News

Eleven candidates to square off in Palo Alto council race

List includes longtime volunteers, past candidates and political newcomers

Eleven candidates, including planning commissioners, past contenders and a few political newcomers, will square off for four seats in the race for Palo Alto City Council.

The list of candidates includes several familiar names and one incumbent: Liz Kniss, a two-time mayor who is running in her 10th political race. It also includes several past and present members of the city's influential Planning and Transportation Commission, a traditional stepping stone to the council dais. Commission Chair Adrian Fine and its longest-serving current member, Greg Tanaka, will be squaring off in November, as is Arthur Keller, who had served on the commission for two terms.

They aren't the only veterans of Palo Alto's land-use debate. Lydia Kou, a longtime neighborhood activist who was heavily active in the slow-growth "residentialist" movement that struck down a housing development on Maybell Avenue in 2013, and helped elect a slow-growth council two years ago, is once again running, having been narrowly edged out for a council seat in 2014.

The planning commission isn't the only body with members looking for a grander stage. Greer Stone, who chairs the Human Relations Commission, is running for a seat on the council. So is Don McDougall, who sits on the Library Advisory Commission and serves on the Citizens Advisory Committee that is working on the Comprehensive Plan update.

The committee, which has been meeting for a year and debating the city's long-term growth strategies, will be particularly well represented in the race. Keller is its co-chair and Kou is also a member. Fine also participates on the committee, though his seat is a non-voting one.

The race will also have plenty of familiar faces. John Karl Fredrich, who identifies himself as a residentialist and ran in 2014, is once again seeking a seat. The retired Gunn High School civics teacher had also run in 1975, 1977, 1981 and 2003. He has been concerned about the pace of commercial development in Palo Alto and, during Monday's council meeting, requested that the city more carefully track cumulative growth in the city's primary commercial areas.

Another candidate looking for a better showing this time around is Danielle Martell, who ran for council in 2005. She was the first resident to file her candidacy papers.

Other candidates are planning their first run. One is Stewart Carl, an engineer who helped co-found the group Sky Posse, which is trying to reduce airplane noise. Also running is Leonard Ely III, a commercial broker who sits on the board of the Palo Alto Community Fund, and was the last candidate to file his candidacy papers before the Wednesday deadline.

Unlike the 2014 race, which included a slate of residentialist candidates who were endorsed by the citizens group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, the current group appears to be less divided by ideology. Kou is the only member affiliated with the group (though Keller is expected to draw support from its members), as well as the only candidate in the race who actively opposed the Maybell project in 2013. The pro-growth group Palo Alto Forward has no candidates running in the race.

Most candidates have told the Weekly that they are hoping to get past the 2014 division and get buy-in from both sides of the debate. Tanaka, who worked for several startups and is now CEO of software company Percolata, is among the more recent entrants into the suddenly crowded race. A consummate moderate who is currently in his seventh year on the city's planning commission, Tanaka told the Weekly that he looks to bridge the divide in the community.

"Just having a strong ideology one way or another is not productive," said Tanaka, who filed his papers earlier this week. "It's going to have to be a true dialogue, making sure people are truly heard and trying to figure out solutions."

McDougall, a retired CEO whose background is also in data analytics, similarly said that he would like to bring both sides to a consensus in solving the city's housing challenges.

McDougall, who filed his papers Tuesday, said in a statement that housing issues, in particular are "complex and urgent."

"Cost, density, location and diversity are important citizen considerations," he said. "Palo Alto citizens have the character, commitment and ideas to take on these challenges."

Meanwhile, Michelle Kraus has decided not to run this year. The downtown resident is heavily involved in the national Democratic Party. Though she had considered running for council, she said Thursday that she has decided that getting Hillary Clinton elected president is "the most important thing we can work on."

Related content:

Candidate pool grows in Palo Alto council race

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Comments

36 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of University South
on Aug 18, 2016 at 8:37 am

It's good to see new faces.

Adrian Fine and Greg Tanaka have both been thoughtful and careful as Planning Commissioners. Adrian is a native son who has deep roots in Palo Alto. Greg has more experience than any other candidate in the race, and he's cast votes on both sides of the divide in town.

I'm intrigued by Don MacDougall. An open-minded, data-oriented candidate would be an asset to Palo Alto. I'd like to hear more from him.

I do believe affordable housing is important, though. I don't think I can support a candidate whose signature achievement is blocking an affordable housing project and replacing it with sixteen luxury homes. We need to come together to find solutions for the people in Palo Alto who are no longer able to afford their homes.

We need candidates who can unify Palo Alto, not deepen the divisions of the past..


40 people like this
Posted by Jane Uyvova
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 18, 2016 at 8:43 am

Jane Uyvova is a registered user.

Adrian Fine's message is really resonating with people who have a vision for a vibrant Palo Alto worthy of our history as leaders and innovators in the region. We have great ideas in this city, now it's time to start implementing them!

I proudly support Adrian Fine!


36 people like this
Posted by sense and sensibility
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 18, 2016 at 8:49 am

Really happy to see both Greg Tanaka and Adrian Fine in the race. Really nice to see empathetic people who care very much about other people in their community. I'll be interested to learn more about Don McDougall as well. He's always had a terrific vision for a vibrant and inclusive community and it'll be interesting to see him apply it more broadly as he steps away from the library commission and possibly onto city council.


34 people like this
Posted by digitalmama
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 18, 2016 at 8:49 am

digitalmama is a registered user.

Glad to see Greg, Don and Adrian in the race. They've all proved to be thoughtful and moderate in all CAC and PTC meetings. I agree with @Observer, its difficult to support those who so vociferously fought against the senior affordable housing and now we've got 16 luxury houses. Hard to see how this fits into an inclusive Palo Alto. I'm sure they'll say they were actually "for" seniors and affordability but just NIMBY because of x.y. or z". Don't think that's a valid argument- they organized and fought hard to get it unravelled--it's their record so they should stand behind it.


30 people like this
Posted by Cora Haussecker
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 18, 2016 at 8:53 am

I am endorsing Adrian Fine because he truly listens to the concerns of ALL Palo Alto residents. Adrian understands how important quality of life is to Palo Alto and he has proven he will fight to defend it. Adrian will make sure future land use decisions in Palo Alto are made by the people and for the people.


22 people like this
Posted by Amie
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2016 at 9:40 am

I totally agree with Observer and will be supporting candidates like Adrian Fine:

"I don't think I can support a candidate whose signature achievement is blocking an affordable housing project and replacing it with sixteen luxury homes." What a disgrace with all the problems and issues facing us regionally!

We deal with the traffic and air pollution from commuters driving here to work. High-density housing near offices and transit can change all that. We need to find solutions together and have some vision for creating the exciting and interesting place that Palo Alto needs to be. Getting left behind or becoming a boring Los Altos is not an option in my mind.


13 people like this
Posted by Organized for development
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 18, 2016 at 9:56 am

[Post removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by @organized for development
a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2016 at 10:08 am

So are you going to rally people to oppose everything and displace all but the extremely wealthy, privileged, or entitled? If you support the status quo, this is what you support. Palo Alto's absurdity is spilling over into neighboring communities and if you keep it up, I sincerely hope it's discriminatory and segregated local land use control will be threatened, struck down, or overturned. If you can't see beyond your own over-watered, under developed, 6000 square foot lot, you do not deserve the privilege of local zoning control.


37 people like this
Posted by Carlos
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2016 at 10:33 am

Having gone through several election cycles, my advice would be to do some homework and ensure whoever you are voting for will really represent your neighborhoods' best interests and will improve the quality of life in this town. In other words, don't get deceived by the sleek marketing and high-visibility endorsements that some candidates will get.

Ask yourself some key questions:
1. Who is behind this candidate, and why is he/she really running?
2. Does the candidate represent any special interest groups that would affect his/her judgement? (real estate developers and employers w/ lots of office space come to mind)
3. Does this person show any long-term committment to the community, or is a seat in the council just a stepping stone to something else?
4. If this candidate doesn't get his/her way, will this person just hurl some parting shots attacking the community before moving on?
5. We know that candidates will say anything to get votes, but focus on past actions rather than words. Has the candidate done anything for your community before becoming a candidate?

I know some neighbors feel they voted for the wrong people in the last cycle after seeing the disconnects between promises and actions. Well, do your homework, be informed, and make the right choices.


55 people like this
Posted by PAF?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 18, 2016 at 10:40 am

The article says that no candidates are affiliated with PAF. Adrian Fine's and Tanaka's positions resonate with those of PAF. Are you sure that they are not members? Also, this is the 2nd PAO article about the CC race by Gennady Sheyner where multiple pro-Fine comments are posted nearly simultaneously shortly (in this case 1 hour) after it comes online. Any explanation?


28 people like this
Posted by RE: Fine
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:06 am

Here's a link to Adrian Fine's Twitter feed. He seems VERY sympathetic to the pro-growth PAF group.
Web Link


26 people like this
Posted by RE:Fine
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:07 am

Correction: Fine seems VERY sympathetic to the pro-growth positions of the PAF group.


50 people like this
Posted by Jim Colton
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:12 am

Jim Colton is a registered user.

I agree with Carlos that you have to know who you are voting for. The article says Palo Alto Forward has no candidates running in the race. I’m sure that means no candidates that claim identification with PAF are running. Since PAF has been so active politically to support most any new development, they are not going to sit on the sidelines and simply observe. They have their candidates; they just haven’t identified them.

You also need to know more about Lydia Kou than her opposition to the Maybell proposal in 2013, a flawed plan from the outset. She has a long history of demonstrating her support for residents. For years she has promoted cultural diversity events in Barron Park and organized emergency-preparedness volunteers throughout Palo Alto. She has been representing residents at city council meetings by calling into question office developments that exacerbate the traffic, parking, and infrastructure problems that result from excessive office developments. She gets my vote.


13 people like this
Posted by Links?
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:23 am

It would be helpful if PAO would provide links to the filing papers for the various candidates. Also, most importantly, which individuals and organizations support each one. This would help voters better evaluate them. Thank you.


Like this comment
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:32 am

[Post removed.]


24 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:40 am

Lydia Kou has a profession & it is not "neighborhood activist," it is Realtor.


16 people like this
Posted by PASZ is a PAC
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:52 am

Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning is a PAC which is the kind of political organization that privately raises money to influence legislation and elections. Look it up. It is highly controversial.

PASZ have endorsed Lydia Kou. Two current council members belong to PASZ - Web Link

[Portion removed.]


35 people like this
Posted by SEA_SEELAM REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 18, 2016 at 12:00 pm

SEA_SEELAM REDDY is a registered user.

Lydia is outstanding.

Let's elect her for sure.


Respectfully


37 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2016 at 12:08 pm

It's not clear whether Adrian Fine is a Palo Alto Forward candidate or not, but from the number and pace of very similar sounding "Adrian Fine is great" posts on this forum, it seem likely that he's the candidate of some political machine type operation. I suppose this isn't necessarily bad. All city politics seem to gravitate to this kind of politics as they get larger. And as from what I can tell, Fine seems to want a much larger Palo Alto [portion removed.]

Maybe Palo Alto will be a better place to live with even more houses and apartments, but it won't be the same suburban city it's always been. I think we have a choice in this election about Palo Alto's size and character. The invective thrown around (a la' the Kate Downing affair) isn't promising of a reasoned debate.

Right now I'm mostly on the side of the "residentialist" faction in this debate - and I don't think I need to apologize for owning a house in Palo Alto nor have to explain how easy or hard it was for me "back in the day". But we should air all the issues in the debate of big v small, suburban v urban, etc. Perhaps Fine and his acolytes will present a more reasonable face for their side of the argument than has the PAF name-callers that seem to have been unleashed by the Downing incident.

I hope so. Otherwise, big or small, we are likely to become a highly factionalized city - something we don't need at all.


41 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 18, 2016 at 12:10 pm

Last time I checked there was no prohibition against realtors or real estate attorneys from serving on the Council or boards and commissions. Think Greg scarf, Michael Alcheck.

As a residential realtor Lydia has a keen understanding of why people want to live in Palo Alto and their housing needs and wants which I consider an advantage!

Her service to her community through emergency prep and her neighborhood association and support of Buena Vista
Mobile home park are just a few examples of her contributions to PA. She has always stood for diversity and helping all residents regardless of age ethnicity or finical privilege.
She is extremely qualified to be on city council and will serve her city well!

Fine is a member of PAF and wants to enable all growth. Tanaka has a history of approving development projects even when they are bad for residents. As chaats of the planning commission, neither one them seemed to have a keen understanding of the Comp Plan or Municipal code and did not manage to stop their colleagues from inappropriate comments and accusations.

Arthur is extremely qualified. He served for years on the planning commission is currently co-chair of the Comp plan committee, and has a depth of knowledge of PA laws and regional issues that is unrivaled.
Arthur and Lydia both have experience and integrity and will be a great addition to a good City council!


26 people like this
Posted by Caring Resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 18, 2016 at 12:18 pm

Geez, can you please stop saying "struck down a housing development" in regards to Maybell? It unnecessarily characterizes the situation with a bias that continues to hurt neighborhood relationships to this day.

Say "struck down a major rezoning ordinance at Maybell", because that's legally and precisely what it was. You need to say rezoning, because that is what was struck down, a zoning ordinance. There never was any need for an ordinance to allow affordable housing as a land use there, as many people interpreted it because of the bias in the reporting and ballot. The housing development could have proceeded if modified, just as the low-income housing development at 801 Alma proceeded when it was modified to fit within zoning after neighborhood objections.

In San Francisco, they had an almost identical battle at the same time as Measure D, but because they have a mandated impartial ballot process in which both sides decide on the ballot language in a public process mediated, usually, by communications professionals (i.e., the media), their ballot was only able to state exactly what the law change was about: whether to rezone a patch on the waterfront to accommodate an 80-story building. Period. (Similarly in that situation as at Maybell, the majority of the project was for-profit, with an affordable housing benefit.) But because the ballot had to state exactly what it was about, even though the Mayor and Gavin Newsome were in heavily produced ads touting the San Francisco Measure as for affordable housing, etc, the measure still lost by an even greater margin than our Measure D (in liberal SF no less) because their measure had to state impartially what it was about. In Palo Alto, on the other hand, the advocating City staff/attorny got to write the ballot, and the communications professionals here, rather than contributing to the development of an impartial interpretation, continue to parrot that bias. (Perhaps this time just the word "development" got used, but it's still inaccurate and conjures all the previous even worse errors of saying an affordable senior development was rejected.)

And all this false, negative framing continues to give many existing low-income residents in other low-income housing properties in the neighborhood the message that they are unwelcome, that the majority are antagonistic to their housing, which is utterly untrue. (It is a fact understood by HUD that people in low-income housing feel conspicuous/feel negatively about being in subsidized housing - promulgating this negative atmosphere over and over is not a small thing.) Neighbors who had in the past actually worked on conflicts like at Maybell that brought affordable housing here are now treated like NIMBYs and there is no way to bring people back together because the bias keeps being furthered in the biased reporting.

The idea that the rejection of the ordinance was about affordable housing development or even was itself a legal approval of a development (rather than a zoning change) was a framing by one side in a political battle. The fact that in the SF impartial ballot process, the result was a ballot that very specifically and accurately stated the issue for the vote should be a clue. The ballot here for Measure D was not nor was it ever even close to an impartial truth. (There was a legal analysis supporting that as well.) Even though the story above just stuck with "development", that is not factually correct, and continues to conjure the previous, worse biases. The ordinance was a zoning ordinance, and the referendum only struck down the zoning ordinance. The developer decided not to proceed with a revised project that even the Weekly thought they would try. It was their decision, but probably not helped by the false belief, promulgated because of the politics over the referendum, that there was antagonism toward the affordable housing rather than simply rejection of spot zoning, at a particularly bad place for spot zoning (when spot zoning is illegal in the state anyway in non-charter cities).


And while we're at it, can we please stop putting Lydia in a box? She has done so much for the safety and well-being of this community that most people will never know. You hardly described Cory Wohlbach as a prodevelopment candidate, though that's a better description of what he's been.


13 people like this
Posted by Reasonable
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 18, 2016 at 12:38 pm

Yes, you should know your candidates. And that means reading about their positions and not what [portion removed] on this site have to say about them. I don't think it's fair to characterize ANY current council member or candidate or organization as Pro-Growth. Palo Alto Forward has a measured and moderated approach to growth. And it is not a PAC.

But it is fair to characterize any candidate who is supported by PASZ (which is a PAC) as being NO GROWTH. [Portion removed.] But if you understand that change happens, and you want your representatives to follow the law and to do what is best for all of Palo Alto, then please, look at the websites of the non-PASZ candidates and vote for them.


37 people like this
Posted by Organized for development
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 18, 2016 at 12:42 pm

The chorus of support for Adrian Fine could not have happened without some organization.
PA Forward is led by some professional PR people in addition to developers, housing advocates, and architects. [Portion removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by Lorrie Castellano
a resident of University South
on Aug 18, 2016 at 1:24 pm

I personally met Adrian Fine and Greg Tanaka and was impressed by both of them. Adrian is a candidate who would be inclusive and help young people stay in Palo Alto, among other things. Greg Tanaka is a real "wonk" with a heart. We need these smart, involved, energetic people to deal with the problems that Palo Alto has regarding housing, transportation and finances. I support both of them.


35 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 18, 2016 at 1:26 pm

jh is a registered user.

Some months before Adrian Fine was appointed to the Planning and Transport Commission I had a conversation with him when he spoke passionately for the need to densify Palo Alto. How Palo Alto cannot isolate itself from the expanding Bay Area growth and must be held responsible for accommodating it's share of that density. Density is the current mantra for city planners. The last city planner we had on the council, Gail Price, never saw a development she didn't like.


39 people like this
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2016 at 2:02 pm

I am also suspicious of the raves posted about Adrian Fine and at least 20 or more "likes" clicked in lockstep. It's been posted before on in this comments area and bears repeating that Palo Alto Forward actively requests visitors to their Facebook page to chime in on Palo Alto Online for positions and candidates they approve of. This is free speech, of course, but to me it is very annoying as a busy person who posts seldom and not at any organization's urging.


35 people like this
Posted by Organized for development
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 18, 2016 at 2:30 pm

Recall who voted for Fine and for Downing to be on the Planning Comm:
>Mayor Nancy Shepherd, who fell short last week in her quest for a second term, joined Councilman Larry Klein and Councilwoman Gail Price in supporting Downing and Fine. The two will fill the seats previously held by Keller and Carl King, who opted not to run.

>Marc Berman and Greg Scharff joined the three departing council members in each vote, as did Vice Mayor Liz Kniss.Web Link

There is no ambiguity. The big development council members voted for him. So if you want dense high rises around downtown and Cal.Ave. and El Camino, Adrian Fine is your candidate.


19 people like this
Posted by Is it a surprise?
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 18, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Is it a surprise that young people want more housing? The bay area is a center of opportunity, but if people cannot find or afford homes, then what does it matter? Palo Alto is rapidly losing young people and renters, and I'm glad there are some candidates talking about the housing issue.


19 people like this
Posted by Jane Huang
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2016 at 3:51 pm

As someone under 30, I'm very happy to see Adrian Fine and Greg Tanaka running. Palo Alto needs more young people who are about to start families, or with young families, to represent it.


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Maresca
a resident of Monroe Park
on Aug 18, 2016 at 4:41 pm

It's great to have this online forum as a way to meet the candidates and hear from our neighbors. I'm supporting Adrian Fine not because I've known him most of his life as a fine human being (though that might be reason enough), but because he understands the importance of a proper balance that will bring Palo Alto in line with the needs of its citizens and with the surrounding communities. I was confused by posts on this page claiming the amount of support for Mr. Fine suggests ties with some type of corporate political machinery. Positive comments and a few dozen "likes" are more likely representative of citizens who know him and/or appreciate his ideas for the future of our city.


32 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2016 at 5:28 pm

I noticed a comment Kate Downing gave in one of her interviews that explains the uneasiness many residents and home owners feel about Palo Alto Forward and the candidates aligned with its priorities:

"Even if you’re a renter or you’re not sure how long you’re going to be there somewhere, register to vote and vote, because otherwise your interests will never be taken into account."

Those of us who own property in Palo Alto have for the most part made a commitment to Palo Alto of a sort that people "not sure how long you're going to be here" have not made.

While some people who've bought here are truly wealthy, there are many more who've sacrificed financially and otherwise to buy a piece of Palo Alto. These people bought because Palo Alto fit their desires and needs - and maybe their dreams - more than other cities. And these other cities are more like the one that PAF seems to want to turn Palo Alto into.

So of course homeowners are fearful that PAF-leaning candidates will make big changes to our city that will forever negatively affect the quality of life here - and then after the damage is done, move on. Kate Downing is a case in point. She was very active politically in Palo Alto and got an influential seat on the Planning Commission. Now she's "moved on". If that's the kind of commitment to the city that voters and supporters of PAF-oriented candidates have, can you blame us long-termers for being suspicious and worried?


10 people like this
Posted by @Mary
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 18, 2016 at 6:24 pm

This is so unfair! Many long-term renters in Palo Alto are truly committed. They pay taxes here, they send their children to schools here, they are active in the community. They have sacrificed a ton to stay here in Palo Alto! They pay so much more in rent than any long-term resident homeowner does in mortgage + taxes. In fact, sometimes it is the majority of their income. They have no security. And yet they are never going to be able to afford a piece of Palo Alto because the game is rigged against them - there is no housing here for them and what is here is not affordable - not to an ordinary person.

Most of us do not wants to "move on". We are being pushed out. And we just want a fair chance at being here too. Don't say we are not committed!


4 people like this
Posted by Alice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2016 at 6:29 pm

Well, now that I know who's running, I have to say I am relieved that Liz Kniss agreed to run again. None of the other candidates has her knowledge of the community or her long commitment to public service. The complex development issues facing the city call for someone with experience. Thanks, Liz, for stepping up.


20 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2016 at 7:12 pm

@resident of Ventura ...My comment was not directed at renters as a whole. There are a lot of residents - those who have kids in school for example - who have strong ties to the community and a commitment that the city should value. I am glad you participate in city discussions and decisions if you do.

But those who Kate Downing encourages to participate in altering the face of Palo Alto "even if they don't know how long they're going to be somewhere" aren't -by and large - that kind of citizen. And as I said, Kate Downing is a case in point. ON the Planning Commission, she had the chance to participate in decisions that in the long run have the potential of changing Palo Alto forever. And now, when some of the decisions she participated in are coming to fruition - she's gone.

I truly wish you luck in finding a place in our City. But if Palo Alto Forward has its way, the place you find yourself living in, might not be as desirable as the what you're aiming for. A lot of dense development will make Palo Alto a different place. And - even if that would make it easier for you to buy - I don't think we have the duty to change Palo Alto into something its not based on some trendy fad in Urban Studies departments .


18 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 18, 2016 at 8:28 pm

About the density issue - at this point what difference does it make, really if the addition is housing or business? We reached our saturation point quite some time ago while the city went fast forward on development. Now there's a good argument to be made for "replacement only" while we work to diminish several significant problems and improve our infrastructure. Whatever we do must be sustainable and aggressive development that only adds to density and its related problems is not the answer.

Several calls have been made in recent years for a cumulative impact study of development on the infrastructure. Had this been done we would not have the miserable traffic and construction impacts that effect everyone's quality of life every single day.


8 people like this
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 18, 2016 at 11:46 pm

[Post removed.]


22 people like this
Posted by Caring Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2016 at 12:51 am

"So are you going to rally people to oppose everything and displace all but the extremely wealthy, privileged, or entitled? If you support the status quo, this is what you support."

Don't be ridiculous. One of the hallmarks of the pro-development crowd is to make leading non sequiturs.

It is the development that is displacing the low-income residents and pricing them out. Had residents been more aggressive about keeping office growth reasonable, displacements of low-income residents would never have happened. This town has gone through many booms and busts, without losing a core of ordinary people. The PAF/pro-overdevelopment crowd keep saying that this boom is different and things are less affordable than before. The one obvious difference in conditions (since we've had waves of yuppies before, too) is the excessive new development this time which has put serious pressure on prices and existing residents (who survived previous booms).

But, the pro-development crowd have not given up on using unsubstantiated emotion-driven non sequiturs to try to co-opt kneejerk liberals (speaking as a frequet liberal voter who was shocked by the unthinking mob mentality).

Despite all the candidates, I still can't see who besides Kou really should get elected.


13 people like this
Posted by Caring Resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 19, 2016 at 12:55 am

Just a reminder to everyone voting: Whether it is state or local or federal elections, you do not have to vote in all races or place votes for four people ust because there are four spots. If you vote or someone as a kind of "throw away" vote in a multi-person multi-seat election, you risk bringing someone into office that you don't like and beating out the person you prefer. The better strategy is to vote just for the people you most want to take the seats.


24 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 19, 2016 at 6:11 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Palo Alto Forward does have two candidates highly sympathetic to their vision running in the upcoming council race, Fine and Tanaka, and if you read the cluster of almost identical posts praising them, PAF is very active and agressive in pushing their candidacy.


19 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 19, 2016 at 10:08 am

I went to the Facebook page for Adrian Fine and ran into the reference to the SJM Scott Herhold article "Palo Alto losing out because of housing costs". The objectionable item in that article was typifying the loss on Measure D because it would include "shabby pensioners". I emailed Herhold about insulting the city and residents and clarifying that the Measure D was about overkill of development, financing issues not squared away, and poor planning for the specific area. Since none of the "facts" were reported to Herhold I have to assume that he was fed an opinion piece that tied into the Kate Downing story and the organization she represents. Since Adrian Fine had this article referenced on his FB page then I am assuming that he is in support of the representation of the event in a negative opinion piece for the city.

I commented on his FB page and he acknowledged the comment.

I am tired of seeing negative opinion pieces about the city. Anyone who does that is going to be on the list of people not voted for.


Posted by Studying
a resident of Midtown

on Aug 19, 2016 at 4:14 pm

Studying is a registered user.


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14 people like this
Posted by Diane Rolfe
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2016 at 9:31 pm

I proudly support Adrian Fine for Palo Alto's City Council because he understands what is needed to keep Palo Alto a beautiful place to live. It is a vibrant, innovative city, that honors our history of diversity. Adrian has lived in Palo Alto his entire life. He wants to make certain that our city will be a welcoming and exciting city for the next generations of Palo Altans. He looks to the future and its demands, challenges, and opportunities, not the 1950's for inspiration.


2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 20, 2016 at 5:57 am

I do not understand the comment above about the 1950's. We do not live in the 1950's and the state laws and taxation requirements are totally different. Every residential home that is put on the market is brought up to date for current code or it is noted in the sale as an outstanding item.
If you drive around the city every part of it is being torn down and replaced with new homes - building is rampant throughout the city. And if not new buildings then new bathrooms, kitchens, new landscaping. People keep implying then this is a stagnant environment that needs "change" yet change is rampant throughout from one end to the other of the city.

What needs to happen is "change" to the commercial blight on El Camino. I keep seeing renderings on plans for development in the area Oregon to Charleston but nothing happens. My suspicion is that the old/institutional money in the city owns those properties and is not stepping up to the plate to upgrade - or are waiting for some great "deal" to materialize that gets those old buildings torn down and replaced. So 1950's is not the issue - the the people waiting for a "deal" are the problem.


20 people like this
Posted by pares
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 20, 2016 at 8:38 am

I am sympathetic to those who rent and know that the rents keep going up. I've known people who had to leave Palo Alto because of this. I don't know what the answer is to fixing this. Maybe some kind of rent control is needed.

But I'm tired of PAF characterizing home owners as NIMBYs who didn't want the Maybell project. There were many problems with the Maybell project (including how the city presented the project and the short cuts they took to steam roll it over on the neighborhood).

Another problem are AB&B's and boarding houses. You can put in bunk beds and rent out rooms and code enforcement will tell you it's allowed. Some kind of limit needs to be set on how many people you can rent out to in a single family home.

Candidates need to look at these problems and take a stand on what they intend to do to fix these problems.


11 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 20, 2016 at 11:25 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Show me one block in Palo Alto in which at least one house, often multiple houses, aren't being remodeled or razed in favor of new, much larger houses. The pro development fans' repetitious chant of how Palo Alto is being kept in a 1950's mode is really ridiculous demagoguery. More and more houses, mostly owned by foreign buyers, have been converted into de-facto, and arguably illegal, B&B.s and youth hostels. There are two on my block, owned by foreign absentee owners, where several techies live, sleeping in bunk beds and on the floor in sleeping beds, at least 8-10 per house. Palo Alto is actually much more crowded and populated than the official population count, and getting more crowded by the day.


6 people like this
Posted by Bolinas or bust
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2016 at 12:08 pm

Maurucio-there are techies living on a couple of houses on your block in Bolinas? I suggest instead of making bogus claims about palo alto in general you try sticking with facts you can prove. And BTW, there are plenty of blocks in palo alto where what you claim is happening is not happening.


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Posted by Who Are We Kidding?
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 20, 2016 at 1:01 pm

I am not voting for anybody, for the first time. It's all a racket. We end up in the same place with every City Council. Nothing ever gets done, and only words being recited. These people just want to be big fish, in a small pond. And some, use it to climb higher into Politics. Again, its all a racket, pretty much like what we see with Hillary Clinton. Nothing ever gets done folks, why bother?


2 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 20, 2016 at 1:06 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

I still have a home in Palo Alto which I visit at least twice a month because it is not going to be sold or rented out. I'm spending this weekend in it, and actually, the number of techies crashing in those two houses seems to have increased. Not that's any of your business, but the Bolinas home purchase fell through, and I bought instead, very happily for me, a country home in Monterey County. Palo Alto has so much to learn about how to preserve instead of ruin a wonderful small town and how to preserve and respect the environment instead of deteriorate into a corrupting overdevelopment orgy.


7 people like this
Posted by Bolinas or bust
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2016 at 1:44 pm

That's funny, maurucio because I recall in another thread you saying how wonderful Bolinas was and how you hated having to drive to palo alto every couple of weeks because it is such an awful city.
But I am interested if you went through the city, block per block, to verify that there was building on every block. Also do you sit by your front window all day when you are in palo alto and count the number of people living in each house.?


20 people like this
Posted by Resident with kids
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 20, 2016 at 3:49 pm

The pro-housing folks do not understand urban economics. Cities with very dense housing - like New York, London, Hong Kong etc - have the most expensive housing per square foot. Concreting over Palo Alto with thousands of new apartment buildings will push up house prices and increase congestion. Housing density raises prices as more people like dense inner cities than suburbs - SF costs more per square ft than PA. The only way to reduce housing cost in Palo ALto is to make it a less desirable place to live so there is less demand. You could do that by increasing crime, destroying the schools etc - which is madness. In short, if you have a lovely city people want to live there and no amount of new housing will fix this. Sadly this is a problem which simplistic solutions will not fix - sadly not everyone can live in PA, and the solution is to make other cities more pleasant to live in rather than concreting PA.


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Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 20, 2016 at 4:42 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

I never said I was driving from Bolinas, although I had been going to Bolinas often until the deal fell through in the last moment because the owner decided not to sell. It makes no difference, because my new location is at least as wonderful as Bolinas. The main thing is that in both Bolinas and my new location, a profound respect for the environment, for the character and history of the place, and a profound commitment for preserving livability override greed and hubris. This is not about the specific location of my new house which is irrelevant, but about doing what's right and what's decent. Palo Alto hasn't, and Bolinas and my new location have.


10 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 21, 2016 at 8:30 pm

How did the stream get so diverted from the topic at hand? The major battle as I see it is those who want to reduce the number of single family homes and build many rack and stack units. That dynamic takes home ownership away from individuals and shifts it to corporate ownership. The tax base shifts directly in response to that dynamic. That affects our schools in the city and county. It affects the total budget of the city and its ability to hire support personnel.

Under corporate ownership there is less recognition of change in the tax base so the city / county realizes less revenue. So how is that a good thing? It isn't.

As to ABAG the state and government entities own most of the vacant land and they are not building on it. They are trying to force out the individual homeowner and move ownership to corporate entities. So how is that a good thing? It isn't. There is the unintended consequence concerning the manipulation of land ownership and it is not good.


4 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 22, 2016 at 4:35 pm

I'm coming late to this party but I totally agree with Carlos. That's exactly what we should do and I intend to do. Unfortunately there are too many voters who don't take the time to do all the back checking of voting records, vetting, et al, but count the number of signs on lawns and corners near commercial shopping centers. I hate to give labels, but I think they are the voting illiterate.


6 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 22, 2016 at 4:56 pm

@pares

Thanks for joining me as one with no solutions, but I don't think rent control is the answer and would ever happen in
PA. Lots of reasons to be suspicious of surrogate PAF candidates. When we get wham, wham, he's our man posts one after the other. Hmm!


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Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 22, 2016 at 6:01 pm

Need to check the "narratives". A Narrative was provided to columnist Herhold of the SJM which was derogatory and did not fit the facts at hand concerning Measure D - Maybell. So who is writing the narratives which are demeaning and derogatory and using those narratives to frame the level of discussion on this particular political race. Or is there a series of narratives which are repetitious indicating there is a response card being provided to members of any voting group - "group think". Need to make sure in all of the political races that we pick best people for the job. See above reference to 1950's - who thinks this type of stuff up? Has no relevance to today.


2 people like this
Posted by Respect the character of PA
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2016 at 4:19 pm

Mauricio says "The main thing is that in both Bolinas and my new location, a profound respect for the environment, for the character and history of the place, and a profound commitment for preserving livability override greed and hubris. This is not about the specific location of my new house which is irrelevant, but about doing what's right and what's decent. "
I couldn't agree more. I also am looking at another place to live where there is respect for the environment, character and history of the place. Palo Alto has sold out to the highest bidder. Greed has won out! Also, Palo Alto is an already developed City,not any open land to really speak of.


12 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2016 at 8:40 am

At least going into it everyone should understand Adrian Fine's contempt for the R1 zoning of residential neighborhoods that make up most of Palo Alto:

Web Link

highlights:
TBL: What kind of regulations are contributing to the housing shortage?

AF: We are predominantly zoned R1, which is the classification for single-family detached homes. We have minimum parking requirements and minimum lot sizes. There are a number of rules that really limit the diversity of housing production, not only as a matter of affordability but also as a matter of housing types.

>He has a simple plan to deal with the problem: Roll back regulations that currently make it too difficult to expand housing. He would use the added property tax revenue to upgrade city infrastructure like roads, schools, and parks.

TBL: The average home in Palo Alto now costs $2.5 million. How did Palo Alto’s housing shortage get so severe?

AF: This is a story that's shared by a lot of American cities: In the 1950s and 1960s we built tract homes and suburbs. Then we ceased building and increased regulation.

These regulations are at fault. As is frankly the attitude of folks who have their single family homes.

TBL: Is one of the problems here that too many decisions get made at the local level? A lot of these housing and transportation issues we’ve been talking about seem too big to be solved by any single municipality.

AF:There's a lot of backlash against regional planning groups. There are two of them: the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Some people feel this is a top-down mandate by Big Brother, but they’re just saying you have to plan for the level of growth you expect. Cities say, “Okay, we'll plan for it begrudgingly, then restrict it and strangle it wherever we can.”

He won't be getting my vote...

Also interesting that he describes California Ave as a second "downtown" ... rather than realistically as the few blocks long retail district ending in a dead end at the railroad tracks that it actually is.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 24, 2016 at 9:05 am

When you remove the R-1 designation to add multiple dwelling units you are not increasing the tax base of the city. At this time houses are turning over on a regular basis as children go through the school system. People will typically stay in the house while the children are in school and then down-size after the children move on. That creates a predictable tax base based on the current tax assessed value of the home based on the sales price. If you switch up to a multiple dwelling unit then it is typically a corporate owned property and will stay static as to tax value. The tax value of the property will remain at the sales price at the time it was built.
Any time you move to a corporate owned baseline you are losing ground very quickly. No - you are not adding any value to the tax baseline for the city and you are in fact tilting the city budget to a higher percentage assigned for services for the increase in people on a site. Increase in waste management, water, police, etc. Get over the idea the corporate owned units are a good thing.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2016 at 9:07 am

I cannot find myself feeling any support for any candidate who will not discuss how they will put pressure on VTA and other agencies to improve public transportation in the region. I know that this is not just a Palo Alto issue, but unless our representatives get together and put pressure to improve transportation on the region as a whole then nothing will improve.

We could (hopefully not) build as many pack and stack housing or granny units as these proponents want and still people will come to Palo Alto who don't work here. Building more is no guarantee to solve traffic problems.

What will make a big difference to traffic is to get transportation that is an efficient and affordable alternative to solo driving. I am willing to bet that most of those people standing waiting for Caltrain own cars but are using Caltrain because it is an efficient alternative than driving solo. When Google and other private companies can get their employees to work with the use of efficient luxury buses it proves to me that a similar system will attract those who work in congested areas.


2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 24, 2016 at 9:17 am

The transportation entities own a vast amount of land on the peninsula. All of the land you see as you ride Caltrain up to the city. So rather than beating people on the head regarding R-1 property they need to start building their multiple unit dwellings on their own property. Possibly the papers can map out what property is owned by VTA, Railroads - they have a large piece in Brisbane, and Caltrain. We need to push back and get the building going on their property instead of it sitting there unused.


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Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 19, 2016 at 12:29 pm

I am not sure who I will vote for yet but I KNOW I will not be Ms. Martell as from my experience she is grossly unqualified.


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