With Election Day just around the corner, the nonprofit looking to build a bitterly contested housing development on Maybell Avenue has further widened its fundraising lead over the project's opponents by injecting another $60,000 into its political campaign.
According to campaign-finance data submitted Thursday, both the proponents and opponents of Measure D have greatly expanded their campaign coffers, receiving close to $20,000 each in contributions. The numbers show the "Yes on D" camp maintaining its wide fundraising edge, with more than $180,000 raised this year. Of this sum, $110,000 came from the developer, the Palo Alto Housing Corporation.
But the finance data also spells some good news for the project's opponents, who have seen their campaign coffers nearly triple in the final weeks before Election Day thanks to larger checks from residents of Barron Park and beyond. With the latest slew of donations, opponents of the City Council's decision to rezone the Maybell site to accommodate the project now have nearly $28,000 in the bank. Just a month ago, they had less than $7,600.
While the biggest difference between the project opponents, Palo Altans to Preserve Neighborhood Zoning and the proponents, Palo Altans for Affordable Senior Housing, is the Housing Corporation's $60,000 contribution, the "Yes on D" campaign has also received checks from numerous housing advocates, elected officials and local nonprofits. These include a $2,500 check from David Dunlop, a $1,000 check from the League of Women Voters, $4,500 from Sunshine Quality Services and $2,000 from Eden Housing, the developer of the recently built affordable-housing complex at 801 Alma Street. Councilman Larry Klein contributed $500 in the past month, while Councilwoman Gail Price kicked in another $150.
For opponents, almost all of the recent contributions came from individuals (the only exception is a $500 check from the law firm Inspiralaw). The largest contributions came from Lucy Yuan, who gave $5,000 to the campaign and from Laszlo Tokes, who gave $3,000. Joseph Hirsch, John Elman and Grace Wu each contributed $1,000 to the "No on D" campaign. The group's treasurer, Timothy Gray, contributed $400 in the latest period, which goes from Sept. 22 to Oct. 21.
The list of contributors to the "No on D" campaign also suggests that while the epicenter of opposition remains Barron Park, other parts of the city are also paying close attention. It includes land-use watchdogs and neighborhood leaders from various parts the city, including College Terrace's Fred Balin and Doria Summa, Elaine Meyer from University South, Neilson Buchanon from Downtown North and former planning commissioner Susan Fineberg from Greenmeadow.
If Measure D passes, the City Council's June decision to rezone the 2.4-acre orchard site to "planned community" will stand. This would allow the Housing Corporation to build a 60-unit apartment complex for low-income seniors and 12 single-family homes.