News

Tom DuBois seeks second term

Palo Alto city councilman has been cautious on growth, bullish on tech

Palo Alto City Councilman Tom DuBois, who over the past four years has established himself as a critic of commercial development and a proponent of slow-growth policies, announced Wednesday that he will seek a second term.

DuBois, an Ohio native who works as a product manager at Google, is one of three council members who is eligible for re-election in November. Cory Wolbach, a staunch housing advocate who is on the council's pro-growth majority, had previously announced his intention to seek a fresh term. Vice Mayor Eric Filseth, who was first elected in 2014 along with DuBois and Wolbach, has yet to announce his intention.

In a statement, DuBois said he plans to continue focusing on issues that are "important to residents." These include housing, transparent government and "sensible, balanced growth that considers cumulative impacts to traffic, parks, schools and other city infrastructure."

If re-elected, DuBois will sit on a council that will look markedly different from the one he joined four years ago. The number of seats will shrink from nine to seven after the November election day and two council stalwarts, former mayors Greg Scharff and Karen Holman, will conclude their final terms.

DuBois said he feels that the departure of council veterans Scharff and Holman at the end of this year makes it particularly important to have experience and a "steady hand" on the council next year.

His decision to run could provide a lift to the council's slow-growth or "residentialist" camp, which won council majority after the 2014 election but then lost it in 2016. DuBois, a former member of the citizens group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, is the first candidate from the slow-growth side of the debate to announce his intention to run.

His only challengers so far for the three open seats are Wolbach and Alison Cormack, who spearheaded the city's successful library bond in 2008 and who has already secured the support of Mayor Liz Kniss.

DuBois, by contrast, has been generally aligned in his politics with Holman, Councilwoman Lydia Kou and, at times, Filseth. Last year, he joined Holman in pushing for the city to adopt new renter-protection policies -- a proposal that was ultimately defeated by the council majority. He also joined his growth-cautious colleagues in opposing the relaxation of rules in the city's annual office cap, including allowing developers to roll over unused square footage from one year to another.

To that end, he supports a citizen initiative that would roughly cut by half the total amount of office development allowed citywide between now and 2030. The current Comprehensive Plan includes a citywide cap of 1.7 million square feet; the initiative, which is being spearheaded by former Vice Mayor Greg Schmid, would set the cap at 850,000 square feet.

DuBois told the Weekly that he wholeheartedly supports the citizen initiative, for which he helped gather signatures.

"I think the initiative is well-considered," DuBois said. "It's not no-growth, but it's a reasonable amount of growth based on the historic average of the city. We should just put it to the voters."

DuBois said he also would like to push for programs that would convert office space to housing, a method that would address two key issues: the large number of commuting workers and the scarcity of housing. He specifically would like the city to focus on "affordable housing" and supports establishing a clear production target for below-market-rate housing. He said he would like to see 10 percent of the city's housing stock be affordable housing, up from the current level of about 8 percent.

A former tech CEO and senior manager, DuBois has also been deeply engaged in the city's efforts to expand its fiber network and to plan for grade separation on the rail corridor. Last year, he chaired the council's Rail Committee. He said he was heartened by the council's decision Tuesday night to create a community stakeholder group that would help guide the city toward a preferred alternative by the end of this year.

DuBois said in a statement that it's been "a real honor to serve the people of Palo Alto."

"My priority has never wavered -- to focus on the residents' quality of life in order to create the future we want for Palo Alto," DuBois said. "How we grow is a choice and the voters deserve to know where each candidate stands on key development issues.

"I have been an open book - I have voted exactly how I've told people I would."

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Comments

16 people like this
Posted by Seelam Prabhakar Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on May 30, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Seelam Prabhakar Reddy is a registered user.

Tom is an excellent council member.
I support him.

He did say something about current mayor Liz Kniss campaign investigation before mayor election in Feb 2018.

I thought it was a cheap shot.

Other than that, he is very analytical savvy stanford and Palo Alto expert. He will serve well.

Respectfully


104 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 30, 2018 at 2:15 pm

Thank you Tom Du Bois for be willingly to do the hard work on City Council for another term!

Tom is just the kind of person we need most on Council; intelligent, clear headed, hard working and very principled.

Especially with Councilwoman Holman Leaving, we really need DuBois to keep the city council on the right track.
Far to often Council members say one thing to get elected and once on the dais vote the opposite way.

Go Tom!!!


98 people like this
Posted by ritavrhel
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 30, 2018 at 2:34 pm

Thank you Tom. You have my financial support and I will work for your campaign.

The pro-development City Council is ruining Palo Alto with over development, under parking and minimal concern for the cumulative effects of their actions.

Now taxes are being requested; Palo Altans will again be asked to pay for more than their fair share.

Tom asks good questions, does not come to the meeting with his mind already made up as to how he will vote, is respectful and inclusive. Tom is for more balanced growth. He has my vote!

Please join me in supporting Tom for re-election to the City Council.


6 people like this
Posted by Tom Lacks Judgement
a resident of Community Center
on May 30, 2018 at 2:42 pm

Tom, is at best a mediocre council member. He chaired the Rail committee last year and nothing was achieved. He lacks leadership skills and has trouble making decisions that move the City forward. After chairing the rail committee he rented a house within 500 feet of a grade crossing knowing or should have knowing he would likely not be allowed to participate in of of the most important discussions in Palo Alto. Tom holds himself out as pro housing, but he got involved in politics by fighting an affordable senior housing project. Hopefully Palo Alto will have better options this fall. If you look at Toms voting record, even when he was in the majority he can't accomplish anything and now is fairly marginalized on council by his own choosing.


65 people like this
Posted by member
a resident of Barron Park
on May 30, 2018 at 2:50 pm

Glad Schraff's is term limited


84 people like this
Posted by Paul
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 30, 2018 at 2:59 pm

Yes! Great news. Tom has my full support!


83 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2018 at 3:13 pm

This is great news! Tom DuBois is a smart, principled City Council member, and deserves to be re-elected. He sometimes even manages to work across the rigid divide of this most disaffected Council seen in decades, doing so with good humor and negotiation skills. His concern regarding renters (44% of PA residents) sets him head and shoulders above faux-housing candidate Cory Wolbach who actually just wants new development with no concern about renter displacement). Tom's intelligence and concern for residents on the Rail Committee was appreciated, and that he was outvoted was hardly his fault. Thank goodness for Palo Alto - Tom DuBois is running again for City Council!


85 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2018 at 3:36 pm

There may be candidates who lack judgement, but it isn't Tom. Tom is good.


79 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on May 30, 2018 at 3:38 pm

Annette is a registered user.

That nothing happened when Tom was chair of the Rail Committee is hardly his fault. As with most things, action will happen as deadlines draw near. It will be interesting to see who jockeys for the lead position so as to take credit for any progress that is made. Gotta love politics, the ultimate "me" sport.

I am glad Tom has decided to re-up. He's ethical, invariably prepared, and open-minded - all traits that are badly needed but often in short supply.


68 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 30, 2018 at 3:44 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

The first post here reminds me to ask whatever happened with the investigation of Liz Kniss. Did the county ever return their findings?


82 people like this
Posted by Arthur Keller
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 30, 2018 at 3:54 pm

Arthur Keller is a registered user.

We need Tom to continue on the Council as an experienced voice of reason. I wholehearted support his re-election.


79 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on May 30, 2018 at 4:33 pm

Tom is a genuine Residentialist, the real article.

By contrast, Cory Wohbach is a four-years-proven Developmentalist. Let's be ready if he brings his residentialist costume out of the closet to get himself re-elected.


62 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 30, 2018 at 4:55 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Not only will Cory Wolbach bring out his residentialist custom out while campaigning for re elections, but the same voters who believe that he and Liz Kniss are residentialists will vote for him again. It seems like you can fool some people all the time.


69 people like this
Posted by Neilson Buchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on May 30, 2018 at 4:58 pm

I can write many supportive words about Tom but two words stand out. Tom is balanced and informed. Tom is and will be a great Councillsperson!


50 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 30, 2018 at 6:46 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"Informed" is a great way to describe Tom. I'm horrified at some on the council who merely spout platitudes and don't bother to inform themselves about the issues on which they're voting or bother to find good answers to taxpayers' concerns.

I'll never forget Corey's response during the ADU meeting.Someone asked him where all the new tenants' cars would park and since parking has long been a major problem.

He got flustered, paused for about 45 seconds and finally said, "They can park on the front lawns."

We need elected officials like Tom who'll listen to residents and do their homework re informed solutions and compromises.


35 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 30, 2018 at 6:50 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Re complaints about Tom on the rail committee, remember Corey currently chairs the Rail and Transportation Committee where they're on the 3d consultant to the tune of about $3,000,000.


65 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on May 30, 2018 at 7:18 pm

"Not only will Cory Wolbach bring out his residentialist custom out while campaigning for re elections, but the same voters who believe that he and Liz Kniss are residentialists will vote for him again. It seems like you can fool some people all the time."

Yeah, but it's much harder to fool informed people. Get the Wohbach Word out: DEVELOPER. Wohbach has a record. Let's make sure voters know about it.


7 people like this
Posted by DuBois does nothing
a resident of Midtown
on May 30, 2018 at 8:19 pm

Tom DuBois has done nothing on housing and transportation! It’s aleays just “more study” “data driven decisions” and his silly obsession with fiber internet! I want councilors who actually make positive changes


48 people like this
Posted by Suzanne Keehn
a resident of Barron Park
on May 30, 2018 at 8:34 pm

So glad you are running again Tom. I totally agree with all the
positive comments others have made, and will certainly help support you.


46 people like this
Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on May 30, 2018 at 9:42 pm

Fred Balin is a registered user.

Welcome news.


55 people like this
Posted by Greg Schmid
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 30, 2018 at 9:54 pm

Greg Schmid is a registered user.

This is great news that Tom is running again. He is concerned about issues that affect the quality of resident's lives, experienced in the details of local government, and willing to do the hard work of looking at the consequences of each decision made. Best of luck, Tom.
Greg Schmid


57 people like this
Posted by Patrick Burt
a resident of Community Center
on May 31, 2018 at 10:13 am

Patrick Burt is a registered user.

Thanks to Tom for his willingness to serve our community for another four years. His dedication to our community is especially appreciated given his additional responsibilities as a parent and tech executive.
Having served side by side with Tom, he stands out as an official who is thoughtful, even tempered, studious and selfless. We are fortunate to have someone fully motivated by his commitment to serving the community rather than personal or political ambition. His style is soft spoken and determined, focused on listening to the community and doing the job effectively.
Whether or not I agree with him on every issue, he has demonstrated the we can rely on him to act with integrity. He cares about all members of our community, renters and homeowners, affluent and those in need.
While we will all benefit from the experience and growth he has gained over the last four years on the council, he has shown that the values and priorities he promised as a candidate are the same ones he will live up to after the election, traits that we should hope for and expect from all officials.


13 people like this
Posted by JCP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 31, 2018 at 10:49 am

JCP is a registered user.

I support Tom but am somewhat skeptical about his commitment to neighborhoods. Sounds like he is being fooled by Castilleja into thinking their expansion plans won't impact the neighborhood. Some leadership around this issue would be welcomed. Castilleja wants to remove setbacks along Embarcadero which could impact utilities and traffic for generations.


36 people like this
Posted by pares
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 31, 2018 at 11:03 am

Agree with all the positive comments

Tom listens and we really need his experience on the council.

No experiments this election



35 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 31, 2018 at 11:11 am

Yay, Tom! Great to hear, we need the council members who are not"on the take."

Fun recollection by Online Name, above:
Corey's response during the ADU meeting. Someone asked him where all the new tenants' cars would park and since parking has long been a major problem.

He got flustered, paused for about 45 seconds and finally said, "They can park on the front lawns."


20 people like this
Posted by Long time residenrs
a resident of College Terrace
on May 31, 2018 at 2:07 pm

We totally support Tom.
We need more caring council members like Tom.


4 people like this
Posted by Another Voice
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 31, 2018 at 2:29 pm

Tom folded when it came time to support the neighbors/residents opposed to the granting of a CUP to the First Baptist Church. While the permit was granted with modifications that made it more of a win for the neighbors than the church, he didn't vote for any proposals made by Holman or Kou, both of whom favored the residents plight and would have resulted in tougher restrictions on the church.


10 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on May 31, 2018 at 3:03 pm

just want to correct a point that has come up here a couple of times... some people are claiming that Wolbach suggested that people park in their front yards. What he actually said was "they should be able to park in the front set-back".

This means that they should be able to park in the driveway, in front of any garage structure. The technical term for the area in the front of a house, where most homes have driveways, is the "front-yard setback." Last year, City Council changed their rules to allow people to count their driveway in the front of their homes (that is, technically, in the "front yard setback") as parking, so that if they convert a garage to an ADU, they will still have a legitimate place to park. Most people already use their driveways to park, and Council was acknowledging that.

Nobody said that people should park in their front lawns.


34 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 31, 2018 at 3:53 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Eric, why would he have had to think long and hard about giving people and their new tenants permission to park in their driveways or in front of their garages? People have long been parking in their driveways and in front of their garages.

But for the sake of argument, let's say he said what you claim. How does that even begin to address ADU parking problems when streets are already over-parked?

Please did up a clip of his response, preferably one that shows the cc audience's reaction to his statement.

We need thoughtful cc members who've done their homework and can solve problems.


26 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on May 31, 2018 at 4:10 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

The front setback as defined by zoning ordinance has nothing to do with the driveway or the location of a garage (if any exists). It's the minimum required distance between the front property line and the closest wall of the main building on the property. For residential lots, the front setback area is part or all of the front yard. Could we get some further clarification on what Cory actually said?


37 people like this
Posted by susana
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 31, 2018 at 4:57 pm

So Eric Rosenblum, a Planning Commissioner, does not realize that parking in the "front set-back" = parking in the front yard?
Amazing.


43 people like this
Posted by Stepheny McGraw
a resident of Midtown
on May 31, 2018 at 5:19 pm

Tom is an asset to the City Council, showing reason and pragmatism. The pace of growth in Palo Alto which has been pushed forward by Mayor Kniss and Cory Wohlbach is unsustainable for our quality of life. We need better strategies and better strategists on the council than we've seen from the proponents of sky high growth.


30 people like this
Posted by Eric Filseth
a resident of Downtown North
on May 31, 2018 at 10:39 pm

Tom has been an exceptionally thoughtful, competent and even-tempered councilmember, who has no agenda beyond serving the residents of Palo Alto. He exemplifies the notion that City Council is a Civic function and not a Political one.

As a councilmember I've found it a privilege to work with him these last three years, and as a Palo Altan I'm grateful for his commitment to serving us.


25 people like this
Posted by Rich Willits
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 1, 2018 at 1:05 pm

I am so glad Tom is willing to serve again. He listens, and works carefully within the system toward the best results for those who live in Palo Alto. As Pat mentioned, Tom is in it to serve the community.

Thank you, Tom, and Pat.


Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 29, 2018 at 7:54 am

I would say with due respect that Tom and Eric are redundant on council and voters would be well advised to choose among them and then broaden the debate a little bit by picking someone on the left. Does Palo Alto have progressive voters?


4 people like this
Posted by @Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2018 at 8:18 am


You mean Ocazio Cortes voters?

Sure we do, and there’s always been a menu of options to choose from for Council

I disagree that voting should be a block thing but if that is the formula then there is no such thing as redundant

We’ve been suffering the current pack of 5, all the same. Let’s give the minority a chance


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

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