News


Council candidates make their pitches at Palo Alto forum

Housing and transportation issues top list of concerns discussed at Chamber of Commerce event

A new senior center in south Palo Alto. A completely redeveloped Buena Vista Mobile Home Park. Also, more action, better financial management and increased community trust.

Those are some of the things that 10 City Council candidates proposed and promised during a Thursday afternoon forum, in which each was given a minute to solve the city's housing problem and another minute to describe their plan for a strong budget. All 10 (candidate Danielle Martell did not attend) hope that they will have the opportunity to delve far deeper into these subjects next year, as elected representatives.


Stewart Carl

Don McDougall

Leonard Ely III

Adrian Fine

John Fredrich

Arthur Keller

Liz Kniss

Lydia Kou

Greer Stone

Greg Tanaka
The forum, which was sponsored by the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce and moderated by Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, brought a standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 people to City Hall, with candidates positioned at the very dais that they hope to occupy after November.

Liz Kniss, a former two-time mayor and county supervisor, is the lone incumbent in the race for four seats. She was joined at the forum by candidates Stewart Carl, Leonard Ely III, Adrian Fine, John Fredrich, Arthur Keller, Lydia Kou, Don McDougall, Greer Stone and Greg Tanaka.

One challenge that each candidate faced Thursday was differentiating himself or herself from the other nine. Each praised Palo Alto as a great place to grow up and live and each vowed to protect the city's quality of life -- positions that are hard to argue against. Even on the contentious topic of housing, they offered some common themes. Most agreed that new housing is needed, though candidates differed over how much and what kind.

Fine and McDougall both said the city should strive to provide a diverse stock of housing, including dwellings for the city's workforce, below-market-rate units and market-rate housing.

This exploration will "require a council that is considerate of all people" and a process that brings everybody into the conversation, said McDougall, who serves on the city's Library Advisory Commission.

Fine pointed to a collaborative process that Palo Alto used to create the two South of Forest Avenue, also known as SOFA, plans, which resulted in a new community vision for a downtown area after the relocation of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Other prominent areas can benefit from similar visions, with the goal of creating housing for people of all ages and circumstances, he said.

"I believe that's a good model for the city to use in areas like University Avenue, California Avenue and El Camino," said Fine, who currently chairs the city's Planning and Transportation Commission.

Tanaka, who serves on the planning commission and preceded Fine as chair, concurred that more collaboration is necessary.

"You have to see all sides to truly solve the question," Tanaka said. "The key is to try to minimize impacts through smaller units, to have multiple transportation modalities, as well as to make the infrastructure investments necessary to allow that to happen."

Kniss focused her answer on diversity. The city needs to not provide just housing, she said, but units that aren't available only to the extremely wealthy.

"I have a fear of someday just driving down the street and seeing nothing but houses that are multi-million housing," she said. "We have to provide something that's an alternative."

Others focused on the effects of building too much. Kou said the city is under no obligation to provide housing for everyone, a task that demands a regional solution. And while Palo Alto can build more housing, it has to do so in a way that is well thought out, she said.

"It does need to take into consideration all the cumulative impacts that come along with overbuilding, just like what we've seen in the past decade with overbuilding of office space without taking into consideration the cumulative negative impacts," said Kou, a longtime neighborhood organizer and emergency-preparedness coordinator, who was heavily involved in the 2013 referendum to overturn the City Council's approval of a housing development planned for Maybell Avenue. A prior candidate, she was edged out for a council seat in 2014.

Carl, who like Kou leans toward slow-growth policies, was similarly skeptical of the city's ability to accommodate the masses of employees who commute to Palo Alto every day.

"We cannot possibly build that much living space in Palo Alto without compromising our quality of life," said Carl, a College Terrace resident who co-founded Sky Posse, the citizens group that is working to address the issue of airplane noise.

Stone also expressed some caution about growth. He pointed to the city's high ratio of jobs to employed residents (which is higher than 3 to 1) and said the city "cannot possibly add enough housing to keep pace with that without distorting the very fabric of Palo Alto and overrunning our clogged streets."

Stone, who chairs the city's Human Relations Commission, suggested placing new housing units near transit hubs and partnering with the Palo Alto Unified School District to see if housing sites can be identified on school property for teachers or other district employees, much like what the City of Santa Clara did with its 70-unit House of Teachers.

For Keller, a computer scientist who served two terms on the city's planning commission, the question of what kind of housing to build was as critical as the number of units. He noted that about 60 percent of the city's households are composed of one or two people, while only about 20 percent of the city's housing stock is studios and one-bedroom apartments. Clearly, he said, the city should focus on small units.

He also noted that while the city can provide housing for Palo Alto workers, it can not possibly accommodate all employees. The city should also be particularly careful about building large units because it's important to make sure schools are not overtaxed, he said.

Fredrich, a retired Gunn High School civics teacher, had a bolder proposal: redeveloping the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in Barron Park to create a modern apartment building with affordable units. He pointed to the nearly $30 million that the city and the county have already committed to preserving the mobile-home park and avert its closure.

"I think we can do something significant at Buena Vista, but $30 million in public money will demand a development, not just trailers," Fredrich said.

Candidates were also asked to offer their thoughts on how they would help small businesses, maintain a strong city budget, support local youth and meet the needs of the city's growing senior population.

On the lattermost question, Stone said that one of the most critical things the city can do for seniors is provide them with more transportation options. His commission had recently assessed the needs of seniors and identified transportation as the "No. 1 concern for senior citizens," he said.

"They need to be able to get from the front door to the grocery store," Stone said. "We need to increase our shuttle services so that they can have that opportunity."

Keller said he would support evaluating a senior center in south Palo Alto. Ely, a commercial real estate broker, concurred and said that, if elected, he would work toward making the new facility a reality. Kniss and Tanaka both said housing was the most important issue when it comes to seniors and indicated that they would favor more senior housing near transportation areas.

"I doubt we'll build a Channing House again, but we need to look at many more options than what we currently have," Kniss said.

On some issues, the candidates were in full agreement. When asked by Simitian to rank Palo Alto's traffic on a scale of one to 10, all answers fell on the narrow band between 6.9 (McDougall) and 8.5 (Keller and Kou). Candidates also agreed that airplane noise is a major issue, though they had different proposals to address it.

Carl said the city should urge the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to create flight paths that make planes descend over the Bay. Stone urged more regional cooperation on the issue while Fine said the city should harness the power of its citizen experts (including those in Carl's group) to solve the problem.

Ely, whose wife is a private pilot, said there may not be much that the city can do on this topic and he would not be in favor of pursuing a lawsuit to address it. Keller disagreed and cited the example of Minneapolis, Minnesota, which sued the FAA over airplane noise.

"If we band together with other cities and towns affected by this, it wouldn't cost very much to deal with that," Keller said.

On traffic, candidates uniformly opposed a plan by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to cut local bus services, including the line on Middlefield Road. Just about everyone said the city should fight to preserve the bus line and oppose regional plans to reduce local services.

When it comes to traffic, Keller also proposed a new arrangement with Stanford Research Park, which is currently exempt from the city's annual limit on office construction. To maintain this exemption, he said, Stanford should agree to a measurable and enforceable program for reducing traffic. He cited this as the type of "aligning incentives between the business community and the city" that he supports.

Other candidates also cited the importance of partnerships, whether regional or with local nonprofits. Ely, who served on the boards of Stevenson House and the Junior Museum & Zoo, and Fine both said the city should do more to support local nonprofits.

"I think the nonprofits who work with a lot of our city services should be given a little more leeway in building things and doing things that they in turn give back to the city," Ely said.

Regional cooperation was also a continuous theme during the forum, particularly when it came to solving traffic and housing problems.

Kniss, who has served on the VTA board, cited her experience with regional agencies as an important attribute that sets her apart as a candidate.

"Having that regional influence makes a big difference in Palo Alto," she said. "We don't exist on an island. We must exist with our neighbors and we must exist in a regional way, as well as in a small-city way."

Related content:

Eleven candidates to square off in Palo Alto council race

Related event:

TUESDAY, Sept. 20 Weekly to host school board candidates debate

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Comments

27 people like this
Posted by Greenacres
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 16, 2016 at 5:25 pm

Well, Fredrich has almost lost my vote on that one. He fundamentally fails to grasp the differenc between low-income people and subsidized housing units. They are not the same thing, and focusing too much on the latter - especially for the sake of developers - costs opportunities to help the former.

Many of the BV residents have made significant personal investments in their homes, they are mostly not just rental units. The logistics of putting over 400 people somewhere, razing the park, and getting all residents to agree to lose their only asset to become renters only in subsidized rental housing is just unrealistic.

A$30 million public investment in land that would presumably be thereafter owned by the city is a relative bargain to prevent the displacement and impoverishment of over 400 longtime Palo Alto residents, as well as creating a permanent haven for low-income residents, especially since the money is already set aside for low income housing. Compare that to what was spent on 801 Almafor example. Especially since the money would purchase land, it's a relative bargain as these things go.

Definitely NOT voting for Kniss or Fine. Yes for Kou. Otherwise, still watching, even Fredrich.


44 people like this
Posted by TuppenceT
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 16, 2016 at 5:28 pm

TuppenceT is a registered user.

Of the younger Candidates, Greer Stone was the only one was compassionate and eloquent and at the same time offered thoughtful, pragmatic solutions. I was impressed!


34 people like this
Posted by Excited about Fine and McDougall
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 16, 2016 at 5:31 pm

I'm excited to vote for Adrian Fine and Don McDougall, and I'm very glad they spoke up in favor of more housing. It's been horrible seeing so many of my friends and neighbors get pushed out. Looking forward to Adrian and Don helping to reverse that trend!


31 people like this
Posted by FINE!!
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 16, 2016 at 5:32 pm

Adrian Fine was eloquent and dynamic. He was head and shoulders above others.


31 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of University South
on Sep 16, 2016 at 5:35 pm

I was consistently impressed by Liz Kniss for her experience and by Fine and Tanaka for their command of the issues.

Many of the candidates were well-spoken. I like to see candidates offering a positive vision for the future. I think we've had too much divisiveness in the last few years. It may take someone with Liz Kniss's charm to knit us back together.

That said, I think we should be proud of the slate of candidates who turned out. It certainly makes me proud to be a long-time Palo Altan!


27 people like this
Posted by Sylvester
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 16, 2016 at 5:43 pm

Really impressed by Adrian Fine. I like that he knows Palo Alto's history and he had a lot of practical ideas for our future.


34 people like this
Posted by Give me people who can analyze and think positively about the future and not be divisive
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2016 at 5:44 pm

Last night was fascinating at the candidates' forum. It was great that a good number of people attended and we are lucky to have so many interested and interesting candidate. I was very disappointed in Ms. Kou, who seemed to emphasize slow growth and reducing traffic as her main goals. What about some positive policy suggestions for how to deal with our future, which must change to accommodate old, young new..... ????? Mr. Stone is glib and too general and focussed on divisiveness: "Balance" he says? What about detailing his policy suggestions an not being so vague? He sounds quite young. He spoke about "Bettering transportation options for seniors" but that is only one of may changes that must happen in this city.... soon. Several candidates were equally vague or too focussed on only one sub issue of our current civic challenges. I was very impressed by the command for data and by the positive suggestions for inclusivity and working with other council members suggested by Adrian Fine, Greg Tanaka, Liz Kniss and Don McDougall. Mr. Fine has an experts command of multiple issues due to his experience on the P& T commission, Mr. Tanaka has the same expertise AND is a small business person with hands on experience, Liz Kniss is a font of expertise and emphasized collaboration across the aisle (when, for example, she referred to how she and someone with different approaches to solving issues actually worked on an issue together) and Don McDougall has admirable experience in business, is a long term Palo Alto resident and is very involved in admirable volunteer work concerning our environment and sustainability. For me they clearly articulated what they would do and have the experience and skills sets to accomplish their goals, are compassionate and can collaborate with differing groups with differing goals. All are fine, courageous candidates (to be running in this polarized election BUT, from my standpoint, Fine, Tanaka, Kniss and Mcdougall rose above the rest.


53 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2016 at 7:51 pm

Liz Kniss has been a fixture of Palo Alto politics for a very long time. Even though she is flogging her experience as her prime virtue justifying her re-election—can anyone demonstrate how Palo Alto government is better because of her election to city council over the years?


83 people like this
Posted by PAF
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 16, 2016 at 7:59 pm

Clearly the candidates most sympathetic to PAF's high-density development agenda are Fine, McDougall and Tanaka. If you are sympathetic to PAF's agenda, these are your candidates. OTOH, if you would like the CC to proceed more cautiously on development than it has in the past few years, vote for Kou and Keller.


32 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2016 at 7:59 pm

I challenge everyone of you to listen to McDougall. He doesn't say anything relevant related to problems, possitions or policies - related to being on city council. He just describes stuff. Why would anyone vote for someone who says nothing about anything that matters? That's no kind of leadership and indicates he knows nothing.
I hadn't heard of Greer stone but was impressed that he actually had some ideas that seemed practical and not just saying the same predictable stuff.


49 people like this
Posted by Lee
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 16, 2016 at 8:11 pm

I liked Greer Stone too. He clearly wasn't one of the big development people like Fine and Tenaka who are with Palo Alto Forward, the pro- development group. His insight about services and those who need and use them got my attention. He was the one who associated teens needing a hangout - maybe getting back a bowling alley. And getting s second public pool and putting it south and a magic plsyground for north. This stuck with me because it was real stuff that would be great to do and seems maybe doable, not just words.


88 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 16, 2016 at 8:17 pm

Arthur Keller, Lydia Kou, Greer stone and Stewart Carl all spoke out for residents and reasonable growth in the city and favor pursuing legal policies over scofflaw practices and backdoor deals to guide our future.

Fine and Tanaka talk a big game about family values & things such as school quality,but are in favor of big growth scenarios that would gut the very soul of this city!

Their goals and Palo Alto Forwards (PAF) goals are aligned with the goals of the developers that care about one thing only; THE FINANCIAL BOTTOM LINE.

PAF's thinks R-1 housing is immoral.

PAF thinks that our Mayor Pat Burt is politically akin to Donald Trump.

PAF founders think that people shouldn't live in suburbs with "large green lawns": even if they just bought 3 bedroom houses that fit that description.

PAF wants to get your vote by promising to reduce housing prices and rental rates even though they have no control over the free market.

PAF doesn't say which neighborhoods will bare the brunt of redevelopment/over development in our city.

PAF doesn't tell you how they will fix the problem of overcrowding and diminished quality of education in our schools.

PAF doesn't tell you because they don't want you to know.....that they don't know how to answer these questions.


41 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 16, 2016 at 8:22 pm

Wow. Adrian Fine disses his own neighborhood and and the College Terrace Residential parking program in its seventh year of sucess!

I wonder if he will be able to be unbiased about RPPPs in other parts of the city?


“Frankly, I don't think it's been that much of a success. I simply disagree with you, Lydia … you live in College Terrace, you should accept some of the benefits of living in the City. In terms of enforcement, I have friends who get ticketed. My cars get ticketed for other things just as the parking patrol officers come through. It's really, really annoying. I never felt we had much of a parking problem.”

Adrian Fine
Web Link


37 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 16, 2016 at 8:55 pm

I was very impressed with Greer Stone last night. He was the one candidate that I found myself in agreement with every time he spoke.


22 people like this
Posted by Sylma
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 16, 2016 at 9:08 pm

I think Liz Kniss was right when she said her one word was "Trust". I've voted for her before and will do so again. It was nice to hear some of the candidates like Liz, McDougall and Fine talk about cooperation and partnerships. We need more of that!


12 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 16, 2016 at 11:34 pm

Indeed, an illuminating forum, such as it was. Can't get much detail in a set of 60-second responses, but it's a starting point, or fodder for partisan confirmation bias. I wish the Media Center had this available for playback on demand. Looks like they have just two scheduled rebroadcasts, next Monday and Thursday. I took only cursory notes and don't want to misquote anyone.

An amusing moment was when on a transportation question McDougall polled the large audience for a show of hands on who used public transit to get there. Nervous looks all around, until someone blurted out to include bikes or walking, and then a few arms went up. The audience was not shy somewhat earlier when Kniss asked who was bothered by airplane noise -- an overwhelming majority reached for the sky. (Such responses often do not come across in the video, which generally is focused on the dais or an individual up front at a microphone.)

We voters still have about 7 more weeks to lobby for our favorites or have our minds changed. I happily agree with the commenter above who wrote "we should be proud of the slate of candidates who turned out."


22 people like this
Posted by Terri
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2016 at 11:46 pm

Fine and Tanaka recently became registered Democrats this year... Why? Well, what an interesting fact! Now they're running for council...

Vote Stone, Kou, Kniss! They all seem to have valuable contributions for Palo Altans.


4 people like this
Posted by SEA_SEELAM REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 17, 2016 at 4:38 am

SEA_SEELAM REDDY is a registered user.

I am impressed with the candidates we have.

We have young blood, seasoned few, and many with a good amount of community service already.

It will be hard to pick only four. I wish we could replace some that are already on city council.

Respectfully


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 17, 2016 at 8:57 am

I was impressed with Mr. Stone. He seems fresh, innovative and has actual ideas to take to the table if on council. I also think we need people like Mrs. Kniss who has regional connections. It's beneficial and could form strong partnerships beneficial to Palo Alto.
I'm not 100% sure about other candidates. Some portrayed knowledge on issues like traffic and housing, but lacked an action plan. "How" is the big question here, and Mr. Stone and Mrs. Kniss seemed to answer that most clearly.
Other candidates, like Kelly and Fine, seemed almost scripted and with no sense of personality. How are Palo Altans supposed to relate to representatives like that?
Overall, it was good debate. I can't wait to attend the next one. Maybe then my husband and I be convinced to vote for another two candidates. Right now we're only for Mrs. Kniss and Mr. Stone.


15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of University South
on Sep 17, 2016 at 10:17 am

The Santa Clara County Democratic Party endorsed Kniss, Tanaka, Fine, and McDougall.


41 people like this
Posted by Terry
a resident of Mayfield
on Sep 17, 2016 at 11:50 am

After listening to all the candidates, it is clear to me that you want the most knowledgeable, responsible, caring, and thoughtful persons on our City Council. You don't want individuals who say they care about the neighborhoods and actually are supporters of the people who don't even live in our City. Our City Council should be made up of people who not only live here, but actually care about the citizens who have to live, walk, bike, drive, and park in this community every single day. There is only two people that support that view -- Arthur Keller and Lydia Kuo.

Arthur is extremely knowledgeable of Palo Alto issues and his background serving of the Planning Commission makes him ideally suited to serve on the City Council. Lydia is a thoughtful, intelligent, candidate who not only is well-versed in all the key issues, but has shown by her hands-on approach that she is never afraid to protect and serve the citizens and neighborhoods of this great City. We need these types of people to be elected and serve our community.


45 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 17, 2016 at 12:22 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

It's very easy to be glib and eloquent when promoting radical, extreme and irrversible change, like the dismantling of suburbs and small towns and suburban lifestyle in favor of very dense urban living. That is the ideology and purpose of PAF and the candidates generated by and from that pro massive development and urbanization lobbying group.


46 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 17, 2016 at 1:03 pm

Resident; you stated:

"The Santa Clara County Democratic Party endorsed Kniss, Tanaka, Fine, and McDougall"

Yes the democratic party did endorse them despite the fact that Fine and Tanaka only recently joined the Dem party and Tanaka had previously registered as a republican.

Yet Keller has been a registered Dem for years and has worked hard for Dem candidates!

Politics getting in the way of Politics!


49 people like this
Posted by Mr Nice Guy
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 17, 2016 at 1:39 pm

"McDougall. He doesn't say anything relevant related to problems, positions or policies - related to being on city council. He just describes stuff."

That's how Development advocate Wolbach got elected. Just be a 'nice guy' and say nothing. That's Liz Kniss way as well. People who don't follow the issues just vote for someone who can pretend to be 'nice'.

Saying nothing worked for Wolbach, lots of regrets around town now.
PA Forward likes Wolback and McDougall and of course Kniss. Caution is advised.


20 people like this
Posted by Noah
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 17, 2016 at 2:58 pm

I didn't hear any ideas or plans from Stone, Keller or Kous. Mostly complaints about traffic and talk about "moderation"..

Greg Tanaka did a good job speaking up for small business (the forum was hosted by the chamber of commerce), and I liked how Liz Kniss and Adrian Fine focused on making sure Palo Alto can be a place for different people. They were the only ones to mention affordable housing!


42 people like this
Posted by Always A Republican
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 17, 2016 at 2:58 pm

Well, since Fine and Tanaka switched parties from Republican to Democrat, I will not be voting for either one of those candidates. While, PACC elections are not party based, I believe people should stand up for their beliefs, and not be concerned about being categorized by others. To switch your voting party just to get endorsements, is not honest, and shows a lack of integrity. Besides, if they had remained Republican, they would have been endorsed by the Republican party. And, they would have had support from other local Republicans. I would prefer voting for a Democrat who has commitment, and a lifetime of being a Democrat, than one who switches party affiliation just to get endorsed.


15 people like this
Posted by For Fine
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 17, 2016 at 3:17 pm

at "Always a Republican" - Fine did not switch parties; he only joined the democratic party recently. I've met him, he's a nice and energetic young man with good ideas and in my opinion, the right values. He wouldn't have earned the party's endorsement otherwise.


9 people like this
Posted by calm
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 17, 2016 at 4:43 pm

I really enjoyed the fact that we have young candidates running who are so concerned about the future of Palo Alto. Makes me proud of our youth. We definitely need new, young ideas and we need to be planning for the 21st century, not the 20th.
Fine and Stewart both raised ideas about using technology to help with transportation/parking solutions - about time, considering where we live!


55 people like this
Posted by Beware of PAF Candidates
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 17, 2016 at 6:16 pm

PAF candidates are Adrian Fine, Greg Tanaka & Liz Kniss. PAF promotes over development while resisting limits on office growth, fully parking developments or increasing below market housing. [Portion removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2016 at 7:42 am

It's simply false that Palo Alto Forward has "resisted efforts to increase below-market housing". People like Elaine Uang, Sandra Slater, and Diane Morin, who are members of the PAF steering committee, are well-known as strong supporters of below-market housing. The organization has always spoken out in favor of affordable housing and in favor of helping the residents at Buena Vista.

Furthermore, none of the candidates attacked as "PAF candidates" are members of the steering committee of PAF or have even been involved in setting up events or other organizational activities. It seems like their common tie to Palo Alto Forward is that they were willing to answer its questionnaire.

It's sad to see this kind of attacks on other neighbors in our community. It has been a particularly polarizing and divisive four years since Measure D. I prefer the Palo Alto we had five, ten, twenty years ago, which was a much more neighborly and united place. I'm concerned about the new turn we've seen in Palo Alto politics of personal attacks since PASZ was formed. Too many people, especially on this forum, have simply smeared people with different ideas rather than confronting them on the merits.

Can we go back to a Palo Alto that cares about each other? We are all residents, we are all neighbors.


29 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 18, 2016 at 8:08 am

Resident; you say:

"The organization has always spoken out in favor of affordable housing and in favor of helping the residents at Buena Vista."

I believe this is not true. I attended all of the BV hearings and never heard a peep from PAF while I do recall that PASZ leaders spoke in favor of it as did Keller and Kou.

If you Prefer the Palo Alto of 5, 10 20 years ago, Please vote for candidates who want to preserve the appeal of the Palo Alto in years past as we move forward and evolve.

Arthur Keller, Lydia Kou, Greer Stone and Stewart Carl don't want to "go back to the past" they want to move forward and embrace the future while protecting the the interests of residents and keeping Palo Alto the great city it is now to raise children and innovate the planet!

Vote Keller, Kou, Stone & Carl for City council and the future!


22 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2016 at 8:30 am

PAF sent a letter to City Council asking them to set aside funds to preserve Buena Vista. I saw Elaine Uang read it while holding her two toddlers in her arms - apparently she couldn't get child care that night but cared enough to come out in person.

The Palo Alto I cared about was a diverse and inclusive community. I see that concern from people like Elaine Uang. I saw it from some of the other candidates, particularly Kniss, Tanaka, and Fine. I liked how Greg Tanaka talked about his family and his desire to make sure that Palo Alto remains a good place to raise kids - even though young families are struggling so hard to make it here.

It sounds like all three of them (and McDougall?) have received the endorsement of the Democratic party, which means a lot to me.

I haven't yet seen that desire for an inclusive, welcoming community from the PASZ candidates. From some of them, in years past, I've seen the opposite. Let's see if they change their tune as the campaign continues.


19 people like this
Posted by An interesting take
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 18, 2016 at 3:54 pm

I'm looking for a couple of things in a council member. I'd like them to have a solid command of the matters that they will decide upon. I'd like them to be balanced and reasonable in their decisions. And I'd like to see some track record which supports these items.

Greg Tanaka came out on top for me. He was able to make solid points about how he would handle a number of items and his background as a commissioner supports his comments. He was in favor of projects and decisions that made sense to reasonable people. He was in favor of the California Avenue renovation which nearly all would agree turned out to be a great project. Similar comments could be said for Fine and Kniss as well.

Other candidates might have had moments of eloquence, but it's hard to see where they've already participated in public poicy in Palo Alto.

Regarding party affiliation, isn't this a non-partisan race?


3 people like this
Posted by Some facts
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 18, 2016 at 4:00 pm

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Karen
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 18, 2016 at 4:35 pm

[Post removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by Karl
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Sep 18, 2016 at 8:03 pm

Potential impacts of High Speed Rail, or the even likelier scenario of significantly more Caltrain traffic, and the possible, but costly, benefits of grade separations at the cities rail crossings seems to have fallen off the radar. Housing is a problem, for sure, but the increased number of faster trains on the rails as is is a very real safety issue that needs to be addressed.


31 people like this
Posted by Al
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 19, 2016 at 11:17 am

Sierra Club endorsed Greer Stone, Lydia Kou, and Arthur Keller. That is the gold standard of endorsements by any organization. I did laugh that people are shocked, shocked, that a political party would play - politics with endorsements! That's what they are here to do and why voters should ignore them. And why the Sierra Club's endorsement is so coveted - it's from the most respected environmental organization of them all, not an ends justifies the means political party (GOP's the same).


Like this comment
Posted by Some facts
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 19, 2016 at 11:32 am

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Thoughts on candidates
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 19, 2016 at 11:35 am

Thoughts on candidates is a registered user.

I liked Arthur Keller's grasp of facts and analytical approach, Liz Kniss offers deep experience, historical knowledge, strong and practiced leadership skills, and connections to regional agencies that will be critically important to Palo Alto in coming years. Greg Tanaka seems to be a consensus builder. He served on the Planning & Transportation Commission and the Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Task Force that finally got the city moving to address our backlog of infrastructure maintenance.

I won't be voting for Lydia Kuo. This is her second time running and she still doesn't seem to have mastered the facts and history of important ongoing issues. For all the time she spent on the Comp Plan committee, she still doesn't seem to grasp the complexities of balancing growth and congestion management. She's negative--has lots to say about what she is against but few really practical ideas about how she'll address existing problems.

She wants to "reduce" traffic? How will she do that? The ONLY factor that has effectively reduced traffic in Palo Alto in the last two decades was the recession. I'm pretty sure we don't want another of those.

I'll be watching upcoming forums to learn more about all of the the candidates. Let's all get informed.. and get out to exercise our precious right to VOTE!


31 people like this
Posted by Another anon
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 19, 2016 at 12:14 pm

Fac - Palo Alto Forward refused to speak in support of Buena Vista the night it really counted when every other organization and religious group in town did, including PASZ. Watch the video tape. There was a change of thought by PAF. Some on steering committee decided it was a bad use of site and best use was to scrape to ground and build new for a lot more people even though this would destroy BV and all residents who would be lost forever. This was known by anyone working on BV such as Lydia Kou who advocated long ago publically for city to help buy it.


17 people like this
Posted by Notenaka
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 19, 2016 at 3:19 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Steven
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 19, 2016 at 5:52 pm

I like that Keller, at least within this article, acknowledges the majority of residents in small households and the need to prioritize housing accordingly. Home owners should not receive better treatment than renters.

Curious where the other candidates stand on this.


17 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 19, 2016 at 5:58 pm

Lots of mud slinging going on here.

Instead of addressing everything at once, I hope that moderators will clamp down on the utterly false notion that Palo Alto Forward did not support Buena Vista vigorously.

Here is our posting to rally for Buena Vista (we brought our membership out in force) Web Link

Here is our blog post supporting the city's efforts: Web Link

Our members came out to speak, and worked with Buena Vista leadership, city leadership and Supervisor Simitian on this.

Please stop these slurs.


18 people like this
Posted by Inclusive not divisive---let's not smear each other
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 19, 2016 at 6:29 pm

If I had any doubts that Palo Alto Online allows people to "smear" and misrepresent and be divisive, this column shows how shady the commentators can be.
(1) The use of the name "PAF" by someone who is clearly hostile to PAF... how is that not "dirty" politics?
(2) Suggesting that PAF compared our mayor to Trump ("Drumpf...). That's not true. It is simply a smear.
(3) Repeatedly in recent columns commentators have said that PAF did not support Buena Vista. This is so clearly untrue, i.e. a lie, that I cannot help but feel that it is intentional "smearing". Don't believe it. PAF is for affordable housing, of all kinds, below market and market... it is for diversity of homeownership. It was Joe Simitian who really led the battle for Buena Vista and put some positive spin on the issue of keeping folks there, with the assistance and support of increasing numbers of legislators, council members, members of the community INCLUDING PAF people. The council members who now try to cloak themselves in a mantle of altruism because they supported Buena Vista, did so only after Simitian and others already showed that the battle could be successful. Some are clearly not as supportive of affordability as others or of many supporters of PAF. They are no more or less to be praised than other council members. Buena Vista became a "do gooder" issue for residentialist council members... only after the awes Joe Simitian and others made it so. To suggest that PAF was not a supporter is a BLATANT DISTORTION OF REALITY AND IT IS MEANT TO SMEAR PAF. Please stop. Let's be inclusive and not divisive. SMEARING Is not the spirit of this great country (and I hope Palo Alto). We don't rip down other people's positions (or documents or whatever), we simply put our point of view. PLEASE: Let's all try to BE INCLUSIVE and not DIVISIVE....


11 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Sep 19, 2016 at 7:06 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

I was in the room when the original Palo Alto Forwwrd decision to support housing for low income residents on the Buena Vista site was adopted and participated along with others when the letter Elaine Uang presented to council was drafted.

Members of Palo Alto Forward including myself participate in the efforts of Silicon Vallay @ Home to support efforts for housing for low-income residents everywhere in the County.

Palo Alto Forward supports efforts to expand housing opportunities and options for middle income residents as well who are feeling the challenges of living in an area where rents and home prices are outpacing income gains.

Readers can see all the Palo Alto Forward policy positions by going to our website and reading through.


23 people like this
Posted by Charles
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 19, 2016 at 8:53 pm

Steve levy - just as the city council, county board of supes and county housing authority was all taking critical votes on forming their partnership go housing authority to purchase Buena Vista, I read your blog that was more negative and unsupportive of BV than pretty much anything written in the years this town has worked to save it. It was a time when BV could have actually been hurt by your effort to speak out against it. Our church was there every step of the way and I never saw you once. Have you ever been there and met any residents? Talked to them? Bet Winter would give you her tour and introduce you around.


1 person likes this
Posted by friend
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 20, 2016 at 11:17 am

@Karl Actually Measure B, if passed, will provide funds for grade separations.


9 people like this
Posted by Holly Ward
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 20, 2016 at 11:36 am

@Joe

Liz Kniss has an unmatched record of public service, as a PAUSD trustee, a County Supervisor and a Council Member (and two time mayor).

As our Trustee
When she was a trustee on the PAUSD, she along with Joe Simitian and Larry Klein set the
precedent for the on-going partnership with the schools and the City.

This kind of partnership between jurisdictions had never been done before. It was this original and unique partnership that
resulted in the Cubberley lease that saved the PAUSD during a severe decline in enrollment and protected the Cubberley site from development. It was collaboration and innovative policy work at its best.
And now that times and fortunes have changed, she plans to jump start the negotiations for a long term solution to Cubberley, as required by the agreement and lease extension entered into in 2014.

As our County Supervisor

Improving and making safe our roads and streets:
As a member of the VTA and Caltrain Board, we can thank Liz for funding to repave Oregon Expressway, widening Highway 101 and safety improvements at Middlefield and Oregon Expressway.

She was the one who got $5 million of county money for the pedestrian bike bridge.
She also pushed to keep all the Caltrain trains running when they wanted to make cuts.
The result was an increase in ridership.

Helping Seniors, Families, Women, Veterans and Children:
She advocated for a county-wide suicide prevention program,
Pushed for a housing program to help homeless veterans
Launched the north county dental van to serve children and adults in need
Pushed for and got continued funding for a youth mentoring program which included jobs for foster youth and alternatives to youth incarceration
Fought and won expanded access to mammography for low-income women through an innovative outreach program using a public/private partnership
Initiated a north county children’s health collaborative to increase health care coverage for children.
Actively supported a countywide pandemic Flu Plan and funding for community education.
She fought against slashing funding for mental health and drug rehabilitation and won.
And she pushed for and got funding for improvements to Stevenson House providing affordable housing for our seniors

She has been a champion of the environment—
Initiated a policy to reduce electronic waste with requirements for purchase and responsible disposal
Established County partnership with Sustainable Silicon Valley to reduce carbon emissions
Fought to pass a Pest Management Ordinance to reduce the use of harmful pesticides
Pushed to create the Office of Climate Action and Sustainability
Spearheaded a program for efficiency and energy requirements for government buildings

The pristine hills and open space we enjoy today was because Liz and other environmental visionaries
created the Committee for Green Foothills.

As our Current Council member

Works hard for funding to improve our parks and playgrounds, repaving our streets and repair our sidewalks.
Advocates for safe routes to school and to complete the Mitchell Park Library
Her knowledge and regional influence made it possible to forge a deal to save Buena Vista and the homes of more than 400 families
She is a strong advocate of Project Safety Net
She is a strong force for the implementation of TDM and the residential parking permit program, implementing valet service at parking garages and using her influence on the Air Quality Board to get funding for city bikes.

--partial list
This is a record of accomplishments that is unmatched and it demonstrates Liz’s indefatigable dedication to her community.


20 people like this
Posted by Kniss and airport cronies
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2016 at 11:55 am

For all of Kniss' regional influence, she has not stepped up to do much about airplane noise.

Odd given her concern for playgrounds, youth and community issues.

She has never replied to my emails about airplane noise and I have several friends who have similar experience.

As a previous poster musical commented

"The audience was not shy somewhat earlier when Kniss asked who was bothered by airplane noise -- an overwhelming majority reached for the sky. (Such responses often do not come across in the video, which generally is focused on the dais or an individual up front at a microphone.)"

Seems like Kniss asked the question expecting a few hands and her lack of actions on airplane noise are based on who cares about them.

I'm looking for a candidate who will not be selective and discount issues based on a show of hands. What if there had been only two hands in a 200+ standing room only crowd, instead of the large group who raised hands, that is reason to ignore residents?

No time to waste on Kniss for me.


21 people like this
Posted by Jim colton
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 20, 2016 at 2:27 pm

I'm voting for Kou and Keller. They both have longstanding reputations for representing the residents of Palo Alto. Not so for the new comers supported by PAF and the old comer on the council.


17 people like this
Posted by Mr Nice Guy
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 20, 2016 at 4:15 pm

Rosenblum wants credit for supporting Buena Vista. How come so many people are skeptical?
Because they were very late to the table. Joe Simitian held a big rally on the City Hall Plaza, I think Winter Dellenbach worked with him. They served pizza to the crowd.
Why is this relevant?
Because a while afterward after a long silence on the issue, PAForward held a meeting to support Buena Vista and they served pizza!
No it's not a crime, it just shows how derivative their positions are, they follow whoever looks like they are winning. The developers win a lot, so PAForward follows their lead.


11 people like this
Posted by sheri
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 20, 2016 at 7:34 pm

sheri is a registered user.

The PAN Council Candidates Questionnaire is now available on the PAN website (www.paneighborhoods.org). Responses are available both by candidate and by question.

The questionnaire arose from the fact that we recognize that it can be difficult to gauge a candidate’s views from a debate or campaign literature. We wanted to give candidates an opportunity to delineate their positions on a number of issues that our residents have told us are a concern to them.

We urge everyone to use this questionnaire in conjunction with views espoused on other questionnaires, websites, newspapers, social media, etc.

And do consider attending the PAN Candidates Forum on Thursday, September 29, 7-9pm, in the Council Chambers at 250 Hamilton. While answers to questions are limited to one minute, the forum gives you a chance to see how a candidate reacts to an unscripted question.


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2016 at 1:10 pm

I would really like to know about the various candidates views on traffic and parking in town.

I don't want to hear the same sort of rhetoric we have been listening to anymore. I want to hear that we need to communicate with our neighbors about how to deal with the problem regionally. I want to hear about pressure being put on VTA to keep service in the north county. I want to hear about ideas of how to coordinate north and south bus routes. I want to hear about how to get a bus service that runs along 101 to our airports with stops at onramps every five miles or so.

I want to hear about ideas that may work. I want to hear about innovation in respect to helping people park rather than restricting parking for occasional all day parkers. I want some positive ideas about how to find parking on busy weekends and evenings. I want to hear who is willing to look to traffic and parking as one of the biggest problems our town and this region has.


4 people like this
Posted by pestocat
a resident of University South
on Sep 21, 2016 at 2:15 pm

pestocat is a registered user.

Is there going to be another candidates forum for us to ask questions.


19 people like this
Posted by Susie
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 21, 2016 at 3:46 pm

Here's the thing with Palo Alto Forward - it wasn't consistently in support of Buena Vista. So one can point to websites, but those are a snapshot in time. PAF's support came and went, and now there's no way to say if it is back or not - it certainly can't be based on old links to rally held years ago.

A better gage in considering this question is to ask what effect Palo Alto Forward's positions have on low-income Palo Altan's ability to remain living here, such as the residents at Buena Vista. Clearly it makes their chances much worse given PAF's pro-development, no limits position on office or commercial development which then jams these projects with more and more new workers demanding housing. Market rate housing, even small units is super expensive so low-income people get nothing from it and land is lost for very well paid tech workers who can afford high rents.

Sure a few units are reserved for low-income people - if you build 100 units, maybe 15 would be for them - negligiable. But then the land is gone forever. If people hadn't rebelled over shoving out 400 long-time Palo Altans from Buena Vista, Prometheus had planned to build 180 units of smaller housing there for young tech workers - that's what they were quoted as saying - we all read it over and over.

Palo Alto Forward is about getting housing for their workers of Palatir (Eric Rosenbloom works there as do other present or former PAF steering committee members) and other corps. downtown and crumbs for low-income people.

No - PAF does not really support Buena Vista in a meaningful way. Candidates for City Council who do are Lydia Kou, Arthur Keller and Greer Stone - their positions on city policies will contain office development and encourage housing that will be preserved or can actually get built for low-income people.


12 people like this
Posted by Not so
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Not so. Repeatedly saying that PAF did not support Buen Vista is simply not true. Repeating it does not make it true. What are your sources other than a small group of people repeating it on this site? You have nine. Moreover , there were council members who waited for the right moment before saying they were on board in supporting Buena Vista. One went to the Buena Vista celebration but only after it was clear that Simitian was pushing for Buena Vista. Maybe that is who is behind these comments? This column is largely a small group of commentators echoing each other, preaching to the choir. Their choir wants to believe PAF did not support Buena Vistra when it clearly did support BuenaVista. To imply otherwise is scurrilous and: Simply not so.
Same people. Same hearsay. Same untruth. On to the next.


11 people like this
Posted by Another resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2016 at 4:33 pm

Kou is a real estate broker. She does not mention this often. She Says she is a "Small business owner". Well.. Then all real estate brokers are. But they usually don't identify as business owners. Greer Stone acts as if he has a lot of experience when in fact he just got reappointed to the Human Relations Commission and just began his career after getting out of law school. (See site for HRC etc). He's maybe 26? There are many more on the HUMAN Relations Commission who have been there far longer but don't boast about it. They are both (Kou and Stone) being supported and pushed by Filseth, Dubois and Holman, I.e. The council members voted in place by PASZ and the so-called "Residentialist" movement. Keller, in contrast, has experience and can be trusted to have independent ideas. Don't be fooled.


13 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 21, 2016 at 4:35 pm

This Buena Vista trutherism is really nasty.

Sometimes it is absurd (we also served pizza at a rally).

Sometimes it is just plain slanderous and nasty.

Most of Palo Alto Forward got involved with our group over the very issue of affordability. Many of us volunteer our time for affordable housing providers. I personally spent significant time this week and last week interviewing staff at Palo Alto Housing Corp and SV@Home trying to figure out how to maximize their affordable housing funds, so that the PTC could give a solid recommendation to Council.

With regards to Buena Vista, we have actively rallied for this from the beginning, middle and end We are also fighting for affordability more generally.

For those people who are on this site (assuming it's not just the same 3 people posting over and over again):
1) I encourage you to visit paloaltoforward.org and understand our positions for yourself. We're completely transparent
2) you'll see that we have spent the last 2+ years organizing walking tours, educational events, neighboorhood meet-ups and rallies-- all around topics of housing diversity, affordability and supply, along with the transportation solutions needed to support these initiatives.

I hope that everyone can educate themselves around housing and transportation alternatives (and stop the nasty attacks)


16 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 22, 2016 at 9:35 am

Elaine Uang, PAF co-founders twiiter opinion of affordable housing. doesnt sound supportive.


Elaine Uang
‏@elaineuang
sadly, affordable housing make all housing more expensive to build and everyone loses.
Elaine Uang added,
Kim-Mai Cutler @kimmaicutler
New % requirements for affordable units that SF voters passed this summer could slow overall housing production. Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Sep 22, 2016 at 1:02 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

I know Elaine and she is very supportive of housing for low income residents as am I.

There is, however, considerable evidence, that high % requirements for low income housing or high fees on market rate projects do both raise prices and discourage production of units reserved for low income residents.

Broad public funding combined with reasonable fees and requirements and bonuses for more BMR units are better paths for those who wish more housing for low income residents as Elaine and I do.


18 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 22, 2016 at 6:24 pm

"Broad public funding ... for more BMR units are better paths for those who wish more housing for low income residents"

Yes, sure you would. You would like every tax payer to bear the burden from the impact of PAF's hyper-growth strategy. You want to shield your developer friends from paying their share so they can maximize their profit. You don't want spoiled, entitled PAF members paying too much for their shiny new residences. We get it, PAF loves affordable housing. PAF just wants everyone else to pay for it.

Thanks Steve, that clears it up for me!


8 people like this
Posted by Below Market Rate vs. Market Rate HousingRate
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 22, 2016 at 6:28 pm

I've heard Palo Alto city staff explain that fees and set-asides used to enable below-market-rate housing affect land values but do not raise the cost of market-rate housing. That makes sense to me, as not much new market-rate housing is available at any given time and it will always be a small fraction of the overall housing options available for purchase or rent. So it can't be priced very differently from the general market rate - that is, the developers charged the fees for below-market-rate housing can't pass those fees on to the public. Instead, city staff explained that if you raise fees to create more below-market rate housing, the value of the land goes down commensurately. So it's the developers and land investors who in fact cover these costs.

It seems then we should raise the fees that developers pay so as to enable more below-market-rate housing to help the neediest in our communities. Yes, that means slightly less market-rate housing will get built because there's only room for so much housing in total. I gather Palo Alto Forward candidates think differently and that's their right. There's a mention above that they think the general public should fund below-market-rate housing, but that seems unlikely to happen and would only fuel further housing cost inflation. Because I feel we need to help the neediest, I favor the direction Palo Alto and other cities have taken and won't be supporting Palo Alto Forward candidates (Kniss, Fine, Tanaka, and McDougall).


4 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Sep 22, 2016 at 8:09 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

If the last two posters were right, low income housing advocates would be pressing for very high fees here and elsewhere.

But low income housing advocates are also cautious that very high fees will discourage not produce low income housing.

I support Measure A the county $950 bond for housing for homeless and low income residents. The candidates mentioned above--Fine, Kniss, McDougall and Tanaka all support Measure A.

It is an example of broad public funding.

I also support school bonds where all property owners pay in PA though we will have no grandchildren attending school here.

Broad public funding is how we provide public services. We all share hopefully in some relation to our means.

If the candidates supported by the previous posters oppose public funding for low income housing and think only developers should pay, they are free to announce these positions in their campaign outreach.

I support fees and requirements that are reasonable and in line with neighboring communities but I also support public funding and would vote yes on a housing bond in PA, something other cities that care about housing for low income residents are now doing.


20 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 23, 2016 at 6:02 am

mauricio is a registered user.

Oh, you are pressing for high fees alright, you just want residents, not your developer friends to pay them.


15 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 23, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Wow...one minute to explain how they'd solve our housing problem?...when it will take 5 years or more to solve it, and maybe we never will. So that would be after their terms in office are up. That works out very well so they can give more speeches on the same issue in 4 years to get re-elected. Snails, slugs, and sloths move very slowly just like things getting done in PA do. It's hard to distinguish/discern big differences in the candidates' positions at this point. They end up sounding a lot alike and in agreement in pointing out all the problems, but not many of them offering any real viable solutions. They aim, with nice platitudes, to please the voting public audience. They need their votes to get elected first before they reveal their true colors/identities.

However it turns out, and if the PAFers get all their candidates elected, hopefully they will do limited damage in their terms in office. By then the whole community will be up in arms, rise up, and I think PAF will become a historical speck, an organization that came and went in the longer history of PA politics. Who remembers the John Birchers? Radical groups come and go and we just trudge along without them when they're gone. We recognize and realize all the realities of life, having lived so many years of it on our own, and in our own times. There is nothing we can do to change the thinking of people 50-60 years younger than we are...and we shouldn't try hard to do it. Aging alone makes people wiser!! Maybe it will happen with the millennials.

I've heard anecdotal stories about PA workers that commute and why they choose to do so. The reason?...they can rent for $1,000-$2,000/mo less in Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Santa Clara, San Jose, East Bay cities, et al, and that makes a big difference in their family budgeting. I seriously doubt all the ideas bantered about for micro-units, ADU's, et al, in PA, will ever be more affordable than those bigger units in neighboring cities, so the commuting will continue. So, where do we go from here? I could write a big blog/essay on commuting in my day...early 60's-70's... but I won't. Commuting, long and very long commutes, aren't something new in PA. They were common in the 60's and 70's. The longest I knew of was Lloyd Evans, my mechanical designer, who lived in Bonny Doon. My company, Kaiser Electronics, was located at the corner of Porter Drive and Page Mill Road. I'll let you figure out the miles he traveled every day. Lots of Fremont, Milpitas, Newark, Union City commuters as well. The reason?...the same as today...they couldn't afford to buy in PA.

Our problems today are magnified by the number of workers. That's why we have the traffic congestion and parking problems. We didn't put any limits on the downtown growth of offices when we should have. Palo Alto shouldn't be the center of Palintir's universe. I wish them great success, so much that they will have to move elsewhere to expand and grow. That would be a welcome relief for us.


29 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 23, 2016 at 3:54 pm

I'm very grateful for these forums. I almost fell for another moderate-sounding candidate who made a big deal about caring as much about transportation as about increasing density.

In response to comments here and in other topics. I checked his website and found he's not really moderate after all and is instead endorsed by PAF, PAF supporters, the pro-density realtors group and the hyper-growth members of the CC.

So down came his lawn sign. Do your homework, folks.


2 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 24, 2016 at 2:40 pm

@Steve Levy

I too would support a county $950 bond for homeless and low income residents. lol! I'm just teasing with you Steve. I know you left out the million unintentionally. I probably will vote for Measure A but I read elsewhere, earlier, where the money would go. I am curious about the analysis and decision making process that went into that...how the locations of projects were selected. I turn to Joe Simitian, our respected county supervisor, for answers.

Steve, since you would support public funding by a bond measure for housing in PA, exactly how big would that bond be? Define the income levels it would help. Just another great idea...I think...but with no chance of passing and so the beat goes on. Convince your PAFer friends to put it up for a vote on a ballot. And this should really surprise you. If it is well thought out with real viable solutions offered, I might even vote in favor. I hope your heart didn't stop beating from what I just said.

But that brings us back to the really big question and reality...how does it get built? Property owners, developers/builders all enter into the equation in a major way. PAF, PA's PTC, staff and CC are all players, but they don't control the "for profit entities" that need a bottom line to survive. They can enable them, as PAF is trying to do, but in the end they are in control.


1 person likes this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Sep 24, 2016 at 5:12 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Hi Gale,

Your concerns are well founded. In fact funding may be the easiest problem to overcome. Large jurisdictions are moving ahead with housing bonds. Alameda and Santa Clara County and the city of Los Angeles will vote on housing bonds in November. San Francisco has passed such a bond and Oakland is planning a future request. And cities have funding from nexus fees on marker rate housing although there is a debate about how high the fees can go without discouraging housing.

Most people who are in the low-income advocacy world would concentrate funding on residents who make less than 50% of the area median income with special attention on seniors and residents with disabilities. Measure A has a focus on homeless residents.

This still requires sites to be identified and approved by local jurisdictions like Palo Alto.

Other methods include providing incentives for developers to include more BMR units or funding, which can include density bonuses for including more units reserved for low income residents.

You are right that solutions require input and cooperation from many parties and that is difficult enough without all the resistance and mistrust about these days.

With regard to PAF you have written some stuff which is way off point and I invite you to come meet me and some PAF folks. You are too nice a guy to be spouting this conspiratorial stuff about PAF. It is just not true.


19 people like this
Posted by rita vrhel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 24, 2016 at 11:24 pm

Such interesting comments; no easy answers. Be wary of any candidate who offers simplistic answers.

Am so disappointed in the Democratic party for their off base City Council endorsements while ignoring Arthur Keller. What was that about?

As a life long Democrat, I was also aghast re their endorsement of Marc Berman over Vicky Veenker; an endorsement later to be withdrawn after the Dem's were caught in voting irregularities. Naughty, Naughty.. please don't put any credence in the Dem's endorsements.

There is a LOT of money at stake in this election. Palo Alto is up for sale to the highest bidder, disguised as a smooth talking man.

PAF's candidates, in my opinion, want to overbuild PA housing the same way office space was overbuilt.

What is wrong with calling attention to our terrible traffic congestion? That is not "negative", esp. when most residents are impacted daily by traffic delays and are constantly discussing it. No City candidate has offered a viable solution.

Housing stock will definitely increase. The question is what kind? Where? Who will be displaced? And who will buy?

So housing obviously is a huge issue but is not "back or white". If the right type is not constructed, many current residents will be priced out. Traffic will worsen ruining our neighborhoods, parks, schools and ultimately Palo Alto. I do not think this statement is NIMBY; what is wrong with wanting to preserve Palo Alto's unique charm while undergoing reasonable growth?

If we wanted to live cheek to cheek we would be in SF or NYC. I personally resent being labeled NIMBY because I disagree with over development, rampant construction and crowding.

The housing shortage will not lessen when Google, Apple, Facebook, etc are expanding and renting as many units as possible for their workers and visitors. They can afford almost any price. That plus overseas buyers have skewed housing availability and increased costs.

Look at the Housing Sales listed in the paper; prices increasing 1/2 to 1 million + in a matter of years.

Guess this is a long way of saying the issues are complex and so are the solutions. Working together positive changes can be thoughtfully made to benefit Palo Alto.

The current candidates offer a wide range of solutions and your selection will impact Palo Alto for years to come... select wisely. Thank you.


6 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 25, 2016 at 1:32 pm

@Stephen Levy

Thanks for the "too nice a guy comment". I really don't deserve it and I might have overdone it on my comments about PAF, but it's finally very clear what their agenda is, and in the extreme, it causes me to be very concerned, especially with the attempt to heavily load CC, with not only PAFers, but Palintir PAFers. The worst case scenario, rezoning that could affect my R-1 zoned single family home neighborhood.

If I read Kate Downing's comments correctly that was in her mind to do. Paraphrasing..."Those old geezers should just leave PA, they don't work anymore, they're not contributing, and are just taking up space here. They should make way for us young working deserving entitled millennials". It would serve the pro developers better to drop that term NIMBY, and to Kate, you have no idea how many of us retired folks are doing volunteer work in our community...food closets, Hotel de Zink, Ecumenical Hunger Project, et al. You didn't reach out to those people. You only reached out to ask us to help you out to afford a $2.7 million home in PA. Now I'm serious. I really hope that home in Santa Cruz is working out for you. You made the right decision! Still serious!

You might know that I supported my good friend Cory Wolbach in the 2014 election. I take a lot of flack for that from my 'co-conspirator NIMBY friends'. lol! That's a joke.

Recently, Cory came over to my house for a couple hour visit to talk about issues in PA, what's currently happening, etc., that any PAO reader, or those who attend or watch CC meetings on the Media website, knows about. I asked some hard questions that only an elder/older, maybe not wiser, person would ask. I've seen it all in my 55 years living here so I gave him the background of my experiences. He responded very honestly and openly. I hoped it would prepare him to think more closely and carefully about the future and the impacts of actions taken by CC. Our good meeting was the epitome of civility.

I went back and read about the creation and infancy of PAF. The group has had rapid growth but it has morphed somewhat, became more focused, and it's leaders seem to have a couple main issues in mind, housing and transportation. And they are now taking a hard position on housing. I have supported several ideas on higher density housing in the downtown area, where the current commuting workers work. I hope you are a little tech savy and can call up and collate all my posts on the subject. I don't want to try to repeat them here. But briefly, I think the height limit should be raised in some areas, to add another floor or two. And those could be built upon existing office buildings, work downstairs, live upstairs, kinda like mom and pop shops of days of yore. And a couple Channing size places? Why not? And a Park Merced sized apartment complex up near the Stanford Research Park? Why not?


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Gale - I can't imagine what you mean by "PAF's attempt to load CC with not only PAFers, but Palintir PAFers".

First off, none of the City Council candidates are either on the Palo Alto Forward steering committee or work at Palantir. As far as I know, none were even active members of Palo Alto Forward. At most, they subscribe to the newsletter, as I do.

Second, PAF has not endorsed any candidates. They have a scorecard and have posted the results of everyone who answered their questionnaire. If you are wondering why the PASZ-endorsed candidates are not on their website, it's because they did not answer the questionnaire. (Yet? Maybe there's still time.)

I hope you take a look at the Palo Alto Forward website, go to one of their events, or talk to people on the steering committee and don't just rely on comments from people on Palo Alto Online. It really does seem like there's a coordinated attempt on these comment threads to demonize Palo Alto Forward. It's really too bad, since in my experience with them, they are genuine, nice people. It's fine for people to think that there shouldn't be more housing built in Palo Alto (not that this is necessarily your view), but there's no call to turn that into false stories about people in our community.

From my experience with people like Elaine Uang and Sandra Slater, nothing of what is said about PAF on these comment threads is remotely accurate, unless it's the rare occasion someone from the PAF steering committee weighs in.


13 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 25, 2016 at 2:45 pm

Resident, of course PAF isn't going to endorse anyone officially.

But all one has to do is check each candidates' endorsements to see whether the big-name high-density advocates from PAF and city steering committees are there like Steve Levy, Mike Alcheck, Planning & Transportation Commission and Kate Downing, former PTC.


11 people like this
Posted by Ad hominem
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 25, 2016 at 3:01 pm

[Post removed.]


15 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 25, 2016 at 3:14 pm

Ad hominem makes some excellent points. Related to that I want to know who funded the incredibly biased telephone survey that asks if you agree with the "residentialist policies that want to take Palo Alto back to the 1950s" and if you want to "kill all jobs in Palo Alto."

The poll also severely twists the Mayor's position to claim that he wants to eliminate all jobs when all he really did was point out that Palentir was pushing out all the little startups that couldn't compete with it for rent.

There must be a lot of money at stake for all this expensive "polling" and smear attacks.


16 people like this
Posted by Resident2
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 25, 2016 at 4:05 pm

Resident2 is a registered user.

Not only is there a biased phone poll going around, but there was an excellent article in the Palo Alto Weekly recently describing how the survey that PAF wrote is incredibly biased (and no wonder many candidates won't bother to respond to it). See Doug Moran's blog from a few weeks ago: Web Link

PAF is very aggressive, and is using every technique they can to come up with bogus stats to convince Palo Altans that many Palo Altans support PAF and PAF ideas. Don't believe it. Just vote what you believe, and encourage your neighbors to vote as well. Do not vote for Fine. Do not vote for Tanaka. Do not vote for McDougall. Do not vote for Kniss. Or our city will be irrevocably changed for the worse.


13 people like this
Posted by rita vrhel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 25, 2016 at 5:27 pm

Thank you recent writers and Doug Moran for calling out the nasty and unnecessary attacks on Mayor Burt and Ms.Kou.

And Cory Wolbach.. I am so disappointed with you for your Facebook comments. I voted for you: why do you say Residentialism" is based on "fear, anger and false blame." Your comments do not sound very "civil" to me.

To me and may others who identify as "residentialists" this word does not mean "no housing for any income", NIMBY or a "moat" but rather means not making the same mistake with overbuilding housing as we obviously did with office space.

I am for a "thoughtful" approach to housing. Where? How do we avoid displacemnet? What price will be charged for the units? What traffic issues will occur? How will the developments be parked? How do we build while preserving our park lands, excellent schools and outstanding neighborhoods?

Surely we can build for the future without destroying the unique charm which sets Palo Alto apart from other Cities.

Stanford is building a large number of housing units for Escondido Village; that will free rentals currently occupied by students. Regulating Airbnb could open up existing housing units for residents. How can appropriate "granny units" be facilitated yet not rented out on Airbnb? How can the City facilitate construction of BMR housing and retain Buena Vista Trailer Park?

Calling names and slinging "mud" won't work in the long run; we need to work together.

Kate Downing is a six-income earner who wanted the big house and yard. Her choice; she could have moved down the Peninsula, bought a house, saved, built up equity and possibly returned to Palo Alto in the future. This is how many come to Palo Alto.

But instead Kate called attention to her voluntarily leaving Palo Alto and buying a home in Santa Cruz. A personal choice which unfortunately gained overnight international notoriety. Her privileged plight is not the plight of those residents of Buena Vista or others who do not have her income or choices.

Now that Kate has left, I wish she would immerse herself in Santa Cruz politics and stop commenting on Palo Alto. Her viewpoint was and is not appreciated. Quoting her is just inflammatory and divisive.






6 people like this
Posted by @Rita
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2016 at 6:02 pm

@Rita - before you embrace Doug Moran's defense of civility, you should read the comment thread. [Portion removed.]

So it sounds like all sides are comparing people who disagree with them to Trump.

If you ask me, the incivility started in the last election cycle.

Perhaps we can all drop the attacks on groups and start focusing on what the candidates are trying to say.


13 people like this
Posted by Resident2
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 25, 2016 at 6:32 pm

Resident2 is a registered user.

to the poster just before this one -- if you live in another community, curious, why are you such a student of this issue? Is it because you want to live here? Or something else (e.g., you are just a fan of busy and more urban areas)? I ask in part because I was aware of much of PAF targeting folks outside of Palo Alto to complain about Palo Alto and urge densification, which I find annoying.


Like this comment
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 26, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@Resident

C'mon! Of course you know what I mean...I just forgot the word de facto. We know who they support without endorsing them, and those people have spoken out for a lot of things that don't best suiit the needs of PA except for specific groups of young tech workers in the downtown area. They always add in seniors to sweeten the deal. How many seniors would want to live in a high density complex of micro, studio, and 1 bdrm apartments full of people 55-60 years younger than them. Get real!

Read one of my earlier posts and you'll see that I have checked PAF's website and had a good visit with my friend Cory Wolbach a while ago. I read the prompt and completely filled out questionnaires of the candidates they support. Those candidates toed the line very nicely. Liz Kniss' was good tho. I liked her responses for the most part.



5 people like this
Posted by Mr Nice Guy
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 26, 2016 at 9:29 pm

Again and again people repeat how "nice" members of PAF are. Steve Levy thinks Elaine Uang is "nice." Developer Sandra Slater is so "nice."
Gale Johnson repeats again and again that Wolbach is so "nice." Gale is so flattered that Wolbach talked to him. It's possible you sell out too cheaply.
Adrian Fine is so "nice." (even though he just joined the Democratic party to gain their foolish endorsement (as did Republican Tanaka). I don't think that is nice.
McDougal is "nice."
Apparently the standards for holding public office don't have anything to do with real issues, like development and quality of life in town.


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

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