News

In rare move, Chamber picks favorites in Palo Alto council race

Warning of 'anti-business slate,' nonprofit urges people to consider supporting candidates with more 'reasonable' approaches

The Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday jumped into the city's politically charged debate about office development when it issued a statement characterizing some candidates for the City Council as “anti-business” and others as worthy of support.

The statement, which was emailed to the Chamber's members, also alleges that Mayor Pat Burt has called for a “ban on tech workers” and expresses concerns about “a slate of candidates who have vowed to pass strict, anti-business measures which could jeopardize your success.”


Chamber CEO Judy Kleinberg

Mayor Pat Burt
Though the Chamber's statement doesn't name the candidates in the “slate,” it does single out four candidates whom readers should consider supporting: Liz Kniss, Adrian Fine, Don McDougall and Greg Tanaka. The four have recently been endorsed by the Democratic Party and are generally seen as being more amenable to growth than the slow-growth “residentialists” in the race.

The latter category includes Arthur Keller, Lydia Kou and Stewart Carl. All have received endorsements from some or all of the council's slow-growth members: Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth, Karen Holman and Greg Schmid. Carl has proposed a moratorium on office development and, along with Kou, expressed skepticism about the city's proposed transportation-demand-management programs as a way to combat traffic.

Keller, a former planning commissioner with a long history of challenging developers, has proposed imposing traffic-reducing requirements on Stanford Research Park in order to avoid it being subject to an office cap.

Another candidate, Greer Stone, has proposed that downtown space be made available to employers with 50 or fewer employees, as part of an effort to preserve the city's status as an incubator of startups.

The Chamber's letter calls the upcoming election, in which 11 candidates are vying for four seats, as one that may “impact your business for decades to come!”

“The upcoming Palo Alto City Council election is a critical election for anyone doing business in Palo Alto,” the letter states. “Of some concern is a slate of candidates who ... are calling for strict regulations on business, from how many people can work in an office, to what kind of work they can do in an office, to requiring a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for every change in the use of a commercial rental space.”

The Chamber also alleges in its letter that the current mayor has “called for a ban on high tech workers in the downtown district” and that some candidates, if elected, “could create a majority on the council to pass such a ban.”

“Such a prohibition would mean businesses with employees who support our local businesses and economy might leave Palo Alto to other cities that would be happy to welcome them," the letters states.

While it's not unusual for the Chamber to take positions on local issues (the nonprofit opposed the city's failed effort in 2009 to establish a business-license tax and raised concerns about another planned business tax earlier this year), it has traditionally stopped short of publicly endorsing candidates. That seemingly changed this week, though the Chamber also indicated in the statement that its preference for the four candidates is actually not an “endorsement.”

“While the Chamber of Commerce does not endorse candidates, we do think there are several smart people running who have a more balanced approach and a stronger appreciation of the way business works, and who would work to protect and promote local commercial enterprise, big and small, from over-regulation,” the statement said.

“Check out the following candidates whom we think you might want to support. Then consider volunteering to make phone calls, talk to your customers, put a campaign sign in your window, notify your employees who vote in Palo Alto, and consider making a contribution to those candidates who have a more reasonable and measured approach to dealing with our housing, traffic and parking problems.”

When asked about the Chamber's decision to support four candidates, Chamber CEO Judy Kleinberg emphasized that the statement was not, in a legal sense, an endorsement of the candidates. Kleinberg said the Chamber's bylaws don't allow endorsements.

“Legally, we are not endorsing anybody,” said Kleinberg, a former Palo Alto mayor herself.

The Chamber's bylaws, however, allow the group to do “anything up to that point,” Kleinberg said. This includes speaking out on issues and matters that are happening in the community, she said.

She also noted that it's the Chamber mission to “advocate for business interests so businesses are in a place to thrive and do well.”

“We have felt over the last couple of years that the forces in the community that are not helping businesses thrive but are basically putting businesses in jeopardy have been more prominent,” Kleinberg said. “Consequently, with this election, there are many candidates who we think have a more balanced approach to sustainable business growth and to the kinds of issues that would help businesses continue to prosper.”

When asked about the allegations of an anti-business “slate,” Kleinberg pointed to the fact that two candidates appear to have coordinated their campaigns. For evidence, she pointed to the fact that the campaigns of Arthur Keller and Lydia Kou are both managed by Pat Markevitch, former parks and recreation commissioner.

The statement provoked a sharp rebuke from Burt, who called it “as vitriolic and divisive as anything I've seen in the community in a couple of years.” He disputed the Chamber's characterization of his position on downtown's tech firms; rejected the nonprofit's assertion that there a “slate” of anti-business candidates on the ballot; and dismissed the notion that the Chamber did not “endorse” the four candidates it singled out in its statement.

“It's clear to any reader that it is in fact is an endorsement,” Burt said.

Burt called the Chamber's take on his position on downtown tech firms “fundamentally wrong.” He has publicly said in the past that he does not believe the downtown zoning code, under “literal reading,” allows research-and-development use such as coding firms. Burt said his aim is to upgrade the zoning code downtown so that it would, for the first time, allow high-tech workers.

“The real distinction is that our zoning was designed so that big tech companies are in Stanford Research Park and downtown is a general business area,” Burt said.

“Downtown developed into being a startup environment of business support services and smaller finance companies supporting tech, along with tech startups.

“These days, a couple of very large companies downtown have been squeezing out almost all the startup businesses in the ecosystem, and we've heard countless stories from businesses that were part of the ecosystem that have been squeezed out.”

Burt said the goal is to have downtown serve as a startup-incubator environment, rather than being “essentially a technology park for one or two.”

But Kleinberg pointed to the various comments Burt has made in recent months in interviews with national publications, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He told the Times that big tech companies are “choking off downtown” and he told the Journal that too many jobs are threatening to make the community less attractive.

“The mayor has been quoted in everything from the Wall Street Journal to local newspapers as saying he believes big, high-tech businesses don't belong downtown and the way to get them out is to ban that kind of business code,” Kleinberg said.

The Weekly has created a Storify page for its coverage on the Palo Alto City Council election.

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Comments

24 people like this
Posted by BP
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 5, 2016 at 12:11 am

This provides great clarity on who to vote for.


116 people like this
Posted by Vincent L
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2016 at 1:41 am

Public records show that the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce LTD is a 501(c)(3) organization. The IRS states that "[u]nder the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. ...[P]ublic statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes."

The IRS does not allow statements either in favor or in opposition to any candidate. Kleinberg has offered statements in both categories. Feel free to parse the legal definition of "endorse" but the IRS seems quite clear on the requirement for tax exempt status.


112 people like this
Posted by Vote for the Other Side
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2016 at 4:41 am

So the Chamber's position is that they don't want candidates who would regulate "how many people can work in an office" and "what kind of work they can do in an office." Since the fire and zoning parts of the Palo Alto Municipal Code already regulates these things, the Chamber is apparently calling for eliminating those parts of the Municipal Code and signaling that the pro-business candidates they support will as well.

That's quite helpful. Let's be sure to NOT vote for the Chamber-endorsed candidates so as to keep our laws in place.

And after the Chamber of Commerce loses their non-profit status for blatantly violating IRS rules, maybe the public-benefit space they occupy at 101 Lytton can go to a true non-profit.


128 people like this
Posted by Cheryl Lilienstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 5, 2016 at 6:08 am

I am voting for Kou, Keller, Carl, and Stone. As the article notes, all these candidates have useful ideas that could be implemented in the near future.

I'm voting for them because I'd prefer to live in a city that can focus on providing services to the community that lives here, and that supports small businesses and tech startups, and that wants to manage growth and deal with traffic in a pro-active way!

On the other hand, we should thank the CoC for providing this disclosure of what "The Chamber's" interests are: office space development for the large money interests it represents. Not the small businesses already being driven out. The financial disclosures for their chosen candidates (Fine, Tanaka, Kniss, and McDougall) show they are supported by developer money.

And, despite their recent campaign publications and speeches, records show they publicly support dense development and do not want to curb office space expansion.

It would be helpful for the Weekly to pay some attention to what these candidates said on record. It's not what they are saying now. But the CoC exposed that nicely.








60 people like this
Posted by PhotoOp
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 5, 2016 at 6:14 am

This also helps me better understand who to and not vote for...... probably not the way the Chamber intended, but I appreciate their insights *


80 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 5, 2016 at 6:38 am

Annette is a registered user.

The Chamber's statement is an endorsement no matter how Kleinberg tries to spin it. This is akin to a trial lawyer asking a question that is not allowed and then withdrawing it when the other side objects. Ding, ding ding - point scored. The Chamber knew exactly what they were doing here. I will now take a closer look at the candidates the Chamber did not endorse.


59 people like this
Posted by NeilsonBuchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2016 at 6:41 am

NeilsonBuchanan is a registered user.

I am shocked but not surprised that Chamber has recommended but "not endorsed" Fine, McDougall, Tanaka and Kniss. This must be some sort of technical loophole to avoid violation of Chambers' tax status and FPPC.

This special interest favoritism will stir up votes for Fine, et al. Without a doubt Chamber now has clouded the city election and cast misinformation of current and future councilpersons. The Chamber is painting all candidates illogically and unfairly.

I am anxious to see how Fine, Kniss, Tanaka and McDougall accept or reject the Chamber's support. Their benign acceptance will tell voters who to vote for.


92 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2016 at 7:12 am

The Chamber embarrasses and discredits itself by trying to pretend its endorsements are something other than what they are.

And the Chamber here misrepresents what Mayor Burt says about tech downtown, and makes sweeping generalities about other candidates positions on office caps, etc. without mentioning that some of the candidates it has now endorsed (yes - endorsed) also state in candidate forums that they did and do support capping office growth. The Chamber needs to do an integrity check on itself.

This self-described business lobbying group was allowed at the urging of Councilman Scharff to move into the PC zoned Gateway building at Alma and Lytton, getting our "Public Benefit" of ongoing subsidized rent in exchange for giving the developer PC zoning and a lot more profit.

And who comes up short, over and over, when the Chamber is involved ? The residents of Palo Alto.


63 people like this
Posted by Who Wrote It?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2016 at 8:22 am

Would the Chamber kindly post on this site the names and business affiliations of whoever produced their "not-an-endorsement" statement?

When I was the contact person at our business for our Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce membership, I don't recall ever being asked to vote on which City Council candidates we wanted to support. In fact, large companies with massive revenues from outside Palo Alto are taking over much of our town, causing rents to go up that hurt locally-supported retailers and businesses. So I and no doubt many other small businesses around town favor candidates on the opposite side of those the Chamber wants us to support.

So would the Chamber please tell us who is behind their statement?


48 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2016 at 8:42 am

>> So would the Chamber please tell us who is behind their statement?

One thing not everybody understands is that in Palo Alto the Chamber does not represent “business” interests; rather it is dominated by “development” interests, which are not exactly the same.

Usually those groups would align, but there are a lot of long-time businesses in town which are much more tied into the community and residents than this Chamber is. This Chamber has been uninterested in the community, even sometimes hostile to it.

Development interests got handed a blow when the last election produced a council much more focused on traffic, parking and other long-term impacts than previous ones had been. What we’re seeing now is those developers lining up to try to reverse that situation and bring back the go-go days, hence the Chamber’s election endorsements and lobbying.


41 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 5, 2016 at 8:46 am

Loma Prieta Chapter of Sierra Club explicitly endorses Keller, Kou, Kniss, and Stone.
(Dues not tax deductible.)


39 people like this
Posted by Corrupted by Commerce
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2016 at 9:18 am

The Chamber of "Commerce" asks people to "consider" making a contribution of money and time(?!!) for their candidates

Robbery

You would think they could get enough money without having to advertise for money from regular people, but as usual it is pure GREED from business.

Worse, it's greed for political clout so they can take, take, take, take, take, ask for more, ask for more, ask for more year after year after year. To fight residents at every Council meeting and take up ALL Planning with ugly un parked buildings.

Residents pay premium, businesses want handouts and freebies and Kniss & Co are the easy means to get that.

No thank you, I do not want to give money or time to buy more concrete.


43 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 5, 2016 at 9:34 am

And if the Chamber's "recommendations" get elected, guess who will end up footing the bill for all the development and supporting infrastructure? Certainly not its members but us, the resident taxpayers.

Could it be that all the council candidates aren't really truly united in their opposition to new office space and that their "opposition" is just another moderate-sounding campaign promise?

Just look at the track record of the head of the city's Planning and Transportation Commission. This seasoned 30-yr-old appointee can't even manage the construction of a decent bike lane or respond to polite complaints about it. How will Mr. Fine handle more concrete and complicated projects?


58 people like this
Posted by fedup
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2016 at 9:41 am

Is there anyone else who would consider it a blessing if the large tech companies left Palo Alto? Perhaps then our town leaders would once again work to benefit citizens rather than developers and the tech community, and average people could once more afford to buy houses here and live in the community in which they grew up.


52 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2016 at 9:46 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

It is disappointing to see the Democratic Party so closely aligned with the Chamber of Commerce. But at least I understand where the CoC is coming from, though I would never support any of their endorsed candidates.


6 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 5, 2016 at 9:48 am

What's with all the whining about a group recommending candidates? Are you guys implying that Palo Altans are too ignorant and just vote for a slate of candidates? Oh wait, we are in California where we are knee-jerk Democrats.

Never mind.


5 people like this
Posted by george drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 5, 2016 at 9:51 am

What if the Indians wanted to halt growth where would Palo Alto be now? Stopping explosive growth if it wants to be is like trying to end gravity. With a water crisis look to big compact development like in Mountain View.


55 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 5, 2016 at 9:52 am

Disgusting that the Chamber of Commerce would "suggest" we donate money to the candidates they've blessed! We're already donating our time whenever we get stuck in the gridlock they've backed. Every single day we leave our homes.

Instead of donating $$$$ to the candidates blessed by the Chamber of Commerce to enrich its members, request lawn signs from the other guys. Donating to them would help even the playing field, too.


91 people like this
Posted by ChamberMember
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2016 at 9:56 am

As a chamber member I am troubled by several things:

1. I was never asked my opinion and would have urged the Chamber not to make sure a clear (non-endorsement) endorsement. This is highly irresponsible, whomever was responsible should step down and I'd like to see a new board formed immediately.

2. The content of the letter itself is embarrassing - filled with inaccuracies and exaggerations. We need leaders who can be fact based and not succumb to hysterical falsehoods. Anyone who has followed these discussions can clearly see that the Mayor has been speaking about huge companies downtown. The New York Times ran an article about how start ups are being pushed out of downtown. We need to protect our innovation economy

In my mind this is black-eye for our chamber of commerce. It will not influence who I vote in the least


30 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of University South
on Oct 5, 2016 at 10:25 am

Interesting.

Joe Simitian, Rich Gordon, Anna Eshoo, Jerry Hill, and the county Democratic party are endorsing Kniss, Tanaka, Fine, and McDougall. The Chamber is promoting Kniss, Tanaka, Fine, and McDougall.

On the other hand, PASZ-friendly commenters on the Weekly threads are promoting Kou, Keller, Carl, and Stone.

It seems like there's a lot of people promoting various slates. But I don't think the divides are so clear-cut.

Pat Burt, whose comments are clearly the source of the concern to the Chamber but who is not joined at the hip with PASZ, is endorsing Kniss, McDougall, Keller, and Stone. The Sierra Club is endorsing Kou, Keller, Stone, and Kniss, but not Carl.

It sounds like Palo Altans aren't lining up into two separate camps after all. That's good news.


34 people like this
Posted by FPPCViolation
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 5, 2016 at 10:35 am

Search for political in the Chamber's filing and you will see they claim to not be political

Clearly a lie

Web Link


The Weekly should really do a story on the money - Chamber's status and behavior. Palo Alto Forward also clearly supporting candidates without any filing. Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning also supporting candidates but appear to be following the rules and filing financial disclosures.

Unreported campaign money is a big issue


81 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 5, 2016 at 10:46 am

We simply don't have the infrastructure to support more growth. Cars create the problem. Until we have a way to manage the movement of people without their cars, we don't have the infrastructure to support more people coming into Palo Alto. We are a destination city without the means to get here in any reasonable way. I'm voting for Kou, Keller, Carl, and Stone who have a reasonable understanding of the problem. And ideas to solve them. And it's not more offices, congestion and traffic.

Voting for what the Chamber suggests is voting for more of the same.


23 people like this
Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 5, 2016 at 11:09 am

It looks like the chamber is in violation of the Law. Or at least a "conflict of interest".
Its not what you do, its what it looks like you did.


72 people like this
Posted by Anne
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 5, 2016 at 11:33 am

CoC, thanks for helping me make up my mind to vote for Kou, Keller, Carl and Stone.

Judy Kleinberg is a former Palo Alto mayor who is partly responsible for traffic mess we find ourselves in now, because of her strident pro growth, pro development policies.


46 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 5, 2016 at 12:01 pm

We now live in a world where foundations and non-profits / tax exempt have blatantly exceeded their legal requirements for the tax exempt benefit. I suggest that the city attorney file a letter of intent to inform the IRS that the C of C is operating outside the requirements of their tax exempt status.
It is time to stop this type activity. It has a downward in time effect on the taxpayers in the city.
Taxation is a major topic in the political race - the unintended consequence of the Dems bring the topic up. Lack of taxation is also a political issue.


76 people like this
Posted by Long-time Palo Altan
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 5, 2016 at 12:30 pm

There is no need for Palo Altans to let monied special interests, such as developers and large tech companies, run roughshod over our City, increasing traffic, driving out retail, and pushing out start-ups and small businesses. Just say no.

The time for Kniss and allied pro-development interests is long past. I'm voting for a sustainable future for Palo Alto - I'm voting for Keller, Lou, Carl, and Stone.


19 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2016 at 12:39 pm

[Post removed.]


39 people like this
Posted by name withheld
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Here is the irony - Judy Kleinberg ran as a cypto-residentialist in her first run for city council, as I remember. A lot of residentialists pounded the pavement for her, believing her promises. Then as soon as she was off the council, she headed a Valley lobbying group, then a bigger one, and then ended up at the Chamber. So changing ones stripes, calling something one thing when it is another, is nothing new for Ms. Kleinberg. She has found her niche.
Voters of 2016 - beware and be smarter.


18 people like this
Posted by Kettle Black?
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2016 at 1:04 pm

Burt calling the Chamber "divisive" reminds me of Trump saying that Clinton is the "divisive" one. Burt is trying to pit residents of Palo Alto against the business community, and his inflammatory and ill conceived ideas have created more division in the community than has been the case in the last decade. He is on his way out (thankfully) and has really stirred the pot.


47 people like this
Posted by LC
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 5, 2016 at 1:05 pm

The Chamber of Commerce Letter is a blantent violation of their non-profit status. That said, I couldn't find any difference between endorse and recommend. This letter is, further, upsetting as Judy Kleinberg, head of the Chamber has also been a City Council Member and Mayor. The fact that she allow this to get published sends the wrong message for the City and the Chamber.

If there is any plus side, the candidates "recommended" are now clearly placed on one side of the issues related to development and continued manipulation of existing business space around town and specifically downtown. I would certainly question their responses to traffic, housing, overcrowding, development and the abused word "measured growth" Trees grow and get pruned to appropriate size for where they are located. Cities don't have the same luxury - once they "grow" - they never get prunned and we are stuck with the new growth forever upon new growth, upon new growth....


18 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 5, 2016 at 1:05 pm

"The statement also alleges that Mayor Pat Burt has called for a “ban on tech workers” and expresses concerns about “a slate of candidates who have vowed to pass strict, anti-business measures which could jeopardize your success.”

He did not say that. Shame on you CoC! You should apologize and retract that accusation. Way to go Mayor Burt. Take it to them. It sounds like you've already started.

Every voter should hear about their de facto endorsements. They were careful not to use the word. CoC, get back to the work you should be doing for local businesses...original intent being local small businesses. You have overstepped your charter boundaries and responsibilities and are in violation of 501(c)3 non-profits. Being non-political is part of the deal.

@Observer

Thanks for your observations. We should all be able to live with Mayor Burt's and the Sierra Club's picks. Liz Kniss is on both and deserves to be. She might have been on board when the office development got out of control, but she's more moderate on that now I think, and her value is in all her connections with so many groups, county and regional, that will be helpful in the next 4 years. Coc and PAF's endorsees (other than Liz Kniss) are apparently not listening or hearing what unlimited growth in commercial (offices) development has already done to downtown PA, and the problems it's caused. And they're asking for more of it without any attempt to put forward real solutions to the transportation, transit, parking problems other than the TMA and RPP. I'm still waiting to hear a success story about TMA's efforts to date, and the results of how effective the RPP has been should be made public.

The endorsees are very idealistic and lack pragmatism. Some of them just "dream the impossible dream"! There's still hope tho. They'll get older and wiser and then (if they still live here) they should run for CC again in about 20 years. The Comprehensive Plan will have been completed and tested. That will give them new incite on the past and future. Wish I could stick around for that. There's a slim chance...I'd be 99.


27 people like this
Posted by who runs the chamber
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2016 at 1:11 pm

I read the Chamber's statement and wondered whether the writer had anyone else read it before it was sent out.
The writer sounds a little out of control.

The Chamber occupies a BELOW MARKET rent office in the luxury office building at 335-355 Alma St. [Portion removed.]


49 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 5, 2016 at 1:15 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Perhaps someone should send Ms. Kleinberg a copy of Roget's Thesaurus. In it she would find that RECOMMEND is just another way to say ENDORSE. There's no ambiguity.


7 people like this
Posted by too many close minded people
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2016 at 1:19 pm

Based on the comments above, if what everyone is saying happens, welcome to Atherton South, a non business, traffic thoroughfare


9 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 5, 2016 at 1:23 pm

[Post removed.]


46 people like this
Posted by cm
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2016 at 1:31 pm

It is clear that the Chamber of Commerce is a mouth piece for developers, property owners and large businesses in Palo Alto. They have "endorsed" candidates who are accepting contributions from these people and who (despite what they say now) if elected will vote to allow this group to continue to overdevelop and destroy quality of life in Palo Alto. [Portion removed.] These are the people who fight against neighborhood parking programs because they feel they have a right to park their employees cars in your neighborhoods for free and overcrowd the streets with all the workers driving to their massive, sun blocking buildings. Further as they make more million they demand more and more concessions. These are the people who have caused resident serving shops and businesses (bowling alley, teen center, downtown bagel shop, art stores, book stores) to be driven out. Now they are running scared because the last council election added some city council members who have tried to put them on a diet. [Portion removed.]


39 people like this
Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 5, 2016 at 2:05 pm

It's despicable that this "nonprofit" organization which was so blatantly handed a "public benefit" by the City Council and the City of Palo Alto, that really doesn't benefit the public much at all, but rather benefits Palo Alto developers (where was the competition for the "free space" that was built specifically to house their offices [portion removed?), is now violating federal and state laws governing "nonprofits" and I hope someone reaches out to file legal complaints about their blatant campaigning.


25 people like this
Posted by Small Business Owner
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2016 at 2:22 pm

If readers want to know more about the Mayor’s position in support of small business in our downtown read this article on Tech Crunch, a well regarded business blog.

""What I and some of my colleagues on the city council are considering is to clarify and update our downtown zoning codes,” [Pat Burt] continued. “We are interested in for the first time formally allowing ‘Research and Development’ in the downtown up to a certain size, but not allowing large corporate campus functions to take over.”

So it seems that far from banning coding downtown, the plan is to legalize it.”
 

See: “No, Palo Alto isn’t going to ban coding”, Tech Crunch,Sep 1, 2016 by Devin Coldewey,

Web Link

CNBC did a news story in January 2016 about the two large downtown businesses that are squeezing out small businesses downtown including interviews with several business leaders who were squeezed out.

“The CIA-backed start-up that's taking over Palo Alto”, January 12, 2016 by Ari Levy and Josh Lipton

See: Web Link


Does the chamber represent all of its members or just big business and big developers?


16 people like this
Posted by Dearest
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2016 at 2:45 pm

[Portion removed.]

The Chamber of Commerce was absolutely acting within the confines of the law. The mandate for the Chamber of Commerce is to promote and improve the business environment, stimulate a vibrant local economy, and produce a cooperative effort to enhance the overall quality of life. In calling attention to the [portion removed] backwards thinking of anti-growth, anti-jobs, anti-tax revenue, anti-services for the poor and needy, anti-affordable housing, anti-quality-transportation, the Chamber of Commerce is acting as a beacon of reason. It is the Chamber's responsibility to do so, and it is doing it well.

If anyone or any institution has failed to fulfill their legal responsibility, or acted outside of their mandate, it is Pat Burt, Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth, Karen Holman, and Greg Schmid. These elected officials stepped well and far outside of their mandate in trying to limit and micromanage the economy. They did this under the guise of shoddy legal authority and economically illogical initiatives. Shame on them for their incompetence.

People needs jobs, especially everyone writing on this thread.... in the middle of the day. Those residentialists say they don't want more jobs in the city because it causes more traffic. That's all well and good if you're well off, but try telling that to our brothers and sisters in East Palo Alto that have been ravaged by the forces unemployment, underemployment, and low wages. "Residentialist" can be read as [portion removed] privileged homeowners that don't want the pie to expand because they've already had their fill. SHAME ON YOU.

I will certainly be voting for more jobs, more tax revenue for the city so that we can fix our transportation problems, fund our schools, and help those in need. Therefore I will NOT be voting for Keller, Kou, or Carl.




Like this comment
Posted by EPA
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 5, 2016 at 2:47 pm

[Post removed.]


61 people like this
Posted by Jim Colton
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 5, 2016 at 2:55 pm

The Chamber really shot themselves in the foot with this announcement. It clearly is an endorsement that they are trying to spin otherwise. Note that they "recommended", i.e. endorsed, those candidates that are receiving campaign contributions from developers. That clearly puts those candidates, and the Chamber, in the pro-development camp.

We have seen enough rubber-stamping of development for several years. We need to evaluate proposed development from the standpoint of how it affects residents rather than how it affects developers. If you agree, it should now be crystal clear that the candidates to vote for are Kou, Keller, Carl and Stone.


4 people like this
Posted by Build Build Build!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 5, 2016 at 3:06 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by mr. moderator
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 5, 2016 at 3:34 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 5, 2016 at 3:42 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Why are so many posts being removed?


5 people like this
Posted by LC
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 5, 2016 at 3:57 pm

In response to "Dearest" - Honestly, I would love to have the statistics on how many people from East Palo Alto or East San Jose will have the jobs that are avilable in the corporate offices of former retails locations - that once had reasonable rents.
How many poor and needy will be able to afford the housing built, because building low income housing is not really for low income. Last time I read anything about salaries qualifing for "family of 4 - about $85 - 90,000 per year and I think it started at $50--60,000 per year. How many of the people REALLY needing low income would qualify for those low income units.

Thxs to Winter Dellenbach and the determination of the BV residents, the battle was won for the REALLY low income in Buena Vista to stay in their homes - and it was quite a battle. Then there are srs. living on fixed income, who lucked out and bought our homes years ago - my fixed income fortunately lets me be careful and comfortable - but to be pro-taxes when our incomes stay the same creates some serious concerns- the gold mine of a house we have lived in for 30+ years is our safety net.

My question is genuine, because I don't know the answers - how many really low income, marginally skilled people with and without children will these "low income units hold - will they be for the both parents working or single mother with an income of $50K and below.? The statistics for that are not what is bantered about when talking about renting to low income residents. The low income bantered is usually the young single or couple (maybe one baby) with technology skills earning a double to low triple digit income - usually have one to two cars and some day will either get rich to buy a 2 million dollars shack in Palo ALto or move away to a more afforable place. There have been many Palo Alto kids that moved away and can never move back without being lucky enough to inherit a house. These people in many cases would qualify as "low income" only in this area. When we use the words "low income" we need to define our terms. Are we comfortable with the term "working poor" ?, because those are the people that need deent places to live. If we build another BV community - count me in, but low income at a salary in high tech is only "low income" raises some serious questions and possibly a starting job or a few years out of college.


22 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2016 at 3:59 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Gale - [Portion removed.] The truth is, for people like EPA and Build Build Build, the Chamber of Commerce isn't acting in their interest either. building more tech office space and displacing retails means fewer entry level jobs. More tech office space means more high income people taking housing.


32 people like this
Posted by who runs the chamber
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2016 at 3:59 pm

This is the Chamber's Board. Any doubt about their values? Even Palantir is on it.

Peter Stone, Hopkins & Carley, A Law Corporation
Judith Kleinberg, CEO/President, business law attorney
Jeffery Phillips Garden Court Hotel General Manager
Rebecca Teutschel TNT, Inc., Certified Public Accountants
Jon Kiya, Senior VP and Team Leader of Boston Private's Specialty Lending Group
Mike Love, Microsoft
Erin McDermit, Attorney At Law, Shuman Snyder LLP
Bob McGrew, Palantir Technologies, Inc.
Susan Graf, Owner, S. Graf Ltd.
Ramsey Shuayto, Asset Management, Stanford University Research Park
Janaki Kumar, SAP Labs, LLC Web Link


20 people like this
Posted by Local Voter
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2016 at 4:21 pm

The Chamber is not a 501c3 charity. It's a 501c6 nonprofit membership organization and it can legally advocate for the interests of its members. In fact if you google "Chamber of Commerce," you'll fnd this is usually their primary role. And I understand the letter was sent only to it's members, not the public, so hardly what I'd call an "endorsement" thats supposed to sway voters.


4 people like this
Posted by Questioner
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 5, 2016 at 5:10 pm

[Post removed.]


25 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 5, 2016 at 5:14 pm

Maybe the letter was indeed sent only to the Chamber of Commerce's members but I as an individual and non-COC member certainly got several "incredibly biased telephone surveys" that specifically said the Mayor wanted to ban all tech jobs, take us back to the 1950s," etc. etc.

"Incredibly biased surveys" like this one are called "push polls" and are designed and paid for specifically to sway voters.

When I pointed out that the Mayor didn't say that, pointed out what he DID say and asked who was behind this survey, the male caller laughed at me and hung up.

When I got called with the same survey a few days later. I said, Yup. I sure did want to take us back to 1950s and did want to ban all tech jobs

(You'll recall I've asked here on Town Square several times who was behind the survey.)


13 people like this
Posted by Dearest
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2016 at 5:45 pm

In response to LC -

My argument is based on basic economic principles. More jobs = more growth = more employment for ALL, not just those evil evil tech workers that have become so fashionable and en vogue to hate.

Growth is a GREAT thing. Contraction is a horrible thing.


61 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 5, 2016 at 6:06 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Dearest - Actually, what you are arguing is that more building = more growth. Everyone who lived through the last housing bubble and recession knows that's wrong. You can overinflate for a while, but then it collapses, often wrecking places that started out pretty nice. If reckless overbuilding and population growth was some sort of magic recipe for success, then Bangladesh would be a world power.

"Growth is great" is a meaningless slogan. Should we be building office parks in Yosemite? That's growth. An airport at Pardee park? That's growth. A oil refinery in the Paly parking lot? yay, growth! We should probably get rid of the clean water act, because it slows growth, right?

We all want jobs and housing for everyone it doesn't mean automatic approval for an office building wherever a developer wants to put it.


Posted by CPA
a resident of Downtown North

on Oct 5, 2016 at 6:40 pm


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Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Downtown North

on Oct 5, 2016 at 7:46 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


46 people like this
Posted by Longtime Palo Altan
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 5, 2016 at 7:49 pm

The chamber is a joke. Nobody pays attention to them. They've been struggling for relevancy for years. How many dues-paying members do they have? I've heard it's around 100. Nobody cares. The good thing about their endorsements is that I'll be sure not to vote for their choices. (And I hope people send complaints to the IRS about how thev've violated their nonprofit status by jumping into this election.)


49 people like this
Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 5, 2016 at 11:07 pm

Well the CC just made it easy for us all by telling us who NOT to vote for.
Kou and the Residentialists are my favorites. We have had too much building.


20 people like this
Posted by Great recommendations
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2016 at 11:18 pm

The responses on this column are usually the same old tired commentators who clearly band with the "residentialist" point of view as if they are the only ones who want to protect our residences. I respectfully disagree with them No need for the "snarky" rude tones.. They are amazingly negative. I am delighted with the Chamber of Commerce recommendations. Greg Tanaka is soft-spoken, kind, experienced, family oriented, thoughtful; Adrian Fine is kind, very articulate, recites facts and statistics and is a life long Palo Altan who wants to continue to live here but wants Palo Alto to be welcoming, diverse and innovative; McDougall has long term ties to environmental organizations, has knowledge of project management, is kind and wants Palo Alto to lead towards a sustainable. He is kind. Liz Kniss has more experience than any other, is committed to leading the community in ways that will help us include more people thoughtfully, without undermining the environment, and is focussed on trying to end the polarization and bring us together. They are all positive and kind. Great recommendations by the Chamber of Commer: Kniss, Fine, Tanaka, Mcdougall. Yes.


16 people like this
Posted by Sylvester
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2016 at 12:09 am

Wow. I moved to Palo Alto from Buffalo, a city that is fighting to keep and support the business community and jobs. The comments here will make every other city say "ohh we will gladly take those jobs!". In EVERY OTHER CITY in the country, support of and supporting the business community is a good thing, but here in upside-down Palo Alto, somehow it's a bad thing?

Yes, businesses have political interests. Economic winds shift, you never know what's coming next, and I will support people who listen to and understand businesses - as well as residents! I'm going to take the chamber's endorsement seriously, and would encourage my fellow residents/employees/employers to do the same.


7 people like this
Posted by Corrupted by Commerce
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2016 at 12:13 am

Great rec,

"They are amazingly negative."

Please no need for total arrogance


37 people like this
Posted by rita vrhel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2016 at 6:47 am

i received the Chamber's "not an endorsement" endorsement on my email; that seemed strange. As did the email itself; why so vitriolic? seemed over the top and so untrue.

The email sure seemed like an endorsement to me; whatever Ms. Kleinberg says. Seems like a desperate measure to influence the outcome of the election.

Interesting about the Chamber member who said they were not consulted on the letter. So the membership did not vote? Who decided to send?

The 4 candidates the Chamber "endorses" are definitely "pro-growth". Continued over building of office space, traffic congestion, no parking, and all the the problems resulting from too rapid development and not enough thoughtful consideration of the cumulative effects of the "success".

The above results of "success" are not just occurring in Palo Alto but are occurring throughout the Bay Area. Just take a (very slow) drive to San Antonio Center; this could be our future if the Chamber's "endorsement"is successful.

This makes an excellent case for Kou, Keller, Stone and Stewart who do not meet the Chamber's definition of "pro-growth" , which to me means build,baby,build.

Keeping the current office cap, continuing to protect downtown retail and determining the City's future via the Comprehensive plan will all be determined by this election.

If you want reasonable thoughtful growth which will help retain the beauty and character of Palo Alto, please vote for Kou, Keller, Greer and Stewart.

Listen to the candidates, look into their past statements and actions; this is an critical election. Vote. Don't be swayed by the Democratic Party endorsemens; Tanaka and Fine have not been Democrats that long. Remenber the Demmocratic Party also endosed M. Berman; then had to rescind 2nd to voting irregularities. Oops. Disappointing endorsements; would consider the Sierra Club's instead. Thank you


18 people like this
Posted by thanks for the input
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 6, 2016 at 7:24 am

this is great information.

The "residentialists" talk about wanting to support retail. But they haven't bothered to look into anything that would help retailers (beyond protecting the ground floor). Have they ever asked what percentage of customers come from workers? Have they ever asked where their employees live, and how they commute to work? These are the issues that retailers care about.

The chamber is providing a valuable service for those of us who care about a healthy retail sector in this town.


15 people like this
Posted by True Residentialist
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2016 at 7:45 am

Rita Vrhel gave $5000 to the PASZ PAC, amidst six other contributions from old VC bros, a retired Goldman Sachs partner and other people with $5,000 to spare. $30,000 in total from 7 people, weirdly omitted from the recent article on donations to the campaigns. Rita, why do a bunch of moneyed people with huge houses in nice neighborhoods want to prevent modest downtown business growth?

Could it be that they want to maintain Palo Alto as a residential playground for the rich? Residentialists are fond of complaining that Palo Alto will turn into Manhattan. These folks seem to want to make it their personal Atherton. They are succeeding.

It's all on the Palo Alto online disclosure website. Google "City of Palo Alto campaign finance reports", go to the city siteand click on the link to online filings, then search on Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning.


14 people like this
Posted by True Residentialist
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2016 at 7:59 am

I think Rita's post pretty much sums up the hardcore residentialist position.

A nicely designed multi-use development, with lots of housing units where workers live near transit and shopping is, in her view, a dystopia. These super-rich residentialists would rather protect parking lots and ugly strip malls along El Camino than support more of that kind of housing.


74 people like this
Posted by Len Filppu
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 6, 2016 at 8:24 am

Developers make their livings by trying to influence the City every day, all year long, year after year.
Residents essentially get only election day to be heard.
Use November 8th wisely.
I’m voting for candidates who value people over profits… Keller, Kou, Stone, and Carl.


15 people like this
Posted by True Residentialist
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2016 at 8:41 am

Do you think that the PASZ donors--several of whom have seen their large homes appreciate by millions in the housing runup--aren't profiting from the restriction in housing supply? It's not only developers and businesses profiting.


50 people like this
Posted by anon evergreen park
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2016 at 9:34 am

anon evergreen park is a registered user.

I think attacking an individual poster like Rita Vrhel for politely stating her opinion is pretty low and shows how name calling and false accusations have become the norm for this election season.

No matter what else you think the sucess of palo alto is due to being the flagship of Silicon valley and the home of Stanford university and it is what has always made this an expensive place to live; rent or own.

Further densification will continue to drive up the value of S single family Homes (SFHs) along with all property.

Building to much micro housing/ small units will just continue the trend and make even more expensive for many tenants as the grow older and need more room, SFHs, as they naturally desire to start families.

This is a fact of the market and has nothing to do with the age, evil intent or any other attribute of property owners.


24 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2016 at 10:21 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

"True Residentialist"- I don't think you are going to win over many people to your side with that kind of personal attack. If you have a better argument to make you should. The pro-development pro-corporate welfare crowd hasn't acquitted itself well with the insults, yelling racism at everyone, and now digging up and posting information on opponents.

Of course you know that the money that any resident of Palo Alto would stand to gain (if any), would pale in comparison to what developers get when they put in a new building, or what a company like Palantir saves, by not having to pay a market wage. Let's just say that I'm pretty sure any poster in this thread, on either side, would happily trade homes, or incomes, with developers like John Arrillaga.


49 people like this
Posted by rita vrhel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2016 at 10:23 am

Sorry True Residentialist...; I gave 500.00 to PASZ not 5,000.00. I am self employed as a RN, still working.

My home is Palo Alto is 1,035 sq feet plus a garage on a 5,250 sq foot lot.

Sorry i am not as you are panting me. Please be accurate in what you say if you want to attack me?

And why attack me? Everyone who owns a home in Palo Alto has seen heir property values rise, Just as all property owners from San Francisco to Gilroy, due to Tech companies and over building and jobs.

Why single me out? Because i think the Chamber's "non endorsement" was an endorsement and i do not believe the candidates selected by the Chamber would be good for Palo Alto?

Seems to prove Mayor Burt's comments re the Chamber's email being devise.

How many other inaccuracies are you spreading?? Let's at least accurate.


4 people like this
Posted by Dearest
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2016 at 10:33 am

@john_alderman

Those are completely valid points, John. They are, however, rhetorical. Obviously nobody ever said anything about office parks in Yosemite, etc. The pendulum has swung entirely in too far in the wrong direction of preventing our city from providing adequate and affordable housing and working space. In regards to protecting retail - there's just little anyone can do to stop the forces of ecommerce. Online shopping is the real killer of retail.

Palo Alto desperately needs more working and living space so that the economy can grow and therefore benefit everyone. Building more housing an office space poses absolutely no danger to overheating the housing or office space market.


55 people like this
Posted by Resident12
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 6, 2016 at 10:44 am

Resident12 is a registered user.

FWIW, I value quality of life over the value of my house. Why does everyone seem to think the residentialists are all about money? Money = growth. The city will be less well off when we cap growth, and I can live with that. I would take a 30% drop in the equity of my house to have emptier roads, quieter skies, and fewer big ugly buildings. For me, this is about quality of life, and I'd happily trade off financial gain for that. The quality of life is why we bought a house here, and we are sad to see it being eroded. I'm also for more true lower-income housing for people who contribute to utilities, schools, local businesses in our town. That is not going to improve property values, but again it improves overall quality of life.


7 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2016 at 11:01 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Dearest - You said growth is good unequivocally, and I'm just pointing out that every one of us has some sort of limit in mind.


14 people like this
Posted by True Residentialist
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2016 at 12:09 pm

Rita,

You're right. The PASZ treasurer misidentified you as a $5000 donor and amended the report. I'm sorry I associated you with these massive donors.

The actual $5000 donor was the retired partner at Goldman Sachs.

The question is, why is PASZ running a shadowy PAC that is taking all these high dollar contributions, while the candidates' committees are pretending to be lagging in funding and so grassroots?


27 people like this
Posted by Wow... the PASZ PAC is really interesting
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 6, 2016 at 12:41 pm

@True Residentialist

I wasn't aware that PASZ is a PAC. Weird that we have these now in local elections.

I just looked this up (go to Web Link ; type in "palo altans for sensible zoning" and look at the disclosures).

It's amazing. There are lots of people who have written $5000 dollar checks and others who have written $2500 checks. This explains a lot. The "Residentialist" candidates appeared to not raise as much money as the last election cycle. It turns out that they have been funneling their funds into a PAC! Who knew?

@Gennady: I'm surprised that there hasn't been a story written about this. Has there ever been a PAC heavily funding candidates for City Council? Very odd to see Citizens United applied in our city to this end. There are individuals like the Laytons who have given multiple thousands to each residentialist candidate AND $5000 to the PASZ PAC. Wow.

I wonder what other PACs are spending on their behalf. Would Lydia, Arthur, Stewart or Greer care to just tell us what other PACs are supporting them so that poor Gennady doesn't have to dig?


12 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 6, 2016 at 2:05 pm

jh is a registered user.

I'm sure the PASZ Pac pales in comparison to the Pacs that are funding many of the glossy fliers we will be receiving in the mail, prominent and ads in the newspapers, including Paloaltoonline. Of course Liz Kniss, for better or worse the consummate politician, started with $15,000 from past war chests and will probably not want to to be associated with or accept money from the development interests that usually donate to her campaigns.


Like this comment
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2016 at 2:08 pm

@Me
"What's with all the whining about a group recommending candidates? Are you guys implying that Palo Altans are too ignorant and just vote for a slate of candidates? Oh wait, we are in California where we are knee-jerk Democrats."

Please sit down. This might be the only post I agree with you on. lol!

@george drysdale

"What if the Indians wanted to halt growth where would Palo Alto be now? Stopping explosive growth if it wants to be is like trying to end gravity. With a water crisis look to big compact development like in Mountain View."

No, don't compare laws of physics with the ability of humans to think and make decisions (good or bad) that don't have anything to do with the laws of physics and aren't controlled by them. And more noticeably recently...the standard accepted rules of economics are being heavily tested in the housing issue. Supply and demand is having a tough time.


4 people like this
Posted by g
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 6, 2016 at 2:22 pm

@jh

I think you're right. Once all the contributions are in and counted let's see who raised the most money and where it came from (donor's names and/or affiliations). PACs are legal...we have them at all levels of government, so what's the big fuss? That CoC, their endorsed candidates, and PAF didn't think of it sooner? They will eventually I'll bet.


17 people like this
Posted by Wow... the PASZ PAC is really interesting
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 6, 2016 at 2:26 pm

@jh

"I'm sure the PASZ Pac pales in comparison to the Pacs that are funding many of the glossy fliers we will be receiving in the mail, prominent and ads in the newspapers, including Paloaltoonline"

I don't know of any other PACs in this race. I believe that all other candidates are just running their own campaigns. At the state level (i.e, Berman, Veenker, etc) it is different.

Do you know of other PACs operating locally? PAF is not a PAC. They don't have any funds and they don't distribute funds.


51 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto, not San Francisco
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2016 at 3:33 pm

@Resident 12,
I agree with you that I would take a lower appreciation on my house in exchange for quality of life -- I"m making huge sacrifices to live here, and it was for the quality of life.

The trouble with that argument is that that's not really the choice. The Densification Crowd are destroying quality of life, increasing stress AND decreasing our property values.

I've had reason to be very aware of property values in our region for decades, and what you can get in Los Altos for the money increasingly goes down because they are maintaining quality of life. Similar homes in Palo Alto that used to be actually valued higher (even with less land) have long ago stopped keeping pace. I refinanced not that long ago, so I have been keenly aware of how the overdevelopment in the area has hurt my property values AND quality of life, they go together.

We have also seen a precipitous drop in the number of children enrolled in elementary school, despite places like Los Altos being as crowded as ever. This does not bode well for property values either.

I agree with Mayor Burt's charge to move large companies that are strangling startups and retail businesses oriented to residents. The transient dayiime population is not bringing in healthy businesses, they're bringing in things like gyms that displace our longtime businesses, and that use water that Palo Alto then has to conserve on the residential side.

To Buffalo above who thinks other communities would love the excess jobs - exactly! We are a stronger nation if this region doesn't try to be the onlly job center for the nation. Let's invest in the kinds of civic amenities that make a few more cool nice places to live, and help encourage the companies strangling downtown Palo Alto to move there. Until we do, we will continue to face the barrage of insults and the political assault from the astroturf representing those businesses trying to turn downtown Palo Alto into their little fiefdoms.

I''m voting for Kou, Kelly, Carl, and Stone, or whoever PASZ endorses, even though I'm not a member, because I know they have Palo Alto's interests at heart, and they speak honestly rather than the steady stream of misinformation coming out of PAF adherents.


11 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 6, 2016 at 3:39 pm

jh is a registered user.

I'm waiting for an onslaught of glossy mailers in the next few weeks as we receive the vote by mail envelopes. During the last council election Greg Scharff had glossy mailings on his behalf by various PACs, some of which were easy to figure out but others had obscure names.


22 people like this
Posted by True Residentialist
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2016 at 3:54 pm

"The transient dayiime population is not bringing in healthy businesses, they're bringing in things like gyms that displace our longtime businesses, and that use water that Palo Alto then has to conserve on the residential side."

Really, do you residentialists have any *data* that Palo Alto is suffering a water shortage due to gyms replacing traditional retail? Or that Palantir employees are only eating meals in their cafeteria all the time? Or do you just make these boogeyman anecdotes up because you *feel* them to be true?

I also wonder why the "transient" population is "transient." Perhaps because the so-called residentialists oppose new housing at every turn?

The idea that we can develop more responsibly by moving all the successful software business to overparked, single-use, traffic-congested, and unwalkable business parks far from Caltrain is archaic 20th century planning thinking. How do you think traffic got as bad as it is?


48 people like this
Posted by Terry
a resident of Mayfield
on Oct 6, 2016 at 5:15 pm

Reading the article about the Chamber's "non-endorsement" endorsement it is clear they are representing big business and developers, not Palo Altans Do Palo Altans really want businesses and developers who don't even live here to tell us who to vote for? if anything, I plan to do the exact opposite and most Palo Altans should see this "non-endorsement" by the Chamber for what it truly is -- a sham.

If you care about slowing down office development (and you don't want us to turn into what San Antonio Shopping Center has become) and you want residents to have more say in their City government, there is only one choice. Vote for the candidates have supported these ideas from the beginning. Vote for Keller, Kuo, Stewart, and Greer!


34 people like this
Posted by Bill Ross
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 6, 2016 at 6:01 pm

First in a "transparent" City it is remarkable how many people regardless of their view choose to not use their real name. Second, a real issue to now be analyzed with respect to ethical issues is the City approval in a PC property as a public benefit a lessee who has now taken a partisan position in the election for the City Council. Will the lease still be a public benefit if someone other that the endorsed candidates are elected? Third, will the endorsements change if, for example, it is shown that one of the endorsees did not make a material disclosure on the Economic Disclosure Form 700?


46 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto, not San Francisco
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2016 at 7:30 pm

The kind of housing PAF wants, luxury rentals, is by its nature only for transient high-wage earners who don't tend to put down roots in the community. High-end restaurants that ordinary residents can't reach because of the traffic and can't afford are just more businesses like extra gyms that serve the transient population rather than residents needs.

But now that you mention it, perhaps you will join me in asking for hard data on just how much water use all the transient population use, and how much water use any new development will add. Perhaps you will join me in calling for a realistic assessment of the safety needs of the transient population and a business tax to pay for them. And a moratorium on development until we have solved the problems of the drought. Overbuilding Northern California so we no longer have water for SoCal seriously threatens the future viability of all of California. There is an article right now on the drought - I'm tired if being asked to sacrifice and argue over a smaller and smaller pie, while development mongers come in and greedily grab bigger and bigger pieces as if there is no shortage.


6 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 7, 2016 at 2:13 pm

This is hilarious.

With all the twisted logic in this thread, you would think that Palo Alto was Spanish for pretzel.

You residentialsqs are really funny.


37 people like this
Posted by Chamber Crosses the Line
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 7, 2016 at 2:18 pm

The number one challenge for small businesses and startups in downtown Palo Alto is cost of rent. Large downtown companies and in particular Palantir sign long leases at top dollar driving up rents, reducing available rental properties and preventing startups from renting here. The Chamber's endorsements and advocation hurts startups and retail businesses.

The Chamber and Judy Kleinberg in particular have violated the Chambers bylaws. [Portion removed.] The Chamber's non-profit status should be revoked, they should be kicked out of their below market space and Judy should be fired.


9 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 7, 2016 at 4:39 pm

"First in a "transparent" City it is remarkable how many people regardless of their view choose to not use their real name."

Here we go again.

Please prove in this forum that Bill Ross is your "real" name. For my part I have already proven many times I am a Curmudgeon.


9 people like this
Posted by who runs the chamber
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 7, 2016 at 4:48 pm

Bill Ross, please give us a hint about people who don't disclose on Form 700. I do know that Marc Berman owns lots of real estate in a Trust and does not detail it. We never know when he has a direct conflict of interest.
Liz Kniss is very wealthy, does she disclose all? Clearly there is more.


3 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 7, 2016 at 6:56 pm

jh is a registered user.


Apparently the city clerk is in charge of the required financial disclosures that council members must submit. But some council members deliberately leave the financial disclosure form blank, or almost blank, and appear to get away with not listing possible conflicts of interest.


15 people like this
Posted by Take action
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 7, 2016 at 9:22 pm

Here are the names of the members of the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce. These are the folks to whom the Executive Director answers (of course, she probably handpicked them for their support of her), but these are the people who need to be held accountable:
Peter Stone, Hopkins & Carley, A Law Corporation
Jeffery Phillips, Garden Court Hotel General Manager
Rebecca Teutschel, TNT, Inc. Certified Public Accountants
Jon Kiya, Boston Private Senior Vice President and Team Leader
Mike Love, Microsoft Director of Engineering
Erin McDermit, Shuman Snyder LLP., Attorney-At-Law
Bob McGrew, Palantir Technologies, Inc. Advisor
Susan Graf, S. Graf, Ltd.
Janaki Kumar, SAP, LLC, VP, Head of Design

It is up to the Board of Directors to determine what action to take against such an obvious flouting of the law, and indication of conflict of interest. And they are ultimately responsible for the actions of the Chamber of Commerce. Lots of deep pockets here, folks. Contact them!


18 people like this
Posted by Details
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 7, 2016 at 9:43 pm

The Chamber is a 501(c)6 nonprofit organization, governed by IRS rules slightly different from those of 501(c)3 organizations, which are supposed to be educational in nature.

IRS code says, "IRC 501(c)(4), (c)(5), and (c)(6) organizations may engage in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office provided that such intervention does not constitute the organization's primary activity." If I'm interpreting the code correctly, they also have to pay taxes on funds used for such activity.

That said, we do need to question why our city has given such an organization such a "sweetheart" deal when clearly all it does is exist to promote the interests of large companies in our fair city. That is no "public benefit" in my book, and I thin the City Council members should reconsider continuing to allow the Chamber to occupy the quarters it does... did they give the developer who also was then allowed to violate zoning regulations the right to determine who gets to sit in that space, and at what rent? If so, yet another example (and there are many) of the ineptitude of the City Council and the high-paid city planners who advise them, in granting these variances for so-called "public benefits".


Posted by StateLaw
a resident of Greenmeadow

on Oct 9, 2016 at 11:48 am


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17 people like this
Posted by TryAgain
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 9, 2016 at 12:01 pm

I believe it's state law and the Fair Political Practices Commission that is relevant to rule on the Chamber of Commerce endorsements, not the IRS and Feds. Election efforts need to be declared and the Chamber of Commerce has filed as a California tax exempt organization, claiming no political activity. They have not filed a taxable entity which could engage in politics. Therefore they appear to have violated the FPPC laws and should be held accountable.

Palo Alto Forward claims it is "no organization". That is not an excuse to not file for political activities including cash and in-kind contributions. They have espoused one set of political views, promoted only candidates who support their position on their web site (the expense of hosting a web site must be reported to the FPPC), hosting food trucks and ice cream socials (which costs money) and were going to have a forum with only their supported candidates until they wised up and cancelled it. Not filing and cash or in-kind political contributions appears to be a violation of the FPPC laws.

The proper way to do these activities is to form a political committee and report financial and in-kind contributions. Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning have done this in an open and transparent manner as required by state law. They should not be criticized for reporting their political activity but praised for following the laws, where our Chamber and Palo Alto Forward is not, and appears to prefer operating in the shadows from a financial perspective.

Dark money is a taint on American politics. We should all be asking where is this money coming from and what do the donors expect. Who would you prefer to see donating to Palo Alto city politics? Donors who are people outside Palo Alto and large developers? Or residents of the city?

There is no free lunch. Money comes with strings


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Posted by Who
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 9, 2016 at 12:08 pm

[Post removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by True Residentialist
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 9, 2016 at 12:27 pm

@TryAgain

The way that most campaigns work--including for the four leading non-PASZ campaigns--is that individuals donate money to candidates, and the candidates spend the money using their own names, and report the money on their own reports.

There's no dark money involved, so I'm not sure what you're claiming.

Kou and Keller are pretending to be out-raised, but have a shadowy and closely affiliated PAC (look at the officers and donors) raise $5,000 checks from a handful of venture capitalists and ex-Goldman partners and their families.

Why won't they just take those big checks themselves and own up to it and stop pleading poverty? Because it wrecks their whole David vs. Goliath story.....


13 people like this
Posted by who runs the chamber
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2016 at 10:35 am

Whether the endorsement is legal or not, I hope lawyers will pursue the question. But we are reminded about whose values are being expressed. Money, money, money.
Curious how many of them live in our city. The CEO does not.


This is the Chamber's Board. Any doubt about their values? Even Palantir is on it.

Peter Stone, Hopkins & Carley, A Law Corporation
Judith Kleinberg, CEO/President, business law attorney
Jeffery Phillips Garden Court Hotel General Manager
Rebecca Teutschel TNT, Inc., Certified Public Accountants
Jon Kiya, Senior VP and Team Leader of Boston Private's Specialty Lending Group
Mike Love, Microsoft
Erin McDermit, Attorney At Law, Shuman Snyder LLP
Bob McGrew, Palantir Technologies, Inc.
Susan Graf, Owner, S. Graf Ltd.
Ramsey Shuayto, Asset Management, Stanford University Research Park
Janaki Kumar, SAP Labs, LLC


6 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 16, 2016 at 10:05 am

Going through my ballot now. Many thanks to Judy and her colleagues for their non-endorsement endorsement. I'll be sure not to vote for Kniss, Fine, McDougall or Tanaka!


6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 16, 2016 at 10:12 am

Not coincidentally Bob McGrew, Palantir Technologies, Inc. heads the new Transportation Management program that will ensure the the taxpayers will pay commuters to come into/leave the city via carpooling and via public transit.

Who do you think is going to pay the lion's share for this? Businesses or taxpayers?


6 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 16, 2016 at 10:24 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Online Name - Like we have the military industrial complex running government at the federal level, we are getting out own real estate / technology complex trying to take over local government. I really hope people pay close attention to who they are voting for so we don't get another stealth candidate like Wolbach.


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