News

Palo Alto to ponder its lobbying priorities

City to discuss strategy for seeking help from its state, federal representatives

Faced with pressure to build more housing, improve flood protection and plan for high-speed rail, Palo Alto officials will consider tonight their strategy for lobbying state and federal officials for help.

The City Council's Policy and Services Committee will discuss on Tuesday night the city's legislative priorities and its strategies for getting attention and assistance from Sacramento and Washington. The discussion will focus on the city's Legislative Program Manual, a document that the city reviews in its entirety every two or three years and that lists both the city's legislative priorities and its processes for furthering its goals.

Not surprisingly, the city's top legislative priorities deal with planning and transportation, a topic that has been dominating City Hall conversations in recent years. The first item on the nine-priority list is "Comprehensive planning and action on land-use and transportation issues with an emphasis on the built environment including transportation, mobility, parking and livability."

The other eight legislative priorities are: infrastructure strategy and funding; technology and the connected city; environmental sustainability; San Francisquito Creek improvements; obtaining grant funding; Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) housing-mandate reform; opposition to California's High-Speed Rail project; and commitment to the safety and reliability of city-owned infrastructure. This list of specific priorities is meant to be vetted twice a year by the committee, with the city's state and federal lobbyists in attendance.

According to a report from City Manager James Keene, the fall meeting is meant to "include a review of what has occurred so far that year followed by a proactive planning session focused on what types of legislation, or legislative positions, the City should advocate for in the upcoming year."

The city currently employes Townsend Public Affairs as its state lobbyist and Van Scoyoc Associates as its federal lobbyist. Representatives from each firm are scheduled to update the committee tonight on the latest legislative occurrences.

While many of the items on the list, including infrastructure and housing mandates, are perennial concerns, the creek item has become particularly urgent in recent months. An effort by the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority (an agency that includes Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and the water districts of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties) to boost flood-protection around the volatile creek has been hampered by the agency's inability to get a permit from the Bay Area Regional Water Quality Control Board. The cities has been working with their state legislators to move the project along, though progress has been stymied by the water board's repeated requests for more information and design revisions.

Last week, state Sen. Jerry Hill addressed this topic in his annual meeting with the council and called the water board's behavior "totally unacceptable." If the water board can't resolve the issue, he said, the city and its representatives need to "figure out a way to do it legislatively."

"We can't allow this to go on any further," Hill said. "There are too many communities dependent or are in harm's way because of the time delay."

Other issues on the list have lost some of their urgency. High-speed rail hasn't been as pressing a topic for Palo Alto ever since state officials decided to scrap the controversial four-track alignment and agreed to start construction in Central Valley.

View the meeting agenda here. The committee will meet at 6 p.m. in the Council Conference Room at City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave.

Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 14, 2014 at 2:21 pm

You've got to wonder about the Council considering it's lobbying priorities when many of the council members may no longer be in office soon after this coming election.


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Posted by Jason L. Tulock
a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Quote: High-speed rail hasn't been as pressing a topic for Palo Alto ever since state officials decided to scrap the controversial four-track alignment and agreed to start construction in Central Valley.

You did not actually report the above as if it were real. The HSRA was merely given cover with this supposed change. This was already far in the future, so changing the policy means nothing. It can be changed back whenever high speed rail gets as far as San Jose, decades in the future with or without this policy. HSRA cannot meet their time mandate without four tracks. They have not removed this option from their EIR. Do not believe this political cover based lie.

Jay Tulock, Vacaville


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Posted by OldAlum
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 14, 2014 at 5:37 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by stan
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 14, 2014 at 7:54 pm

I believe Jason is correct about High Speed Rail. The Authority didn't complain too much about the 2-track agreement that our allegedly effective legislators Hill, Gordon and others blabbered about so much as a 'solution' and 'protection' for peninsula residents from the much advertised 4-track HSR plan. The reality is, the High Speed Rail Authority never abandoned their original 4 track plan for the Peninsula, the two track alignment agreement really has no teeth, and I believe the 4 track plan is still their preferred and ultimate goal for the Peninsula. The HSR Authority, represented by Rod Diridon, further made it abundantly clear to everyone in attendance at a heated city council meeting shortly after the HSR bond prop passed, that they do not care what Palo Alto, or any other city has to say about where, how, or when high speed trains come up the peninsula. That's when then city council member Yoriko Kishimoto declared famously that she was duped by HSR!. No, she had either not read or not understood the proposition text that was written in super simple plain English.

The city needs to remain very diligent about HSR, or we will have four tracks running through town faster than the Mitchel Park Library was renovated.


1 person likes this
Posted by Sonic Boom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2014 at 9:22 pm

stan

"The HSR Authority, represented by Rod Diridon, further made it abundantly clear to everyone in attendance at a heated city council meeting shortly after the HSR bond prop passed, that they do not care what Palo Alto, or any other city has to say about where, how, or when high speed trains come up the peninsula. "

Why would they put these trains right in the middle of a small town?

Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by southbayresident
a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2014 at 11:42 pm

@Sonic Boom,
A more appropriate question to ask is "why would this small town locate itself so close to an existing established rail corridor?"


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Posted by Sonic Boom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2014 at 6:17 am

southbayresident,

Not an expert but I would think a rail does not have equate to every type train.

If you look at RENFE, the Spanish train site they have a variety of types of trains - commuter, medium distance. Several "corridors" not seen as monolithic strips to be by all types of trains.

Web Link

I could see high speed going in between those really long stretches of empty space, but not through tight inappropriate quarters.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 15, 2014 at 9:17 am

South Bay Resident - CALTRAIN was built to service Hillsborough, Stanford , Mayfield and Palo Alto, as well as all of the cities on the CALTRAIN corridor. So your question would apply to all cities on the corridor.

Having worked in San Jose going back to 1989 I can tell you it was orchards that got torn down to build buildings. The south bay had - and currently has available land that is not overcome by the bay - except for Alviso.
The south bay is serviced by AMTRACK, ACE, Lite-Rail, CALTRAIN, and BART because of its central location at the base of the bay as well as the cross over from the valley. The economy of the south bay was previously agricultural and then technical on the open fields. So the history and geography of the south bay is not consistent with the peninsula cities that are stuck between the bay and the coastal range of mountains.
That is first not a political issue - that is a geographic issue.

It becomes both when someone decides to stuff the HSR in this narrow, confined space that is already built out to the borders. And has been built out to the borders before the south bay decided to go from agriculture to tech.

South Bay - the historical development of the total bay area is well documented. Ron Diridon is now GONE - he did not translate well to the current environment.


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Posted by rail rider
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 15, 2014 at 7:33 pm

Rod Diridon is not "GONE". He is currently the Emeritus Executive Director at the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University. Their motto is "Creating transportation policy for the people". Web Link

Rod hasn't been the mouth piece for the CA High Speed Rail Authority for some time now. That was a job he executed with such incredible disdain for the public, that he was a lightening rod of activism against the HSR project. He got a promotion from talking about HSR, to formulating public policy that, among other things, encourages HSR up the Peninsula.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 16, 2014 at 9:49 am

We have been talking about HSR for how many years now? I was actually on a HSR political committee 100 years ago and have a lapel pin for it. All of the high end people went to "fact-finding" meetings in Europe to check out what they were doing. Then the whole subject dropped. If the HSR was started back then we had more space to work with.

The whole transportation scenario was taken over by events, including PA's short-sighted fight on BART coming down the peninsula through Santa Clara County. Thanks to all of the people who were in charge back then we have been backed into a corner in which the developers have usurped any open space to work with and we are stuck with only one train. Sorry - can't thank all of the people who were in charge enough for this mess.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 16, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Articles today in papers on HSR - Bond approved. Bakersfield to Madera is initial set-up.

MADERA - location for Indian Tribe planned casino already approved by J. Brown but requires approval by people. What a picture that is - take HSR to the casino to gamble. Every other casino is calling foul on this one. Assume that is one of the funding sources for HSR - the supposed taxes on the gambling at casino.


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

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