Malone, an electrical engineer who lives in an accessory dwelling unit in the Triple El neighborhood, says she wants to see more such units built but argues that the city should go further. She'd like the city to have more duplexes, triplexes and four-plexes, Malone said at the Weekly's Sept. 24 City Council candidates' debate.
"I know there are people who don't want, for example, four-plexes next to their single-family homes," Malone said. "It makes sense, I respect that and I acknowledge that. But where would we be OK with building them? These units need to happen. There is a housing crisis."
Malone also said she supported the recent Senate Bill 1120, which would have allowed property owners to subdivide their parcels and build duplexes. (The bill failed to advance on the frantic final day of the Legislative session.)
Malone is philosophically aligned with those who believe the city should loosen zoning rules in downtown and commercial areas to facilitate more housing construction. Mayor Adrian Fine, who is concluding his term this year, and former Councilwoman Gail Price, who is now board president at Palo Alto Forward, have both endorsed her candidacy.
Malone said in an interview that she wants to end "exclusionary zoning," referring to R-1 or single-family zoning. In that sense, she differs from candidates like Pat Burt, who at the Weekly debate rejected the term and argued that because of new laws that ease restrictions on accessory-dwelling units and junior ADUs, allowing one of each per property, Palo Alto no longer has true single-family zoning.
She also believes that Palo Alto should try to strike racial exclusion clauses from old deeds, which prohibited Black and Asian people from owning homes in the city. While these deeds haven't been legally enforceable for decades, Malone noted on her campaign platform that "they are a painful reminder of the ways Palo Alto has not always welcomed diversity."
Like Fine, she also believes that Palo Alto should repeal a long-standing policy that restricts access to Foothills Park only to residents and their guests. The city is now facing a lawsuit from a coalition that includes the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP San Jose/Silicon Valley over that policy.
"We should have opened it a while ago," Malone said at the Weekly debate. "We're neglecting other kids who live in other places whose cities weren't even well established when Foothills Park was opened in Palo Alto," Malone said.
A native of Mobile, Alabama, Malone spent two years in San Jose before moving to Palo Alto with her fiance. They had long set their hearts on Palo Alto, she said, where they would come for the restaurants and farmers markets.
"Unfortunately, we had a hard time finding something we can afford in our budget," Malone said.
Now, she says she is committed to helping those who support change and who believe the city needs bolder actions. This includes easing regulations for residential developers, moving faster with implementing bike improvements and making real progress with Fiber to the Home, the city's decades-long effort to expand its dark fiber network and make high-speed internet more broadly available to the public.
The shelter-in-place order has only underscored the critical importance of access to high-speed internet, she said.
"I got to the point where I felt like the people who wanted change were outnumbered by people who didn't," Malone said. "And if not me to go out there and help try to create this change that is long overdue, then who? And if not now, then when?"
Malone said she envisions a safer and more welcoming Palo Alto. In forums and interviews, she's talked about the need to encourage denser new housing developments and improve accountability within the Police Department, positions she shares with candidate Steven Lee.
The two diverged, however, when asked at the Weekly debate whether Palo Alto should allow a cannabis dispensary. While Lee, who strongly supported the city's ban on vaping products, said he wouldn't want to see the city "waste its time" on discussing the topic, Malone noted that regulations on operating dispensaries are already very strict and that banning dispensaries is not keeping cannabis out of the community.
"Why not make it a source of revenue?" she asked. "Especially now, during COVID. We need more sources of revenue."
(For the record, candidates Pat Burt and Ajit Varma suggested that a dispensary could be allowed in the city's industrial area, while the rest said they would oppose a dispensary.)
A supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, Malone declared her council candidacy at a June rally in downtown Palo Alto. She said she wants to see trained civilians, rather than armed officers, respond to calls for issues like homelessness and mental health emergencies. Police officers, she said, should be asked to focus on serious criminal incidents, a strategy on which the other council candidates generally agree.
"I just want to ensure that everyone is safe," Malone said. "It's hard to do that when you ask someone with a gun to report to a situation that may be unfamiliar territory and that may force them to react in a way that may not have been in their best judgment."
She believes that in addition to highlighting racial injustice, the Black Lives Matter movement has had the positive effect of getting more residents engaged in local issues. Malone wrote in her Palo Alto Neighborhoods questionnaire that she hopes the engagement continues and that her candidate will "inspire others like me to get more involved locally."
"If elected, I want to bring to the table residents who have either felt neglected by local government or felt that (local government) doesn't matter," Malone wrote.