I favor representative democracy in Palo Alto, most of the time. However, when a truly major issue comes before us, I think there should be a mechanism to put it to a vote. For example, the City Council was pressured to support the historical housing deal, but there was a spontaneous uprising from the homeowners, and it was put to a vote (it was voted down, easily). Similarly, I think the ABAG 'suggestion' that Palo Alto build 3500 new housing units, including about 1700 BMR units, should be put to a vote. Perhaps the Stanford Hospital proposed development falls into this category.
I am not suggesting that most contentious issues should go to a vote, but there needs to be a mechanism to take the really big ones away from the Council, at least as a final solution. The Council already has the ability to put an issue to the vote, but I would like to see an additional tool, whereby the citizens can take control.
I think we should be able to circulate petitions to put specific issues on the ballot. It should be a high bar, in terms of percentage of qualified voters (but not absurdly high). Maybe this mechanism already exists, and I am not aware of it. Note: I am not talking about recall elections.