News

Kniss, Tanaka, Kou and Fine emerge victorious in Palo Alto's council race

Results indicate a shift away from slow-growth policies

Related content: Click on this interactive map to see how Palo Altans voted by precinct for the more-growth candidates (Fine, Kniss, McDougall and Tanaka) versus the less-growth candidates (Carl, Keller, Kou and Stone).

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In a heated City Council race largely centered on Palo Alto's growth policies, Liz Kniss, Greg Tanaka, Lydia Kou and Adrian Fine were the victorious candidates on Tuesday night, a result that tilts the council majority away from the slow-growth "residentialist" camp and toward those more amenable toward new developments.

Shortly after 11 p.m., with all 44 of Palo Alto's precincts reporting, Liz Kniss was enjoying a commanding lead over her 10 opponents, wining 9,714 votes, or 18.33 percent of the total vote. For Kniss, the sole incumbent in the race, the result marked her tenth successful election to public office.

Greg Tanaka, a member of the Planning and Transportation Commission, finished second with 7,447 votes (14.11 percent), followed by planning commission Chair Adrian Fine (13.46 percent) and Lydia Kou (13.23 percent), the only member of the slow-growth residentialist slate who was victorious on Tuesday night.

Slightly trailing the pack was Arthur Keller, a former planning commissioner whose campaign was jointly coordinated with Kou's. As of 11 p.m., Keller had 6,210 votes, or 11.7 percent. He was 801 votes behind Kou.

For Kniss, the results carried little drama, with the earliest results showing her with a solid lead, which she maintained throughout the night. But for just about every candidate who celebrated victory in the local race Tuesday, the joy was subdued because of the results of the presidential election, which Donald Trump was on the verge of winning late Tuesday.

Seeing Clinton faltering Tuesday made her doubt her own level of support, Kniss said.

"I feel so relieved you can't imagine," Kniss said, while adding that she is also "heartbroken" about Clinton's unexpected defeat.

For the other three candidates who emerged victorious Tuesday, results weren't quite as certain as for Kniss until after 9 p.m., when results from 40 of the city's 44 precincts showed them maintaining their positions. Even with these results, however, remained cautious about declaring victory.

"It's hard to know how it's going to turn out," Tanaka said.

Fine was more ebullient, saying he was "honored" and "invigorated" by the election results before he thanked his family and other supporters who celebrated together at the Garden Court Hotel.

The mood was less cheerful at Palo Alto resident Janet Dafoe's house, where the slow-growth candidates and their supporters gathered to watch the results come in. For Kou, the election was once again a narrow-margin affair. She lost in 2014 by just 135 votes, a result that kept the slow-growth council members from obtaining a five-person majority.

Her celebration speech, like most in the heavily Democratic city, was laced with sadness about Trump's victory in the presidential race.

"It's a difficult night tonight," Kou told her supporters at the election party. "On the one hand, I'm really happy, but I can't help but feel sad about how the national election is going."

She also said she was confident that the new council, while still divided on the topic of growth, will be able to work together in the interests of residents.

"A campaign is one thing, but at the end of the day, I'll work with the other council members to do what's best for the city."

Keller was less thrilled about the way the results were declared, which he said he found puzzling. After early results from six precincts showed him trailing the top four vote-getters, he had discussions with the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters. He said he was told by the county that many of the ballots "had come in but had not come in through the scanner."

"There seems to be something confusing about how the results are being reported," Keller said.

He noted that Kou lost in 2014 only after results flipped several times (Cory Wolbach ultimately won) and said the final results won't be known for at least a few more days.

While Keller held out some hope, the other five members were trailing far behind in the polls.

Don McDougall, who ran alongside Kniss, Tanaka and Fine, was in sixth place, with 8.3 percent of the vote (4,397 votes). He was trailed by Greer Stone (7.65 percent, or 4,056 votes) and Stewart Carl (5.19 percent, or 2,752 votes), both of whom were affiliated with the residentialists. Danielle Martell, Leonard Ely, III, and John Fredrich trailed with 2.86 percent, 2.58 percent and 2.56 percent of the vote, respectively.

The results reflect a victory for three of the four candidates who had received an endorsement from the California Democratic Party and support from the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce. Kniss, Tanaka and Fine have all talked -- with varying degrees of specificity -- about the need to promote sociological diversity and come up with housing solutions. In many ways, these three candidates are ideologically aligned with Cory Wolbach and Vice Mayor Greg Scharff, both of whom attended the Garden Court party and cheered on the victorious candidates.

Wolbach, reflecting the prevalent mood, said the stakes were particularly high in Palo Alto's council race this year, with the city's vision on growth hanging in balance.

"Everybody knew this was a test for Palo Alto," Wolbach said. "It's a test of whether we want to be an inclusive, sustainable community that welcomes everybody. Despite what's happening at the national level, I'm proud to be a Palo Altan tonight."

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Comments

113 people like this
Posted by Young voice
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2016 at 12:09 am

Excited that Greg Tanaka and Adrian Fine, planning and transportation commissioners, will bring their thoughtful ideas to the council. A much needed young and balanced voice. Good job, Palo Alto!


79 people like this
Posted by sad
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 9, 2016 at 12:16 am

Sad day for the country and this city. Greed talks!


102 people like this
Posted by happy
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 9, 2016 at 12:21 am

Glad to see Adrian Fine and Greg Tanaka elected. Gives me some hope for Palo Alto.


99 people like this
Posted by yes!
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 9, 2016 at 12:37 am

Thrilled to see progressive candidates win in Palo Alto! Glad to see that Palo Alto really is a community that is inclusive and welcoming to all and that we at the local level are rejecting the "I got mine" sentiments prevailing on the national level. Palo Alto has given a strong mandate to Kniss, Tanaka, and Fine! Palo Altans want a Palo Alto friendly to young families, entrepreneurs, and retiring seniors and cares about its community members and their futures - whether super rich or not. So proud of Palo Alto today!


95 people like this
Posted by Nicky
a resident of another community
on Nov 9, 2016 at 12:40 am

Absolutely thrilled to see Kniss, Fine and Tanaka taking the lead on the city council race. This is a sure sign that the city is open to growth, housing and development, which is what our Peninsula needs. The PASZ-sponsored residentialist slate did not fare as well, but that is because they practice the politics of "No," and "Not in my backyard." Where goes Palo Alto, so goes the rest of the Peninsula.


80 people like this
Posted by Proud of Fine!
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 9, 2016 at 12:51 am

So excited that Fine won tonight as well as Tanaka and Kniss! A ray of sunshine amidsts national elections gloom. Glad we have good leadership to get us through next 4 years.
Love, inclusivity and sustainability does trump hate and lies. At least locally.


42 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 9, 2016 at 1:15 am

Congratulations!

Wish you all great success to continue to make Palo Alto a great place to live.

Respectfully


70 people like this
Posted by Balance
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 9, 2016 at 1:24 am

Sanity reigns [portion removed.] Balanced policy is what we need.


116 people like this
Posted by no!
a resident of Mayfield
on Nov 9, 2016 at 1:30 am

A dark moment for Palo Alto, when when with Fine and Tanaka gain the developer faction in the City Council is strengthened.
The quick Palo Alto Forward postings within 30 minutes does not undo the history of arrogant and demeaning to residents behavior of Fine and Tanaka in the PCT. As claimed they are young, but in the last few years they were neither thoughtful nor balanced.
As @sad wrote: building industry sponsored greed won again.


102 people like this
Posted by Great job Lydia!
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2016 at 1:51 am

Thanks Lydia for listening to residents and serving our community. Congrats to all winners. Disappointed that the most qualified candidate Arthur didn't make it. Please continue to serve our community Arthur because you've made a positive difference and we are grateful for your talents. Please run again next time.


94 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto home owner
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 9, 2016 at 5:50 am

Good job to Lydia Kou. Our city needs someone like Lydia in the city council.


95 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 9, 2016 at 6:00 am

A tragic night for the USA, for the world, and for Palo Alto, for that matter. Palo Alto as we know it will cease to exist, and the developers must be licking their chops. Goodbye Palo Alto, hello Manhattan by-the-bay.


9 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 9, 2016 at 6:32 am

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by scotty
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 9, 2016 at 6:46 am

[Post removed.]


51 people like this
Posted by Hooray!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2016 at 7:06 am

Congratulations to Kniss, Fine, and Tanaka! (And to Kou as well.) These results show that Palo Alto is an inclusive and compassionate city. It also shows that winning requires volunteers, not big money and political consultants.

In a sad day for America, we at least have a bright spot in Palo Alto.


72 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2016 at 7:08 am

Developers took the election from the president on down to the lowly Palo Alto city council. A very shocking election night indeed.


75 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2016 at 7:57 am

Congratulations Lydia Kou. your years of service to our city and knowledge of issues will serve residents and our city well. Perseverance furthers.

[Portion removed.]

That Tenaka was elected over Keller is simply boggling given how much more deep knowledge Keller has. We deserve better, and like Kou, I hope Keller runs again and succeeds.


14 people like this
Posted by Terri
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 9, 2016 at 8:23 am

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by Sanity
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2016 at 8:58 am

[Post removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Voter
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 9, 2016 at 9:07 am

[Post removed.]


69 people like this
Posted by Strong message
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 9, 2016 at 9:42 am

congrats to the winning candidates. I would have been even happier with Don McDougall making it (or even Keller over Kou), but we've finally dispelled the myth that "Palo Alto Residents" are united in their opposition to growth. To the extent that that this was a referendum on growth, the answer was pretty resounding. PASZ and their 2 preferred candidates vastly outspent everyone else. Their candidates had strong name recognition and roots, and yet they came in 4th and 5th.

Hopefully now people can be civil to each other and recognize that people like Tanaka, Fine, Kniss, Wolbach, etc., represent a vision for residents that is shared by many, many residents. Council members and citizens who disparage that vision as being a front for developers are doing everyone a grave disservice.


60 people like this
Posted by The Local PAF-Trump Won, Too
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2016 at 10:44 am

So sad. True Progressives lost both nationally and locally, because of ugly politics and politicians who care about power so much they lie and say the opposite of who they are and get votes. Democracy sold out.

The saddest thing locally is how big business and developers have won this election. [Portion removed.]

How exactly is this a referendum on whether Palo Alans are against growthmp when PAF candidates have been disclaiming their build baby buildedness this whole election? [Portion removed.]


36 people like this
Posted by Clayton Nall
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 9, 2016 at 10:54 am

I'm so happy to see Kniss, Fine and Tanaka win. They got out into the community in a people-powered campaign. [Portion removed.]


66 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 9, 2016 at 12:22 pm

I am so happy that Kou won. We need protection on the south side of town from reckless growth. One thing is sure now we all will be watching how decisions are made, who makes those decisions, and expect the Weekly to provide more detail on the business end of these deals. Note the grocery store issue - poor decision making.
Any transportation decisions need to be in coordination with the Utility and Services Department. Overflow of company employee parking on residential streets needs to be coordinated. The city tells "residents' what is suppose to happen for street sweeping then the commercial overflow ruins that whole operation. A lot of direction given out that is not productive. Need to tighten up these loose strings.


18 people like this
Posted by Promises
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2016 at 12:25 pm

All candidates were moderate and espoused sensible pace of growth. Let's hold them to their campaign promises and interviews and we won't see a lot of office and density. Hopefully none of those elected will flip-flop.


2 people like this
Posted by member
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2016 at 12:36 pm

[Post removed.]


69 people like this
Posted by Neighborhood groups need to get more active
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2016 at 12:38 pm

There's no doubt that funding from big businesses and developers make a huge impact in our elections, from city councils all the way to Sacramento and Washington.

Still recycling all those mailers I got in the last few weeks, and in some cases I would get one per day for the same candidate. Just thinking of all the $ spent and waste created by this process makes me sick. But let's not be naive, all the donors that made this possible now expect something back from those who got elected, and it might not be in the best interest of us, residents.

Just hoping that this community can see beyond the flashy ads and marketing messages (pretty sure the funding also came w/ some savvy political advice), and focus on residents' priorities (quality of life, better infrastructure, traffic/parking issues, etc) vs. those of the special interests who benefit from new development projects in town. It's time for neighborhoods to step up and ensure our elected officials do the right thing. I've seen PASZ doing this, and we need more neighborhoods organizing and ensuring this town doesn't become a gold mine for developers, who probably couldn't care less about the impact of these projects on our neighborhoods since they don't even live here. And despite their political influence and savvy marketing, I have huge reservations about groups like Palo Alto Forward due to their lack of transparency.


34 people like this
Posted by Flip Floppers
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 9, 2016 at 12:47 pm

[Post removed.]


21 people like this
Posted by Concerned voter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2016 at 12:49 pm

Concerned voter is a registered user.

This is close enough that I think Keller should ask for a recount. I would also ask that local ballots be checked to see if they were in fact voted by residents allowed to vote.


49 people like this
Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 9, 2016 at 1:10 pm

Congratulations to Lydia. I know that she will act for the greatest good of the community.

Sorry to see that our town's election results are so heavily swayed by out-of-town donations. Anyone interested in a future where contributions are voluntarily limited to donors with a Palo Alto address. Sad to say, but our future is being dictated by decision-makers funded with outside money. Easy to back real estate profits when you don't have to live with the resulting traffic, parking, infrastructure depletion.

I can only hope that the residents will not stand for zoning decisions that cannibalize the very quality of life that has attracted all of us here in the first place.

We can cooperate and build together, however we must be vigilant in calling out density favors that will surely be forwarded the out-of-town speculators. Remember, Palo Alto is a community of residents, not a place for real estate speculation.

Respectfully,

Tim Gray


10 people like this
Posted by cali
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 9, 2016 at 1:18 pm

once again, California has shown its irrelevancy to the rest of the country. no one else really cares, nor does it matter to the world how California votes. it has become embarrassing to be called a Californian. it just doesn't matter how we who live here, vote. seriously, what did we accomplish in the overall picture last evening? and, to top it off-- we have joined those who can't get out of the "hippie" era of smoking pot, hanging out, and anything goes mentality. good luck with that. we all need more unaware drivers who are under the influence of something other than driving. let's see what happens when traffic accidents start mounting up--which has already started in other states. Sanctuary cities??--how is that working. Gov Brown--how is that working--again? but, the good news--the rest of the country doesn't care what the state of California thinks. It is time for California to become relevant again.


27 people like this
Posted by retired
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Nov 9, 2016 at 2:24 pm

Disappointing and short-sighted on both state and local levels: 1) marijuana legalization, leading to more disaffected, addicted youth, child poisoning incidents, reckless driving and lack of law enforcement due to lack of a "breathalyzer" for THC, and excessive water use on unnecessary "crops"; 2) so many new taxes coming: sales tax, property tax, and (let's face it) bond issues that have to be paid back by us; 3) only one staunch residentialist elected to the PACC (poor Lydia!), who will no doubt be the voice crying in the wilderness on over-development, excess traffic, parking, zoning, etc. 4) same ineffective and entitled politicians elected to Washington, over and over and over again. Too bad, Palo Alto and state as a whole has no vision of how quality of life will decline further. How can this be a good place for retirees, young families starting out, or anyone not independently wealthy, when it is becoming impossible to pull into your own street from Arastradero Rd. or park in front of your own house, or pay your ever-increasing taxes, or sleep in spite of the jet flight path over your head?


16 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2016 at 2:58 pm

"As @sad wrote: building industry sponsored greed won again."

Perhaps, but we voted for it. Time to move on. Besides, anybody paying attention knew this “welcoming to new people from all walks of life” business was nonsense to begin with; PAF policies drive gentrification which is exclusionary to everybody except existing property owners (and inheritors), and affluent young professionals. Still, density will increase home values, and also Trump will give both groups a tax cut.


32 people like this
Posted by The Local PAF-Trumps Won, Too
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2016 at 3:43 pm

The interpretation above flies in the face of the PAF campaign rhetoric. PAF flogged the false idea that neighborhoods who were behind Measure D represented anti-this and that, but Bob Moss who led the residentialist No on D supported Kniss and not Keller in this election. His opinion is very influential, it's why Greg Scharff used Moss heavily in his campaign ads even though Moss hadn't endorsed him. Many in the same neighborhood support Tanaka as a Greenacres neighbor and remember him fondly as the one commissioner willing to vote against the Maybell rezoning, and didn't pile on the manipulative rhetoric of that campaign season. (It could have been handled differently to save the orchard and produce the housing - true liberals would have cared about the established urban canopy just as much as the housing which could go on many nearby empty lots or dilapidated properties).

Kniss's return as an incumbent and longtime regional politician is not surprising, despite what she has done to Palo Alto. Kou replaces Schmid as a thoughtful more holistic voice on the Council. Tanaka is a pretty equivalent replacement for Burt, who despite the puzzling designation from the media, was never a residentialist, and Fine is a pretty direct replacement for Berman (young suit full of himself and a lot if disdain for a broad cross section of residents who don't support his Palantir-centric agenda). As near as I can see it, the essential composition of the new Council is essentially the same as the one it is replacing, in relation to the perspectives of the people being replaced. The interpretation that it's somehow a sea change seems like more politicking by the writer of the article whose politics have been pretty clearly on the pro-growther side.


67 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 9, 2016 at 4:08 pm

Congratulations to Ms. Kou, we will appreciate your being on the Palo Alto City Council.
I am very sorry that Dr. Keller was not also voted onto the Council.
While I do not know them personally, I have admired and appreciated the efforts of these two individuals in the City of Palo Alto. These are substantive persons who have donated a lot of time, effort, and intelligence to this city!
Thank you,
a local homeowner and resident


68 people like this
Posted by Blu
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 9, 2016 at 4:29 pm

By adopting a strategy of allying themselves with powerful business interests (banker, developers, etc), and endorsing a slates of subordinate nomenklatura, the democrats have managed to retain power in Palo Alto for another cycle, but lost the whole rest of the country.


23 people like this
Posted by The Local PAF-Trumps Won, Too
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2016 at 4:33 pm

One thing: "Seeing Clinton faltering Tuesday made her doubt her own level of support, Kniss said."

What an out of touch thing to say.. That, or it's manipulative, trying to cast her opponents as somehow rightwing, as has been a particularly pernicious and laughably false PAF campaign tactic Support for Clinton in California and locally has been overwhelming. In all the Palo Alto neighborhoods, too.

That was a very strange thing to quote and made Kniss look bad or hopelessly out of touch, or both. Frankly, I'd recommend deleting that sentence from the article. I'm sure she said other things that were more quotable and gracious.


32 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 9, 2016 at 4:46 pm

One person, one vote. I have been calling for the repeal of the electoral college for years. Hillary is our real President and so was Gore (and three others before them!). Remember Trump - more people voted against you than for you.

Local politics: very sad day in Palo Alto. Now its stack and pack housing. Waivers on commercial buildings. More businesses brought into Palo Alto. More traffic, pollution, more stress, less parking - we are paradise lost...from our wonderful town of the 70s to an urban blight. Profit over quality of life, again. Oh how I wish we could hold the line like Portola Valley and Woodside. Those are the perfect no-growth models to follow.


24 people like this
Posted by wow... resounding support for more growth
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 9, 2016 at 4:49 pm

The map published by Palo Alto Online is really interesting... in Palo Alto's 44 precincts, only 3 favored the "slow growth" slate: Web Link


33 people like this
Posted by Oh, NO!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2016 at 5:53 pm

[Portion removed.]

Not voting in Dr Keller was just nuts, he has a wealth of knowledge the other members do NOT!

Adrian Fine may work hard, but changes his mind and back too many times to be effective.

Oh, well, at least Lydia Kou was elected.


20 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 9, 2016 at 6:00 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

The next council will be responsible for what is written into the Palo Alto Comprehensive Plan next year, which is good for the next a5 or 20 years. Since both Tanaka and Fine have been particularly outspoken on the Planning and Transportation Committee for their support of getting rid of the 50' high limit, despite their sudden pivot for the election, I think we will see a lot of changes to Palo Alto's skyline.


32 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 9, 2016 at 6:31 pm

@Oh No!, the election of Kniss, Tanaka and Fine make about as much sense as far as Palo Alto's future is concerned as the election of the presidential candidate who actually received less votes than the losing candidate due to an insane, archaic 18th century law. Nothing in the USA makes any sense anymore, and we are rapidly regressing back to awful, scary times.


7 people like this
Posted by The Local PAF-Trumps Won, Too
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2016 at 6:47 pm

@mauricio,
The great thing is that we live in a country where we can change things. You are not alone in your criticism of how we decide Presidential elections. Gore won the popular vote, too.

When the electorate gets disillusioned with this President, then the citizens who care can put forward a move for a Constitutional Amendment.

I just got a photo that is supposedly a quote from Trump from 1998, People Magazine. Can anyone verify? "If I were to run, I'd run as a Republican. They're the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they'd still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific." Not as dumb, apparently, as the mainstream media that spent so much time on Clinton's email and never this.


4 people like this
Posted by basic question
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 9, 2016 at 7:22 pm

Who on the CC will Fine, Kou and Tanaka be replacing besides Marc Berman (who I understand is pro-development). Will the new CC be more pro-growth than the current one or roughly the same?


35 people like this
Posted by GenXer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2016 at 10:14 pm

I'm very excited to see a sensible majority again.

Watching Palo Alto for the last four years has been painful - stopping affordable housing developments, talking about how coding is illegal in downtown Palo Alto, setting out a new scenario for future growth that reduces the jobs housing imbalance not by increasing housing, but only by cutting back jobs to the minimum levels possible.

Our elementary schools are emptying out. Anyone with young kids or friends who rent knows there's a housing crisis across the whole Bay Area. Why were residentialists railing against ABAG in 2014 and trying to stop Palo Alto from building even enough housing to meet state requirements? Why do we still see people talking about apartments as "stack and pack housing" and "warehousing people"?

It's just been very, very extreme positions, one after another. When I talked to my kids' friends in town, they flat out refused to believe me about what's happening until I showed them the Weekly articles.

There are room for moderate positions that increase housing without turning Palo Alto into Manhattan - the kinds of moderate, reasonable zoning changes that Palo Alto Forward has advocated for, that over one thousand Palo Altans signed their housing petition to support. Let's get something done.

Palo Alto is the birthplace of Silicon Valley. We need to be looking to the future, not some long ago past when Palo Alto was a sleepy university town. I'm glad to see my city has come to its senses again.


21 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 9, 2016 at 10:15 pm

@basic -- short answer, Burt and Schmid. Probably a wash regarding growth.

Some background info at PA Weekly editorial last April: Web Link

My own notes:

Marc Berman, elected 2012, is off to greener pastures.
Pat Burt, elected 2007, re-elected 2012, is termed-out.
Greg Schmid, elected 2007, re-elected 2012, is termed-out.
(we switched to even-year elections in 2012)

I'm guessing the new council is seated on January 9. Or does it happen earlier?

We will have Karen Holman and Greg Scharff, both elected 2009, re-elected 2014,
Liz Kniss, elected 2012, re-elected 2016 (previous 3 terms 1989-2000),
Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth, Cory Wolbach, elected 2014,
and Adrian Fine, Greg Tanaka, Lydia Kou, elected 2016.

City Charter says new mayor/vice-mayor are elected every year at 1st meeting in January.

The 2018 election will be challenging as we drop to a 7-member council.
Holman and Scharff will be termed-out.
Fine, Tanaka and Kou will be continuing their first 4-year term.
Kniss will be continuing her second 4-year term.
That's 4 continuing members, leaving 3 seats up for grabs in Nov 2018.
DuBois, Filseth and Wolbach could run for a 2nd term as incumbents.
Good luck to any newcomers.

Regarding above criticisms of the electoral system, geographic representation can be as important as popular representation. Otherwise San Jose could take all the resources of Santa Clara County. Or Los Angeles could take all our water. There have been suggestions in Palo Alto that council members not be elected popularly citywide but by north/south or other area divisions. Ethnic or diverse populations are often segregated and find themselves under-represented unless they get a regional system, like the wards of Chicago.

California gets its fair share of electoral votes. If California democrats were serious about winning a President, a couple million of us could have moved in the last couple years to the swing-states and put them in the blue column without denting California's 55 electoral votes. But the danger of living in another state, or anywhere outside our own bubble, is discovering the reasons people elsewhere vote differently.


11 people like this
Posted by Jim King
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 9, 2016 at 10:45 pm

What a bunch of sour grapes on the winning Palo Alto Council members. Is the sky falling? We aren't going to be like Woodside? Can I tell the moneyed folks behind the residential slate that I don't care what the Chamber said? I listened to the candidates. The winners that I talked with were reasonable in their thinking. Now, let's get behind them and work through our problems. Number 1 should be limits on campaign-funding.


6 people like this
Posted by cali
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 9, 2016 at 11:20 pm

like we said --voting in California is irrelevant to the rest of the country. we are all arrogant elitists who think we know everything--but in reality, no one else cares, nor does it matter. money, greed, superiority. the rest of the country just laughs at us.


18 people like this
Posted by not over yet
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 9, 2016 at 11:51 pm

According to the Mercury News, ~39% of Santa Clara ballots (mostly absentee ballots mailed close to yesterday) have not yet been tabulated:
Web Link


29 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2016 at 7:30 am

I am pleased that Kou was elected but sorry to see that Keller and Stewart failed. I hope they will stand in the future again and continue to take an interest.

I want to know now what will happen to our infrastructure now that growth seems to be inevitable. Will we get basic improvements to transport, traffic, parking, shopping, etc.?

These are the important things, not how many more people can sleep in this bedroom community we are becoming. Living means having a life, and without basic infrastructure improvements, and more facilities for recreation and socialization (other than expensive restaurants of course) there will be nothing to do but hide away in our pack and stack miserable world coming out only to walk to work!


33 people like this
Posted by Time to move on
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 10, 2016 at 1:44 pm


I am not sure why we are still seeing a stream of negative comments about Kniss, Tanaka and fine, as well as, the continued insulting and denigration of the MAJORITY of PA voters that voted for the 3 winner.

Get over it the PASZ slate and lost big. Based on the weekly map, only 3 neighborhoods went for the anti-all building in Palo Alto slate. And what I find ironic is that Keller and Kuo—two of the PASZ chosen ended up battling for the 4th spot.

Why did this happen:

1) People saw how obstructionist and incompetent the current PASZ council members are on the council

2) The real face of PASZ has been exposed and the majority of PA residents reject their agenda

3) The amount of money that Keller and Kuo raised from a small number of residents

4) The fact that Keller and Kuo took the low road with their negative ads

5) The shenanigans of Kuo’s treasurer Tim Gray, who eventually resigned but who’s actions were not disavowed by Kuo and Keller

6) The constant drumbeat of negativity against Tanaka and Fine coming from Doug Moran on this TS blog—aknown supprorter of Keller, Kuo and PASZ.

Could be other reasons, but these
May be some of them.



10 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 10, 2016 at 1:51 pm

At least I can look forward to my property value going up even farther due to the continued unmitigated office development. Commercial rents continuing to go up forcing out any remaining retail so more time stuck in traffic driving to other cities to buy groceries, etc. I like how people commenting here say the winning candidates had reasonable views based upon their toning down strongly held beliefs for election consumption. Judge by their actions and words prior to the start of the election season, not by what they say during the election campaign.

One thing I am struck by in this election cycle across the board is how much people are upset on all sides. To me this indicates that government has too much meddling effect in our lives (or at least people believe it does, otherwise who really cares that much about the election? At best government should just be a minor annoyance, especially evident when the tax bills show up)


17 people like this
Posted by Truthful?
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 10, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Truthful? is a registered user.

Adrian Fine and Greg Tanaka ran on not raising the height limit and focusing on housing instead of office space. When they vote on these provisions in the comprehensive plan we will see if they were being truthful.


3 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 10, 2016 at 3:46 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@ Strong message

Spot on. Those new council members won't destroy our town. I agree with your choices for council. It just didn't work out for them, but they can try again in a couple years, and I hope they do, as well as Greer Stone.


46 people like this
Posted by Flipper
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 10, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Snowflakes better stop celebrating and start saving up. A ticket to ride the Palo Alto "affordable" housing scam isn't going to be cheap.

It is hard to imagine any new stack-n-pack going on the market for less than $850K, and then you are going to have to out bid overseas investors desperate to launder very deep pockets full of ill-gotten gains, and office-space workers with monopoly money they won in the IPO lotto for a hotel room sized "home" in the soon to be blighted corridor next to the railroad tracks.

Good luck when you get an offer for a real job in Cupertino, but you live in a place that doesn't have any parking places, and doesn't even allow you to own a car. Good luck when the bubble bursts and your friends that were smart enough to buy R1-R2 homes take a 5-10% hit, but you go totally underwater.


11 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 10, 2016 at 6:09 pm

"the rest of the country just laughs at us"
You mean those beacons of progress, intelligence an enlightenment like Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, etc, who would starve if it weren't for the federal tax welfare dollars coming in from California, New York and New England, the states they love so much to ridicule and denigrate?


6 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 10, 2016 at 6:36 pm

Looks like we'll continue to be a construction zone through the foreseeable future, more due to world economic and social pressures rather than whatever council members we've elected.

@Gale, if the incumbents run in 2018, there will be no room for anyone new on council. Reduction to 7 members will result in less expertise on the dais, or more work by each member, or just more reliance on city staff and Citizens Advisory Committees.


17 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 10, 2016 at 6:48 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

@ Jim King "I listened to the candidates."

And of course that is important. However, don't necessarily take at face value everything a candidate says when they are seeking your vote.

Most candidates for council are well known in the community and have a long record of volunteering. When they run for office their positions are usually consistent with what they have said and done in the past. You know where they stand and what you are getting.

However, some candidates have a record which is at odds with with what they say once they decide to run for office. Counting on the majority of people being too busy or not uninterested enough to know what is really going on. With a bit of fact checking you might discover discrepancies yourself. And that doesn't include simply reading the local paper and believing everything you read there. Particularly revealing are the official minutes for the city's Planning and Transportation Commission as well as the Community Advisory Committee for the Comprehensive Plan update. A public record of exactly what a person has said and how they have voted. In their own words.

Also extremely revealing about attitudes and opinions are what some candidates have written on their personal Facebook page, both prior to and while they are running, which you won't find on their official campaign website.

The problem arises when some people become aware that when some candidates decide to run for office they pivot and/or minimize some of their positions. Positions they have held and spoken strongly for up until that point. When a candidate misrepresents their agenda in order to get elected this compromises their integrity because they are not willing to be held accountable for what they intend to do once elected. You don't know what you are getting.


10 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 10, 2016 at 7:57 pm

margaret heath is a registered user.

This next council will vote on Palo Alto's future for the next 15 or 20 years when they sign off on the Comprehensive Plan update next year. Set in stone what, where, how high, and how dense new development will be allowed. And how fast.

During this election campaign the emphasis has been on too many jobs and not enough housing. However, the elephant in the room is office developments. The new council will be made up of a larger group of members whose vision for Palo Alto includes an emphasis on removing restrictions on how fast office space can be built. Because Palo Alto cannot "thrive" and become "vibrant" without a bigger and continuing concentration of offices. This is either to be desired or not, depending on your viewpoint for what kind of town you want to live in. Of course building offices is much more profitable than building houses.


32 people like this
Posted by Pants on fire
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 10, 2016 at 10:08 pm

1.Fine and Tanaka have consistently supported big development on the Planning Commission
2. Neither was a Democrat until a very few months ago in time to get an endorcement.

They changed their public images for the election and people who haven't been paying attention fell for the hype.
Dishonesty from start to finish. That's why they are being criticized. Pants on fire.


2 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 11, 2016 at 8:43 am

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Non resident complaints
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 11, 2016 at 8:50 am

[Post removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by Politics at its worst
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 11, 2016 at 11:54 am

Having lived under different political systems, including dictatorships and pseudo-democracies, here's a similarity I saw at the national and local level in this election:

1. National level: Significant segments of people in red states felt disenfranchised, and voted for a candidate that represented change, giving them hope for better economic prospects and so on, and at the same time attacked the current establishment for its shortcomings. What's ironic is that it was past investment decisions from rich business people like the candidate they voted for that have been eroding their quality of life for some time.

2. Local level: Significant segments of people in Palo Alto complained about housing affordability, and voted for candidates that promised to create more 'affordable' housing, and at the same time attacked long-time residents for not making sacrifices to accommodate more housing units. What's ironic is that the growth policies supported by these candidates in the past are what created a jobs/housing imbalance to begin with, aggravating a housing issue which is prevalent throughout the bay area.

Just like I don't think many of the unhappy people who voted for Trump will benefit from his economic policies, I don't think many of the people in town who voted for the pro-growth candidates will benefit from their housing policies. But I think most of us will suffer from upcoming decisions pushed by the special-interest groups and donors that helped these candidates get elected.

Still hopeful at the local level given that we have some residentialists in the council to enforce checks and balances.


13 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 11, 2016 at 12:03 pm

And on both the local and national level, the big money forces like but not limited to the Chamber of Commerce and Palantir ceo Peter Thiel succeeded in installing their candidates.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2016 at 2:51 pm

GenXer and others are right. A majority is a majority.

On the Planning Commission, the winning candidates espoused eliminating height limits, eliminating the office growth-rate limit, bringing back PC zoning, Big Housing, and Kate “you are incredibly rude” Downing. They were supported by developers and enthusiastically endorsed by the landlord-dominated Chamber of Commerce, which obstructs everything from neighborhood parking relief to a business registry. They are the choice of a majority of Palo Alto voters.

Voters deserve to get what they asked for. I call on this group and all other election winners, at every level in the country, to execute on the agendas their majorities chose them for.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 11, 2016 at 3:10 pm

@Res, the election winners may as well try to herd cats.


24 people like this
Posted by Lisa
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 11, 2016 at 6:29 pm

I'm astounded at the rhetoric of my fellow citizens. How do you bring yourself up during a crushing, heartbreaking week like this one has been to make such accusations? You have two young men, one of whom is talking about a kind and inclusive city, another - about building bridges and bringing people together and a woman who stand with them on issues of housing and transportation for ALL Palo Alto. They won despite money and negativity. They want to serve. Our city desperately need positivity and good ideas and all you can do is focus on your own interests because you don't like the traffic or the offices and want to keep your property value and turn back the clock on a way of life that is never coming back. Wake up. And have the decency to care about others too, at least little bit.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 11, 2016 at 8:07 pm

@Lisa, we're doing other people a favor by keeping them out. Their money goes much further in other cities, they face less congestion elsewhere, less airplane noise, less construction, less stressful high schools, and a less contentious atmosphere. Further development here just attracts global speculators. Oddly half the country may not be regarding this as a "crushing, heartbreaking week". I suppose they aren't deserving of any decency or respect.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2016 at 8:29 pm

It’s not rhetoric, it’s public record. Also nobody who only cares about their property value opposes development and infill; that makes their land worth more, not less.

Rhetoric is things that AREN’T fact: metaphors like “make America great again” that sound uplifting but can really mean anything you want them to, and connect to any policy or action you like.

As for Downing, that’s how she smacked down some guy in Santa Cruz who suggested her high income family might be displacing a lower income family there, also public record.


23 people like this
Posted by Election is over
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 11, 2016 at 8:45 pm

It looks like the people that continue to attack tanaka and fine and continue to attack the choice of the Palo alto voters choose to ignore reality of this election. The PASZ slate was overwhelmingly defeated at the polls. Only 3 neighborhoods went for the slate. Many neighborhoods voted against the PASZ slate by over 20%!!!! This should send a clear message that the vast majority of the residents support the ideas of fine and tanaka.
This also shows that the comments on this forum, in no way, reflect the feelings of the vast majority of resdients.
I am sure that many of the naysayers will disagree with my comments. They are free to cling to their claims however false they may be.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2016 at 9:05 pm

Also I deeply disagree with @musical's metaphor about keeping people out. I don't think anybody is or should be trying to keep anybody out, and I don't think it's a good metaphor.

We're all affected by trends much larger and broader than Palo Alto, and those trends are what make it hard to afford to live here if you don't have a high paying job at a place like Palantir; or if you don't want a condo, since there are basically no more single family homes being built.

How we respond to those trends is a choice, just as with those voters in some other states. We may have believed the metaphor, but what we chose were the policies. Our choice, our city, our country, our world.


11 people like this
Posted by Flipper
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 12, 2016 at 2:25 am

Lisa,

Sometimes politicians lie about who they are, and what they stand for to get elected.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 12, 2016 at 7:51 am

I didn't see a metaphor, but here's one: only 5 percent of applicants get into Stanford. Their wait-list is as hopeless as the wait-list for BMR housing in Palo Alto. Anyone on the outside who'd like to be on the inside will feel like they are being kept out. Maybe if we advertised the downsides, it would relieve some pressure. The pressure itself is a downside. Pressure could be a hydrodynamic metaphor as the driving factor of movement. We won't reach hydrostatic equilibrium until the pressure inside Palo Alto rises to the pressure outside Palo Alto. At any rate, we are indeed affected by larger trends. Globally the pressures are rising on every front, population, resources, climate, ecology, politics. But the sun rose again this morning and I think I'll go take a nice walk.


6 people like this
Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2016 at 12:37 pm

"we're doing other people a favor by keeping them out. Their money goes much further in other cities, they face less congestion elsewhere, less airplane noise, less construction, less stressful high schools, and a less contentious atmosphere"

You're truly doing God's work, I'm absolutely shocked that sort of attitude didn't win out at the ballot box.


Like this comment
Posted by Gnar
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 15, 2016 at 3:29 pm

So glad we're moving away from mindless NIMBYism. As a Palo Alto resident for 30 years, I was thrilled to vote for these 4.

You can't pretend to be a progressive city while actively resisting growth at every turn, foisting that responsibility on to surrounding cities.

We can start by un-throttling traffic on Arastradero and Middlefield, and restoring the hobbled center lanes and making those 4 lane main arteries 35mph, like every other city seems to manage safely.

We can also start teaching our children personal responsibility and how to bike and cross safely instead. Plenty of kids biking to school riding two- and three- abreast over the bike lane line, riding with no hands and having distracted conversations. But somehow, they seem to be able to manage just fine in Mountain View and Sunnyvale.


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