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Palo Alto Council: the battle for the fifth seat

Original post made on Nov 6, 2014

Lydia Kou and Cory Wolbach, candidates for Palo Alto City Council, have been locked in a razor-thin contest for the fifth and final seat since the first election results were released Tuesday night.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, November 6, 2014, 10:29 AM

Comments (53)

Posted by SV Women
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 6, 2014 at 10:58 am

Well, we know the Weekly's bias from this article.

I wish the male Weekly staff would examine their coverage of (and attitude towards) Kou for the common kinds of biases Silicon Valley women quietly complain about amongst themselves: preferences for men who are willing to speak as if they know more than they do even when women are quietly smarter and more competent and conservative about tooting their own horns, slamming women for things like "emotion" or "passion" (you know something, passion for actually DOING something turns out to be a good thing for doing something). Wolbach's passion seems to be for his political future, whereas Kou's is for a better more livable Palo Alto and then getting out of politics.

Wolbach's "support" may be widespread but shallow -- how many of those people relied on the Weekly's endorsement? The Weekly never bothered to give any questions related to Kou's wheelhouse, safety, which is an important civic issue, probably THE most important civic issue, about which most of the other candidates know very little if anything.

Lastly, the fact that Wolbach had any support in South Palo Alto speaks to the fact that most people didn't realize Palo Alto Forward is pushing high density urbanized housing, hard, not just housing. Many probably didn't realize that Wolbach had no civic engagement prior to running for coming in at the top. I'm guessing Kou had strong support in some areas because those are the voters who know something about her and have worked with her on civic issues. Wolbach doesn't have any of that, because he hasn't worked on any Palo Alto civic issues.

Kou is also the only candidate with an international background, and would bring some needed diversity to a Council that doesn't look much like Palo Alto (which isn't that diverse to begin with). Whenever there are list discussions with a lot of speculation, Kou is often one of the few voices quietly sending out the accurate history or facts. She really knows this town in a way that is relevant to serving on Council. Wolbach does not, but wants to overlay his ideological views.

And it's about time we had a candidate who knows and cares about this part of town. Luckily, Kou is still leading. Let's hope it holds. Why would a PASZ sweep be bad? The goal is to bring balance to planning and quality of life to our town again. Even developers should want that if they want to be here in the long run and be respected for their legacies rather than reviled.

Posted by SV Women
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 6, 2014 at 11:02 am

Wow, Just look at that towering photo of Wolbach above the eensy weensy photo of Kou. You could almost miss it or confuse it with the ads surrounding it. Sheesh. So much for impartiality...

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 6, 2014 at 11:07 am

PA Weekly's bias has been clear from the start. Out of curiosity I went back to earlier discussion on Town Square and saw how much higher the usage was before the moderator started censoring political discussions, including candidates' comments.

We ARE intelligent adults here and the PA Weekly owes us an explanation.

We all know how far the national media's credibility declined but I expect better here in a supposed bastion of educated people.

But back to the recent local election, Lydia Kou sent an email this morning saying she can't even confirm that her ballot was counted and urging everyone to check whether their own ballots were processed at Web Link

I originally lived Wollback but when he kept hedging on his view of ABAG, I figured we'd never get a straight answer and switched to another candidate.

I don't get the delay in processing all the ballots in one of the most technologically advanced places in the world.

Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 11:11 am

Cory may have gotten a lot of endorsements from insiders, but he's hardly a member of "the establishment" - assuming such a thing exists. He's an outsider who is passionate about a lot of things beyond civility, especially the housing crisis in Palo Alto.

Palo Alto has the highest rents of any city in the country. I know lots of people who rent and are afraid that they will be forced to leave the city. (This happened to me a couple years ago as rents skyrocketed and my family grew.)

This is an issue the incoming city council needs to focus on as a first-class issue. Some of the residentialists such as Tom Dubois have said good things about improving the housing supply, and I hope that the new council goes after this with real solutions.

Posted by 37 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2014 at 11:29 am

Why would anyone care what Anna Eshoo thinks? There may also be a racial component to this as many Asians "feel" it. Palo Altans are not as diversity embracing as many would like to think.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2014 at 11:37 am

With so many votes still to be counted, these types of analyses are premature.

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 6, 2014 at 11:42 am

I am surprised that the posts by SV Women have not been deleted; perhaps now that the voting is over the editor is being more generous. I hope the seat goes to Lydia Kou. She has served the community well, she is a creative thinker (e.g. Quakeville) and she ran a clean campaign. I think Cory will be a more compelling candidate in the future.

Posted by Voter
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 6, 2014 at 11:52 am

Online Name: Thanks for the link to check on whether my ballot has been counted. I just checked and it has NOT! I had an absentee ballot that I dropped off at my poling place the day of the election, so I know it isn't lost in the mail.

Everyone should check the status of their ballot.

At least one more vote coming for Kou when my ballot is counted.

Posted by Coriolanus
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 6, 2014 at 11:54 am

I personally find Wolbach to be duplicitous. He says one thing, but does quite another in reality. I don't think he is a safe bet for the city council.

Kou is much more straightforward and responsible. I hope she wins.

Posted by a woman and an immigrant
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 6, 2014 at 11:58 am

I'm a woman and an immigrant and neither of those things makes me in any way inclined to vote for Kou. People say she will bring diversity to the council- but [portion removed] in fact she supports policies that would assure that PAlo Alto's demographics will in fact continue to be richer and whiter. That's the only plausible conclusion from a woman who advocates no growth in the city. That means that everything here - retail, housing, office space- all of it will get more expensive and at least for today, that also means it'll get whiter. She's pushing this community to look like Atherton if she's pushing for their same approach to growth.

[Portion removed.]

Posted by Voter
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 6, 2014 at 12:07 pm

One comment on this article: I find it insulting that the weekly implied Kou is getting votes in south Palo Alto because she is Asian. That is insulting to her and every Asian person who voted for her.

Funny the article doesn't speculate that Wolbach got votes because he is a white male.

Posted by Election geek
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 12:13 pm

"Though he lives south of Oregon Expressway, he received broad support from Palo Alto's political scions and elected leaders, including Anna Eshoo, Rich Gordon and Joe Simitian."

Cory is on leave from his job as an aide to State Senator Jerry Hill. The establishment support for him comes from that connection.

On another note, anyone care to tally the results for candidates endorsed by Eshoo, Gordon, and Simitian? Simitian saved himself from a complete shut-out so far by late endorsements for Holman and Dubois, but voters ignored him on A.C. Johnston and Nancy Shepherd, both of whom he endorsed earlier. He endorsed Cory in the city council race so he may pick up one there, and will get either Foster or Godfrey, his endorsements in the school board race. But gone are the days when a Simitian endorsement held much sway, at least in this election.

Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: "Online Name" on delays in ballots being counted

From previous elections, Vote-by-Mail (VbM) ballots were about 85% of those cast in Palo Alto, but about 20% of those were received by the Registrar of Voters (RoV) on Election Day (arrived in the mail, submitted at a precinct polling place or other drop-off location). That is 15% of the total vote, or roughly the same number as ballots being cast at the precincts.

This year there were many, many more drop-off VbM ballots. At my precinct (Barron Park Elementary School), the workers told me the drop-offs were over 80% of the ballots -- I could see the level of the ballots in the collection boxes and would have guessed closer to 85-90% were VbM.

The delay comes because the signatures on the VbM ballots have to be verified before they can be counted. VbM ballots received before Election Day tend to have this done before the polls close and thus are counted quickly. Those received on Election Day often have a considerable delay.

Question that "we" should ask of the RoV: If the precinct workers are sitting idle most of the day (waiting for the stray in-person voter to wander in), why can't they be utilized to verify some of the signatures of the VbM ballots that are being dropped off in their own precinct -- those workers have the signature sheets for comparison and I don't see any difference between verifying the signature on the VbM ballot and verifying the signature of someone requesting a ballot to vote in-person at the precinct. The precinct workers wouldn't have to verify all the dropped-off VbM ballots handed in, only the ones that were convenient (they were not dealing with in-person voters at the time).

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 6, 2014 at 12:18 pm

A woman and an immigrant, I suggest you check the property rolls and school rolls and you'll see that the white population proportionately has been on a steady decline for years. Just check the names of the property buys and sellers or do a search and population trends. Go to the PA libraries and see how many foreign language materials there are and how many languages the checkout machines now support.

In fact, foreign buyers are increasingly using US real estate as a savings account as they rush to get their money out of their own countries.

Bob, re skyrocketing rents and growing families, welcome to reality. The more bedrooms you need for your growing family, the more expensive the rental.

Lots of people want to live in the most desirable areas; that's what makes them desirable. Maybe Atherton and Los Altos Hills here and Park Avenue and the Dakota in New York should be forced to lower their housing costs to what you want and/or can afford? Ain't gonna happen.

Until there's a recognition the Bay Area is facing a REGIONAL housing shortage, it seems really unfair for Palo Alto to bear the brunt of it while Atherton, Los Altos Hills, Portola Valley, etc. get to escape the traffic gridlock, increased density, pressure on schools, etc.

I'd hoped to see Cory specifically address ABAG requirements and he totally skirted the issue.

Posted by commonsense
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 12:25 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 6, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Anna Eschoo and some other political 'big whigs' who endorsed Palo Alto candidates do not live in Palo Alto. Hear Ye. Mind your own political business - and stay out of ours. Seeing those endorsements was a real 'turn off'. How stupid do you think astute Palo Alto voters are!!

Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Gennady, you imply that the precincts that Lydia did better in had more Asians; yet you don't mention that the precincts that Cory did better in had more Caucasians.

And since you are intent on bringing race into this, you should have analyzed the endorsement records of the "scions" or political elite - Simitian, Hill, Gordon, Eschoo, as well as past & current members of the political establishment, as well as the Weekly endorsement themselves. Statistics would point towards a bias.

Look at the Weekly endorsement of Scharff vs lack of endorsement for Shepard. Two peas from the same pod - voting the same way most of the time. You describe Shepard as having a "failure of leadership", while you describe Scharff as "smart,.. capable of being one of the leaders". Anyone who followed the Measure D fiasco knows that Scharff has burnt alot of bridges, and is viewed with mistrust. Does the Weekly even remember their editorial about how Scharff used his committee appointments to exclude Schmid, Holman & Burt from involvment in many issues?

So how the Weekly has treated Kou versus Wolbach, in my opinion has been biased; why the bias no one can know for sure, but to look at the bigger picture.

Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 6, 2014 at 12:33 pm

The County web site says that new results are updated at 9 p.m. daily.

At 12:30 p.m. on November 6 the count is:

Kou 4,913

Wobach 4,880

I turned my ballot in at City Hall, and the web site says my ballot has not been received. Another family member mailed the ballot and it has been received.

Tim Gray

Posted by Vote not counted
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 12:37 pm

My absentee ballot has also not been counted. One more Kou vote waiting to be tallied.

Posted by longtime resident
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2014 at 1:04 pm

May I say that I thought Gennady Sheyner's article was very informative and didn't seem biased at all. She gave some historic background information which is true, isn't it? I thought long and hard about which candidates to vote for for city council as I'm sure most voters did. I have been very unhappy with the actions of the city council and was looking for candidates who had some good, balanced ideas for the direction our city should go. For this reason I voted for both Corey Wolbach and Lydia Kou. I'm Caucasian (as if that makes any difference) and I voted for candidates who seemed to be free-thinking, intelligent, unbiased - and able to face the challenges ahead. I would have been extremely happy if both candidates had been among the five chosen. I am grateful at least that one will be chosen. One more thought - and this is important at the city, county, state AND national level. Let's put aside fighting and work together to solve problems. What everyone wants is a city where all citizens are welcome and we can live in peace together for the common good. Let's just work together and support each other.

Posted by long time voter
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 6, 2014 at 1:16 pm

To the PA Weekly: Please could you provide the Wolbach/Kou vote splits for Evergreen Park, College Terrace and Ventura? (Barron Park is not the only neighborhood west of the train tracks!)

Someone should alert the PASZ folks who've been tarring and feathering everyone who dares to question their non-civil approach to political discourse that since they won big time, they might try being civil and gracious about it. Not everyone who disagrees with their version of the facts on particular issues is a tool of the evil developers, and besides, you catch more flies with honey.

To Cory, thanks so much for raising the issue of civility in this campaign!

Posted by Demographics
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 1:22 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Zayda
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Zayda is a registered user.

Just a clarification for those who are concerned that their absentee ballots have not been received. We dropped our two ballots at the Los Altos Library on Sunday and as of today the SCC ROV website shows they have not been received. A phone call to a very helpful lady at the ROV confirmed that our ballots HAD BEEN RECEIVED. Apparently there is a disconnect between their internal computer database and the their website. Considering the number of ballots to be processed and the number of people who waited until the bitter end to turn them in, it is not surprising. Let's have a little patience and cut the ROV a little slack so they can do their job.

Posted by Zayda
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Zayda is a registered user.

@longtime voter and others who might be interested
If you go to the Registrar of Voters website to this link
Web Link
you will see a summary count of the votes. If you then click on the little HOUSE icon in the upper left corner, you will get a detailed count of the votes by precinct for each candidate. Unfortunately the 'map' version is pretty useless, but there are maps for which precincts are in which neighborhoods available on the ROV and City of PA websites.

Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@SV Women a resident of Green Acres

Welcome to Town Square. This is your first post, yet you have brought a lot of ideas to the square for discussion.

All the campaigning is behind us, the ballots are all in and it's just a matter of doing the tally and announcing the results, so whatever people say here now won't affect the outcome. But it sure is surfacing a lot of feelings!

Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 6, 2014 at 2:46 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

"A woman and an immigrant"-Actually, the more developed and populated Palo Alto became, the more expensive it became to buy a house, rent and live here. The more Palo Alto has been allowed to grow, the more exclusive and less diverse it became. Basically, the only people moving in are Asians and Whites. Your desire to have more density and more retail would just make this town even more expensive and more exclusive.

As far as Lydia Kou, nearly everyone on my block I've spoken with voted for her, regardless of their ethnic background, because we are so sick of the overdevelopment, density, noise and traffic, yet we live north of Oregon. We voted for her because of her position and ideas, not because of her ethnicity. If Wolbach had shared her views, we would have voted for him too.

Posted by gwenluce
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 3:09 pm

gwenluce is a registered user.

While I was very disappointed the PAW did not endorse my favorite candidate for City Council, I was even more disappointed in the bias expressed in this article. My Vote by Mail ballot is one more for Lydia that has not been counted - hopefully she will be given the opportunity to sit on the Council and we in Palo Alto will be so fortunate to have her working on our behalf!

Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

While we're waiting, I divided the total counted votes for for city council (46,002), as of the last posting of results, by the total votes on Measure D (11,883) to get a very rough idea of whether bullet balloting was being practiced, as recommended by some PASZ supporters. Result: 3.87 votes cast per voter. That seems to signal at least a partial success of the bullet balloting campaign, but I don't have numbers from other years to compare it to. I used to assume that voters would exercise all five of their choices if they've been following the campaign. How naive!

Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

On ethnicity and gender: observations from the Lydia Kou campaign team.

Kou's innermost campaign team was composed of a African-American male (her husband) and two Caucasian males (me being one).
Many of her Caucasian supporters were reluctant about participating in politics--they were upset about what was going on and enthusiastic about voting for her but unwilling to do much more than that. A common situation was someone who was willing to display a lawn sign (for their neighbors to see), but unwilling to be listed as an endorser on the website or brochures (broader public).

Donations to Kou's campaign skewed heavily toward Asian-Americans because the people willing to host fund-raising events and ask their friends were disproportionately the Asian-Americans among Kou's supporters. That is, the contributions were more determined by who was willing to *ask* rather than by who was willing to *give*. Anyone with experience in campaigns knows that *asking* is the key factor in getting donations.

There were lots of other splits that I observed that had nothing to do with ethnicity. Two big ones were how much a neighborhood had been sensitized to the problems, and online discussion of issues by residents.

Posted by Eric F
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 6, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Eric F is a registered user.

I don’t know anybody in this race who advocated zero housing growth; certainly Lydia didn’t. The only place I ever saw that kind of position was in some of the more zealous adverse campaign literature.

The cost of housing in Palo Alto is an incredibly challenging problem. Contributors include not only things many of us would consider negative, such as our high jobs-housing ratio; but also some things most people would consider positive, particularly the desirability of our school system, which one PAUSD analyst estimated adds typically $500K to the cost of a home here.

The hardest thing is that the demand for housing here is so high that in practice there’s no way we can build enough to bring the market price per square foot down. It’s possible we me may slow its growth some, but it’s not about to decline. So we need policies built around that reality.

That means we really need to decide as a community what we want from our housing. What is it we value most, and how can we design policies to foster it: A range of income diversity in town? More people who work here actually living here? Regional GHG reduction by San Francisco workers commuting from Palo Alto via Caltrain, instead of from elsewhere in cars? Seniors who could afford to live here when they were working, but can’t on Social Security? More low-square-footage options for people who want to live here and will trade off space? And how much of all these things? Because we can’t have all of everything, and none of this will come for free, either economically or noneconomically.

This is the real discussion we need to have. Yes I’m critical of ABAG, which seeks to impose housing mandates on Bay Area cities without consideration of local needs. But at the same time, we need to answer these questions for ourselves. It’s hard for us to go to ABAG and say, “your numbers are wrong,” if we don’t have our own conception of what the right numbers are.

I don't think this election was a referendum on housing, but given that nobody campaigned on a “Palo Alto should densely urbanize” platform, I don’t really see this as a “Residentialist” vs “Establishment” issue anyway. It’s more a question of planning, prioritization and judgment, and I suspect Lydia scored well on that axis with people who know her and looked beyond simple ideology.

Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Underdal's assumptions on PASZ bullet voting are ill-founded, as he partially acknowledges.

In past elections there has been a noticeable under-vote (people not voting for all the positions available) and there has been substantial voting for non-serious candidates, part of which was likely a protest vote against the serious candidates. For example, in the 2005 Council election, two candidates who withdrew too late to be removed from the ballot got 3966 votes (2430+1536) and if you add in Victor Frost at 1345 votes, you get a total of 5311 which is more than a candidate that waged an active well-funded campaign (4916 votes) finishing 7th in a contest for 5 seats.
NOTE: not all the votes for those candidates were protest votes, but it is impossible to tell how many were.

Candidate Mark Weiss is a partial proxy for protest vote: in crowded field in 2009, he got 732 votes; in a largely uncontested election in 2012 (6 candidates for 4 seats) he got 5649; in the current election, his current count is 1387.

Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

The tension we're feeling over this last seat is justified. I believe the dynamics on the council will be quite different depending on who wins out, Lydia Kou or Cory Wolbach.

Cory's key slogan in his campaign has been civility. Doug Moran, a key figure on Lydia's campaign team, argued on his Palo Alto Online blog (A Pragmatist's Take) in a post titled "In Defense of "Incivility" that a key problem in political life is too much civility.

One or the other will be working with eight colleagues to resolve the knotty dilemmas that confront the city as they try to accommodate competing interests. Whichever one it is (already determined, just not known), I hope we get a city council that will gain the confidence of the community as it works to take Palo Alto beyond the rough patch we've been in and restore respect for the motives and competence of city government.

Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2014 at 4:24 pm

pat is a registered user.

> "While [Kou], like the other residentialists during the campaign, occasionally sounded angry and frustrated in talking about the council's recent land-use decisions, Wolbach has been at his most passionate, strangely enough, when talking about civility."

What’s wrong with sounding angry and frustrated? We ARE angry and frustrated! And why not? Palo Alto is a mess, resulting from years of unchecked growth and “public benefits” that benefit only developers.

One of the biggest problems at City Hall is the pervasive “niceness” and back-patting. Any resident who dares question the status quo is branded a NIMBY or worse.

We have too much “civility” and not enough honest and passionate discussion. See Web Link

@ a woman and an immigrant: Lydia Kou does NOT “advocate no growth in the city.”

You probably got that impression from the ad run by Palo Altans for Good Government (PAGG) aka the establishment, in support of Cory Wolbach and 3 others.

The ad claimed “The slate sponsored by Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning (PASZ) advocates no growth.” An out-and-out lie.

One of the sponsors of the ad is Betsy Bechtel, honorary co-chair for Mr. Wolbach’s campaign.

The California Code of Fair Campaign Practices commits a candidate to "immediately and publicly repudiate" "methods and tactics that I condemn."

Since Mr. Wolbach’s main (and perhaps only) platform plank seems to be civility, did he sign the code? In any case, why he did not repudiate this very uncivil ad? ((More details at: Web Link )

Finally, let’s talk about Kou sounding “angry and frustrated.”

Heaven save us from angry and frustrated women, right? Angry women are not "nice," and often perceived as being too emotional. We like men who are bold & aggressive, but we want women to be "lady-like."

"... in 2008, when Hillary Clinton, a front-runner for the democratic presidential candidacy, was called 'too angry to be elected president' by a prominent Republican. A look back at Clinton's years as First Lady and as a U.S. senator shows that she was met with even more vitriol for being assertive." Web Link

Whatever your opinion of Clinton, that statement could be made – and has been made! – about any powerful woman in business or politics. So please, let’s not start that very uncivil discussion about women in Palo Alto.

Posted by jig
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2014 at 4:32 pm

jig is a registered user.

It's been quite interesting experience reading the election endorsements and coverage on PA Online. As someone who's new to this venue, I found it helpful, yet the comments are even more enlightening to me. Just want to say that our family's absentee ballots, dropped off the day before, have not been counted yet.

Posted by Eric F
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 6, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Eric F is a registered user.

If I recall Doug’s discussion of “civility,” it included the use of that term as a vague and innocuous word that people sometimes use in order to avoid taking specific stances on issues. I personally don’t recall seeing a big civility deficit on the last council. I’m going to propose here that the next one should gain the confidence of the community not through improved civility, but through competence and execution on resident priorities.

Posted by long view
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2014 at 4:52 pm

long view is a registered user.

I agree with the commenters who state there is a regional housing shortage. Palo Alto has certainly contributed to that shortage. I was not able to vote for candidates (Kou and Filseth) who sought to save me from future affordable housing - I've gotten accustomed to the look of 801 Alma, and I know the low income families living there are breathing a sigh of relief to have affordable housing. I also could not vote for candidates (Filseth, Sheppard, Kou and others, I expect), who sought to save me from ABAG mandates, even given the ineffectiveness of housing elements. I appreciated that Wolbach at least mentioned that city actions should not make our regional jobs housing imbalance even worse. Also, I still remember the anti Maybell campaigners saying "we support affordable housing, as long as it isn't dense". Excuse me, that means you oppose affordable housing. I hope that we will hear clearer logic and less distortion from the residentialists who the city has elected.

Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 6, 2014 at 5:16 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Affordable housing in Palo Alto is a pipe dream, there's no such thing-Palo Alto is an incredibly expensive place to live in, it's highly unaffordable for most, and we shouldn't indulge in subsidize housing. I don't see pressure on Woodside, Los Altos Hills, Atherton, or Bell Air, Malibu and the Hamptons for that matter to build affordable housing, it's ridiculous. People should live where they can afford to live. The alternative, which I would strongly support, would foremployers to pay high salaries to lower level workers so they can afford to live in desirable areas. I may be old fashioned, but I never tried to live in areas I couldn't afford to live in, and I never expected others to provide affordable housing for me.

Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2014 at 5:21 pm

pat is a registered user.

There are those who argue that building a lot more housing will solve the affordable housing problem.

This theory is advanced all over the Bay Area in attempt to build more taller denser housing units – even as many cities, like “Googletown,” add millions of square feet of office space to exacerbate the housing problem,e.g.,
Mt View: San Antonio precise plan includes 600,000 sq ft of office space
San Antonio plan adds 3,000 jobs and 1,200 homes
Web Link

With land selling for $10M+ per acre, developers are not likely to build affordable units. In fact, many developers are paying millions to avoid including BMR units in their projects:

- S.F. developer cuts deal for break on affordable-unit rule
"The developer of a 52-story Transbay district high-rise has cut a deal with the city to pay $13.85 million to avoid including 11 below-market-rate condominiums ..."
Web Link

- Palo Alto settles suit over affordable housing
"Sterling Park will be obligated to provide one below-market-rate unit and contribute $8 million in "in-lieu fees" to the city's affordable-housing fund." Web Link

This recent paper puts the nail in the coffin of the supply/demand theory:
Web Link

Posted by Cheryl Lilienstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Cheryl Lilienstein is a registered user.

For those who want to know why the vote counting is not faster I'm offering an explanation.

About 72% of Palo Alto voters get a Vote by Mail ballot. Vote by Mail voters sign the outside of the envelope that is mailed back to the ROV. There, the ROV employees check your signature against one that is on file there. IF the signature doesn't match, the ballot is set aside, and given to someone else to check. Usually they accept it. If not it stays set aside (and I'm not sure what happens then.) The signature check is to ensure it was you. ONce the signature is verified, and accepted, the envelope is opened and the ballot is placed in a stack to be counted. So if you mailed your ballot into the ROV early, it was counted early and the results were posted at 8 PM on Tuesday.

If you dropped off your Vote By Mail ballot at the polling place or any other official site, it has not yet been counted yet because the signature checks take time.

If you voted at the polls, when you walk in, your voter registration is checked before you vote, and you are given a ballot, and after you make your choices the ballot is placed in a box with all the other ballots that were cast that day. (Vote by Mail Ballots go into a different pile) After the polls close, the ballots are taken to the ROV's office, and the ones cast on Tuesday are counted. The vote totals that are presently on file are a compilation of the VBMs that were received prior to voting day, and the ballots cast on voting day.

The VBMs that were dropped off have not yet gone through the signature verification process. Once that is done, we'll know the final count.

For those who wish this was faster in the tech capital of the world, be careful what you wish for. The electronic voting machines (which took a lot of effort to retire) that were SO FAST were also SO INSECURE that "elected" officials could not verify that they were "elected." The effort to bring back paper ballots that are readable by THE HUMAN EYE to enable audits or recounts was a very big nationwide effort. We are fortunate that the state of CA has mostly paper ballots. Unfortunately the VBM system has elongated the counting period, but that's WAY better than not having confidence that the vote count is accurate. For those who poo poo this issue, please look for posts from computer scientists at U Penn re: electronic voting system insecurity.

Still, there are some states that have entirely electronic systems without any capacity to recount, for instance, Georgia. They don't bother recounting because even if the vote was tampered, you'd get the same result. No paper trail. Just electrons. So much for "democracy" in Georgia. Whoever controls the machines....etc.

So I'm glad to have slow counts in CA, and the capacity to ensure that votes are counted as cast, instead of altered to suit someone else's choices.

Posted by Cheryl Lilienstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Cheryl Lilienstein is a registered user.

Lest you ever question whether every vote counts,
Lydia Kou is up by 38 votes.
Every vote counts.

Posted by Cheryl Lilienstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Cheryl Lilienstein is a registered user.

Reemphasizing, for the future....

that voting ONLY for those candidates that you know, and trust, maximizes the likelihood that those candidates will win.

Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.


"Affordable housing in Palo Alto is a pipe dream"

So we've been told. Yet every member on the city council, including three (Holman, Schmid and Burt) who are aligned with the new "residentialists" spoke last month of the need to promote affordable housing. I hope they will be persuasive in their caucus when the new council take their seats.

Those who are convinced there is no role for an affordable housing program [portion removed] should listen to what the three council members above have to say and then decide if affordable housing is a pipe dream.

Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@pat, a resident of Midtown

"This recent paper puts the nail in the coffin of the supply/demand theory:"

Great link! "Developers Aren't Going to Solve the Housing Crisis in San Francisco." I take hope from the end of the article: "So far this has been a lot of what doesn't work. Here are some creative ideas, presented briefly, for what could work to build housing for working-class people in San Francisco." This is followed by 14 ideas to 1) protect existing tenants, 2) build new affordable housing, and 3) initiate state and regional strategies.

I expect these will be among the options our city will explore.

Posted by Margaret Fruth
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 6, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Margaret Fruth is a registered user.

Ready to be depressed? Menlo Park documentary filmmaker shows it all, in Stealing America: Vote by Vote.

Web Link

Posted by rick
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2014 at 8:33 pm

rick is a registered user.

@Cheryl, thank you for the details about the process. I voted the old-fashioned way, as a registered walk-in at my polling place, entering my signature and address on a page in their official binder, showing no other identification. Is my signature verified vs one somewhere on file?

Note about precincts: the Registrar's maps shows me in the middle of precinct 2026, but my sample ballot indicates precinct 2025. I assume there has been consolidation of polling places and vote counts. The election results page lists no precinct 2026.

Posted by 42apples
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 6, 2014 at 11:00 pm

42apples is a registered user.

@Online Name

"Until there's a recognition the Bay Area is facing a REGIONAL housing shortage, it seems really unfair for Palo Alto to bear the brunt of it while Atherton, Los Altos Hills, Portola Valley, etc. get to escape the traffic gridlock, increased density, pressure on schools, etc."

There IS recognition that the Bay Area is facing a regional housing shortage. Other than Atherton, the cities you mention have extremely unfavorable geography. They are also utterly lacking in necessary retail and infrastructure, and have no existing higher-density housing to expand on.

Other than in Palo Alto, much other the electorate voted in favor of more housing. Mountain View elected all 3 pro-housing candidates, Berkeley voted 75% against an anti-growth measure, and San Bruno voters raised height limits downtown. Palo Alto Forward is also very aware that we have a regional housing issue and no one city will solve it.

Posted by D. Michael
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 6, 2014 at 11:40 pm

D. Michael is a registered user.

Back to Gennady's story: I thought he did a fine job of telling it like it is in Palo Alto: Cory's base was wide and Lydia's was deep. Big deal. I consider myself a Residentialist. I voted for 4 candidates [only] and wrote checks to support them, Lydia included. She got my money and my vote be/c I felt she would make a good teammate along with the other 3 residentialist candidates. At the same time I can understand why Lydia's base was deep in the South part of Palo Alto. First, be/c of her activism and involvement in Measure D, and secondly be/c of the very likely perception among the Asian community that Lydia would bring some diversity of representation to a new and improved City Council. Why is that not a realistic sentiment? My fervent hope is that Lydia will gain the 5th seat on Council, that she will join w/ Karen, Tom and Eric in turning the Titanic toward a more rational land use policy, and that she will make Asians feel their voice is being heard in City Hall.

Posted by Sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 7, 2014 at 2:30 am

Sea REDDY is a registered user.

Hello all

The 'residentialists' have won.

I voted for Lydia. She is a nice woman and will do well on the city council. He need more females.

Also, she will fit in well with the 'residentialists'. who worked all together with Lydia and Karen with them together.

Cory is a nice young man. He will do well.

Changing the topic:

On the County website there are two columns; VOTES and Percent.

I understand the VOTES
I do not understand the Percent.

I think the formula is incorrect. (they are using the wrong formula like when there are only '1' to be chosen. Here there are '5' to be chosen.)

How many Palo Alto registered in 2014?
How many voted this time in 2014?


Posted by Sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 7, 2014 at 3:13 am

Sea REDDY is a registered user.

Hello Palo Alto citizens

The Santa Clara county website information is misleading about the percentages. You might say who cares.

The truth needs to come out

How many citizens are registered in Palo Alto for the November 2014?
How many have voted?

It cant be 50,027; it is probably 8500 that voted because the largest count is Karen Holman at 7741. Let us if some did not vote for city council; it is probably around 8500. P

lease help to figure this out.

The current calculation on % are incorrect.


Posted by Sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 7, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Sea REDDY is a registered user.

Hello Palo Alto Citizens

I have contacted the Registrar of Voters about incorrect reporting on the % information.

They are looking into it and promised to call back today.


Posted by Sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 7, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Sea REDDY is a registered user.

I received a call from the registrar of voters

Palo Alto registered voters 36,781 for Nov 4, 2014 election

Number of ballots received 14,950 for Nov 4, 2014


Sea Reddy got 896 votes means 896 people out of 14,950; that means about 5.9 percent.

Posted by long view
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2014 at 3:31 pm

long view is a registered user.

Palo Alto Housing Corp lists 20 affordable rental properties, with a total of over 650 units. One property was acquired in 2010. One was built in 2011. There are many other affordable housing sites in Palo Alto. Creating affordable housing is slow, and it is doing.

Posted by Sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 11, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Sea REDDY is a registered user.


If Cory gets ahead and it is also a good thing? right? He has connections in the right places. Jerry Hill - Waw!!

If Lydia gets elected, she has a beautiful smile and good heart!

We can't go wrong with either one.


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