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Tom DuBois enters race for City Council

Original post made on Jun 2, 2014

Tom DuBois, a Midtown resident who jumped into Palo Alto's land-use politics during last year's heated battle over a housing development on Maybell Avenue, announced Monday that he will seek a seat on the City Council in November.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, June 2, 2014, 5:37 PM

Comments (40)

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Posted by Excellent!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2014 at 11:44 pm

He sounds like a candidate I want on the council! Someone with sense who does not want to see Palo Alto sold to developers!

I can't wait to see his detailed, candidate platform.

All: Watch out for the same old hacks claiming to be anti-developer now as that is clearly the community sentiment. I tiger doesn't change his stripes! Vote for those with a clear track-record of smart, sensible zoning and development. Vote for those who hold Palo Alto's Comprehensive Plan as the definitive law governing Palo Alto's land use and zoning.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 2, 2014 at 11:52 pm

I'm really glad to see Tom in the race. Now we need a slate of Residentialists we can vote in together!


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2014 at 7:53 am

Thank you for entering the race and welcome to the fray. We need some good candidates and real issues need to be debated.

I hope you have a thick skin.


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Posted by Thanks Weekly!
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 3, 2014 at 8:05 am

Heartbreaking to think that this guy could take Gail's seat. [Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 3, 2014 at 9:27 am

How do I contact him to help his running for city council?


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Posted by Thanks!
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 3, 2014 at 10:24 am

Tom, you have my vote and my support, as well as my gratitude for running.

4 more residentialists needed! The developers will surely be throwing a lot of cash Nancy Sheppard and Greg Scharff's way, which measure D has shown can be easily overcome with some grassroots outreach.


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Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 3, 2014 at 10:52 am

I'm smiling!! Now three more like this. Maybe we can turn this town back where the residents want it, not the developers.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 3, 2014 at 10:52 am

I'm smiling!! Now three more like this. Maybe we can turn this town back where the residents want it, not the developers.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 3, 2014 at 10:53 am

Just the man we need in Menlo Park!

I wonder what Peter Carpenter will have to say?


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2014 at 11:32 am

> Vote for those who hold Palo Alto's Comprehensive Plan as the
> definitive law governing Palo Alto's land use and zoning.

Be careful for what you wish. The Comprehensive Plan is generally created by a small number of people, not read by very many, and has in the past reflected the political agendas of those creating it more than actually considering the long-term needs of the City. Moreover, it is not put on the ballot for the approval of the electorate.

People who bow down to the Comprehensive Plan like it was so
me sort of sacred document are not likely to have much idea how the Plan will affect Palo Alto, or their own neighborhoods.

While having a plan seems like a good thing, locking up any city's future for a decade or more, without the public having much of a say in the matter, doesn't really seem like that intelligent thing to do.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 3, 2014 at 12:37 pm

@ Joe,
The trouble is that as a charter city, we lose the protections other cities have -- for example, Measure D would never had been necessary as the City would have known the residents could overturn their ordinance in court as a "spot zone", and get their legal fees to boot.

We do have some recourse to challenge the Comp Plan if at the end, it's a bad one, and we should be watching that process like hawks, and then challenge it if the council has boobytrapped it for developers (as they are likely to attempt to do). We desperately need people on the Council who will work for residents' interests, especially now.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2014 at 12:44 pm

> The trouble is that as a charter city, we lose the protections
> other cities have

Not sure that I follow. Care to explain this in some detail? (Include who "we" is).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Vote for DuBois
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 3, 2014 at 1:14 pm



I so hope that the three others will have the same vision as Tom DuBois. He has my vote already.

And @Thanks Weekly!, if Gail Price wasn't going to work towards the desires of the residents of Palo Alto, then it will be ok if Tom DuBois takes her seat.


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Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 3, 2014 at 1:50 pm

I do not know Tom DuBois but this write-up is encouraging. I hope others who agree with his approach to growth and development will run b/c it will take a united stand to overcome the voting blocs that currently exist on Council.


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Posted by Sigh of Relief
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 3, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Makes me feel much better just to know this!


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Posted by resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 3, 2014 at 2:53 pm

@ Joe,
>The trouble is that as a charter city, we lose the protections
> other cities have

>Not sure that I follow. Care to explain this in some detail? (Include who "we" >is)

So, forgive any division of powers blunders, but as far as I understand it, cities have rules/codes that are the law at that level of government (city level). Some cities like ours in our state have charters, so certain state laws don't apply to us because our charter governs those things. We residents of California cities get the right to have our own charter. Cities that don't have charters get their codes from the state - which include zoning rules. Those rules make it illegal to "spot zone", so in my example, residents would not have had to go to referendum to oppose an illegal spot zone at Maybell, they could simply have taken their complaint to court and gotten the ordinance thrown own. For this kind of overdevelopment pressure we are facing, we would actually be in better shape if we weren't a charter city.

Most big cities are charter cities, though, for good reasons. We do need the flexibility. But the past year showed us just how weak our resident protections are in regards to zoning, for example -- after residents referended over Maybell, the City Attorney got to write the ballot question and analysis and never even offered a comparison of costs, she just basically illegally shilled for the Council's perspective. If we didn't have a charter, we wouldn't have much recourse, but since we do, we can do what some other cities like SF have done and change the election code, which is in our charter, so that we have an impartial ballot committee process rather than letting the City attorney stack the election they he or she did for High Street, and for Measure D. That will improve the ability of citizen of PA (we) in the future to stop violations of the zoning code.

Another way some charter cities do it is to have their vision in the Comp Plan enforceable. We don't. I think we should, but we should also make it possible to challenge the Comp Plan as need be.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by taxpayer
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 3, 2014 at 2:58 pm

It would be a great win for the residents of PA if Dubois was elected and Shepherd was voted off the council. [Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 3, 2014 at 3:24 pm

A welcome addition to the candidates for PA City Council! We desperately need new voices and he sounds intelligent. The other thing we need is a high caliber CPA-type as I am unimpressed by the complicated and excessive expenditures of city hall.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2014 at 4:14 pm

@resident ..

Thanks for taking the time to try to explain your notion of what a California Charter City is. I don't think that most of your narrative is correct, however. For instance, zoning codes do not come from Sacramento:

Web Link

GOVERNMENT CODE
SECTION 65850-65863.13

65850. The legislative body of any county or city may, pursuant to
this chapter, adopt ordinances that do any of the following:
(a) Regulate the use of buildings, structures, and land as between
industry, business, residences, open space, including agriculture,
recreation, enjoyment of scenic beauty, use of natural resources, and
other purposes.
(b) Regulate signs and billboards.
(c) Regulate all of the following:
(1) The location, height, bulk, number of stories, and size of
buildings and structures.
(2) The size and use of lots, yards, courts, and other open
spaces.
(3) The percentage of a lot which may be occupied by a building or
structure.
(4) The intensity of land use.
(d) Establish requirements for offstreet parking and loading.
(e) Establish and maintain building setback lines.
(f) Create civic districts around civic centers, public parks,
public buildings, or public grounds, and establish regulations for
those civic districts.
----
It would appear that General Law Cities can make their own zoning codes, for this begining section of Government code.

The complexity of the issues of Charter cities is far beyond the limited scope of a Weekly blog. Suggest that you looking into municipal charters a little more deeply, as you might be surprised at what you find.


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Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 3, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Over the years there have been many city council candidates who ran as "residentialists", proclaiming themselves to be staunch environmentalists and supporters of sustainable and slow growth. Once they were elected, they seemed to have never met a development they didn't like, or a developer they didn't like for that matter. I know nothing about Mr. DuBois, but hopefully, if elected, he would become the first residentialist candidate who actually stuck to his values and promises.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 3, 2014 at 5:20 pm

@Joe,
Ah, okay. But I'm not wrong about what's relevant to my original post -- The state law is the framework and charter cities don't have to follow the framework the same way other cities do.

Here's from the state of California's own explanation about land use:
Web Link
"State law is the foundation for local planning in California. The California Government Code (Sections 65000 et seq.) contains many of the laws pertaining to the regulation of land uses by local governments including: the general plan requirement, specific plans, subdivisions, and zoning.

However, the State is seldom involved in local land use and development decisions; these have been delegated to the city councils and boards of supervisors of the individual cities and counties. Local decisionmakers adopt their own sets of land use policies and regulations based upon the state laws."

And

"In all counties, general law cities, and the city of Los Angeles, zoning must comply with the general plan. This rule does not apply to charter cities.

The purpose of zoning is to implement the policies of the general plan."

And

"The council or board is not obligated to approve requests for rezoning and, except in charter cities, must deny such requests when the proposed zone conflicts with the general plan."

Lots of rules flowing from state mandates, EXCEPT IN CHARTER CITIES. We can, of our own accord, make following the general plan mandatory, as many other charter cities do.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sue B
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 3, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Thank you for stepping up Tom. Thank you for your vision of limiting office development. Since ABAG ties housing requirements to the number of jobs in the city, every new office building will increase the number of housing units we have to build to satisfy ABAG. It is an upward spiral with no end in sight.

Thanks for running, I'm looking forward to some sanity on the city council, and some representation for the folks who live here, not just the developers.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 3, 2014 at 6:25 pm

I am with u Tom, We still need more of u to step up


 +   Like this comment
Posted by We'll see
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 3, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Hopefully Mr.DuBois will bring new optimism and reason to a council sorely lacking credibility. Residents can only hope Mr. DuBois can move the current council to replace the current city manager with a educated, competent, and progressive manager who is able, willing, and motivated to move our city forward.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Today on the business channel CNBC, they ran a segment on the upward spiral
of commerical office rents in Palo Alto and Silicon Valley in general. Rents have increased 70% in PA over the last 4 years they said in what is the strongest market anywhere. So in this market, in PA our Council and staff have supported bonuses, design exceptions, breaking height limits, upzoning through PC's, and parking exemptions to our local developers to subsidize them, ruining our adjacent neighborhoods, our streetscapes, creating traffic gridlock, and exacerbating the jobs/housing imbalance which strengthens ABAG's position creating pressure for more development. This giveaway to local developers in Palo Alto is the other half of this story which CNBC missed. It too is a business story- and much more.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Another Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 3, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Yes, Resident.

Even if we can't stop development, we should better manage it.

Given the extremely strong market for development in Palo Alto, one would think we could ask for the moon from developers and get it.

If so, new developments should begin paying to undo the damage done by under-compensated development over the last 15 years.

There is a large cost to the city (not to the city government, but to the city itself) for increased density. Shouldn't the developers who benefit so much from it pay that cost?


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Posted by Margaret Fruth
a resident of Ventura
on Jun 3, 2014 at 9:26 pm

Margaret Fruth is a registered user.

I know Tom personally, and I believe he's the real deal. I am pleased to endorse him for election to the Palo Alto City Council.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 3, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

Thank you all for the kind words and encouragement. This was not a decision I made lightly; I am looking forward to the campaign and hearing all the issues that residents care about.

Google hasn't quite found my website yet, but if you are interested in learning more and/or supporting me, please visit Web Link

Tom


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2014 at 8:39 am

@Resident has kindly offered us his view of what a Charter is. The following is a fairly concise of the powers, and limitations, of California Charter Cities:

Web Link

The reason that is is important during an election year is that candidates, and the electorate, should be aware of the difference between general law cities, and charter cities, since the law making process becomes a little more complicated, as poorly crafted laws might result in litigation, or voter-initiated overturning of council agendas.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 4, 2014 at 10:33 am

Tom, since your site is already using the Google web APIs, just go to this link: Web Link and register your site. They will give you a tag to paste into your home page. Once it gets verified, you can asked to get indexed immediately.

Anyway, thanks for running. Hope others join you both in your campaign or maybe even running themselves.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 4, 2014 at 10:31 pm

@ Joe,
My link and quotes were from the State of California. Although I appreciate your attempts to further clarify, can you please clarify the source of your information and why their description is more accurate than that of the State of California?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ray
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 5, 2014 at 8:46 am

The Comprehensive Plan, Page 3 of the first section (paraphrasing but pretty accurate):

The City supports business but when the interests of business and residents collide, the City supports resident interests.

Raised eyebrows!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 7, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

Thank you for challenging "resident, a resident of Green Acres's" narrative about how being a charter city has worked to our disadvantage because we've proved incapable of responsibly using the same flexibility that she states in her post above is necessary for big cities.

"Most big cities are charter cities, though, for good reasons. We do need the flexibility."--resident, a resident of Green Acres

Lots of her argumentation centers around the Measure D campaign, which was a complicated affair whose resolution is still uncertain since we haven't seen what's going to built on the Maybell property. Frankly, I don't think more than a handful of people outside the immediate area care much about what happens there. But for those of us who live nearby, that's the basis for deciding whether rejection of affordable housing for low income seniors was the right outcome.

Candidates for city council should be careful about basing their campaign too closely on the "Against Measure D" narrative of what the lessons are from that sad affair. We just don't know yet.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by green acre babe
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 8, 2014 at 11:00 am

What a welcome piece of news. Glad to have a land use advocate on the ballot.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 9, 2014 at 5:19 pm

@JerryUnderdal,
It's always entertaining to see how you (mis)interpret what people think, and who you think is speaking. I am afraid you have completely lost me here, I can't even follow your argument or who you even think you are addressing or disagreeing with.

I would say nothing about what you said is accurate (at least, opf what is intelligible) except the concluding statement, with which I agree, not sure which foil or straw man you think i am.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 9, 2014 at 5:44 pm

@Jerry zunderdal,
Measure D only happened in the first place because City Council and PAHC didnt think they had to care what the neighborhood wanted when making their plans, because they didnt think the neighbors could do anything (that is verbatim from a source on that side). Larry Klein said he had never seen so much stonewalling from an applicant (about PAHC). The side thatclaimed to care about affordable housing didnt seem to care enough to put that above their professional ambitions. Had they actually worked with the neighborhood instead of creating strawmen NIMBIES, the could have gotten much of the energy behind them instead of against them. Seems you still havent learned the most important lessons from Measure D and are still digging in. That's where it became sad, IMO.

Also that you somehow think the CCcares about affordable housing given how shamefully they have behaved over BV, especially in light of the extents they were willing to go to at Maybell. If you hadnt been so keen on slamming your neighbors, there was a huge opportunity missed there to direct that energy to a positive like saving BV as part of not overzoning the neighborhoodd at Maybell.

By the way, my statement about flexibility was essentially admitting that something Liz Kniss said to me about that, and Gail Price, was probably true. Not sure how you read snything else into it, I was quoting the state of California's citizens guide to planning.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 9, 2014 at 5:45 pm

By the way, there appears to be more than one poster on this thread as "resident"


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 9, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

[Post removed.]




 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 9, 2014 at 10:06 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 10, 2014 at 8:22 am

[Post removed.]


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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