the same election in even more liberal San Francisco (that also included affordable housing, support from City Hall, etc) suggests that the bias the Palo Alto City Attorney inserted in the Measure D ballot still gave the City 10-15 points it wouldn't have had otherwise.

The High Street referendum had nearly the identical bias, but unfortunately, residents didn't realize it then, and losing the referendum even narrowly made citizens groups think they weren't as powerful as they could have been. This opened the door to 10 years of overdevelopment and abuse of City Hall power that culminated in the recent revolt. I feel the revolt is only in its infancy, frankly, because the big apartments near San Antonio and El Camino aren't even open yet, and people are already fed up with the impacts of the existing development. People will see that stuff every day. Every day already I think more resentful thoughts towards Greg Scharff and company over what they did to my side of town - and frankly, to my time and my life with my family. I am not alone. If most of us had really realized what was going in there across from Arbor Real, the revolt would have happened over that thing first. That whole area used to be single story. Every time I drive past there now, I stew. If I were the owner of the apartment behind that thing, I would be livid. Again, I'm not alone. The thing is totally out of scale with the area, and it's way too close to an already horribly congested intersection. What bonehead thought putting a big out-of-scale built-to-the-edge-of-the-property hotel there was a good idea? Especially since that's already hotel row and the new hotel may even put a lot of established but older places out of business. (I'm sure the high-rise people are rubbing their hands at the thought.) This must stop.

Thankfully, many people are savvy to the tactics like the ballot bias this time around. But future generations may not be. Time to fix that problem.

If we get in a better Council, perhaps they will adopt the impartial ballot code without an initiative. If they don't, I think it's really important for citizens groups to do an initiative, it creates a better and healthier power balance between residents and City Hall. Initiatives and referenda exist for a reason, and they don't work for that purpose if City Hall can put their finger on one side of the balance. SF has had their impartial ballot process for 30 years, and it works well. I've seen their code and it's easy to adopt to our City which is also a charter city.

Fred, would have loved to see you run for Council.

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Posted by Sea-Seelam Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 11, 2014 at 5:51 am

Thanks Fred Balen

I understand you also made Palo Alto to stop cutting trees and replanting them last go around.

Hopefully we can continue to live in 'Palo Alto - the town that is known for; trees, education, innovation and opportunity' without tall building and additional traffic.

Let us all be inclusive: Residentialists + Renters + Start-ups = INNOVATIVE Palo Alto, the best city in USA.

Limit unneeded growth; unneeded GREED and STOP back room DEALS and Surprises.

Let us keep 'Palo Alto' as is and innovate with extreme thought and planning. We are not in a hurry to make it New York or San Jose downtown; Hopefully you all agree. Rome was not built in one day; so is our beloved Palo Alto.

Keep Palo Alto beautiful with buildings no taller than our tallest trees!

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Posted by Sea-Seelam Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 11, 2014 at 5:55 am

Correction of Fred's last name - Fred Balin


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Posted by anon
a resident of Monroe Park
on Aug 11, 2014 at 7:58 am

I agree with Citizen - we need an impartial ballot process so that the wording on future measures isn't biased towards the staff & council preference.

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