News

Filseth, Fine to lead city in 2019

Council loses two seats, chooses two leaders

Newly appointed Palo Alto Vice Mayor Adrian Fine and Mayor Eric Filseth listen to public comments during a council meeting on Jan. 7, 2019. Photo by Veronica Weber.

Signaling the dawn of a new era of moderation and efficiency, the Palo Alto City Council selected on Monday its most centrist member, Eric Filseth, and its most fervent housing advocate, Adrian Fine, to serve as its mayor and vice mayor this year.

In what outgoing Mayor Liz Kniss described as a "historical night," the seven-member council made its debut Monday by passing a series of resolutions in honor of departing council members Karen Holman, Greg Scharff and Cory Wolbach and by choosing the two council members who will lead the group in the coming year. The largely ceremonial meeting also marked the first appearance behind the dais of Councilwoman Alison Cormack, the top vote-getter in the November election.

For Filseth, the election to the mayor's chair was virtually a foregone conclusion. He served as vice mayor in 2018, which made him the odds-on favorite for the council's top leadership position. The council supported him by a unanimous vote, with both Kniss and Councilman Tom DuBois lauding him as the best choice for the job.

Kniss, who made the nomination, prefaced it by citing the council's political divisions, some of which are rooted in disagreements over city growth that go back to the 1980s. She cited the council's five years of "divisiveness and rancor" and praised Filseth for working with her over the past year as the council became "a more moderate, less confrontational and a more civilized group of nine."

DuBois -- who often campaigned with Filseth in 2014 and again in 2018, when they both easily won re-election -- noted Filseth's background as a CEO of several technology firms and his fluency in crunching numbers. As a council member, Filseth has chaired the council's Finance Committee and has led the council's effort to address the city's mounting pension obligations.

"One thing I like to point out is that he has an engineering background and an engineering mindset, and there's not a lot of engineers in politics," DuBois said. "I think it's really served the city well. I think he brings a strong data-based approach to problem-solving and to his policy decisions."

Filseth, who is generally aligned with the council's slow-growth "residentialist" camp, has established himself in recent years as the council's most pragmatic and least ideological member. In accepting the nomination, he cited the long list of challenges that the council will face in the coming year, including traffic congestion, parking shortages, pensions and new infrastructure projects with rising costs -- a challenge that he said will require the council to "do some soul-searching."

"Many of these things we started this past year. We need to follow through on those with dispatch," Filseth said.

The election of Fine as vice mayor provided the only moment of mild suspense in the ceremonial meeting. Fine, the council's youngest member, joined the council in 2016 and has been one of its leaders on pushing housing production. In November 2017, he was the lead author of a colleagues memo that proposed a wide range of zone changes to promote housing. The memo prompted the city to adopt a Housing Work Plan, which culminated in a series of zone changes that the council approved last month. The council approved Fine's election as vice mayor by a 6-1 vote, with Fine's ideological opponent, Lydia Kou, casting the lone vote of dissent.

Kniss, who nominated Fine, lauded him for having "great integrity" and for being "pretty smart."

"He's a man of few words," Kniss said. "He can sum it up, he's succinct, and he can say it in such a convincing way that I think he's very persuasive in what he does."

Kou had nominated DuBois, a fellow residentialist, but DuBois quickly declined the nomination and signaled his plan to support Fine. Cormack also spoke in favor of Fine's nomination, calling him "principled and gracious" and "precise with his comments."

While the election of Fine and Filseth marked a fresh start for the council, the vast majority of the Monday meeting was devoted to celebrating the three council members who concluded their tenures in December: Holman, Scharff and Wolbach.

Each of the departing council members received a proclamation of appreciation and heard testimony from residents and colleagues who thanked them for their service.

Related content:

• Learn more about Mayor Eric Filseth in this video interview about his life (September 2018)

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Comments

9 people like this
Posted by dbaron
a resident of University South
on Jan 8, 2019 at 12:09 am

dbaron is a registered user.

Congratulations to Mayor Filseth and Vice Mayor Fine. Looking forward to a productive year in the City Council.


6 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 8, 2019 at 12:34 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

With his free time, maybe Greg Scharff can find a White Night for the Hotel President apartments.


28 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2019 at 10:42 am

Since we ostensibly have "housing advocates" on the city council now, let's see if they can figure out how to improve the jobs/housing imbalance. Hint: It won't be by adding 100 units of housing along with 25,000 square feet of office space added in to "sweeten the deal" for developers, or any of the other excuses that come along.


(P.S. >> With his free time, maybe Greg Scharff can find a White Night for the Hotel President apartments. << "White Night" ? Would that be a Russian oligarch? :-) )


31 people like this
Posted by Watched on TV
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 8, 2019 at 11:58 am

Grew weary of so many Kniss long speeches so I tuned out. She is clearly reluctant to give up the starring role and the photo ops. And calling out her first-name friends to show what a friendly person she is. Inappropriate and self serving.


6 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 8, 2019 at 1:09 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Congratulations to the new mayor and vice mayor, and our newest council member. And of course thanks to those who have served and those who continue to serve. If this city can function even half as well as last night's collective and glowing comments suggest is possible the city will be as good as it already thinks it is!

I thought it amusing when Kniss said that she didn't want to tell tales out of school but still divulged that sometimes Cory W. would join some subset of the Council for a beverage after the meetings. Since our fair city hasn't adopted the F&B hours of a real city I wondered where they could go so late at night. Do tell - please!


6 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 8, 2019 at 1:39 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

@Watched on TV

I watched it too, but tuned in late, so I'm sorry to say I missed the first proclamation honoring Cory Wolbach. I hope to see it on the archived video recording, however. He's a personal friend and I had the privilege of sitting in the front row 4 years ago when he was sworn in, so I knew what to expect at this first meeting of the year, and I knew it wouldn't be a meeting that would end at 12:30 AM this morning. It's an event of reflection, celebration, congratulation, proclamation, and honoration (not sure that's a real word...did I just coin a new one?).

I was impressed by the support given by, for, and towards each other last night (outgoing CC members, current members, and our one new incoming CC member). I think the elected mayor and vice mayor are a perfect team choice to move us forward and make big strides in solving some of our big and age old problems. I've lived here since 1961, so I remember many contentious years on CC, and some of our current problems are no different than ones that started appearing in the 70's and 80's. And our dear former mayor (twice around), Liz Kniss, summed up the history of our town very well. I chuckled when Adrian commented on their age difference.

I was a little disappointed, however. I wish Lydia would have risen up to the occasion and given a unanimous vote for Adrian as vice mayor. We all know about your differences on council, but this was not the time to highlight them. There will be many opportunities in the months ahead to do that.

And to all you previous negative commenters on this article. Take a break! You need one, and the rest of us need one from you! You will have many opportunities to vent your hate for the CC members and their positions on issues. They work very hard, for less than minimum wage, to serve us. Support them, because, hopefully, you participated in the democratic process that got them elected into office. If you didn't, well, then 'shame on you'.



24 people like this
Posted by Watched on TV
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 8, 2019 at 2:09 pm

Gale, your frequent reminder that Cory is a personal friend makes your biased opinion of him irrelevant. Since you give him so much free publicity, it's not surprising he is your friend.

That you think Liz Kniss is "our dear former mayor" speaks volumes about your support for developers, since that is her major advocacy. (The FPPC has yet to respond to the charges against her for not reporting campaign contributions from developers.)


34 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 8, 2019 at 4:04 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

I am in complete agreement with 'Watched on TV'. Liz Kniss was never a friend of Palo Alto. She has always represented corporate and developers interests at the expense of Palo Alto. I also agree that Gale Johnson's personal friendship with Wolbach has blinded him to the fact that Wolbach has always been a Kniss puppet. If Wolbach had actually cared about the housing/job imbalance, he wouldn't have been such a staunch supporter of massive commercial development, cynically voting to maintain the cap, just before the elections, in order to save his seat, just so he can change it again once he is re-elected. This ruse was incredibly obvious and the voters weren't fooled this time around.


11 people like this
Posted by Not a real mayor
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 8, 2019 at 4:14 pm

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by BlackbeardsMom
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2019 at 5:06 pm

BlackbeardsMom is a registered user.

As the council changes, I wish some of these juvenile attitudes would change as well. Greg Scharff was the ONLY voice of reason and intelligence on the council and he will be missed by MANY. It shall be amusing to watch them continue to blunder as they did last night, going forward. Corey will be missed by many as well for he brought youth and civility to the table. At this point they are fortunate to have Adrian Fine, he is the city's only saving grace and I've no doubt next year he will make an excellent mayor. Fingers crossed he can tolerate this bunch that long.

As for Alison, hearing her speak was painful. The same rehearsed disingenuous sounding babble for each and every person she spoke about. I only hope she has a few original thoughts throughout the year.

Hang on Palo Alto, I've a feeling this year we may all wish we lived elsewhere...


38 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2019 at 5:18 pm

Looks like Kniss brokered a deal. Kniss and Fine support Filseth for mayor. Filseth and DuBois support Kniss's protege for vice mayor. The protege becomes the nominal mayor next year and Kniss reasserts control as the power behind the throne.


34 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 8, 2019 at 5:53 pm

Gale Johnson wrote:

"I was a little disappointed, however. I wish Lydia would have risen up to the occasion and given a unanimous vote for Adrian as vice mayor."

----------

I disagree completely. I want our elected officials to vote their consciences even when they must stand alone.

Thank you, Lydia Kou, for nominating Tom DuBois for Vice-Mayor and voting against Adrian Fine.

The fact that Mr. DuBois was passed over for Vice-Mayor in favor of Mr. Fine shows that the council divisions and politics have not changed.


3 people like this
Posted by Not a real mayor
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 8, 2019 at 6:29 pm

"
The fact that Mr. DuBois was passed over for Vice-Mayor in favor of Mr. Fine shows that the council divisions and politics have not changed."

And on what do you base this claim on? Was Dubois somehow more deserving than fine ( besides the fact that pasz and their supporters feel that only their chosen few should hold office)?
And you do rea.ize that Dubois will probably be vice mayor next year.

"Looks like Kniss brokered a deal. Kniss and Fine support Filseth for mayor. Filseth and DuBois support Kniss's protege for vice mayor. The protege becomes the nominal mayor next year and Kniss reasserts control as the power behind the throne."

Glad to see that the anti- housing crowd has not forgotten to bash kniss. What would the new council be without the usual suspects making unfounded claims against those that are trying to make the city better


27 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 9, 2019 at 6:55 am

Annette is a registered user.

@Not a real mayor - I think Abitarian makes a good point about mayor and vice mayor selection. Year after year we see the process play out in a way that suggests back room deals settled well before the 1st CC meeting in January. What is the criterion, other than politics and alignments, for selecting Fine over Dubois? Dubois has more CC tenure than Fine and he garnered more votes in the election than Filseth. Regardless of personal preference, there's got to be a better, more logical and less political way to do this. As is, it is pretty easy to see high potential for "business as usual" to continue, despite all the rosy comments made on Monday. Much was said that framed (or at least sought to frame) last year as congenial. While it is always good to be optimistic, when there are serious problems to address I think it even better to be realistic.

I also don't think "nominal" is a word that will ever apply to Fine. He is helping Senator Weiner on housing issues. I forget the exact quote at the moment but he recently referred to the "idolatry of local control". One way to translate that is that our elected local official is helping to undermine local control. Nothing nominal about that.

Fine strikes me as having a single focus: housing. But he doesn't address the demand side of the housing issue. So how does our infrastructure get improved to meet the demands of the housing that Fine et al intend to see added? Kniss provided a history lesson on Monday that underscored the fact that today's debates are not new. While that is true, what IS new is the cumulative impact of decades of aggressive and largely unmitigated development.

Since it is true that one cannot have one's cake and eat it, too, I think it reasonable for residents to be demanding about smart growth. If we are not, our existing infrastructure will surely fail us. There are signs of that already.


8 people like this
Posted by Not a real mayor
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 9, 2019 at 7:12 am

Annette- in your comments about this in another thread, I agreed that there should be a direct voter election for mayor. If you have any evidence of back room deals, please make them public.
Personally, I do not trust Dubois. I remember his attempts to derail grocery outlet with his false claims about the neon lights they wanted. I also do not think it is good to have back to back pasz "mayors".
As for fine, maybe it is time pslo alto does something about hosting


8 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 9, 2019 at 8:05 am

Annette is a registered user.

@Not a real mayor, I doubt it will surprise you to learn that I cannot provide hard evidence about back room deals, just anecdotal stuff that I have heard over the years. But c'mon, Filseth came with prepared remarks! I simply think it would be better if voters determined these two positions or there was a formulaic approach to the process.

Not fully following your comment about back-to-back PASZ mayors. Our last mayor, Kniss, was not a PASZ mayor and I happen to think Filseth is only quasi-PASZ. I'm guessing you are suggesting that Filseth is fully PASZ and that if Dubois was vice mayor he'd then be mayor in 2020 and in that case we'd have back-to-back PASZ mayors. Overall, I see your point; it's usually healthier to not overdo anything.

Palo Alto has to do a lot about many things; Filseth's list was both long and compelling.


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2019 at 8:24 am

The process of choosing a mayor is something that has concerned me and the fact that vice mayor progresses to mayor. I agree that a formula of some type should be used is a good idea. I can't understand how the media reports on the likely mayor before the vote, sounds extremely fishy to me.

On another note, exactly what power does the mayor have over a regular CC member? I know the mayor usually becomes the spokesperson for the Council and often meets with other mayors, etc. But is there any additional power that goes with the role or is it just an honor title?


6 people like this
Posted by Not a real mayor
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 9, 2019 at 8:58 am

Annette- in all my years living here, I do not recall a vice mayor that was not elected mayor. Probably why filséth had his remarks prepared. The only long serving member that was passed over for mayor was jack Morton. The city had chosen mayors with barely a year or two in office, i.e. drekmeier.

Resident- besides chairing the meetings, the mayor is a ceremonial post and is not really a real mayor position.

Funny how this discussion about the election of the mayor started with karen holmans comments to the daily post. She had no problem with the process during her 9 years on the council- she was chosen vice mayor and then mayor and cheerfully voted with everyone to elect the other mayors. I wonder about her comprehension of basic issues.


8 people like this
Posted by The Patriot
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 9, 2019 at 10:19 am

The Patriot is a registered user.

"in all my years living here, I do not recall a vice mayor that was not elected mayor."

**A vice-mayor is like a bench coach in baseball. Eventually some become managers but not all become good ones.

This is the story of the Palo Alto 'team'.


9 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 9, 2019 at 11:07 am

Annette is a registered user.

If memory serves, CC has opted to not elevate the vice mayor to mayor at least a couple of times. Gennady Sheyner can likely provide all the details but I believe Greg Schmid was passed over in 2016 when the CC selected Pat Burt to serve as mayor and Greg Scharff as vice mayor in 2016. As Gennady wrote at the time:

"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."

And on and on. The meeting management responsibility that resides with the mayor has developed into a critical role vis-à-vis community participation. Under both Scharff and Kniss, public comment was often limited to as little as 60 seconds and motions were sometimes made and seconded in a way that narrowly framed the ensuing discussion. I am not so naive as to think that electing the mayor guarantees more equitable meeting management, but I think it would help.


13 people like this
Posted by Anne
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 9, 2019 at 11:19 am

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 9, 2019 at 11:49 am

Online Name is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by 6Djockey
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 9, 2019 at 12:26 pm

6Djockey is a registered user.

My comment is in response to Resident's question of what power does the mayor have over regular council members. The mayor runs the council meetings and calls on members to speak (or not!). [Portion removed due to inaccurate factual assertion.]


14 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2019 at 1:43 pm

Posted by Not a real mayor, a resident of Crescent Park

>> Glad to see that the anti- housing crowd has not forgotten to bash kniss. What would the new council be without the usual suspects making unfounded claims against those that are trying to make the city better

City streets are drowning in traffic and parked cars. Anything that adds to traffic and more cars to be parked on city streets is not making "the city better". Adding office space inevitably adds traffic and parked cars, and therefore, does not "make the city better".


3 people like this
Posted by Myth buster
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2019 at 2:56 pm

Anon- you are perpetuating the myth that certain members of the council and public love to use as a talking point. The city streets are not drowning in traffic and cars— there are certain areas that experience heavy traffic at certain times and areas that have traffic issues. However ther is no gridlock or parking problems 24 hours a day citywide.
Based on your argument the new businesses that have opened at T&C and other parts of the city, should not have been allowed to open since they cause traffic and parks just by the nature of them being a local business. According to you they are making the city worse.


Annette- thanks for information, I notice that Holman had no problem with the arrangement of choosing a mayor that year.


4 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 9, 2019 at 3:36 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

[Post removed due to inaccurate statement.]


24 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2019 at 3:58 pm

@Myth,

Let me get this right Palo Alto doesn't have a traffic problem because Palo Alto only has gridlock at certain rush hours during the day when everyone is trying to get home, or to work, or school, but there is no gridlock at night when everybody is asleep?


20 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2019 at 4:06 pm

I absolutely love "myth"s comment.

Yes, lets all go to Safeway at midnight because there is no traffic or parking problems.

Let's all go to school at 10.00 am because traffic is lighter then than 8.00 am.

Let's all go to the library at 6.30 am because of the traffic.

Let's all go to dinner at 9.00 pm because it is easier to find parking even if the restaurants are all closing.

Yes, a bit silly isn't it.


1 person likes this
Posted by Myth buster
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2019 at 4:29 pm

Ahem and resident— perhaps you should go back and read my posting more carefully, forgetting about the talking points that are thrown around regarding traffic in Palo,Alto. Resident, your response is especially silly.
I have read comments n this forum and others wer residents talk about gridlock all the time. Yes, there are times when there is traffic and it moves slower, but the show me a city where that is not the case- Palo,Alto is not unique in that regard ( despite the efforts of,people to make it sound that way).
Palo,Alto has paid lip service to the traffic issue for years, yet the city has a pathetic shuttle system and not much in the way of mass transit, residents still insist on driving children to school because there is no school bus service.
Yet people like resident and ahem think that Palo Alto is special and should never have traffic problems because they are Palo Alto!!!!!! And yes, you can go to the library , to the grocery store and out to eat at hours when there is less traffic, but I realize that concept is difficult for people like resident to grasp.
But continue to trumpet the idea that Palo Alto is the only city with traffic and parking issues.


17 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2019 at 4:43 pm

Myth.

Sorry, but I will disagree with you a little. You may like to drive around town at odd hours, but for many of us we have less flexibility.

Midtown parking is very difficult at lunch time and most of the afternoon. The fact that there are lots of people parking there at that time means that it is the time that is convenient for them to eat lunch, visit drugstores, or take kids to activities at dance or martial arts classes.

From my recollection of elementary schools, there were rules about getting kids there too early, so most school zones can't take kids an hour earlier.

Library visits as well as other errands are done by many people on the way home or in their lunch hours and yes it might be possible for some people to take their lunch at 10.00 or 3.30, but not everyone can. I like to do my errands in one run as much as possible and that can sometimes take a couple of hours driving around and not all errands are in Palo Alto either.

Many people want to eat dinner at dinner time, not at 9.00 pm. It isn't healthy to eat so close to bedtime and people start going to bed fairly early if they have to set the alarm for 6.00 am.

The reason commute times are busy is because that is the common time to commute. Yes many businesses do encourage flex time to employees, but many businesses are not able to do this.


24 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 9, 2019 at 4:48 pm

@Myth buster wrote "...ther is no gridlock or parking problems 24 hours a day citywide."

I've been measuring traffic at my house (in Professorville) occasionally over the past five years. There is now no hour of the day or night without traffic, and as of the most recent measurement, there is no hour of the day or night that traffic hasn't increased over the past five years.

Take the points and draw a line through them. Even if you don't agree there's a problem now, you can see that there will be one eventually.

That problem can be solved much more easily if we act now than if we wait until it's a crisis. Control growth (especially commercial growth, because it's already out-of-balance) and make sure the organizations that benefit most from growth pay a proportionate share of the costs.


1 person likes this
Posted by Myth buster
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 9, 2019 at 5:07 pm

Allen —are you suggesting that there should be a time when there is no traffic in Palo Alto. The minimal traffic that occurs late at night and early morning is not a problem.
Meanwhile in the next few years Stanford will be moving a few thousand employees to satellite campuses outside of Palo Alto. But what has Palo Alto actually done to seriously address traffic issues. Not much in the last decade or so.

I do remember that when Facebook ran shuttles to discourage employees driving in Palo Alto, residents complained about the shuttles!!!! So basically residents will complain about the problem and then complain when solutions are implemented to solve the problem. Palo Alto needs to get off their high horse and realize that they do not live in a traffic free bunble


9 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 9, 2019 at 5:10 pm

Annette is a registered user.

I have no idea whether Holman "had no problem with the arrangement of choosing a mayor" the year she was selected to serve that role. Maybe she didn't, maybe she did. Regardless, there's not much point in criticizing her for a process that no one Councilmember controls. I appreciate that she is promoting a change to the process, don't much care about the timing of that, and very much hope it happens.

About the traffic issues others are discussing, I think the point is that circulation is seriously limited on our major surface streets and on the two highways throughout the day and at "gridlock" level during commute hours which are somewhat undefinable for all sorts of reasons, including the jobs:housing imbalance. And we do not have adequate public transportation to offset the need for cars. These problems are not unique to Palo Alto but it only makes sense for residents to focus most on their own city.

I think it also worth pointing out that Palo Alto does have a unique problem set b/c of Stanford. There's no two ways around the fact that Stanford's traffic is our traffic. Or that Stanford's growth directly impacts Palo Alto. There's nothing silly about that and it cannot be overstated.


16 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 9, 2019 at 6:12 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@Myth buster: There are times and places in Palo Alto where traffic should be effectively zero. There are also times and places in Palo Alto where traffic saturation is acceptable. For most places in Palo Alto, safety and economic issues determine some maximum level in-between those extremes. I think most people agree that we're already above the acceptable levels in a lot of times and places, and the trend is to make that worse.

Take a look at the EIR summary for Stanford's General Use Permit. Despite expanding to satellite campuses, Stanford's expansion locally is going to increase traffic, soak up the planned increase in Caltrain capacity, and worsen the jobs/housing imbalance.

I agree with you that Palo Alto hasn't done much to improve traffic. Partly that's because it encouraged too much commercial growth, which is one reason why that should end. Partly that's because it doesn't have the resources to build meaningful transportation systems, which is one reason why the organizations doing the growing have to take on a proportionate share of the costs of their growth.


16 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2019 at 6:41 pm

Palo Alto took 90+ homes and built Oregon Expressway to transport commuters to Stanford's industrial park, but Stanford's campus is still a huge bottleneck to ground transportation. What Palo Alto really needs is a couple of Oregon Expressways connecting 280 to the Stanford Campus

The smart money in the real-estate business does everything in their power to make their real-estate a destination, not a thoroughfare. The smart operators running San Francisco have understood this winning strategy since the early 1960s.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 9, 2019 at 9:55 pm

^ "a couple of Oregon Expressways connecting 280 to the Stanford Campus" --
One of these expressways is Sand Hill Road and the other is Page Mill Road.
Google says both routes are 3.5 miles or 8 minutes from I-280 to Tresidder.
Both are shorter in time or distance than any route to 101.


13 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2019 at 11:39 pm

@Musical,

Two MORE Oregon Expressways connecting 280 to the Stanford campus BETWEEN Page Mill and Sand Hill. If Stanford wants to preserve the bucolic area around the dish they can bore a couple of tunnels under the hills and connect them up to their massive multistory underground parking structures.

Stanford needs to stop demanding that everyone else build out transportation to serve the exploding population of their campus, while refusing to significantly improve the carrying capacity of their trans-campus roadways.

The campus forms a giant bottleneck in Palo Alto forcing north-south and east-west traffic onto Palo Alto and Menlo Park roads. Palo Alto and Menlo Park's roadways serves Stanford, but Stanford's roadways do not serve the people of Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

When was the last time (if ever) you used any of Stanford's roadways to travel to a destination that was not on the Stanford campus?


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2019 at 9:38 am

What is necessary is to put in some more park and drive lots at 280 Page Mill and get some good shuttle service to take commuters in to Stanford and other places. I think the Marguerite service which serves everyone not just Stanford people is an example that should be a good start to helping our problems with traffic around town.


3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2019 at 10:19 am

Posted by Ahem, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> Two MORE Oregon Expressways connecting 280 to the Stanford campus BETWEEN Page Mill and Sand Hill. If Stanford wants to preserve the bucolic area around the dish they can bore a couple of tunnels under the hills and connect them up to their massive multistory underground parking structures.

Instead of creating two more Oregon Expressways, -one- rail system could carry that traffic and more. Instead of funneling the cars into Stanford and then into parking garages, funnel the traffic from I-280 directly into the parking garages and then people transfer to the rail system. Faster and more efficient.

Thanks for adding the tunnel concept, though-- good idea for the rail system to tunnel directly into the central campus. The design could also accommodate an extension through downtown Palo Alto and on to a Dumbarton Bridge side parking complex.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> What is necessary is to put in some more park and drive lots at 280 Page Mill and get some good shuttle service to take commuters in to Stanford and other places.

It is going to require much more than park and drive lots. Parking structures with the same capacity as the ones being added to Stanford will be required. As above, instead of buses, Stanford would be better served by a rail system that carries people directly to campus and bypasses the road system. Buses sitting in traffic on a congested roadway are a loser.


12 people like this
Posted by now or never
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2019 at 11:51 am


Good ideas don't happen if you are stuck working on bad ideas.

The last years have been spent on bicycles and the "suck it up" or denial about traffic problems.

developers with their individual projects also take up City time and waste staff time on satisfying developer profits




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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2019 at 3:02 pm

Posted by now or never, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> Good ideas don't happen if you are stuck working on bad ideas.

>> The last years have been spent on bicycles and the "suck it up" or denial about traffic problems.

I hope you don't mean that bicycles are a "bad idea". Bicycles are very efficient at moving large numbers of people moderate distances-- by moderate, I mean longer than most people want to walk, but, short enough that many people are comfortable riding a bike. 1-2 miles, say, with some folks starting at 1/4 mile, and, some folks riding 5 miles. Bicycles would be a "bad idea" if they were proposed for, say, the only option for transcontinental travel. Most people won't ride that far.

My point is simple: I don't know a single bicycle advocate who proposes that people ride -everywhere-. It is obvious that won't work very well. Unfortunately, I see people regularly advocate for driving cars everywhere, despite the evidence that everyone driving everywhere doesn't work very well either.

Let's develop a transportation strategy that makes the best use of all the options: walking, bicycling, driving, riding public transportation, etc.

>> developers with their individual projects also take up City time and waste staff time on satisfying developer profits

I think the city would need a different mix of city staff if it had a different mix of projects, and, transportation options. So much effort is devoted to managing office space development because there is so much of it. Freeze office space, and, let's focus on housing and services for residents.



5 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 15, 2019 at 5:16 pm

One step at a time. Wolback was spanked in the last election for his anti-resident stance. Fine next.

and @Myth buster, I can see your contention that Palo Alto traffic is just peachy has already been debunked, and I can assure you that cut-though traffic is a big problem in our city at almost any time of the day.


2 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 15, 2019 at 5:21 pm

@Anon, we have already spent far more on bicycle-serving obstructions than the small number of non-student cyclists in this city merit.

Like always, Palo Alto has things bass-ackwards. Add transit -THEN- remove cars. Restrict commercial development -THEN- build affordable housing. The bicycling thing will never work, and has never worked, for the vast majority of people.


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