Election 2016: Deciding Palo Alto's future

Candidates for City Council tackle development, quality-of-life issues

What kind of city should Palo Alto strive to become?

A cosmopolitan hub of world-disrupting innovators or a leafy community where children play on the streets? Should it become dense enough to support more mass transit and affordable-housing developments or should it fight to retain the pleasant suburban atmosphere that led many residents to move here?

These questions loom over the Nov. 8 election, which is as much a contest between values as it is between the 11 candidates vying for four seats. The stakes are particularly high this time around. In addition to the usual Palo Alto council duties -- setting utility rates, crafting development policies, authorizing bike projects and reviewing citizen appeals -- the new members will also be making several decisions that will linger well beyond their four-year terms. They will, in all likelihood, adopt the updated Comprehensive Plan, the land-use bible that will form the basis for all zoning decisions until 2030. It will also hire a new city manager, with James Keene recently declaring his intention to retire in 2018, when he hits his 10-year mark. It will grapple with complex regional policies, including Caltrain upgrades and housing quotas, while making lasting decisions about local services, whether the size of the new animal shelter or the design of the city's new public-safety building.

Some of the candidates profess to be agents of change, while others promise to protect the city from it. Three -- Stewart Carl, Arthur Keller and Lydia Kou -- adhere toward the latter and are receiving overwhelming support from the "residentialist" side of the city's debate over land use. All three favor, to varying degrees, continuing and potentially expanding an annual cap on new office development.

Greer Stone, the chair of the city's Human Relations Commission, also tilts toward slow-growth policies -- including maintaining the city's 50-foot height limit for new buildings. He believes the city's encouragement of more accessory-dwelling or "granny" units will be doomed without better enforcement of the potential violations. Like others on the residentialist side, he thinks the city should focus its new housing on priced-out teachers, first-responders and the community's most vulnerable residents.

Others candidates -- Adrian Fine, Don McDougall and Greg Tanaka -- favor a less restrictive approach to development and a wider range of housing options. All have the backing of the Democratic Party establishment and of the council's moderate wing. All are calling for new approaches and a robust community conversation to achieve housing solutions, whether it's through neighborhood-specific "area plans" (Fine), a "housing summit" (Tanaka) or good old-fashioned public hearings (McDougall). Fine and Tanaka, as planning commissioners, have both criticized the city's new office cap as too "blunt" a tool. McDougall is open to allowing some office growth, provided new developments meet a set of "sustainability" requirements.

John Fredrich, a retired Gunn High School civics teacher running in his sixth election, proudly stands outside of the political establishment. He solicits no donations or endorsements and likes his democracy with a small "d." He is critical of city leadership, wants to "demote" the Architectural Review Board and believes the council has been negligent in protecting the city from rampant office development.

Liz Kniss, the sole incumbent in the race (the other three seats are being vacated by Mayor Pat Burt and Greg Schmid, who are terming out, and Marc Berman, who is running for state Assembly), is his opposite in just about every respects except election experience. A household name in the regional Democratic Party, the former two-time mayor has more than two decades of public service under her belt and is now running in her 10th and final election.

Rounding out the field are two candidates who have designated themselves as the "outsiders." Real-estate broker Leonard Ely III says he's tired of watching the council study everything to death without producing any real solutions. Danielle Martell, who last ran in 2005, is equally tired of watching the council completely ignore issues she cares about most: the safety of children at Rinconada pool, illegal immigration and the violation of her constitutional rights by city leaders.

This year's election also presents an unusual milestone: It's a swan song for Palo Alto's nine-member council. Thanks to a ballot measure voters passed in 2014, this is the last election in which voters will be electing members to a nine-member council. Starting in 2018, the number of council seats will be reduced to seven and each voice will become slightly louder and potentially more influential.

The candidates, for their part, hardly need to be reminded of what's at stake. Each believes the voters on Nov. 8 will play a critical role in shaping what Palo Alto will look like years from now, and for decades to come.

"This is an election about Palo Alto's future and the type of community we want to raise our children in," Stone said at a recent candidate forum.

No one could disagree.

View profiles of each candidate below, as well as video endorsement interviews the Palo Alto Weekly conducted with each candidate and answers from the candidates on five issues facing the City of Palo Alto.

Stewart Carl


In his own words: Where Stewart Carl stands

Endorsement interview

Len Ely


In his own words: Where Len Ely stands

Endorsement interview

Adrian Fine


In his own words: Where Adrian Fine stands

Endorsement interview

John Fredrich


In his own words: Where John Fredrich stands

Endorsement interview

Arthur Keller


In his own words: Where Arthur Keller stands

Endorsement interview

Liz Kniss


In her own words: Where Liz Kniss stands

Endorsement interview

Lydia Kou


In her own words: Where Lydia Kou stands

Endorsement interview

Danielle Martell


*Candidate Martell did not participate in the endorsement interview or candidate forums

Don McDougall


In his own words: Where Don McDougall stands

Endorsement interview

Greer Stone


In his own words: Where Greer Stone stands

Endorsement interview

Greg Tanaka


In his own words: Where Greg Tanaka stands

Endorsement interview

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


Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

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107 people like this
Posted by More Offices = More Problems
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 14, 2016 at 5:49 am

I'm glad at least some candidates are willing to keep and maybe even expand the office cap. Palo Alto has added 13.7 jobs for every housing unit in the recent years, and most of those new jobs are due to office growth.

The current office cap is hardly the "blunt" tool that some candidates claim. Rather, it's far too generous. Just look at some of the crazy projects it allows, such as the proposed 429 University rebuild that would add 35 jobs and just 4 residences (assuming they're not used as offices too).

The office cap should be expanded to protect all areas of the city and to only allow new offices when there's new housing to match. It sounds like the four best candidates to do that are Keller, Kou, Stone, and Carl.

32 people like this
Posted by Moderates
a resident of University South
on Oct 14, 2016 at 7:11 am

This City Council needs smart, thoughtful moderates. I've been impressed with many of the candidates, but especially Tanaka and McDougall. In forums and in person, they have consistently made a real connection with what I and the residents I know what to see in the community - a compassionate city that is balanced, inclusive, and sustainable. I think we need leaders who are smart and thoughtful, not divisive, and I see that in these two especially.

Overall, although there are several strong candidates, I'm voting for the candidates endorsed by Joe Simitian, Anna Eshoo, and Rich Gordon, all of whose opinions I trust and respect. That's Tanaka, McDougall, Kniss, and Fine.

31 people like this
Posted by housing first
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 14, 2016 at 8:35 am

I don't trust candidates who talk about housing but promise to "protect the city from change". Sounds like they want to pull up the drawbridge. NO to Kou, Keller, and Stone.

I like the approach of Fine, Tanaka and McDougall - using conversations and partnerships to create more housing. We have a housing shortage, and the simple solution is to build more housing. These three will do that in a good way for our community,

29 people like this
Posted by let's get some adults
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 14, 2016 at 8:38 am

I think that there are 5 people in this race who are both thoughtful and qualified: Fine, Keller, Kniss, McDougall, and Tanaka.

All of them are thinking about the issues that face Palo Alto systemically. They understand that revenues have to be raised, that housing diversity has to be addressed, that jobs are important for a functional community, etc. They all have different stances on the future direction of our city, but they are all qualified people. Others seem to be either single issue people (Kou, Carl: development and jobs are the root of all problems) or underinformed (Stone, Ely, Fredrich, Martell).

I don't know which of the 5 will win. It's hard to see anyone outside of this group being a serious choice, though.

32 people like this
Posted by Josef
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 14, 2016 at 8:42 am

Go for the dems. President Obama recently spoke about the need to overcome not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) attitudes (link Web Link) because it's a threat to social mobility and economic progress. The president speaking about zoning, let that sink in.

I'm for Kniss, Fine, Tanaka and McDougall because they recognize the big issues, and have pragmatic approaches to try and solve them.

66 people like this
Posted by Not a Business Park!
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 14, 2016 at 8:42 am

Not a Business Park! is a registered user.

We need more housing, but not all in one place--it should be scattered throughout. Low-cost affordable housing, especially, would just become a ghetto if built all in one location.

We have far too many tech companies and business employers here-- Palo Alto is being compromised as a good place to live. The traffic, noise, air pollution, excess water and utility use have made Pali Alto a miserable place to live!

We will leave if the new president repeals the capital gains tax on housing. We no longer enjoy living here because most of the changes have been for the worse!

28 people like this
Posted by Balance
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 14, 2016 at 9:21 am

We need balanced approaches toward the future that both protect neighborhoods and are willing to try new things and bring us into the 21st century. All I hear from kuo, Keller, and stone is that they basically plan to do nothing over the next four years and approve nothing. I don't want my tax dollars going to candidates who have already told me they're just going to sit around. I want to see us expirement with new types of transit. Uber shuttles? Heck, gondolas in the SRP? Maybe! Micro units? Tiny houses? Maybe! New community spaces? More child friendly facilities like bumble and bumble? I at least want a council that's open minded and may make our lives better. Not one married to the status quo. I plan to vote for fine, Tanaka, and mcdougall. I trust them to figure it out and not just brush everything off.

79 people like this
Posted by Residentialist
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 14, 2016 at 9:21 am

Four candidates are running specifically to represent the interests of the residents who live here and look out for their best interests as well as local small businesses and these four are Keller, Kou, Stone and Stewart. Pro-fast-growth candidates running who primarily represent developers and big businesses are Fine, Tanaka, Ely, McDougall and Kniss. They are not concerned about using neighborhoods as employee parking lots, further congesting our streets or maintaining the livability of the city, although they do talk a good game during election season but they will be developers best friends thereafter as can be seen by their track records. To quote Fine at the May 17, 2016 CAC Meeting, "To start on the height limit, I'm in support of removing the cap for a few reasons. One is it's from the 1970s, and 50 feet is pretty arbitrary. It was just kind of chosen out of thin air at the time."

36 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2016 at 9:34 am

Uh-huh. Skeptical of Makeovers.

“I am running for City Council because I want to make sure that residents continue to have a great quality of life”
Web Link


“That generation got a sweet deal, we’re getting a raw deal. Palo Alto residents who have been here since 1950 have told me “My generation screwed you.”
Web Link

“We ceased building and increased regulation. These regulations are at fault. As is frankly the attitude of folks who have their single family homes.”
Web Link

@alevin triple yes! "Compatibilty" is just replicating the same "community character" everywhere. It's like an evil amoeba
Adrian Fine ‏@adrianfine Aug 16

“We talk about growth management. What about growth enablement?”
Web Link

“I never felt we had much of a parking problem.”
Web Link

“For me, it comes down to the fact that Palo Alto is really a world-class place because we have supported innovative and efficient and new businesses”
- CAC-Draft-Minutes-_05.17.2016.pdf

28 people like this
Posted by Clay
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 14, 2016 at 9:38 am

I appreciate candidates who understand that the key to a strong community is not merely to protect the interests of people who are already here.

As baby boomers transition into retirement, something needs to be done to prevent this city from turning into a town for only long-term homeowners (who bought their homes in the 1970s or pass them to their kids) and super-rich software people. Prop 13 is obviously a perverse incentive for any City Council, but more housing for young and early middle-age homebuyers is needed. Some of that is going to be in other people's backyards, but it's the only responsible thing for the city to do.

I like Adrian Fine's approach to these problems. The other Democrats are also quite strong and taking the right approach. Most of the other candidates, especially those supported by the PASZ PAC, are pandering to Palo Alto residents' worst fears. In my view, that's not responsible problem solving. It's the worst kind of politics.

57 people like this
Posted by Another Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 14, 2016 at 9:41 am

"Resident" got it very right. Adrian Fine is putting on his "pro-resident" hat because his true pro-development zeal is a lousy sell.

The PAF/developer crowd always tries to hide behind residentialist (or in the notorious case of Cory Wolbach, "civility") themes at election time? If their platform of underparked, overcrowded urbanization were such a good thing, why not own it?

60 people like this
Posted by slant
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 14, 2016 at 9:44 am

Would be nice if Palo Alto Weekly had a someone more objective cover the high-stakes City Council election. It seems to me that Gennedy Sheyner clearly favors the PAF/high density development perspective in the way he has been presenting the issues. Palo Alto is already a vibrant, medium-sized city that is both a hub of innovation and an attractive place for families. Those sympathetic to PAF (Fine, Tanaka, McDougall and Kniss) want to add more high-density housing (both condos and rentals) so that young Palo Alto workers (primarily in the tech industry) can move here. OTOH, those more sympathetic to PASZ advocate (Kou, Keller, Stone and Stewart) prefer a more cautious approach to new development to mitigate impacts on schools and traffic. Each view makes sense to the appropriate target group.

24 people like this
Posted by costs
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 14, 2016 at 10:08 am

It's frustrating to read yet another article about local issues that doesn't even mention housing costs. These candidates talk about "quality of life", but don't they realize that for many of us the incredibly high cost of housing has a much larger effect on quality of life than spending an extra minute driving somewhere because of traffic?

When is the Weekly going to report on housing costs? That is by far the biggest challenge our community faces.

It's good to see that at least a few of the candidates (Fine, McDougall, Tanaka) are talking about those issues. Our housing costs are the result of 50+ years of slow growth policies and it's time for a change.

62 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 14, 2016 at 10:08 am

At least the choice in this election cycle is pretty clear. If you want continued degradation of quality of life and open hostility to R1 zoning (or for that matter, any zoning restrictions that limit development) vote for Fine, Tanaka, McDougall. Some quotes from an interview with Fine leading up to the election (pro-development, anti-SFH, pro-ABAG):

Web Link

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He won't be getting my vote...

Especially be wary when they talk about representing the interests of residents ... that is just a smokescreen to get elected.

I'm voting for Kou and Keller.

98 people like this
Posted by Cheryl Lilienstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 14, 2016 at 10:31 am

Please vote for Lydia Kou and Arthur Keller: they really stand for their principles, and are not trying to fool you, and they will prioritize the needs of residents over the profits of developers. They know we need to control the rate of growth so that Palo Alto retains its excellent quality of life and remains a great place to live.

Fine, Tanaka, McDougal, and Kniss are the pro-development slate. (Follow the money...)

Unfortunately, to get elected, candidates will mislead you. For instance, in the last election, Greg Scharff --who votes for developers-- pretended to be a "residentialist."

It seems Adrian Fine learned from Scharff, and for this election has changed his views.

Before the election:
He has stated he is not opposed to eliminating the 50 foot height limit: he finds it arbitrary (!).

And, along with several on the city council (Greg Scharff and Marc Berman, for instance) he often stated that limiting office space development in order to control growth was "a blunt instrument."
On the Planning Commission, Fine opposed the office space development cap. He voted against the ordinance, and moved to recommend the Council not adopt it.
Web Link

Yet, FIne now says this (not exactly an about face, but attempting to obscure his previous position):

“Until the Comp Plan is passed, office growth should be limited by the downtown office cap ... This is a policy I refined on the Planning Commission”

Don't be fooled: Adrian Fine is a pro-development guy. If you want high density, vote for him.

If not, please vote for Kou, Keller, Stone, and Carl. They are who they appear to be.

25 people like this
Posted by digitalmama
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 14, 2016 at 10:44 am

We need to elect a City Council who listens to residents' concerns and works for positive solutions. Just saying "NO" will not make a better Palo Alto. Otherwise we'll turn into an Atherton or Woodside -- lovely areas but not diverse or innovative. Palo Alto has always been a hub of innovation. It's what made us different from other Peninsula cities so let's keep that spirit of innovation alive. Let's elect those who are willing to say "YES" to varied housing solutions and "YES" to ways to mitigate the issues that come along with moderate growth. We're in a crisis and doing nothing is not a solution. We're not an island and can't just pull up the drawbridges -- other communities are dealing with growth issues and we'll feel the impact regardless. I have not heard one candidate say they wanted the "Manhattanization" of Palo Alto -- or 10 story buildings. I'm voting for those who will be thoughtful about the issues: Fine, Tanaka, McDougall and Kniss.

46 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 14, 2016 at 11:05 am

I'm voting for the candidates who are responsive to residents' comments/questions and smart enough to see the connection between over-building, offices and traffic congestion unlike Mr. Fine who chairs the Planning & Transportation Commission.

We all know our population triples during the workweeks and will only get worse. One doesn't need to be a genius to check out how traffic "improvements" work during the rather predictable afternoon rush hour before implementing them.

Listening to taxpayer feedback, fixing mistakes -- or even just pretending to care about fixing them -- is the hallmark of a successful council candidate. And for anyone elected to the council.

So I'm not voting for Mr. Fine but for Keller, Kuo, Carl and Stone.

52 people like this
Posted by anon evergreen park
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 14, 2016 at 11:24 am

anon evergreen park is a registered user.

Any one voting for Tanaka should watch the weekly interview. Tanaka is incapable of even understanding simple questions and totally incapable of answering them.

He is inarticulate and shockingly uniformed on the issues especially the Buena Vista Mobile home park.

[Portion removed.]

31 people like this
Posted by Jessica Clark (not afraid to give my name)
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 14, 2016 at 11:35 am

I wholeheartedly 100% endorse and support Adrian Fine for Palo Alto City Council, Greg Tanaka for Palo Alto City Council, Don Mcdougall, and Liz Kniss for City Council. I had the unique opportunity recently of meeting with many candidates in my tiny condo home, walking around my neighborhood, at my kids soccer practice, and picking my kids up from school. I am a lifeline long resident for 40yrs and raising 3 kids and know people on all sides of the spectrum. An hour long one on one authentic converstion with a candidate is very different than listening to candidates at forums. You can tell who is a good listener, who asks questions, who tries to sympathize, I could go on and on. I hope to go further in depth in the near future in regards to my chats with candidates and am happy to talk to anyone about why I endorse them. Go out and Vote!!!!

7 people like this
Posted by But....?
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 14, 2016 at 11:41 am

But....? is a registered user.

Jessica, you SHOULD be afraid to use your name!

Someone with a different view may Google your name, find where you live or work, and harass you--even vandalize your property!

PAPD recommends that commenters NEVER use their real name or neighborhood!

18 people like this
Posted by Followed the money
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 14, 2016 at 11:51 am

@Cheryl Lilienstein

I followed the money... and I am truly confused.

In your email to the I see that Arthur Keller shares many of the same donors as the non-PASZ/PAF group.... For instance, one of the developer interest you mentioned, Dan Garber gave him $999!!! Arthur even lists him as an endorser on his website. Why doesn't Arthur return the money and reject the endorsement?

Now I read today that Arthur misled me about his vote on Maybell (I thought he didn't support it) and he voted for the under parked survey monkey building!!

I am so disappointed with Arthur.

Cheryl, why do you continue to support this guy? We need to focus on getting Lydia and Stewart elected. Greer also makes me very very nervous.

77 people like this
Posted by who votes
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 14, 2016 at 12:07 pm

Thankfully only Palo Alto residents can vote for Palo Alto City Council members. I imagine that many of those who work in Palo Alto yet don't currently don't reside here (but would like to) support the PAF-sympathetic slate of pro-development candidates (Fine/Tanaka/Kniss/McDougall). It those currently residing in Palo Alto who care about the city's long-term future vote in high numbers, it I believe it's likely that the candidates whose views are more consistent with PASZ's views (Kou/Keller/Stone/Stewart) will prevail.

28 people like this
Posted by Jane Huang
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 14, 2016 at 12:40 pm

I was born in the Bay Area and raised in Palo Alto. I went to Gunn, class of 2005. I believe that Fine, Kniss, McDougall, and Tanaka bring a realistic and balanced perspective that will protect longtime residents like me and others of my generation from being priced out. They understand that not every longtime resident is lucky enough to have a permanent home.

21 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 14, 2016 at 12:57 pm

If the hyper-growth faction wins this election, be prepared to see your taxes dramatically increase to pay commuters to over-run Palo Alto. Right now the TmA plans for us to pay $1 per car-pooled car trip into and out of Palo Alto. That comes to $628 per year car pool.

They also want us to pay the FULL cost of public transit for commuters, including city employees. whether they're coming from San Francisco, Gilroy, Fremont, San Jose, etc.

That's $31,400,000 if all of the present 100,000 commuters car pool ($628 x 50,000) and a LOT more -- probably 5 of 10 times more -- if we pay for their public transit.

Add another $1,000,000 we've just spent to buy them bikes for the bike share program that still hasn't worked but we're told will be successful real soon now.

We're told that businesses MIGHT be taxed $50 or $100 per employee. Obviously that's just a drop in the whole bucket with the taxpayers getting stuck for the rest. And that's just the financial costs.

Pay attention. Lots of money at stake here. Look at the endorsements from the developers, the Chamber of Commerce that wants to stuck us with the bill and the various realtor groups and then vote for your own interests, not theirs.

13 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 14, 2016 at 1:07 pm

Re the new $1,100,000 bike share program that's buying 350 bikes, do the math.

That's $3142,85 per bike -- before the costs to administer the program!

20 people like this
Posted by Support moderates
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 14, 2016 at 1:10 pm

Thanks Weekly for laying this all out. V helpful. It looks like there are two factions and a couple of outsiders. I like what Fredrich has to say about replacing city staff! But I also support moderates like Tanaka and Fine who have experience in planning, and good ideas about solving traffic and housing. We're not going to fix everything tomorrow, but I like that they emphasize balance and listening to all sides.

7 people like this
Posted by Endorsements
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2016 at 1:25 pm

In response to: "I'm voting for the candidates endorsed by Joe Simitian, Anna Eshoo, and Rich Gordon, all of whose opinions I trust and respect."

Be aware that many politicians endorse more candidates than there are spots for in the election.
Please remember, they are politicians after all.

11 people like this
Posted by Bob McGrew
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 14, 2016 at 2:21 pm

@Online Name: I'm the Vice-Chair of the TMA, and I'm happy to say that the proposal you outlined does not reflect our business plan. We have no intention of asking the residents of Palo Alto to pay for the transportation costs of 100k commuters!

Our mandate from City Council was to reduce the number of people driving to the downtown area by 30% - roughly 1650 commuters. According to our commute survey, the groups with the highest rate of driving, and therefore the most opportunity to shift away from their cars, are the low-wage service workers in the retail, restaurant, and hospitality industries. We've found that half of Palo Alto commuters, including these workers, would prefer to take public transportation, but find it too expensive to afford.

We would like to use a combination of private and public funds to offer targeted assistance to low-income workers in the downtown area to use public transit or carpooling. Many of these workers currently park in the downtown neighborhoods, and helping them afford public transportation and carpools would save the city (and taxpayers) tens of millions of dollars compared to the alternative of building new parking garages so that they are not parking on neighborhood streets.

As for the public funds, aside from some limited startup money, the Council has discussed having businesses fund the program, including alternatives such as a business tax or employee parking revenues. Both of these would be more than sufficient to cover the costs of the TMA's programs, including future programs extending to low-wage workers in the California Ave area.

I believe our program is simply a smart way to reduce traffic and neighborhood parking issues at a very low cost. We have received support from a variety of residents, including from both Neilson Buchanan and Don McDougall at our board meetings, and from both Pat Burt and Liz Kniss at city council.

Feel free to let me know at if you have any additional questions, and I can try to answer them.

11 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 14, 2016 at 2:39 pm

Mr. McGrew,

Thanks for your response. I got my numbers of $1 per carpool trip and the "full" reimbursement for public transit from news reports here and from other local news sources. One of your officials was crowing about how successful the initial launch of the carpooling program was at 1,000 carpool trips ($62,800).

If I'm wrong about the published reports, please explain and clarify.

By what yardstick is a program successful? When it hits 20,000 car poolers>($12,560,,000)? 20,000 commuters taking public transit?

So who will foot the bill for all the commuters?? If it's a mix of funding from businesses and residents, please break it out so we taxpayers know what our share will be. And please be as specific as possible about current and projected growth of your program.

Thanks in advance.

11 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 14, 2016 at 2:44 pm

PS: Please correct me if I'm wrong, but the proposed business tax being discussed is only $50 or $100 for employers of a certain size which again doesn't come close of covering even the cost of the #628 car pool expenditures.

I'm sure other voters would also like to hear your answersso best to provide them here rather than in private emails.


25 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 14, 2016 at 3:08 pm

I don't buy that low-income workers "prefer" to stop driving their cars. I assure you that most probably don't. Anyone who owns a car will want to drive it for the privacy & personal efficiency.

Acquiring a car in the first place is an act of upward mobility.

Bob McGraw's and the TMA's view towards low-wage earners as somehow less worthy of the luxury of driving one's own car is incredibly unfair and condescending.

Please stop the preaching and spending and instead... LEAD. BY. EXAMPLE.

6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2016 at 3:20 pm

Every candidate supports TMA. There is no opposition to it anywhere as long as it is paid for by businesses.

[Portion removed.]

39 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 14, 2016 at 5:06 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

After reading about Palo Alto issues during my 40 + years here, and watching the live council broadcast on Monday nights, it is interesting to watch council member up for re-election suddenly become very circumvent when giving their opinion about issues they had strongly advocated for in the past and counted on to cast their council vote accordingly.

In particular, in her past (many) terms on the council Liz Kniss never appeared to see a development she didn't vote for, and her. Generous donations to her past campaigns have reflected this support. Rather suddenly in the months leading up to this election, Liz Kniss became very cautious during council meetings about what she said, or silent when previously she would stated opinions. (Rather like Greg Scharff running for re-election two years ago, and spending $100,000, positioning himself as a residentialist, when he hardly ever saw a development he didn't vote in favor of.

Although past Liz Kniss received generous donations that reflected her support for developers and growth, this time around, with $15,000 left over from previous campaigns, she is very deliberately and publicly distancing herself from her previous supporters. As a master of the political situation, Liz Kniss clearly sees which way the wind is blowing. But if elected for one final term, not facing re-election, will she revert to her long held support for those who profit from commercial development and growth?

Lis Kniss has had a stellar and successful political career, and many achievements that I admire. And I have voted for her. But with the comprehensive plan coming to the next council I cannot count on what her positions really are, whatever she now says.

19 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 14, 2016 at 5:59 pm

@Bob McGrew: "...the groups with the highest rate of driving, and therefore the most opportunity to shift away from their cars, are the low-wage service workers in the retail, restaurant, and hospitality industries."

I'm used to hearing this from the unlimited-growth folks, but I'm worried to hear it from the Vice-Chair of the TMA, because it's not based on careful thinking.

Using the figures from the May 2015 survey (is there a more recent one?), of every 1000 downtown employees, 590 are in office businesses (government, tech, and "light office") while 350 are in retail, restaurant, and hospitality (RRH). Of office workers, 256 are solo drivers. Of RRH workers, 258 are solo drivers. Solo drivers are almost equally split between office workers and RRH workers.

Because there are so many more office workers than RRH workers, any particular percentage change in overall driving behavior by the office workers has more effect than the same percentage change by RRH workers.

To justify placing a greater burden of change on the RRH workers, you need to show that they are, or can become, more willing and able to change their driving behavior than the office workers. So far the evidence suggests this is false, but maybe you have more information I haven't seen.

Note that the survey reports average behavior over a short time, but not variation in behavior, so we have no confidence ranges for the averages. This is a serious methodological flaw, and basing policy on the averages alone could be a major mistake.

46 people like this
Posted by Palantir influence
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 14, 2016 at 7:01 pm

It isn't always important to know where people work, but in discussing downtown development and business taxes, it is important to know that both Bob McGrew and Eric Rosenblum work for THE major office occupier downtown, Palantir.

I doubt they would advocate for anything that isn't in the interest of their employer. They'd lose their jobs in a minute.

9 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 14, 2016 at 7:54 pm

Didn't Tom Dubois recuse himself on an issue in the recent past concerning Stanford because his wife works(ed) at Stanford albeit it in an unrelated department?

I remember that struck me as odd and unfair because we have actually have someone from Stanford's Land Use Planning Dept (or similar) serving on one our planning committees along with real estate developer Mike Alcheck on the Planning & Transportation Commission.

It would be very helpful if all of our candidates revealed their family ties and interests that could influence their decisions.

50 people like this
Posted by PhotoOp
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 14, 2016 at 9:45 pm

When I first arrived in Palo Alto twenty plus years ago, I was surprised at how few tall, steel and glass office buildings existed.... I had consulted all over the world and finally was moving to Silicon Valley, I simply assumed the streets would be lined with these modern office and apartment complexes..... My first night sleeping in town, I remember driving by Hyatt Rickys three times and and not being able to find it, because I was looking up in the air, not low to the ground for a Hyatt Hotel.

I quickly began to understand and appreciate that this casual, low profile city was unique.... blending world class business opportunities with a priority on quality of life..... This is where I made my home and raised my family..... I use to be so proud, that a city full of intellectuals could appreciate and manage to this balance.... This is no longer the case...This past weekend, as I first walked thru the going out of business sales for Keeble and Shuchat and Peninsula Hardware, walking downtown and looking into these strange ground floor office buildings that use to be interesting retail.... than driving down San Antonio Blvd by El Camino you can't deny that the change is happening....

If not this election cycle, or the next, or the next after that..... the developers are going to cannibalize this town. Well, I am not going to give in. People talk about voting for "moderate" candidates like Fine and Tanaka or incumbents like Kniss.... The time for moderation has passed.... we need strong direction to balance business interests to resident quality of life. I am voting Keller, Kue, Carl, and Stone who I believe will try to maintain the balance that made Palo Alto a place people who could live and work anywhere they wanted, chose to live and work here.

9 people like this
Posted by Sean
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 14, 2016 at 10:43 pm

In observing this election, it is strange that there seems to be a belief that a portion of the candidates can do the impossible. That is, essentially stop progress from effecting Palo Alto. If a Residentialist slate were to sweep the election, Palo Alto would not revert to 1976 or 1996. It's 2016 with all of the opportunity and challenges inherent in this year's version of the city and the region.

Shouldn't a savvy Palo Alto resident be voting a balanced set of candidates that reflect a level of restraint in green-lighting new projects along with candidates who have the knowledge and sense to address the problems of today that will continue even with no further development projects. Look for those with planning experience and an understanding of the issues for that.

30 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2016 at 12:46 am

I really take issue with the either/or questions you posed. Palo Alto was a hub of innovation for a very long time, while also being a place that was family friendly, low-key, pleasant, and easy to get around, with strong support of affordable housing and more units than any surrounding community.

The overbuilding of office space caused a host of problems, including gentrification (pushing out BV), traffic, noise, congestion, uglification/overbuilding, serious loss of retail, constant bashing of residents by development interests, loss of views and streetscapes, loss of trees, loss of community feel.

We even survived Google getting big, and Facebook, too. The choice is not of "cosmopolitan" but of downtown taken over by Palantir. The big companies taking over and ossifying downtown are the greater threat to startups, not quality of life, which was one of the reasons for this place being a desirable area (with great schools and proximity to Stanford) for startups and investments for many, many years before the recent years of assault on residential quality of life.

58 people like this
Posted by Cheryl Lilienstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 15, 2016 at 12:58 am

@ follow the money
Sorry if you are confused. Perhaps a look at the entire list of donors of all candidates would help you. PASZ is putting together a pie chart to help you and others understand the overview. Coming soon.

You point to Dan Garber's contribution: he is an architect and has donated money to Arthur Keller. He and Arthur are Co-Chairs of the Comprehensive Plan committee: perhaps he knows that Arthur has the kind of mind that can discern details that matter and can make a cogent and informed argument that uses existing conditions as a baseline. And perhaps they mutually respect one another, thus an endorsement. I can't really say. You'd have to ask Arthur Keller.

I support Arthur because I know him and trust him to do what he says he will and to be honest. I worked with him on election integrity issues after the stolen Bush/Kerry debacle (yes, it really was stolen in Ohio), and I know him to have the most depth of understanding and clarity of thought of all the candidates. Arthur Keller is capable of taking in a lot of variables and creating concise recommendations. He has the experience, the judgement and the contacts to know how to solve problems. He knows how government works.

As for Maybell. I don't think he misled you, I am aware he favored it. I think he came to appreciate what was wrong with it as a result of citizen involvement. Perhaps you recall the neighborhood rose up to challenge the project once the development came before the City Council. Perhaps you also remember that until traffic became intolerable, few people challenged the deceptive nature of traffic studies that claim there is no significant or cumulative effect from development. I believe the Maybell referendum helped everyone recognize that MORE development results in MORE traffic, and that the once lazy artery of Arastradero had become a nightmare for bikes and cars.

For the record: PASZ is not against all development: we favor development that would support those who support us already: teachers, first responders, service workers. These people already drive here and would benefit from local homes. We want to keep Palo Alto as a great place to live, in which the capacity of the city to provide services to residents is not swamped by overdevelopment. We do not want to become a city of high rises where the quality of life is sacrificed to development money.

So I support Arthur Keller and I also support Lydia Kou. I know them to be trustworthy stewards of our community.

4 people like this
Posted by newsworthy
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 15, 2016 at 10:17 pm

Here's the article about "grassroots" candidates Kou and Keler raising tens of thousands from a few individuals Web Link

39 people like this
Posted by Tech Money
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 15, 2016 at 11:34 pm

Tech money is the real "Dark Money" that's been pouring into local races in SF (Web Link) and Palo Alto in an effort to elect officials (like Fine, Tanaka, Kniss and McDougall) who will continue the trend of unrestricted office development and increase high-density development for tech company workers.

2 people like this
Posted by Followed the Money
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 16, 2016 at 12:16 am

@Cheryl Lilienstein

Can you explain why did Arthur approve the massively overbuilt Survey Monkey building? It wasn't for teachers, first responders, or service worker. It was for the entitled tech worker types and Chamber of Commerce.

Now I see that both Arthur and Lydia accepted a ton of Castilleja developer money! My head is spinning. First taking Garber's developer money and now Casti's dirty money is just too much. I've tossed my Arthur sign into the trash. I really wanted to believe in him.

@Lydia return the dirty Casti developer money immediately. You don't need it to win. Stay clean like you always have. Don't lose the votes of the residents near Casti! Please don't take any developer money!

We only need two seats for a residentialist majority. We should focus on Lydia and Stewart. I really like how stewart doesn't take more than $250. He can't be bought.

Cheryl why don't you support Stewart instead of Arthur? It seems like arthur is just doing election-time pandering and will reveal his true self as soon as he is elected.

57 people like this
Posted by Developers Outraged!
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 16, 2016 at 11:09 am

The developers are outraged that residents of Palo Alto are stepping up to support candidates who will represent them (Kou, Kelly, Stewart and Stone) by giving donations to level the playing field with fast-growth candidates (Fine, Tanaka, McDougall, Kniss and Ely) who have received large donations from developers, big business and pro-fast-growth advocates like Kate Downing. How are developers supposed to get their free upzoning to over develop downtown Palo Alto if residents stand up to them?

8 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 16, 2016 at 1:27 pm

PAO has provided a great service in presenting this article. Those endorsement interviews were invaluable and allowed us to see the faces and hear the voices, and the opinions of those voices. Good job.

I'm not one of those hardline position people. I have time and I'll take time to follow the campaign before I decide who to vote for. I like many of them from both sides of the development issue (office and housing). Some strike me as being more knowledgeable based on many years of living in PA and their experiences here. I respect all the younger candidates but I think their positions are much more generational...their generation oriented.

Traffic, transportation, and parking: There seems to be a variety of opinions on those issues and how to solve them. I think there is frustration because there are no good solutions available currently...just a little poking and prodding...the TMA effort, RPP, etc, all in the experimental stage. Getting people to give up their cars? Forget it! It's a status and freedom symbol for all those from the low income wage earners to the high tech high income employees. The high income employees can just afford more expensive cars.

I've stated before, let the old VTA parking lot project go thru to be a test case of approving an underparked project. We need to know.

Retail: Forget it! It's just a talking point during campaign season. They all want it, I want, everyone wants it, but the reality is the old style retail is gone forever.

Affordable housing/BMR's, etc.:

They all had ideas, but not many that could become reality IMHO...except for the one about school property being developed to house teachers. Developers shun proposing projects that enforce BMR unit rules. So, they won't get built unless the CC and our citizens support increases in taxes, builders fees or bond issues to support it, and at the same time give builders relief with rezoning, etc. I would take a more liberal view on it and support it if that's the only way it can happen. And put limits on where high density housing could be built. I'm okay with increasing the height limit as I've stated in many posts on PAO articles.

BV: I think Arthur Keller spoke very clearly and apologetically about his vote to approve it. I accept that and think he and all of our city leaders learned a lot from that experience...but one not to be forgotten.

What I don't like...candidates getting endorsements from people they have never met in person and touting their party affiliation. Just because you're a Democrat doesn't mean you'll be good for PA's CC. Go do your political pandering/stuff someplace else.

16 people like this
Posted by Develop.Spectrum?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 16, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Is this correct?
Most Pro Development:
Most Residentialist:
Do I have the order correct?

28 people like this
Posted by to develop spectrum
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 16, 2016 at 3:30 pm

You're generally correct. I'd omit Ely, who doesn't seem to have much widespread support. And Carl's last name is Stewart.

6 people like this
Posted by Develop.Spectrum
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 16, 2016 at 3:47 pm

So, this is what is generally accepted:
Most Pro Development:...Fine...Tanaka...McDougall...Kniss
Most Residentialist:...Keller...Kou...Stone...Stewart....
Would you say that the order is correct? So that the overall order looks like this:
Most Pro:...Fine...Tanaka...McDougall...Kniss...Keller...Kou...Stone...Stewart....:Most Residentialist
Thanks again

15 people like this
Posted by to PA HS student
a resident of Mayfield
on Oct 16, 2016 at 4:36 pm

I'm not sure that the order within either the pro-development group (Fine-Tanaka-McDougall-Kniss) or the residentialist one (Keller-Kou-Stone-Stewart) much matters. You get 4 votes, so simply vote for one or the other slate depending on how you'd like to see Palo Alto in the next 4 years.

2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 17, 2016 at 8:25 am

One of the bigger revelations in this political year is the role of Foundations and Non-Profits. Foundations are tax-exempt. Non-profits are tax exempt. So we have many do-gooders who proudly proclaim the activities of their Foundations and Non-profit organizations. An article in the morning news is about the growth in the Pescadero area, said growth that pays no property taxes. These large foundations and non-profits are gutting out the tax base that supports the school systems and support services.
At some point we have to evaluate the value in our growth scenario that we need businesses that are for profit and pay both property and federal/state taxes. What a novel idea - because the way this tilt is moving is that the R-1 residents are footing the bill for city systems. We cannot keep going down the road in which every mega-millionaire creates a foundation(s) to shield money from taxes. Are they producing any results? Not really. So from where I am sitting are we an egg hatchery for non-profits and foundations? Or are we providing space for companies and organizations that are for profit and pay the taxes on the space they occupy. That is how I am going to vote.

29 people like this
Posted by margaret
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2016 at 11:18 am

everybody is brainwashed.

A Town is not a City, for many many reasons.... Palo Alto is a mid-sized Town, according to how sociologists and urban experts categorize these things.

Palo Alto has always been a mid-sized Town, even when the original inhabitants lived here.

All the new people come from Cities, and want us to be like the cities they come from. We are a Town, and everything about us should be Town. This is a Town-Hall discussion, not a City discussion.

Only if we remember we are a Town will we get the architecture and flow right. Fight the brainwashing

2 people like this
Posted by campaign contributions
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 17, 2016 at 4:05 pm

Before voting, please consider doing some research on candidates campaign contributions:

Arthur Keller has brought in over $23,000 from 4 donors in 2 days (10/13, 10/14) - Web Link
Lydia Kou has raised over 30K this past weekend alone from the same handful of people - Web Link

No other candidate has received anything close to these types of contributions from the same donors.

For example, Hellen McLean has donated:
on 10/16 $6500 to Lydia Kou
on 10/13 $6500 to Lydia Kou
on 10/13 $6500 to Arthur Keller
on 10/10 $6000 to Lydia Kou
on 10/9 $6000 to Arthur Keller
on 10/6 $6000 to Lydia Kou
on 10/6 $6000 to Arthur Keller


12 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 17, 2016 at 5:11 pm

Please cite your sources on the campaign contributions.

The City of Palo Alto contribution link only goes back as far as 9/24
Web Link

Sorting CalAccess by newest shows the last contribution as 9/21
Web Link

I'd like to check out ALL the contributions to ALL of the candidates.

Thanks in advance for pointers to the most current and accurate lists.

40 people like this
Posted by cm
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 17, 2016 at 5:39 pm

I think that it is great that community minded citizens who have the funds to counteract all of the developers money are helping to protect the future of Palo Alto. The fact that these donors also help out a local school (and undoubtedly donate to many undisclosed projects) just points out that they are involved community members willing to put their time and money into improving their city. I wish that more residents were this involved. With the unethical way that the Chamber of Commerce and the local real estate association supported the pro-growth candidates and the money poring into the "growthers" coffers from local developers, the slow growth candidates - Kou, Stewart, Keller and Stone - would have no chance in the election without their help. Unlike the developer supported candidates, the slow growth candidates will have no conflict of interest when massive projects come in front of the city council. They will also not be inclined to rewrite the comprehensive plan to massively increase density, remove height limits, and ignore traffic congestion. All stances that Fine and Tanaka have taken in the past while on the Planning and Transportation committee, but seem to have forgotten now that they are running for council. Don't believe a word that the growther candidates say - they will claim that they will lower housing prices by building more but what the will build is more businesses that will drive the prices even higher and make the traffic worse. Look at the pie chart of who is taking developer money (Fine, Tanaka, McDougal, Kniss) and and then vote for the capable candidates who are not - Kou, Stewart, Keller and Stone. Vote to slow the destruction of the Bay Area starting with our city.

9 people like this
Posted by developer money
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 17, 2016 at 7:08 pm

The fact that a handful of wealthy families are contributing $100,000 or more to 2 candidates in a small town like Palo Alto is very disturbing. The same candidates have a PAC behind them. It is clear they are protecting Palo Alto's future and keeping ordinary people away.

16 people like this
Posted by money
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 17, 2016 at 7:12 pm

What's the point of developers donating to Kniss/Fine/Tanaka and Palo Alto residents (some affluent) donating to Keller and Kou? Anyone with a brain has already decided how to vote and won't be influenced by more mailers or FaceBook ads.

12 people like this
Posted by NIMBYdentialist
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 18, 2016 at 8:46 am

I've been living in Palo Alto for 30 years.

It's unrealistic to cover your eyes and plug your ears and pretend that Palo Alto will stay as small as it was in 1986. Growth is happening everywhere in the Bay Area. This is what happens to cities. It's already BEEN happening in Palo Alto.

Trying to claw your way back to earlier only make stupid civic planning decisions in an attempt to stop the growth.

I'm voting for any City Council candidate that understands how incredibly selfish it is to try to keep Palo Alto a precious little bubble while the rest of the Bay Area experiences explosive growth.

36 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 18, 2016 at 11:04 am

First off, growth is NOT happening all over "the rest of the Bay Area" Atherton, Los Altos, Woodside, Portola Valley, Los Altos Hills aren't "experiencing explosive growth" because they're not considered slave cabins for the high-tech industry.

Second, no one's "trying to claw (our) way back to early" to the 1980s and make "stupid civic planning decisions in an attempt to stop the growth."
That's the exact deceptive language of the "incredibly biased" well-funded push poll that criticized the mayor for trying to stop all growth, kill tech jobs and take us back to the 1980s.

We're trying to move forward with sensible planning and zoning decisions.

The "stupid civic planning decisions" were those that allowed severely under-parked building and unlimited office growth and a lame-duck, defeated outgoing City Council that stacked all of the committees -- TMA, Planning & Transportation, etc. -- with high-growth reps from huge companies like Palantir whose CEO has been in the news a lot lately.

Existing infrastructure wasn't considered. Residents' complaints have been ignored while we spend a fortune on "community outreach."

We're told to cut car travel by 30% when there are 3 times as many commuters than residents! We're told to reduce energy use but whatever we conserve will be more than offset by the new commuters and residents.

Rhetoric has replaced concrete achievements, timely responses to real problems and sensible oversight. The nastiness of this campaign and the attacks against "opponents" are mirroring that presidential election and have replaced discussions of the issues.

Try getting a response to a seemingly simple question like why giant Botts Dots have been placed on major streets like Middlefield that impede through traffic and make known problems worse.

23 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Moving back to the 80? I don't think so.

We used to have 3 high schools. We now have 2. We used to have something like 20 elementary schools. We now have 13. Midtown used to have 3 supermarkets. We now have 1 in Midtown and have lost others elsewhere. We used to have a boardwalk and interpretive center. We now have an ecology center which is only open at times when most people don't go there. We used to have a lot of VTA bus routes. We now have 2 or 3.

We have more residences, more jobs but less infrastructure.

Until we improve our infrastructure, why are we even talking about increasing the population.

38 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 18, 2016 at 8:56 pm

I gave relatively large contributions to Lydia Kuo and Arthur Keller recently. I've lived in Palo Alto 40+ years so I felt it important to support these two residentialist candidates. Greer Stone deserves and will get my vote as well. Before the recent support these candidates received they had almost nothing to pay for fliers or ads or do outreach to the community. Fine, Kniss, and Tanaka have been raking in big money from developers and large businesses who want to cause even more parking and housing woes. Aren't you tired of seeing that Liz Kniss ad in Palo Alto Online/Palo Alto Weekly constantly?? That doesn't come cheap!

Posted by HUTCH 7.62
a resident of Portola Valley

on Oct 18, 2016 at 9:34 pm

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2 people like this
Posted by True Residentialist
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 19, 2016 at 1:37 pm

"First off, growth is NOT happening all over "the rest of the Bay Area" Atherton, Los Altos, Woodside, Portola Valley, Los Altos Hills aren't "experiencing explosive growth" because they're not considered slave cabins for the high-tech industry."

Well, here's the ugly side of the "Residentialist" ideology. Living in housing and working for a living near your work is considered living in "slave cabins." And you point to 5 communities that have, in fact, thrown up walls to development ... unless you plan to built a $10M+ home on a large lot.

I can't tell guys. Are you worried about "luxury high-rise condos" or "slave cabins"?

3 people like this
Posted by True Residentialist
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 19, 2016 at 1:39 pm

@"Online Name"

The campaign finance Form 497 is for extra-large donations ($1000 or more). Those have to be filed within 24 hours of receipt of the donation.

You'll see lots of them listed for Kou and Keller and their PAC.

Like this comment
Posted by True Residentialist
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 19, 2016 at 2:06 pm

@Cheryl Lilienstein

"For the record: PASZ is not against all development: we favor development that would support those who support us already: teachers, first responders, service workers. These people already drive here and would benefit from local homes. We want to keep Palo Alto as a great place to live, in which the capacity of the city to provide services to residents is not swamped by overdevelopment. We do not want to become a city of high rises where the quality of life is sacrificed to development money."

What Cheryl is saying here is that she wants to put a moratorium on development....except for subsidized servant quarters.

The idea that we would allow any opportunities for others who already live in the area and work here is anathema to Kou, Keller, and Lilienstein.

This is how you get a Palo Alto with only three kinds of people: the elderly who are stuck in their homes due to Prop 13 (further restricting supply), the super-rich, and their servants occupying designated servant quarters as selectively assigned by the city. That's not what Palo Alto used to be and it's an awfully selective way to be "pro-housing."

Woe to any young people or professionals who might want to see more housing near their work. Those young professionals are also driving here from places like Redwood City and beyond and clogging the roads, displacing service workers into communities like Hayward and Tracy. Wouldn't it be better for the professionals to live here? You know, it might even require turning some of the parking lots and muffler shops on El Camino into tasteful market-rate housing projects!

The so-called residentialists would rather have a city of dilapidated strip malls and parking lots than a few nice five-story apartment buildings in order to keep out the programmer riff-raff.

Finally, as wealthy as this city is, the city is in no jeopardy of being unable to support public services, especially if there is an influx of middle- and upper-class households. The "Residentialists" and their venture capitalist backers know this all too well.

14 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 19, 2016 at 2:08 pm

@True Residentialist, I was being facetious when I said "slave cabins" although I find it odd that the hyper-growth crowd denigrates the idea of condos as starter homes that are beneath them. It's been ever thus.

I'm more concerned with traffic, gridlock and insufficient infrastructure to support hyper-growth than choosing between "slave cabins" or "luxury high-rise condos" since that's a "when have you stopped beating your wife" type question.

Re campaign contributions, I'd still like a link to contributions for ALL the candidates since what I'm seeing seems both selective and questionable. For example, following links showed NO donations to Greg Tanaka since sometime in Sept. and that Adrian Fine only got 3 -- got $5,000 from a single individual (Greg Hsomething??), $10,000 from his own campaign and $500 from Steven Levy.

Mr. Levy's $500 contibution is obviously less than $1,000 but it shows up. And it's hard to believe that not a single person contributed to Mr. Tanaka.

So I'd still like to see complete numbers for all candidates rather than the incessant harping on contributions to Kuo and Keller.

25 people like this
Posted by anon evergreen park
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 19, 2016 at 2:15 pm

anon evergreen park is a registered user.

I would rather see large donations from residents that care about palo alto than the large amount of donations to Tanaka and Fine campaigns by Developers!!

Tanaka about $11,900.00 Fine about $10,400.00 -

I don't see a problem with any individual giving what they can to a candidate they truly trust and believe in. Keller and Koo Campaigns have many more individual donors than the Tanaka campaign, and Fine has many donations from folks outside of Palo Alto.

Both Fine and Tanaka have recently become Democrats. Fine was recently undeclared and Tanaka was a republican. Many Of our regional leaders have become out of touch with local PA politics and are falling for the phony recent middle of the road "growth " positions that Fine has taken.

Both of them voted pro-growth on the Planning Commission. Though in Tanaka's case he voted infrequently as he was so often absent!?!

there has also been Accusations against Keller and Kou that they have taken PAC( political action committee ) money....
This is completely 100% untrue.


They wont flip flop on positions just o misguide the public to get elected!

1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2016 at 2:17 pm

I have been seeing on the BBC, articles about small starter homes in the UK being used by families, often of 3 generations living in one or two bedroom apartments with one bathroom and often no communal room other than an eat in kitchen. These small studios and starter homes are being lived in by the same occupants for 10 or 20 years because the original occupiers can't afford to move on due to children arriving, divorce and the need to look after elderly parents.

Is this what we want in Palo Alto?

8 people like this
Posted by True Residentialist
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 19, 2016 at 2:31 pm

You must be referring to Kate Downing's personal housing preferences. That one-trick pony is going to work only so long.

Many of us live in and want condos or town homes as starter homes.

It's the "residentialists" who don't want us to build them anywhere nearby, and who are telling us to buy our starter homes three or four cities away. Then you express complete shock that traffic has gotten bad!

Can you point to one example of residentialists fervently supporting more entry-level market housing in Palo Alto in the recent future?

The Palo Alto online campaign finance database is well documented and there's been extensive reporting on the latest huge contributions from the five families supporting Kou and Keller---now to the tune of $150,000. Interestingly, if you look these families up on Zillow you'll also find that nearly all of them have enjoyed huge appreciation on their homes--$5M in the case of one couple, according to the Zillow estimates.

Just remember, when the incumbents of housing markets say it's only about quality of life, that it's not a coincidence that this gets monetized into their home values.....

12 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 19, 2016 at 3:19 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

Given that the population of Palo Alto triples during the work week, I haven't yet heard any of the candidates claiming additional housing developments will bring the price down say how many will have to be built before the market is saturated enough for prices come down. Especially given the attraction of the school district.

Between two thirds and three quarters of Palo Alto residents commute to other towns for work, so for every four new housing units only one or two residents are likely to be actually working in Palo Alto.

14 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 19, 2016 at 4:29 pm

"Many of us live in and want condos or town homes as starter homes."

So go live in a town where condos or town homes are available. Find a new job there while you're at it. Happiness.

Doesn't that make a ton more sense than making enemies of your prospective neighbors with your whining and name-calling? [Portion removed.]

Or, while you're on the whine trail, why not aim high? Try Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley, or Los Altos Hills. Win there and you win big.

8 people like this
Posted by margaret
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2016 at 4:39 pm

lol...Keene retiring in 2018 when he hits his 10 year pension mark....

Could we please this time hire somebody who cares as much about the city as the size of his paycheck and retirement package? Please, please? That would make the future so much better

24 people like this
Posted by Nancy Lowe
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 21, 2016 at 4:39 pm

Stewart Carl Talks Truth and Retail Worker Gets It

One California Avenue Retail worker I know totally gets what Stewart Carl is saying

As much as this worker wishes to live in Palo Alto where he works , he knows that Stewart points out the truth: when Stewart says it it is impossible to build below market rate housing in Palo Alto, and make a profit.

* The demand created by there being 3 offices for every living space makes even moderate income housing never mind low income housing, impossible to build.

* There has to be an immediate moratorium to offices building .as there is in our neighboring communities.

* Options are to turn some offices into living spaces,

* Some low income housing can be built on city owned land such as Cubberly. No non-profit could afford Palo Alto land prices, and the state subsidized housing would by law have to go to the highest bidder.

* Inter-regional housing cooperation, enhanced transportation such as underground high-speed rail, self driving cars

* My friend agrees with Stewart that warehousing people in little living cubicles in unwalkable neighborhoods, isn't the answer.

* That residential growth has to be limited to what our infrastructure can support ~ schools, roads, playing fields. parks, water, parking, etc

21 people like this
Posted by Can you stop with the whining
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 21, 2016 at 6:38 pm

@true residentialist. Unclench already! Your posts almost seem to vibrate.

You imagine every resident in Palo Alto sitting in their homes doing calculations about how much their house is worth, trying to maximize its value by reducing supply. When you get around to owning your own home you'll realize that's not how it works. We're just all focused on the everyday impacts of of growth that have not been at all well managed by the city, namely traffic.

This idea that building greater density reduces commutes.... well, I think you'll find that applies to cities with excellent public transport. The last time I looked at the data, our commute times up and down the peninsula are increasing with increased housing supply. I know you don't want to believe it, but these are very complex models with multivariate dependencies.

It really does seem like you're pretty unhappy living here. You really should try SF. You'll find it's cheaper, more fun, and although getting around has become a bear, the public transport is still a helluva lot better than down here.

7 people like this
Posted by Nancy Lowe
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 23, 2016 at 11:28 am

My next door neighbor, Stewart Carl, cares about:

Land Use,
High Speed Rail,,
Architectural Compatibility,
Neighborhood Associations,
Sacrificial Neighborhoods,
Development Quality Control.

He writes clearly about the reality of each issue on his website: Web Link

but what Stewart cares about most is what lies behind all these issues:

the loss of democracy in Palo Alto.

Like this comment
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 8, 2016 at 5:02 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@Can you stop with the whining

I agree with most of what you said, but I question the 'cheaper' comment. Give examples of like rental costs in SF versus PA, 1 bdrm apartments for example.

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

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