News

Editorial: Unprecedented obfuscation

After a debate filled with disingenuous comments, council turns its back on renters

In what may be remembered as a new low point for a Palo Alto City Council with many previous low points over the last two years, the council bickered late into the night Monday over whether one of its committees should even discuss rent-stabilization strategies among other means of addressing the plight of renters in the city.

Every resident of Palo Alto who cares about the quality of their representation should devote an hour to watching the council's "discussion," which begins just before the five-hour mark of its Sept. 10 meeting.

It is a perfect illustration of how much animosity has developed between some council members and the ways in which honest debate is being highjacked by opaque political maneuvering.

The issue under consideration was a proposal by council members Tom DuBois, Karen Holman, Lydia Kou and Cory Wolbach to have the council refer to its Policy and Services Committee the topic of how the city might strengthen "protections" for renters.

In what he proudly described as a "compromise" reached over the summer after opposing a similar action last October, Wolbach agreed to join with the others in proposing the referral, which directed the committee to "at least" review the city's existing ordinances that provide protections to renters and comparable ordinances in the Bay Area; evaluate relocation-assistance requirements when renters are displaced; consider how to improve enforcement of the city's current requirement that landlords offer a one-year lease; and consider other "updates" to existing renter protections.

As discussion began, DuBois proposed adding a sentence to clarify that the committee's discussion should include the "full range" of possible rental protections, including rent-stabilization measures such as caps on rent increases or other forms of rent control. According to DuBois, that had been the intent of the four when they agreed to co-author the council-colleagues memo.

What followed was a concerted effort by Scharff, Wolbach and Fine to not only defeat DuBois' proposed addition but to accuse him of reneging on an agreement (Wolbach), introducing fear into the discussion (Wolbach), radically changing the proposal (Fine), turning a non-divisive issue into a divisive one (Scharff), misleading his colleagues (Fine), being extraordinarily disingenuous (Fine) and trying to exclude newcomers to the community in the way some are trying to keep immigrants from coming to the United States (Scharff).

Eventually, DuBois' amendment failed on a 4-4 vote, with Tanaka joining Wolbach, Scharff and Fine against Kou, Holman, Filseth and DuBois on the other side. (Mayor Liz Kniss left the meeting stating she had a conflict because she owns rental property.) Later, on a 7-1 vote with Tanaka opposing, the council sent the matter to its policy committee, which Fine chairs, with clear direction that it was not to consider rent stabilization.

Wolbach cast himself as the pragmatist who was simply looking for a compromise that could actually pass the council by steering clear of any consideration of rent control. That reasoning lost its credibility, however, when Wolbach himself stated that he had understood the original proposal to not explicitly prohibit the committee from considering all forms rent-stabilization measures and a strong statement that he wants the council to "tackle" tough issues.

Scharff argued against DuBois' amendment, stating that it was an "emotional" and divisive topic, but then proposed his own amendment to have the committee consider applying any recommended new rental protections to properties with as few as two rental units rather than the five proposed by DuBois and his three colleagues. That change, which passed, drastically expands the number of potential property owners affected and is a cynical attempt to increase emotion and opposition to tougher measures. It also, perhaps intentionally, may result in Holman and Tanaka joining Kniss as conflicted out of participating in the future due to owning rental units.

So which is it? Do we tackle tough issues or do we avoid a discussion because it is too emotional or controversial?

With renters occupying almost half of the dwelling units in Palo Alto and soaring rents threatening the economic diversity of our city, the council needs to step up and be open to the full range of options. Limiting future discussion to only the least controversial and the least impactful means of helping renters is an abdication of leadership.

Whether rent caps or other versions of rent control should be adopted in Palo Alto is, hopefully, a debate for another day. But four council members, Scharff, Wolbach, Fine and Tanaka, did everything they could to prevent even a discussion of those options in the future.

By only being willing to study the most modest renter protections, the council is inviting a political revolt with far-reaching social, political and electoral consequences. Council members had a chance Monday night to frame and guide a full and open debate and sadly showed they weren't up to the task.

Editor's note: The editorial has been updated to reflect that Karen Holman was one of the four authors of the colleague's memo, not Eric Filseth.

---

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

Comments

79 people like this
Posted by Let's Help Renters
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 14, 2018 at 1:13 am

Excellent editorial. Wolbach and the other pro-developer councilmembers revealed whom they really care about last Monday night. And it's not renters.

The opposition to rent control keeps saying it will increase crime, curtail new housing (as if much is being built anyway), create blight, and lead to soaring rents. But then why work so hard to avoid studying it? If what they say is true, their claims should be easy to prove.

The truth is that Wolbach and his faction on the Council know too well that rent control will prove to be a popular and successful way to help tens of thousands of Palo Alto renters. But the wealthy property owners who back those councilmembers just don't want it. And so we get hours of inane council antics trying to squash it.

Renters who supported Wolbach, Fine, and Tanaka are waking up to discover they backed the wrong candidates.


56 people like this
Posted by this election
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2018 at 2:55 am

The Editorial is excellent.

Scharff should step up and correct this. But I won't hold my breath - it's looking like greedy developers have succeeded with their proxies and giving people heartburn with Fine is part of the plan.

Last call, if this Wolbach-Fine (Kniss and her crew) circus is given another chance this election, I think it will be the end of Palo Alto as I have come to know it.


49 people like this
Posted by Rent control is bad policy
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 14, 2018 at 6:33 am

Rent control is very bad public policy and the Weekly’s strong support of rent control is misguided to say the least. We are so lucky to have council members that realize how much damage rent control will do to Palo Alto over the long term. Thank you Scharff, Fine , Kniss, Tanaka and Wolbach.


38 people like this
Posted by SRB
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 14, 2018 at 7:13 am

SRB is a registered user.

"trying to exclude newcomers to the community in the way some are trying to keep immigrants from coming to the United States (Scharff)."

Such a shameful and disgusting attack line by this Council Member; especially if you consider that immigrant renters are most vulnerable to landlord intimidation.

Also a very slippery analogy for him to use. After all, wouldn't his positions then make him a strong advocate of capricious no cause deportation or de-naturalization?


40 people like this
Posted by Really, weekly???
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2018 at 7:19 am

You know it is funny that these editorials by the weekly never come prior to the event happening, i.e. the issue of what happens to renters has been an issue for years, yet we never heard a word from the weekly. Now that Holman, Filseth, DuBois and Kuo come out in favor of “protecting” renters, the Weekly suddenly publishes an editorial supporting their stance. this happens all too often—the PASZ 4 come out on an issue and the weekly writes an editorial supporting their stance and bashing the rest of the council. Do the math here and I am sure you can figure out what is going on.
And let’s look at the current President Hotel residents that need ‘protection”. Are they really that destitute and unable to afford to move anywhere else? Let’s be honest, this is another example of the squeaky wheel in Palo Alto—and naturally certain members of the council who really never cared about renters before suddenly gets all worked up on how the “poor” residents of the President Hotel are being treated. And of course the weekly is ordered to chime in with a one-sided editorial on the matter.
And if renters are so important, then why the constant opposition to building housing by the PASZ 4? Look at other proposed housing developments that they have opposed. Now they claim to care about renters???
Now the weekly speaks out for renters???? Please, spare me the 2-faced hypocrisy.


44 people like this
Posted by Rent Control Hurts Renters
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 14, 2018 at 7:35 am

Almost all economists agree that rent control is bad public policy. Paul Krugman the nobel prize winning economists and a progressive has on numerous occasions pointed out that rent control is bad public policy. Rent control in California takes off the market all buildings built before 1995. These typically are the lower priced units and work force housing of a community. These are the units our kids would rent with roomates when they graduate from college, get there first job and apartment. These units will no longer be available. The effect of this is to drive up the rents on all other post 1995 apartments making them even more unaffordable. This means that if you don't already have a rent controlled apartment you can't rent. Rent control incentivizes people not to move. So there commutes are longer and traffic is worse for everyone


26 people like this
Posted by Anon1AWG
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 14, 2018 at 7:56 am

Thank you thank you weekly for your honesty and directness


53 people like this
Posted by Watcher
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 14, 2018 at 8:10 am

Cory Wolbach is playing with people's lives, in this case, renters in Palo Alto. The original colleagues' memo by DuBois, Holman and Kou wanted an all inclusive study of renter protections which included rent stabilization and just cause evictions. Wolbach only wants to study what Palo Alto's current rent protection law states and to enforce it. But, how does enforcement happen when this government culture does not believe in enforcement???

[Portion removed.]

But, Wolbach is part of the cronyism that continues to play with people's lives and sell off Palo Alto chunk by chunk to developers.

Wolbach social justice advocacy is FAKE, fake, fake. He pushed for a policy to have a resolution to reaffirm Palo Alto's commitment to be a Diverse, Supportive, Inclusive and Protective Community (Resolution 9653, but his actions do not support.

Wolbach has instead acted for the displacement of Palo Alto residents, some who have lived here over a decade and have contributed to this community and city.


31 people like this
Posted by Investor/Landlord Greed
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 14, 2018 at 8:10 am

Investor/landlords are basing their rental rates on a fixed % of over inflated midpensinsula home/apartment property values.

As the property values continue to rise, they continue to increase the rent.

Why not just rely on the natural growth of their property's value and price the rents more reasonable? Unless of course, they want to have it both ways...which is what most do.

Greed rears its ugly head again.








28 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2018 at 8:11 am

Does Cormack stand with her patrons Kniss and Wolbach and oppose meaningful renter protections?


49 people like this
Posted by Transparency
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 14, 2018 at 8:47 am

This isn't "yet" a debate on rent control. As the Weekly points out it was mere a debate on what to discuss. Limiting discussion is through personal attacks, obfuscation, misdirection, hypocritical motions - it's the most divise form of government and strikes at the heart of an open, trusted government. Our local council has largely avoided diviseness for diviseness's sake but this meeting absolutely went too far. Scharff can not be the lamest of lame ducks too soon for me. The damage these folks are doing to our institution is troubling and cynical.

We need grown-ups on Council. Thoughtful members who can debate the facts, look honestly at what other cities in the Bay area are doing, and then make decisions. Don't be fooled by emotional posters making this about rent control. This discussion was about open government


31 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 14, 2018 at 8:51 am

Cornack’s position will be interesting. She has avoided making her positions transparent to date, other than saying that the recent office cap would limit our freedoms. That seems potentially revealing about her political philosophy and how it would translate into city policies.
I hope all of the candidates are pushed to take positions on this and other important issues. We have had too many candidates rentals who portrayed themselves one way and then flipped once in office.


31 people like this
Posted by Opaque political maneuvering
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 14, 2018 at 9:21 am

...by the Palo Alto Weekly! This "paper" is hopelessly biassed, always siding with whatever PASZ, Pat Burt, and Tom DuBois do for the week.

@Editors - did you even bother to read who actually wrote the memo? Eric Filseth did not; Karen Holman did. But that's ok because putting Eric Filseth on the "right side" of this issue helps his election chances


35 people like this
Posted by Study the issues
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 14, 2018 at 10:06 am

I am glad we have a seasoned council member (Scharff) and a young council member (Fine) who both recognize the pitfalls and dangers of rent control. It is eminently bad policy, and that has been established over and over. Scharff and Fine both made reasonable, evidenced arguments agains the policy.

It's really sad to see the slow growth group grab onto this idea as a way to protect renters. I think it's more of a political ploy to 1) make their colleagues look callous and uncaring, and 2) if rent control passes, there will be no more new housing, so the slow growthers will have accomplished their mission.

I found this editorial off-putting, vain, and childish. Once you start "discussing" something like rent control, it doesn't go away. It's like Pandora's Box, except worse in that it immediately scares off anyone considering a new housing project. The Weekly needs to get back to basics and study the issues before taking an obviously political stance.


41 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 14, 2018 at 10:07 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"Whether rent caps or other versions of rent control should be adopted in Palo Alto is, hopefully, a debate for another day. But four council members, Scharff, Wolbach, Fine and Tanaka, did everything they could to prevent even a discussion of those options in the future."

Why are they so eager to attack "opponents" and so reluctant to deal with real issues? I'm so tired of hearing denials that we have traffic problems after wasting $40,000, 000 on traffic "diets" and magical thinking about under-parked, car-light developments when we don't even have an accurate count of city employees.

When the city can't/won't even do simple thing like count the number of employees over-running our town, it's high time to vote out all the pro-development-at-any-cost crowd.

It's also high time for an updated tally of political contributions for CC and for the Peninsula Open Space District.


25 people like this
Posted by Bait and Switch
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2018 at 10:32 am

This is an unfair editorial, It's actually hypocritical.

The discussion turned ugly when DuBois maneuvered a bait and switch move by proposing rent control and just cause eviction to be included in the memo. Council members reacted to that sneaky manipulation by calling foul.

DuBois and his allies set the antagonistic tone. This editorial should have focused on their lack of transparency instead of attacking those who rejected his deceitful tactics.


37 people like this
Posted by this election
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2018 at 10:38 am

Whoever keeps referring to Paul Krugman, his assumptions were based on looking at San Francisco and that by ending rent control in SF somehow a lot of slumlord buildings would get built.

Krugman's ruminations about rent control in San Francisco are simply N/A *not applicable" to Palo Alto. Krugman's rumination also failed to consider the regional housing crisis and unique issues Palo Alto faces about costs such as traffic.

Fine, Wolbach and Scharff are not even protecting future residents as they seem to claim, they are protecting *prospective* slumlords of mass housing in their Monopoly game.

Current renters are our neighbors, friends, friends of our kids, teachers coaches, and people who sacrifice by paying *premium rents* in Palo Alto including living in small outdated spaces. Current renters are longtime residents and I expect a serious debate instead of the circus from Fine/Wolbach/Scharff etc.


19 people like this
Posted by this election
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2018 at 10:45 am

Study,

"I am glad we have a seasoned council member (Scharff) and a young council member (Fine) who both recognize the pitfalls and dangers of rent control. It is eminently bad policy, and that has been established over and over. Scharff and Fine both made reasonable, evidenced arguments agains the policy."

Why would anyone who supposedly has evidenced arguments be afraid of an open debate?

I hope you are not referring to Krugman's NYT article on a totally different situation as the evidence for not having an open debate.


24 people like this
Posted by Really, weekly???
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2018 at 10:49 am

"DuBois and his allies set the antagonistic tone. This editorial should have focused on their lack of transparency instead of attacking those who rejected his deceitful tactics.”

AN independent newspaper would have called out DuBois for his actions. However, I think we all know that the Weekly has been in PASZ’s pocket for a long, long time. There have been consistent attempts to use the editorial pages to attack and smear Kniss, Wolbach, Fine, Tanaka and Scharf, while singing the praises of the do-no-wrong PASZ 4. I can hardly wait until the weekly endorsements for city council come out. However , I think we all now whom the Weekly will endorse.


79 people like this
Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 14, 2018 at 11:15 am

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

Monday evening was a frustrating discussion. Some commenters imply that those voting for housing and for renters are somehow against them.

It's wrong to play political football with the plight of displaced renters. Facing a room full of landlords Monday night, Cory abandoned his earlier promise to allow a public debate of controversial renter reforms.

When Councilmember Wolbach signed on to the colleagues memo, he and I discussed that council discussion should consider the full range of renter protections available in California including a discussion about just cause evictions and yes, rent stabilization. He agreed and suggested we remove mentioning those items in the memo explicitly in order to get Council support, but that they would be included.

After the memo was submitted, Councilmember Wolbach spoke publicly multiple times saying the memo prevented discussing just cause eviction and rent control, contrary to our prior discussion. So Monday, I felt it was necessary to be clear with my colleagues and the citizens on exactly what would be discussed and I added language making the topics explicit. This has been painted as some form of betrayal but the exact opposite is true - I and the other authors of the memo were betrayed.

The motion I made is below. I've been following what other bay area cities are doing and my position is open as to what set of protections would work well for both renters and property owners - I believe some protections would help but deeper analysis and discussion must occur.

I do believe we have a moral obligation to at least be able to discuss the spectrum of options. Council members Kou, Holman and Filseth agreed, with Eric changing his mind on the topic from last year and voting for it.


My voting record on housing is clear (I've voted for nearly every housing proposal to come to council) and I stand by it. I do what I say. I've never uttered the worlds "while I am for this I'm going to vote against it". One council member apologized to me privately for some of his comments Monday night and I accepted his apology. Personal integrity on council is important. And I believe it is critical that we, as council members, represent ALL residents of Palo Alto, including renters.

My Motion from Monday

Council refer this memo to the Policy and Services Committee for review. The review should include at least the following:

i. Review of our existing renter protection ordinance and comparable ordinances in Bay Area.

ii. Evaluate reasonable relocation assistance to be provided for tenants of properties with 5 or more units displaced due to change of use, sizable rental increases or eviction without just cause, while protecting the fair rights of property owners.

iii. Strengthened enforcement measures to ensure compliance with and penalties for violations of Palo Alto’s existing requirement to offer an annual lease to tenants.

iv. Consider other updates to our existing renter protections and mediation program as needed to continue a healthy and diverse community.

v. Discuss the full range of renter protections. Discussion topics to include just cause evictions and rent stabilization among other protections.


68 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 14, 2018 at 11:24 am

Thanks Tom. It's important for people to know the truth about Wolbach. Somehow he got the idea that being an elected official means that integrity is optional, especially if inconvenient - it's just "politics." Maybe that's true in some places, but it shouldn't be here.


17 people like this
Posted by Really, weekly???
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2018 at 12:19 pm

Tom Dubois is obviously running for reelection. Reading his post above, toy would think he rode in on his white horse to save renters. While wolboch is evil. Sorry, tom, but I do not buy your position. You never expressed concern for renters and now got are all worried up about a group of people who can clearly move somewhere else and want you to get them some money
I take what you with a grain of salt. Remember your attempt to scare people with the grocery outlet sign? Never came to pass.


44 people like this
Posted by Renter with rent control
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 14, 2018 at 12:38 pm

In all of this discussion there's not been one voice experiencing rent control here, so I'll chime in.

I live in a rent controlled unit in East Palo Alto, which has a strong and effective law. I work in Palo Alto and serve your residents. If I did not have this unit at the price I pay I would not be living or working here, or to keep my job I would likely have to live in a van like the other RV dwellers on El Camino creating the eyesore you all hate.

I do my job well, so people tell me I am an asset to your community although I don't have a job that society values enough to pay me a living wage to sustain me here without rent control.

The so-called "experts" who "study" rent control make a bogus claim that it is harmful by keeping people from moving out and reducing the housing stock, which raises costs on other units. The people have to live somewhere, so even in an earlier time when rents were more equitable and rent control wasn't necessary, they would likely still be living there and not moving anyway because of their wages.

The real reasons behind the rental inflation are greed, speculation, population and a lack of new housing. Investors bought up many houses and drove up the costs so that most people can't buy. There's thousands of new workers here and no increase in housing supply. People who might have bought before now rent and that drove up rentals, plus there's all of the new tech workers who now need places to rent.

Study EPA's rent control. It is sensible and is the only saving grace. When someone moves out the price of the unit goes up to market rate, so that means there are many less affordable places even here now, but the landlord gets their increase and the existing tenants get protection.

What gets lost in all of this is LIVES. and whether you care about that.


42 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 14, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"Tom Dubois is obviously running for reelection."

As is Cory Wolbach, As is Greg Scharff for the board of Peninsula Open Space even though he's already a VP at ABAG which is pushing for LESS Open Space.

As for this being "unprecedented" -- insults vs substantive discussions, political attacks, rushed decisions, misleading city-funded polls re the office cap, the lack of "civility" etc. -- hardly. It's been the unfortunate modus operandi for too long.

We the voters and residents deserve much better.


22 people like this
Posted by Renter with rent control
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 14, 2018 at 12:56 pm

I just want to add that I really don't think there's an alternative now except to add rent control. The situation is too far out of hand and there's no way to catch up fast enough on the housing and no will to build.


61 people like this
Posted by Steve Dabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 14, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Steve Dabrowski is a registered user.

Cormack and Wolbach are probably going to carry the day and it will be a disaster for Palo Alto. The whole developer sponsored council will approve every half baked office building and stack and pack housing application that comes before them. Both Wolbach and Cormack are stealth candidates who only emit platitudes and "let's all get along" bromides to get elected. This is the Kniss formula for keeping a low profile and appealing tho those who don't mind seeing Palo Alto turned into Santana Row as long as everyone is polite while doing so.

For a preview of what these people will do to Palo Alto just take a drive up San Antonio from Alma to El Camino and behold the future with your own eyes.


20 people like this
Posted by Lichen
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 14, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Lichen is a registered user.

Alison Cormack is endorsed by Mayor Kniss, and Council members Fine and Scharff per Web Link

I couldn't find any info. on her site about renter protections.


59 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 14, 2018 at 12:58 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

Tom DuBois, you are that rare animal in politics: an honest person who tells the people of Palo Alto straight-up what his positions are. I applaud you for your views about protecting Palo Alto renters. My ox is not being gored in this discussion since I bought my house in 1982 and am very fortunate to have done so. But it's outrageous that political maneuvering prevents any consideration for the over 40% of our Palo Alto citizens and their ability to continue to stay in our community.


33 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 14, 2018 at 12:59 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@Resident wrote "Somehow he got the idea that being an elected official means that integrity is optional, especially if inconvenient . . . "

One need only look at who he usually aligns with and who has mentored him to figure out where he got the idea.

Monday's meeting was awful, an embarrassment, and alarmingly similar to what has become SOP in our nation's capitol. I used to think we were better than that but it's pretty clear we are not.

What I don't understand is the stubborn refusal to even discuss the issue of rent control. Ideation can lead to creative problem solving. Even if rent control per se is off the table, talking about it might lead to an approach that will work.


21 people like this
Posted by Completely backwards
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 14, 2018 at 1:00 pm

I watched this meeting on Monday night and this article gets it completely backwards. The 4 authors of this memo (Kou Holman DuBois and Wolbach) proposed exploring renter protections which were spelled out in the memo: 1 year leases and relocation payments. Fair enough.

DuBois opened up the discussion by saying this memo does not include rent control. He then proceeded to make a motion that included the memo PLUS rent control and just cause evictions. He lied to his colleagues in writing the memo and when speaking on the dais. Council members Kou and Holman happily went along, but then Wolbach - who CO-WROTE THE MEMO - said to DuBois that this is not what they had agreed upon. Let me repeat that: one of the authors of the memo said that DuBois’s addition is not what they had intended.

And that’s when things went downhill. You have DuBois to thank for this mess, but as usual, the weekly could care less when DuBois or other slow growth council members throw process and transparency out the window. (Office cap edit, anyone?). That the weekly attacks Wolbach Fine and Scharff for calling out this lack of transparency and deception is really vile.


31 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 14, 2018 at 1:02 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

I am glad to hear about Alison Cormack being a Kniss clone. I admired her work on getting the new Mitchell Park library moving forward.

But I don't plan to vote for anyone who will vote with the pro-growth group.


29 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 14, 2018 at 1:51 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@Completely backwards - please accept this as a question, not a rebuttal or challenge to what you wrote. What's wrong/incorrect/bad about a Councilmember proposing an addition to a memo? Is that not an available tool for reaching a result? Proposals can be accepted or rejected. That's normal. Win some, lose some. What's not normal - or what shouldn't be normal even though it seems to be taking root here - is the vilification of a Councilmember for making a proposal.

It seems more and more like we are seeing the campaign being played out on the dais rather than seeing City business being accomplished there. It's sobering and discouraging to pay attention to civics in this town of ours.


32 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 14, 2018 at 1:54 pm

"Let me repeat that: one of the authors of the memo said that DuBois’s addition is not what they had intended."

See DuBois' post above. He says, in detail, that it was *exactly* what was intended and agreed upon, and that Wolbach started saying otherwise, prompting DuBois to clarify with an amendment. He is basically saying Wolbach lied to him and the others. I appreciate his candor.


22 people like this
Posted by Margaret Heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 14, 2018 at 3:15 pm

Margaret Heath is a registered user.

Dear Editorial Board,

Please correct the fourth paragraph. Karen Holman was one of the authors of this memo and her name has been omitted.

Thank you


21 people like this
Posted by Margaret Heath
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 14, 2018 at 3:55 pm

Margaret Heath is a registered user.

Greg Scharff proposed an amendment that reduced the number of units to be covered by renter protections from 5 to 2. The intent of increased protections for renters was to include rental properties that are owned by property companies. Not directed at homeowners who might have a couple of units they rent out such as a basement apartment and and an ADU. This poison pill is sure to make additional rental protections a much more divisive issue and jeopardize the likelihood of further meaningful renter protections being adopted. As no doubt intended. Unfortunately, although Tom Dubois, Karen Holman, and Lydia Kou voted against changing the number from 5 to 2, the others all voted for the reduction.


21 people like this
Posted by Conflicts of interest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 14, 2018 at 4:52 pm

Scharff was concerned about limiting diversity and immigration. We need more foreign billionaires buying up Palo Alto properties, many of whom spoke to the Council against rent control. Its good for this real estate lawyer too.

Kniss recuses herself because she owns
260 College Ave and
3876 Page Mill Road


14 people like this
Posted by Anti-Housing loves rent control
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 14, 2018 at 5:17 pm

It's ironic that those who are against new housing or apartments built are supporting rent control. Why you ask? Because it's one sure way to stop development of new housing. Anti-housing people love rent control because it's a NIMBY's best weapon.

Look at the proponent of Prop 10 Michael Weinstein. He poured millions in ballot measures that stop development of housing in LA. Now he's funding Prop 10 because construction of new housing will come to a screeching halt if Prop 10 passes.

I see no difference in Kou, Holman, and DuBois. They want rent control in Palo Alto to ensure that housing will never be built. And, existing apartments will sell so the property can be converted to ownership condos to avoid rent control.

This is the truth that this editorial should highlight. Future Palo Alto residents don't stand a chance with Kou, Holman, and especially DuBois in city council.


2 people like this
Posted by Kick the incumbents out
a resident of University South
on Sep 14, 2018 at 5:29 pm

This is laughable and pathetic. Both Tom Dubois and Cory Wolbach are liars. They're little boys pointing the finger at each other and pretending to superhero. Tom is pandering to his base and Cory... who knows what camp he's on since he straddles both sides when it's politically convenient.

Either one can't be trusted. These incumbents' times are up! Time for a change Palo Alto!


29 people like this
Posted by this election
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2018 at 5:51 pm

Kick,

Not even close, DuBois does his homework, doesn't need to hide behind outdated NY Times articles and made the right call. Wolbach plays the residents and gets to do it because of his Kniss led majority.

The games can stop, cooler people prevail, get real work done for the people with Filseth and DuBois leading a 7 person Council. Less drama just for that hopefully!

The hissy fits that Scharff carries on against Holman have been ick to watch.

But it's crazy out there, so if the election goes to the circus of the past couple of years, it will be interesting to see revealed who really runs this town.

For whatever it's worth, I think the Weekly has had a romance with Wolbach and he is prominent in their daily stories (there must be statistics for that) and rarely does the minority get much attention.


3 people like this
Posted by @ this election
a resident of University South
on Sep 14, 2018 at 6:12 pm

I'm all for less drama but Dubois is part of that clique who brings drama. Cory gets in there because he likes the attention and seems to think highly of himself. Both are using this issue (rent control) as campaign talking points. That's the only reason why they brought the issue up again after already debating it last year.

Obviously not a fan of both of them. Dubois shows contempt to people who are new to Palo Alto and Cory's "civility" is a farce. Hopefully the voters elect a new candidate to improve the council relations.


24 people like this
Posted by this election
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2018 at 6:25 pm


Would help to get the facts straight, the issue of renter protections came up long before the election discussions (it was shot down then by the majority -) but the President Hotel caused it to come back to Council.

Renter protections has nothing to do with contempt for those who are new to Palo Alto. A city that has thoughtful and proper renter protections values current and new people and that is good for everyone.

But this scuffle was about having an open discussion - how can a majority of people kill debate? What is the fear?


28 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 14, 2018 at 11:22 pm

"Renters who supported Wolbach, Fine, and Tanaka are waking up to discover they backed the wrong candidates."

These arch-Republicans got themselves elected by posing as Democrats, with some complicity by an apparently corrupted local Democratic cell, and by concealing their true financial backers until the elections were done.

Wolbach is running for re-election. Fool me once, shame on him. Fool me twice, shame on me.


23 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 15, 2018 at 9:51 am

For accuracy, Tanaka and Fine only registered as Democrats prior to the last election and then received the party endorsement as a result of the backing and party influence of Wolbach and Kniss. Tanaka in particular has shown himself to be very conservative and has been the most extreme advocate for increased commercial development and the strongest opponent to any renter protections.
Wolbach is an actual and very active Dem who has been very active in the party and has been able to use that influence to block support for DuBois four years ago. It will be interesting if he and Kniss can again block Dubois’ endorsement and get their support for Cormack, despite her unwillingness to support renter protections and her extreme property rights position on office growth, claiming that the new office cap would “limit our degrees of freedom”. Even Scharff, Fine and Kniss did not attempt to claim that such a zoning change is an issue of personal freedom. That is a pretty extreme property rights position. It appears she would be aligned with Tanaka philosophically on such issues.


3 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 15, 2018 at 10:11 am

Having watched the video of the council meeting, the only council members who conducted themselves like adults were Filseth & Tanaka. Both stuck to the topic, and did not go into the weeds or go into personal attacks.

Scharf was like a chess master in his use rules and procedures to out-play his opponents. I think it was telling that he wanted the study to include all properties with 2 or more rental units, instead of 5 or more rental units. Holman's objection was that it would galvanize opposition; it revealed she was playing politics by divide and conquer.

The only one of the incumbents up for election that I would vote for is Filseth. Wolbach and Dubois have too much animus or play too many games.


36 people like this
Posted by conflicts of interest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 15, 2018 at 10:48 am

common non-sense:
Putting DuBois and Wolbach in the same category is ignorant beyond measure.

DuBois is a thoughtful, hardworking and _intelligent_ man who studies the issues and makes clear well-informed statements.
Wolbach reverses himself, betrays his previous positions, and rambles on and on saying nothing, often just talking about himself. A lightweight trickster.

Thanks to DuBois for his explanation above of Wolbach's betrayal.


6 people like this
Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 15, 2018 at 12:33 pm

Fred Balin is a registered user.

Resident,
Am informed that Santa Clara County Democrats endorsed Wolbach and Cormack; someone please confirm.
Today's PA Daily Post has Supervisor Simitian endorsing 4 (Wolbach, Cormack, DuBois and Filseth) for the 3 contested council seats; similar to when he endorsed 6 for 5 open seats four years ago.


Like this comment
Posted by Darwin
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2018 at 12:44 pm

Who wrote this?


23 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 15, 2018 at 12:47 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Can the PA Chamber of Commerce be far behind the Santa Clara Democrats? Cue the reruns and the usual discussions on how they're no longer "your grandparents'" Democratic Party and are only for the pro-development forces.

Re the Post, how brave of them; the only one of the 5 candidates they didn't endorse was Pat Boone.


11 people like this
Posted by The Name of the Game
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 15, 2018 at 3:29 pm

PACC members take themselves way too seriously.

They are not fooling anyone.


27 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2018 at 5:47 pm

@Curmudgeon said;

"These arch-Republicans got themselves elected by posing as Democrats, with some complicity by an apparently corrupted local Democratic cell..."

That's one hell of a big cell. Most of the establishment Democrats on the Peninsula are corrugated by campaign contributions from real-estate developers and large commercial property interests. Cory Wolbach served as an aid to, and was mentored by Democratic State Senator Jerry Hill. Liz Kniss has been in the Party forever.

If we go even further north Nancy Pilosi's husband is a multi-millionaire real-estate financier and Diane Feinstein's husband is a billionaire real-estate developer.


4 people like this
Posted by Pat Markevitch
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 15, 2018 at 9:51 pm

Fred Balin, yes, the Santa Clara County Democrats did endorse Wolbach and Cormack.


16 people like this
Posted by this election
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2018 at 9:59 pm



After what happened last election, relying on big gov endorsements is like relying on Paul Krugman's dated NY Times article to shape policy.


20 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 16, 2018 at 8:59 am

Online Name is a registered user.

How special the county Democratic party knows more about "the silent candidate" than the voters. How special they'd chose to endorse Mr. Civility who never even thought of ADU parking ramifications rather than someone as knowledgeable as Eric Filseth.

Where was the voter outreach on the endorsements?


2 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 16, 2018 at 9:30 am

Sea Reddy is a registered user.

No Rent Control please.
Please sublet rooms.
Less greed.

Respectfully.


25 people like this
Posted by this election
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2018 at 10:12 am

See Reddy

Seems to me that you miss the point. The Editorial is not about rent control vs no rent control.

The drama was about including all options for discussion at the committee level where there is more time to have more deliberation, it comes back to Council after. That's the point of Committees, to help make informed decisions.

The current cheeky majority kills debate and they sneak things through rush rush vote hurry snap snap.

What do Wolbach/Fine/Shcarff have to fear about having anything discussed in committee?


12 people like this
Posted by Registration switch
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 16, 2018 at 12:50 pm

My understanding is that Tanaka was a registered Republican and Adrian Fine was registered as Independent before they switched to register as Democrats.


14 people like this
Posted by Party
a resident of Mayfield
on Sep 16, 2018 at 1:33 pm

It seems to me this discussion about party membership is irrelevant.

It doesn’t matter what party a candidate or CC member belongs to if they essentially sell out the city, for example by allowing building beyond the means of the city to support the resulting use of those buildings.

And it doesn’t matter if they do this to help developers for whatever reason, or they do it to build their resumes. They put their self interest above that of the city in any case.

And if the Democratic Party supports who they are or what they stand for, it reflects the bankrupt integrity and hollowed out values of the party rather than anything about the candidate.

A voter who votes a party slate in local elections is a dupe. How long does it take to review the comments and actions of a CC member? Voters can at least be responsible for deciding who they vote for.

Do I misunderstand the nature of elections? Are they more like a football game than a running race? Has identity politics taken over local elections?


28 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 16, 2018 at 8:44 pm

"Wolbach is an actual and very active Dem who has been very active in the party and has been able to use that influence to block support for DuBois four years ago."

... and to block support for the lifelong Democrat Keller two years ago, when the Party endorsed instead its brand new members-of-opportunity Tanaka and Fine, guaranteeing them a bunch of straight-ticket votes. Corruption, corruption, corruption.


28 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 16, 2018 at 9:04 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Does anyone have recent numbers on how the 5 candidates are faring re campaign contributions? That would be pretty telling.

(And whatever happened to the investigation into Mayor Kniss's campaign funding irregularities from the LAST election?)


6 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2018 at 11:48 am

Posted by Party, a resident of Mayfield, on Sep 16, 2018 at 1:33 pm

>> It seems to me this discussion about party membership is irrelevant.

>> And if the Democratic Party supports who they are or what they stand for, it reflects the bankrupt integrity and hollowed out values of the party rather than anything about the candidate.

In Post-Trump California, "no one" in California is Republican. Now, most of the political battles take place -within- the Democratic Party.

>> Do I misunderstand the nature of elections? Are they more like a football game than a running race? Has identity politics taken over local elections?

Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North, on Sep 16, 2018 at 8:44 pm

>> " .. an actual and very active Dem who has been very active in the party .."

>> ... and to block support for the lifelong Democrat ... Corruption, corruption, corruption.

Endorsements are an important part of local races. Getting endorsements often involves political infighting-- seldom would it be simply a matter of policy. Infighting is not necessarily a sign of either "identity politics" or "corruption" in the sense of quid pro quo. Endorsements matter a lot to some voters. I'm more motivated by -policy-.

On the basis of policy, I'm favoring DuBois and Filseth at this time.


9 people like this
Posted by Steve Dabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 18, 2018 at 12:36 pm

Steve Dabrowski is a registered user.

The problem this election is that we only know the history of the incumbent candidates, the only options are these and two candidates we have little information on. Cormack is a Kniss recommendation and probably pro-development although she isn't saying and possibly Pat Boone who we know little to nothing about. The Weekly has given no indication of where these people stand and that is a disservice to the community-we should all have a good idea by now. A big shame that Arthur Keller decided not to run-he could have won this time and done a real service to the city. I'll write him in if I can and so should others.

The State races are no better. Gavin Newsome is bent on stuffing high density housing down everyone's throat and will fully support housing zealots like Scott Weiner and Adrian Fine in crafting anti-community legislation giving power to developers. So it is going to be a turning point for Palo Alto-and not a good one is my guess.


4 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 22, 2018 at 2:49 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@conflicts of interest...
Thanks for describing accurately, I think, the difference between Cory and Tom. A PoliSci major vs a technical and business educated/trained/experienced CC member who is just trying to do his job for the good of the residents in his community. I can't say and don't know for sure, but I don't think Tom has higher political ambitions. Cory, on the other hand, is obviously in pursuit of higher political office since that's the only thing he knows from his education and work experience backgrounds.

Voters will have a chance to decide in just a couple weeks.


2 people like this
Posted by Editorial wrong
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 23, 2018 at 8:23 am

Contrary to the Editorials claim, Scharff Wolbach and Fine ARE standing up for renters. By trying to sneak a rent cap into policy Holman and Co. are killing any rental development. It fits their 1950’s view of Palo Alto: no new building.

Should Holman and Co. succeed you will freeze rental construction and overnight you’ll see rental properties turned into Condos. Freezing out renters even worse.

It is evil to undermine renters in the name of “preservationist” goals. I’m glad their shenanigans were seen for what they are, and stopped.


3 people like this
Posted by ares
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2018 at 9:41 am

“Overnight” rentals going to condos?

Excuse me but isn’t that what just happened with the President hotel. Many rentals turned into 1 big hotel.

You seem worried about future tenants who cannot afford the new costs of living in PA. Current residents can’t afford to subsidize building rental housing - see related traffic and transportation thread.

Incentives to help existing renters is not evil.





Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Salt & Straw Palo Alto to open Nov. 23
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 4,337 views

Lakes and Larders (part 2)
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,475 views

Can we ever improve our schools?
By Diana Diamond | 8 comments | 1,370 views