Deciding Palo Alto's future growth

City Council will play crucial role in deciding how city should grow in the next 15 years.


Hamilton Hitchings

The biggest issue in this year's City Council race is deciding how Palo Alto should grow. This year's council election is particularly important because the newly elected council will vote on adopting Palo Alto's Comprehensive Plan Update. This document defines the city's policies toward growth for the next 15 years and will be the basis for the city's zoning.

I love the fact that Palo Alto is a family-oriented town with great schools, an active community, tree-lined streets and many parks, environmental leadership, innovative startups and great city services.

Because the CAC is an advisory committee, the controversial issues will be decided by the next City Council. Specifically, two of the most controversial issues that will be voted on are whether to continue the annual office cap and whether to remove the 50-foot height limit. How will votes on these issues affect housing, parking and traffic?

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Opposition to New Office Space Unites Candidates


While they split on housing policies, everyone agrees that office development should be capped or halted

Lydia Kou thinks that the city's recently instituted cap on office development should be expanded to Stanford Research Park.

Arthur Keller wants the office cap, which is set to expire when the city adopts its Comprehensive Plan, to be made permanent.

[Read full story at Palo Alto Weekly]


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PASZ Endorses Four for Palo Alto City Council:

Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth, Karen Holman and Lydia Kou

Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning (PASZ), a grassroots organization dedicated to advocacy on land use, parking and transportation issues, has endorsed four candidates for the Palo Alto City Council: three first-time candidates and one incumbent.


The fresh voices are first-time candidates Tom DuBois of Midtown, Eric Filseth of Downtown North, and Lydia Kou of Barron Park. All three have demonstrated meaningful and effective advocacy on important Palo Alto land use and other civic issues.

The fourth PASZ-endorsed candidate, incumbent Karen Holman, has been a consistent advocate in support of residents during her term on the City Council as well as during her eight years on the Planning & Transportation Commission.

“Recently, there’s been a lot not to like about the density trends in Palo Alto. I support just these four candidates because I trust them to reverse the trend of overly dense development and hostile architecture, and to protect the quality of life that makes living in Palo Alto worthwhile,” said PASZ board member, Joe Hirsch.

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Group grades City Council's 'residentialist' credentials

paloalto_weekly_logo.jpgKaren Holman and Greg Schmid win top grades in Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning survey

The group, which was formed during last year's divisive Measure D referendum campaign, identified 20 votes that the council has taken since 2012 that relate to land use and development. It gave each council member either a "l" for what it called a "resident-favorable" vote or a "0" for a "residentunfavorable" one. In the survey, favorable votes tend to be those that oppose new developments, promote solutions to downtown's traffic and parking woes, and resist "upzoning" of local sites to enable denser developments.

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Group Issues Palo Alto Council Scorecard

daily_news_front_page.jpgIncumbents Scharff, Shepherd receive poor scores on land use, but question objectivity of Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning

BY JASON GREEN Daily News Staff Writer 

The grassroots group that successfully campaigned against the controversial Maybell Avenue project in Palo Alto last fall has produced a “pro-resident voting scorecard” it says shows where City Council members, including three running for re-election, stand on the critical issues of land use and development policy.

But two of the incumbents who received poor scores, Councilman Greg Scharff and Mayor Nancy Shepherd, are questioning the objectivity of the scorecard,
 saying some of their decisions were actually beneficial or based on a narrow set of parameters. Meanwhile, the third incumbent, Councilwoman Karen Holman, shared a two-way tie for the highest score.

Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, now a registered political action committee, selected 20 votes involving land use and development policy where there was a potential adverse impact to residents, according to member Cheryl Lilienstein. The scorecard covers the period from 2012 to mid-2014.

 [read Daily News story]

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Council Members' 'Grades' Disputed

daily_post_logo_small.jpgResidentialist group weighed 20 votes

BY BREENA KERR, Daily Post Staff Writer

Palo Alto's Residentialist group says it has created a fair way to judge City Council members: a "scorecard" based on 20 votes it identified as the most important for these who live in the city. But some council members said the scorecard is biased and misleading.

''We thought all voters needed to see what the historical record shows about how the City Council has chosen things that affect us" said Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning (PASZ) President Cheryl Liliensteln. 'Almost all the city council members are sounding very much alike. This is the only way for voters to understand how the incumbents voted." 

The votes that the council members were judged on lnclude some of the most memorable votes of the past two years. Those include the unanimously approved Maybell development, which would have allowed 60 low-income senior apartments and 12 single-family homes to be put on Maybell Avenue. But residents put a referendum on the ballot and formed PASZ after voters stopped the project.

[published in the Daily Post 9/26/2014]

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Editorial: A half-hearted mea culpa

Proposed city response to Grand Jury falls short

While it acknowledges some sloppiness and poor judgment in keeping information from the public, the City of Palo Alto's defensive draft response to a highly critical and embarrassing grand-jury investigation hardly paints a reassuring picture of lessons learned.

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Doug Moran's Excellent Blogs

A Pragmatist's Take

A Pragmatist's Take

By Douglas Moran

E-mail Douglas Moran

About this blog: As a teenager (in the 1960s), I stumbled across the insight that real power doesn't reside with those who make the final decision, but with those who decide what qualifies as the viable choices. As a grad student, I belonged to an


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Voters Reject Affordable Senior Housing Project in Palo Alto

The D in Palo Alto's Measure D might as well have stood for defeat.

More than 56 percent of the 11,473 people who cast ballots in Tuesday's election voted against the measure, according to unofficial, semi-final election results posted by the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.

Measure D -- which only needed a simple majority to pass -- would have given the nonprofit Palo Alto Housing Corporation permission to build a 60-unit apartment complex for seniors who make 30 to 60 percent of area median income as well as a dozen single-family houses at 567-595 Maybell Ave. The homes would have helped pay for the apartments.

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Measure D Fails to Pass

by Lizzie Chun and Eric Lu
Published November 6, 2013

Voting on Palo Alto’s Measure D, which proposed to build 60 new affordable homes for seniors and 12 single family residences along Maybell and Clemo Avenues, took place on Tuesday at Palo Alto High School’s Tower Building, among other locations around the city. The majority of the voting community rejected the measure, with about 56% against the ordinance. Photo by Eric Lu.

After much public debate over Measure D’s proposed affordable senior and family housing plan, Palo Alto residents flattened the ordinance Tuesday night at the voting polls, cutting short the planned development’s future.

The unofficial, semi-final results reported a tally of 6,330 for and 8,210 against the Measure D ordinance. These results translate into a 56.46% majority vote against the measure, according to Santa Clara County’s Registrar of Voters site.


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