News

Residentialists lose out in commission shuffle

Palo Alto council chooses high-tech professionals over neighborhood preservationists in appointments to influential land-use board

Days after Palo Alto voters elected three slow-growth proponents to the new City Council, the existing council took a step in the opposite direction and appointed two high-tech professionals with a passion for urban revitalization to the city's influential Planning and Transportation Commission.

In a convoluted process featuring a sequence of votes and a procedural gaffe, the council on Monday appointed Kate Downing, an intellectual-property attorney affiliated with the group Palo Alto Forward; and Nextdoor employee Adrian Fine to fill two seats on the planning commission. In doing so, the council opted not to reappoint Arthur Keller, a number-crunching commissioner who has long distinguished himself as one of the commission's staunchest skeptics and persistent critics of new developments.

Keller, who has served on the commission since 2006, on Monday followed in the footsteps of Susan Feinberg, a commissioner who was also popular with the "residentialists" and whom the council also chose not to reappoint in 2012. The council had replaced her with Michael Alcheck, a real estate attorney who has routinely spoken out in favor of tall building and density.

Like Feinberg, Keller routinely challenged developer's assumptions about traffic impacts and wasn't shy about voting against development applications. But on Monday, he found himself on the losing side of the vote when all three lame-duck council members voted not to grant him another term. Mayor Nancy Shepherd, who fell short last week in her quest for a second term, joined Councilman Larry Klein and Councilwoman Gail Price in supporting Downing and Fine. The two will fill the seats previously held by Keller and Carl King, who opted not to run.

Marc Berman and Greg Scharff joined the three departing council members in each vote, as did Vice Mayor Liz Kniss, though her votes were later discarded because of a procedural violation.

In appointing Downing and Fine to the commission, the council opted for new blood over established veterans. Asher Waldfogel, who currently serves on the Utilities Advisory Commission, and Claude Ezran, a former member of the Human Relations Commission, both applied for the job but did not get the five needed votes. Keller, for his part, managed to get support from three council members most closely associated with neighborhood preservation: Karen Holman, Greg Schmid and Pat Burt.

The three residentialists are expected to take a more dominant role on the council next year, when slow-growth proponents Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth join the council. Lydia Kou, who is also affiliated with the slow-growth movement, is currently locked in a tight race for the final opening with Cory Wolbach, who is affiliated with Palo Alto Forward and who was leading by 172 votes as of late Monday.

But if Election Day belonged in large part to the residentialist minority, on Monday night it was the council majority that claimed victory. Downing, who until recently worked for VMWare, has not been shy about challenging the popular notion that the city's commercial districts are overbuilt. In September, she told the council that when she visits California Avenue at 8 p.m., the strip is "dead."

"There's nothing going on at 8 p.m. There's nothing to do. It's not a thriving community," Downing said.

At another meeting, in August, Downing made another case for growth, arguing that a "community filled with nothing but ever-rich millionaires isn't the way to go.

"If we don't allow for growth, Silicon Valley as we know it today will cease to exist," Downing said. "We will have priced out all the young workers in all the new companies."

In her commission interview, Downing said she would like Palo Alto to become a more diverse place, with a greater variety of ages. When asked about whether she supports scrapping the city's existing 50-foot height limit, she said she sees no reason to make any changes at this time and stressed that any change would require great community outreach.

Downing was appointed with six votes, with Kniss phoning in from Hawaii to cast her vote and Klein, Shepherd, Greg Scharff, Price and Berman adding their votes to Kniss'.

Fine, a College Terrace resident with a master's degree in urban planning from the University of Pennsylvania, is a newcomer to Palo Alto's land-use scene. In his application, he noted that even though he's not yet 30, his background in planning is "diverse" and he "thoroughly enjoy(s) this type of work."

He also stated that the commission has "an opportunity to increase visibility into the planning process for the public, developers and other partners."

"The perception of an opaque planning process is driving dissatisfaction and causing the City as a whole to miss out on genuine opportunities," Fine wrote. "Through a mix of streamlined decision-making, information sharing, and meaningful engagement, the commission could turn this perception around. The community needs to understand that planning is a partnership for shared growth."

The council had to vote twice after Shepherd realized that Kniss' vote, taken by phone from Kauai, Hawaii, conflicted with the council's procedures. The council's rules state that "telephonic attendance shall only be permitted in the event of extraordinary events such as a medical, family or similar emergency requiring a council member's absence." The votes had already been cast and tallied when the council realized that Kniss' vote should not be counted and Shepherd encouraged her colleagues to vote again.

While Downing's appointment was never in danger because she had six votes, the procedural mix-up required Fine, who received five, to go through a second round of votes. With Kniss' vote discarded, Scharff threw his support behind Fine, giving him the needed fifth vote. Shepherd, Price and Berman also voted to support Fine.

Keller, for his part, did not go down silently. He thanked the council for allowing him to serve for the past eight years and indicated that he will remain engaged in local issues.

"One positive thing about not being reappointed to the PTC is if I should decide to run for one of your seats, I'll be able to do that with a lot more free time," Keller said.

In addition to appointing the two new planning commissioners, the council also reappointed the four incumbent members – Martin Bernstein, Roger Kohler, Michael Makinen and Margaret Wimmer – to the Historic Resources Board. The council also appointed Catherine Ballantine and Kyu Young Kim, a member of Palo Alto Forward, to the Architectural Review Board. Just like Fine, Kim won his seat on the architectural board after Kniss' vote was discarded, forcing a second round. Again, the five council members not affiliated with the residentialists voted to support him, giving him a seat on the board.

The three council members who favor more caution on growth, Holman, Schmid and Burt, all voted for Kenneth Huo, an architect who had worked for the city.

Comments

25 people like this
Posted by Revengeful
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:48 am

Members of the current PA city council that didn't get re-elected are a dangerous, revengeful group. The council thumbed their noses at their constituents desire for residentialist candidates to fill commission posts. Their parting shot to PA citizens was to appoint pro growth candidates to the commissions. The departing Mayor Sheppard has done irreversible damage to this town. Luckily the citizens of Palo Alto [portion removed] did not elect her to another term.


17 people like this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2014 at 2:14 am

Scharf said he was a residential its, but his first votes after the election were to pick high density proponents to the planning and transportation committee. Palo Alto voters have been fooled twice. The old saying "fool me once ..."

Looking at some of Ms. Drownings posts on town square from the past, she certainly is less knowledgable than Commissioner Keller.

I hope the new members of the council realize that they will face a hostile planning and transportation commission, as well as a hostile architectural review board.


17 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 5:03 am

VOTERS lose out. Such a blatant act against the obvious desire of the majority of voters in the past election.

While I'd rather spend the money on other services or projects, I wonder if a recall election is appropriate for the city council members voting against the majority of this year's voters. Does this commission have the opportunity to start irreversible changes to our city? Who does the city council serve? Apparently not voters.


9 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 5:10 am

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

This may well create a conundrum for developers and Council.

Council members Holman and Burt remember ruefully when they were on PTC and Council allowed developers to effectively bypass the PTC, treating PTC hearings as irrelevant. Council passed reforms to reduce this abuse of the system.

But now we are looking at a PTC that is likely to be at extreme odds with the new Council. So project proposals are going to have to go through the PTC process before going to Council that will then send it back down to the PTC to "get it right". Similarly for the Comprehensive Plan update. We could see proposals and policies yo-yo'ing multiple times up and down between PTC and Council. It could take forever to get anything approved.

Council may have thought it was giving developers a gift of an even friendlier PTC, but won't it be a PTC with no credibility with the incoming Council majority? Are we going to see the creation of an unofficial (shadow) PTC?

Let's hope that this is the final joke by Council members Larry Klein and Gail Price as leaders of the so-called "Palo Altans for Good Government".


13 people like this
Posted by I am confused
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 5:55 am

Talk about a biased, one-sided headline. But very typical of the coverage of the recent election--complete with deletion of voter preferences for certain candidates and deletion of criticism of the weekly's candidates.
Until these new commissions actually rule on something, it is a bit early to claim that the "residentialists" have lost out.


15 people like this
Posted by I am confused
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 8:00 am

"Such a blatant act against the obvious desire of the majority of voters in the past election."
The voters elected 3 "residentialists" and apparently 2 other candidates--not sure then what is the "obvious"desire of the voters. They also voted for a smaller council, which is what the "residentialists" are against.
And what about current council members and the people that voted for them???

"I wonder if a recall election is appropriate for the city council members voting against the majority of this year's voters."
Go ahead and start one and find out. And once again the council in no way voted "against the majority of this years voters".

Also remember that the article is biased and one-sided and should not be taken as an actual statement of facts.


15 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 11, 2014 at 8:02 am

Eric Rosenblum is a registered user.

This article is willfully inflammatory, and is really a dis-service to the community.

For the commenters, I urge everyone to just watch the PTC interviews for yourselves: they are online at Web Link

You can play along at home... see who you think was well prepared and well-versed on issues facing the planning commission.

I, for one, am sad to see Vice-Chair Keller go. He is a devoted public servant who is neither a "residentialist" nor "pro-growth". He is "pro-data". I am excited to see both Ms. Downing and Mr. Fine join-- their representations during the interview process were excellent, and showed a high level of preparation (which is a decent indicator of performance on a commission-- a facility for detail-oriented preparation).

Palo Alto is lucky to have so many talented people to serve in an often thankless and time-consuming capacity. We should be thanking Vice Chair Keller for his contributions, and welcoming the new members.


14 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 8:12 am

I think the biggest and most worrying part of this story is that Arthur Keller is no longer there.

Thank you for serving and hope to see you once again getting involved in Palo Alto issues, as you obviously hint.


2 people like this
Posted by Phony
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 8:41 am

[Post removed.]


15 people like this
Posted by No more born again residentialist
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2014 at 9:20 am

Greg Scharff discarded his born-again residentialist fig leaf so soon! He voted with the development group.
However, he remains true to his real-estate attorney occupation.


15 people like this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 11, 2014 at 9:38 am

Don't like the election results?

Quick, let's do another end run. More commissions, more consultants WE like for community "input"! Keep ignoring the voter fury at the continued and increasing traffic gridlock. Let's ignore all those buildings we approved with no parking because we can claim no one drives and everyone bikes. Ignore those traffic jams. Who are you going to believe: us or your own eyes?

Let's distract the voters. I know. Let's have another another Zero Waste Campaign.

Disgusting end run! Shame on Scharff and those endorsed him.


18 people like this
Posted by Cheryl Lilienstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 10:11 am

Thank you Arthur Keller for fact-driven clarity about the consequences of continuing the high density trend, and for your service to this community. I am not surprised that the establishment majority on the council did exactly what they have been accused of: overriding the will of the majority.

Just to consolidate and perhaps answer some of the comments made above:

Facts:
By large percentages Karen Holman won and Mayor Shepherd lost.

So the entire (power elite majority) council is well aware that Holman's positions are favored by the majority in the community. Yet Berman, Kniss, Scharff and the three outgoing councilmembers Mayor Shepherd, Klein, and Price all lined up to create majorities on the commissions who favor high density. This should serve as a heads-up--to those who want to "heal the divide"--that there is a vindictive nature to the "gentle" power elite in Palo Alto. The "we know what's good for you" attitude still persists. Not very healing. Roughshod comes to mind.

Greg Scharff did exactly as predicted : after running (again) an "I'm a residentialist" campaign knowing that the residents are craving some representation on council, he then votes for high density commissioners. I feel badly for those who depended on a zebra stripe change.

Unfortunately for the public the meeting was longer than necessary because the Mayor allowed Vice Mayor Kniss to phone in her vote. Because the rule violation was noted, a re-vote was taken. Both Mayor Shepherd and Vice Mayor Kniss (lining up for Mayor position) are supposed to know the rules. (Why speculate as to the reason behind this? Too many options...all are at the very least irresponsible)

Perhaps voters voted to decrease the council size because trustworthy leadership is rare.




















8 people like this
Posted by another resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 10:43 am

This Council is trying its best to extend its historic legacy- gridlock,
overdevelopment,unsafe and ugly streetscapes, the destruction of the
neighborhoods,the public interest taking a back seat to developer interest.
The continuing impacts of what this Council has done are lined up like a set of waves at Mavericks- like 611 Cowper under construction at the doorstep to Crescent Park, underparked by 50+ spaces even using mechanical lifts,access off of 10 ft wide lane 39, outside the downtown parking assessment district and a long walk from Caltrain. And last night creating dysfunction through appointments to hamper the new Council majority as it tries to deal with the mess which grows worse every day. Price decided not to run for reelection, but Scharff took it as a challenge, even told us he walked around Berkeley the weekend before the election.



8 people like this
Posted by Carol Gilbert
a resident of University South
on Nov 11, 2014 at 10:44 am

Sorry to see this finale as an end-run. Should these new appointees act in a manner which does not reflect how the electorate feel, what is the possibility of removing them from their positions and replacing them?


13 people like this
Posted by Cur Mudgeon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 11, 2014 at 10:53 am

High time to recall these city council members who voted against the residents of Palo Alto. The cronyism is over the top.


3 people like this
Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 11, 2014 at 10:54 am

"Scharf said he was a residential ..."

So he said. But the election's over, time to get real again. [Portion removed]

But not to worry. I've watched the council blow off PTC recommendations many times.


2 people like this
Posted by Revengeful
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 10:59 am

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by 37 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 11, 2014 at 11:04 am

The recent election of a pro residentialist majority to city council was an indictment on what has been happening in our town relative to growth and development issues. The voters spoke and a new council will take office soon. The problem....the current council didn't listen or care what the citizens want. They just did what they wanted to do anyway. Like our national elections, voters made a statement about the policies of the president and his administration. He'll do what he wants anyway, whether or not the majority of Americans feel strongly against what he has been doing and the direction the country is going. It's what politicians do. They tell you one thing to get elected and do the exact opposite in many cases.


6 people like this
Posted by Concerned Retiree
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2014 at 11:06 am

Sorry I voted for Scharff, but I followed the recommendations of those "residentialists" who thought he would be more balanced in his voting. At least in January, with the new commission, I trust we will have a more balanced and wiser Council making the plans for moving forward.


1 person likes this
Posted by I am confused
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 11:15 am

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by diverse community
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 11, 2014 at 11:21 am

Revengeful,
Your racism has no place in this community or in these forums.


9 people like this
Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2014 at 11:23 am

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

I agree with Eric Rosenblum, the headline is inflammatory. It should say "Palo Altans lose out in Commission Shuffle" because this is all about what is best for all of us. Any neutral bystander would be hard pressed to say we now have diverse, balanced commissions that will present council with multiple viewpoints. Instead, as a parting gift by outgoing council members, we have commissions that appear, at least based on past comments of the appointed, to be less diverse and going the opposite direction of the electorate. Diversity is good - in our residents, in our housing, and on our commissions. We did not get it last night.

"I am confused" is confusing - which of the 3 candidates were residentialists and which are the 2 others? All six of the top candidates in the council election focused on putting resident priorities first - based on their campaign statements I would have hard time determining the separation suggested. Unless you are suggesting that some candidates didn't really mean it?

This was a clear repudiation of the will of the voters less than a week ago by lame duck council members. THAT is extremely concerning. Yes, everyone on council was elected but clearly the issues have changed over the years and the voters just made it clear what issues they support.


Posted by I am confused
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

on Nov 11, 2014 at 11:30 am


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8 people like this
Posted by Senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 11, 2014 at 11:33 am

The Lame duck council is salting the Commissions. Pretty Balsy

Time for the new Council to disband the Commissions and start over.


4 people like this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 11, 2014 at 11:36 am

Tom, thanks for your post. It bears repeating: The headline "should say "Palo Altans lose out in Commission Shuffle" because this is all about what is best for all of us."

So what can be done about it?


12 people like this
Posted by We need a new vice mayor
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 11, 2014 at 11:43 am

Dear New Council,

Please do not put Liz Kniss forward for our next mayor. Palo Alto needs a mayor that is going to respect the wishes of the city. [Portion removed.]

I would also like to thank Arthur Keller for his excellent service to the city. We have benefited tremendously by his willingness to invest the time to analyze proposals in detail and ask probing questions regarding their impact.


2 people like this
Posted by Midtown Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2014 at 11:45 am

For those who are concerned about the new commissioners, it is worth reviewing Ms. Downing's statements in support of high density housing in an earlier thread:
Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by jm
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 11:46 am

Downing and Fine both represent the pro-urban density model for the future of Palo Alto. This from the Palo Alto Forward home page:

"We have one year to shape Palo Alto's new Comprehensive Plan, which will set housing and transportation policy until 2030. We invite you to join us as we engage with City Council members and city staff to champion better options for housing and transportation. We need your help to make this vision a reality!"


9 people like this
Posted by jm
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 11:49 am

A wolf in sheep's clothing.

Wondered how soon Greg Scharff would cast aside his campaign “pro-residentialist” robes and emerge as the pro-urban density proponent he has consistently, exhibited prior to the reelection campaign. Remarkable what an approximately $80,000PR campaign to claim his record of single-handedly saving Palo Alto was well spent.

Or should I say lambs to the slaughter? Too many people can be led by the nose when they believe the glassy flyers that blitz their mailboxes. And the Weekly showed their bias too.

When Scharff was mayor, doe anyone remember the three council sub-committees he formed with like minded pro-growth council members to brainstorm greasing the wheels for development? Deliberately too small to come under the Brown Act and met behind closed doors so neither the more moderate council members or the public knew what they were doing.


10 people like this
Posted by Enid Pearson
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 12:02 pm

What I saw in this election was a lot of voters unhappy with the urbanization of Palo Alto in all neighborhoods
and with a council that did not seem to get the message that high rises, big densities, and increasing and endless
traffic were ruining Palo Alto's residential quality.

The present council, if it really cared about Palo Alto the residents could have chosen to let the newly elected
council appoint the next commissioners. What a concept. Instead, this council appointed people who have a
different idea of the future of Palo Alto. This is guaranteed to make it much more difficult for the new council
to stand up to aggressive developers who might get approval from a Planning Commission with totally opposite goals
to newly elected council members.

It was particularly disappointing to watch Mr. Scharff slide back into his usual role. Some folks really believed
that he might be a residentialist.

I would like to thank Arthur Keller for his years of service and devotion to Palo Alto. Like Susan Feinberg, he will
be truly missed.


9 people like this
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Thank you, Cheryl Lilienstein for your well-written and cogent description of "what just happened". These Council actions are breathtakingly cynical. I'd definitely cast my vote for a recall.


7 people like this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 11, 2014 at 12:13 pm

As one of the articles said about why they weren't endorsing Mayor Shepherd, it was her "I won't be bullied" stance to justify her continued opposition to what the residents / taxpayers want.

This was just another sharp stick in the eye (or the obscene gesture of your choice).


11 people like this
Posted by jm
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Arthur Keller was the last member left on the Planning and Transport Commission you could count on to cut through the hubris of developers, and with his brilliant mind analyze the reams of data the commission receives with an open mind. Able to understand the underlying implications and cut to the core, and ask the right questions to get to the truth. The one you could count on to always be well prepared.

This pro-growth council, having previously got rid of Susan Feinberg, the only other commissioner who could see through the hubris and ask developers hard questions, have now completed their mission to stack the commission with like minded architects and other pro-growth commissioners who, if you listen, often only go through the motions and appear to have never seen a development or piece of concrete poured they didn’t like. Their bias not even hidden, often with comments both shallow and flippant.


6 people like this
Posted by Hooray
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 11, 2014 at 12:25 pm

This is literally the beat result. Thank goodness they replaced Keller. His process as incredibly unprofessional and combative. And the replacements have some started a lot knowledge and interest in land use issues. These online forums are awash with anti development sentiment and that group may vote in larger numbers than their opposing view residents but at the end of the day you pick the best people for the job not the ones who clearly show no ability to objectively review projects because they oppose prudent development by default.

Keller has been problematic for years and this decision is reflective of the need to get more productive and less biased voices on the commission. Lest we forget that it's a advisory board. You all may want to hear what you already believe told back to you a hundred times over and over but the rest of us are interested in hearing how developments can be improved to meet our needs not halted to meet your desire to shut the door behind you so that Palo Alto can simple begin it's atrophy as it's population ages and ages.


Like this comment
Posted by jm
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 12:50 pm

@ horaay

Not true to say any one group votes in dis-proportionally larger numbers in council elections.

The vote simply reflects the will of the majority. Perhaps you were in the minority?


3 people like this
Posted by I have a question
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Question:
What are the rules for full time City of PA employees that own outside businesses that are related to their job at city hall? Any information would be appreciated.


3 people like this
Posted by sometimes change is good
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Tom DuBois' comment is pretty silly: the Commission, which is 100% male (and mostly of the older variety), just added 2 young people (including a woman) to the Commission. Arthur stood out on the Commission as someone who liked to go very deep into the numbers, and saw himself as Planning Staff (creating new models and analyses) more than Planning Commissioner (overseeing and providing direction to staff). However, he was no more "skeptical" of development than most other commissioners (Mr. Alcheck is a notable exception in being someone who seems quite pro-development). To use DuBois' own words: ANY neutral observer would see that the Commission just became MORE diverse, in both background and outlook. DuBois' statement is not a good sign for the beginning of his term: his claim that the "residents of Palo Alto" lost is hugely insulting to our newly appointed Commissioners, who seem very intelligent, qualified and hard-working. [Portion removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by jm
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Arthur Keller did not like those trying to "game the system" and was combative only in the sense that he ended up the lone voice for the majority of residents. You could also say he didn't suffer fools gladly


2 people like this
Posted by jm
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Susan Feinberg was no reappointed. Vastly superior to Mr. Alcheck who the council chose to replace her.


11 people like this
Posted by Bill Kelly
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Dear Greg Scharf,

I want my vote back


9 people like this
Posted by Ellie
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:45 pm

That Kniss only bothered to phone in her vote on commission appointments is typically cynical of her. While the 3 lame ducks had the right to vote as they did, they showed they sure didn't have the residents' wishes in mind when they did so. After all, we just found out where the majority stands, and yet they ignored it. Which is why they are out of power - they don't listen to the voters, they only listen to the voice of the established order who feels entitled to dictate to us all. The lesson of this is that no quarter should be given. Be civil but totally determined at every turn. No kow-towing to the establishment. No - we can't all just get along.

Authur Keller for City Council!


6 people like this
Posted by staygreen
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:46 pm

staygreen is a registered user.

What's the process for starting a recall petition? Anyone know?


8 people like this
Posted by People Never Change
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Politicians who flip-flop do so out of self-interest, not because they have really changed their beliefs. That Scharff proved to be someone other than who he claimed to be for campaign purposes should be no surprise. I suspected this sort of thing would happen, so I did not vote for him or Holman, who has also been in the developers' pockets for a long time.

Don't be surprised if Karen Holman pulls a fast one ( or two) in the near future.

People like Scharff need to pay for their deceit, and the process of a recall should be started. He should not be able to get away with doing exactly what he promised repeatedly he would never do.


Like this comment
Posted by No more born again residentialist
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Eric Rosenblum's praise of Arthur Keller rings hollow given his support of the competing candidates. Or is this political double-talk?
I wonder whether this means he will re-think his association with the pro-growth group Palo Alto Forward
www.paloaltoforward.com/about
Please let us know, Mr. R.


8 people like this
Posted by Cory Wolbach
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 11, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Cory Wolbach is a registered user.

Let's all thank Arthur Keller for years of tremendous dedication to Palo Alto. I don't know if I earned his vote in the recent election, but I have certainly benefited from his insight and perspective. Keller is smart, qualified, and experienced. He is a tremendous resource, and incoming council members and PTC commissioners would do well to meet with him (sorry to put you on the spot, Arthur).

I am glad to have new voices on the PTC, but retaining Arthur while adding only one new voice would have been a wiser choice, in my opinion. If Keller is interested in the job again at the time of the next opening, I hope he considers reapplying.

Now that the council has made their choice, let's give the new commissioners a chance. I think they will be open-minded to good data and clear arguments. They deserve the benefit of the doubt, and should not bear blame for a Council vote we may disagree with. Stepping up to serve the community deserves our gratitude, not vitriol. I credit them for applying, and congratulate them on their appointments.


10 people like this
Posted by Funny
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 11, 2014 at 2:10 pm

"If we don't allow for growth, Silicon Valley as we know it today will cease to exist," Downing said.

This is the funniest thing I've heard in a very long time.

Adding high-density housing will not make Palo Alto "affordable." It will ruin it's charm and and what makes it attractive, ruin the schools, and make it a miserable place to live.

I will support a recall of these appointments - in a heartbeat. Can we also recall Scharff, Kniss, and Berman? I'd vote for that too.

Thank you, Arthur Keller, for your devotion to keeping Palo Alto a wonderful place. I hope we can get you back on board soon. I'll vote for that too.


7 people like this
Posted by question
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Would it be legally possible for the newly-elected CC to disband the P&C commission and start anew?


6 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 11, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Eric Rosenblum is a registered user.

@ "born again"...

no, my praise of Arthur is sincere. He and I have enjoyed serving together, and we often would compare notes and analyses of various issues. I think that he would confirm this.

The other thing that is important to realize is that Palo Alto Forward's platform (Web Link) was based on the current Comprehensive Plan of Palo Alto. The plan calls for denser development in some key transit corridors, and creating more easily walkable communities. The platform is against puting density in areas that are not near services or transit. Arthur is also passionate about putting development of denser residential properties close to service centers, and of putting denser commercial properties close to transportation hubs. We are both pretty big fans of the current comprehensive plan.

Finally, I think that this "Residentialists" vs. "Developers" construct is bunk. We are all residents. All of us believe that we are acting in the best interests of fellow residents. However, Palo Alto is a complex, diverse group of people (I don't think that any single candidate was on over 50% of the ballots, and the top vote-getter-- Holman-- got only 11% more votes than the #2 vote-getter, Scharff, despite having very different voting records and outlooks).


7 people like this
Posted by The real winner is Palo Alto Forward
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Reading the back-and-forth here, it is clear that Palo Alto Forward has come out of these elections a substantial winner. The NIMBY vote was well-organized after Measure D. It looks like there is a viable counterbalance forming. When did they launch? in September? October? They've gotten pretty strong pretty fast.

This should be interesting to watch. Wonder what they will be able to do in a few more years.


3 people like this
Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Can't we try to get along now? Can't we give the new commissioners a chance before we start labeling them? Can we wait and see how the new council acts before we start with the recall claims and the labeling of members as " residentialist" or " pro- developer"
For those who are pushing for a recall, I think you need to collect signatures and if get enough, it is brought to a vote. For details, I suggest the city clerk


Like this comment
Posted by No more born again residentialist
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Mr. Rosenblum: For someone who claims to be mathematically skilled, you make some very odd statements. You say:
>Palo Alto is a complex, diverse group of people (I don't think that any single candidate was on over 50% of the ballots, and the top vote-getter-- Holman-- got only 11% more votes than the #2 vote-getter, Scharff, <

There were 12 candidates running so OF COURSE no one got 50%. As of today Holman has 10,978 votes
Sharff has 9,868.
The difference is OVER a thousand more votes for Holman.


11 people like this
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow School
on Nov 11, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Perhaps it's time for those who consider themselves as "residentialists" to get up a petition requesting the new Council to replace the whole PTC in the spring. There really are no hard-and-fast laws that would disallow such a move on the part of the Council.

It also makes sense to consider new procedure that disallows this sort of "salting" of a commission just before the turnover of a sizeable number of Council Members.

It's time for some more intelligent processes relative to governance here in Palo Alto. Since it's clear that there is a strong "residentialist" movement--it would be a shame to let it wither away and not achive some significant change via pressure on the Council, as well as more "residentialist" ballot initiatives.


1 person likes this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 11, 2014 at 3:32 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Pack
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 11, 2014 at 3:44 pm

In the end big money developers and old money politicians will win. It's inevitable and the " Palo Alto Way".
You can yell and scream and stamp your feet but lifetime politicians like Kniss and company know where the money starts and stops. Even when you think you are making a change by electing "new blood" into a dysfunctional council, you're really not. Politicians are interconnected and devious in their bid to win public approval . What the public really needs to focus their attention to is removing the current city manger and the many "friends" he has hired and created positions for as senior management staff. These are the people who are draining Palo Alto reserves, who have no alligiance to Palo Alto, and willing support the politicians you despise. Basically they are the yes men who gleefully do the dirty work of approving council members projects and agendas and still can keep a smile on their face while knowing their job and six figure income depend on it. The system is broke but unfortunately the public is distracted by their own agendas and focusing on nonsense. Keep the public distracted and divert attention away from real issues seems to be the motto of Palo Alto politicians and senior city staff.


3 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Monroe Park
on Nov 11, 2014 at 3:50 pm

I, too, thank Art Keller for his years of service - particularly for his thoughtful questions and careful listening during many commission meetings.

I hope he meant it when he said he may plan to use his newly freed time to prep for a run for the City Council election in 2016.

(and yes to the suggestion that an outgoing council not be allowed to fill commission positions.)


6 people like this
Posted by Midtown Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Ms Downing has already made clear her contempt for Palo Alto's existing structures - we have no value in her eyes except to be remade in the mold of those European cities she loves so well (but doesn't care to live in).

As she noted earlier this year, "If the only value you see in Palo Alto is that it's a low-rise pretty suburb- THAT can easily be replicated elsewhere."


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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 11, 2014 at 4:41 pm

> In the end big money developers and old money politicians will win

Because we let them win. How many truly "residentialist" candidates can anyone name over the past decade, or so? Sure, we're all busy working in startups, or out on the road. We simply have not taken the time to formulate a coherent point-of-view, and develop the political infrastructure needed to get people who are truly "residentialist" on the Dais, and keep them there.


5 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 11, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Thanks Cory, so glad to hear a hopefully soon to be sworn in new council member speak up. And your theme of civility is so appropriate and actually urgent for these current post election events and outbursts. I think Mr. Keller has already hinted he liked Arnold's role as the Terminator. "I will be back".


7 people like this
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2014 at 5:16 pm

@Pack
Thank you for speaking a sad truth -- and stating it so well. It's a truth that applies to every level of government.

As one who has done a lot of screaming and foot-stamping, I wish I knew how to fix the broken system, but it's hard to have an impact even at the local level.

Yes, we won with Maybell Measure D last year and we won 3 -- maybe 4 -- seats on the new council. But last night's appointments show that the old guard is not going to go quietly.

City staff essentially runs the show. Keene even admitted that the reports given to council contain just the info that will get the plan approved -- not the downsides.

Has anyone been fired for any of the failed projects, e.g., the Mitchell Park fiasco? Why does Keene still have a job?


8 people like this
Posted by Les
a resident of University South
on Nov 11, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Greg Scharff - You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

You were second - barely. You are ahead of DuBois by 41 votes at the time of this posting. You spent $85.000 ($40,000 or $50,000 of it out of your own pocket because you [portion removed] can). You may, once final reporting is in, have spent a lot more. You paid $20,000 buying yourself a campaign run by a professional political consultant (unprecedented - council candidates usually spend $20 - $30,000 in a grassroots campaign). [Portion removed.]

To those longtime residentialists who endorsed him (you know who you are) who fronted for him and let him use your photos in his gross number of ads and mailers, I can only say, shame on you. [Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Quercus
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 11, 2014 at 5:40 pm

The commissions do not have decision making authority, only Council does.

City Council can decide to go with or against a commission's recommendation.


5 people like this
Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Good point, quercus
The vitriol being directed on this thread against scharff is a bit disturbing, as is the comments directed against downing. I saw some of the more vile comments against scharff that were deleted earlier.
One has to wonder why the people who are being so vocal here, refuse to give Scharf or the new appointees a chance. Can't they wait until the new commission and council actually transact business.
Of course, one has to wonder how representative the comments here are of the real feelings of the residents. After all, scharff did come iN second in the voting.


7 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Agenda,

Downing has quite a few posts this year which states her priorities. I watched the interviews of the Planning and Transportation commission applicants. I thought Keller was well above all other applicants in his knowledge & experience, and he had such passion for the what he did for the last 8 years. Not to re-appoint him was just illogical, and was playing political games - certainly the city residents will be worst off without Keller.

I hope Keller & Fineberg run for City Council in 2016.


11 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 6:37 pm

This is Kate Downing who wrote online that we have unused empty school sites just lying around why not build high-density housing on those, and when asked to name just one (because there aren't any) she just moved on to some other ideologically driven justification? The same Kate Downing who remains utterly silent on the subject of low-income people being displaced, or the fact that she could find what she seeks if she simply decided nearby Sunnyvale wasn't beneath her?

What can residents do to repeal or overturn such appointments? Is there an administrative process? Does it take a referendum? Lest anyone forget, last year's Measure D wasn't the only referendum residents qualified, they also managed to qualify a referendum to remove the rezoning of Maybell from the comprehensive plan -- in just 10 days. I hope Arthur Keller will start his political career by helping the residents of Palo Alto overturn this ridiculous parting shot by a useless and vindictive council. [Portion removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 6:53 pm

"This is the funniest thing I've heard in a very long time.

Adding high-density housing will not make Palo Alto "affordable." It will ruin it's charm and and what makes it attractive, ruin the schools, and make it a miserable place to live.

I will support a recall of these appointments - in a heartbeat. Can we also recall Scharff, Kniss, and Berman? I'd vote for that too.
"

Funny if it weren't so dangerous.

Since the Council is going to have to be smaller in 2018, that's a brilliant idea, recall at least Kniss and Berman now.

If we are going to the trouble of overturning these ridiculous appointments, we may as well recall this horrible mess of a remaining Council.

I think you'll find a lot of support if you start the ball rolling. But it usually takes someone willing to do that.


Like this comment
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 6:55 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Iconoclast
a resident of University South
on Nov 11, 2014 at 7:00 pm

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by senior longtime resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 11, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Many of us who consider ourselves "residentialists" and are concerned about the problems that face Palo Altans with the overdevelopment that has occurred in recent years and the consequent problems that we are facing as a result of that overdevelopment are seniors who have lived in Palo Alto for decades and knew Palo Alto as part of the Santa Clara Valley before it became Silicon Valley. Some of us were born and raised in the depression years. We worked hard and finally were able to choose where we wanted to live and ultimately we chose Palo Alto, bought a house here, raised are families and stayed on in our retirement years. We've had careers in Palo Alto. We made a contribution to our city. We bring a sense of history and a perspective to our city that younger people cannot. Changes to our city are inevitable. We didn't expect it to stay the same but in recent years the changes have been beyond what is healthy and desirable to many of us. The results of the defeat of Measure D last year and the results of the recent election tell the story well.

We have read comments on Palo Alto Online that defy the reality of what Palo Alto is. Comments by people who want to change the very nature of our city are truly disturbing.

STOP OVERDEVELOPMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!


12 people like this
Posted by transient kate
a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Kate Downing has only lived in Palo Alto for 3 years, but I’m glad she’s so eager to tell us what we should change to meet her desires.

She used to work at VMWare in Palo Alto, but it says Kate Downing doesn’t work at VMWare anymore. Palo Alto Forward website says she works at ServiceNow. ServiceNow in Santa Clara?

Kate Downing wrote: “Every person who commutes in is another car causing traffic and taking up a parking lot and polluting all the way here and back. The more distance you put between jobs and housing, the more you degrade the quality of life in Palo Alto.”

Is Kate Downing now another car causing traffic? Is Kate Downing now polluting all the way here and back? Is Kate Downing now degrading the quality of life in Palo Alto?

[Portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Thoughtful
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Thoughtful is a registered user.

The Tao Te Ching says that in trying too hard to be beautiful, things become ugly.

Sums up the impact of profit driven developers who have created traffic jams, air pollution, over crowding and housing prices only the wealthiest can afford as by-products of often magnficient buildings.

While many of their creations are fantastic, the subsequent damage to a charming city is irreparable. We must sit with these opposites. Living where reality is constantly emerging and changing is an extraordinarily stimulating experience. But connections are lost and we are uprooted like the demolished buildings as well.





4 people like this
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2014 at 9:16 pm

pat is a registered user.

> “The more distance you put between jobs and housing, the more you degrade the quality of life in Palo Alto.”

Could we PLEASE put a stake in the heart of that old chestnut?
- How many people stay in the same job throughout their careers?
- How many companies move locations?
- How many people in a multi-household family work in the same city?
- How many people move each time they change jobs?

As for the supply/demand theory that if we just build enough new homes, prices will go down, how many developers are going to pay $10+M/acre and build BMR units?

Developers Aren't Going to Solve the Housing Crisis in San Francisco
Web Link
Developers Aren't Going to Solve the Housing Crisis in San Francisco


6 people like this
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2014 at 9:34 pm

pat is a registered user.

> “One has to wonder why the people who are being so vocal here, refuse to give Scharf … a chance.

Scharff had his chance in his first term on the council. He's the guy who said the office building (at Alma & Lytton) was itself a public benefit. He's the guy who was in favor of the Maybell rezoning project. He's the guy who supported the massive Jay Paul PC proposal for a 311,000-square-foot office complex the 395 Page Mill Road that would bring 1,250 workers into the city each day.

He became a "residentialist" just in time to get re-elected.

"Both Shepherd and Scharff said they believe their experience working on behalf of developers gives them a perspective that will be useful in tackling local projects." Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 11, 2014 at 10:12 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 11, 2014 at 10:58 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

I argued in my application for the ARB that architects per se were over-represented on the board and engage in a lot of log-rolling. I guess they listened to me and appointed someone is who is studying to be an architect, Kyu -Young Kim, Paly class of 2003.

Young Master Kim also apparently, and this is news to me as of 2 minutes ago, applied for PATC in 2012, the seat Carl King took. Sayeth he:

If appointed, I would specifically like to see the commission change and evolve for the better of the city's future in a way that is actively productive. While Palo Alto is a historic city and the past and present civil servants have done their best to bring us where we are, I believe the city needs to continue to adopt ways of setting itself up to prosper and succeed in being a place our residents are proud to call home, as the birthplace of the Silicon Valley.
Though some might wish for Palo Alto to stay only as populated as it is (or even was), it is inevitable that our City will continue to grow. We must make the best recommendations to the Council to not only prosper in growth, but so that even as we're growing, we're always staying one step ahead.


2 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 12, 2014 at 12:41 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Do note that the person that Gennady Sheyner copiously 10 times refers to as "Kate Downing" or "Downing" is also and perhaps more commonly known as either Yekaterina S Vershov (at the State of California Bar for instance) or Yekaterina Vershov Downing in her application and by the Clerk of Palo Alto yesterday.

She was also, research shows, a summer associate for Fenwick and West a prestigious law firm, for two months in 2009, here before landing at VMWare I mean ServiceNow.

Not to be snide but I am saying that Vershov Downing the lawyer PATC and Kyu Young Kim the architect in training at ARB are not Mark Michael and Robert Gooyer; being unqualified is not diversity, please.


6 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 12, 2014 at 7:44 am

mauricio is a registered user.

[Portion removed.] How is it possible for the outgoing city council to appoint a person holding such views, when pro growth has been defeated so decisively at the polls? This maneuver amounts to clear rejection of the election results by the pro development slate. Why wasn't this process left to the new council?


3 people like this
Posted by Thoughtful
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2014 at 10:59 am

Thoughtful is a registered user.

If correct that Scharf ran as a wolf in sheep's clothing-is paradoxical that a consultant is hired to better enable communication between council and residents.

If trust is to be built, then how about clear, direct and honest communication? Manipulative behavior cannot be tolerated.


20 people like this
Posted by Arthur Keller
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 12, 2014 at 11:56 am

Arthur Keller is a registered user.

First, I'd like to thank the citizens of Palo Alto for the opportunity to serve you as a member of the Planning and Transportation Commission for the last eight years. I appreciate the voices of support. I do intend to stay involved in Palo Alto issues. I plan to write some essays on issues of local interest. Perhaps some local paper may be interested in publishing some of them. At some point, I will create a website for hosting this material at Web Link (arthurkeller.org), but right now that address redirects to my consulting page (which needs to be updated). I have not decided yet to run for City Council, but I'll appreciate your support if I do.

Second, many have found that the best advisors are not "yes men" (or women), but those who challenge assumptions and question conclusions, those who make you think things through. In particular, a range of opinions provides the best advice. Unfortunately, the Council has chosen in 2012 not to reappoint Susan Fineberg and now not to reappoint me. In both cases, we were acknowledged by our peers by having been selected the previous year as Vice Chair and might have become Chair if reappointed. I am more concerned with the chilling message these non-reappointments send to the community of potential applicants and to Commissioners of the dangers of questioning development than I am with my own personal disappointment.

Third, I think decisions should be made on facts and data. Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Unfortunately, some data that apply to other places, like communities in the East Bay that are bedroom communities to San Francisco, may not apply to Palo Alto. As Cory Wolbach said, I am certainly willing (within the limits of my time availability) to discuss issues with Councilmembers and Commissioners new and old. He and I had several long conversations about Palo Alto issues before he decided to run. At Vice Mayor Kniss' request, I had a conversation about Palo Alto issues with AC Johnston too. I've had conversations with Commissioner Eric Rosenblum. While each of us have our own biases (everyone does), I do think he tries to base his decisions on data, and I believe his praise of me is sincere. City staff have reached out to me to continue our dialog and my involvement in some (unpaid) capacity, and I appreciate that.

Now that I am no longer a commissioner, I am no longer bound by the Brown Act and restrictions on ex-parte communications. So I can now take the liberty of posting to Town Square.

To those who voted, please don't consider your job is done until the next elections in 2016. Come out and speak at meetings of the Planning and Transportation Commission. All to often the Council Chamber gallery is empty, except for Gennady Sheyner and staff waiting for their agenda item. Don't wait until the item is on the City Council agenda. The best way to fix the so-called "Palo Alto Process" is for early citizen involvement. If you can't come to speak, write letters to planning.commission@cityofpaloalto.org. Posting on Town Square is easy, but it doesn't have the effect of speaking at meetings or writing letters to the Commission and Council on an agenda item. You make it easier for officials to make the right decisions by staying involved and speaking up.


12 people like this
Posted by gf
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 12, 2014 at 4:41 pm

gf is a registered user.

Proud Parent and Shamed Resident
I have been in PA for over 35 years; raised kids here (most of whom no longer fit in PA); have a nice house and could certainly be one of those who want to "leave things as they were to enjoy the PA of old".

But when I see our 30-something children offer to serve the community, and present ideas - i am proud. When these young citizens get attacked by a cranky article and vilified before they have even had a chance to take office and make a difference, yet they remain calm, silent and dignified - then I am proud.

On the other hand when i read comments from some of our seniors (like myself) suggesting we know better and there's no need for young opinions - then shame on us. And when i read the personal attacks made in this thread, threats of recall and turncoat, in a tone that is quite caustic - then shame on us. And when community leaders stand by silently neglecting to lead PA forward civilly - then shame on us.

You see, if we dont support and express pride in our youth (albeit inexperienced) to stand up and serve, and if we exclude different opinions on our future with such negative discourse then i am sorry but PA "you ain't going nowhere".


3 people like this
Posted by Adina Levin
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 13, 2014 at 11:12 am

Adina Levin is a registered user.

Hi, Mark,

Kate's married name is Downing, and Kate is a perfectly understandable informal nickname for Yekaterina.

Policy positions and qualifications of commissioners are fair game for debate. Hassling based on names, not so much.


Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 13, 2014 at 11:31 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Steve Levy and Eric Rosenblum have appealed to me ex parte that I am under-estimating Kiss Me Kate.
Duly noted.
What I actually said, in my own blog post, which started merely as a back-up to the points I raised above, which I assume would be, like half of what I post here, quickly deleted -- and I am certain I am the only person who posts under his or her own name and is regularly deleted -- like comparing Arrillaga to Genghis Khan -- three-fourths of which is about Kim and not Kate, is that Kate Downing compared to Mark Michael is unqualified for leadership here. Fair point.

My other hypothesis is that people of her generation, under 35, as Tom Wolfe calls them "Mutant Millenials" often channel so much of their energy thru mediated and electronic devices that they lack social skills, as perceptible by other humans, apart from or offline from these machines.

I have met Kate a couple times and that was a further observation. I drank two beers in her honor on a Monday.

Even if she is a brilliant attorney and very useful for the industries that profit by the proliferation of computers and military/industrial/information/entertainment complex, that does not qualify her for leadership per se here; she is getting thru, fair opinion on ideology and her commitment to growth. She is useful, it is fair to put, to the non-governmental political machine that controls policy here.

Mazel tov to Kate Downing Palo Alto Planning and Transportation commissioner.


2 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 13, 2014 at 11:31 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Why do does the Council get to appoint the next mayor rather than the voters get to elect the mayor?


3 people like this
Posted by wmartin46
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 13, 2014 at 12:19 pm

wmartin46 is a registered user.

> Why do does the Council get to appoint the next mayor rather
> than the voters get to elect the mayor?

The answer to this question is in the City's Charter. If we want to elect the mayor, the the Charter will have to undergo some sort of modification.


1 person likes this
Posted by wmartin46
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 13, 2014 at 1:17 pm

wmartin46 is a registered user.

> Arthur Keller was applying for a 3rd appointment to the PTC

I think that two 4-year appointments are enough. No one should be able to monopolize a seat on a Board/Commission as important as this one for more than eight years.

It might even pay to consider setting a policy of one 4-year appointment, and an optional 2-year appointment. This would give individuals up to six years to provide input into this aspect of Palo Alto land use decision making. We also need to start thinking about some way for the public to end the terms of the current PTC, and force the Council to select new membership.


4 people like this
Posted by Guy_Fawkes
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Guy_Fawkes is a registered user.

The point of length of service was brought up by Karen Holman with the 4 Historic Resource Board candidates who have been on the commission for 15 years and longer. It was soundly rejected by the old guard on the council. Length of service clearly was not the reason the vote went against Mr. Keller.

Sadly the PTC is really lacking experience at this point. Keeping experienced voices on the PTC who have seen several projects through the entire cycle is a good thing. More importantly we need diverse and balanced planning viewpoints, and we have definitely lost that. A monoculture is not good.


1 person likes this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 13, 2014 at 5:13 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by SWE
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 13, 2014 at 10:00 pm

SWE is a registered user.

Kate Downing works in Santa Clara? With all her preaching, why didn't she move there so her home is close to work and work on transforming San Jose to the hip urban cosmopolis she wants to make Palo Alto into? They WANT more urban vibrancy in San Jose.


1 person likes this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 18, 2014 at 5:58 am

Annette is a registered user.

What I find amazing about all this is that Kniss, with all her Council experience, acted as though she didn't know the rules about call-in voting. She's been mayor - how could she not know? Similarly, she didn't speak out against the behind-the-scenes and highly inappropriate shenanigans that define the interaction with Arrillaga. We should be able to rely on experienced Council members to know the rules, follow them, and instruct their colleagues when they are being violated. That's basic ethics. It's really no wonder to me that so many Palo Altans have concerns about how this city is managed.


1 person likes this
Posted by Guy_Fawkes
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 18, 2014 at 9:51 am

Guy_Fawkes is a registered user.

Watching last night on cable, the Mayor went out of her way to offer a "Others did it too in the past" defense, citing times that other councilmembers called in - wasn't clear whether it was an emergency or not. "They did it too" doesn't work for my kids, shouldn't work for Liz.


2 people like this
Posted by Rainer
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 10, 2014 at 12:05 am

Rainer is a registered user.

I agree with Mark Weiss that (obviously) Kate Downing "is useful, it is fair to put, to the non-governmental political machine that [did] control[s] policy here."

But since she denigrated herself by allowing to be a pawn in the pro-building-monster game trying to stack the City Committees before the new Council takes office, her usefulness will be very limited, and hopefully, it will be very short.

If she would have the smarts which are attributed to her, and wants to have a political future in Palo Alto, she would never have accepted the nomination of the lame duck City Council. The stain of anti-residentialist she acquired by keeping the company of “Palo Altans for Good Government” will be difficult to wash off.

[Portion removed.]


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

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