News

With Election Day looming, Keller and Kou lead race for cash

Two slow-growth candidates have each raised more than $90,000 for council campaigns

In a City Council race in which conflict over campaign contributions has served as a proxy for philosophical disagreements over development and the city's future, both the pro-growth and slow-growth groups of candidates have amassed about the same total contributions. Individually, however, candidates Arthur Keller and Lydia Kou have commanding leads in funds raised.

The two candidates, who share a campaign manager, an endorsement from the Sierra Club and a taste for slow-growth policies, have each raked in more than $90,000 as of Oct. 22, according to the latest campaign-finance disclosures. This includes roughly $73,000 that each received between Sept. 25 and Oct. 22 , according to the documents -- more than any other candidate has amassed all year. It also includes a non-monetary contribution, in form of polling data, worth about $10,000 from the citizens group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning.

The strong month left Keller, a former planning commissioner, as the fundraising leader of the 11-candidate field, with $97,650 in total contributions. Kou, a longtime neighborhood activist who was 135 votes away from getting elected to the council in 2014, had $90,062 in contributions.

Adrian Fine, who currently chairs the Planning and Transportation Commission and has been the target of negative ads by Kou and Keller in recent weeks, had the strongest month among the remaining nine candidates. He raised $33,114 in the last reporting period, which gave him $68,821 in contributions received by Oct. 22.

Immediately trailing Fine in contributions are three candidates who, like Fine, earned the endorsement of the California Democratic Party and the support of the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce. Together with Fine, the three -- incumbent Liz Kniss, planning Commissioner Greg Tanaka and Library Advisory Commissioner Don McDougall -- are generally positioned as an alternative to candidates Keller, Kou, Greer Stone and Stewart Carl, who favor limited development.

The documents show that Tanaka raised $11,249 in the last reporting period, bringing his total contributions to $58,572. McDougall did marginally better in the last period, raising $11,581, and ended October with $36,425 in contributions. And Kniss brought in $7,999 between Sept. 25 and Oct. 22, for a total of $54,158.

The remaining six candidates have been either less aggressive or less successful when it comes to raising funds. Stone, who chairs the Human Relations Commission and who was also endorsed by the Sierra Club (as was Kniss), received $4,963 in contributions over the last reporting period, bringing his total to $6,463. Stewart Carl, who co-founded the citizens group Sky Posse, which advocates for a reduction in airplane noise, raised $2,518 in the last period and finished with $5,084.

Campaign financing has become a hot issue in Palo Alto's heated race over the past month, with supporters of Kou and Keller accusing their more growth-friendly opponents of taking too much money from developers and outside interests and supporters of Fine and Tanaka accusing their more growth-averse opponents of injecting too much cash into the council race.

A recent analysis by the slow-growth Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning (PASZ) indicated that about 30 percent of the contributions to Fine, Tanaka, Kniss and McDougall came from people outside of Palo Alto, compared to 1.4 percent for Keller, Kou, Stone and Carl. The group also found that the more growth-friendly candidates have received, in aggregate, about 25 percent of their contributions from “developers and property interests” (this varies by candidate, however, with Kniss getting 10 percent of her cash from this category of donors and Tanaka getting 35.7 percent, according to the PASZ analysis). The slow-growth, "residentialist" candidates, meanwhile, have received only 0.6 percent for their contributions from developers and property interests.

This analysis, however, belies the fact that many of the people whom PASZ counts as “developers” are in fact architects, former planning commissioners, attorneys and real-estate agents. The group's list of “developer” contributors includes former planning commissioners Dan Garber and Lee Lippert; current commissioner Michael Alcheck and Vice Mayor Greg Scharff (both real-estate attorneys); and real-estate agents Leannah Hunter and Brent Gullixson. The group's decision to include real-estate agents in this group is particularly puzzling given that Kou, whom PASZ had endorsed, is herself an agent.

But while the group's final figures are open to debate, it's impossible to dispute that developers have indeed been playing a larger role in the campaigns of those candidates more open to growth. Fine has benefited from contributions from several local developers, including Roxy Rapp ($1,000), Jim Baer ($500) and John McNellis ($500). He has also received a $2,500 contribution last week from the California Real Estate Political Action Committee, the political arm of the California Association of Realtors.

Even with these recent contributions, however, an analysis by the Weekly shows that about $11,600 of Fine's $68,821 in contributions, or about 17 percent, came from developers. This is well below the 30 percent cited by PASZ.

Similarly, while Tanaka has received contributions from several local developers, including Boyd and Lund Smith ($1,000 each) and Roxy Rapp (another $1,000), his total draw from developers comes out to less than $9,500, according to the Weekly's analysis, or about 16 percent of his total contributions (far below the PASZ estimate of 35.7 percent).

According to campaign-finance documents, Tanaka's contributions, like Fine's, come from a diverse range of sources, including former mayors and planning commissioners, architects, tech professionals, professors and residents affiliated with the pro-growth group Palo Alto Forward. Both of the candidates, along with Kniss and McDougall, have also received contributions from Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian and the League of Conservation Voters.

Similarly, McDougall's contributions came from a variety of sources including developers, business professionals and civic volunteers, including members of Palo Alto Forward. He received contributions from Brittany Davis of Palo Alto Property Management ($999); Charles King of King Asset Management ($999); Jon Goldman of Premier Properties ($886); and Steve Pierce of Zane MacGregor ($100). McDougall also received contributions from Elaine Uang and Sandra Slater, co-founders of Palo Alto Forward (they gave $500 and $250, respectively), former Councilwoman Gail Price ($100) and Elizabeth Wong ($500), whose recent effort to construct a four-story development at University Avenue and Kipling Street was struck down on appeal.

Altogether, developers accounted for about $3,500 of McDougall's contributions, or about 9.6 percent of the total received (the PASZ analysis pegged his developer contributions at $6,558, or 30.8 percent).

But residentialist candidates and their supporters aren't the only ones raising alarms about campaign contributions. On the other side of the coin, eight former mayors -- including Betsy Bechtel, Bern Beecham and Larry Klein -- earlier this month co-signed a letter calling huge contributions to the Keller and Kou campaigns “shocking and deeply troubling” and claiming that checks for $5,000 or more are “unprecedented in our City Council elections.”

With its provocative title, “Is someone trying to buy Palo Alto City Hall?,” the mayors' letter insinuates that the sources of the funds are shadowy (hence the “someone”) and that the donors have an ulterior motive (“buying City Hall”) for their contributions.

But much like the allegations that developers are the primary funders of the Fine-Tanaka-Kniss-McDougall group, the letter from the mayors appears to be bigger on innuendo than on fact.

As the Weekly had previously reported, most of the funds that Keller and Kou had received in the past month have come from five local families who, between them, contributed more than $150,000 to the two campaigns as well as to the Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning political action committee. The contributors -- Tench and Simone Coxe; Gabrielle and Thomas Layton; Asher Waldfogel and Helyn McLean; Michael and Paula Rantz; and G. Leonard and Mary Anne Baker -- argued in letters, postings on the online discussion forum Town Square and interviews with the Weekly that their only objective was to level the playing field and offset the contributions that other candidates had received from developers.

Some of them are well-known in the community for their civic service -- Waldfogel is a former utilities commissioner who now serves on the Planning and Transportation Commission, while Gabrielle Layton worked on the task force that created downtown's evolving Residential Preferential Parking program. Furthermore, in addition to supporting Kou and Keller, both Waldfogel and Layton made contributions this year to other candidates in the race, with Waldfogel contributing $100 to Kniss and Layton contributing $250 to Tanaka.

If the goal of the five families was to level the playing field for two of the residentialist candidates, they have more than achieved it. But when one considers the race as a clash between the two sides, the contributions are fairly balanced, with the two groups of candidates -- Keller, Kou, Carl and Stone and Fine, Tanaka, McDougall and Kniss -- finishing October with about $200,000.

The four candidates affiliated with the residentialist camp have raised $199,259 among them, while the four favored by the Chamber of Commerce received $217,976, according to the latest campaign-finance disclosures.

The remaining three candidates have avoided raising funds altogether. Commercial real-estate broker Leonard Ely is spending $2,500 of his own money and has not received any outside contributions. Retired civics teacher John Fredrich and Danielle Martell have each submitted forms indicating that they will be raising and spending less than $2,000 on their respective campaigns.

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Comments

90 people like this
Posted by more balanced
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2016 at 9:43 am

I appreciate this balanced description of the fundraising results of the pro-growth vs. residentialist candidates. It's clear which candidates will promote the interest of Palo Alto residents.
"A recent analysis by the slow-growth Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning (PASZ) indicated that about 30 percent of the contributions to Fine, Tanaka, Kniss and McDougall came from people outside of Palo Alto, compared to 1.4 percent for Keller, Kou, Stone and Carl. The group also found that the more growth-friendly candidates have received, in aggregate, about 25 percent of their contributions from “developers and property interests” (this varies by candidate, however, with Kniss getting 10 percent of her cash from this category of donors and Tanaka getting 35.7 percent, according to the PASZ analysis). The slow-growth, "residentialist" candidates, meanwhile, have received only 0.6 percent for their contributions from developers and property interests."


11 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of University South
on Nov 2, 2016 at 10:36 am

Saying that one group of four candidates has raised as much as another group of two candidates sounds like an awfully complicated way to say the slow-growth candidates raised twice as much.

Also, while Waldfogel and MacLean of course argue that they are just donating to candidates that best represent their view of Palo Alto, that's obviously true for everyone. (Who donates to a candidate that represents someone else's views?)

The concern about "buying the election" is that big money from a handful of people is preventing the best candidate from winning. What would you think if it had gone the other way? PASZ would be shouting from the rooftops about five "stack and packer" families that were trying to change zoning to build more housing in Palo Alto. And they would be right that that level of contributions would be troubling.


61 people like this
Posted by No thanks
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 2, 2016 at 10:54 am

I just received an email from "Greg Scharff" asking me to support Greg Tanaka.
You gotta observe the nerve those development interests have, writing to a random list of people.
When I decide we need more office development and zoning exceptions I'll vote for either of them.


16 people like this
Posted by commonsense
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:00 am

The candidates should more accurately be described as slow growth and slower growth. NONE of the candidates are suggesting that office and/or residential development should continue to grow as quickly as possible. Some want to stop it and some don't have their heads burried in the sand hoping all the people and traffic and people will simply go away.


69 people like this
Posted by @commonsense
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 2, 2016 at 11:35 am

@commonsense is a registered user.

Fine and Tanaka are on record for voting against the office cap. That is pretty clear line in the sand between the candidates, no matter how they're positioning themselves right now.

I also don't think it's burying one's head in the sand to suggest that we can improve traffic conditions. That is the whole point of the TMA. We just need people like Keller, Kou, Stone and Carl who are not in debt to business/developer interests to hold everyone's feet to the flame.


13 people like this
Posted by HC
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Let's all be honest here. The five families that dumped $121,000 in the pocket of Arthur Keller and Lydia Kou are associated with Castilleja. And coincidentally Castilleja will be going to council after the election seeking permission to expand with a massive underground parking lot that will increase traffic in the neighborhood. Now Keller and Kou will publicly deny that they know the money is coming from Castilleja families, and they'll both say that they will look objectively at the project when it comes before them, if they're elected. But this reeks of "pay to play," the kind of thing Hillary is accused of doing [portion removed.] What's fun here is to read the verbal gymnastics the anti-growth people go through to justify these big contributions to Kou and Keller. About how it's just leveling the playing field, wink, wink. There's no difference between a big developer writing a check to Adrian Fine than there is with a Castilleja family writing a big check to Authur Keller. In both cases, the donor wants [portion removed] some free stuff from the city. [Portion removed.]


68 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2016 at 12:01 pm

I cannot remain silent in again seeing reference to a few former mayors asking if candidates are trying to buy city hall. The gall of these Mayors who signed their letter of protest (among them, Dina Mossar, Betsy Bechtel, Lani Wheeler, Bern Beecham, Larry Klein). I bet they all voted for Greg Scharff 2 years ago who spent over $90,000 to get himself re-elected, but they said nothing at the time or since. Nor was there a peep from the media.

Years ago when a ballot measure to stop a massive PC Zoned private development was up for city-wide vote, the project developers spent nearly a quarter million dollars to defeat the measure. The City Council was divided on this development - some opposed and some supported it. Several of the City Council supporters of the development were up for re-election and each took a $1000 in-kind donation (services or material provided directly to the campaign) from the developer (listed in candidates required financial reports) - Dina Mossar among them. It was shameful beyond belief.

That Mossar, along with these other former mayors, merrily overlooked Scharff's spending more 2 years ago than is being spent now by a candidate, and none of them having written a letter in protest of his spending, now only underlines their playing of political games now. We well remember lame duck Klein's booting Keller off the Planning Commission in a naked political play - and now Klein must dread Keller's taking a place on the Council.

This is all politics - these 8 people protest way too much and try to elevate themselves to something special. You only are special when you earn it. You don't earn it pulling this kind of politically motivated ploy.


80 people like this
Posted by Baker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 12:16 pm

My husband and I are part of the so-called Five Families. We have absolutely no connection with Castilleja nor do we have any other evil reason for donating. We care about the future of Palo Alto, our home for more than 40 years.


10 people like this
Posted by polling
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Did you guys miss the part where the article says PASZ even paid for polling? Amazing gutsines! Can you guys share with the public what you found? I mean since PASZ, Keller, Kou stand guard to protect Palo Alto residents interest, wouldn't it be fair to share those details?
[Portion removed.]
Let's have some transparency here. And decency


29 people like this
Posted by @polling
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 2, 2016 at 12:42 pm

@polling is a registered user.

Polls have to be disclosed in terms of financial contribution to a campaign. Results of polls do not have to be disclosed....that's why they are recognized a contribution!!!! If PASZ decided to reveal the results, the poll would have no value. PASZ have played entirely by the rules. They have been completely transparent in all their dealings. You need to read up on the campaign finance .

What's more interesting is that there was another poll done on behalf of the chamber plate that has NOT been declared. Now wouldn't we like to know who paid for and benefitted from that!


49 people like this
Posted by @HC
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 12:48 pm

ummmmm ...unless the families are somehow deriving economic benefit from the project (i.e. they would have to be developers) there is no parallel between their gifts and those gifts from developers with projects coming up before council.

You are grasping at straws - think plastic ones at that. Give it a rest. No-one is buying it. Come up with something plausible.


22 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Nov 2, 2016 at 12:54 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

I am happy to accept that the five families were not trying to influence or buy the decisions of the council candidates they funded. I know only one of these candidates well enough to comment. While I disagree with some of Arthur Keller's policy positions, my experience with him leads me to believe he will act ethically and without regard to campaign donations if he is elected.

What puzzles me is that the same consideration is not given to Greg Tanaka and Adrian Fine. I served with Greg in over 40 infrastructure commission meetings and with Adrian on the Comp Plan advisory committee. They both act with the highest integrity.

It would be helpful in my opinion if we stuck to policy issues.

The Daily Post offered their opinion on Adrian yesterday, which I think applies equally to Greg

I quote from their endorsement editorial

"Adrian Fine has been the victim of a smear campaign in this election simply because he has been an outspoken voice for more affordable housing, something Palo Alto desperately needs. His opponents claim he's in the pocket of developers, but we suspect they're contributing to him because he has demonstrated on the Planning Commission that he has a more open mind than others".

I know as well that Greg has an open mind and a thoughtful approach as well as a focus on maintaining our fiscal health so we can provide great public services and make the investments in our roads, parks, transportation solutions and public safety facilities that most residents treasure.


13 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 2, 2016 at 1:06 pm

I used to have respect for Arthur but after he paired up with Lydia and raised more money than even Greg Sharf last time around, I just cannot support him. At least Greg used his own money mostly... There is no such thing as being objective when someone gave you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars [portion removed.]


62 people like this
Posted by Developer vs. Resident Funding
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 2, 2016 at 1:17 pm

The point is Fine/Tanaka (and to a lesser extent Kniss and McDougall) have been funded significantly from developers and out-of-town money. Keller/Kou have not, but received significant donations from PA residents. Why are developers and out-of-town money trying to influence Palo Alto City Council? What's their interest?


31 people like this
Posted by @resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 1:40 pm

Arthur didn't raise more than Greg Scharff. Greg still has the award for most money raised in any Palo Alto election.


38 people like this
Posted by Math
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 2, 2016 at 1:43 pm

Looking at the numbers, it appears the weekly is including candidates loans to their own campaign where PASZ is not. I prefer the PASZ method, because donors can donate after Nov 8 and the candidate can then pay themselves back their "loan", avoiding public scrutiny of the donation. Also, if you are looking at Influence, only looking at external donations makes sense.

WHen you do that the 30%+ donations to Fine, Tanaka, etc are correct.

Nice to see Adrian fine getting money from a Real Estate PAC.


The amount of money for Fine, Tanaka, and McDougal from OUTSIDE Palo ALto is also alarming.

THe breadth of donors for Kou and Keller is comforting - yes some large donations but also a large number of Palo Altan donors





21 people like this
Posted by Gail Price
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 2:08 pm

I am deeply disturbed about the huge funds contributed by 5 to 7 families to the Keller and Kou campaigns--- and the funds in the PASZ PAC. These activities simply distort the way campaigns have been traditionally funded in the past in Palo Alto. By engaging political consultants to shape their messaging materials they not only engage in personal attacks but are using terms such as affordable housing in absence of understanding the costs to provide housing and the clear need to provide more options and incentives to actually create needed housing. We can't simply keep doing the same things and expect that we are really building housing to serve people currently closed out. We should promote intelligent economic develop that recognizes that businesses are partners not adversaries.
The employee/employer and visitor spending in our town plays a significant role in our city budget-- which enables us to have robust services.

I want elected officials who actively engage in solutions rather than rely on consultants to design their messages and opinions.

I support candidates such as Fine, Kniss, Tanaka, and McDougall because they exhibit fair, balanced, and respectful campaigning techniques. They focus and discuss serious issues and ideas and suggestions. They model caring and genuine community-building that is inclusive and not divisive. I worry that the opposite approach---- variations of "politics of no" and fear of transition to the future will hurt Palo Alto.


51 people like this
Posted by Integrity ??
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 2:14 pm

@ Steve Levy,
"What puzzles me is that the same consideration is not given to Greg Tanaka and Adrian Fine...They both act with the highest integrity."

Oh?

Neither Fine nor Tanaka was a Democrat until this election made it important.

Tanaka converted in February, and Fine in June. Maybe they thought nobody would really care, and maybe most voters don't.

Apparently both discovered that politics needs strong endorsement bedfellows and employing the Mr Civility Cory Wohlbach they managed to push aside people who were far more worthy of endorsements. Thus: Lifelong Democrats are funding people who were never even Dems until running for (non-partisan ! ) office. Yes, this does not pass the ick factor, and maybe you'd say that's just politics. But you can't claim integrity. It sets the stage for what is to come, if elected.

On the other hand, Kou, who has been a Dem forever, didn't seek endorsements because she knows the endorsement game has proven to be truly ugly , and instead she took a high road of campaigning on her beliefs. For that she gets my vote.




12 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 2:17 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

"The group's list of “developer” contributors includes former planning commissioners Dan Garber and Lee Lippert; current commissioner Michael Alcheck and Vice Mayor Greg Scharff (both real-estate attorneys); and real-estate agents Leannah Hunter and Brent Gullixson."

There is a big difference between those who benefit from commercial real estate development and residential real estate.

[Portion removed due to inaccurate factual assertion.]

PASC would be more accurate if they substituted "developers" with "development interests."



36 people like this
Posted by @gail price
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 2:31 pm

By 'these activities simply distort the way campaigns have been traditionally funded in Palo Alto' are you complaining that residents now have woken up and have decided to have a voice.

Campaigns have been traditionally funded by development interests. If ever I've seen a tradition worth eradicating that would be it.


24 people like this
Posted by Kathy
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 2, 2016 at 2:42 pm

I have been a resident of Palo Alto for over 2 decades and I would like to say my piece about who I think does or does not represent my interests as a resident here.
I am voting Fine, Tanaka and McDougall because I believe we need fresh ideas. I am utterly appalled at how aggressively the residentialists have campaigned. They are so presumptuous to assume they represent all of us residents. They don't. And those 5 families, I don't care who you are, but I am not like you and I do not need you to speak for me. So don't think you are speaking for everyone.

I want to be able to live in a city where I can walk and not just drive. And I want a healthy local ecosystem with kids and grocery clerks and teachers and nurses in my neighborhood not just rich investors.

People like Kou are distorting what Palo Alto is and has always been, which is a fun place to live! A place where there are people from all over - studying, working, and getting along. Kou started the campaign of hush-hush rumors being passed around. Fighting everything she can because she is so limited herself. She is using fear and her own nearsightedness to tell people a story that isn't even true. This is just not Palo Alto.


7 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Nov 2, 2016 at 2:51 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@Integrity

I am puzzled by your comment.

If it matters apparently life long Democrats who hold local elected office and know the candidates have endorsed Fine, Kniss, McDoguall and Tanaka--including Supervisor Joe Simitian, Assemblyman Rich Gordon, and Senator Jerry Hill.

Are you questioning their loyalty as Democrats because they have endorsed these candidates?

I believe in democratic values of inclusion, respect and civility.

The ad campaign by an out of town PR firm that was labeled a smear by the Post is not consistent with these democratic values.

If you do not like a candidate's position on issues, that seems fair to discuss.


54 people like this
Posted by Adrian's Track Record
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 2, 2016 at 2:53 pm

"Adrian Fine has been the victim of a smear campaign in this election" - Really? Other folks referencing Adrian's public comments including while he was serving on the PTC and CAC is considered smearing him?

Adrian was against the office cap, against the residential parking program and against preserving the existing 50 foot height limit, which he called "arbitrary" until he decided to run for council. As a reminder, here are some quotes from Adrian Fine before he decided to run for city council:

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

“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

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

“You should accept some of the benefits of living in the City. In terms of enforcement, I have friends who get ticketed. My cars get ticketed for other things just as the parking patrol officers come through. It's really, really annoying.”
Web Link

Also, Steve Levy is on the board of Palo Alto Forward and advocated for removing the height limit while serving on the CAC so his support for Adrian Fine should be noted.


49 people like this
Posted by @stephen levy
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:00 pm

The concern about Adrian Fine extends beyond the source of his money from development interests. It also extends to the $15,000 that was loaned to his campaign and which are to be repaid after the election by people whose donations won't be disclosed before the election. See page 17 of Web Link And there is the inconsistency between the positions taken by Commissioner Fine in statements made at the Planning Commission and Comp Plan CAC as recently as June 2016 and then somehow changed when we started running for Council.

We saw this before with Greg Scharff. He was developer-friendly in his first term at Council, then ran for election in a campaign funded by mostly by himself and development interests and run by a campaign consultant with zero grassroots involvement that claimed residentialist positions, and then promptly switched back to developer-friendly starting with his vote not to reappoint Keller to the Planning Commission.


43 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:27 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@Gail Price: "...consultants... I worry that the opposite approach---- variations of "politics of no" and fear of transition to the future will hurt Palo Alto."

Gail Price is upset about the tone of the campaign, but she has been a significant player since 2013 in smearing those that she disagrees with.
- There were the statements during the Maybell Referendum.
- In the 2014 campaign she was part of a pop-up group that had a PAC that ran attack ads against the Residentialists (Web Link).
- She portrays those that disagree with her position as illegitimate -- the "angry and fearful" characterization in use since 2013. In her message here and in the emails she is sending out in support of Fine: "He is hopeful, creative, and positive-- not angry and fearful about the future."


19 people like this
Posted by Mama
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 3:51 pm

Mama is a registered user.

I had to laugh. Kathy wants to live in a city where she can walk and not just drive?? Now you can ONLY walk downtown because there is nowhere to park.


34 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 2, 2016 at 4:46 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

Two examples of how developer interests overlap with other professions.

Uploaded: Thu, Sep 20, 2012, 9:47 am
by Gennady Sheyner/ Palo Alto Weekly

“Two members of the city's land-use boards, former Planning and Transportation Commissioner Daniel Garber and former Architectural Review Board member Heather Young, resigned earlier this year to work on the Arrillaga proposal.”

The Scharff Law Group Inc.
Your Real Estate Lawyer - Litigation and Transactions

“I own and manage a number of large commercial and residential projects, and I always had a strong interest in real estate.”

“I previously worked with a large real estate developer, “


www.nolo.com/lawyers/profile/h-gregory-scharff-1690.html


© 2002 - 2006 Edwards Law Group, Inc.

“Mr. Scharff has acted as in house counsel for several large real estate developers and has served on the National Board of Directors for the National Association of Office and Industrial Park developers and owners."

edwardslawgroup.com


42 people like this
Posted by Norma
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 2, 2016 at 5:32 pm

in 2014 Scharff was endorsed by politicians that now support the Palo Alto Forward set of candidates,

Betsy Bechtel, Former Palo Alto Mayor and Current Foothill-DeAnza College Trustee
Bern Beecham, Former Palo Alto Mayor
Marc Berman, Palo Alto City Councilmember
Peter Drekmeier, Former Palo Alto Mayor
Sid Espinosa, Former Palo Alto Mayor
Larry Klein, Palo Alto City Councilmember and Former Mayor
Judy Kleinberg, Former Palo Alto Mayor
Liz Kniss, Palo Alto Vice Mayor and Former Santa Clara County Supervisor
Vic Ojakian, Former Palo Alto Mayor
Gail Price, Palo Alto City Councilmember
Bruce Swenson, Foothill-DeAnza College, Trustee
Lanie Wheeler, Former Palo Alto Mayor
Gail Woolley, Former Palo Alto Mayor
Anna Eschoo, Member of Congress, District 18
Joe Simitian, Santa Clara County Supervisor and Former State Senator
Jerry Hill, State Senator, 11th District

Trust is a fragile thing.


3 people like this
Posted by Doug
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2016 at 6:10 pm

[Post removed.]


60 people like this
Posted by cm
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 2, 2016 at 6:44 pm

We are surrounded by cities whose city councils are pro-growth. Look at the massive development in Mtn. View on San Antonio. Look at the monstrous Stanford funded development that Menlo Park has approved along El Camino and the 1.3 million square feet of Facebook offices that will add 6550 jobs and gentrify low income East Palo Altans into oblivion. These are city councils run by elected officials where developers seem to be driving the bus. They approved massive developments that enrich developers and property owners but gradually destroy their communities.

It is clear that Fine, Tanaka, McDougall are getting their donations from development interests and have spoken out for more development. If they were telling the truth (instead of pretending to be for residents in order to get elected) they would talk about their ideas for stuffing the poor into high rise building with tiny micro hovels. Or discuss the imaginary land that they live in where you don't need to build parking because everyone will magically bike or perhaps float to work. On the planning commission Fine and Tanaka were about making it bigger and taller (with no need for parking). They voted for zoning exemptions and against height and capacity limits. They frequently were at odds with the current city council that, while divided, has been trying to slow the massive development craze. And they will certainly switch back to their pro-growth positions as soon as possible after the election.

Quality of life cannot be sustained with endless growth. Palo Alto is right to fight back against development and strive to create a model of a well balanced and run city. Pursuing immediate monetary gratification rather than a strategy of long term stewardship and sustainability is what developers are after. Candidates like Kou, Carl and Keller understand the work and sacrifice of building livable communities and aren’t just in it for the money.


15 people like this
Posted by Saguna Hall
a resident of University South
on Nov 2, 2016 at 8:17 pm

I'm amazed that some commenters are so negative on growth, change, and development. We have to allow and control change or Palo Alto withers on the vine. I moved here from India and the one thing about America is that you are free to change. In this light, Kniss, Tanaka, Fine and MacDougall are more pragmatic.


56 people like this
Posted by Not negative on growth
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 2, 2016 at 8:42 pm

People aren't negative about growth. Growth is a foregone conclusion. We're debating how we should prioritize growth. Some of us believe we should cap housing and focus on affordable housing for teachers. Others think office growth is still ok, and we should prioritize housing for workers at palantir/facebook/google

Worker housing is a problem for the companies, and maybe for the state. Locally we need to look after our own. I'm for Kou/Keller/Stone/Carl


26 people like this
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2016 at 12:12 am

@cm: Terrific comment! I especially liked: "Quality of life cannot be sustained with endless growth. Palo Alto is right to fight back against development and strive to create a model of a well balanced and run city."


12 people like this
Posted by Alice Schaffer Smith
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 3, 2016 at 8:32 am

Thanks to those who sign their comments: Doug Moran, Stephen Levy, Margaret Heath, Gail Price.

This on line debate is fascinating but why do people not stand for their own comments?

I posted this yesterday and for some reason it didn't get posted. I will try again: My comment was that Palo Alto is losing its economic and cultural diversity to become a Westchester County, Greenwich CT look alike. Do we really want that?


9 people like this
Posted by care for our own?
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 3, 2016 at 11:03 am

You say we have to "care for our own" and yet Kou was central to fighting affordable housing for very low income seniors and Keller penned an angry letter to the city council right after they said they wanted to study how to make second units easier to build in Palo Alto. Not only did he push for all the overwhelming and expensive restrictions to remain in place, but he suggested new ones! when you say they "care for our own" what you really mean is that they care for people like the 5 Casti families - rich people who own their own homes, are landlords, and own businesses and commercial property in Palo Alto. People who have a lot to gain by preventing new homes and commercial properties from being built because the value of their own holdings will go up.


11 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 3, 2016 at 12:09 pm

I am concerned with the candidates that are aligned with transportation planning for the city. If my neighborhood is any example there is approval and development of commercial organizations which presume that the employees will use the residential streets as a parking place. This becomes a big problem on street sweeper days on unmarked streets when you have cars sitting all over. You also have unknown people roaming the neighborhood where there are small children. If the PAF people can't connect the dots here then they don't belong in office. If they are employees of the city and are providing approval for employee parking of residential streets then they should be called out by the city as out of line. There needs to be good planning for growth for both residential and commercial entities so that the city space we have is well controlled, secure, and well maintained. Look at the crime logs listed in the paper - all types of activity going on by people who come from other places and end up in trouble and cause problems for the residents.
And we do not need to be compared to other cities and other countries - we are who we are and that is it.


45 people like this
Posted by Integrity for Kou
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2016 at 12:15 pm

@our own?

Kou was never "central to fighting affordable housing." That is just a negative smear that misrepresents her views and efforts. In fact, Kou has supported Buena Vista throughout and was willing to go on record in the paoer to show the broad support of residents even early on. I know the history of Kou's involvement in Measure D, and your charge is just an ugly, false, self-serving lie about her involvement. She was never against senior housing, she was against the rezoning and the funding scheme that involved 60% of the project being a for -profit development (using the rezoning but not the greater profits from the for-profit side that were just for the for-profit developer). I know for a fact that Kou got involved to first find a way to create something better. If advocates had not been stuck on just that plan, and only if it involved razing that orchard, our City could have gotten an almost free orchard, saving the trees, and gotten the affordable housing, similarly to what hapoened at Terman. If the developers at Maybell had simply compromised like at 801 Alma, and brought the plan closer to zoning, prioritizing the affordable housing and ditching the majority for-profit rezoning of the neighborhood, there would be affordable housing there now. When doentown neighbors objected to over zoning at 801 Alma, the nonprofit developer just changed the plan and got on with things. In south Palo Alto, not represented on the Council then, it became a smear campaign against the neighbors whose history of supporting affordable housing has been strong.

People who further your mischaracterization of Kou conveniently forget that many of the same neighbors fought a nearly identical development battle that would have turned Terman School into mostly for-profit apartment housing. Some of the very same people who were against the Maybell rezoning ensured that at Terman, the school site was saved and a 92-unit low-income apartment got built from the negotiation, just not on the school site. All involved in Measure D were first looking for a similar working group and are on record asking fir a similar working group. Had they been given the opportunity to do anything except fight a bad plan, the energy could have gone, as at Terman, JUST to making Palo Alto better AND creating the affordable housing. For-profit Development interests would have similarly been shut out as at Terman, and affordable housing advocates would have seen that they were working against their own interests to be coopted by developers like at Maybell. Unfortunately, the developer-centric then-Council would not allow the same kind of collaboration.

Kou has the kind of deep and nuanced understanding of issues like that. Her interest in putting the affordable housing first and not tied to developer profits us still being used to attack her and resident interests. I find that kind of attack of her to be wrong, extremely negative and dishonest. I will be voting for Kou, Keller, Carl, and Stone, because I know we will get more honesty and focus on running a City rather than trying to turn downtown into a corporate office park for Palantir et al.


31 people like this
Posted by Integrity for Kou
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2016 at 12:22 pm

@our own?

You also forget that the purchase of the Maybell property drained the City's affordable housing fund at a time when the money could have been a game changer at BV. The $15 million that was refunded because of Measure D, in City and County funds, is now a large part of funds availabke at BV now. Kou saw early on that the same money would have been better spent at BV for the benefit of existing Palo Altans. These issues are complex and evolving, we do not need people who paint mislead in order to further a clearly developer-centric agenda. If we had had more people like Kou on the Council then, there could have been opportunities for real collaborations for civic solutions.


10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2016 at 1:34 pm

I don’t believe there’s anybody in town who wants to become “Westchester County.” That’s just cranky hype. Instead, I believe there’s violent agreement on all sides for preserving economic and cultural diversity here in Palo Alto. Remember that the alleged “slower growth” people all enthusiastically supported the Buena Vista effort, which is the most economically diverse group in town.

What you have instead is two distinctly different views on how to keep and promote that diversity. The first group advocates what is basically laissez-faire: if you relax zoning far enough, then enough housing will get built, at all price levels, that all groups can be represented. And increased density is an acceptable price in order to achieve this, especially if it can be partially mitigated by technology and other means. The justification for this argument is basically supply and demand – if you increase supply, prices will drop.

The second group believes that we’re beyond the ability of laissez-faire to solve the problem, and that it can only be done by direct city-government intervention – subsidies, deed restrictions, impact fees, even rent control in some towns. The argument here is that demand is so high that no practical supply increase can move the price needle much. There’s also growing evidence is that density in expensive post-industrial cities doesn’t increase diversity and may even reduce it. San Francisco is actually getting whiter, as most flee its prices other than the truly rich, and young single professionals -- the only people who can both afford the City, and also are willing to put up with the small housing spaces available there.

But for both approaches the end goal is the same – preserving some economic and cultural diversity in Palo Alto, and not becoming some “Westchester County” monoculture. The merits of the two approaches would be a productive and useful community discussion, without all the exaggerated rhetoric, cartoon-ization, Donald Trump talk etc going around.


Two interesting ironies. One is that the two approaches reverse traditional political positions. Some of the strongest proponents of the de-regulate zoning, “laissez-faire” side are actually some of the most liberal and loyal Democratic-Party people in town. Whereas some of the “interventionists” are political centrists, which means relatively conservative for most of Palo Alto.

The other is that the “laissez-faire” approach may increase the cost of single-family homes. A key tenet is to build smaller housing units. Assuming these lease at market rates, they’ll expensive and so mostly occupied by single professionals just as in San Francisco. As these age, many will become couples and small families more interested in single-family homes (see: Kate Downing). Since the number of single-family homes in Palo Alto doesn’t really increase, at least some of these future young families will end up bidding on the existing ones, driving prices even higher. Therefore, if there actually are any cartoon mercenary single-family home owners around, they should immediately become laissez-faire people and aggressively support developing large numbers of small and micro units.


16 people like this
Posted by One Correction
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 3, 2016 at 3:34 pm

@resident
I think you've perfectly summarized the differences between the two groups.

The only thing I disagree with you about it is that your comment that "laissez-faire' side are some of the more liberal democrats in town. Just based on this election at least - Fine and Tanaka - only recently became democrats. One was republican and one, Independent. Whereas the group you are describing as 'conservative' - Kou, Keller, Stone- are card-carrying democrats from way back.

The laissez-faire approach is much more aligned with typical capitalism, so I'm not surprised it attracts a politically conservative crowd.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 4, 2016 at 12:48 am

Got a couple of personal touched from Lydia Kou in the last few days. One is a mailer with big "AFFORDABILITY" in huge font on the front. The other - an email stating "You will see me push back against dogma, lazy slogans and the false belief that the situation in Palo Alto conforms to national averages"
Hmmm... what could it possibly mean? There was something about credibility and authenticity as well as being a realtor who finds homes for families in this community in that email.
Questions: what will Kou do to address affordability considering she fought so hard against an affordable senior housing project and talks about overdevelopment all the time.
If PA does not conform to national averages then do we have an affordability crisis or not?
Not high on the integrity scale after all....


36 people like this
Posted by Integrity for Kou
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2016 at 2:05 am

@Fairmeadow,
Lydia was one of the neighbors who first met with the councilmembers long before measure D, to sell them on what we could accomplish as community volunteers. Several had been involved in major efforts on our side of town resulting in many of the civic assets we all take for granted. We would have put that energy and creativity into creating solutions that included affordable housing, which is what we were asking for. That whole situation keeps getting used as a bludgeon. It was dishonest then and now to say that opposition to that plan involving four times overzoning, huge impacts on the neighborhood, and 60% of the proposal was a for-profit development, and all of it razing the last historic orchard in a neighborhood when there are still empty properties on El Camino nearby that would have worked far better -- the whole thing stank, as did the false and nasty accusations, and was emblematic of a City Council run amok and cynically using ill-conceived affordable housing as a vehicle to get otherwise completely illegal spot zoning into south Palo Alto neighborhoods. While all that was going on, 20 REAL senior BMR units, in an actual senior facility (as opposed to small apartments the seniors would cruelly have had to leave - where to? - when they became frail as at Maybell) were found to have been unfilled for years, because the City had the wrong idea about why and never bothered to find out or fix the rules until Measure D. Those units could have housed up to 40 seniors, but went empty for years. The hypocrisy is mindnumbing.

People who continue to make such accusations have an agenda, which is to weild affordable housing as a way to get away with any development abuse that serves their selfish (for profit) purposes, even when the actual cause of affordable housing is hurt by it. If Palo Alto had not become so easy to upzone, the owner of Buena Vista would never have been enticed by Prometheus who thought they could get several times the zoning, too. A unit or two of BMR housing here and there that only people making $100,000/year or more could afford is not going to solve anything for the poor, but it will cause resentlment and eventually endanger important programs. All this focus on misdirection and nasty mischaracterization of intelligent leaders like Kou only makes the dishonesty of the development agenda more clear. There is no way to create affordability by building more and more luxury housing here. Saying anyone is against affordability because they are against overrunning the town with dense luxury apartments (mostly because Palantir wants downtown as its little fiefdom instead of moving to a more suitable research park) is just false.. If we want affordability, we must define the need to best fill it and create solutions for low income people, which is the direction Kou advocates.

Lydia Kou is the most qualified candidate, which is probably why she is facing such vicious and false attacks.


33 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 4, 2016 at 4:31 am

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

An email list for my neighborhood just got hit with an attack ad against Lydia Kou. The hit piece was by Elaine Uang, a founder of Palo Alto Forward, and was the expected collection of falsehoods and distortions coming from the PAF crowd this campaign. Surprisingly, she dropped the equating of Kou to Trump.

The email was submitted to the group by someone pretending to be from the neighborhood (she wasn't) and pretending to be researching candidates.

One of the revealing parts of the coverage of this campaign is that the Keller-Kou ad had supporting online documentation: minutes of meetings and interviews. The PAF/CoC/pro-development attacks on Keller and especially Kou don't provide citations that we can check to confirm that they actually exist and are accurate portrayals. Yet it is the former that the Establishment portrays as unfair.


27 people like this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 4, 2016 at 11:26 am

Money doesn't always cut it. Don't you remember when Meg Whitman ran for governor? She had far more money to spend for her election, yet Governor Brown won.
The best person(s) (we hope) will win--Kou, Keller, Stone, Stewart
So please quit complaining about money. For years those of us who wanted a slower growth trajectory and fewer over built complexes thrown up south of California tried to insist the City adhere to its own development guidelines regarding lot coverage and parking requirements. Each time the City ignored them and allowed the developer to overbuild with insufficient parking.
That is why there is no place to park anywhere in town. We have parking permits for those who work downtown, but none for those of us who live in other parts of Palo Alto. We pay taxes too and deserve a fair shake for the City Shuttle (free bus) and parking when we shop.


5 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of University South
on Nov 4, 2016 at 12:17 pm

Lydia Kou was the major opponent of an affordable housing project in her neighborhood, and successfully created a referendum that blocked the project.

She should be running on her record, not running away from it. She would be doing better if she had stood on what she believes rather than tacking in response to what her consultants are telling her.

There's a sizeable constituency in Palo Alto that would back her if she ran on her record instead. But these mailers about how much she cares about housing affordability just do not represent what she has stood for.


36 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 4, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@Observer: "Lydia Kou was the major opponent of an affordable housing project in her neighborhood, and successfully created a referendum that blocked the project.//She should be running on her record, not running away from it."

Classic campaign tactic by the opponents of Kou. One of their candidates -- Adrian Fine -- has been caught "running away from (his record)". Since they can't dispute that (other than unsupported denials), they attack with a false "they did it too".

The lie that Kou opposed an affordable housing project has been repeatedly refuted, not just by the record, but by some of the prominent supporters of that project (she opposed the market-rate housing part of the larger project). Yet Kou's opponents continue to push this lie. If you object to the word "lie", consider its meaning of being a deliberate falsehood intended to deceive and respond with what aspect of that you disagree with.


31 people like this
Posted by History
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 4, 2016 at 1:02 pm

If this attack is about Measure D, that was not an affordable housing project, or measure. That's the reason I voted against it. It was an upzoning measure, which would result in most rezoned property used for private market rate housing, with BMR housing on the side.

There were other reasons other people didn't like it, but it's disingenuous to call that measure "affordable housing" or to use efforts to stop it as evidence against someone's commitment to affordable housing.


4 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of University South
on Nov 4, 2016 at 4:47 pm

Let's not be silly. Measure D was about rezoning an area so a 60-unit affordable housing complex could be built. It did include some market-rate housing as well in order to pay for the affordable part.

It's totally fair to say that you think the trade-off for affordable housing wasn't worth it. It's fair to say you think affordable housing should be somewhere else, but not in a residential neighborhood. It's fair to say you opposed the package because the market-rate part would add too many newcomers to Palo Alto, who would degrade our award-winning quality of life. Those are all positions with real representation in Palo Alto. Just check out the negative comments on the CalPark thread, many of which take those exact positions.

But it's pretty crazy to say that Measure D wasn't about affordable housing at all, or that Lydia Kou's opposition to it didn't prevent 60 units of affordable housing. It's ridiculous for her to claim that she's a proponent of affordable housing, or even that "housing affordability will be her first priority".

That flier was pretty clearly written by her SF-based political consultant.


18 people like this
Posted by History
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 4, 2016 at 4:58 pm

It wasn't about affordable housing.

Affordable housing can be built in places without changing zoning. The people needing D felt they were in a corner and had to rezone to make their plan work.

D was about zoning. Affordable housing is not about zoning. It's about affordable housing.

It's like saying voting for Trump is about voting on taxes. It isn't.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2016 at 10:05 pm

From the article: "The four candidates affiliated with the residentialist camp have raised $199,259 among them, while the four favored by the Chamber of Commerce received $217,976, according to the latest campaign-finance disclosures."

The more interesting question is not "how much money in this race?" but "why so much money in this race?"


9 people like this
Posted by Chicken Feed
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 5, 2016 at 2:23 pm

This is chicken feed compared to what Berman is spending. Did you see he had $3M spent by independent expenditure committees? What the heck is that about?


19 people like this
Posted by Integrity for Kou
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2016 at 3:01 pm

@Observer,
The misinformation continues. You wrote "It did include some market-rate housing as well in order to pay for the affordable part."

60% of the property, almost two-thirds, was a for-profit project. Please hear this finally, because you can go back into the record or verify it with your Councilmembers, yet you somehow continue to misinform to suit your agenda: THE PROFITS FROM THE MARKET RATE HOUSING WERE NOT GOING TO SUPPORT THE AFFORDABLE SIDE. They never were. They were only ever going to go to a for-profit developer. Mark Berman even asked why they didn't just use the profits from the sale of the houses to make it possible to make the market-rate side less dense and not in need of rezoning. PAHC gave a cryptic answer that they were not in business to make money. The only profits from the market rate side, two-thirds of that proposal, were from the sale of the UPZONED LAND. They just wanted to sell the neighborhood's zoning. Furthermore, this much smaller profit (compared to the sale profits from the houses going to a for-profit developer) was represented as community investment in the application for grants. That investment could have been handled in other ways, such as provided from the Standford funds, if the Council had actually cared about the housing enough to make it work. The planners of the project only ever allowed for that exact plan, and never left any room to change even to use the profits from market rate homes to create better solutions.

Um, do you not get that that neighborhood has some of the most units of affordable housing in Palo Alto, including next door to that site, and including a large complex that many opponents of the rezoning had a hand in *creating* in an almost identical development battle when someone wanted to turn Terman School into housing?

The affordable housing at Maybell was a Trojan Horse to get environmentally-minded local liberals to close their eyes about the historic orchard with 100 trees, some 200-year-old, getting razed, and to bust the local zoning. (Orchard still there despite the drought by the way, deep roots.) The proponents even said in City meetings that this was a first attempt to see if this kind of funding - using the sale of upzoning to for-profit developers - would work as the community investment component in grant applications.

There is a high support for affordable housing in that neighbirhood that was never able to be realized in practical solutions like at Terman - even though neighbors asked for a similar working group - precisely because of misinformation like you just gave. There are many low-income people integrated into the neighborhood - continuing to falsely claim that the referendum was anout the affordable residents (if you believe research) is bad for low-income neighbors for making them feel, innecessarily, that they are not supported by their neighbors. That is ugly and pernicious and needs to stop.

Measure D was about safety and zoning, quality of life, for the residents. It was never about rejecting affordable housing - the affordable housing was only a third of the project and was essentially a Trojan Horse for spot zoning that mostly benefitted a for-profit developer. The lesson here should be to stop trying to use affordable housing for other development purposes. @History is right - affordable housing is about affordable housing.

Kou is the kind of person able to delve into details and understand the needs, wishes, and look beyond the rhetoric. This is why she scares the developer crowd so much, she would have just focused on the affordable housing and needs of the community.


6 people like this
Posted by Rainer
a resident of Mayfield
on Nov 7, 2016 at 9:26 pm

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by rainer
a resident of Mayfield
on Nov 7, 2016 at 9:50 pm

In the last week I have read several comments about Lydia Kou who play on the Southern meme: the angry Minority Woman. [Portion removed.]

Lydia is one of my “my” favorites because she is NOT Joe Simitian, Anna Eshoo, Rich Gordon, and the county Democratic Party (who should stay out of it, but they are trying to fill the Party pipeline to higher office appointed office: Berman Wolbach Fine).

She also has not gone to local schools, thus limiting her horizon.[ This is not sour grapes, my daughters went to Big Kids, JCC, BING, Escondido. Stanford Middle, Paly, and got accepted a t all schools the applied for]

Rather than getting into a fury let me share a letter which came my way from Karen Holman, who states Lydia’s case better, and with more gravitas, than I could do.


___Dear Palo Altans,
___Having served as both Council member and as Mayor of Palo Alto, I've experienced firsthand the intricate challenges associated with the rapid growth of our city. We need to elect leaders who can develop creative solutions to our challenges that are based on realistic premises. And I believe we must support candidates who will foster the character of our neighborhoods, stand up for our small businesses and ensure we do not overextend our city’s resources.
___I believe Lydia Kou will serve Palo Alto well, and I am enthusiastically supporting her candidacy for the city council. Lydia has proven to be a thoughtful listener, an important quality that has won her strong support among neighborhood leaders. Her attention to detail has been tremendously beneficial to the Comprehensive Plan Citizens Advisory Committee. She is an insightful, measured leader who can be trusted to ensure that city government plans appropriately for growth.
___As the race for the city council has heated up, I’ve been disappointed by the negative tone of some seeking to undermine Lydia’s campaign. I recognize that some have deliberately chosen to direct unfounded accusations toward her, particularly after she was endorsed by the Palo Alto Weekly and her support grew.
___As a woman who has served this community for many years, I know all too well that too few women hold leadership positions in our community. And I wish that those seeking to undermine Lydia’s campaign would recognize the unique opportunity we have to add effective and proven leadership at City Hall while also adding greater diversity and ensuring our neighborhoods are given a greater voice. I urge you to vote for Lydia Kou, a leader who has demonstrated time and again that she will put our community first.
___Karen Holman
___Palo Alto Council member and former Mayor

What I appreciate in particular is Lydia’s independent no-herd mind.

We all know that we have problems with the City Manager and subordinates like the City Attorney, the Planning Director, and people further down the ladder, who openly subvert the will of “the people”, = the City Council. And who openly at City Council sessions act like hired advocates of the developers.

For example, there is 2555 Park Blvd., was the only project among 46 (per Richard Alexander) with a CEQA EIR. The residential owners of the 141 PAC Condo’s surrounding 2666 Park could, therefore, see details of the approval process which are normally buried in boilerplate.

When obvious mathematical impossibilities from the EIR were brought to the attention of the Planning Director, the City used a trick, which would have made VW in their exhaust scandal proud, to claim that 2x95 = 115 (car trips per hour). [Portion removed.]


Normal City administrations yank the permit under such circumstances, real estate misrepresentations. Not Palo Alto, too late said City Councilors I would have trusted. And the Council was too weak to act. Like CEQA said, it is self-enforcing, i.e., citizens have to sue.

We need a stronger more independently thinking City Council which is not railroaded by the developers and the administration. I think Kou (Raeltor)and Keller (quantiative )could give the Council the backbone it needs. On our behalf.


An example for Lydia’s independent no-herd thinking was the Buena Vista case.
When the City Attorney went way beyond her role to tell even City Council candidates what statements they could and could not make about what the City should / could do with regard to Buena Vista (remember the grave nodding of the important heads in the Council, sagging under their grave responsibilities of the quasi-judicial proceedings, which is legal non-sense – think impeachments) only Lydia had the good sense to say: we should buy it. Which would have saved the City potentially a lot of money, and definitely a lot of aggravation.

These are my tuppence.


6 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Voter
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 8, 2016 at 6:21 am

A few months ago, I emailed Lydia about something related to the campaign--nothing controversial or sensitive or anything like that--and asked if she could get back to me. Never heard back. A week later, a friend of mine, who's active in Democratic politics and has met Lydia on several occasions, wrote to her on my behalf and again asked her if she could get back to me. Again, never heard back.

OK, maybe she's busy, maybe she doesn't check her emails often, who knows. But in my experience, good people do respond to emails like that, especially if they are politicians running for office who want voters to like them, even if it's, "Thanks for writing, can I get back to you later on this?".

Although I found this mildly annoying, I didn't make too much of it. Then I saw the negative video ad that came out of nowhere slamming Adrian Fine and read about how Kou/Keller have been given enormous donations by five wealthy PA families while criticizing Fine and others for supposedly being in the pocket of wealthy interests.

That struck me as the pot calling the kettle black, really the kind of ugly distortion and dirty tactics that I'm not used to seeing in City Council races.

Anyway, these two things together in my mind add up to something of a character issue for this candidate. I'm not voting for her.









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