Council appoints new planning commissioners

Giselle Roohparvar and Carolyn Templeton to join seven-member panel

A land-use attorney and a retired Google manager won appointments this week to Palo Alto's influential Planning and Transportation Commission.

Giselle Roohparvar, an attorney with the firm Miller Starr Regalia, easily won appointment to the commission, earning support from eight of the nine City Council members (only Councilman Greg Tanaka opted to vote for other candidates). And after several rounds of voting, Carolyn Templeton, a retired technical manager at Google, edged out Thomas Siegel for the second open seat. All five members of the council's pro-growth wing supported Templeton, while their four slow-growth colleagues all voted for Siegel, who is also a Google employee.

The two new commissioners will replace current commission Vice Chair Susan Monk and former Vice Chair Przemek Gardias, both of whom are concluding their terms this month. Neither has reapplied for a new term.

In her application, Roohparvar touted her experience in reviewing and evaluating zoning codes, charters and other technical documents and said she is sensitive to the different perspectives that exist when a project is being evaluated.

"I want to help grow and enhance our community while also being thoughtful and deliberate in how that happens, so that such growth makes sense for all stakeholders," Roohparvar wrote.

Templeton, who in 2017 retired from her position as a technical program manager at Google, is a member of the recently appointed North Ventura Coordinated Area Plan working group, which is working to craft a new vision for a portion of the Ventura neighborhood, which includes the Fry's Electronics site. In her application, she said she feels particularly strongly about protecting trees and improving city processes that have become "dated and inconsistent."

She also pointed to recent commission decisions that went against the council's and the community's wishes, causing widespread frustration.

"As a result, public trust in the City government has eroded somewhat," she wrote. "I believe that we can do better, and that we can rebuild that trust."

The two commissioners vied with 11 others, including former mayors Bern Beecham and Dena Mossar, for positions on the seven-member panel, which has played a leading role this year in revising the zoning code to encourage more housing.

In a separate vote, the council voted not to reappoint veteran Architectural Review Board member and former Chair Robert Gooyer. His position will now be occupied by David Hirsch, a retired architect who is affiliated with the citizens group Palo Alto Forward, which advocates for more housing. All four slow-growth council members supported Gooyer, while the five members who support more growth-friendly policies voted for Hirsch.

Two other Architectural Review Board members easily won reappointment, with Peter Baltay and Alexander Lew both securing widespread council support.

The council also reappointed all three incumbents — Anne Cribs, David Moss and Jeff Greenfield, to the Parks and Recreation Commission. Only one other candidate had applied for the position.

Watch the Aug. 3 episode of the "Behind the Headlines" webcast for a discussion on tensions and conflicts on the commission from earlier this year.


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14 people like this
Posted by More growth appointed
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 6, 2018 at 5:15 pm

Looks like we are in for more growth! Growthy council majority appoints growthy committee members.

We really need to vote for more slow-growth city council members to shift the 5-4 and soon to be 4-3 "growth at any cost" split.

2 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 7, 2018 at 2:31 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

I sat thru the bulk of the five hours of candidate vetting and read the application packets and am mystified how in a field of 13 applicants a young and unknown person like Giselle could get eight votes? What was communicated about her candidacy that I could not see at the public hearing or read in the public document?

2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2018 at 8:13 am

I think we need to know these people's neighborhoods. We don't need their full addresses, but knowing exactly whereabouts they live is important.

4 people like this
Posted by South Gate
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 7, 2018 at 11:07 am

South Gate is a registered user.

@Mark Weiss -
really? Her profession is land use planning. It's the planning commission. She has professional expertise in an aspect of the work. And she is a young woman. She seemed like the perfect candidate to me!

2 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 10, 2019 at 9:16 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

I’m not saying she’s unqualified; I’m asking how a relatively unknown person in a field of 13 —including two former mayors — could garner eight votes. It seems that there is deliberation behind closed doors, possibly in violation of the Brown Act.
It’s subjective. I watched the interviews in person and rated Kraus and Eisenberg highest. I would have thought the results should have shown a “Splatter Pattern”.
Some cities, like San Francisco, make all boards purely political — if that’s not an oxymoron. Spoils. If we accept applications, and in fact recruit, via email blasts, applicants, then we shouldn’t make backroom deals.
I’d like a discussion that refutes my assertion, if I’m wrong.

Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 14, 2019 at 4:57 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

I'm amending my previous to state that another person present at the meeting thought Giselle's presentation was the best of the bunch and he made it a point to introduce himself to Giselle on her way out of the meeting.

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