News

Palo Alto City Council challengers see influx of cash

Lydia Kou, A.C. Johnston lead the way in campaign contributions

Incumbents may have the name recognition, but challengers are more than holding their own when it comes to cash raised in Palo Alto's heated City Council race.

According to campaign statements filed Monday, council hopefuls Lydia Kou, A.C. Johnston, Cory Wolbach, Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth have all raised more than $15,000 so far this year for their council bids.

Kou, a Realtor who is affiliated with the citizens group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning and who helped lead the effort against Measure D last year, led the way with $33,985 in cash contributions received as of Sept. 30. This includes $1,000 from Joe Hirsch, founding member of the citizens group, and Lazslo Tokes, a Barron Park resident who took part in opposing Measure D. Cheryl Lilienstein, president of the citizens group, added $200, as did William Ross, a local attorney who has frequently criticized the council's land-use decisions.

Other members of the citizens group have also received hefty contributions in recent months. Eric Filseth reported contributions of $20,268; while Tom DuBois reported $17,286 in cash received. For all three candidates affiliated with the group, the list of contributors includes the Measure D campaign leaders (Hirsch and Lilienstein), slow-growth "residentialists" (Emily Renzel contributed to DuBois and Kou)and critics of recent land-use and architectural trends (Douglas Smith and Ruth Lowy).

Johnston, an attorney whose list of endorsers includes scores of former mayors and commissioners, raised $28,260 for his campaign. His donors are largely attorneys, business professionals and veterans or the members of the city's political establishment, including Vice Mayor Liz Kniss ($500) and Councilman Larry Klein ($250).

Each of the three incumbents also raised more than $10,000 for his or her re-election bid in the campaign period ending Sept. 30. Councilman Greg Scharff raised $17,571. Coupled with a $25,000 loan he made to his campaign, he now boasts the largest campaign chest at $42,570. Scharff's list of contributors includes county Supervisor Joe Simitian ($100), state Sen. Jerry Hill ($250) and Kniss ($250).

Mayor Nancy Shepherd received $17,703 in contributions, including $250 each from Klein and Kniss. Developer Jim Baer ($250), school board President Barb Mitchell ($100) and Simitian ($100) also gave to Shepherd's campaign.

Councilwoman Karen Holman, the only incumbent who has been endorsed by Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, raised $16,032 during the same period.

Many of Holman's contributions came from the same residentialists who gave to the Filseth, DuBois and Kou campaigns. Former Councilwoman Enid Pearson ($100) and former mayors Emily Renzel ($250) and Yoriko Kishimoto ($250) also contributed to Holman's campaign, as did current Councilman Pat Burt ($250).

Cory Wolbach, a legislative aide to state Sen. Jerry Hill, also did well, raising $18,164. His contributors include former mayors Vic Ojakian, Lanie Wheeler and Sid Espinosa. Sitting council members Klein and Kniss contributed $250 each to his campaign.

Wolbach, who is affiliated with the nascent group Palo Alto Forward, has received checks from various members of the group. Eric Rosenblum ($500), Elaine Uang ($500), Steve Levy ($250) and Mehdi Alhassani ($400) all made contributions.

Candidates Mark Weiss, Seelam Reddy, John Fredrich and Wayne Douglass have not formed campaign committees and none filed a Form 460.

Comments

7 people like this
Posted by Resident and residentialist
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:01 am

I was positive about Wolbach until reading this about Palo Alto Forward. Is that true, that he's associated with this group? I find it really sad to see the contrast between Los Altos Forward, which is all about creating community and family-friendly spaces and events and a small-town vibe, and Palo Alto Forward that is all about filling in any space with taller high-density buildings.

But at least Palo Alto Forward, spearheaded mostly by people in the high-density exceptions this existing Council allowed, reminds us that the high-density development is a slippery slope and those inhabiting those developments will not see themselves as exceptions but will put pressure on making the rest of Palo Alto like them, as they are doing.


4 people like this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:28 am

I'm in total agreement with the post above. And thanks for that informative list

And I'll pledge funds to the candidate(s) who make it a priority to fix the synchronize the Embarcadero lights this year and to get to the bottom of why it's taken so long -- 9 long years.

I'm horrified by a response today from one candidate/city official saying they should have the RFP to change the light timing done by December and defends their inaction by claiming Embarcadero is a STATE road.


3 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:45 am

Follow the money very carefully. The contributors are those who expect access. In the past, we've been seeing a lot of people contributing from out-of-town. This election will probably be no different. Look for real estate money, as well as money from political action groups.

So far, the Labor Unions seem to be sitting this one out. But the South Bay Labor Council has been known to wait until late in the election to hand out cash goodies, and allowing the candidates to report their contributions after the election as a late filing.

We really need to have the names, cities and occupations of those contributing to this campaign on-line.


3 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:47 am

> and defends their inaction by claiming Embarcadero is a STATE road.

Would be interesting to be able to require that candidates take a competancy test--so that this kind of wholesale ignorance could be flushed out before the elections.


6 people like this
Posted by Elaine Uang
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:50 am

I want to be very clear: my financial contribution to Cory is a personal contribution, not reflective of Palo Alto Forward.

Palo Alto Forward is not endorsing any candidates, and the membership supports a broad range of ideas and perspectives.

Palo Alto Forward IS interested in better housing and transportation options for Palo Alto. Palo Alto has traditionally been a very welcoming place, allowing people to start their careers here, families to thrive, and long time residents to pursue active lifestyles.

We also feel our community is talented, creative and has the ingenuity to explore new ideas, tools, best practices that can keep our community welcoming & diverse AND allow us to move around with more ease and convenience. We feel there is room for lots of perspectives and look forward to continuing this conversation with everyone!


4 people like this
Posted by Correction to Jo Ann.
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:52 am

Embarcadero is not a STATE road. I don't believe anyone at City Hall has ever said that it is. Where did you get this "information?" El Camino Real (ECR) is controlled by the state agency Caltrans. Coordination of the signals on Embarcadero is dependent on the ECR signal, among a number of other complicated factors.

Please do not state something as a fact in a public forum when you clearly have not checked to make sure it is true.

To Palo Alto Online. Shame on you for creating an environment that encourages this behavior. If you aren't going to require people to state their names and take responsibility for what they write, you should, at minimum, fact check before you post their comments.


4 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:55 am

I gave to Cory Wolbach, in addition to several other candidates. I think that we are blessed as a city to have so many talented people running for a job that is difficult and often thankless. My support of these candidates is a reflection of my own views: Palo Alto Forward is working on better housing and transportation options for Palo Alto, but is not endorsing any particular candidate.

With regards to Cory, he is certainly not in lockstep with everything that I believe-- in fact, I disagree with him on several important issues. However, he is open-minded and thoughtful about growth-- where new housing should be, and how much should be there. I strongly believe that reasonable candidates to govern our city need to be clear-eyed about the growth that is going on around us, and plan for it. A strategy that is built around pulling up the ladders (or spending money from the city treasury to fight ABAG/ RHNA/ State of California) is not a wise use of our city's money or time-- although I will admit that it is excellent rhetoric.

anyone who would like to engage more seriously on housing and transportation related issues should feel free to contact me directly at mitericr [at] gmail [dot] com


7 people like this
Posted by Resident and residentialist
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2014 at 12:19 pm

@Eric Rosenblum,

That is the crux of this election, isn't it? What is what you have just spinned but a lot of rhetoric to again force more high-density development on Palo Alto?

Woodside, Atherton, Portola Valley, Los Altos Hills, Los Altos (mostly) - they have all drawn a hard line when it comes to quality of life and what they will allow. Consequently, they have retained much of their quality of life despite development pressures. Palo Alto, on the other hand, has made exception after exception, and the Give an Inch They'll Take a Mile phenomenon has taken hold. The development IS a slippery slope and Palo Alto Forward would push us all the way down.

The reality is that everything people in Palo Alto Forward seem to want requires taking away from other people who live in Palo Alto and sacrificed to be here, and requires changing Palo Alto - coincidentally in ways that profit big developers - when everything they desire can be found within easy commuting distance already. They should call themselves Palo Alto Different and High Density. It's telling that the candidates like Wolbach who want to densify Palo Alto more, haven't been involved local citizens, whereas the residentialists — Kou,DuBoi, Filseth, and even Holman — are the most involved longtime local community members.


3 people like this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 7, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Dear Correction,

I know Embarcadero is NOT a state road but the city official/candidate who implied that it was, citing the difficulty of coordinating with CalTrans on state roads.

That claim was the ONLY explanation offered for the delay.

Where did I get my information? From an email TODAY from that city official/candidate responding to my email over the the weekend asking what progress was being made on the Embarcadero mess.


3 people like this
Posted by mj
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 7, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Is Greg Scharff the only one who has loaned his/her campaign money? A $25,000 loan to his own campaign is a substantial amount of money to invest in winning a council seat and influence the direction of Palo Alto's growth. Perhaps he has higher aspirations for a future political career.

After Measure D passed apparently Mr. Scharff realized which direction the wind was blowing because he has did an about face and distanced himself from his previous support for development. However, his council votes on the future of Palo Alto are exemplified by his support of the Lytton Gateway PC building (on the corner of Alma and Lytton) which, in his own words, he is proud to have supported. At the candidate debate he emphasized several times this office building is "fully parked" which begs the point because this is true only in the sense the developer was allowed to buy himself out of providing parking.

Although clearly bright and articulate, if I vote for Mr. Scharff I'm not sure which one I'm really getting.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2014 at 12:36 pm

> Embarcadero is not a STATE road. I don't believe anyone at City Hall has
> ever said that it is. Where did you get this "information?"

Ok, JoAnn .. time to play "name that candidate". Who said the Embarcadero was a state controlled road?


3 people like this
Posted by mj
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 7, 2014 at 12:38 pm

@ correction to Jo Ann.

Were you present at the candidate debate in council chambers last Thursday, or watch it on tv? Because I was there and I thought I heard Nancy Shepherd say it was a state road. But perhaps she was flustered and meant El Camino, which is a state road controlled by Caltrans.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident and residentialist
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2014 at 12:52 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by confusion rules
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2014 at 12:58 pm

I believe that there is confusion.
The traffic signal at El Camino and Embarcadero is controlled by the state because El Camino is a state road. Thus, fixing the traffic issues on Embarcadero include coordination with the state to sync with the El Camino traffic signals. Perhaps some candidates might have misspoke but I don't think any of them got the gist of the problem wrong.


1 person likes this
Posted by mj
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 7, 2014 at 1:35 pm

@confusion rules

The issue the council is discussing is the EMBARCADERO traffic light at Town and Country Village, which Palo Alto does have control over.

At busy times of day this light is responsible for traffic backing up to El Camino and preventing southbound cars from making a left turn on a green light. (Although as we all know cars do and block the intersection.)

One factor is traffic backing up at lunch time when the high school students use this as their crosswalk to Town and Country Village and whether to provide a pedestrian bridge, or divert them to the bike/pedestrian path already in existence along the train tracks.


4 people like this
Posted by get real
a resident of another community
on Oct 7, 2014 at 1:55 pm

@ resident

no, resisting the ABAG/ RHNA allocations is pure rhetoric... not something that a serious person would actually endorse. Palo Alto got its allocation based on the number of jobs we have. Atherton, Los Altos Hills, etc., do not host many jobs, and therefore were not under pressure to add housing. You can withdraw from ABAG, but you'll STILL get a housing allocation. Cities have not successfully fought these mandates (and there are plenty of examples: Irvine, Pleasanton, Menlo Park and others). Fighting the state over this is expensive and not fruitful.

So:
1) we got our allocation
2) withdrawing doesn't change our allocation
3) fighting the mandate has no evidence of success, based on past efforts tried by similar cities

What part of this is so hard for you and candidates to understand?

[Portion removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Eric F
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 7, 2014 at 1:55 pm

On Palo Alto Forward: as a development-reform advocate, I have no problem with PAF, who are willing to step up and say clearly what they stand for -- the urbanization of Palo Alto. While I don’t share PAF’s vision, I very much respect their willingness to be transparent about it, at a time when many others equivocate.

Palo Altans deserve a broad and public discussion on this. The current momentum towards densification in Palo Alto has been the opposite of such a discussion: fundamental changes to the character of our city, implemented one zoning exemption at a time; and major policy changes integrated in the details of thick documents.

For example, our Comprehensive Plan is very dense. Few people have read it, and even fewer have read the Planning and Transportation Commission’s proposed update, which has been in circulation for some months now. But here’s one example of the direction of the Update:

The existing Comprehensive Plan has a policy,

------------------------------
“Maintain the scale and character of the City. Avoid land uses which are overwhelming and unacceptable due to their size and scale.” (Land Use Policy L5, page L-6, 1998-2010 Land Use Element)
------------------------------

In the City’s Draft Update, this Policy is deleted, and replaced with one that reads:

------------------------------
“Create a strong connectivity between new development and existing neighborhoods.” (New Land Use Policy L2.2, p6, draft Land Use Element)
------------------------------

Obviously these are quite different things. Land uses which are “overwhelming and unacceptable due to their size and scale,” vs “connected to neighborhoods,” are quite different directives. For example, the Arrillaga and Jay Paul projects would very clearly conflict with the existing Policy, but would be perfectly acceptable under the proposed new one.

Which of these two directives, and the associated visions they represent, do we want for Palo Alto? That question merits a serious community discussion – a discussion we have not really had yet, because until PAF, nobody has stood up to openly argue the urban-density side. We’re all Residentialists.

Yet each PC, each line-change in the details of the Comprehensive Plan, each high-density spot-zoning, carries us towards that urban future.

So, three cheers for PAF and their supporters’ willingness to take a stand and argue the case.


8 people like this
Posted by Quality of Life
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2014 at 2:17 pm

In his defense, Cory has publicly refused contributions from developers and unions, and he's limited donations to $500 per person. Don't know how to vote yet but I think that's positive.

What bothers me more is slate politics. The residentialist slate says the right things about maintaining Quality of Life, but slate politics get very negative very quickly. San Jose has slate politics, and I don't want Palo Alto to turn in San Jose.

As for ABAG, spend my taxpayer money on fixing the roads and reducing traffic congestion instead. Litigation makes lawyers rich. Spend the money on residents instead.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident and residentialist
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2014 at 2:36 pm

@get real,
Menlo Park ended up in trouble because their Council simply ignored the mandate for years and years, a completely different situation.

I think it's time we did an accounting of what this mandate has foisted on us and went to the state department in charge of paying for unfunded mandates, and demanded they pay up.

That at least will force the state to get real about what they're forcing on us.

If Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley, etc., don't have these mandates because they don't have the jobs, why don't we get credit for their housing as bedroom communities of our jobs? I mean really?


3 people like this
Posted by William
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2014 at 3:12 pm

> Obviously these are quite different things

Yes, they obviously are. The update makes no sense at all, and almost defies the ability to be parsed as semantically valid English.

People wanting Residentialist council members should be asking their candidates—“Where did this language come from?” and “Who authorized this language?” and “What does it mean?”

There are no doubt many changes in the new Comp. Plan that need a public airing. If these candidates don’t step up to the line and be our advocates here—who will?


4 people like this
Posted by Establshment Slate
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 7, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Take a look at who donated and who has voted in lockstep and I think you'll see quite clearly a slate of Shepherd, Scharff, AC and Wolbach. Shepherd and Scharff's record is on votes is pretty much in lockstep. AC and Wolbach have many of the same donors and AC's campaign team looks to be Liz Kniss's team transferred over.


Like this comment
Posted by Kniss redux
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 7, 2014 at 4:56 pm

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Quality of Life
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Some of the donors are the same but it's pretty clear they're not running as a slate. I got Nancy's flyer with one of the school board candidates. Nothing from A.C. or Greg (who's pretending to be a residentialist and is running away from the establishment like the plague). I got Cory's flyer by itself with an invitation to a coffee.

I did step on a pile of the residentialist slate campaign flyers along with Ken Dauber's. It was neatly organized so I could see each of the candidates clearly. Lydia's and Eric's brochures even look very similar, maybe designed by the same person.

Running a campaign slate isn't a bad strategy, but I'm just skeptical of slates generally. If slates start becoming effective here, then we will start seeing labor slates, etc like they have in San Jose. That discourages independent thinking in my opinion.


4 people like this
Posted by History Buff
a resident of another community
on Oct 7, 2014 at 5:19 pm

> Lytton Gateway PC building (on the corner of Alma and Lytton) which, in his own words, [Scharff] is proud to have supported.

Don’t forget that he also said “the building itself is a public benefit.”


3 people like this
Posted by residentialist
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Palo Alto Forward is, as they themselves say, in favor of more development in Palo Alto. And bicycles will deliver us from evil.

I find it more enlightening to look at PASZ's tabulation of how our council members voted in the recent past. Take a look at
Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Wolbach said he doesn't take money from developers...

I looked at his Form 460, and he's taken money from

- Tod Spieker, CEO Spieker companies, a real estate investment firm that owns 2900 apartment unit.

- John Barton, architect, pro development proponent, and whose wife works for a developer.

- Pat Emslie - any relation to Steve Emslie, who is the former deputy City Manager of Palo Alto, who joined a PR firm whose job is described as "Mr. Emslie will act as Regional Director for the firm, focusing on a wide spectrum of business matters, but with a particular focus on land use and development projects throughout the Peninsula, South Bay and East Bay"

- California Apartment Association PAC - look at their board, and there are real estate investors.

I think it's everyone's right to contribute to anyone's campaign. But for Wolbach to say on his website "I am not seeking donations from developers or unions", is not quite right when he's getting contributions from people and organizations like those mentioned above.


4 people like this
Posted by History Buff
a resident of another community
on Oct 7, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Fighting ABAG/Plan Bay Area is not just rhetoric. Cities in all Bay Area counties are fighting the mandates.

For a counter-argument to Plan Bay Area claims, check out
Dimensions of Sustainability
Web Link

And when you need a laugh, this is a great video:
Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Establishment Slate
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 7, 2014 at 7:27 pm

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Concerned Resident
a resident of University South
on Oct 7, 2014 at 10:51 pm

I agree with @Quality of Life - slates inherently create group think, and that's bad for a government body and for a community.

[Portion removed.]

I don't know about others, but I've rarely found life to be so simple. There's a lot of grey. 20 years ago we didn't have as much traffic in Palo Alto. But there were practically no good restaurants (Pizza a Go-Go doesn't count), and downtown was dead by 9pm. Today we have more traffic, but I also don't have to drive to San Francisco to have an enjoyable evening out of the house. My house was also worth a fraction of what it's worth today. I appreciate how much it's appreciated. I like Palo Alto 2014 much more than Palo Alto 1994.

I don't want to go back to that time. Maybe some people do. [Portion removed.] I prefer my elected officials to see more grey. To realize that the issues they face, just like life itself, are complicated. There's no doubt we need to do more to better manage traffic and parking issues, but going backwards isn't the right strategy. Stopping all growth isn't the answer. Opposing change because it might make me uncomfortable isn't way.

[Portion removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Resident and Residentialist
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:51 pm

[Portion removed.]

The better food in restaurants spread from restaurant Renaissances in the East Bay and SF and preceded the unpleasant development. Nice try, though. Personally, I never go out anymore because it's such a nightmare to deal with the parking and traffic. We were even driving through University on our way home from MAPA the other night and didn't even want to bother to stop at our favorite restaurant because of it's just too much work. The restaurant was there a few years ago, without all the other baggage that came with the overdevelopment. I liked Palo Alto 2006 much better than Palo Alto 2014.

[Portion removed.] If you think Palo Alto is too sleepy, there are other options than destroying it for the many of your neighbors who sacrifice to live here because they prefer PaloAltoville, not San Jose or even SF.


1 person likes this
Posted by nothing but disinformation from Jo Ann
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:52 pm

Jo Ann: El Camino Real is a state highway and Caltrans DOES in fact have to agree to the larger changes that will make a difference in the peak period congestion you are experiencing on Embarcadero. [Portion removed.] The staff report to the PTC clearly stated that bids would be solicited in October, and that the expected timeline for contract to be awarded and construction to be underway was the end of this year -- very fast this type of project. [Portion removed.]

Additional information: the 9 year period you are complaining about coincides with both a big growth in student population at Paly. The school now has more than 1900 students, the majority of whom are NOT riding bikes! Instead of trying to mitigate traffic impacts of this growth, the school unilaterally moved its start time to 8:15 several years ago, instead of the old start time of 7:55. This 20 minute shift was huge -- before, all the Paly traffic was out of the way before Stanford and PAMF staff peak morning work rush.

In fact, this Friday is a great chance to observe how much of the backups you're experiencing are caused by the parade of SUV drivers from all the rich neighborhoods in Palo Alto driving their kids to school (or the 17 year olds driving themselves to school). There's no school on Friday, it's a staff development day. See if you notice the difference between 8:00 and 8:20 on Friday compared to Wednesday or Thursday.


Like this comment
Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 8, 2014 at 8:04 am

There used to be very good restaurants downtown 20 and 30 years ago, before the urbanization spree favored by PAF. It was easy and safe to drive or walk downtown, park your car, have a nice and fairly inexpensive dinner, then walk over to the unforgettable New Varsity and then perhaps have dessert at the Prolific Oven before heading home. Now we have outrageously expensive restaurants serving barely mediocre food, parking is a major challenge, aggressive beggars, junkies and drug deals, fist fights. [Portion removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by labels are not useful
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 8, 2014 at 10:01 am

[Portion removed.]

Palo Alto Forward supports a platform that is almost identical to Palo Alto's Comprehensive Plan, which calls for denser developments in our transportation hubs. Councilmember Schmid (who is often considered a "residentialist") is in favor of denser, mixed use developments in these same areas. Wolbach, as far as I can tell, is more of a residentialist than Schmid, in that he (Wolbach) wants to abolish PC Zoning, strongly supports the height limit, and wants to protect all R-1 neighborhoods.

Again, as far as I can tell, all candidates for this election are running on a platform of minimal growth. As a parent of a 25 year old, this is disappointing to me. My son's generation does not want to live in a suburb. Some day I will want to move to a place that is easier for me to get around without a car. All candidates are making it more difficult for our family to stay home. [Portion removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by drive
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 8, 2014 at 11:19 am

I really just have no idea why anyone is taking their car down university ave and complaining about it. The people creating the parking and traffic problems here are you! Leave your car at home and walk to university. And if you don't want to do that, then drive down Hamilton or another street adjacent to University. University WASN'T a better street when it had far fewer restaurant choices and thus fewer people wanted to go there.

Choosing to drive down the busiest street in town and then complaining about it is similar to sticking your hand in hornet's nest and being upset at the result.

Quality of life isn't about your ability to drive through the busiest street in town. If that were a breeze, then that would mean there's barely anything there worth driving to! Quality of life is about having lots of options when you get there and having great spaces to enjoy with your neighbors.


2 people like this
Posted by Getting real!
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 8, 2014 at 11:21 am

To Labels are not Useful,
I suggest you suggest to your son that he move to San Francisco, or better still, New York City. And then someday, when you no longer want to drive, you could join him there. However, that time might come sooner than you think if we keep allowing more and more offices and highrise buildings on minimal lots.


1 person likes this
Posted by fairness
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Oct 8, 2014 at 11:22 am

@common sense.
[Portion removed.]

Taking less than $500 from an individual is NOT the same as taking money from a company and certainly not the same as taking unlimited amounts from companies. Individuals do and should participate in political life. To believe that everyone who works for a particular company must also share all their company's views is also foolhardy and downright insulting. I doubt the workers at McDonald's ALSO believe in no health insurance for workers. Everyone has a right to participate in the civic life of their own community, no matter their profession. [Portion removed.]

Cory is the ONLY candidate not taking money from companies and capping contributions at $500. NO ONE else has done that. Cory's campaign reflects a lot of different thoughts and voices in this community and it starts with the way that he's taken funding. I know of no other politician, in ANY level of government anywhere that is imposing those sorts of restrictions on himself to make sure that he represents and speaks for a lot of different people, instead of a concentrated group.

I'm much less impressed with candidates rich enough to just bankroll themselves or candidates that didn't have to stretch themselves any further than the pocketbooks of one very narrow constituency [portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by William
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2014 at 11:41 am

> Cory's campaign reflects a lot of different thoughts and voices in this
> community and it starts with the way that he's taken funding.

Maybe .. but so far Cory has not been saying very much of substance, and certainly has left most of us uncertain as to why he is seeking a seat on the Council, and how he will vote on issues like the updates to the Comprehensive Plan, and increased densification.

Cory has failed to provide us any sense of how many people he thinks Palo Alto can conveniently sustain. He could start there. Are we talking 10,000 new people every decade? More, or less?

How about Cory just answer this one question for starters?


2 people like this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 8, 2014 at 11:46 am

Dear Nothing But Disinformation,

[Portion removed.]

I'm well aware the El Camino is a state road and that Embarcadero is not. It's not clear that our mayor is.

I have also supported city shuttles to the schools to avoid clogging up the roads.

The tie-ups on Embarcadero happen all day long, late in the evenings, om weekends etc. when parents are not picking up/dropping off their kids [portion removed.]

If the Paly growth is that dramatic, it's something our fine city officials and planners should have considered and should be urgently focusing on while they keep increasing density while telling us that -- miraculously -- big construction projects like Stanford Hospital etc. don't increase traffic and the schools are under-utilized so there's no added cost to bringing in more people.

[Portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 8, 2014 at 11:59 am

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by fairness
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Oct 8, 2014 at 12:28 pm

@William- check out the last candidates forum: Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Happy trails...
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 8, 2014 at 12:39 pm

There are very few unbikable destinations in Palo Alto. I live on the southern-most edge of the city and I can easily bike to downtown for dinner. It's a really lovely, flat, leisurely ride down Bryant.

Before I get lambasted with "not everyone can ride". Well, of course; but many more can than do. I am 55 with painful arthritis. I can do it. It's just not that hard. Try it--just once. You might discover that your "nice evening out" is even nicer.

Happy trails!


1 person likes this
Posted by William
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2014 at 12:44 pm

> check out the last candidates forum:

That is two hours long! Why can't you, or your candidate, answer this simple question about PA growth right here in this thread?

At least provide a time index into the video where specific Cory answers can be found.


3 people like this
Posted by labels are not useful
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 8, 2014 at 12:52 pm

@ Getting Real

I have lived here my whole life. My kids grew up here. My friends are all located here. You are seriously telling me that in order to live a reasonable life, I will have to move to a different area when I grow too old to drive? You're further telling me that you don't think that it's an issue that our kids can't afford or don't want to live here? You are comfortable with Palo Alto being exclusively a place for rich middle-aged people?

That is sad and short-sighted.

An earlier commentator (boscoli) observed that there used to be "normal" places in Palo Alto. He is right. Go to Mountain View or Redwood City to see "normal places". They have movie theaters, reasonably priced restaurants, bookstores and normal clothing stores. They have built housing close to their downtown areas that provide customers for these places. If boscoli wants these places back in Palo Alto, he needs to figure out how to bring customers to these places in Palo Alto. A community of 55 year old ex tech executives won't bring the things that he (she?) wants.


3 people like this
Posted by William
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2014 at 1:08 pm

> There used to be very good restaurants downtown
> 20 and 30 years ago,

That is, of course, a matter of opinion. Most restaurants in Palo Alto tended to have short lifetimes—in large part because there wasn’t a large enough restaurant crowd to sustain these places during the winter months. Eclectic restaurants also seemed to pop up frequently, but could never attract a large enough customer base to survive.

What did happen, tho, was that the rents started going up. One bar/restaurant I am familiar with had a monthly rent of about $1,200 in the early 1980s. But by the mid-90s, the rent had sky-rocketed to $7,200 per month. The restaurant could not pay its bills, and folded—even though it increased its hours of operation to increase its revenues.

What one poster calls “urbanization” turned out to be property developers buying up the buildings, and then looking for “economic efficiency”—meaning squeezing every penny out of these properties that was possible. One by one, old Palo Alto died, and the new, sterile, Palo Alto, took its place.

Urbanization is one word to describe the downward spiral that this grand old town has suffered—but developer greed would be another, probably more accurate, term.


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Posted by Guy_Fawkes
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 8, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Guy_Fawkes is a registered user.

[Post removed.]



2 people like this
Posted by Happy trails...not for long
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 8, 2014 at 4:36 pm


@Happy trails...
Enjoy it while it lasts because when more density hits, there will be much more traffic making all the work done in Palo Alto around biking a lost cause.

Remember traffic is restricted to only one level, the lowest level, no matter how high we build the buildings, the traffic stays on level one.


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Posted by all a big conspiracy
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 8, 2014 at 4:47 pm

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 8, 2014 at 5:07 pm

pat is a registered user.

> My son's generation does not want to live in a suburb.

Are you suggesting we urbanize Palo Alto and surrounding suburbs to accommodate your son?

> You are seriously telling me that in order to live a reasonable life, I will have to move to a different area when I grow too old to drive? You're further telling me that you don't think that it's an issue that our kids can't afford or don't want to live here?

IMHO, if one doesn’t like the lifestyle where one is living, it’s not the town’s responsibility to change things to make you happy. If you and your son don’t think Palo Alto offers a “reasonable life” and he doesn’t want to live here, why should the rest of us change our world to suit you?

As for affordability, what developer is going to spend $10+ million/acre to build affordable housing?


2 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 8, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Drive writes, "I really just have no idea why anyone is taking their car down university ave and complaining about it. The people creating the parking and traffic problems here are you! Leave your car at home and walk to university."

Perhaps people drive their cars down University because that's where 101 exits.

Perhaps they're not locals and don't know what's on either site of University.

Perhaps people are trying to get to El Camino or Stanford University or Stanford Shopping Center or Stanford Hospital and are not trying to go downtown.

Perhaps there's been an accident on 101 and the other 2 major arteries -- Embarcadero and Oregon -- are backed up.

I'm sure other reasons abound.


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Posted by Guy_Fawkes
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 14, 2014 at 10:20 am

Guy_Fawkes is a registered user.

From these donation links, Web Link

it looks like Shepherd has taken several donations from people named Baer. Are they related? [Portion removed.]


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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