Voters shoot down Maybell development
Original post made
on Nov 5, 2013
A grassroots campaign in Palo Alto to overturn an approved housing development on Maybell Avenue scored a sweeping Election Day victory Tuesday night, winning by more than 1,000 votes.
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posted Tuesday, November 5, 2013, 10:24 PM
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Posted by Palo Alto Urbanist
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 6, 2013 at 12:18 am
I voted Yes on D.
Palo Alto has around 65,000 residents and 35,000 registered voters. Today 11,473 ballots were cast, 6,437 against and 5,036 for Measure D. So 56% of those who voted cast a no vote. But those 6,437 votes represent just over 18% of all Palo Alto voters and just under 10% of all Palo Alto residents.
The No on D campaign -- The Palo Alto Land Use Tea Party -- ran an energetic campaign; always easier to do when mobilizing supporters who are motivated by fear, anger, selfishness, resentment, suspicion, sarcasm, sourness and an unwillingness to engage facts and logic while dismissing truth.
The Yes on D campaign ran a tired, traditional Palo Alto ballot measure campaign. It presented the progressive position as an earnest, eat-your-peas vote, one that well-meaning people should take because it was the right thing to do. It did not robustly embrace a vision of an urban Palo Alto that is more green, just, vital, dense, diverse, tall and fun! And its strategy and tactics employed none of the new data-driven approach to campaigning that the Silicon Valley Obama campaign employed so successfully in 2008 and 2012.
The good news for Palo Alto urbanists is that those 6,437 no on D voters, those 18% of Palo Alto voters, represent a pretty full accounting of the base of support of the Palo Alto Land Use Tea Party. If there was a voter out there who was "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore," chances are that that voter voted.
That leaves the remaining 82% of us -- 28,653 voters, of whom 5,036 voter yes.
I believe that the 23,527 of us who did not vote include many whose values and preferences trend urban. They vote with their feet by where and how they live. Yes on D could have easily extracted the additional 1,500 votes needed to win had it used cutting-edge targeting, organizing and messaging.
So the narrative about Palo Alto's future will, in the short term, emphasize the triumph of suburban fear and selfishness over earnest do-gooder incrementalism.
I hope for a different narrative and outcome. I hope this election prompts Palo Alto urbanists to mobilize and engage in the land use process in support of continued rapid development of a world-class, regionally important, culturally vital city (we are, after all the "City" of Palo Alto, not "Town" or "Suburb"). A City that enables its residents to live in more affordable, compact, transit-oriented housing, consuming (per capita) less land and oil, while enjoying more vibrant, active, dense neighborhoods and commercial districts.