News

Arthur Keller enters City Council race in Palo Alto

Former planning commissioner has long history of skepticism toward growth

Arthur Keller, a former Palo Alto planning commissioner with a long record of scrutinizing new developments, challenging prevailing assumptions about traffic impacts and promoting transportation improvements, announced Thursday that he will be seeking a seat on the Palo Alto City Council in November.

Long affiliated with the slow-growth wing of the Planning and Transportation Commission (PTC) -- a group that also includes former planning commissioner Susan Fineberg and current Councilwoman Karen Holman) -- the computer scientist is known as much for his wonky, detail-oriented approach to new development projects as for his staunch criticism of commercial growth.

Keller, who holds a doctorate in computer science from Stanford University and works as an advisor to startup companies, served on the influential commission between 2006 and 2014 and spent the final two years as its vice chair. He left the commission just days after slow-growth “residentialist" candidates won a majority on the City Council. Days after the November 2014 election, the outgoing council voted 5-4 not to reappoint him, with all four slow-growth candidates supporting Keller.

Just after the council's vote, Keller indicated that his next move might be to seek a seat on the council.

“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 at the Nov. 11, 2014, council meeting.

A month after the council voted not to reappoint Keller, members unanimously passed a special resolution, recognizing his contributions and thanking him for serving with “distinctive energy, passion, dedication, intelligence and good humor."

In explaining his decision to run, Keller described Palo Alto as a city “at a crossroads" and said the council should do more to prevent excessive commercial development that he says contributes to traffic and parking impacts. Keller said he supports having an annual cap on office development and adjusting it every few years based on traffic levels, available parking spaces and other “quality of life" metrics.

“One of the things at stake in this election is the future of the city," Keller told the Weekly. “Do we want a city in which growth is managed, or do we want a city in which we have as much growth as the landowners want to have, while externalizing all the impacts?"

Keller said he supports creating more affordable housing, particularly studios and one-bedroom apartments that would have minimal impacts on the local school system. He noted that only about 20 percent of the city's housing stock currently consists of studios and one-bedroom dwellings. He also said he would support zoning changes that would encourage such units.

In announcing his decision, Keller joins a race that will feature at least two, and likely three, planning commissioners. As the Weekly first reported Wednesday, Adrian Fine and Greg Tanaka, both of whom currently sit on the commission, have pulled candidacy papers. Fine, who chairs the commission, confirmed by Twitter on Thursday that he is running for City Council. Tanaka has not made a formal announcement, though his candidacy has been widely expected for some time.

In recent years, Keller has been actively engaged in updating the city's land-use bible, the Comprehensive Plan. As a planning commissioner, he led an effort to revise every chapter of the document. Today, he serves as co-chair of the Citizen Advisory Commission, a panel that is advising the council on possible revisions to the city's goals, policies and programs for future development.

A Brooklyn native who has lived in Palo Alto since 1987, Keller has also been active in the city's efforts to promote electric-vehicle infrastructure (he served on a task force charged with promoting electric vehicles) and to revamp the city's website. He was also a founding member of the Adobe Meadow Neighborhood Association and a member of the Gunn High School Facilities Steering Committee.

In a statement announcing his candidacy, Keller emphasized the need for the city to “think carefully about the type of housing we zone for and its impact on the schools, so we do not reduce the quality of our schools through overcrowding, increased class size, increased competition for playing field space, and decrease in per-student spending."

He also said the city needs to “get rid of rules that lead to the unpopular and incompatible commercial buildings" and to “ensure clarity by replacing vague guidelines with clear requirements."

“We need to correct code violations with the conviction and speed that befit a competent and committed public agency," Keller said. “And we also need to enforce traffic rules, particularly those that affect safety."

Keller joins a gradually expanding field of candidates vying for the four council contested seats. Councilwoman Liz Kniss is the only incumbent seeking re-election. Slow-growth proponent Lydia Kou, former council candidate Danielle Martell and Fine (who, like Keller, serves on the Citizen Advisory Committee for the Comprehensive Plan Update) had also announced that they will be seeking a seat. Tanaka; John Fredrich, a retired Gunn High civics teacher; and resident Michelle Kraus has also pulled candidacy papers, suggesting that they are considering a council run.

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Comments

9 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of University South
on Jul 28, 2016 at 8:36 pm

So is he for housing or not? The earlier paragraphs say that he's for housing. But the later paragraphs ("we must think carefully") implies that he would wrap any possibilities for new housing in so many regulations that they won't happen.

Unfortunately, his comments on ADUs to Council leaned towards that. He emphasized that he was in favor of them, but then added a dozen conditions that would make it practically impossible to build them!

Still, he's clearly an intelligent, detail-oriented person. If he demonstrates that he's really going to make more housing happen, he could get my vote. If being in favor of housing for young professionals is just a way to be against all other housing, he won't.


39 people like this
Posted by PAmillennial
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 28, 2016 at 9:24 pm

What an exciting candidate! Looks like he has what it takes to help move Palo Alto in a positive direction. With his impressive background on the planning commission and meticulously detail-oriented nature, he would be a welcome addition to the council. I too think it's important for Palo Alto to grow while the impact of that growth is taken into consideration. Otherwise we will lose the vibrancy of downtown and what makes Palo Alto a great place to live. Looking forward to voting for him.


5 people like this
Posted by Oh Please!!
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2016 at 9:29 pm

I can't wait for the City Council to be reduced from 9 to 7 members!!! We voted in favor of this many years ago but it never seems to happen!!!


44 people like this
Posted by Stu Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 28, 2016 at 9:42 pm

Go for it, Arthur!


6 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 28, 2016 at 10:53 pm

@Oh please

The council will go to seven members in January 2019. This year is the last election for the full nine member council.


57 people like this
Posted by Rita
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 28, 2016 at 11:31 pm

I am so excited about Arthur Keller entering the CC race. He would bring considerable expertise and a thoughtful approach to the complex issues of growth. I think a better description than "slow growth" may be "reasonable growth" which maintains Palo Alto's livability while allowing for continued growth.

Adjusting the cap on office building every few years to reflect current traffic congestion,available parking spaces and metric of life parameters would /could result in a win-win for all.

Building affordable 1-bedroom apts and studios for many, rather than luxury apts/condos for a few, would help meet Palo Alto's housing goals. It would encourage diversity,and allow seniors and lower income residents to remain in Palo Alto.

Thank you Arthur


71 people like this
Posted by NoMoPa
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2016 at 11:34 pm

Arthur was one of the only sane voices on the planning commission, which is why the developer owner council members shamelessly drove him out. He would be a welcome addition to the city council.


18 people like this
Posted by long-time resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 29, 2016 at 12:31 am

I do not NOT support Arthur Keller.
Have you ever watched him on PTC or CAC? Have you read his very long blogs on Palo Alto online? He is completely ineffective and not a team player. I understand he is an academic and that is admirable, but this is not what Palo Alto needs right now. Nothing will ever get done (and nothing will get prevented either). He was not re-elected to the PTC for a reason. Don't vote him, his solutions are impractical, complex and confusing.


25 people like this
Posted by hmm
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 29, 2016 at 12:35 am

Keller didn't get reappointed because he spent his Planning and Transportation Commission interview trying to convince the Council that there was not jobs/housing imbalance and no housing crisis in Palo Alto at all. It was pure "climate change is a hoax" rhetoric. So no wonder he didn't get reappointed when he was denying the very real crisis many Palo Altans were facing and continue facing as they struggle to stay in Palo Alto.

Keller lauds himself as a man of data but what he really did was stall every housing development that came in front of him by repeatedly sending the developments back for "more study" until they finally gave up and died. When people complain about the "Palo Alto process" they're complaining about men like Keller who choose to kill things through red tape instead of being transparent and having the guts to actually say what he really thinks.


25 people like this
Posted by retired
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2016 at 12:40 am

We need fresh blood here in Palo Alto. I can't believe I'm saying this, but we really do! People like Arthur Keller don't have a practical approach to issues besides just stoping everything. It clearly does not work and as it stands we are struggling as a community as a result. Our current city council is slow-growth but it really has not solved our problems. Let's think again!


13 people like this
Posted by This?
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 29, 2016 at 12:52 am

So are we really supposed to take seriously a candidate who basically started his election [portion removed] when he didn't get reappointed as a commissioner? If this man doesn't have the grace and tact to handle something like that, I struggle to think how he will help this community reach common sense compromises that will end all the residentialist obstruction and will allow us to actually start planning the city of the future rather than just fighting any and every change for the sake of fighting change.


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 29, 2016 at 12:57 am

[Post removed.]


65 people like this
Posted by NoMoPa
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2016 at 1:40 am

See the last five panicked posts from the pro-growth/pro-developer/Palo Alto Forward types to see why Arthur Keller is a great choice.


86 people like this
Posted by Cheryl LIleinstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2016 at 6:29 am


The 2014 outgoing city council showed its true nature when, after being defeated, the pro-growthers voted 5-4 to not reappoint Arthur Keller to the PTC. And, Arthur showed courage and dedication to the city’s future, when he let them know he was considering running for city council.

Of all those serving in the PTC at the time, he was the most knowledgable and had the most pertinent concerns. Unlike others on the commission, Arthur Keller thoroughly read the staff reports and had the capacity to point out municipal code violations, comprehensive plan violations, zoning violations, and was able to question the lack of rigor in the reports. He was not willing to set aside concerns about adverse effects of development, unlike others on the Commission.

Arthur Keller has his own mind, he cares about the public good and quality of life, and even if I sometimes don’t agree with him, I deeply respect him, and I’ve seen him hold all sides of an issue and consider the long and short-term consequences. So I believe that as a city council member, he will help shape a Palo Alto that is beautiful, liveable, and maintains an excellent quality of life.

One thing that’s very important about Arthur: He really understands how policy details will impact the big picture. This may seem a small thing, but the devil is in the details, and I trust Arthur to represent the interests of residents. He will ensure that policy details align with what is good for residents.

I wholeheartedly support him for city council.


34 people like this
Posted by Rita
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 29, 2016 at 6:38 am

Thank you Cheryl....well stated and so very true.


68 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 29, 2016 at 7:08 am

Arthur is my neighbor but also someone I have watched for years on Planning Commission. He would be a huge asset on council - he knows complicated land use and planning from his years as a commissioner. Some lame duck council members played politics and didn't reappoint him not because he wasn't smart, knowledgable and effective but because he was. He works well with others - he was recently voted by his peers to be co- chair of the important citizen advisory committee on the city's Comprehensive Plan update. He is for affordable housing - very supportive of smaller unit size housing, of which we have little, including senior housing, as way to actually get more affordable housing built instead of a candidate just saying they are all for building skyscrapers of housing which won't happen. And he says he supports limits on commercial growth - that is key if we are not to create more and more need for housing. He is a sweet guy and a smart guy - few will match his qualifications for Council.


42 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2016 at 8:07 am

Thank you Arthur for being willing to serve our community.

Thank you Arthur for what you are doing to help preserve CineArts. This is what I think leadership should look like.


6 people like this
Posted by Sour
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 29, 2016 at 8:20 am

[Post removed.]


38 people like this
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2016 at 10:25 am

I was pleased to read about Arthur's running. He would be an excellent addition to City Council.


45 people like this
Posted by Carol Gilbert
a resident of University South
on Jul 29, 2016 at 10:47 am

Arthur is a hard worker and has given generously of his time to this city. If anyone should be on the council, it is he!


15 people like this
Posted by disappointed
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2016 at 12:24 pm

If people like Arthur Keller and Lydia Kou are going to be on the City Council, then all young people and young families may as well leave and move some place else. There is no room for us in Palo Alto any more - that's real message here. Arthur is [portion removed] not all all interested in anything but maintaining the status quo. He is running this campaign because he got booted off the PTC - how motivating. Let's just stop everything and hope all of our problems go away.


4 people like this
Posted by Help We Are Drowing
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 29, 2016 at 12:30 pm

[Post removed.]


31 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2016 at 1:30 pm

In today's Weekly, "Around Town" says Kate Downing has resigned from the PTC and is moving to Santa Cruz. From the article:

Downing, meanwhile, is preparing to conclude her brief but tumultuous tenure. On Wednesday night, she informed her colleagues that she is resigning and that the July 27 meeting is her last. She said her family has made a decision to leave Palo Alto and move to Santa Cruz. They wanted, she said, to go to a community where children go to school with people whose parents aren't millionaires and which is still growing and evolving. "We wanted a future where we weren't staying up at night wondering how we'll pay the bills," Downing said. Sadly, she said, Palo Alto is not that community.


60 people like this
Posted by Trustworthy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2016 at 1:30 pm

Arthur Keller was the ONLY member of the Planning Commission that I had any respect for-- and that was because he was the ONLY member at the time who was worthy of anyone's trust.

Arthur will be a wonderful addition to the City Council. He takes his work very seriously and always puts forth his best efforts.


11 people like this
Posted by No Bloviators
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2016 at 3:12 pm

I echo long-time resident’s observation that Keller’s not a team player [portion removed.]

His method of argument is to reel off endless erudite facts and figures that have a surface plausibility in supporting his position, but are in fact often open to other interpretations. The fact that he has a Ph.D. and sounds like he knows what he’s talking about has the psychological effect of inhibiting disagreement and nudging everyone to fall in line. That plus hogging more than his share of the discussion time, leaving little time for others.

[Portion removed.]


60 people like this
Posted by Hamilton Hitchings
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 29, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Hamilton Hitchings is a registered user.

Arthur is one of the most knowledgeable citizens on zoning and how the city works. If you want someone representing you on city council who will meaningfully improve traffic, parking, affordable housing and quality of life, he is your candidate. He is thoughtful and considerate of those who live and work in Palo Alto. He has done a superb job as co-chair of the City of Palo Alto Citizen Advisory Committee for the Comprehensive Plan Update as I've continuously observed him in action. It's unfortunate to read some of the unfounded criticisms above but there are folks favoring massive growth without regard for existing neighbors, traffic, parking or zoning requirements and Arthur has been a champion of the residents and a proponent of more thoughtful growth targeted at what the city needs it most. He's the real deal and I'll be voting for him.


51 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 29, 2016 at 4:13 pm

jh is a registered user.

Having watched Art Keller during many a a Planning and Transport Commission meeting, I can testify that no one I've ever observed on the council or the PTC can analyse information and crunchs data as fast to get to the heart of a matter without wasting the time of either his colleagues on the diaz, the city staff, or the public.

Art Keller's questions are direct, pertinent, penetrating, insightful and get right to the point. With his experience, depth and breadth of knowledge about Palo Alto issues past and present, he is neither fooled nor co-opted. In addition he is farsighted and able to see the bigger picture, a quality that often appears lacking in those whose ambitions lead them to seek a higher office. B

Because Art Keller doesn't waste time, is direct, doesn't play politics, cater to or represent any personal or special interests, his ability to get to the heart of a matter and the truth tends to expose those who do. Art Keller calls it like he sees it, without mincing words. As a result he appears to be much disliked and criticized by those people and their constituents who do, and whose toes he has trodden on. Many of whom, unfortunately, quite influential and in the public eye.

Yet, Art Keller has demonstrated during his years on the Planning and Transport Commission the very qualities that will serve Palo Alto so well on the council. He will bring extraordinary integrity, substance, intelligence, knowledge, and wisdom to the council diaz, and without bias. Whose judgements will serve the public good.

As I do not know Art Keller, or anyone or anything connected with him, these comments represent my observations only. Although now I know he is running I intend to contribute to and volunteer to work on his campaign.



13 people like this
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 29, 2016 at 4:14 pm

"Ho hum, more boring candidates for the city of shallow alto."

Then why not get your buns out there and save us, neighbor?


40 people like this
Posted by Fan of Keller
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 29, 2016 at 6:35 pm

In addition to all of his positive qualities, intelligence, integrity, experience, knowledge, in addition, he is not employed by a corporation that needs more population to feed its growth. Like Palantir or Nextdoor. Or real estate lawyers.

He uses his judgement for what is best for our city, and he's an honest man.


36 people like this
Posted by It's the water, stupid
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2016 at 12:16 am

Why are we talking about development while existing citizens are rationing their water? When the drought coukd get worse?

What I like about Arthur Keller and Lydia Kou is that they both think about things deeply and won't take a kneejerk ideological stance like Wohlbach.

Good luck - let me know where I can get lawn signs.


16 people like this
Posted by Skibum
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 30, 2016 at 8:15 am

Skibum is a registered user.

With Arthur, WYSIWYG. He is a brilliant, experienced public service volunteer who will apply his analytical acumen and pedantic style to minimize further urbanization and protect the suburban characteristics of our town. If that is what you want or deem to be in the public interest, vote for Arthur. The issue of growth, however, may be a red herring. Palo Alto is built out with less than half of one percent of developable land vacant. Ergo, no room to spread out. The city has a longstanding height limit. Very little room to go up. The 1998 - 2010 Comp Plan is six years (and counting) overdue for an update. Revisions, if any, to the zoning code would follow completion of the Comp Plan debate. The Palo Alto process remains notorious for any new building or remodel requiring review. Meanwhile, the world around us and the surrounding communities are changing. Palo Alto should engage its residents and leaders in a discussion regarding change management. We should reframe the issue, beginning with a consensus or majority view regarding the future choices we face. Arthur is a tireless defender of the past, hard working, honorable, but not a visionary or a consensus builder.


18 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 30, 2016 at 10:00 am

jh is a registered user.

"defender of the past"

What I see is someone who holds true to Palo Alto's Comprehensive Plancity codes that flow from the Comp Plan. Not supporting those who try to game the system. He knows all the tricks and doesn't fall for them. He can't be manipulated either, as some more inexperienced and less knowledgeable council or Planning and Transportation members Commission can be. Arthur Keller will hold true to the updated Comprehensive Plan and any new codes. His style could do with some improvement, but I see that as someone who is holding fast and defending our the Com Plan and what is best for Palo Alto overall. And holds staff members accountable. But not with much tact.


32 people like this
Posted by Anne
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 30, 2016 at 12:18 pm

Wonderful news. Arthur, I hope you're reading this thread. You've got my vote. I was outraged when the lame duck pro development City Council booted out in 2014 booted you off the PTC and I've been waiting to vote for you. Thank you for running!


5 people like this
Posted by Council acted correctly
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jul 30, 2016 at 12:35 pm

Cheryl seems upset that our democracy did not bend to her demands. The council had the right to appoint who they wanted. They chose not to reappoint Keller. That was in their right. Sorry, Cheryl, the anti progress faction does not always get what they want


29 people like this
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 30, 2016 at 12:51 pm

"The council had the right to appoint who they wanted. They chose not to reappoint Keller. That was in their right."

True, the City Council has the right to appoint who they please. It is, however, subordinate to its duty to appoint the best qualified people.

As is the Council's all too frequent practice, it again put its rights ahead of its duty and goofed up. I could not help smirking when the Council subsequently had to rein in these kiddies, summon them into a Council meeting, and explain the playground rules to them.


36 people like this
Posted by ImWithHim
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 30, 2016 at 1:31 pm

Very excited that Mr Keller is volunteering for public service on the council.

It was the worse case of sour grapes for the outgoing council to vote in 2 agresssively pro density Planning commissioners , Adrain Fine and Kate Downing , one month before the new council was seated. It's damaged the Planning Commission tremendously making it an ineffective , meaningless body at a time of immense pressures in city resources.

Mr. Keller has the depth of experience , passion and grounding to be a very valuable council member. And we need more south palo Altans on the council. He's got my vote!


4 people like this
Posted by ImWithHim
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 30, 2016 at 1:33 pm

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2016 at 1:59 pm

[Post removed.]


21 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 30, 2016 at 2:30 pm

This thread is quite awful. It makes it sound as if there is a battle between two sides in town. I hope that isn't the case.

I have lived here a long time and it seems that in the past ten years there have been a lot of changes. Most of these changes have come about without any due care and attention to the elephant in the room which is outdated infrastructure.

I have nothing against more development in the right places, but unfortunately we don't have many right places. I have nothing against more development if we had lots of space for it. I have nothing against more development if we had plenty of space in our schools, no traffic concerns, no parking concerns and indeed no water/sewage/storm drains, concerns. Unfortunately, we are geographically locked between the Bay and the Hills, we have two busy highways, a busy Caltrain track that half the population needs to cross every day, and very poor public transportation. Our roads cross the tracks at grade in four key points. Our east/west corridors are gridlocked and our north/south corridors are almost as bad.

We can't go on the way we are with piecemeal development causing more problems and solving none. We need to wake up and see that one day we are going to break at the seams if we don't start putting basic infrastructure before anything else. The day we all lost power due to a small plane bringing down a power tower should be a wake up call that we are just about hanging in there when it comes to services.

Even if we could put in all the housing and all the office space that those new growth people want, our schools, our roads, our utilities just couldn't handle it. We can't park, we can't shop, we can't move around town without noticing that our lack of space for development isn't the only criteria that has to be taken into account when it comes to looking at the future of our town.

I think any candidate who thoughtfully takes a bit more time to see the bigger picture would be well worth having on our city council. I think we have one here.


15 people like this
Posted by barron park resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 30, 2016 at 3:49 pm

The current City Council is already quite conservative when it comes to growth. What have they accomplished? Arthur Keller is just more of the same. He is smart - ok, but does he actually know how to run anything? Where has he been effective? When you're voting for Arthur Keller, just ask yourself that. The reality is our current city council is completely irrelevant. They also don't want to engage with their citizens and listen to them. We've already tried all of their strategies, it's time for something new.

If you want to throw labels around without listening and asking questions, this city will continue to choke in traffic and bleed people. If you're concerned about quality of life, you should seriously consider someone other than Arthur Keller and Lydia Kou.


44 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 30, 2016 at 4:42 pm

Arthur Keller and Lydia Kou are running to defend and improve Palo Altans quality of life. They will be effective at preventing new developments from common developer tricks of underparking, excessively increasing traffic, minimizing affordable housing, upzoning properties without public benefit and building incompatible buildings with the surrounding properties. This frustrates some fast growthers whom are slandering them on this email thread in the hopes of fooling uninformed voters. Thank you Arthur and Lydia for looking out for us!


10 people like this
Posted by barron park resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 30, 2016 at 5:05 pm

@Resident

Arthur and Lydia are NOT pro-affordable housing. Their track record clearly shows it. They don't want to build anything, anywhere. They will NOT solve our traffic problems either. Even if they stop development and new jobs in Palo Alto completely the inflow from neighboring Mountain View and Menlo Park will still choke us. People should think and ask questions before jumping on the slow-growth bandwagon. These candidates have no new ideas to solve our issues here in Palo Alto.


26 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 30, 2016 at 6:29 pm

barron park resident: "Even if they stop development and new jobs in Palo Alto completely the inflow from neighboring Mountain View and Menlo Park will still choke us."

So your solution is to build faster? You do realize that no matter how much housing is built the jobs to working adults ratio is not going to drop below 2.5 to 1. Also, keep in mind, underparking new developments has been a big problem as well.

barron park resident: "They don't want to build anything, anywhere."

In the article: "Keller said he supports creating more affordable housing, particularly studios and one-bedroom apartments that would have minimal impacts on the local school system. He noted that only about 20 percent of the city's housing stock currently consists of studios and one-bedroom dwellings. He also said he would support zoning changes that would encourage such units."

I didn't hear you directly defending the developers tactics to circumvent the zoning codes I mentioned above but if you'd been to city council meetings this year you would have seen them first hand.

barron park resident "People should think and ask questions before jumping on the slow-growth bandwagon."

By "slow-growth bandwagon" I believe you mean enforcing our existing zoning codes and following the comp plan so as not negatively impact the surrounding neighbors and other residents. The only limit so far has been on office development cap, in part to enable more housing. I assume you're for more housing, just not limited to the zoning ordinances and comp plan.

Arthur, thank you for your high quality public service to date.


25 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 30, 2016 at 11:01 pm

"Even if they stop development and new jobs in Palo Alto completely the inflow from neighboring Mountain View and Menlo Park will still choke us."

Therefore additional development and new jobs in Palo Alto will choke us even more. Let developers living in Atherton, Woodside, and Portola Valley enrich themselves by ruining their own communities, not ours. Vote for Keller and Kou.


28 people like this
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 31, 2016 at 5:28 pm

If you're concerned about quality of life, you should vote for Arthur Keller and Lydia Kou. Unlike Liz Kniss and her hoary go-go-development slate, they put the interest of Palo Alto residents ahead of developers who live elsewhere.


8 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 31, 2016 at 6:13 pm

Congratulations

Great passion!


Respectfully


5 people like this
Posted by San m.
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 31, 2016 at 9:33 pm

What a lackluster candidate. What has Mr. Keller actually done to solve our big problems, namely housing and traffic? We need solutions, not naysayers.


29 people like this
Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 31, 2016 at 10:39 pm

Fred Balin is a registered user.

Wonderful news.

Arthur Keller is not only eminently qualified to serve on the Palo Alto City Council, but we very much need him to continue our Palo Alto post-PC Spring (i.e., post-Planned Community, post-anything goes.)

Keller’s years of service to the community, avid interest and engagement in civic matters, and high intellect will bring to the council dais, the attention to detail of Pat Burt, the big picture overviews of Greg Schmid, the inner strength-through-adversity of Karen Holman, and the integrity of Susan Fineberg.

With Holman, Fineberg, Eduardo Martinez, and Keller as part of the Planning Commission, we had a period of absolute transparency on Planned Community and “quasi-judicial” matters; where commissioners act, in effect, as judges on items that ask for exceptions. Everything related to such an item during that period was handled in public. There were no impossible-to-verify (or hard-to-believe) comments from the dais that “I met with so-and-sos, but learned nothing that is not already in the staff report.”

Possibly not by coincidence, in the summer of 2009, the planning commission rejected (yes, rejected) the PC application for College Terrace Centre. In response, the applicant’s team unleashed a barrage of abuse on the commission, and in an even more devilishly masterful follow-up of public manipulation (“I will save JJ&F Market,”) and poker with the city (“...but only If I get what I want."), pushed the project through the council on appeal. The result, an unbroken strip of neighborhood commercial zoning, turned into a massive regional office complex, now looming clearly on an El Camino Real drive near you.

After that the Planning Commission and city hall began to tilt badly. The commission’s quasi-judicial protocol was voted down. More growth-oriented citizens were appointed to the commission. New blockbusters came through and into pipeline: Lytton Gateway, the proposed four-towers at 27 University, and the massive buildout planned for 395 Page Mill Road (the AOL site).

Now in a distinct minority on the commission, Keller and Fineberg, continued their diligent work on behalf of the public interest. Keller supported Fineberg after she questioned city staff as to how key details in an environmental impact report were suddenly changed between commission meetings. For her legitimate questions, she was castigated by Larry Klein at the follow-up council meeting, the preface to the council’s disgraceful failure to reappoint her or two year’s later, Keller, for another term.

But by then “Maybell” was history; a local battle over a PC that cleverly and effectively became a referendum on how this city is run, and which turned this ship in a different direction.

With a new council, and a magnanimous gesture from the chair, Keller would soon become co-chair of the Citizen’s Advisory Commission to the Comprehensive Plan, where he has been thoroughly absorbed in helping to lead the commission’s work on the document that will guide our city over at least a decade or two.

As a member of the council, he will have a vote on the final make-up of that document. One of the many reason we need to elect Arthur Keller to the city council.


1 person likes this
Posted by Mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 1, 2016 at 6:44 am

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Bye bye
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 1, 2016 at 7:33 am

[Post removed.]


30 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 1, 2016 at 8:04 am

@ By bye, actually, I've already moved, but since I am keeping my Palo Alto home, and it will not be rented out under any circumstances, I have to make a 2 hour drive to Palo Alto about every 10 days to check out on the house and water a few plants that have no drip irrigation. I hate making that drive, because I get to see every 10 days all over again how awful Palo Alto has become, thanks to the Lis Kniss, Steve Levy, Kate Downing(and their fellow travelers) of this world. The only thing that puts a damper on my happiness at living in a place that has such high respect for the environment, preserving its character and protecting its livability and quality of life is that too frequent dreaded drive to Palo Alto. However, I will be voting in the Palo Alto elections, and subsequent ones, and hopefully influence the outcome by helping elect no growth candidates.


7 people like this
Posted by Bye bye
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 1, 2016 at 8:53 am

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 2, 2016 at 11:03 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Fred Balin

"But by then “Maybell” was history; a local battle over a PC that cleverly and effectively became a referendum on how this city is run, and which turned this ship in a different direction."

Engineering the campaign against PAHC's affordable housing project for low-income seniors so that it became a symbol in the public's mind of PC abuses of the recent past and of "greedy developers" was indeed clever and very effective. It was also misleading and harmful.

Misleading because in this case PC allowances were being used in an appropriate manner for a public benefit. Misleading too because PAHC was held up as an example of greedy developers who seek allowances for corporate gain. The real target, which could have been hit without trashing PAHC, should have been the Jay Paul Corporation. PAHC, as you know, is a non-profit. What it takes in goes back out to further the city's goal of providing long-term affordable housing.

Harmful because it risked crippling one of the entities that the city relies on to provide and manage affordable housing, which all members of both the new (2014) and old councils have agreed is an essential civic task.

I’m not saying that there weren’t other reasons to oppose the Maybell project. There were. But council members Karen Holman and Greg Schmid and PTC chairman Eduardo Martinez all supported the Maybell project before the referendum as did I and many neighbors in Barron Park.


21 people like this
Posted by There from the start
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 2, 2016 at 12:11 pm

@Jerry Underdal,
The Maybell project was 60% a for-profit development that had nothing to do with affordable housing, except that the profit from upzoning the 60% for-profit part of it was being represented as community investment in the state application for more funding. If PAHC had decided instead to even build lower-density for-profit houses and use the profit from those instead to help fund their efforts, which would have provided them more money and allowed the rest of it to fit bit better (many people don't realize that the City encouraged them to make it even bigger than they originally planned), they would probably have gotten it built. Mark Berman even asked them why they didn't do that, and they gave a nothing answer, but the reality is that they couldn't do that and meet the really tight deadline they set for themselves to meet the qualifications for the funding competition.

Let me say this in the strongest terms as someone who was involved: Nobody engineered an attack against PAHC or PAHC's project. People treated PAHC with kid gloves relative to what they were treated to [portion removed], which from this side of things is why they lost. It backfired on them. When they tried to justify THE SPECIFIC PLAN as urgent and the only way, of course they were going to get pushback about those things. If the impacts on the neighborhood had to be the result of meeting a deadling, of course neighbors were going to question that. This is not a slam on PAHC except to people who think the neighbors had no right to question a 4 times upzoning to majority benefit a for-profit developer. Could the whole project have been done just to benefit affordable housing? Yes, if those on your side had in the beginning decided to work with [portion removed] your neighbors. From where I sit, you bear as much or more responsibility for the loss of the affordable housing as anyone. I know I and the neighbors I worked with thought long and hard about the commitment we would have to make to ensure it got built if we were able to enter into a working group, and we decided to make it. [Portion removed.] Even the leaders at PAHC have since said they have no hard feelings. They were trying to fund something in a way that hadn't been done before in Palo Alto, and they had worked out this really tight and ambitious schedule of things that had to happen. Unfortunately, they were counting their eggs and not asking the neighbors who were most impacted.

If you care so much, you should care about the overdevelopment that made for the conflict in the first place. Many of the things you ostensibly care about are being hurt and challenges by the that same overdevelopment: BV residents would not have faced displacement if not for the greed that became tangible when their developer partner thought they could upzone. The Maybell site would not have been so attractive to bulldoze the almost 100 trees (even as you probably are in a group of people who speak out of the other side o their mouths about caring for the environment and trees). All those still empty lots on El Camino near the Maybell site would have been less attractive as potential high-density luxury housing and might have been a viable alternative, etc.

[Portion removed.] The neighbors were relentlessly attacked as NIMBY's even as they tried to get a working group to honor both the neighborhood's concerns and create the affordable housing (which some of the same neighbors had accomplished in the past in a similar development battle that saved Terman School from being turned into housing while also creating the 92-unit low-income Terman Apartments). The tight schedule PAHC had worked out didn't allow for that - they would basically have had to agree to abandon the original plan (which basically ignored the neighbors) - they and the City felt that what was then and still is a population majority very concerned about affordable housing would pass what was in fact 60% a for-profit endeavor, using the affordable housing as a bludgeon against any opposition.

[Portion removed.] Your whole post continued to ignore the fact that 60% of the project was a for-profit endeavor, that PAHC was just upzoning the property for a for-profit developer. They were selling the zoning in order to use the money on their application (which they did before it was even a done deal, despite that being prohibited in the rules) as i it were community investment, so they had to do that before a certain deadline, which was unrealistically tight. If they had instead entered into a partnership (as they were for the affordable side) to build the houses and take the profits from the houses, they would have made more and could have redesigned the project based on that. But they couldn't do that because it didn't matter that they would make more if they couldn't make their deadline. This does not make for thoughtful decisions for a project that changes the character of a whole neighborhood and affects safety on a substandard heavily used Safe Route to School corridor.


23 people like this
Posted by There from the start
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 2, 2016 at 12:26 pm

I posted above as - @It's the water, stupid - and forgot. Just wanted to be sure people know it's the same poster as me, @There from the start.

I support Arthur Keller because I feel that if there had been more people like him who are capable of assessing complex circumstances and understanding them, we might have avoided what happened at Maybell. I will say right now that I do not know him personally but I have listened to his intelligent take on issues, and how he seems much more concerned about the truth and getting it right than you usually see on the Council. We need fairness of representation across town, too, the Council is usually pretty heavily represented on the North event hough half of us live on the South - no offense to our Northern brethren - no wonder civic resources are so disproportionately available in the North. Remember our youth and all the problems we've faced disproportionately in the South? Community and connection are real important, we should stop acting like putting som equity into community resources on our side of town are unimportant. Yet another reason I will vote for Keller and Kou.


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Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 2, 2016 at 12:48 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

[Post removed.]





15 people like this
Posted by Rita
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 2, 2016 at 1:52 pm

Interesting conversation.

I believe PAHC spent $178,000.00 to defeat Prop D. Were these public housing funds?

Can someone confirm, deny or comment on this? Thank you.


17 people like this
Posted by Janie
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 2, 2016 at 4:28 pm

I read in the Palo Alto Weekly that Kate Downing is moving out of Palo Alto.


17 people like this
Posted by There from the start
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 2, 2016 at 5:26 pm

@Rita,
And the City spent - I can't even remember now - close to a Million dollars extra give or take a few hundred thou to just pay for the special election instead of holding the election at the next general one. That's real money that could have instead gone to help people.

@Jerry,
There was NO CAMPAIGN to make PAHC out to be a greedy developer. But they justified many of their actions - to override concerns of the neighbors - as necessary for the 60% of the project that was for the sake of an unnamed for-profit developer, and claimed that particular for-profit arrangement was the only thing that could help affordable housing, which JUST WAS NOT TRUE. That particular arrangement was necessary to help them meet that specific plan on that specific overly optimistic time schedule they had laid out.

THE PROFITS FROM THAT DEVELOPMENT (60% of the proposed plan) WERE NOT GOING TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING, JUST TO THE DEVELOPER, AND THAT WAS THE MAJORITY OF THE PROJECT. At first PAHC would say directly that they were making certain decisions because the (for-profit) developer wouldn't buy it otherwise, and later they said there was no specific developer, but PAHC still wouldn't compromise because they had this tight schedule to make certain things happen that didn't allow it. [Portion removed.]

What was misleading [portion removed] was the City's ballot analysis and ballot, and their presenting to the public that this was about allowing affordable housing there (as if it could not be otherwise), when affordable housing could have gone there with any number of different choices made by the City and PAHC, and affordable housing could have come out of it AND the orchard saved if those entities had begun by working with the community.

The false accusations against neighbors and inciting the nimby bandwagon were some of the most misleading and harmful actions. If that resulted in bad things, if you subscribe to a "growth mindset", that should serve as the big giant wake up call that business as usual with the nimby attack plan is not productive in this community, and can even cause all kinds of terrible things to happen, and that if you care about affordable housing, there are better ways forward. I'm guessing that the pretty smart people I met at PAHC already got that [portion removed.]

What I witnessed behind the scenes was good people in the neighborhood taking slams and blows for a very long time - still - all the while these same neighbors refused to basically drop the most serious bombs (that the public still is unaware of) in order NOT to forever damage the organization and the mission for affordable housing in this town. People did what they had to in response to what they were dealt, and the way THEY were attacked, but I am and others are well aware of the very real restraint they showed.

One more thing: everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, including Councilmembers, told us to drop the safety arguments because no one across town would care, and that we would only be hurting our case. But those of us for whom that was the driving reason (the first and majority of us) refused to drop it because it was the truth and it was the most important reason. It was misleading for the City to do a traffic study that did not look at the safety of the children on bikes and on foot - and has to this day failed to develop any concrete tools to do such an analysis even today - and downplaying the safety issues while inflaming the nimby rhetoric through the misleading characterization of the project throughout.


13 people like this
Posted by There from the start
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 2, 2016 at 5:33 pm

@Jerry Underdal,
Hint: If you try to use, in service of some other effort, green paint and more signage (after that street has already had a six-figure safety upgrade not that long ago) as a way to avoid the kind of concrete analysis I mention about - and that at least one smart Councilmember I know could cite instances of other municipalities providing - THAT will be misleading.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Aug 2, 2016 at 11:13 pm

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 6, 2016 at 5:58 pm

I don't know Dr. Keller personally but have read about him in his capacity serving the city of Palo Alto. I am pleased he is running for CC and I will vote for him. For those of you who know Monty Python, this is the "sensible candidate."
Great news. Thank you, Dr. Keller.


10 people like this
Posted by Arthur Keller
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 8, 2016 at 9:57 pm

Thank you for your comments.

My website is at Web Link

My kickoff talk is published at Web Link


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

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