Disclaimer & Disclosure: I have no connection to either the Burt or Tanaka campaigns, although I am working on the campaign of another candidate in that race. I have consulted with neither the Burt nor Tanaka campaign about this blog.
Briefly, Greg Tanaka contended that in 2016 Burt had advocated banning software development in Palo Alto. Pat Burt responded that he had been misquoted and explained. In summer 2016, it was still news that the New York Times was pumping out fake news, so there was lots of media coverage of the actual situation. Tanaka was a candidate for City Council at the time and should have been aware of those follow-ups. I am surprised that he doesn't at least remember that "ban software development" was shown to be nonsense.
In his question to Burt, Tanaka presents a contradiction: He can't see how Burt could have made such a statement, but he is not skeptical enough to have checked if he did. With a single, simple web search, I found the follow-up articles.
Basic context: In 2016, Pat Burt was mayor and a termed-out Councilmember. The issue of Palo Alto's development policy had become international headlines when a member of the Planning and Transportation Commission, Kate Downing, resigned and published a very partisan pro-development statement. The pro-developer advocacy group Palo Alto Forward, of which Kate Downing was a leader, was hostile to Burt, for example, equating him to Trump.
Google had started in offices in the University Avenue downtown and had gobbled up offices until it moved to Mountain View. Facebook followed the same pattern, with the move to the Stanford Research Park. In 2016, it was Palantir.
The problem was that a healthy downtown would have many categories of offices: small businesses and the small business that supported those small businesses. For example, accountants, insurance, marketing/graphic design, the venture capitalists. The past, and desired, pattern was that start-ups had small offices in downtown and moved into office parks when they got a bit larger.
During the consideration of how to keep large tech companies from further destroying the business ecosystem of downtown, it was discovered that software and hardware research and development was not allowed under the current zoning of University Avenue. Being explored was a change to the zoning code to allow small software companies (and others) in the University Avenue downtown. To the New York Times, this was a desire to ban software development everywhere in Palo Alto.
----Details - if you are that curious ----
Greg Tanaka question (full text):
Automated translation with some corrections and basic dysfluencies removed.
^Listen for yourself @1:40:19^.
"Back in, I think what, 2016 you made the cover of New York Times talking about how you want to ban software development in Palo Alto. I'd love to understand your view. You know tech has been kind of the center of our city for some time. HP started here, and for me to drive out innovation from our city seems so counter -- it doesn't seem like that's Palo Alto, the values of Palo Alto. So I'd like to see you know because if anyone Googles 'pat burt new york times' , you'll see this article that comes up about how the Mayor of Palo Alto is trying to drive out software development -- we're trying to ban software development and I don't understand that. So love for Pat Burt to explain why he was doing that, and why that makes sense for our city."
Pat Burt response (full text):
^Listen for yourself @1:41:05^.
"So first, that's not what I ever said and it was clarified in several other publications. That author actually took a and misrepresented and characterized what I said and put quotation marks around it. But I never said it. What I did say is that unrestrained office development was doing creating imbalance and harming our region more than anything else. And that if we were going to have a jobs and housing imbalance, that we needed to address that and I supported retaining the office cap in the downtown. So I disagreed with you on the amount of office development where you propose a triple the amount of office development that we now are allowing under our Comp Plan. And I supported retaining it a cap on the downtown so we would be able to actually build more housing downtown. And I supported a business tax so that we'd be able to fund that housing, contrary to your positions. Thank you."
"^Message to Tech Firms From Palo Alto Mayor: Go Away. Please.^" - The New York Times, 2016-08-30. (independent archived copy - fake news doesn't deserve ad revenue).
"...the mayor of Palo Alto has an unusual message for some of the cash-flush tech companies based here: Go away. Please.//'Big tech companies are choking off the downtown,' Mayor Patrick Burt said. 'It's not healthy.' ... the mayor is looking to enforce, in some form, an all-but-forgotten zoning regulation that bans companies whose primary business is research and development, including software coding. (To repeat: The mayor is considering enforcing a ban on coding at ground zero of Silicon Valley.)"
Example follow-on article: "^No, Palo Alto isn't going to ban coding^" by Devin Coldewey, TechCrunch, 2016-09-01.
An ^abbreviated index by topic and chronologically^ is available.
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