First 'Our Palo Alto' panel to focus on changing demographics

Residents invited to Wednesday discussion at Downtown Library

Palo Alto's attempt to engage residents in a conversation about the city's long-term future will kick off Wednesday and continue in the coming weeks as the city hosts three panel discussions focused on the city's changing demographics and housing challenges.

The first event of the city's "Our Palo Alto" initiative will take place Wednesday, April 23, at the Downtown Library and will focus on the question, "Who are we?" Moderated by former Mayor Sid Espinosa, the discussion will feature economist Steve Levy from the Center of Continuing Study of the California Economy, David Evan Harris from the Institute for the Future and Ann Dunkin from the Palo Alto Unified School District. The event will begin at 6 p.m. and will focus on the latest changes in the local population and projections for further shifts in the coming decades.

Participants will also have a chance to view "Made In America," an online archive of stories about families who moved to America and Palo Alto. Residents will also have a chance to contribute their own stories about the city as part of a project undertaken by the Palo Alto library.

The "Our Palo Alto" initiative coincides with the city's ongoing update of the Comprehensive Plan, the official land-use bible that the city hopes to adopt by the end of next year after nearly a decade of revision. It aims to reach out to residents who don't normally attend council meetings by hosting events outside of City Hall.

The conversation will continue later in the month with a discussion on Affordable Housing and challenges faced by renters, homebuyers and employers within the Palo Alto housing market.  There will be two opportunities to join in this discussion: Monday, April 28, at 3 p.m. at the Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road, and Wednesday, April 30, at 6 p.m. at the Elks Lodge, 4249 El Camino Real. Speakers will include Bena Chang of Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Genevieve Sharron of MIG Consultants.  

For more information about the April events, go to


Posted by Concerned citizen, a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 22, 2014 at 2:20 pm

I have no time to attend anymore meetings, with a City that isn't really listening. We gave them historic levels of feedback during the Maybell debates and the Council and staff only showed us just how totally insular and self-interested they are.

This is almost certainly a chance for City Council to tell us what we should think and get it in the paper. Oh brother.

Make it possible to have these conversations online. Make a virtual space where people can register and make their views heard, and then report on what the greater community is saying.

Posted by Susan, a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 22, 2014 at 2:40 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 22, 2014 at 2:53 pm

What a set up and what a waste of time. Steve Levy is a leader in transit-oriented and low cost housing and housing for everybody who wants it. [Portion removed.] Sid Espinosa follows that lead. What the longer term residents want is not a factor - or even considered. This entire panel on demographics is a joke. [Portion removed.]

Posted by Concerned citizen, a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 22, 2014 at 2:54 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Ray Bacchetti, a resident of University South
on Apr 22, 2014 at 5:08 pm

I applaud the City's approach to community engagement on vital questions about what kind of a community we are and want to become. What longer term residents want is indeed a factor, and all of them (us) don't want the same things. So let's talk and listen and see if we can come to some agreements on what kind a community will meet the needs of all of us, of all ages and durations of residency, all economic levels, and be genuinely inclusive. "Stop the world, I want to get off" isn't a terribly powerful social policy.

Posted by Susan, a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 22, 2014 at 5:19 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Jerry99, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2014 at 7:51 pm

Jerry99 is a registered user.

We have said it a hundred times. Palo Alto is crowded with people. NO MORE NEW APARTMENTS OR CONDOS OR TOWNHOUSES, NO MORE NEW TRAFFIC TO CLOG EL CAMINO. Leave the city as is. The City Council uses Barron Park as a dumping ground for low income housing. Within a mile of Aratadero and El Camino the there are five low income housing locations and that's probably as much as the rest of Palo Alto neighborhoods combined.

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South
on Apr 23, 2014 at 7:05 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Come on out to the meeting and judge for yourself. Especially come if you have not participated much before and have an open mind about choices we face as a community.

I wonder what these posters who are on track for the highest ever percent of deleted post portions are afraid you might learn about the diversity of who we are in Palo Alto.

This is not a policy meeting but a kickoff meeting on demographic and economic trends in our city. And some trends are pretty interesting.

I am happy to answer any questions you have at the meeting, on the blogs or by email.


Posted by FormerResident, a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 23, 2014 at 9:44 am

FormerResident is a registered user.

" . . . housing for everybody who wants it." Yes, Kate, what an outrageous, disturbing concept THAT is. Anti-Darwinian and un-American, even. But not to worry: "What the longer term residents want" is indeed a factor, the major factor, because they already have it.

Posted by Resident42, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Resident42 is a registered user.

If I remember correctly, the City's "Our Palo Alto" initiative arose in response to the Measure D fiasco -- not really City Hall's finest hour. At that point, some voices on the council called for input and reconciliation with Palo Alto residents, since there was very clearly a substantial disconnect.

I certainly hope to be mistaken about this, but: the agenda and speaker lineup suggest that Our Palo Alto doesn't actually have much to do with resident input at all, but instead will be a one-way lecture series extolling a very specific ideology, and one not shared by a majority of Palo Alto voters.

But I hope to be proven wrong.

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South
on Apr 23, 2014 at 3:15 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ resident42

Come on out and see for yourself.

I was on the call arranging the meeting format and the discussion is about who we are as residents and a city and changes likely to come--not about policy or ideology.

But see for yourself.

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South
on Apr 24, 2014 at 6:28 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

The room was full last night.

What did you think of the meeting?

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