News

Mayoral election pushes open-meeting law to the brink

Split votes on leadership threaten Palo Alto City Council's new-found 'unity'

The suspenseful election of Pat Burt and Greg Scharff on Monday night to serve as Palo Alto's mayor and vice mayor marked a new chapter for the City Council, which will no longer be led by the council's slow-growth "residentialists."

But, for some residents, the election of Burt and Scharff after a pair of 5-4 votes wasn't as surprising as the fact that, despite the men's clashes throughout last year, the two voted for one another -- thus securing both appointments.

Nor was it as surprising as the fact that Burt was nominated by Liz Kniss, with whom he had exchanged snipes throughout 2015. Or the fact that Burt chose to support Scharff for vice mayor over outgoing Mayor Karen Holman, the leader of the residentialist group and a council member with whom he has generally been aligned. Or the fact that, for the second straight year, the council abandoned its long-running tradition of electing last year's vice mayor as this year's mayor.

When the dust settled Monday, it was the council's quintessential centrist -- Burt -- who found himself in the central chair on the dais after voting against two residentialist candidates. It was the four residentialists -- so triumphant a year ago -- who ended up on the losing end of the two votes. And it was Scharff, a member of the council's minority faction after the November 2014 election, who ascended to a leadership position for the second time in his council career.

The sudden alliance between Burt and Scharff disappointed some of their residentialist colleagues. Tom DuBois, who supported outgoing Vice Mayor Greg Schmid for mayor and Holman for vice mayor, was one of many people who saw the results as an indication that Burt and Scharff had made some kind of a deal before the vote. DuBois told the Weekly he was disappointed to see Burt align himself with what he called the "pro-growth" side of the council.

"I just think, at the end of the day, it's kind of putting the ego in front of ideals," DuBois said. "I also think this tradition of vice mayor becoming mayor -- that's clearly taken a pretty big hit. I don't think it applies anymore."

Holman, who was lauded on Monday for uniting the council just after losing the contest for vice mayor by a 5-4 vote, told the Weekly that she found the votes inexplicable.

"The very council members who did not support Pat Burt for vice mayor in 2015 supported him for mayor; and the very same council members who supported Greg Schmid for vice mayor did not support him for mayor," Holman said. "It's confusing and, almost on the surface, seems irrational."

Two people who did not appear at all surprised on Monday were Scharff and Burt, each of whom gave a prepared speech just after his nomination. In separate interviews, both adamantly denied that they had made any kind of a deal before the vote. Each told the Weekly that he hadn't known how the vote would end up.

"There was absolutely no quid pro quo," Scharff said.

"We didn't have any agreements," Burt said.

They did, however, have a conversation before the Monday vote. Scharff said he had spoken to both Burt and Schmid in the days before the election, though he emphasized that the conversation was focused on their respective visions for the city. The subject of who they would support for mayor or vice mayor did not come up, Scharff said.

"We didn't have any discussions about who would vote for whom," Scharff said.

---

But these conversations, like many others that took place among council members in the run-up to Monday's vote, demonstrate the intricate behind-the-scenes maneuvering that characterizes mayoral races in Palo Alto -- a process that pushes California's open-meeting law, the Brown Act, to the legal limits and, at times, beyond.

By law, no more than four council members can discuss a subject that will be on a future agenda -- in this case, the election of mayor and vice mayor. When a fifth member joins the discussion, either directly or through an intermediary, this becomes a serial violation of the Brown Act.

For regular council items, such as new smoking restrictions and development proposals, it's fairly easy for council members not to talk to one another outside of the Council Chambers. But when it comes to mayoral elections, a topic of broad interest and one that is near and dear to hearts of the members, the line gets blurry fast as they split into coalitions that, at times, exchange information through intermediaries, council members have acknowledged.

They make no secret of the fact that the Brown Act is difficult to follow when it comes to electing a mayor. Holman told the Weekly that it could be a challenge for every council member to track every conversation on the topic.

"One of the reasons I think the election of mayor and vice mayor is difficult is because the campaigning for positions can start early, and over time I think it's possible that violations can happen," Holman said.

To avoid violations, council members generally limit themselves to discussions with only three colleagues. For the four members of the council's residentialist side, this is fairly straightforward: They have one another. DuBois told the Weekly that before the mayoral election, the residentialists -- he, Eric Filseth, Holman and Schmid -- discussed their strategy for Monday, which is legal under the Brown Act provided no one else joins the conversation.

Other council members were also mindful of the limitations, even as they struggled to limit their contacts. But given the web of different conversations, as well as the existence of third-party intermediaries and unsolicited emails, most members had a clear sense of how the vote would end up, interviews with council members suggest.

Scharff, for instance, knew he would be nominated based on his conversation with Cory Wolbach before the meeting -- a conversation that each confirmed. Burt also knew he would be nominated by Kniss, with whom he had spoken (Kniss confirmed the conversation).

Kniss said she was "very careful not to have conversations with four people," but she also noted that council members meet informally on many occasions throughout the year and it's hard to avoid the topic of leadership. In mid-December, Kniss said, she had coffee with Schmid to discuss the topic, though she emphasized that he had never asked for an endorsement. She said she talked to Burt about the election but noted, "We talked about a whole variety of things."

Kniss has long been critical of the Brown Act. In June, when the council was discussing its legislative priorities, Kniss lamented the fact that "we are tied to the Brown Act," and contrasted the council with the state Assembly and Senate, where elected leaders talk to one another without such restrictions in an effort to get things passed.

"I really find it offensive ... and will speak out whenever I have a chance," Kniss said at the June 22 meeting.

In an interview this week, she said discussions of council business with colleagues are hard to avoid, given that council members constantly run into each other at community events and parties.

"In December, I think I've run into all of our council members at some event," Kniss said. "I met Greg Schmid many times throughout the year, and we often talk about leadership and many other things, though he had never asked me for support."

Schmid, for his part, acknowledged that he spoke to two people beyond the group of his three fellow residentialists, though he emphasized that he said at the very beginning of the conversations with those two that he would not discuss endorsements for mayor or vice mayor.

"When the conversation started, I said, 'Don't ask me for an endorsement' and then I said I would be happy to talk to them," Schmid said. "I didn't get a clear notion of whom they were voting for. The conversations were about policies."

Even so, he said he heard from a third party that the contest for mayor would be close. Thus, he said he wasn't surprised to see Burt challenge him and prevail. Schmid said he has no reason to think Scharff and Burt made a deal before hand. The bigger factors in Burt's victory, he said, likely have to do with politics and personalities. Schmid said he believes the key role of the mayor should be to get items onto the council's agenda to foster an "open public debate and see what comes out." Others on the council think "maybe the mayor should have a stronger role in pushing decisions." But while not surprising, Schmid said he found the vote disappointing.

"It would've been a nice way to end (my) tenure on the council," Schmid said. "But, on the other hand, I think the critical role of a council member is to be prepared on the issues and have a good public debate about where we're going as a city."

Several of his colleagues have confirmed that when they reached out to Schmid, he declined to talk because of Brown Act restrictions. Wolbach was among them. Thus, Wolbach said, the three members he limited himself to speaking with were Scharff, Burt and Kniss.

Scharff, on the other hand, did speak to Schmid and counts him as one of the three people he legally spoke to (along with Burt and Wolbach), even though he said that the discussion was limited to Schmid's vision for Palo Alto. If the conversation between Scharff and Schmid touched on the Monday vote, this would constitute a serial Brown Act violation because of Schmid's conversation with fellow residentialists. Similarly, if Burt had discussions with his residentialists colleagues about the vote, this would also constitute a violation (Burt declined to disclose to the Weekly which colleagues he talked to before the nomination).

But there were other ways that council members who took pains to avoid conversations with more than three colleagues got unexpected previews of things to come. Marc Berman, who is in the midst of a campaign for the state Assembly, said he did not speak to a single colleague about the election. Even so, he knew about Burt's impending nomination.

"I got an email from a member of the public a few days beforehand, encouraging me to support Pat for mayor," Berman said. "That's the first time I knew he was under consideration."

Beyond the council itself, long-time council observers -- in the minutes before Monday's election -- were predicting a Burt-Schmid showdown based on things they had heard in the prior weeks.

---

Holman said that, over the years, "It's been natural for people to have questions about elections of mayor and vice mayor especially when the outcome has been somewhat surprising."

In her view, one way to solve this problem and put an end to the political intrigue is to have residents directly elect a mayor.

"Conversations (among council members) about those elections can start many months before the event and can be difficult to track. And memory is unreliable over time," Holman said. "For a number of reasons, including that, I've been thinking and gathering other people's opinions for a good while now about whether it may be time for Palo Alto to go to a directly elected mayor."

Whether or not the results of the vote were a foregone conclusion or a genuine surprise, Burt said his decision to support Scharff had nothing to do with Scharff's decision to support him. Burt said his vote for vice mayor "was independent of what anyone else did."

In an interview, Burt also praised Holman for doing a "very good job as the mayor" but said he didn't want to see the same leadership remain on the council year after year.

"I think that until we change the City Charter, we really don't want to get into a pattern of people going through this continuous process of going from mayor to vice mayor into mayor again," Burt said.

Comments

23 people like this
Posted by Cynical ploy
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 8, 2016 at 6:39 am

Nice, typical one sided article. Funny how the weekly does not think the Holman gang did not plan the election of Schmid and Holman ahead of time. It seems that according to the weekly on Burt and his supporters may have been up to no good. Of course the weekly has no real proof, so they dance around the issue and make a claim the open meeting law has been pushed to the brink. In addition the weekly also writes an editorial singing the same tune. It is quite clear the weekly is a mouthpiece for PASZ and the " residentialists". Also not surprised that Holman finds the vote inexplicable-- she is usually slow to grasp reality-- witness the " iconic bridge" fiasco


32 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2016 at 8:02 am

Politics is a game even at the local level.

This behooves all voters to be very vigilant as to who gets voted in as we have no control whatsoever when they attain the dizzy heights of power.


70 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 8, 2016 at 9:01 am

It's understandable that there was some communication among some council members on this matter. Nothing wrong with that if it is within bounds of the Brown Act. But what I find frustrating and disappointing is the obvious vote tradeoff between Pat Burt and Greg Scharff - what else are these two now willing to tradeoff for personal ambition? It is well known how much they dislike each other. More important, as much as Greg Scharff says he is a residentialist, he is not. He misrepresents himself for political expediency, so why not do this quid pro quo with rival alpha dog Burt to the personal advantage of both? Unfortunate to start the new year with this glaring lack of respect for voters - If city council members don't respect the laws of the land, why should anyone else.


30 people like this
Posted by NoIntegrity
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 8, 2016 at 9:44 am

To quote the article "Whether or not the results of the vote were a foregone conclusion or a genuine surprise, Burt said his decision to support Scharff had nothing to do with Scharff's decision to support him. Burt said his vote for vice mayor "was independent of what anyone else did."

If you believe that I have a theater at 27 university to sell you...

Do Scharff and Burt think we are idiots? They suddenly and out of the blue support each other after battling all year and we are supposed of believe there was no serial conversation between five people either directly or through intermediaries?
Four people can talk, five cannot.

The fair practices commission should get involved [portion removed.] And Kiss, Berman and Wolbach should also be held accountable.

Half a truth is often a great lie - Ben Franklin


47 people like this
Posted by observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2016 at 9:49 am

I'm not sure why the writer focused on the Brown Act, when there isn't any provable violation -- it's really just innuendo. Did Kniss, Scharff, and Burt make a deal -- probably. Did they talk to others about the vote? There's no evidence that they did, and really -- is this the most important point?

The most important point is that Pat Burt sold out his supposed allies including DuBois and Holman for the opportunity to be mayor in his last year of being on the Council and badly hurt Greg Schmid, a decent nice guy who (predictibly for a nice guy, finished last). It's really just the oldest story going in local politics -- a dirty fight over a basically meaningless bauble. A chance for Burt when he is later quoted on City matters, before fading into irrelevance in a few years, will have a title that says "Pat Burt, former two-time mayor..." instead of "former mayor Pat Burt." To normal people, that would not seem like the kind of thing to knife your friends over, but to the small-stakes D-team of politicians in Palo Alto, evidently not.

This is local politics in its normal state. It's not illegal just unsavory. It doesn't speak well of Burt's loyalty or friendship but it also isn't illegal.

DuBois really summed it up well in his observations about ego and idealism. The surprise was not Greg Scharff, whom no one would accuse of idealism, but Pat Burt, whom many people believed to be better than this. I doubt Karen Holman or Greg Schmid were really surprised by it however.


9 people like this
Posted by Cynical ploy
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 8, 2016 at 9:52 am

Battling all year? Didn't you read the commendation for Holman- she got the council to work together last year. If you have proof of your claim please provide it to the relevant authorities, no integrity. All we have now is innuendo and speculation from the weekly and yourself. And do you really believe the effort to elect Holman vice mayor so she would be mayor again next year just came about at the meeting?


4 people like this
Posted by CynicalDoh
a resident of Southgate
on Jan 8, 2016 at 10:15 am

Someone just commented on an old article from a similiar situation in Menlo Park. @Cynical you are well-named, your comments are so cynical as to get me to laugh out loud. Do you really need examples of the Burt-Scharff split? Have you ever watched a council meeting?


Like this comment
Posted by CynicalDoh
a resident of Southgate
on Jan 8, 2016 at 10:16 am

Here's the article
Web Link


14 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2016 at 10:19 am

Marc Berman said he did not speak to a single colleague about the election. "I got an email from a member of the public."

Uh-huh.


33 people like this
Posted by Holmam's Power Grab
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2016 at 10:19 am

Holman made an outrageous power grab that completely disrespected Palo Alto traditions and process. First she took the Mayor position away from Liz Kniss in 2015 and then exiled Kniss to the far end of the room. As Mayor she often overstepped her bounds both with staff and her colleagues. The position clearly went to her head and she tried to orchestrate going directly from Mayor to Vice Mayor a power grab without precedent in Palo Alto History. Burt was clearly offended by this and chose not to support her for Vice Mayor. Holman's focus on power is evident in her comments which are primarily advocating for a directly elected Mayor which she could presumably run for. Watch for her to bring this issue before Council to change the City Charter. It is also disheartening that this gang of four plotted to keep Holman in power and that Filseth and Dubois showed no interest in taking a leadership role themselves. These four block vote without giving items the thoughtful consideration that we have had from previous Council Members. Its a good thing for Palo Alto that Holman's scheme failed. Hopefully Burt and Scharff can work together to move Palo Alto out of this mess. We are lucky to have them in leadership as they are clearly the two most thoughtful Council Members and the most moderate


Like this comment
Posted by CynicalDoh
a resident of Southgate
on Jan 8, 2016 at 10:32 am

Interesting to read how other communities have handled these infractions

Web Link

Web Link

In Orange County
Web Link


28 people like this
Posted by Surprised?
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2016 at 10:35 am

If anyone is surprised by Burt's moves, you have not been paying attention. For Burt, it is always about Burt, and rarely about anything else. He routinely belittles members of the public and his colleagues. Yes it is surprising that these two voted for each other; they cannot stand each other. Burt has no loyalty, other than to himself.


11 people like this
Posted by Cynical ploy
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 8, 2016 at 10:37 am

All I see you providing is stories involving other cities. I do not see any proof indicating that any laws were broken. Which is just more of the innuendo that the weekly and PASZ supporters are providing on this forum. And you still think that Holman did not plan out her attempted power grab!


19 people like this
Posted by Hmmm.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2016 at 10:44 am

@Grab,
You are funny. The residentialists refused to be involved in even any (fully legal) strategizing during the election that would have ensured Kou was elected instead of Wohlbach in order to ensure a residentialist majority. Burt was never a Residentialist. That he was considered moderate came down to how far we've gone down the overdevelopment path. Last year was probably just a way of lulling everyone back to sleep so the development interests could be committee-empowered in the final stages of the Comp Plan development. The residentialists have been too naive and mistaking being naive with fairness. Scharff's comment sounds strikingly like the disingenuous things he said during the Maybell debates. On our side of town, he is sometimes referred to as Greg "it'snot a done deal" Scharff for the disingenuous statements he made then. Some have cynically noted that he was formerly acquisitions for Prometheus who was at the time partnering to raze Buena Vista (with a plan to put in 4 times the zoning of expensive units) and Maybell tied up all the dedicated affordable housing money so it couldn't be used at BV. Given the lawsuits right now and sensitive nature of what's going on, Scharff sure seems a poor choice for open government.


31 people like this
Posted by Ellie
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 8, 2016 at 11:05 am

For shame Pat Burt. Scharff? No one will trust you again.


16 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 8, 2016 at 11:12 am

When is the next council election so the residents of Palo Alto can have a say in this mess?


19 people like this
Posted by MayorGate
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2016 at 11:19 am

It sounds like there was a deal, there were five people involved, and they lied about it afterwards.

Isn't this mostly the same people who swore transparency after 27 University, the 7.7 acres, and the grand jury report?


12 people like this
Posted by Cynical ploy
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 8, 2016 at 11:27 am

Proof please, mayor gate. Holman and Schmid were involved in the 27 university issue


22 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 8, 2016 at 11:37 am

Politics hasn't evolved much since medieval times!

I second all comments favorable to Schmid and do wish he had been elected Mayor. He is clearly very smart and invariably fully prepared to discuss all matters that come before City Council. I also appreciate that he functions with the City's best interests in mind, not his own. Missed opportunity.


Posted by Disguised
a resident of Old Palo Alto

on Jan 8, 2016 at 11:57 am


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16 people like this
Posted by It all depends
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2016 at 12:01 pm

Scharff's future depends on whether he can once again con a couple of neighborhood leaders to openly support him.

How they fell for his newly-minted, temporary, fake residentialist pose is hard to understand. Gullible people who didn't look at his history.


23 people like this
Posted by Anne
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 8, 2016 at 12:35 pm

It was the pro-development faction that engineered this, not the residentialists. To blame them is just propaganda trying to shift the real taint from Kniss, Scharff and the rest of growth lovers. Don't fall for the scapegoating. Keep the blame where it belongs - Burt and his new BFF's.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2016 at 12:38 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Hmmmm
"... the Maybell debates"

Ah, yes, the Maybell debates. Would it be fair to separate "residentialists" by their positions on the low-income senior affordable housing for low income senior project at Maybell into these three categories:

**Voted for the project at every stage of the process (along with everyone else on council), --Schmid, Holman, Burt
**supported the referendum to overthrow the project, yet have made clear with votes on council that they are not opposed to affordable housing, specifically by supporting efforts to retain the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park--Filseth, Dubois
***anti-growth activists, generally skeptical about affordable housing, who see any kind of densification--housing, office, retail--as an attack on Palo Alto's suburban character and capitulation to overreach by government agencies and planning bodies determined to force us to abandon our cars--not yet represented on the City Council, but hopeful to change that fact

Which kind of residentialists will we see on the ballot next election? (with at least 4 seats up, they'll have a good shot at a majority if they can persuade voters that they'd do a better job than this and last year's council.)


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

apologies for careless editing on my last post

"...positions on the low-income seniors affordable housing project at Maybell..."


11 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2016 at 1:24 pm

When I was candidate for Human Relations Commission, Pat Burt lobbied against my appointment, which was supported by Schmid and Dubois.


3 people like this
Posted by sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 8, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Congratulations Pat and Greg.

You both are handsome and Palo Alto likes that.

You have been in these roles before, well trained. So, we would expect A+ performance. We all need to set aside conflict and need to implement people mandates. Please let me know.

It appears both Karen and Greg Schmidt are full of energy; so they will be great candidates to run for congress. I will support them.

Respectfully


29 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 8, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Pat and Greg must resign. They have no credibility with citizens.


6 people like this
Posted by Hmmmm.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2016 at 4:21 pm

@Underdal,
I have no wish to discuss Maybell since you seem kind of determined to create what you want out of it.

IMHO affordable housing advocates were used at Maybell and for a long time I didn't even think any were really seriously concerned about affordable housing given the negative implications to Buena Vista of pursuing Maybell. (The answer then from city councilmembers was to say that the city didn't get ABAG credit for BV, as if that was more important than real people living here). I thought all the concern was political manipulation for less honorable purposes, at least at some levels. Nothing I have seen so far has countered that, and the political selfishness tore neighbors apart to this day and mean opportunities at that moment in time for collaborations and to direct the energy to a solution for BV residents was lost. Well before anything went into the papers, neighbors I knew approached each council member to ask for the chance to work something out that would meet all goals including maybe even better affordable housing - a serious offer given some of the accomplishments of those neighbors, including even a working group that resulted in more affordable housing when someone wanted to develop Terman school.

I think this attitude of some of the true believers who IMO let themselves be used continues to cause ill will, which .i don't think helps the cause they purport to support. I know it makes me and other people I know feel downright unwelcome to join over related issues.

I'm not sure where your categories come from, since every residentialist on the council supports affordable housing. Filseth and Dubois have made it clear they care about smart development and see through people who pull the nimby card left and right like kryptonite if anyone disagrees or thinks things could be done better and with all interests, including safety and quality if life, in mind.

Prometheus pulled out of BV immediately following Maybell because they could see the neighborhood could win a land use referendum and their plan then was for significantly densified market rate housing. Scharff should never have been re-elected, he only was by the skin if his teeth and relentlessly flogging a quite by Bob Moss that Moss never gave him permission to use as endorsement. Given his closeness to such a major development issue right now and his poor showing at the polls relative to others, he should never have been given vice mayor. Shameful. It brings back all the lack of trust we were starting to heal from with City Hall.


17 people like this
Posted by Commentator
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 8, 2016 at 4:26 pm

"It sounds like there was a deal, there were five people involved, and they lied about it afterwards."

Three could turn the trick: Kniss, Burt, and Scharf. Berman reliably puppydogs Kniss, and Wolbach sensed the opportunity.


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 8, 2016 at 5:18 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Hmmmm

"I have no wish to discuss Maybell since you seem kind of determined to create what you want out of it."

I'm glad you reconsidered after writing this sentence and did in fact discuss Maybell at length, recapitulating some of the issues of the time.

"I'm not sure where your categories come from, since every residentialist on the council supports affordable housing."

As I pointed out in my post, everyone who's been elected to anything in this town supports it. We agree on that. But we all know there are Palo Altans, ardent defenders of property rights and opponents of regional planning and any kind of mandates on housing, affordable or otherwise, who opposed the Maybell project and oppose government interference at Buena Vista as well.

To be clear, this is a subset of those who opposed the Maybell project. Some foes of the Maybell project support the Buena Vista intervention, others oppose it. PASZ is a house divided on this matter and others. How they do in the elections this fall will depend on how the current council performs and who PASZ, if it still exists, puts forward.

And just to point out the contrast, I don 't think anyone who supported affordable housing at Maybell opposes affordable housing at Buena Vista.

Thanks for your efforts to point out the difference between rentals and mobile homes over the years, but I can't see that they've had any impact on most of the frequent posters against Buena Vista residents' claim of rights under the mobile home closure regulations.

"Maybell tied up all the dedicated affordable housing money so it couldn't be used at BV"

You'll have to explain this to those who weren't following the arguments in 2013. With $29M on the table from city and county to facilitate purchase of Buena Vista your argument needs refreshing. How about starting with the Maybell/Clemo property being on the market for purchase by anyone ready to buy in a hurry.


17 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 8, 2016 at 5:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The headline on this story is irresponsible reporting and the story is simply speculation.

Is there any EVIDENCE to indicate that a Brown Act violation occurred?


14 people like this
Posted by It all depends
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2016 at 5:37 pm

"Berman puppydogs Kniss" as does Wolbach. In fact Wolbach said that it was Kniss who encouraged him to run.
Berman is usually unprepared for the issues on the agenda, he doesn't take the time to become informed. I almost feel sorry for him. Almost. [Portion removed.]
He makes warm-fuzzy statements. He checks with Scharff several times in a meeting. I wish he would save himself embarrassment and leave the job for which he is not suited.


23 people like this
Posted by Jane
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 8, 2016 at 5:41 pm

As someone who often watches the council meetings at home, my jaw dropped when Greg Scharff voted for Burt and Burt turned around and then voted for Scharff. My first thought, though not for the first time, was two wolves in sheep's clothing. Although Scharff did a masterful job of remaking himself for his reelection campaign with professional PR help setting a new spending record by a long shot on ads and glossy brochures in the mail, and Burt is politically smart enough to have shifted his council actions slightly in the face of residents' concerns during the last election, council watchers know that their bias is very much in favor of growth and developers. With these two past rivals at the helm and seemingly joined at the hip, and Keene very clearly lobbying for increasing growth, I fear the comprehensive plan will emerge as a slam dunk for developers.


2 people like this
Posted by Cynic or Veteran?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 8, 2016 at 6:58 pm

[Post removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by Two-Faced
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2016 at 7:54 pm

Pat Burt is the scoundrel here. His only game is politics. He clearly sacrificed residents' desires for his own political gain.

There will be another election in time, and the scoundrels can be voted off.


25 people like this
Posted by Not a mystery
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2016 at 8:39 pm

This was surprising, but not a mystery to someone who has been following the Council. First off, Burt was the swing vote as the only residentialist who didn't want a de facto office moratorium that would have forced a lot of Palo Alto businesses to leave town (not just SurveyMonkey). If you're the swing voter, you can be mayor if you want to be.

Schmid's proposed office cap was 10k/year for the next twenty years - that's a de facto moratorium with some extra space so that HP can put in a new lobby for their building. Dubois one upped him with a motion in that first meeting to _double_ the parking requirements on new buildings as an _emergency measure_, which Karen Holman helpfully explained in Council was just a way to prevent any new buildings from appearing, without actually creating a cap. It was so crazy even Eric Filseth tried to talk him down. Voters are clearly concerned about development, but no one but Dubois and Schmid thought this last vote was a mandate to prevent anyone from building anything in Palo Alto ever again.

Burt was the one who crafted a compromise that gave a little bit to each side, and stuck with it while members on both sides tried to pull it their way. In the end, he got the votes of both the residentialists and the 4 business-friendly members on everything he proposed. I'm not crazy about Burt's policies but that's real leadership.

Burt really is not into growth - everyone on these threads who says things like "Look out for the bulldozers!" clearly hasn't been watching this Council. But he can get what he wants from either side. He probably just got tired of covering for the other residentialists, and took the chance to become Mayor when it was offered to him. Given that he's been the real leader of the Council this year, it's not surprising he would.


20 people like this
Posted by Not a mystery
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2016 at 8:48 pm

Also, everyone who is commenting about how Wolbach sold them out should have listened more carefully to what he said in the debates. He said he would vote for restraints on new office development, and he did. He said very loudly and repeatedly that he would advocate for more housing development, and he has.

If you don't want see more housing in Palo Alto and you voted for Wolbach, don't blame him - blame yourself.


18 people like this
Posted by Two-Faced
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2016 at 11:17 pm

[Portion removed.]

Pat Burt is not a leader. He is a self-serving politician that cannot be trusted. This mayoral vote is not the first time I have seen him do an about-face for the sake of staying "popular."


18 people like this
Posted by Janae
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 9, 2016 at 2:06 am

@ "not a mystery"

"Burt really is not into growth"

Having watching Burt's comments on the dias and voting record during his first four years on the council, and on up until the voters during the last election reacted to the ever increasing rate of new commercial growth, with its accompanying traffic congestion during commute hours and parking woes, does not lead me to subscribe to this statement. Indeed, watching his comments and votes during many a Planning and Transport Commission meeting prior to his election to the council he came across as more pro-development than not. However, unlike Scharff this past year who often cleverly targeted his comments, which is what people remember, to appear critical of growth, while quietly voting the exact opposite. Took me a few council meetings this year to figure out what he was doing! Burt says what he thinks and votes the way you expect from his comments. No matter whose toes he is treading on.


2 people like this
Posted by OffTopic
a resident of Monroe Park
on Jan 9, 2016 at 1:12 pm

This discussion is about ethics and not coming to an open council meeting with a predetermined majority. Not growth.

The question is how do we trust "leaders" who don't follow the rules?


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 9, 2016 at 1:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The question is how do we trust "leaders" who don't follow the rules?"

You state a faulty premise - there is zero evidence that the voting on this issue did not comply with the Brown Act.

How do we trust posters who mis-state the facts?


6 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2016 at 3:33 pm

"The question is how do we trust "leaders" who don't follow the rules?"

The deeper question is whether we can trust leaders who brazenly appear to flout the rules. Perception is 90% of politics.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 9, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Can anyone provide any evidence that the rules were "flouted" in this case?

Accountability cannot be based on groundless rumor mongering.


5 people like this
Posted by Commentator
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 9, 2016 at 4:27 pm

We have a much deeper problem in Palo Alto than who is mayor, which is basically a ceremonial office.

The real issue is the profound, abiding perception among watchful citizens that our elected officials too often serve interests other than the electorate's. This anxiety tends to focus attention on the superficial politics, looking for clues to the underlying currents. Last Monday night's civic theatre is in that category. Something worth watching appears to be moving down there.

Peter makes an important point. Citizens must get the goods, if such be, and act on them.

Enterprising newspaper reportage is invaluable.


6 people like this
Posted by It all depends
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 9, 2016 at 8:19 pm

Just came across an important vote of Burt's in favor of development advocate Michael Alcheck to be on the Planning Commission.
Alcheck is arguably the strongest advocate for no development restrictions.

The July 23, 2012 vote in favor of Alcheck was:
Burt, Espinosa, Klein, Price, Scharff, Shepherd
Web Link
On July 31 the vote for Alcheck was Burt, Espinosa, Klein, Scharff

Thank you Mr Burt, for selling us out.


8 people like this
Posted by Money Talks
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 9, 2016 at 10:34 pm

The mayoral elections appear to result in strain and discord among the council members. This will impact their ability to work constructively.

It would be better to have the mayor elected by the citizens to avoid such deleterious conflicts.


4 people like this
Posted by Jane
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 10, 2016 at 12:52 am

"basically a ceremonial office."

On the surface yes, but I've seen the position of mayor be used to influence outcomes in ways that are not immediately obvious. My first realization of this was a few years ago when a new mayor immediately appointed three small council subcommittees to advise the council, consisting of himself and two like-minded council members, and which he chaired. Each subcommittee concerned with addressisng different aspects of promoting commercial development. An incredibly effective way to pursue his own agenda while avoiding the Brown Act. I believe this was when Arrillaga was lobbying behind the scenes for four office tower at the top of University Avenue, one for nineteen floors, and two or three were to be about ten stories. Possibly also when the Survey Monkey building was approved. I'm pretty sure the mayor was Pat Burt.

Also, the mayor meets with the city manager to select the items which will be on each council agenda, either for the consent calendar or for discussion. Which includes the all important wording of each agenda item. This wording is hugely important as it can influence the outcome by narrowing the scope of the council's discussion and vote. Anything that may be extremely pertinent and in the public's interest but excluded from the wording of the agenda item cannot then be discussed by council members because the public has not then been given advance warning to be able to address comments to the council.

There must be many other ways that veteran council watchers have observed over the years when a mayor has had considerable influence.


Like this comment
Posted by Jane
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 10, 2016 at 12:55 am

I hope someone will correct me if it was not then mayor Burt. It could also have been Scharff, or possibly it was another mayor altogether.


7 people like this
Posted by Worker
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2016 at 10:29 am

@Commentator - funny that you mention that there's a perception that City Council is serving the interests of something other than he citizens. Among the people I know - mostly under 40, there's a perception that city council is biased against jobs and renters. It's pretty clear - last year was spent debating how many jobs Palo Alto should keep out of the city, and the city has restricted new housing so much that we're the most expensive city to rent in America.

It must be fun to pretend this is about bad old "development interests", when it's actually about jobs and shelter. If you're a retired homeowner (as this thread seems to be), it's easy to forget about the other 80% of Palo Altans that need those things.


2 people like this
Posted by Clarification
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 10, 2016 at 10:37 am

@Jane
What you describe are the ad hoc committees Mayor Scharf appointed and whose members were largely reappointed by Shephard. Those committees were not about commercial development.


7 people like this
Posted by Brown Act
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 10, 2016 at 12:42 pm

The Ralph M. Brown Act, located at California Government Code 54950 et sec., is an act of the California State Legislature, authored by Assemblymember Ralph M. Brown and passed in 1953, that guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies.[1]

The Brown Act, originally a 686 word statute that has grown substantially over the years, was enacted in response to mounting public concerns over informal, undisclosed meetings held by local elected officials. City councils, county boards, and other local government bodies were avoiding public scrutiny by holding secret "workshops" and "study sessions." The Brown Act solely applies to California city and county government agencies, boards, and councils. The comparable Bagley-Keene Act mandates open meetings for State government agencies.

This was enacted to keep local politicians in "check." I am sorry that Kniss feels like her hands are tied.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 10, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

There is no reason for an elected official to feel encumbered by the Brown Act.

An elected official's job is to serve the public and as the Brown Act states:

"“In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards,
and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s
business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations
be conducted openly.”

“The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The
people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good
for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining
informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”

The people reconfirmed that intent fifty years later at the November 2004 election by adopting Proposition
59, amending the California Constitution to include a public right of access to government information:
“The people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s
business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and
agencies shall be open to public scrutiny.”

If Kniss cannot support these principles then she should simply resign.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 10, 2016 at 1:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Oath of Office taken by all California elected officials:

"OATH OF OFFICE
STATE OF CALIFORNIA }
I, _________________________________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will (Print Name)
support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of
California against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to
the Constitution of the United States and the State of California; that I take this obligation freely,
without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully
discharge the duties upon which I am about to enter and during such time as I hold the office of
__________"

Kniss has no option but to either comply with the laws of California or to resign.


4 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 10, 2016 at 4:14 pm

Peter Carpenter - it will impossible to prove a Brown Act violation without an investigation with subpoena power because of the use of private citizens by the council members to communicate. Without those private citizens volunteering their testimony, the public can not "follow the trail" of communications. There are hints of the use of private citizens in the article/PA Weekly video, where the reporter states that no council member talked to Marc Berman, but Marc Berman received a message from a private citizen to vote for Pat Burt.

Pat Burt is not a residentialist; he supported the residentialist candidates because when Scharff & Shepard were Mayor they would appoint special committees to come up with proposals for various issues; those special committees for the most part left off Burt, Holman & Schmid. Burt felt slighted by the exclusion, and so he supported the election of Holman, Filseth & DuBois so that he could be the swing vote, ie. the "Alpha Dog" and be relevant again on the council. If Lydia Kou had been elected instead of Wolbach, Burt would not be the "Alpha Dog", and would not have the influence he ended up with.

Unfortunately many voters in the last election did not spend the time to research Scharff & Wolbach beyond the marketing materials they sent out. With Scarff there were his votes on the city council in previous years, but Scharff self-funded his campaign to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars and kept saying "I'm for the residents, I'm for the residents".

Wolbach, worked for State Senator Jerry Hill before he ran for City Council, which gave some clue to those who follow state politics, that Wolbach be part of the pro-developer crowd. Wolbach's campaign kept saying "We need to be civil, we need to be Civil", and he would never delve into the substance of the development issues - another sure sign that he was pro-development.



7 people like this
Posted by Commentator
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 10, 2016 at 4:48 pm

@Worker:

Palo Alto owes you nothing. That's the real world, in case you're encountering it for the first time. Get used to it.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 10, 2016 at 5:11 pm

Peter Carpenter - it will impossible to prove a Brown Act violation without an investigation with subpoena power "

Wrong. I did it in the Ferguson case in Menlo Park without a subpoena. It simply takes good investigating skills.


5 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 10, 2016 at 5:44 pm

"I am sorry that Kniss feels like her hands are tied."

Nobody except big developers need be sorry.


5 people like this
Posted by What's a girl to do
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 10, 2016 at 6:36 pm

Peter you wrote that if Kniss doesn't like the Brown Act she should resign. I'm not sure if you know this but chances to be a minor figure of local importance don't just grow on trees. What will Kniss lord over others if she'd peanut have her position? It's not like just putting on airs, having a good dye job and a great manicure is going to work though I know she would give it her all.


9 people like this
Posted by Worker
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2016 at 7:53 pm

Commentator - I haven't asked for anything except for the council to put the interests of residents first. Just remember that 45% of residents are renters and 80% of residents aren't retirees. That's a lot of people who do better with a city that is open to housing and jobs than with one that is hostile to them. And, of course, those people don't hang out on these comment threads.

I'm hearing a lot of people on this thread who feel entitled to something they aren't getting - probably a town that's just like the one they moved to. Of course, the difference between now and 1975 is that we've tightened up zoning, added height limits, and made it much harder to build, especially housing. So we've gone from a city that was moderately pricey to live to become the most expensive city to rent in America.

I'm curious why you feel Palo Alto owes that to you.


4 people like this
Posted by BadData
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 10, 2016 at 9:14 pm

@Worker - I've heard this meme that Palo Alto is the most expensive city to rent in the USA repeated before, but it's simply NOT true.

Just google it and you'll see the most recent lists on this topic and articles like this one:

Web Link

or

Web Link

San Francisco is often #1 but Palo Alto is not listed.

Looking at neighborhoods is more instructive as some of these cities are very large.

Web Link


If you consider rent as a percentage of income, you'll find the names of cities shifts dramatically.

Salinas, where you need to spend 44% of your income to rent a home is near the top.
Web Link

Web Link

The housing crisis is really the story of income inequality in this country and the crisis of disappearing middle america. It affects the whole country. This isn't a local issue and as others have pointed out, adjacent cities (some of whom have been building wildly) are relevant markets. Rents may be slightly lowly but not appreciably. To blame housing on local government after years of inaction by the federal government to address the structure issues is misleading and dishonest.


15 people like this
Posted by more poor reporting
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 10, 2016 at 9:20 pm

There is absolutely no evidence of any Brown Act violation.
Two politicians voted for each other. That is all the Weekly has and they've tried to make a huge mountain out of it.
The Weekly reporters and editorial staff have absolutely nothing and are just throwing mud, hoping some of it will stick. The usual "those that can't do........".


6 people like this
Posted by Worker
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2016 at 9:55 pm

BadData - I don't want to hijack this thread to talk about housing prices entirely - only to point out the fallacy of looking at pro-renter, pro-worker policies through the prism of whether they are good for developers.

However, I'll respond to your data points. First, this post states PA as the _highest median rent_ in America. Many similar stories can be found via Google.

Your top two data points analyze by state or by large metro area, respectively. Given that Palo Alto's median rent is higher than SF's, you have to disaggregate to even have us included in the analysis. For your third, I freely admit there there are certain exclusive neighborhoods in certain big cities that are more expensive than PA. That doesn't change the fact of how dramatically Palo Alto has been transformed due to our housing shortage - I never thought Palo Alto aspired to be exclusive, only excellent.

Finally, you can't look at affordability by fraction of income in one suburb in a metro area. People who have trouble affording the rent are going to move. In fact, that's the problem - ending up with a city composed solely of those who are rich or old enough to have bought when the city was cheaper! (Too many of my friends have already had to leave. They loved the dynamism and energy of this city and would have stayed if it had been no more expensive than it was in, say, 2005.)

So, the data and the transformation are real. The needs of workers and renters are real.

However, to avoid hijacking the thread, I'll say no more about the data - you can even have the last word, if you like.


8 people like this
Posted by Commentator
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 10, 2016 at 10:01 pm

"That's a lot of people who do better with a city that is open to housing and jobs than with one that is hostile to them."

That would be a very, very strange attitude in Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Monte Sereno, and Hillsborough. Try telling them to lighten up and open up for you. Brace yourself for the reaction.

Look, none of us can help that the open marketplace bid up the real estate in the region. Neither Palo Alto nor the above mentioned communities has any obligation to accommodate anyone who cannot afford the market. If their employers won't pay them enough to live here in the style they believe is their due, they have every freedom to find one who will, here or elsewhere.


9 people like this
Posted by housing shortage
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 10, 2016 at 10:37 pm

@ commentator

The exclusivity of Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Monte Sereno, and Hillsborough don't matter very much because they aren't job centers. Palo Alto, on the other hand, is the cradle of some of America's most important companies.

Anyone can dismiss what anyone else thinks about city politics by calling them entitled. You could call me entitled for asking the city to allow more housing. I could call you entitled for asking that the city restrict housing. I guess we'll all just vote in the council elections and find out together what we're entitled to.


14 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2016 at 10:54 pm

Worker said:

"It must be fun to pretend this is about bad old "development interests", when it's actually about jobs and shelter. If you're a retired homeowner (as this thread seems to be), it's easy to forget about the other 80% of Palo Altans that need those thing"

It also must be fun to pretend this is about "shelter". Please stop pretending this is about "shelter" unless you are actually living on the street and homeless.

What this is really about is a generation of Americans who grew up getting trophies for losing, and cannot understand why their "office space" tech job, doesn't entitle them to a trophy house in Palo Alto.


6 people like this
Posted by trophy house
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 11, 2016 at 6:09 am

If you think that an Eichler is a trophy house, you really have been drinking the Kool-aid.


5 people like this
Posted by Commentator
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 11, 2016 at 12:00 pm

"Palo Alto, on the other hand, is the cradle of some of America's most important companies."

So? Then they should be very, very eager to provide housing for their employees in their benefits packages. So, why are you complaining here? Go demand your employer to grant you the house of your choice.

There is lots of housing available in Palo Alto and environs--check out the ads in the Weekly Online here Web Link.

Here's what you do. You copy images of the ones you want to your iPhone(R), you take it to your boss, and you demand a compensation package that allows you to purchase them, right now. Make it definite: you get your wish or you leave the company. Then enjoy a highly liberating experience.

To save time, make that demand clear at subsequent job interviews.

Alternatively, you go to the sellers with your offer, and you make them very aware you feel entitled to have their real estate at your price. Tell us what happens.


3 people like this
Posted by Hmmmm.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2016 at 12:36 pm

@Underdal,
Not sure what you mean. Your posts are so cryptic. $16M of the money in the pot now for BV was the money from Maybell, that was tied up and couldn't be used to help at BV when $30+ M (adding to the $14.5 M residents drummed up then) would have made a far bigger difference.

You seem overly focused on a segment of people whom I have never really witnessed, save for a few I could count on one hand. Advocates tarred everyone else with that brush, which came across as a political ploy as they essentially libeled good people who would otherwise have made powerful advocates. Huge lost opportunity. You miss the far bigger opportunity which was collaborations with the vast majority who would have seen making an effort to save BV at the time as the better priority, and a reasonable trade for their efforts, in order to protect the orchard from overdevelopment at that location. Imagine what could have been done with a working group instead. That's what far more of us tried to do but were slammed by the indiscriminate nimbycard machine.

Is that what you meant about needing to fill in the blanks? It's sad water under the bridge.

But this move smacks of far more than a few backroom conversations in December. @Jane above is right, this is really about rigging the comp plan for developers.


5 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 11, 2016 at 1:18 pm

"this is really about rigging the comp plan for developers."

Rigging the comp plan is superfluous. The council modifies it as necessary to conform to the developments they approve. What the Jan 4 election does is put the council agenda firmly in control of the pro-development interests.

And I might point out to @Worker that our local development interests are interested only in building more offices for America's most important companies. Housing is not on their agenda.


13 people like this
Posted by housing shortage
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 11, 2016 at 1:36 pm

@Commentator

I make a fine living and have no trouble affording a home in Palo Alto. In doing so, I've priced out teachers, emergency responders, service workers, and anyone who isn't in the top 2% of household income in America. They used to our neighbors and we forced them out. But they still work here and commute in from further away and create more traffic for everybody. I would've happily rented an apartment had any been vacant.

Palo Alto's population doubles during the work day. Politically-driven housing scarcity in American job centers is a big driver of homelessness and wealth inequality, and it doesn't have to be that way. Maybe some people don't mind that, but I find it tragic.


3 people like this
Posted by Commentator
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 11, 2016 at 2:12 pm

"I make a fine living and have no trouble affording a home in Palo Alto. In doing so, I've priced out teachers, emergency responders, service workers, and anyone who isn't in the top 2% of household income in America."

No you haven't. It's the buyers who have been paying ridiculous prices, and the former owners who accepted their bids, who did it and are doing it.

You don't have to participate in this odious melee. When you eventually sell your house, ignore the market and offer it at an affordable price for a teacher, emergency responder, service worker, or anyone who isn't in the top 2% of household income in America. Or you can assuage your guilt and do that now.

Fat chance, huh?


1 person likes this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 11, 2016 at 5:56 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Hi, Hmmmm,

We're both fully on record with what we believed to be the issues at Maybell three years ago. Anyone curious can easily find my posts.

Let's look at the neighborhood now. No construction on the site, no new plan submitted for approval, the orchard survives and the Red-tailed (or -shouldered) hawk that frequents the site may still be putting in an appearance.
Now is the time to revive plans to retain and revive the orchard, before anyone gets attracted to buy the property for a showy family estate. With traffic on Foothill getting worse and the price of large properties in the area going higher (did you read about the $88M property being put on the market in Los Altos Hills recently?) maybe the relatively small 2.4 acre property at Maybell/Clemo will get another look.

A propos of the Maybell property, the rental that there was so much made of a few months ago (not the one with the boat) has recently been vacated. It was listed on Trulia for a time, but no longer, so I guess it's been rerented.


6 people like this
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 11, 2016 at 7:16 pm

The original title of this thread is "Mayoral election pushes open-meeting law to the brink." Somehow it has turned from an exposition of political hijinks to random ramblings on housing.

Nobody should go broke underestimating the attention span of the Palo Alto blogger.


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

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