News

Pat Burt returns to the mayor's chair in Palo Alto

City Council selects Burt to serve as its mayor and Greg Scharff as vice mayor in 2016

After a pair of close votes, the Palo Alto City Council on Monday night elected Pat Burt and Greg Scharff to serve as the city's mayor and vice mayor, respectively, for 2016.

Burt, a former planning commissioner who was first elected to the council in 2007, on Monday edged out last year's Vice Mayor Greg Schmid by a 5-4 vote to win his second term as mayor. Burt was also mayor in 2010.

Then, in a separate 5-4 vote, the council chose Greg Scharff over outgoing Mayor Karen Holman to serve as its vice mayor in 2016. Like Burt, Scharff will be returning to a familiar role, having already served as vice mayor in 2012 en route to becoming mayor in 2013.

In both cases, the council's four slow-growth "residentialists" came up just short: Holman, Schmid, Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth voted for Schmid and Holman to serve as mayor and vice mayor (a reverse of their 2015 positions). But Burt, who over the past year has often aligned himself with the slow-growth camp, on Monday joined Marc Berman, Liz Kniss, Cory Wolbach and Scharff in both votes.

The two votes mean that the council's top two leadership positions will now shift from members with the heaviest slow-growth residentialist leanings to ones with less predictable voting records. While Burt has played a leading role in the council's recent adoption of an office cap, its efforts to preserve retail and its reform to the "planned-community" zoning, he had also split from the residentialists in supporting several recent developments, including mixed-use projects at 101 Lytton and 441 Page Mill Road (Holman and Schmid had opposed both).

The Monday votes also mean that the council, for the second straight year, broke with tradition and did not select the prior year's vice mayor as the new mayor.

In both cases, it was Councilwoman Kniss who played the role of the nominating party. Kniss, who had served as vice mayor in 2014 and was slated to become mayor in 2015, made the unusual move last year of nominating Holman instead. The rest of the council supported Holman's nomination.

On Monday night, Kniss once again led her colleagues in breaking with custom and not elevating the vice mayor. She praised Burt for his many years of experience in neighborhood groups, on the Planning and Transportation Commission and on the council, where last year he chaired the Policy and Services Committee and the newly re-established Rail Committee.

Kniss also lauded Burt's "history of effective leadership" in both the private and public sectors and his central roles in regional bodies. Burt has been an active participant in a policymaker group focused on Caltrain improvements. He has also spent the past five years as the city's representative on the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, an agency devoted to improving flood control in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

In making her nomination, Kniss highlighted the council's busy 2016 agenda, which includes completing the Comprehensive Plan, making a host of infrastructure improvements and implementing "Fiber to the Premises," a citywide ultra high-speed Internet service. She also noted that the council has gone from "having marked differences in early 2015" to being "a far more collaborative and consensus-oriented governing body."

"This council is coalescing around measures that maintain the quality of life that our residents value and Pat is someone who can build that common purpose within the council," Kniss said.

The vote, however, did not reflect this new spirit of unanimity. While Berman, Scharff, Wolbach and Burt himself joined Kniss in voting for Burt, the rest of their colleagues voted for Schmid, a retired economist whose genial manner and long history of opposing new developments and picking apart traffic data made him popular among slow-growth proponents.

Unlike Burt, whose positions on issues can be hard to predict, Schmid has been a staunch residentialist since well before the 2014 election. Last year, he and Holman received the highest scores from the slow-growth group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, which tallied the council's major land-use votes from between 2012 and 2014 and graded candidates according to their residentialist leanings. According to the scorecard, Schmid took residentialist stances on 85 percent of the votes while Burt earned a score of 55 percent and Scharff, 30 percent.

Early in the meeting, Filseth nominated Schmid and praised his dedication, integrity and focus on data.

"He will strike the right balance," Filseth said of Schmid. "He is collaborative and respectful and has demonstrated his ability to work with everyone. He is ready to take the chair."

After the votes were cast and read out loud by City Clerk Beth Minor, Burt assumed the mayor's chair and highlighted some of the issues that the council will be wrestling with in the coming year. This includes upgrading the Comprehensive Plan, improving parking conditions, developing a plan for a local transportation systems, addressing the city's unfunded pension liabilities and continuing to upgrade streets, bikeways and infrastructure.

Burt also warned that the council's "ambitious agenda cannot be accomplished at once or in a single year."

"Our strong and talented staff is willing to take on multiple challenges, but we as a council and as a community need to set priorities and recognize realistic limits to what can be done each year," he said.

Scharff's election to vice mayor was equally suspenseful. An attorney who served as mayor in 2013, Scharff was re-elected to his second council term in 2014. Wolbach, who nominated Scharff, said he and Burt will together "provide a clear, efficient and experienced leadership for the city."

DuBois then nominated Holman, lauding her ability to bring council members together and effectively represent the community. He also noted that, for all her years of public service, she had never served as vice mayor.

"As evidenced by her landslide win in the last election, she really has tapped into the desires of the community," DuBois said.

After he was nominated, Scharff said that he was struck by the council's "unanimity" when it comes to a vision for the city. He said he supports Burt's vision and priorities and that he believes 2016 will be a "critical year in which we can bring to fruition much of that vision."

"We all want a city that is environmentally sustainable, fiscally sustainable, and has quality of life that is sustainable and doesn't degrade over time," Scharff said.

Related content:

In final meeting as mayor, Karen Holman wins praise from 'united' council

Comments

100 people like this
Posted by citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 4, 2016 at 11:45 pm

Boo hiss. Someone please put forward a citizen vote for mayor now. It's hilarious that Scharff ran as a residentialist, practically flogging Bob Moss's image without permission [portion removed.] Let's hope this energizes the citizens again.

I can't believe I ever voted for Kniss.


17 people like this
Posted by vern
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 4, 2016 at 11:52 pm

great news


51 people like this
Posted by Cheryl Lilienstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2016 at 2:14 am

Soon there will be 4 seats open for city council. I hope the voters in Palo Alto will understand the importance of selecting slow growth candidates to shape the Palo Alto we hope to live in.

Consider Dholera, India. (A new planned city)

Web Link

Just like here, (and clearly on a vastly larger scale) the Dholera plans reflect the new urbanism ideology: an effort to create a new environment that is green, livable and business friendly. You should check out this youtube because it's representative of what very well funded "new urbanism" looks like, on a large scale. This could be the Silicon Valley of the future, and I'm curious whether anyone--besides corporations, developers, and architects-- feel enthusiasm for this vision. (You may want to turn off the sound unless you love techno beats.)

And, if it's not a future you want, it's important that you pay close attention to what happens this year, and help people get elected who represent the future you'd prefer.














29 people like this
Posted by Cynical ploy
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 5, 2016 at 7:36 am

Who is this we that Cheryl is referring to? She does not speak for me. This Dholera thing she references involves a 10 lane highway , tripling industrial output and quadrupling exports.
Also I wonder if this attempt to elect Schmidt and Holman was not planned out ahead of time, under the direction of Cheryl and PASZ. [Portion removed.]


24 people like this
Posted by VIceMayor
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2016 at 7:40 am

The tradition of vice Mayor becoming mayor is clearly dead. Scharff is a lame duck. Everything hinges on this year's election.


6 people like this
Posted by Cynical ploy
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 5, 2016 at 8:09 am

Actually Scharf was reels yes in 2014. He is not a lame duck.


51 people like this
Posted by Ellie
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 5, 2016 at 8:30 am

This needed orchestration - Clearly the Brown Act means nothing [portion removed.] And clearly Burt did a quid pro quo with his arch rival Scarff in order that the minority would elect him - so now we are stuck with Scarff who barely got re-elected, only doing so by spending nearly $100,000 of his own money and hiring a pro to create a campaign for him devoid of any community involvement or volunteers. Ugh. Our new mayor and vice mayor are less than we deserve.


54 people like this
Posted by frieda
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 5, 2016 at 8:32 am

Schmid would have made a great mayor... a rare politician with detailed knowledge of issues and a careful eye on the future of our city. Luckily, he'll continue his great work as a council member.


8 people like this
Posted by Martin
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 5, 2016 at 9:18 am

Congratulations Pat, thank you Karen!


53 people like this
Posted by Chameleon
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 5, 2016 at 9:41 am

Pat Burt has changed his colors so often, people refer to him as a chameleon. Yesterday he took off his "Residential" mask and allied himself with real estate attorney Scharff.
New mask? No. it isn't new.
Burt's alliances with big developers became obvious years ago, but most recently with the developers of the huge building at the corner of Lytton and Alma. Fancy home for the Chamber of Commerce and underparked by 22 spaces.

Two pseudo residentialists are now in charge. I can hear the bulldozers.


58 people like this
Posted by Short memories aa
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 5, 2016 at 9:44 am

Last year, the so-called "residentialists" (Karen, Tom, and Eric) supported Burt for vice mayor and forgot about Greg Schmid, who supported them so strongly in the campaign. At the same time last year, Berman, Kniss, Scharff, and Wolbach supported Schmid for Vice Mayor, despite perceived ideological political and differences. (They gave him a chance after his friends stabbed him in the back, but he was an ineffective vice mayor, so now they went with pragmatism.) Now Cheryl and her "residentialist" allies cry foul when people they don't like do the same thing their friends did just a year ago. Short memories and hypocrisy, or am I missing something?


22 people like this
Posted by Kevin Ohlson
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 5, 2016 at 9:49 am

Congratulations to Pat and Greg!


25 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 5, 2016 at 9:50 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Clearly the Brown Act means nothing and we have a bunch of elected officials knowingly breaking the law."

Ellie - please explain how this series of votes in public session violated the Brown Act.


55 people like this
Posted by Short memories aa
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 5, 2016 at 10:10 am

The weird thing from last night: the "residentialists" seemingly wanted Karen to stay perpetually on leadership, from mayor last year to vice mayor this year and then back to mayor next year. They said they wanted to return to the order and predictability of vice mayor becoming mayor (which they didn't care about last year), so next year Karen would have been mayor again by their own logic. With Karen vice mayor to Schmid's likely ineffectual mayor in the middle year, Karen would run the city 3 years in a row if the "residentialists" had their way. Remember how Putin went from President to Prime Minister, then back to President? Some way to run a democracy.


16 people like this
Posted by RED
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 5, 2016 at 10:46 am

To Pat Bert,

Congradulations !


16 people like this
Posted by Cynical ploy
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 5, 2016 at 10:55 am

Well stated short memories. I doubt this was all spontaneous so one has to wonder if council members met to develop this " Holman perpetually in charge"strategy.


Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

on Jan 5, 2016 at 11:32 am


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7 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 5, 2016 at 11:33 am

Congratulations and best of luck to Pat and Greg. And thank you to Karen.


56 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2016 at 11:38 am

It's the return of the Same Ol' Same Ol' in city government. The Developers have won again.


38 people like this
Posted by not good
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 5, 2016 at 11:39 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North

on Jan 5, 2016 at 11:57 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.


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14 people like this
Posted by Chameleon
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 5, 2016 at 12:01 pm

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Jan 5, 2016 at 12:06 pm

Cheryl,

I don't see the connection between the India video and new urbanism.


17 people like this
Posted by Open
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 5, 2016 at 12:11 pm

I am delighted that Greg Scharff is Vice Mayor. He is a superior, clear thinker, thoughtful and is not in anyone's camp, i.e. he tries to remain objective and consider all sides. He is focused on the future and how we can, as a community, plan better for everyone in our community and not just a select few who feel scared of moving forward or entitled just because they own a home (a sub group of those of us who own a home, by the way). We must look to the future and not remain stuck and self-centered. I thank Karen and Greg for her service and am relieved that we will have a good, balanced leadership this year.


50 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 5, 2016 at 12:51 pm

Greg Scharff's job as a real estate attorney is a conflict of interest with his position as vice mayor. Talk about the potential for corruption and under the table deals!!! His cronyism with developers is troublesome. He has everything to gain monetarily by approving projects brought to the council by developers. The saying "I'll scratch your back if you scratch my back" applies here.


31 people like this
Posted by Cheryl Lilienstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2016 at 12:57 pm

To Cynical Ploy and Short Memories

I'm confused about what is cynical about asking "we the people" to inform ourselves regarding what a full development of new urbanism looks like, as offered in the plan for Dholera and other cities like it. Maybe, like me, you find this plan distressing, yet are irritated with me for bringing it up?
How would you feel about our region having this character? Perhaps "we the people" don't want this. Or maybe you do?
Here's the link again:
Web Link

And, Short Memories aa
For the record, as far as I can tell last night's city council vote was typical, not "foul" although I might not like the outcome. 5-4 happens with a good many important votes, right?

And, it was the very few votes that elected Cory Wohlbach (instead of Lydia Kou who I supported) that gave Pat Burt the power to decide the course of the city. So now he's mayor. I hope he provides an even hand, thoughtful leadership, and is able to practice concision as some past mayors have not.

I also hope I am wrong about expecting he will be a pro-density mayor. His successful motion to remove the Stanford Research Park from the office space development cap was discouraging in that regard, since that's the most likely place for a LOT more employment, and thus a LOT more traffic.


13 people like this
Posted by Cynical ploy
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 5, 2016 at 1:07 pm

Looks like a very defensive response from Cheryl. I just pointed out that her dream city involves highways, exports and output. Does she think that that will not involve more traffic and people? And what gives with the " we the people" stuff? Does she believe she is representing the entire city?
And we had enough of Cheryl's buddy, Karen, as mayor– the iconic bike bridge, Buena vista, shards of glass on California avenue-- all under Karen's "leadership "


24 people like this
Posted by Alarmism is not helpful
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2016 at 1:11 pm

The video of Dholera is not at all an example of smart growth--with its massive highways and weird sprawl. I don't understand how this massive "project" proposed for undeveloped land in India relates to Palo Alto--an essentially built out community under U.S., California and Palo Alto governance.

Our city has good "bones" in planning terms--two city centers and many communal cores with solid neighborhood connectivity. Some growth is inevitable...and needed. The questions are, "How and where do we want growth? What kind of growth do we want?" Council members make policy and policy-related decisions, but they are constrained by policy and law--much of which is created at the State level. It's not an easy job. Could our city be doing it better? Probably.Could they be doing it worse? Probably. However, as a reader of local history, it's pretty clear to me that the political battles in Palo Alto have had the same themes around the knotty problems of growth for decades. Generally speaking, over time, I think we've gotten it mostly right.

However,though the issues are similar, the tone of dialogue has gotten pretty nasty since the advent of electronic media. The people who bear the responsibility for decision-making on Council, all of them, have my respect. I appreciate their service to our community. I don't always agree with them, but I try to behave with civility and respect for their office because I want good people to run in the future. I worry that good people will be discouraged from running if they continue to see nasty, viral personal attacks in electronic media. Please stick to the facts and issues.

We have a new Mayor and Vice Mayor with whom I have sometimes agreed and disagreed in the past. I will work with them because I love Palo Alto and because I know that the best path to success in a democracy is to find points of consensus. Lean in. Help. Please make sure your contribution is factual and helpful, not alarmist or divisive...or unkind.


68 people like this
Posted by End It NOW
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2016 at 1:50 pm

It is ridiculous,unfair, and probably unconstitutional that the citizens of Palo Alto cannot elect their own mayor.

It is very biased that the city council must elect a mayor from among the council members.

This system is undemocratic and probably illegal.

It is also undemocratic that Palo Alto,is not divided into districts with a council representative from each district.

Palo Alto needs to end these biased practices immediately, instead of keeping power restricted to a very limited pool.

The current system is almost incestuous.


1 person likes this
Posted by Palo Alto
a resident of Woodside
on Jan 5, 2016 at 1:55 pm

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2016 at 2:06 pm

Huzzah for the new bully pulpit.


5 people like this
Posted by She Who Knows
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 5, 2016 at 2:21 pm

[Post removed.]


48 people like this
Posted by Crescent park mama
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 5, 2016 at 2:23 pm

Berman should not even be voting. He has already announced he is moving on politically from Palo Alto. At that point he should have given up his council seat to someone who cares about our local issues.


36 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 5, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Foreign investors buying up so many houses in PA will be the undoing of Palo Alto. Ghost houses are everywhere. Foreign investors are buying PA houses sight unseen.


7 people like this
Posted by Stop Uncivil comments
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 5, 2016 at 3:02 pm

[Post removed.]


25 people like this
Posted by Commentator
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 5, 2016 at 6:00 pm

"Clearly the Brown Act means nothing and we have a bunch of elected officials knowingly breaking the law."

The scripting was obvious to the most casual observer. Even the "discussion" sounded rehearsed. To their credit, everybody remembered their lines.


25 people like this
Posted by the facts
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2016 at 7:25 pm

@Alarmism is not helpful
"I think we're getting it mostly right".

Our neighborhoods are being destroyed with overflow
parking,fueled by giveaways to local developers by a City Council which piled-on year after year project after PC project,cut-through traffic,sign clutter and excessive street paint,inadequate setbacks and excessive FAR's on new construction in residential and commercial areas,loss of local business,a design review process which is exemplified by a Cheesecake Factory on University Ave,uncontrolled dewatering for residential basements, and so on and so on. Maybe there is a reason why the tone of the dialogue has gotten
"nasty" - electronic media is not the source of the
problem.

The alarm bells have been going off for years here and instead of being heeded were ignored or downplayed. In other words, you have it exactly
backwards- alarmism is what we needed the last dozen years as the qualities of Palo Alto were
being degraded and lost.


42 people like this
Posted by Jane
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 5, 2016 at 8:45 pm

Two wolves in sheep's clothing.


38 people like this
Posted by cm
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 5, 2016 at 11:36 pm

Burt has always been out for himself. He was never part of the residential movement and has always aligned himself with whichever faction will give him the most attention. [Portion removed.] It is obvious that he did a deal with Scharff and the other pro-growthers. It will be a bad year for Palo Alto residents who are trying to bring common sense to the city by discussing the need to align growth with what is practical instead of imaginary. It will be a bad year for residents who want to preserve a decent quality of life in this town. Please watch these five growthers closely and contact city council frequently that you want the excessive give-away FARs and over development stopped next year. Because the developers will see this as a sign to ask for it all. And make sure to really find out where next year's city council candidates stand on growth and vote for those who want to preserve a livable Palo Alto.


29 people like this
Posted by Ludicrous Mode
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 5, 2016 at 11:41 pm

Pat Burt mayor? He loves bringing in revenue.

Watch out for higher utility rates with the profits funneled back into the city's coffers.

That's the biggest scam jn town -- and an end run around Prop. 13.


34 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 6, 2016 at 7:03 am

Those [portion removed] voters who voted Cory Walbach into the council because they fell for his and positions, which he "we need to be civil and nice to each other" and never demanded answers about his real views which he managed to conceal until elected, have served us a solid 5 vote majority for development, density and urbanization. [Portion removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by Cheryl Lilienstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 6, 2016 at 8:07 am

To avoid misunderstanding, and with gratitude toward the poster who asked for kindness and content that is locally relevant, here's the Valco plans: something smaller and closer to home.

Some might find it lovely. Green. Appealing. In the abstract I could like this place. Something like this could happen at Fry's, were it available:

Web Link

Perhaps we agree this is a great illustration of "smart growth" and "new urbanism" architecture?

If so: Where in this "smart growth" plan is the concern for the people living in the neighborhoods adjacent?

Can it be that the "smart growth" ideology masks a segment of humanity that does not value existing citizens because they will not be the consumers of this project? Because they will not be the desirable, new, young employees of Silicon Valley who would love to be here no matter what and have no history that ties them to other people locally? Who have no political organization represesenting them? How will smart growth ideas ever be considered humane, if advocates use labels like "alarmist" and "out of touch with reality" for those of us who do care about existing communities, friendships, and existing quality of life ?

Wouldn't this development be alarming to you if you lived adjacent? It's likely that people who want to retain their homes in those neighborhoods are-- or will be-- pretty alarmed and then harmed by years of construction noise, dust, pollution, and traffic that will affect their lives for as long as they live.

How will education and class size be affected ? What will happen with traffic?
What infrastructure costs will be borne by the general community ?

____________________________

Regarding the statement that Palo Alto has "solid neighborhood connectivity."

Lack of connection east to west across Alma and El Camino has been a large unsolved problem for decades. The need for pedestrian and bike overpasses, underpasses, undergrounding the train, traffic flow past schools, etc persists. So while many of us DO appreciate the quality of life we have, and hope to see these advances in our lifetimes, please let's not claim they already exist.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 6, 2016 at 8:34 am

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by B.S.
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 6, 2016 at 9:41 am

[Post removed.]


17 people like this
Posted by Not Surprised
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 6, 2016 at 10:11 am

More of the same? Perfect.


14 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 6, 2016 at 10:31 am

If Mayor Burt is so concerned about the parking shortage, maybe he should step in and look more closely at one of the proposals to that bans parking on one side of Middlefield Road from Channing to Oregon Expressway in favor of a bike lane.

This idea was proposed and roundly defeated about 20 years ago because A) MIddlefield was -- and still is -- too dangerous for kids biking to schools.

The traffic certainly hasn't gotten any less in the last 20 years and now we have to contend with sacrificing parking spaces to garbage cans, wide buses, spillover parking for downtown workers, buses and gridlock.

Please come to the meeting at meeting at Lucie Stern at 6:30 tonight where this plan is being discussed.


21 people like this
Posted by ElectionSeason
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 6, 2016 at 11:24 am

Election Season started with a bang at the first council meeting. The two biggest egos, guys who clearly don't like each other, made a deal and arranged the votes, putting self interest ahead of what's best for the city. The council is now broken in a major way that I don't expect will be easy to fix.

In the last year of his term, Burt has decided he doesn't need to listen to voters anymore and switched sides. The 2016 Council election is underway. The good news is its clear the tradition of vice mayor moving to mayor is dead. Hopefully Palo Alto citizens are sitting up and paying attention.


14 people like this
Posted by Chameleon
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 6, 2016 at 12:24 pm

>The good news is its clear the tradition of vice mayor moving to mayor is dead.<

It doesn't hurt that their business offices are very close, Burt is on S. Calif.Ave and Scharff on Park Blvd. Makes private meetings very easy.
And they both participate in Calif.Ave development because they are both "renters".

Burt used to share offices with former Planning Commissioner Samir Tuma while Tuma was on the Planning Commission.


9 people like this
Posted by Seriously?
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jan 6, 2016 at 12:29 pm

[Post removed.]


19 people like this
Posted by Anne
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2016 at 12:47 pm

I'm very pleased with the City Council's achievements this year, including the office cap, single story overlays, adherence to zoning, the RPP, etc. and I think Mayor Holman did a wonderful job. Hoping for the best, but I'm wary of Pat Burt aligning himself with the pro development contingent in 2016. It will also be interesting to see Burt and Scharf sitting next to each other when they are the two CC members who most often go at each other. Hopefully Burt can get something done on the dreadful jet noise problem.

I blame the Weekly for getting Wolbach elected, when they supported his candidacy with the headline (paraphrased) "Not that easy to get to five". The Daily Post had the right slate. 2016 will be a very important election for Palo Alto. Hopefully we can get Lydia Kou, Arthur Keller and other like minded individuals on the Council. If not we always turn to referendums.


15 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 6, 2016 at 12:49 pm

if the term "assessee" means owner the link seems to indicate that the Scharffs are at least partial owners of
2211 Park, if that that makes much difference?

Web Link


2211 Park Boulevard
Palo Alto, CA 94306-1533
Find on map >>
Show street view
Assessee: GREGORY H AND DORIT SCHARFF
Land value: $749,788
Improvement value: $179,947
Total value for property: $929,735
Assessments for tax year: 2012
Add information or comment about the property at 2211 Park Boulevard
Upload photo of this property


Read more: Web Link


23 people like this
Posted by Penny Ellson
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 6, 2016 at 2:03 pm

I also thank Karen for her fine work as Mayor. However, I am astonished to see Pat Burt criticized as "pro-development" and unsympathetic to the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists. As a person who bikes and walks a lot around town (and who cut my political teeth on reducing large-scale development), I have often worked with Pat over many years.

Throughout Pat's tenure on the Planning & Transportation Commission and City Council, Pat (who is a bike commuter himself) has been a supporter of bike and pedestrian safety improvements. He has often been a Council leader on projects that address the school commute safety needs of families and children in all parts of Palo Alto. He consistently votes in favor engineering improvements that provide better conditions for school commuters. He supports collaborative efforts with PAUSD to bring bike and pedestrian safety education into PAUSD schools for every child. He regularly turns out on his bike to support encouragement events in the schools. He supported PAUSD parents who turned out to rescue funding for school crossing guards and the PAPD Traffic Team when that funding was proposed to be cut. He voted in favor of the Bike & Pedestrian Transportation Plan, and I expect that he will support Safe Routes to School as mayor as did his predecessor and long-time colleague Karen Holman. I can think of many more instances in which Pat has taken action to support school commute safety. Let's not misrepresent Pat's voting record on bike and pedestrian safety. It is excellent.

Finally, with regard to the mentioned Middlefield project--I just checked. This project is in the very earliest stages of development. The mentioned meeting is a community outreach meeting where staff will present preliminary concepts to the community and they will request citizen comment. They will use those comments to create a plan that meets community needs. Council is never involved at this early stage of a project. I don't know why Pat Burt (or any Council member) should be criticized for lack of involvement at a stage when it would be inappropriate for him to insert himself in the process.

That said, citizens should attend this meeting. Trade-offs are being considered. Middlefield carries a lot of auto traffic and has limited right-of-way. It will be physically impossible for staff to do everything for everyone, so if you are interested in this portion of the street, I encourage people to attend and help staff shape a project that works for the community.

Help staff create a project that Council can support because it has community support. Get involved in the process at the appropriate time. Instead of criticizing, provide constructive comments that will help create a plan that works well.

Finally, I almost didn't contribute to this thread because the tone is so hostile; however, I strongly felt the need to set the facts straight. I anxiously hope that my comments will be received with greater civility than I have seen on this thread heretofore. Thanks for listening.


15 people like this
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 6, 2016 at 4:53 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

Everyone should take a deep breathe and focus on the fact that, under the leadership of Mayor Holman and Vice-Mayor Schmidt, a council that was expected by many to be contentious and unproductive worked together to accomplish quite a lot. Though it now has different leadership, that same council remains intact and I expect them to continue to work cooperatively for the city's benefit during the coming year. Thanks to all for their work on our behalf.

By all means, people should keep an eye out for candidates to support for the four seats (at least) that will be up in November. No matter how productive the council is this year, there'll be plenty left over for the 2017 council to tackle.

Happy New Year


7 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 6, 2016 at 5:03 pm

Penney,

Re Mr. Burt's advocacy of bicycling, children and pedestrians, I had no idea of his position so I certainly didn't criticize him as unsympathetic to bike and pedestrian safety. But I would like to see some balance where the needs of drivers and residents are also considered in the city's transportation policy, something that has been sorely lacking for lo these many years.

My partner bikes to the downtown train station every day and he -- as a usually sensible adult -- doesn't ride on Middlefield. Few people do. which makes this "preliminary concept" even more odd.

Why this "preliminary" proposal to ban parking on one side of the street has again reared its head is mind-boggling because the conditions certainly haven't improved in the last 20 years.

I'm very grateful that a neighbor on Middlefield took it upon himself to write and deliver flyers about this since most of us never got the City's notification that this was even being reconsidered. People posting in NextDoor.com have also been very informative, providing links to the various City documents of which many of us were unaware.

Again, 6:30 tonight at Lucie Stern Community Center.




6 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 6, 2016 at 6:04 pm

"Though it now has different leadership, that same council remains intact and I expect them to continue to work cooperatively for the city's benefit during the coming year." - Jerry Underdal

"Finding good players is easy. Getting them to play as a team is another story." - Casey Stengel


20 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 6, 2016 at 6:13 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt's speech "Citizenship in a Republic".

****
Lots of critics here but very few who have had the courage to go into the arena of public office.


16 people like this
Posted by Chameleon
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 6, 2016 at 7:42 pm

[Post removed.]


25 people like this
Posted by Carlito Waysman
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 6, 2016 at 8:34 pm

Until when , will the Palo Alto citizens be able to vote for their mayor, just like any other respectable city in this Country?

As it is now, we are left on the outside looking in, while the council members with their special interests vote on their mayor.

So backwards.


11 people like this
Posted by Oh please
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2016 at 8:47 pm

Peter Carpenter,

"Lots of critics here but very few who have had the courage to go into the arena of public office."

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;"

Oh please, did it cross your mind that some people may be busy doing other things which actually do make faces sweat?

Surgery
Finding the cure to cancer
Defending innocent people
Busy teaching our children
Leading places of worship
Being single parents
Keeping 2-3 jobs

If I were the Palo Alto Mayor, I would be wanting all the feedback I could get from people who have the real sweat on their brows.

If this block voting business is dedicated to the same ole Monopoly games, this process deserves all the criticism it gets.


15 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 7, 2016 at 5:43 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

In his speech "Citizenship in a Republic" Roosevelt recognizes many different roles for citizens. And for each of these roles, which include surgery, finding the cure to cancer,defending innocent people, teaching our children, religious leadership, parenting, working productive jobs, defending our security and ensuring our safety among manyothers there are those who enter the arena to do the job and those who simply sit as critics.

Roosevelt spoke to all of those roles of citizenship quite eloquently:

"With you here, and with us in my own home, in the long run, success or failure will be conditioned upon the way in which the average man, the average woman, does his or her duty, first in the ordinary, every-day affairs of life, and next in those great occasional crises which call for the heroic virtues. The average citizen must be a good citizen if our republics are to succeed. The stream will not permanently rise higher than the main source; and the main source of national power and national greatness is found in the average citizenship of the nation."

“Self-restraint, self-mastery, common sense, the power of accepting individual responsibility and yet of acting in conjunction with others, courage and resolution—these are the qualities which mark a masterful people.”

In this Forum topic we are discussing explicitly the role of elected officials and hence there are those who have actually entered the arena of elected office and, particular in this Forum, those who instead sit as critics not only in the bleachers but hiding in the shadows.

As Roosevelt states:
"Let the man of learning, the man of lettered leisure, beware of that queer and cheap temptation to pose to himself and to others as the cynic, as the man who has outgrown emotions and beliefs, the man to whom good and evil are as one. The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twisted pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt. There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes second to achievement. A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticise work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life's realities—all these are marks, not, as the possessor would fain think, of superiority, but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part manfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affectation of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves their own weakness. The rôle is easy; there is none easier, save only the rôle of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance."


16 people like this
Posted by oh please
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2016 at 9:37 am

Politicians always speak eloquently.

It all sounds good but in practice, especially politicians should be open to criticism.

To even the causal observer, the way Mayor works in Palo Alto is surprising (it was to me when I realized that's how it works) and gets even weirder when a very capable vice-mayor gets put aside by groupyish voting.

Let people say what they want and let the adults figure it out. This was clearly not necessarily a popular outcome - 80 "likes" to the boos and hisses at the top.


10 people like this
Posted by To Oh, Please.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2016 at 10:14 am

To Oh, Please.

[Portion removed.] Let's take a civil tone. [Portion removed.] I don't object to a reasoned discussion of the process and thoughtful suggestions for improving it. Effective advocates offer their ideas with civil courtesy. They do not threaten, chastise or insult. Instead they offer solutions, persuade, engage others to join them. They listen closely to the point of view of their opposition(because often the opposing point of view has merits that are worth considering.) They are open to compromise because building consensus is necessary to achieve forward movement on issues in a democracy.


18 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2016 at 8:54 pm

Oh Please - don't take the rants in this comments section as a barometer of resident opinion in Palo Alto. Remember when the Weekly ran a story about the opposition to Measure A because everyone in the comments section opposed it? Remember how, after that, Measure A passed with a comfortable supermajority composed of the rest of Palo Alto?

The PAOnline commenters are basically the most extreme part of the PASZ cheering section. They doesn't represent Palo Alto.


6 people like this
Posted by Think Again
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2016 at 11:31 pm

>> "Hopefully we can get Lydia Kou, Arthur Keller and other like minded individuals on the Council. "

Lydia Kou - YES!

Arthur Keller - NO! Keller is another politician who focuses his support on things that help him personally and politically. [Portion removed.] A vote for Keller is a vote for more traffic, lack of parking, and ridiculous ideas that everyone can bike everywhere.


Like this comment
Posted by Knows Keller
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 10, 2016 at 9:47 pm

"A vote for Keller is a vote for more traffic, lack of parking, and ridiculous ideas that everyone can bike everywhere."

Counterfactual nonsense. [Portion removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2016 at 10:30 pm

Careful, residentialists - your love of accusing residents of being developer shills may destroy all your potential candidates!

Knows Keller is right that Arthur Keller is a staunch, slow-growth residentialist. He is also intellectually honest, which earns respect even from people who disagree with him.

[Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Think Again
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 11, 2016 at 12:27 am

[Post removed.]


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

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