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After spending a decade on commissions, Ed Lauing sets sights on City Council seat

Second member of Planning and Transportation Commission announces council candidacy this week

Ed Lauing, who currently serves on the Planning and Transportation Commission, announced on June 10 his candidacy for the Palo Alto City Council. Courtesy Ed Lauing.

Ed Lauing is no stranger to master plans, budget cuts and long nights spent behind the dais at City Hall.

The Palo Alto resident has spent the past decade on the city's Parks and Recreation Commission and the Planning and Transportation Commission, where he is currently a member. Now, Lauing is preparing to join the race for the City Council.

Lauing, a corporate recruiter and former business executive, wants to see the city move faster on tackling its most critical issues, including housing and parking. As a planning commissioner, he has helped review and refine the city's Housing Work Plan and delved deep into the details of its strategies for enhancing downtown garages and expanding the city's shuttle system, which has just been eliminated because of budget cuts. He also has been dismayed by how long it has taken the council to actually reach solutions to these problems, Lauing told this news organization.

"My view is, by being on the council I can shape the agenda itself and the timing of the agenda," Lauing said. "I've been less than thoroughly satisfied with the pace of how projects go from the initial reading to finally getting adopted. I'm hoping I can get things to move faster."

Lauing believes encouraging below-market-rate housing is a key way to encourage diversity in Palo Alto and address some of the city's socioeconomic disparities. That, he said, should be the city's focus, rather than the council's default setting, which he characterizes as, "We need housing for all segments and it will happen." The city, in his view, has been moving too slowly.

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"Obviously, that hasn't been done. If we're going to maintain local control instead of Sacramento control, we've got to take action on this," Lauing said.

The city, he said, needs to figure out the economics in each segment of the market and craft policies to address the fact that the "economic playing field" between housing and commercial developments has not been even, given that offices fetch significantly higher rents than most residential properties. Addressing this could mean contributing more money to building affordable housing or forging partnerships with local corporations that are willing to help address the problem.

"We can't just say, 'What's on the table is the only structure.' We've got to get more creative," Lauing said.

As a planning commissioner, Lauing has often talked to about the need for more housing, though he has approached the subject with more caution and less zeal than some of the commission's staunchest housing advocates, notably Michael Alcheck and William Riggs. On a commission that has been prone to splitting into factions, Lauing has often sided with those on the more slow-growth side of the aisle, including former Commissioner Asher Waldfogel and current Commissioner Doria Summa. After serving as the planning commission's chair in 2018, he made a bid to try again in 2019 but was edged out by Riggs in a 4-3 vote. Among those voting against him was Commissioner Cari Templeton, who earlier this week announced her own bid for a City Council seat.

While Lauing talks about the urgent need to build more housing, his tone as a commissioner has been less polemical and more detail-oriented than that of some of his colleagues. In 2018, for example, he was part of a narrow majority that voted to delay adoption of a new "affordable housing overlay" zone so that the city can further analyze the impacts of the policy change (others supported immediate creation of the new zone, which the council ultimately approved).

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Yet he also has been an enthusiastic supporter of numerous housing projects, including a mixed-use development with 17 condominium units that was approved last year at the former Compadres restaurant on El Camino Real; and the Wilton Court development with 59 units for low-income residents and adults with disabilities, which Lauing said was exactly the kind of project that the city should be encouraging.

Before joining the planning commission in 2017, Lauing had spent seven years on the Parks and Recreation Commission, including three as the commission's chair. During that time, he helped put together a master plan for the parks system that included more dog parks and more bathrooms at local parks. He also co-wrote a memo in 2014 urging the council to pay more attention to the impacts of the city's growth policies on its parks and recreation system (the commission unanimously supported the memo).

Ed Lauing currently serves on the Planning and Transportation Commission, where he has often talked to about the need for more housing. Courtesy Ed Lauing.

Lauing said that over the past month, he has been concerned about the council's process for adopting a new budget, which includes about $40 million in expense cuts. Rather than clearly setting priorities and making cuts based on the city's values, the council is making major cuts in just about every critical department, including public safety and community services. He said he would have preferred to see the city delay some of its major infrastructure projects to preserve services. He also said he believes the council has been too deferential to city staff throughout the budget process. Even though numerous council members said they supported delaying some projects on the council's infrastructure plan, these proposals never came for a vote (instead, the council approved the entire capital plan with a single vote).

He also said he thinks the city has been moving too slowly on improving downtown’s parking situation, an issue that has dominated City Hall discussions before the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Why have we waited years for the installation of digital direction signs downtown to reduce congestion by pointing vehicles to garages with space? That issue first came to the planning commission three years ago," Lauing said in his candidacy announcement.

Lauing said he believes his decade of experience as a commissioner has prepared him well for serving on council, which will see four seats up for grabs in November. Councilwoman Liz Kniss is terming out, while Mayor Adrian Fine, Councilwoman Lydia Kou and Councilman Greg Tanaka are all up for re-election (Kou is the only one of the three who has declared that she is running again). Attorney Rebecca Eisenberg announced last month that she is also seeking one of the four open seats.

"I know what the job is," Lauing said. "You want someone you can trust so that when a new issue is thrown at them, they know how to respond and they have a solid and sensible approach on how to get there. The combination of my business background and my city background give me a great platform to keep making decisions on tough issues."

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After spending a decade on commissions, Ed Lauing sets sights on City Council seat

Second member of Planning and Transportation Commission announces council candidacy this week

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Jun 10, 2020, 12:01 pm

Ed Lauing is no stranger to master plans, budget cuts and long nights spent behind the dais at City Hall.

The Palo Alto resident has spent the past decade on the city's Parks and Recreation Commission and the Planning and Transportation Commission, where he is currently a member. Now, Lauing is preparing to join the race for the City Council.

Lauing, a corporate recruiter and former business executive, wants to see the city move faster on tackling its most critical issues, including housing and parking. As a planning commissioner, he has helped review and refine the city's Housing Work Plan and delved deep into the details of its strategies for enhancing downtown garages and expanding the city's shuttle system, which has just been eliminated because of budget cuts. He also has been dismayed by how long it has taken the council to actually reach solutions to these problems, Lauing told this news organization.

"My view is, by being on the council I can shape the agenda itself and the timing of the agenda," Lauing said. "I've been less than thoroughly satisfied with the pace of how projects go from the initial reading to finally getting adopted. I'm hoping I can get things to move faster."

Lauing believes encouraging below-market-rate housing is a key way to encourage diversity in Palo Alto and address some of the city's socioeconomic disparities. That, he said, should be the city's focus, rather than the council's default setting, which he characterizes as, "We need housing for all segments and it will happen." The city, in his view, has been moving too slowly.

"Obviously, that hasn't been done. If we're going to maintain local control instead of Sacramento control, we've got to take action on this," Lauing said.

The city, he said, needs to figure out the economics in each segment of the market and craft policies to address the fact that the "economic playing field" between housing and commercial developments has not been even, given that offices fetch significantly higher rents than most residential properties. Addressing this could mean contributing more money to building affordable housing or forging partnerships with local corporations that are willing to help address the problem.

"We can't just say, 'What's on the table is the only structure.' We've got to get more creative," Lauing said.

As a planning commissioner, Lauing has often talked to about the need for more housing, though he has approached the subject with more caution and less zeal than some of the commission's staunchest housing advocates, notably Michael Alcheck and William Riggs. On a commission that has been prone to splitting into factions, Lauing has often sided with those on the more slow-growth side of the aisle, including former Commissioner Asher Waldfogel and current Commissioner Doria Summa. After serving as the planning commission's chair in 2018, he made a bid to try again in 2019 but was edged out by Riggs in a 4-3 vote. Among those voting against him was Commissioner Cari Templeton, who earlier this week announced her own bid for a City Council seat.

While Lauing talks about the urgent need to build more housing, his tone as a commissioner has been less polemical and more detail-oriented than that of some of his colleagues. In 2018, for example, he was part of a narrow majority that voted to delay adoption of a new "affordable housing overlay" zone so that the city can further analyze the impacts of the policy change (others supported immediate creation of the new zone, which the council ultimately approved).

Yet he also has been an enthusiastic supporter of numerous housing projects, including a mixed-use development with 17 condominium units that was approved last year at the former Compadres restaurant on El Camino Real; and the Wilton Court development with 59 units for low-income residents and adults with disabilities, which Lauing said was exactly the kind of project that the city should be encouraging.

Before joining the planning commission in 2017, Lauing had spent seven years on the Parks and Recreation Commission, including three as the commission's chair. During that time, he helped put together a master plan for the parks system that included more dog parks and more bathrooms at local parks. He also co-wrote a memo in 2014 urging the council to pay more attention to the impacts of the city's growth policies on its parks and recreation system (the commission unanimously supported the memo).

Lauing said that over the past month, he has been concerned about the council's process for adopting a new budget, which includes about $40 million in expense cuts. Rather than clearly setting priorities and making cuts based on the city's values, the council is making major cuts in just about every critical department, including public safety and community services. He said he would have preferred to see the city delay some of its major infrastructure projects to preserve services. He also said he believes the council has been too deferential to city staff throughout the budget process. Even though numerous council members said they supported delaying some projects on the council's infrastructure plan, these proposals never came for a vote (instead, the council approved the entire capital plan with a single vote).

He also said he thinks the city has been moving too slowly on improving downtown’s parking situation, an issue that has dominated City Hall discussions before the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Why have we waited years for the installation of digital direction signs downtown to reduce congestion by pointing vehicles to garages with space? That issue first came to the planning commission three years ago," Lauing said in his candidacy announcement.

Lauing said he believes his decade of experience as a commissioner has prepared him well for serving on council, which will see four seats up for grabs in November. Councilwoman Liz Kniss is terming out, while Mayor Adrian Fine, Councilwoman Lydia Kou and Councilman Greg Tanaka are all up for re-election (Kou is the only one of the three who has declared that she is running again). Attorney Rebecca Eisenberg announced last month that she is also seeking one of the four open seats.

"I know what the job is," Lauing said. "You want someone you can trust so that when a new issue is thrown at them, they know how to respond and they have a solid and sensible approach on how to get there. The combination of my business background and my city background give me a great platform to keep making decisions on tough issues."

Comments

anon
Evergreen Park
on Jun 10, 2020 at 12:12 pm
anon, Evergreen Park
on Jun 10, 2020 at 12:12 pm
44 people like this

This is great news! Mr laying has the back ground and temperament to be a fantastic city council member.

He is ethical, smart and familiar with how the city works. he has been very generous with his time on boards and commissions.

His thoughtful mature attitude will be a real benefit to the people who live and work in Palo Alto!!!!!
I am thoroughly happy to hear this news!!


Cari Templeton
Barron Park
on Jun 10, 2020 at 12:28 pm
Cari Templeton, Barron Park
on Jun 10, 2020 at 12:28 pm
13 people like this

Congratulations on entering the race for City Council, Mr. Lauing!. I have enjoyed serving with you on the Planning and Transportation Commission, and look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail this year. - Cari


Jeffrey Brown
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 10, 2020 at 12:30 pm
Jeffrey Brown, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 10, 2020 at 12:30 pm
36 people like this

Fantastic news. This gentleman is smart, thoughtful and civic-minded. He will be a great council member just as he has diligently and effectively served and led Parks and Rec, and Planning and Transportation. Can’t wait to cast my vote.


Gravitas & Compassion
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2020 at 12:32 pm
Gravitas & Compassion , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2020 at 12:32 pm
42 people like this

Excellent news for Palo Altans - not only a Planning Commissoner running for city council with an actual track record of invaluable experience with land use and planning, but also someone who cares deeply about the most vulnerable among us - the homeless and those needing affordable housing.

I first became aware of Ed Lauing when he volunteered with the Urban Ministry when it was the main group in town that served the homeless. He is a wonderful caring man whose concern about low-income people is deeply felt.

Lauing is super smart but not over-bearing. He will be a good addition to the council for all who want a strong but calm voice for what is best for all residents in Palo Alto.


Duveneck neighbor
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 10, 2020 at 1:11 pm
Duveneck neighbor, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 10, 2020 at 1:11 pm
3 people like this

What is his perspective on police and policing? In particular, what are his thoughts on the video evidence from 17 February 2018 (the Alvarez case), and on the decrease in departmental oversight, and in public transparency, reflected in the new contract with OIR Group from December 2019?


Ryan
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 10, 2020 at 1:58 pm
Ryan, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 10, 2020 at 1:58 pm
31 people like this

Mr. Lauing’s got my vote.


Reuben D.
Midtown
on Jun 10, 2020 at 2:04 pm
Reuben D., Midtown
on Jun 10, 2020 at 2:04 pm
27 people like this

I have followed Ed's work for some time and he has always had an extremely positive impact on the city of Palo Alto and the residents. Excited to see Ed take over a seat from these comfortable incumbents.


Przemek Gardias
Community Center
on Jun 10, 2020 at 2:23 pm
Przemek Gardias, Community Center
on Jun 10, 2020 at 2:23 pm
13 people like this

Congratulations Ed on your decision to run. It looks like already you have lots of sympathy.


Optimistic
South of Midtown
on Jun 10, 2020 at 2:35 pm
Optimistic, South of Midtown
on Jun 10, 2020 at 2:35 pm
24 people like this

Great to see Mr. Lauing enter the race! Thoughtful, responsible, non-ideological leaders at the council dais will serve our whole community well as we tackle the major challenges before us.


Smart
Greenmeadow
on Jun 10, 2020 at 3:03 pm
Smart, Greenmeadow
on Jun 10, 2020 at 3:03 pm
29 people like this

Thank you Mr. Lauing for running. I've observed you on both Parks & Rec as well as the Planning Commission - you are polite, thoughtful and conscientitous. We will be lucky to have you on our City Council.


Pat Burt
Community Center
on Jun 10, 2020 at 3:12 pm
Pat Burt, Community Center
on Jun 10, 2020 at 3:12 pm
38 people like this

Thanks to Ed for running.
He’s been a valuable city commissioner, always informed and thoughtful, and an effective problem solver.
We could use his sound business executive experience through the current financial challenges. Glad to see that he is focused on preserving city services.


Proud Mother
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 10, 2020 at 5:58 pm
Proud Mother, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 10, 2020 at 5:58 pm
30 people like this

Mr. Lauing was ALSO the president of Palo Alto Babe Ruth and was heavily involved in Palo Alto Little League for many years. It might be small bullet point on his vast resume at this point, but i'll always remember how well run those leagues were. His role in Palo Alto Youth Athletics while my son was growing up contributed to some of the best years of his life and some of my favorite early memories of Palo Alto.

Excited to see Mr. Lauing on the ballot and happy for the opportunity to have a familiar face represent the heart of Palo Alto!


ALB
College Terrace
on Jun 10, 2020 at 6:34 pm
ALB, College Terrace
on Jun 10, 2020 at 6:34 pm
31 people like this

Ed Lauing is a seasoned and civil public servant. I have watched many PTC meetings where he had to rein in Alchek and Riggs whose endless tantrums and monologues prevailed. His CV is deep and he will provide our community with fairness and professionalism. In essence he represents the constituents.


Citizen
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2020 at 7:32 pm
Citizen, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2020 at 7:32 pm
20 people like this

To me, their position on SB50 will be the litmus test. I'm really tired of having to figure out what's really behind the rhetoric (e.g., lying developer shill, naive co-opted ideologue, etc). I want to hear what he has to say about SB50, that will help me appreciate whether he is real or just another means for developers to continue ruining this place for residents, at residents' expense.

I also want someone who is firmly looking into the future, not rooted so strongly in the past that it's as if they think another month or two and it will be business as usual. The earth fundamentally shifted on the wisdom of mindless densification for the sake of tech companies who don't even contribute here.

I looked, but didn't really get answers to any of the above in the article.


Nice guy but...
Crescent Park
on Jun 11, 2020 at 12:00 am
Nice guy but..., Crescent Park
on Jun 11, 2020 at 12:00 am
11 people like this

This would be a mistake. This guy is always asking for more time. He can’t make tough decisions. He worries too much about optics. He seems like a great neighbor - nice old white man. But running this city is way out of this guys wheel house. I remember his year running the planning meetings as being the worst in all my decades of living in Palo Alto. Excruciating would be the right adjective. Nice smile though.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jun 11, 2020 at 12:08 am
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jun 11, 2020 at 12:08 am
Like this comment

[Post removed.]


musical
Palo Verde
on Jun 11, 2020 at 1:11 am
musical, Palo Verde
on Jun 11, 2020 at 1:11 am
7 people like this

Bright side of SB50: get dense enough we can declare ourself one household.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jun 11, 2020 at 8:44 am
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jun 11, 2020 at 8:44 am
Like this comment

Really? You are banning political speech or anything of a satirical manner? Why would you be protecting a candidate like this that definitely downgrades him in many peoples eyes did Ed ask you to take those comments down. This is how translated my metaphor as I disseminated it myself:
Kind of a cold, cold light; Functional, tiny ubiquitous or common.


Anon
Evergreen Park
on Jun 11, 2020 at 9:51 am
Anon, Evergreen Park
on Jun 11, 2020 at 9:51 am
18 people like this

To:nice guy but .....
Actually I’ve lived here for decades too and think that Ed Lauing is by far the very best chair of the planning commission
Since Eduardo Martinez.
He has it all ; smarts , good values, does his homework and knows how to behave with decorum.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2020 at 12:56 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2020 at 12:56 pm
6 people like this

He is a definite maybe, but, I need to understand what he means by this"

>> Addressing this could mean contributing more money to building affordable housing or forging partnerships with local corporations that are willing to help address the problem.

What local corporation has an incentive to partner to contribute to housing unless it seeks a deal to build more office space? Time and time again, we've seen various ploys, and the city jobs/housing imbalance always gets worse. We just don't need any more office space. What we need is for existing local corporations to start acquiring office space near where East Bay employees live, so that they don't need to commute over here. Some combination of working from home and satellite offices to get the number of employees per square foot in this down reduced.


Midtown senior
Palo Verde
on Jun 11, 2020 at 2:11 pm
Midtown senior, Palo Verde
on Jun 11, 2020 at 2:11 pm
6 people like this

If Ed Lauing has been a part of the Planning and Transportation Commission responsible for the Charleston/Arastradero Road and Ross Road fiascos that have damaged our city's ability to handle even ordinary traffic, misread our needs for through-passage for commuters, promoted social engineering for the bicycling minority, ignored the transportation needs of senior citizens and made these streets into obstacle courses ... HE DOES NOT DESERVE TO INFLICT MORE DAMAGE ON US!


Pat Markevitch
Downtown North
on Jun 11, 2020 at 2:28 pm
Pat Markevitch, Downtown North
on Jun 11, 2020 at 2:28 pm
12 people like this

Midtown senior, Ed Lauing was not a member of the Planning and Transportation Commission when these plans were reviewed by them.


Novelera
Midtown
on Jun 11, 2020 at 3:04 pm
Novelera, Midtown
on Jun 11, 2020 at 3:04 pm
12 people like this

Sounds good. But I'd like to see any new candidates for City Council take a pledge not to receive campaign contributions from developers. I do NOT want to see another episode of donations being made public after the voting is done and investigations by the Fair Political Practices group in California (sorry, don't know if I've used the correct name for the committee that investigated Liz Kniss).


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jun 11, 2020 at 3:32 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jun 11, 2020 at 3:32 pm
Like this comment

[Post removed.]


Yogen Dalal
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 11, 2020 at 8:49 pm
Yogen Dalal, Old Palo Alto
on Jun 11, 2020 at 8:49 pm
8 people like this

I have known Ed for 35 years and he will bring his experiences as a resident of this city to ensure the city evolves to meet the needs of the continually changing profile of its residents. In addition to knowing how the city works from his past roles, he has been an entrepreneur and high tech CEO who understands how to solve problems and who gets to the desired goals through consensus. He is smart, gracious and ethical. He has my vote!


LearnMore
University South
on Jul 23, 2020 at 6:01 pm
LearnMore, University South
on Jul 23, 2020 at 6:01 pm
1 person likes this

Of all the "newcomer" candidates, Ed Lauing seems to be one of the most experienced and balanced. How can I learn more?


Online Name
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 23, 2020 at 6:09 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 23, 2020 at 6:09 pm
3 people like this

He's absolutely right in his criticism of the city's recent budget process where services but not big capital expenditure projects were cut.


Pat Markevitch
Downtown North
on Jul 23, 2020 at 9:44 pm
Pat Markevitch, Downtown North
on Jul 23, 2020 at 9:44 pm
2 people like this

Learn More, candidates aren't allowed to post their websites on here. Try his name and the office he is running for.


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