Realtor Alex Comsa jumps into Palo Alto council race | July 29, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - July 29, 2022

Realtor Alex Comsa jumps into Palo Alto council race

Candidate wants to keep housing, economic recovery as top priorities

by Gennady Sheyner

Realtor Alex Comsa announced Wednesday that he will seek a seat on the Palo Alto City Council, joining a growing roster of candidates for the three open spots.

A native of Romania, Comsa moved to the Bay Area 25 years ago and lived in Fremont and San Jose before moving to Palo Alto in 2010. Prior to his current job at Coldwell Banker, he has worked at various startups and small businesses in operations, finance and marketing.

In announcing his candidacy, Comsa said he wants to keep housing and economic recovery on top of the council's agenda.

Though new to politics, Comsa, 49, believes his professional experience will help him manage the city budget and negotiate with developers to increase affordable housing, he wrote on his campaign website. In an interview, he touted his experience in negotiating more than $500 million in contracts in his various positions.

He said he looks forward to working with other council members "to reach a consensus on issues and achieve better outcomes from which our community would benefit to ensure the future we all want." He does not view his lack of City Hall experience as a liability.

"I have a fresh perspective and I see it as a positive in terms of having the energy, the commitment and a nonpartisan focus. It would lead to a more united, decisive and efficient City Council," Comsa told the Palo Alto Weekly.

Comsa said he particularly wants to focus on below-market-rate residences and adding housing to high-traffic corridors, which he said will allow the city to meet state mandates while preserving the charm and character of Palo Alto.

He believes having citywide limits on density and building heights is generally good for Palo Alto and wants to see city leaders negotiate with developers to build the needed housing.

"It's so critical to maintain the zoning control at city level and meet the Housing Element mandated by the state so that we can actually make decisions at the city level," Comsa said.

He also said he would like to focus more on public safety and to adopt technology such as smart street lighting systems and predictive modeling, which uses analytics and historic crime data to improve efficiency in the Police Department.

And he generally supports the city's push toward a business tax, particularly given that the proposals currently on the table would exempt most small businesses (his own business, he noted, would not be affected by any of the tax proposals currently under consideration).

He also said in a statement that he wants to prioritize climate change and help the city reach its "80x30" goal, which calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2030, with 1990 as the baseline. He wants to do that by enforcing performance standards and providing incentives for development of green technology, according to his campaign website.

Comsa is vying for one of three seats that will open up on the seven-member council at the end of the year, with council members Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth both terming out and council member Alison Cormack opting not to seek another term.

Mayor Pat Burt, while stopping short of endorsing Comsa, said in a statement that he is "pleased that Alex brings us another candidate for city council with a thoughtful and balanced approach to meeting our challenges."

Comsa is joining a growing candidate field that includes Ed Lauing, chair of the Planning and Transportation Commission; Lisa Forssell, a member of the Utilities Advisory Commission and producer at the design studio at Apple; Hope Lancero, a medical researcher at Stanford University; Vicki Veenker, a patent attorney and mediator; and Julie Lythcott-Haims, an author, educator and freshmen dean of Stanford University.

With Cormack opting not to seek a fresh term, candidates have until Aug. 17 to file their papers.

Email Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner at [email protected]

Comments

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2022 at 11:40 am

Annette is a registered user.

Housing and Climate Change. One can hardly be a candidate here w/o expressing concern about those two issues. If we had even 10 houses for every candidate who tells us he or she wants to "focus on below-market-rate residences and on adding housing to high-traffic corridors" we'd at least be progressing on that front. It is nice to read, though, that this candidate acknowledges the value of "preserving the charm and character of Palo Alto". Hope springs eternal.


Posted by Philomena Davis
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 28, 2022 at 1:42 pm

Philomena Davis is a registered user.

"Comsa said he particularly wants to focus on below-market-rate residences and on adding housing to high-traffic corridors, which he said will allow the city to meet state mandates while preserving the charm and character of Palo Alto."

^ Hopefully Mr. Comsa's objectives will include advocating for more rentals that accept Section 8 vouchers in South Palo Alto and redeveloping the entire Barron Park/El Camino strip with high-rise mixed-use housing.

That way the overall charm and character of 'classic' (aka north) Palo Alto will successfully be preserved.

South Palo Alto is the 'teardown' section of Palo Alto.


Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2022 at 2:18 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

A realtor with no previous experience serving in government that I know of. Has he ever served on a city commission or committee? Which one (s)? Given his stated interests, he could have applied to serve on the Housing Element Committee or the Planning & Transportation Commission, for instance. Did he? What does he actually know about how government works?

From his comments, I don't see much depth of knowledge. Serve. Learn. Then run. In government, experience matters A LOT.


Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jul 28, 2022 at 3:09 pm

Neighbor is a registered user.

I'm glad to see someone with material knowledge of housing and development policy running. Another neighbor importantly notes how important experience is and, in my opinion, said experience is best in the area the candidate cares about. EVERYONE cares A LOT about housing, yet we have no one other than Alex running or currently sitting on the city council with that knowledge. I will say, though, that I would like to see this candidate expand a bit on his public safety agenda - for example, why is the use of "analytics and historic crime data" needed? For what?


Posted by A resident of Barron Park
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 28, 2022 at 3:14 pm

A resident of Barron Park is a registered user.

Quote: "Comsa said he particularly wants to focus on below-market-rate residences and on adding housing to high-traffic corridors, which he said will allow the city to meet state mandates while preserving the charm and character of Palo Alto."

So those of us already living near those high traffic corridors will get to carry all the burden off congestion, traffic and noise, while residents of those low traffic so called charming neighborhoods get to keep their tranquility?
Burden should be shared by ALL Palo Alto residents, not just the ones who are already burdened.


Posted by Aaron Schaefer
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 28, 2022 at 4:14 pm

Aaron Schaefer is a registered user.

A real estate agent with developer connections is a good call for PACC member as the available housing issue has become a hot topic in Palo Alto.

@A resident of Barron Park...
I sympathize with your potential plight and concerns BUT as others may have mentioned, South Palo is best suited for development and the burden comes with the territory.

With all Palo Alto homes commanding high RE prices, a relocation is always a consideration...maybe to one of the more quite and quaint Palo Alto neighborhoods.


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2022 at 5:35 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Keeping charm and character of residential areas sounds more like a platitude to me. He is a realtor. His aim appears to work with developers even and not deal with the issues of infrastructure, parking and traffic which are serious issues now even without more housing. As for water and other facilities for additional residents, he seems to think that charm and character is all that is needed.

I would like to hear how he wants to deal with adding more residents without improving infrastructure.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 29, 2022 at 9:56 pm

Resident is a registered user.

So far, Comsa is the only candidate in the race with any experience/knowledge of housing and development, the most relevant issue PA faces today. We need candidates with practical experience who can actually help us solve our challenges, not government bureaucrats who have done nothing to benefit the city despite years of being in office. Good luck to Comsa—I look forward to the rest of his campaign.


Posted by Pat Markevitch
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 31, 2022 at 5:03 pm

Pat Markevitch is a registered user.

Resident: "So far, Comsa is the only candidate in the race with any experience/knowledge of housing and development, the most relevant issue PA faces today."

This is patently false. Ed Lauing has far more experience. In addition to his decades of community service, Ed Lauing is currently serving as the Chair of the Planning and Transportation Commission and he is also Co-Chair of the Housing Element Working Group. Ed will bring an enormous amount of experience to the City Council.


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