Ed Lauing, a City Hall veteran who currently chairs Palo Alto's Planning and Transportation Commission, said Tuesday that he plans to run for the Palo Alto City Council.
If elected, Lauing will fill one of three open seats on the seven-member council, with council members Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth both terming out this year and council member Alison Cormack announcing last month that she will not seek a fresh term. Lauing also ran for council in 2020 and narrowly missed out on getting elected, finishing fifth out of 10 candidates vying for four seats.
Much like during his last campaign, Lauing said he will make housing — particularly below-market-rate housing — a top priority. He also emphasized in an interview Tuesday that Palo Alto needs to promote housing types for various segments of the population, including seniors, service workers and families. This means thinking beyond microunits and small studios.
"There is a need for a variety of housing for a variety of needs and I definitely think the category of affordable housing is the most important," Lauing said. "It is definitely a value statement to house all those folks and really get lower-income folks to reach the first rung on the housing ladder. … We also have to plan for folks to live here once we get on that ladder."
Lauing has been heavily involved in analyzing Palo Alto's housing policies. He serves as co-chair on the Housing Element Working Group, which is charged with developing a plan for meeting the state's housing quotes. He has also been on the planning commission since 2017 and, prior to that, had spent seven years on the Parks and Recreation Commission, which included three stints as chair and one as vice chair.
In addition to housing, Lauing said he wants to prioritize public safety. This includes addressing the trend of car break-ins and "smash-and-grabs." Two cars on either side of his Professorville home were recently broken into, he said. His car had also been broken into while parked on the driveway, he said.
To address these crimes, Lauing believes the city should consider more officers as well as take a closer look at recruiting and training within the department.
"We can't have a policeman in front of very doorstep but we need to find a better way to get coverage," Lauing said.
Another campaign priority is climate change. Lauing said he wants to see Palo Alto take "concrete actions" to implement programs to meet the city's goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2030, with 1990 as the baseline. This includes "tactical" programs that give residents incentives to switch away from gas appliances to ones powered by carbon-free electricity.
"With help from the city to ease purchase and installation of electric water heaters, and with same-day delivery service, we can make sure we are not installing new devices that use natural gas for another 20 years," Lauing's campaign website states. "I will have laser focus on equitable, practical programs that our residents can afford that will gradually reduce natural gas usage."