News

Palo Alto attorney plans to seek City Council seat

Rebecca Eisenberg says she wants to see more transparency, less deference to corporate interests

Rebecca Eisenberg, a Palo Alto attorney who has criticized the City Council for being too friendly to commercial developers, announced this weekend her plan to run for a council seat in November, becoming the first challenger to enter the race.

Eisenberg, a resident of Old Palo Alto, made her announcement on Town Square, the community forum of Palo Alto Online. She said one of the reasons she is running is to improve transparency and accountability, which she argued has been diminished by the political influence of wealthy donors and lobbyists.

The announcement was part of a string of weekend posts in which Eisenberg criticized the council's strategy for balancing the budget and challenged Mayor Adrian Fine for offering to help Tesla remain in Palo Alto. Fine's tweet in support of Tesla followed a threat by Tesla's CEO Elon Musk to move his company to Nevada or Texas.

Eisenberg responded by publicly asking, "What exactly DOES Tesla do for Palo Alto?"

"I am disappointed in Mayor Fine's response," Eisenberg wrote. "We are Palo Alto and we stand up for our residents, our safety, and our community. We do not allow billionaire celebrities to blur our vision by putting Iron Man stars in our eyes."

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In a different post, which pertained to budget cuts, Eisenberg argued that the City Council is now being forced to reduce services because it had spent decades prioritizing "commercial developers/office space and tax-exempt special interest projects boosted by big money donors." She also said the city needs to create an "enforcement division," which the city currently does not have because of the "lack of courage in local government."

"By constantly prioritizing wealthy campaign donors over the residents of Palo Alto, the Palo Alto City Council has created a situation where we lack a tax base to support essential services like fire and police," Eisenberg wrote. "It's not just shameful, it's infuriating."

Eisenberg told this news organization that she believes Palo Alto needs to make sure local businesses are contributing more revenues to the city. This includes creating a new business tax. The City Council was preparing to place such a tax on the November ballot but suspended its effort in March, when the COVID-19 pandemic led county health officials to institute a shelter-in-place requirement. Eisenberg believes the council erred in not moving ahead with the measure, which could have been tailored to give exemptions to small businesses that were hurt by the shutdown.

"To claim that these businesses are contributing to our city, while we are basically paying for them with the taxpayer money of residents while they're not paying their fair share — it's ludicrous," Eisenberg said. "When I'm on the City Council, the first thing I want to address is our ways of collecting revenue for the city. We positively need to tax the businesses."

She said she believes Palo Alto is failing to require commercial developers to pay their fair share for city services. She notes that new office developments remain more profitable than residential ones and believes the city needs to "change the economics" and make office building no more profitable than residential construction.

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She also says the city needs to allow more mixed-use projects with office and residential components. Palo Alto's failure to promote this kind of development is a "huge lost opportunity," she said. Housing above retail, she said in an email, is a "well-proven method for supporting small businesses and local small business owners have been clamoring for this reasonable solution for decades."

Eisenberg said that she also strongly supports building housing for teachers at Cubberley Community Center, which is owned by the city and the school district (the city is leasing the school district's portion of Cubberley under a lease that is in the process of being renegotiated). Building teacher housing would be a "win" for everyone, she said. It would help teachers; it would help schools; and it would generate revenue, which both the city and the district desperately need.

She also strongly opposes the expansion proposal from Castilleja School, which she argues violates local zoning laws. She cites the school's violation of its "conditional use permit" in 2012 as an example of the city being too lax in enforcing its rules. Though the city fined the school $285,000 for the violation, Eisenberg argued that the fine was not sufficient.

In recent years, Eisenberg also has been a frequent critic of both the council and the Planning and Transportation Commission, which she had tried to join in 2017 and 2019. The council did not appoint her on either occasion. Last year, she argued that former Planning Commissioner Asher Waldfogel had a conflict of interest because he had served as a trustee at Castilleja School, which is in the midst of a controversial plan to rebuild its campus (Waldfogel lost his seat on the commission in December; the commission has yet to review the Castilleja plan).

Eisenberg had also accused the council in 2016 of consistently favoring white men for commission appointments. At one point, she made a scoresheet of every council member's votes on commission appointments and gave each a "diversity rating." She suggested in the scoresheet that then-Mayor Pat Burt, who had the lowest rating, be "subject to expulsion."

She noted in a 2018 post that she received significant criticism ("as well as name-calling and attacks on my integrity") as a result of that chart, which she said aimed to provide transparency.

"Our officials certainly know that the votes they cast are public record, and if I had the opportunity to cast votes, I would do my best to vote on behalf of the community I love and whose interests — much less, demographics — I reflect and represent," Eisenberg wrote in November 2018.

According to her planning commission application, Eisenberg was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and came to California to attend Stanford University. She then graduated from Harvard Law School and worked for several technology and legal companies in the Bay Area. This includes stints at Trulia, where she was general counsel, and at Reddit, where she was general counsel, head of finance and head of human resources, according to her resume.

She is principal and founder of the firm Private Client Legal Advisors, which provides legal services to nonprofit organizations, technology companies, angel funds, entrepreneurs and executives, according to her resume.

Eisenberg said she believes the council has stopped representing the majority of the city, including renters and families with children. She is hoping to change that.

"When we divest money from our public schools and from city service — fire, police, public transportation, when we focus on parking but forget a big chunk of our population -- children and seniors — don't drive … we are forgetting to serve the core of our community," Eisenberg said. "The core of our community are families. … We have lost sight of that."

The council race will include at least one open seat this November, with Councilwoman Liz Kniss set to conclude her final term. Mayor Adrian Fine, Councilwoman Lydia Kou and Councilman Greg Tanaka are all eligible to run for a second four-year term. While all three are expected to seek re-election, none have formally announced plans to do so.

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Palo Alto attorney plans to seek City Council seat

Rebecca Eisenberg says she wants to see more transparency, less deference to corporate interests

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, May 12, 2020, 9:01 am

Rebecca Eisenberg, a Palo Alto attorney who has criticized the City Council for being too friendly to commercial developers, announced this weekend her plan to run for a council seat in November, becoming the first challenger to enter the race.

Eisenberg, a resident of Old Palo Alto, made her announcement on Town Square, the community forum of Palo Alto Online. She said one of the reasons she is running is to improve transparency and accountability, which she argued has been diminished by the political influence of wealthy donors and lobbyists.

The announcement was part of a string of weekend posts in which Eisenberg criticized the council's strategy for balancing the budget and challenged Mayor Adrian Fine for offering to help Tesla remain in Palo Alto. Fine's tweet in support of Tesla followed a threat by Tesla's CEO Elon Musk to move his company to Nevada or Texas.

Eisenberg responded by publicly asking, "What exactly DOES Tesla do for Palo Alto?"

"I am disappointed in Mayor Fine's response," Eisenberg wrote. "We are Palo Alto and we stand up for our residents, our safety, and our community. We do not allow billionaire celebrities to blur our vision by putting Iron Man stars in our eyes."

In a different post, which pertained to budget cuts, Eisenberg argued that the City Council is now being forced to reduce services because it had spent decades prioritizing "commercial developers/office space and tax-exempt special interest projects boosted by big money donors." She also said the city needs to create an "enforcement division," which the city currently does not have because of the "lack of courage in local government."

"By constantly prioritizing wealthy campaign donors over the residents of Palo Alto, the Palo Alto City Council has created a situation where we lack a tax base to support essential services like fire and police," Eisenberg wrote. "It's not just shameful, it's infuriating."

Eisenberg told this news organization that she believes Palo Alto needs to make sure local businesses are contributing more revenues to the city. This includes creating a new business tax. The City Council was preparing to place such a tax on the November ballot but suspended its effort in March, when the COVID-19 pandemic led county health officials to institute a shelter-in-place requirement. Eisenberg believes the council erred in not moving ahead with the measure, which could have been tailored to give exemptions to small businesses that were hurt by the shutdown.

"To claim that these businesses are contributing to our city, while we are basically paying for them with the taxpayer money of residents while they're not paying their fair share — it's ludicrous," Eisenberg said. "When I'm on the City Council, the first thing I want to address is our ways of collecting revenue for the city. We positively need to tax the businesses."

She said she believes Palo Alto is failing to require commercial developers to pay their fair share for city services. She notes that new office developments remain more profitable than residential ones and believes the city needs to "change the economics" and make office building no more profitable than residential construction.

She also says the city needs to allow more mixed-use projects with office and residential components. Palo Alto's failure to promote this kind of development is a "huge lost opportunity," she said. Housing above retail, she said in an email, is a "well-proven method for supporting small businesses and local small business owners have been clamoring for this reasonable solution for decades."

Eisenberg said that she also strongly supports building housing for teachers at Cubberley Community Center, which is owned by the city and the school district (the city is leasing the school district's portion of Cubberley under a lease that is in the process of being renegotiated). Building teacher housing would be a "win" for everyone, she said. It would help teachers; it would help schools; and it would generate revenue, which both the city and the district desperately need.

She also strongly opposes the expansion proposal from Castilleja School, which she argues violates local zoning laws. She cites the school's violation of its "conditional use permit" in 2012 as an example of the city being too lax in enforcing its rules. Though the city fined the school $285,000 for the violation, Eisenberg argued that the fine was not sufficient.

In recent years, Eisenberg also has been a frequent critic of both the council and the Planning and Transportation Commission, which she had tried to join in 2017 and 2019. The council did not appoint her on either occasion. Last year, she argued that former Planning Commissioner Asher Waldfogel had a conflict of interest because he had served as a trustee at Castilleja School, which is in the midst of a controversial plan to rebuild its campus (Waldfogel lost his seat on the commission in December; the commission has yet to review the Castilleja plan).

Eisenberg had also accused the council in 2016 of consistently favoring white men for commission appointments. At one point, she made a scoresheet of every council member's votes on commission appointments and gave each a "diversity rating." She suggested in the scoresheet that then-Mayor Pat Burt, who had the lowest rating, be "subject to expulsion."

She noted in a 2018 post that she received significant criticism ("as well as name-calling and attacks on my integrity") as a result of that chart, which she said aimed to provide transparency.

"Our officials certainly know that the votes they cast are public record, and if I had the opportunity to cast votes, I would do my best to vote on behalf of the community I love and whose interests — much less, demographics — I reflect and represent," Eisenberg wrote in November 2018.

According to her planning commission application, Eisenberg was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and came to California to attend Stanford University. She then graduated from Harvard Law School and worked for several technology and legal companies in the Bay Area. This includes stints at Trulia, where she was general counsel, and at Reddit, where she was general counsel, head of finance and head of human resources, according to her resume.

She is principal and founder of the firm Private Client Legal Advisors, which provides legal services to nonprofit organizations, technology companies, angel funds, entrepreneurs and executives, according to her resume.

Eisenberg said she believes the council has stopped representing the majority of the city, including renters and families with children. She is hoping to change that.

"When we divest money from our public schools and from city service — fire, police, public transportation, when we focus on parking but forget a big chunk of our population -- children and seniors — don't drive … we are forgetting to serve the core of our community," Eisenberg said. "The core of our community are families. … We have lost sight of that."

The council race will include at least one open seat this November, with Councilwoman Liz Kniss set to conclude her final term. Mayor Adrian Fine, Councilwoman Lydia Kou and Councilman Greg Tanaka are all eligible to run for a second four-year term. While all three are expected to seek re-election, none have formally announced plans to do so.

Comments

david schrom
Evergreen Park
on May 12, 2020 at 9:14 am
david schrom, Evergreen Park
on May 12, 2020 at 9:14 am
60 people like this

Thank you, Rebecca, for your thoughtful analysis of how local government officials and employees have sacrificed residents' interests to those of people profiting at our expense. Thank you for publicly advocating that we change this. Thank you for seeking election to serve towards this end.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2020 at 9:27 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2020 at 9:27 am
53 people like this

>> Eisenberg said she believes the council has stopped representing the majority of the city, including renters and families with children. She is hoping to change that.

So true. The City Council should represent the people who live here. It seems obvious ...


No respect Or Consideration
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2020 at 9:52 am
No respect Or Consideration, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2020 at 9:52 am
19 people like this

>> Eisenberg had also accused the council in 2016 of consistently favoring white men for commission appointments. At one point, she made a scoresheet of every council member's votes on commission appointments and gave each a "diversity rating." She suggested in the scoresheet that then-Mayor Pat Burt, who had the lowest rating, be "subject to expulsion."


Except perhaps for our City Manager (a controversial appointed position quite possibly enacted & shaded by special interests), it is very difficult for a person of color to have any realistic aspirations in regards to Palo Alto municipal politics, school boards, city commissions and/or upper administrative positions.

The key roles will always go to white aspirants of persuasive influence with 'on paper only' backgrounds.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2020 at 10:26 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2020 at 10:26 am
33 people like this

>> She also says the city needs to allow more mixed-use projects with office and residential components. Palo Alto's failure to promote this kind of development is a "huge lost opportunity," she said.

I have to disagree on this one. First of all, we need ZERO new office space. Second, it only takes a tiny amount of office space to negate the value of new residential. And third, the City has shown time and again that there is no way to ENFORCE agreements with building owners regarding how space is used, hence, everything turns into office space over time, including neighborhood grocery stores, electronics stores, probably even gas stations one of these days. Until the city figures out how to enforce development agreements, these mixed-use developments should be DEAD.


Ahem
Crescent Park
on May 12, 2020 at 11:41 am
Ahem, Crescent Park
on May 12, 2020 at 11:41 am
21 people like this

Doesn't Eisenberg's position on Castilleja mean she'd have to recuse herself if she were on the City Council when the matter came to it for a ruling?

Perhaps the Weekly can clarify if she made those specific remarks as part of her candidate announcement. If so, one wonders if she understands that City Council members are expected to be impartial in advance of their voting.

We already have the case of Planning and Transportation Commissioner Alcheck voting on a law that impacted his own properties.


Online Name
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 12, 2020 at 12:36 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 12, 2020 at 12:36 pm
23 people like this

Good to hear some specifics from a candidate. I'm interested in her take on the budget hearings.


Get Informed, then Run
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2020 at 12:45 pm
Get Informed, then Run, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2020 at 12:45 pm
46 people like this

Eisenberg needs to get informed BEFORE she runs for city council. The extent of mistaken notions of city issues and workings of our government is startling. She also shows bad judgement and a lack of good sense which has and will be divisive even with those who may be allies on some issues.

She asks, "What exactly does Tesla do for Palo Alto?" Hint - it may have something to do with revenue for the city in these hard times.

She says "...the city needs to create an 'enforcement division' which the city currently does not have...". Ouch - she never heard of the Office of Code Enforcement? Been around for a long time - a Supervisor and 2 CE Officers who enforce our zoning codes. Should it be done better and have its vacant positions filled - yes. Should it not have staff budget cuts - no.

She doesn't know we already widely allow mixed use development of housing over retail.

Nor does she know that PAUSD announced last year that they may be years away from deciding to build (if ever) any teacher housing at Cubberly or nearby. The city council has no real control over PAUSD's decision. And the city's lease of Cubberly is now up in the air due to budget problems.

And then there are judgement and divisiveness issues:

The Business Tax was postponed by the Council, as were other tax measures by the schools and country, due to the economic hit caused by covid-19. It was widely understood that voters would not pass tax increases at a time when so many were suffering from job loss and business collapse. It is worrisome that this is not obvious to Eisenberg.

Her diversity chart that rated council members on their commission votes was not only entirely meaningless, it showed a disturbing lack of reality, and willingness to be divisive for no constructive purpose.

While Eisenberg advances some general positions on city issues that are tried and true, nothing here is new but for her lack of actual knowledge of the city, lack of judgment, and her capacity for incivility.

As Betty Davis said, "Fasten your seatbelts, its gonna be a bumpy ride."


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2020 at 1:12 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2020 at 1:12 pm
19 people like this

I welcome Rebecca if she is seriously going to put the residents first. We are the ones who live here and should be top priority.

As for the discussion about mixed use development, it strikes me as a little pre-Covid comment. I have been walking around a great deal lately on my exercise outings, and I see everywhere office space for lease. I don't see that will change anytime soon as things are going with Covid. People are getting into the habit of working from home and many like it, people are ordering food to take home, ordering Instacart to do shopping, and of course internet shopping too. I think we should put a hold on any decisions about what is needed to be built anywhere around town for at least 18 months after the area reopens. What is needed in 18 months' time is completely unknown.

However, it is nice to see something positive to look ahead to and if we start off with some good conversations about CC candidates, that can only be a good thing.


Ahem APAN
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2020 at 1:14 pm
Ahem APAN, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2020 at 1:14 pm
9 people like this

Note:

The person commenting as Ahem of Crescent Park is not the person who normally comments as Ahem resident of another Palo Alto neighborhood. I don't understand why someone would want to use the same online name. Perhaps Ahem of Crescent park can explain?


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on May 12, 2020 at 4:04 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on May 12, 2020 at 4:04 pm
23 people like this

@Ahem, are you suggesting that Castilleja will sue the City if a Council majority, including Rebecca Eisenberg, votes 4-3 to revoke the CUP, arguing some contorted version of emoluments law? (i.e. she enriched herself unfairly by getting elected while promising to enforce the law and save the taxpayers, herself included, a lot of money?)
Or are you asking if elected officials are bound to keep their campaign promises?

Ms. Eisenberg, to my knowledge, has read the 120 documents on the City's website pertaining to Castilleja expansion and has also made requests for documents that were not listed. (For example a letter from an attorney for a commissoner stating why he need not recuse himself, despite being a former trustee -- which apparently exists but no one has seen). She also, as a public record, articulates her argument -- about enforcing the CUP as is -- as part of her recent application for PATC. Also a public record --and a good showcase of her capability were she part of leadership -- is her 15 minute videotaped hearing as a candidate, December 4, 2019 City Council special meeting. (At 2:00-2:15)

Rebecca Eisenberg is a credible candidate, despite not being part of leadership per se. She does not fit neatly in either of the two main camps, neither Build Baby Build nor The Residentialists. That the powers that be seem to have rebuffed her several attempts at being seated might signal her as the reform candidate, an independent, a breath of fresh air, the predator in the tank.

In the video, she seems to turn the tables on the interviewers and is trying them for their lack of results re Castilleja, and a particularly arcane point about the perception of corruption and recusals. At a certain point she seems to be saying "I'd like to join you, but if you want to fight me five- versus-one, bring it" -- I'm paraphrasing. Although Tom Dubois is my friend and ally -- and one of only two council members to vote for me for commissoner -- I like it when she says "Are you a lawyer?" (He is not, he's an MBA).

She's sort of a cross between Sid Espinosa and Ladoris Cordell - -which does not imply either will endorse her.
She reminds me of Quentin Kopp who was an independent as a state legistlator, and also a lawyer and judge.

Good luck, Rebecca.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on May 12, 2020 at 4:34 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on May 12, 2020 at 4:34 pm
Barron Park dad
Barron Park
on May 12, 2020 at 5:13 pm
Barron Park dad, Barron Park
on May 12, 2020 at 5:13 pm
6 people like this

Rebecca, how do you stand on the current slate of cost reduction proposals to tackle the City's budget, including the proposal to close the College Terrace library? Children and seniors who don't drive yet live west of El Camino will have a hard time getting to the other 4 city libraries, especially when public transportation is compromised in these times of Covid-19.


Ahem DSF
Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 12, 2020 at 5:52 pm
Ahem DSF, Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 12, 2020 at 5:52 pm
6 people like this

Rebecca seems like a straight shooter.


More of the Same
Professorville
on May 12, 2020 at 6:17 pm
More of the Same, Professorville
on May 12, 2020 at 6:17 pm
29 people like this

The last thing we need is someone on the council with such a long history of poor judgment, incivility, and divisive identity politics. We have quite enough of that already.


Ahem
Crescent Park
on May 12, 2020 at 7:34 pm
Ahem, Crescent Park
on May 12, 2020 at 7:34 pm
12 people like this

@Ahem APAN

There seem to be a lot of us Ahems. It's a big family.

@Mark Weiss

My point had nothing to do with emoluments. Castilleja is applying for a Conditional Use Permit and perhaps a variance or two. Any City Council hearing on such a matter will be what is called a quasi-judicial hearing because it affects just a relatively small number of parcels. The League of California Cities says:

Quasi-judicial hearings are subject to federal
and state due process, the fair hearing
requirement of Code of Civil Procedure section
1094.5, and additional requirements applicable
to particular hearings. Relying on these
authorities, California courts have held that
administrative hearings must be fair and that
administrative decision makers must be impartial.

That last word "impartial" is my concern. When a potential council member "strongly opposes the expansion proposal from Castilleja School" and says it "violates local zoning laws" (both quotes from the article) before the key hearings on this are held, she's not being impartial. She has every right to her opinion and I and probably most of Palo Alto even agree with her. My point is that she should know that by saying such things, she's demonstrating partiality and should recuse herself from any Council vote on Castilleja to ensure only impartial councilmembers participate.

Think of it this way: would you want to be tried by a judge who announces that he or she opposes you and felt you had violated the law before (!!!) your hearing began and you had a chance to present your full arguments?

It seems Eisenberg doesn't understand the basic legal duty of a council member to be impartial on many issues, including Castilleja. And she's a lawyer, supposedly trained in this! I've had enough of politicians who would love to shoot off their mouth and don’t care about treating others fairly.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on May 12, 2020 at 8:09 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on May 12, 2020 at 8:09 pm
6 people like this

Well wouldn’t That be ironic if you are absolutely correct and Ms. Eisenberg gets elected having brought all this to the attention of her constituents and her fellow members of leadership and recuses herself and Castilleja expansion fails by six nothing not seven nothing or its variance is denied or it’s CUP is revoked. Or between now and that date more facts come to Light and she actually votes the opposite way that she intended at this point in the process.
There are probably 1,000 attorneys in Palo alto and several hundred alumnae or parents or friends of Castilleja who are also attorneys. She would still being raising the game and doing a service to her neighbors by her participation in the democratic process. She says she’s a supporter of single sex education has been published or has written about such and is not anti- Castilleja.
George packer, not a lawyer, but son of a law professor, has a book called “the unwinding”. Miss Eisenberg is a potential cure locally for the unwinding.
And so far she’s not a politician she’s a dissident or a neighbor or a mom. I met her walking the dog.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on May 12, 2020 at 8:24 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on May 12, 2020 at 8:24 pm
2 people like this

Gennady of the Weekly Who wrote the above article also wrote an excellent review of the book i reference, by George packer who now works for Lorraine Powell jobs of the Palo Alto Emerson project and who went to Gunn high school and in addition to being this son of a law professor has a mom who taught writing— The book is not exactly required reading nor is it directly on point but it’s also true that when I ran for office in 2014 I handed it out more than a dozen copies to other people involved in local politics:
Web Link


Ahem APAN
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2020 at 10:44 pm
Ahem APAN, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 12, 2020 at 10:44 pm
6 people like this

@Ahem,

Your breezy rejoinder raises more questions than it answers. Are you new to posting in the comments section of Palo Alto Online?


Rebecca Eisenberg
Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2020 at 5:04 am
Rebecca Eisenberg, Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2020 at 5:04 am
14 people like this

Hi everyone - I'm so sorry for the slow response. I have read your comments and I take them seriously. For those of you who want to express your opinions to me directly, I welcome your thoughts! I am easy to reach on social media and elsewhere -- as you see here, I have been posting with my real name for years, and I don't feel that I have anything to hide.

I won't address the ad hominem attacks on my integrity. I believe that others have spoken well for me. (And feel free to get to know me yourself! I am here because I care about you and want to make local government work for everyone.)

I will address, however, the two questions about my thoughts about the recent budget hearings. In brief, I am disappointed with the nature of these discussions. I called in on the first meeting, and here is what I said:

This conversation is frustrating. We cannot choose between eliminating robust and extremely valuable city programs such as the only library branch west of El Camino, the amazing Palo Alto Children’s Theater, the fire department, or police protection? The answer to all of the above is NO.

Here’s what I don’t understand: balancing a budget is not only about cutting expenses. It is also about maintaining or increasing the same or projected level of revenue. What we learned through this situation is that our local government’s reliance on tax revenues from sales tax and hotel fees was short-sighted. We are one of the few cities in the entire country that does not tax businesses. We don’t tax small businesses - which may make sense - but we also do not tax multi-billion-dollar companies that enjoy large presences in Palo Alto, like Hewlett Packard, VMWare, Flipboard, Palantir, Tesla, or even large law firms like Wilson Sonsini and Cooley Godward that often boast of profits of a million dollars a partner. These are businesses that can more than afford to pay taxes.

We cannot protect small businesses and retain essential local services for residents such as libraries, children’s theaters, and parks, if we do not turn on the revenue source that every other successful city enjoys: revenues from large businesses.

If I had more time, I would have mentioned how urgent is our need for a City enforcement division. It is extremely concerning to me that the City Manager is considering cutting the inspections department! That is the exact OPPOSITE of the correct thing to do during to a downturn.

Here is a copy/paste of an email I sent to one of our sitting City Council members:

I have some experience with land use law as an attorney for almost 30 years. My husband, also, was a real estate litigator for 20 years. My father, a retired federal judge, sits on the Board of Permit Appeals in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. That is a brief statement of my resume on this matter.

In my opinion, there is no reason rationally to conclude that the demand for building inspections would decrease during this downturn, especially given that construction has been exempted from the lockdown.

Additionally, additional financial pressures on construction companies rationally lead to more developers cutting corners in construction to save their own costs. In the context of a lack of enforcement for code violations, there will be virtually no incentive for developers to abide by building, fire, safety, electrical, or any other codes.

Furthermore, building inspections not only relate to new construction, but they also concern existing buildings. In the context, again, of a pressure-filled business environment, it is conceivable that owners will cut costs by failing to do legally -- and logistically -- required maintenance. Again, placed within the context of lack of enforcement, the city could be inviting safety hazards to our community.

Even when the economy is booming, commercial developers, large landlords, and other owners of properties - especially commercial office space and multi-family rental buildings - are known to violate safety codes in construction and maintenance in a regular manner, either due to negligence, cost-cutting, or sometimes, malfeasance. If not for this tendency, we would not have our robust system of ordinances and codes, which have saved countless lives over the decades.

The concept of removing enforcement and counting on commercial developers and landlords to comply with codes voluntarily is wholly irrational. They could not do so without putting at risk their own fiduciary duties to their limited partners and/or other stakeholders. In other words, it is their job to maximize profit. It is the city government's job to maximize safety.

We already have too little enforcement, IMHO, and far too little corresponding collection of code fines and penalties. Reducing this department within the context of a downturn is the exact opposite of a smart idea. It is a recipe for disaster. We do not want to invite a PG&E situation -- where its own negligence in maintaining safety standards resulted in the loss of thousands of lives, and even more family homes.

Add that real risk to the accompanying loss of revenue, and I am left wondering who in the world would propose such a thing, other than a commercial developer or large landlord.

I hope you continue to ask more questions about this. As much as I respect our city staff members, there is a lot to think about with this crisis, and it's inevitable that some issues unintentionally will fall through the cracks.

That's what I said to the current City Council. Here is what I will do when on the City Council:

1. Recognize that safety of individuals and families is non-negotiable. We refuse to agree to any compromise on fire or police force. We deserve public service to keep ourselves, our children, and our aging parents and neighbors safe. Every life is invaluable.

2. Immediately create and fund an enforcement division - shocking to be lacking here, in our advanced, successful, educated city. We allow commercial developers to violate safety codes without repercussions. We allow non-conforming buildings to violate permits for years without paying legally mandated penalties. We foster a culture of fear of reporting, where the violators have the power to take from neighbors, and neighbors have no power to enforce the law against violators. This is unacceptable! The law applies to everyone equally.

3. Immediately focus on taxing large businesses. We are one of the few cities in the entire country that does not have a business tax. Every other city that lacks business taxes does so in order to attract businesses to their location. We don't have that problem! For the past several decades, Palo Alto has been one of the most sought after -- for good reason! -- locations to start a company and grow it. For far too long we have allowed commercial developers to call the shots, prioritizing their office space projects, believing their propaganda that investment in office space will trickle down to the residents.

It is time for us to recognize -- or, at least, those of us who haven't recognized from the beginning -- that trickle down economics is not a thing. When given higher margins, a business, actually, is usually legally obligated (in their minds, gray area among legal communities) to share it with shareholders rather than spend it on the public good.

if relying on voluntary generosity were a successful strategy, we would have 100 Lucile Packards or Carnegies or Rockefellers right now, generating their vast wealth to saving lives in the face of this pandemic. My observation is that the wealthiest among us choose not to pay it forward. I challenge all billionaires among us to prove me wrong. Seriously: prove me wrong. Please.

Regardless: I have spent decades trying to understand why Palo Alto, of all places, still lacks the electric shuttles and non-driving best -in-class transportation solutions that are prevalent in Europe, as well as in forward thinking US cities like Seattle. After dedicating years to this inquiry, the answer became clear: Because we do not demand it.

It's time to change the conversation. To turn on revenue rather than cut off services necessary for public safety. To demand that the wealthiest developers, landlords, and special interest projects pay their fair share. To do something about the ghost houses and to enforce our laws against removing housing units from the market. To remember that many of us (myself included) are renters, and renters' fear of displacement is equally as valid as homeowners' fear of displacement. No one should have to fear displacement in our community.

Palo Alto residents deserve much better. Fortunately, our community is well positioned to improve our quality of life if our city government stays strong and insists on prioritizing interests of residents -- ALL residents -- over the corporate and special interests that take so much, yet pay in so little.

I promise to fight for each and every resident, regardless of economic situation, age, race, and location in our city. We *all* deserve safe streets, emergency services, libraries and arts enrichment, and world-class education for our children. I will not be bullied away from that goal. Together, we demand, and attain, more.


Rebecca Eisenberg
Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2020 at 5:30 am
Rebecca Eisenberg, Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2020 at 5:30 am
15 people like this

Oh - and TL/DR:

1. I am 100% opposed to closing College Terrace Library. This library is a huge resource to the community, the only library west of El Camino, a beautiful building with child care and community meeting space -- the whole idea infuriates me. Reading is (believe it or not, more even than posting on these message boards!) my biggest passion -- connect with me on Goodreads!. Every library is essential. No library can be closed. This is no ok.

2. Absolutely 100% opposed to closing Palo Alto Children's Theatre. How can this be on the table? Who are we??

3. NO to cuts on police, fire, senior services, summer camps, child care, and each and every other public service on the table to be cut.

NO NO NO. The City Council got us into this mess by lacking courage and integrity to enforce zoning laws (which is a revenue generator) and by refusing to tax large businesses (even bigger revenue generator).

The solution is to turn on revenue -- not turn off libraries, arts programs, firefighters and police officers. I challenge our city government to do the right thing:

1. Put the business tax back on the ballot. Obviously, make sure it exempts small businesses harmed by the lockdown.

2. Put the extension of the parcel tax to support public schools back on the budget!! Those who cannot afford to pay the parcel tax also should receive an exemption. Everyone who can afford to pay the parcel tax should pay the parcel tax! Do we really want to be responsible for firing as many as 100 teachers from our public schools?

3. Instead of discussing divorce proceedings with Cubberley, put teacher housing back on the table! Teacher housing is a win-win for everyone: for teachers, for schools, for the community revenue ... and it also takes cars off the street. Stand up for teaching housing!

I hope this helps clarify my positions on these extremely matters. I hope it also helps explain who I am. Born and bred: a straight-shooter.

Warm regards - Rebecca


Clarity begins at home
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 13, 2020 at 9:15 am
Clarity begins at home, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 13, 2020 at 9:15 am
16 people like this

@Get Informed
“ She asks, "What exactly does Tesla do for Palo Alto?" Hint - it may have something to do with revenue for the city in these hard times. ”

Since you say we should get informed, how about you please tell us instead of hinting when people are asking a question to get that exact information?

If you look at the top corporate property tax payers in the City, VMWare is there, but Tesla is not. Are they renting their headquarters? If so, this very likely means their landlord is paying very little, and Tesla is contributing nothing at all to Palo Alto. Look, I wish them well, but they don’t so much as donate small sums to local schools. Ok, I understand Musk does not like traditional schools, I am sympathetic to the drive to create a better education outside of traditional walls, but his kids homemade school, Ad Astra, is in So Cal and he hasn’t supported independent self-directed education or students who take those educational risks in Palo Alto at all.

Their employees cut through the neighborhood on the way to work, prompting stupid road furniture and dangerous and pointless marking schemes from the City, both of which make things worse near the Hdqtrs and cost Palo Alto kids their walkable neighborhoods.

Tesla got/gets that Palo Alto address for their headquarters when the wanted to brand themselves and attract workers. They use the roads, the infrastructure. @Get informed, please give us the answer to your hint and inform how they contribute to Palo Alto so that I can genuinely appreciate why I should care about a threat of their leaving? We have too many office denizens here, the sky didn’t fall when Facebook left and it won’t if Tesla leaves. Fremont is a different issue, but we would benefit from less office occupancy.

Unless I am missing how those businesses contribute locally when they don’t pay a business tax, the owners of their properties often pay a bargain on their commercial property taxes, and Palo Alto billionaires aren’t exactly big on donating in Palo Alto unless their own kids benefit, I.e., few and isolated incidents that don’t help the majority. We have to put up with cell towers and hotel monoculture along El Camino for the benefit of their transient business needs (and hotel prices so high, residents like me who can’t have visitors in their often teeny homes can no longer afford to have relatives visit during the week), yet the residents in the neighborhoods have ancient communications technology to their houses. The traffic, the airplane noise, encroachment on anything resembling quality of life by the companies treating Palo Alto like their private office park, and those who want to be here/where the action is because of them. In the meantime, Palo Alto as a City has had to maintain a lot of staff almost entirely devoted to development, City time and attention, too. None of that would be worth it even if they were paying for the privilege. Are they? I genuinely don’t know, but I do not on first glance see how they could be.


Palo Alto Native
College Terrace
on May 14, 2020 at 3:38 am
Palo Alto Native, College Terrace
on May 14, 2020 at 3:38 am
13 people like this

I enjoyed reading Rebecca's platform.

As a 1960 resident of Palo Alto (although having to take some time out for college and jobs while retaining my absentee ballot and resident status), I have observed a significant loss of the quality of life in Palo Alto. This can be turned around.

Traffic, pollution, over building of commercial sites, dense housing projects, increased lack of parking, unaffordable housing, the absence of rent control, teenage suicide clusters, the loss of important retail stores (that were part of the amazing personality of Palo Alto) all displaced by unregulated office profit motive (for example: Flower shops, used bookstores, music stores, barber shops, art stores, pet stores, dry cleaners, antique and specialty shops, local small movie theaters, laundry mats, stationary stores, and toy stores). None of these changes are positive for creating a vibrant community. Am grateful during my formative years I enjoyed all these services and a far calmer Palo Alto.

To bring back and cement a higher quality of life for all Palo Alto residents, these changes are required:

1. Tax all major corporations in Palo Alto. I am appalled they are exempted. Talk about incredible lack of leadership for a string of past city councils and the corrupt success of lobbying (I have taught Interest Group Lobbying but one does not need a degree in Politics to observe the obvious). For those firms electing to leave Palo Alto owing to our new tax - that is a good thing. We do not need any more concentrated wealth in one location (along with the attending traffic, housing costs, pollution, and heavy use of our infrastructure and services). We will be fine with Stanford as our stable Research and Development institution and local small businesses. Spread the high tech wealth out to the Bay Area, California, and the nation - especially as we currently derive no direct financial tax benefit for hosting Palo Alto corporations making billions. A small business (as defined by its gross earnings), can either be exempt or pay a comparative nominal fee on a sliding scale.

2. Freeze all future office developments. We are capped. We encourage all other firms to seek office space at other Peninsula cities, the nine bay area counties, the state, or the nation. I endorse the Portola Valley, Woodside, and Atherton models in making our community primarily a place of residence - not a host for office space beyond what already exists. And what exist is far beyond what should have ever been permitted (pun intended) given our existing traffic and other points noted above. However, if not willing to pay a corporate tax, hopefully up to 45% of existing firms will elect to find a different address over the course of the next five-years. Such a shift would also reduce the pressure to accommodate the Housing Element.

3. Retain and enhance community services. When looking at the Palo Alto seven key areas - a recent Palo Alto poll (still open to residents) rated the top areas as Safety and Services. The bottom was government and administration (the latter did not even receive double digit support). In short, no cuts to our Police, Fire Department, and First Responders. Second, as a historic community centered around an academic research and development core - the concept of shutting down the only library west of El Camino Real (at the cost of one Palo Alto employee at a mid to low annual salary range of about $175k), is beyond unthinkable. The same applies to our Children's Theater - another important venue building public speaking skills, lifelong friends, and personal confidence for future creative performers and leaders.

4. Do not discharge any teachers. Small class room size is key to academic success. And since the PAUSD will likely remain on-line for the Fall 2020 semester (or in my view, should remain online), we need all the teachers we currently staff. Teaching an on-line course is like being an individual tutor for fifty-students. It is far more work intensive than in person teaching thus we must retain (and likely hire more) teachers who should only be assigned to teach 3-4 sections (not 5) given all teaching is online for the next semester. Following the reopening of face to face instruction (hopefully by Spring 2021 or Fall 2021), the extra teaches will be needed to keep the teacher- student ratio low.

5. In a down turned economy - the pain shall be shared by our City of Palo Alto employees. However, once the Corporation Tax is activated, the temporary reduction of annual salary can be far less. All employees making $200K (and we have lots of those folks having reviewed our current City of Palo Alto salary schedule) or more should face a two-year 2-4% reduction in salary (on a sliding scale) and those below $200K can either be exempt or face a 1-2% on a sliding scale. NO OVERTIME pay is allowed - we pay a huge annual fee for overtime pay. It is cheaper to hire more people not OT. Moreover, I am shocked we pay our City Manager $403,729.00 a year. It should be no more than $295K - especially given the housing perk that already goes with the post. This is nothing personal to the existing City Manager. If he can find another gig at that rate, more power to him. We can buck the trend of equivalency rates based on a review of other City Manager compensations. In addition, a temporary hiring freeze and a freeze on a wage increase of a proposed 4%. Now, as a former Union representative for adjunct educators, I do not make these proposals lightly. As soon as our corporate tax is implemented combined with a turned around economy, I would wholly support reinstating existing salaries with the prospect of retroactive cost of living raises and the hiring of additional personnel to staff enhanced services (parks, libraries, community centers, enforcement of codes, police, fire, first responders, teachers). Yet I would rather implement a shared cut in some salaries to retain FULL employment of all existing Palo Alto employees and their attending services. Decision makers and hiring supervisors tend to earn the most compared to front line service people making less - exactly where we need the most people – and who cost us the least in our overall budget obligations.

Taken together, we Palo Altains can retain and enhance our Safety and Services while concurrently returning “Back to the Future” to a higher quality of life once enjoyed during the generation that called Palo Alto home during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Granted, those that graduated from Paly in the ‘30s and ‘40s really enjoyed a far less overdeveloped Palo Alto – some of whom I interviewed and knew as friends. However, just getting back to traffic levels and infrastructure loads of the ‘70s would be an incredible accomplishment while acknowledging many non-residents will still drive through Palo Alto’s main arteries to get to their jobs along the peninsula North and South of our town. Yet, imagine not having to build more parking garages in downtown Palo Alto or California Avenue. Indeed, finding parking in five minutes not forty-five to fifty-minutes – or giving up and going home altogether! Calmer local streets and a slower pace with less influx of daily workers and simply residents enjoying the peace and quiet of their neighborhoods. I have lived it, know what it looks like, and I would argue, the above represents how to achieve that experience again for all who call this amazing (but now suffering) place home.

Kevin Murray MA, ABD
College Terrace Resident
Escondido, Terman, Gunn, Foothill Alumnus


Get Informed then Run
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2020 at 9:35 am
Get Informed then Run, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2020 at 9:35 am
17 people like this

The number of words written by Eisenberg does not equate with knowledge and experience. Just as well reasoned comments based on Eisenberg’s own statements equate with bullying.

She persists in still not comprehending though it was stated above:
A business tax cannot possibly pass in this economic situation.
The city has no real control over what PAUSD does.
The city already has Code Enforcement.
That she reasserts her mistaken comments reveals an unwillingness to be accurate and truthful with the public.

That she inappropriately asserts bullying is an example of the temperament she has shown in the past as she strived twice to unsuccessfully be appointed to the Planning Commission. To bring this temperament to the city council is the last thing needed for good governance - needed no matter where one stands on issues.



Online Name
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 14, 2020 at 9:38 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 14, 2020 at 9:38 am
14 people like this

I too enjoyed reading Rebecca's platform and responses to the budget process and cuts. While I don't agree with her 100%, it's refreshing to find a candidate who's more on the side of residents than on the side of big developers and the big companies that have turned downtown into an office park.

Applause for Kevin Murray's post above, also.


Online Name
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 14, 2020 at 9:46 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 14, 2020 at 9:46 am
18 people like this

Why can't a tax on BIG business apply now? Why can't big business do their fair share for a change? Where are THEIR donations to small businesses, to the bike bridge or your favorite cause?? Instead the city lets many of the big businesses install run their own cafeterias which kills the restaurants by taking away business and park spaces of patrons who might have eaten downtown.

The budget authorizes $750,000 for US to pay some of the commuting expenses for the commuters who are over-running us, including those working for the city of PA. Someone tell me why we need to give even more money to our highly paid employees if they carpool or take public transit. That would seem like a simple provision to cut, right City Coucil??


Palo Alto Native
College Terrace
on May 14, 2020 at 5:33 pm
Palo Alto Native, College Terrace
on May 14, 2020 at 5:33 pm
10 people like this

Now that I have retired after a thrifty-year career teaching Politics, I have the time to volunteer to run for the city council of Palo Alto. I say volunteer in terms of compensation for the post. However, I recognize a city council member will have to dedicate thousands of hours at meetings and research to serve fellow Palo Altains well. Therefore, if I can help to return my sacred Palo Alto community to a pro-resident town again, then I am all in.

I will contact City Clerk Beth Minor to pull candidate papers for this upcoming November 3rd 2020 election. I am running to fill the vacant seat left by council member Liz Kniss and/or replace the current Mayor Adrian Fine or council member Lydia You.

I endorse Greg Tanaka - he is doing a stellar job. Moreover, I seek a voting and campaign alliance with Rebecca Eisenberg. I really like her platform, too.

With a Greg Tanaka, Kevin Murray and a Rebecca Eisenberg slate, I am confident we can return Palo Alto to a pro-resident city again. In contrast, I would argue the overdevelopment has benefited a few over the quality of life for the vast majority of Palo Altains.

My initial platform has been posted above. However, I post again to ensure new readers have a clear idea of my goals for returning Palo Alto to a far calmer, livable, and pro-resident community. I may add additional planks to this platform relative to new issues that may arise or I am asked to speak on.

Best of luck to all the candidates and may a new city council place safety, services, and quality of life as our renewed residents priorities.

PLATFORM:


I enjoyed reading Rebecca's platform.

As a 1960 resident of Palo Alto (although having to take some time out for college and jobs while retaining my absentee ballot and resident status), I have observed a significant loss of the quality of life in Palo Alto. This can be turned around.

Traffic, pollution, over building of commercial sites, dense housing projects, increased lack of parking, unaffordable housing, the absence of rent control, teenage suicide clusters, the loss of important retail stores (that were part of the amazing personality of Palo Alto) all displaced by unregulated office profit motive (for example: Flower shops, used bookstores, music stores, barber shops, art stores, pet stores, dry cleaners, antique and specialty shops, local small movie theaters, laundry mats, stationary stores, and toy stores). None of these changes are positive for creating a vibrant community. Am grateful during my formative years I enjoyed all these services and a far calmer Palo Alto.

To bring back and cement a higher quality of life for all Palo Alto residents, these changes are required:

1. Tax all major corporations in Palo Alto. I am appalled they are exempted. Talk about incredible lack of leadership for a string of past city councils and the corrupt success of lobbying (I have taught Interest Group Lobbying but one does not need a degree in Politics to observe the obvious). For those firms electing to leave Palo Alto owing to our new tax - that is a good thing. We do not need any more concentrated wealth in one location (along with the attending traffic, housing costs, pollution, and heavy use of our infrastructure and services). We will be fine with Stanford as our stable Research and Development institution and local small businesses. Spread the high tech wealth out to the Bay Area, California, and the nation - especially as we currently derive no direct financial tax benefit for hosting Palo Alto corporations making billions. A small business (as defined by its gross earnings), can either be exempt or pay a comparative nominal fee on a sliding scale.

2. Freeze all future office developments. We are capped. We encourage all other firms to seek office space at other Peninsula cities, the nine bay area counties, the state, or the nation. I endorse the Portola Valley, Woodside, and Atherton models in making our community primarily a place of residence - not a host for office space beyond what already exists. And what exist is far beyond what should have ever been permitted (pun intended) given our existing traffic and other points noted above. However, if not willing to pay a corporate tax, hopefully up to 45% of existing firms will elect to find a different address over the course of the next five-years. Such a shift would also reduce the pressure to accommodate the Housing Element.

3. Retain and enhance community services. When looking at the Palo Alto seven key areas - a recent Palo Alto poll (still open to residents) rated the top areas as Safety and Services. The bottom was government and administration (the latter did not even receive double digit support). In short, no cuts to our Police, Fire Department, and First Responders. Second, as a historic community centered around an academic research and development core - the concept of shutting down the only library west of El Camino Real (at the cost of one Palo Alto employee at a mid to low annual salary range of about $175k), is beyond unthinkable. The same applies to our Children's Theater - another important venue building public speaking skills, lifelong friends, and personal confidence for future creative performers and leaders.

4. Do not discharge any teachers. Small class room size is key to academic success. And since the PAUSD will likely remain on-line for the Fall 2020 semester (or in my view, should remain online), we need all the teachers we currently staff. Teaching an on-line course is like being an individual tutor for fifty-students. It is far more work intensive than in person teaching thus we must retain (and likely hire more) teachers who should only be assigned to teach 3-4 sections (not 5) given all teaching is online for the next semester. Following the reopening of face to face instruction (hopefully by Spring 2021 or Fall 2021), the extra teaches will be needed to keep the teacher- student ratio low.

5. In a down turned economy - the pain shall be shared by our City of Palo Alto employees. However, once the Corporation Tax is activated, the temporary reduction of annual salary can be far less. All employees making $200K (and we have lots of those folks having reviewed our current City of Palo Alto salary schedule) or more should face a two-year 2-4% reduction in salary (on a sliding scale) and those below $200K can either be exempt or face a 1-2% on a sliding scale. NO OVERTIME pay is allowed - we pay a huge annual fee for overtime pay. It is cheaper to hire more people not OT. Moreover, I am shocked we pay our City Manager $403,729.00 a year. It should be no more than $295K - especially given the housing perk that already goes with the post. This is nothing personal to the existing City Manager. If he can find another gig at that rate, more power to him. We can buck the trend of equivalency rates based on a review of other City Manager compensations. In addition, a temporary hiring freeze and a freeze on a wage increase of a proposed 4%. Now, as a former Union representative for adjunct educators, I do not make these proposals lightly. As soon as our corporate tax is implemented combined with a turned around economy, I would wholly support reinstating existing salaries with the prospect of retroactive cost of living raises and the hiring of additional personnel to staff enhanced services (parks, libraries, community centers, enforcement of codes, police, fire, first responders, teachers). Yet I would rather implement a shared cut in some salaries to retain FULL employment of all existing Palo Alto employees and their attending services. Decision makers and hiring supervisors tend to earn the most compared to front line service people making less - exactly where we need the most people – and who cost us the least in our overall budget obligations.

Taken together, we Palo Altains can retain and enhance our Safety and Services while concurrently returning “Back to the Future” to a higher quality of life once enjoyed during the generation that called Palo Alto home during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Granted, those that graduated from Paly in the ‘30s and ‘40s really enjoyed a far less overdeveloped Palo Alto – some of whom I interviewed and knew as friends. However, just getting back to traffic levels and infrastructure loads of the ‘70s would be an incredible accomplishment while acknowledging many non-residents will still drive through Palo Alto’s main arteries to get to their jobs along the peninsula North and South of our town. Yet, imagine not having to build more parking garages in downtown Palo Alto or California Avenue. Indeed, finding parking in five minutes not forty-five to fifty-minutes – or giving up and going home altogether! Calmer local streets and a slower pace with less influx of daily workers and simply residents enjoying the peace and quiet of their neighborhoods. I have lived it, know what it looks like, and I would argue, the above represents how to achieve that experience again for all who call this amazing (but now suffering) place home.

Kevin Murray MA, ABD
College Terrace Resident
Escondido, Terman, Gunn, Foothill Alumnus


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on May 14, 2020 at 6:23 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on May 14, 2020 at 6:23 pm
1 person likes this

Kevin Murray is Ken Murray's son, meaning my Terman Spanish teacher and Football coach?
If so, he should run.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on May 14, 2020 at 6:39 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on May 14, 2020 at 6:39 pm
7 people like this


A business tax cannot possibly pass in this economic situation.
The city has no real control over what PAUSD does.
The city already has Code Enforcement.

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on May 14, 2020 at 6:46 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on May 14, 2020 at 6:46 pm
1 person likes this

Since I laud her here, and knowing that she respects fathers' I'm sure she won't mind the further digression into a second new candidate, Kevin Murray:

From these pages, 15 years ago -- I was his student in 1976-7:
Kenneth Alvin Murray, 79, a 45-year resident of Palo Alto, died Oct. 31.

A native of Long Beach, Calif., he graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Spanish and completed coursework for a masters and PhD in Spanish from Stanford. He also served during World War II with the 1265th Combat Engineers and fought at the Battle of the Bulge.

During his 31-year education career he taught Spanish, German, French and coached football for the Central Valley and Palo Alto Unified School Districts. He was also a 35-year volunteer with Scouting as a Cubmaster, Scoutmaster and Sea Scout Skipper for the Stanford Area Council.

For his dedication to youth he received the Silver Beaver Award. He was also an active member with the Peninsula Bible Church, Palo Alto Neighbors Abroad, Palo Alto Elks Lodge, Sequoia Yacht Club and Clan Murray Society.

He enjoyed Stanford football games, sailing, family activities, coaching, scouting, reading, traveling, history and helping others.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Isabel Murray; sisters, Charlene, Doris and Myra; sons, Keith, Kenny, Kelly, Kraig, and Kevin, and adopted Scout sons; nine grandchildren and numerous in-laws, cousins, nephews, nieces and friends.

So the candidate Murray I surmise is indeed son number five of the famous Spanish teacher...
Good luck, thanks in advance for your service!


Enough reminiscing
Charleston Meadows
on May 14, 2020 at 6:52 pm
Enough reminiscing, Charleston Meadows
on May 14, 2020 at 6:52 pm
10 people like this

Mark, I find your constant reminiscing of little interest.
And the constant name dropping and ego boosting is irrelevant to city issues.
Not interested in your high school memories.
We all went to high school, time to grow up.


Do not turn public community space into housing
Green Acres
on May 14, 2020 at 7:22 pm
Do not turn public community space into housing, Green Acres
on May 14, 2020 at 7:22 pm
17 people like this

I am strongly opposed to using our public property, zoned for community use, for private housing. With so many people coming to Palo Alto we need that space for community services. Our teachers would be better off with a stipend so they can decide where they want to live and how long they want to live there. We pay so much of our property taxes to schools that we shouldn't also be giving our property away to them. I hope that Eisenberg will, as she says, stand for residents and maintain our community services and community property for the community.


Rebecca Eisenberg
Old Palo Alto
on May 14, 2020 at 7:38 pm
Rebecca Eisenberg, Old Palo Alto
on May 14, 2020 at 7:38 pm
1 person likes this

Kevin -

I am flattered, and honored, and I take you up on this offer! Let's discuss ASAP.

I very much appreciated the way that you fleshed out my ideas with facts and statistics. My Stanford major actually was statistics -- or, more specifically, the perception of probability and risk under uncertainty as measured and analyzed by statistics, aka Decision Sciences. Sounds like we think and analyze alike!

@Mark, you are right that I respect fathers. I adore and cherish my father (and mother), and I am happy, proud, and grateful to be married (almost 20 years) to a fantastic (and smart & handsome) husband who also is a wonderful father. Many Palo Altans know my husband Curtis Smolar through baseball, as our son is a competitive baseball player (who looks forward to playing with Paly next year!), and Curtis sat on the Palo Alto Little League Board for several years. Palo Altans also may know Curtis through the Greene PTA, where Curtis has volunteered and served this past year on a committee (PTA is for dads and moms!). Curtis hopefully will run for something someday too (I think judge would be a nice fit), but for now he is busy working at his startup, so he is helping me. :)

With that said, Kevin, I am very sorry to hear of the passing of your father, who sounds like a fantastic person, inspiring teacher, long-time contributor to our local community, and even War Hero. May the memory of your father be a blessing to you and your family.

I look forward to meeting you soon, and even more importantly, I look forward to rolling up our sleeves together and put in place these - and more - essential changes and reforms to serve the community we both love.

Best regards - Rebecca


Rebecca Eisenberg
Old Palo Alto
on May 14, 2020 at 8:10 pm
Rebecca Eisenberg, Old Palo Alto
on May 14, 2020 at 8:10 pm
1 person likes this

Just saw this comment - a question asked in good faith, and a reasonable alternative.

Dear "Do not turn public community space into housing" -- I completely agree with your goals here. I share them. We need to prioritize and protect (as Kevin said as well) public services, parks, and other community projects like libraries and parks that are essential to maintain our quality of life. I am with you 100%! These things should not be taken away from our city simply because our current city government failed to put in place revenue streams that always have been available to them, particularly the taxation of our largest businesses and landlords. That was their error and our residents should not have to suffer for it. We are aligned.

That said, housing for teacher could potentially be subsidized (although it may not need to be - more research about pricing needs to be done), but it would not be FREE. The plan scrapped without explanation by our current elected leadership estimated a revenue *from teacher rent payments* of approximately $5 million a year, if I remember correctly (others with more recent knowledge - like maybe "get informed" - could provide a more accurate sum). Regardless of the exact revenue estimate, the truth is that publicly-owned housing rented to teachers at an affordable rate **creates revenue** (and the construction costs possibly can be deducted in advantageous ways due to pandemic-related increased tax deductions that I keep reading about every day in the Wall Street Journal). Bottom line: publicly-owned housing rented out to city employees is a popular means of incentivizing and compensating employees while also creating revenue for the owner. The effectiveness of this method is likely why top universities like Stanford employ it regularly, as well as highly profitable companies like Facebook -- both neighbors. We can take the best of what they do, leave the worst behind, and have a model for success here in Palo Alto.

As to subsidies to live here, you make a great point. The disadvantage of subsidies, however, include the fact that we may not be able to pay for them right now. given the $21 million shortfall that the PAUSD budget currently faces due to lack of foresight and planning by our local government. Another disadvantage of housing vouchers is that we, the community and the PAUSD, would likely not be able to reap financial benefit from them, given that rents would be paid to a third party that is not us. If the City or the PAUSD were the landlord, rental income would serve our community and/or our public schools (also serving our community).

To those who wonder if City policy can impact public school funding, I would like to introduce myself. Hi, I'm Rebecca Eisenberg, and I can list at least 100 ways that city policy can impact, harm, or help public schools. Given that the strength of a public school district has been found to be the factor most correlated with home values, and given that the strength of our Palo Alto public schools specifically has been determined to be the number one attractant of families to move to our community, and given that public education is the best way that we create a strong future for our country, I do think that the strength of our public schools is relevant to all of our residents, regardless of whether or not the residents have children in public schools. Apart from these economic arguments, which to many may be sufficient, I hope we can agree that supporting public schools is the right thing to do under many/most moral codes and ethical frameworks. We have these tools at our disposal, but we are ignoring them due to {why? why?}.

Regardless, so much of this conversation is moot. Due to local government (regrettable) policy decisions made this year, we are unlikely to have teacher housing next year. While we do our best to remedy this situation, I think we need interim solutions like the one you proposed to ensure that we continue to attract and retain the best possible teachers, staff, and administrators to serve the children of Palo Alto. Soon - if not already - the world belongs to the youngest generations. Let's help them be as informed and empowered as possible to address the many problems their generation inherited.

Warm regards - Rebecca


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on May 14, 2020 at 8:12 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on May 14, 2020 at 8:12 pm
2 people like this

@enough-
1) This is sort of about Rebecca, and secondarily Kevin Murray, and not about me;
2) that you say you have 'little interest" in my thread it is remarkable that you would state so, thereby creating interest in my - and now your -- thread;
3) my point is that like Rebecca Eisenberg, who I know personally and will very very likely vote for, Mr Murray is a credible candidate and potentially "breath of fresh air", "flesh blood";
4) unlike RE, who is from Wisconsin, came to Palo Alto in the 1990s and has split her career between here and SF, Mr Murray is from here -- since 1960. I like that -- I ran for City Council three times and presumable some of the 8,000 votes I got were from people who respected that it gave me a perspective on recent history -- but further I like teachers and children of teachers -- Mr Murray apparently is both. Similarly, in 2009 when I met Nancy Shepherd on the campaign trail I immediately liked her and promised to vote for her because her daughter is a teacher. (I didn't always agree with Nancy --and at times i gave her the business -- but she and Mark remain friends with me. I've generated projects for Nancy to support and and she's aided me at times.
5) Last, and in the previous point -- you cannot ever have four let alone seven candidates or council members who you agree with every time. In some ways I support a diverse field or slate or panel: having 4-3 votes a lot might be better than a group-think 7-0. But in the instant case, and although RE graciously says she'll consider it, I would not support a slate of RE, KM and Greg Tanaka. I do not support Tanaka.

What about rank choice voting? Maybe someone like Rebecca would be choice number 4 -- three seats -- on all the ballots of both the Build Baby Builds and The New Residentialists -- she'd have more support than the person who got the third seat under conventional balloting---reminds me -- and @Enough will absolutely hate this -- at Terman Junior High we had super smart math teachers --and a classmate whose dad was a Fileds Prize winner -- and the teaches figured out that you could progam scantron for more than five choices -- so guessing was out. Anyways ranked-choice, or what some call instant runoff would enable a diverse and hard to pin down candidate.

What about districting? It used to be that not only were residents ignored and displaced by "downtown interests" but South Palo Alto residents rarely got seated. It used to be only Greg Schmidt in South Palo Alto.

What about direct election of mayor?
What about paying council a fulltime salary? Would we get better people, trying harder?
What about switching back to off year, or odd number years, 2023, 2025 so people could focus on the local and not decide between following national versus local elections in even years?

I've also thought Palo Alto elections were too short a season, more a horse race, not deliberated.

Anyhow good luck to RE and KM.

Tanaka, not so much.


Palo Alto Native
College Terrace
on May 14, 2020 at 8:31 pm
Palo Alto Native, College Terrace
on May 14, 2020 at 8:31 pm
3 people like this

Rebecca - I will look up where you work (or let me know) and I will email your office - then we can exchange PM and cell numbers. I look forward to working with you, helping you get elected, and creating a voting slate. And thank you for your very, very kind words about my best friend and hero - Ken Murray Sr. Very sweet.

Mark Weiss - wow. That brought a tear to me eye seeing Dad's obituary again. So kind of you to share your positive days with my Dad. As a Depression Generation kid - he was determined to help all succeed through education and share the boating world with all youth in contrast to his '20s and '30s experience as an activity reserved primarily for the few and wealthy. Thanks Mark. Small world. And, I am looking forward to sharing ideas and talking about areas we agree and finding common ground on areas we may have differences.

Do not turn public community space into housing: am right with you fellow Palo Altain. Working together, Rebecca and I will block such development. We have had far too much beginning in 1980.

Enough reminiscing: I found your remarks abbrasive and not serving the greater good to work collectively on solutions of mutual interests. I might have said, "Mark - how does your comments flush out the challenges facing our community today?" Politics is ugly enough. Let's take the high road together. Once I publish a public email, I look forward to discussing your vision for a better Palo Alto or maybe you are an advocate for continued office space development and dense housing? Either way, I am open to a mutually respectful conversation reflective of two grown ups.

Kevin Murray, MA ABD
College Terrace Resident
Escondido, Terman, Gunn, Foothill Alumnus




Curmudgeon
Downtown North
on May 14, 2020 at 8:41 pm
Curmudgeon, Downtown North
on May 14, 2020 at 8:41 pm
11 people like this

"Eisenberg responded by publicly asking, "What exactly DOES Tesla do for Palo Alto?"

Braggadocio, that's what. No other mayor at any convention Fine attends can claim that. The question is how much our mayor will grovel to Elon Musk so he can strut his schtick at those conventions.


Curmudgeon
Downtown North
on May 14, 2020 at 8:45 pm
Curmudgeon, Downtown North
on May 14, 2020 at 8:45 pm
10 people like this

"one wonders if she understands that City Council members are expected to be impartial in advance of their voting."

Ho, ho, ho, hee, hee, HAAWWW!


Do not turn public community space into housing
Green Acres
on May 14, 2020 at 8:48 pm
Do not turn public community space into housing, Green Acres
on May 14, 2020 at 8:48 pm
11 people like this

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. My two cents: The analog for Facebook and Stanford hosting housing are for PAUSD to become a landlord on its portion of Cubberley. Not the city. And PAUSD has no interest in being a landlord. (Who can blame them?) If you want revenue from Cubberley there are many other ways to get it without violating the zoning, and in fact with more compatible uses. To build valuable living options that enable community to develop, housing should go where housing belongs, not where space happens to free up. That is what zoning is all about.


Rebecca Eisenberg
Old Palo Alto
on May 15, 2020 at 1:57 am
Rebecca Eisenberg, Old Palo Alto
on May 15, 2020 at 1:57 am
9 people like this

Do Not Turn: '

Your fantastic point is my current biggest frustration. Castilleja, a nonconforming educational estate that has been in violation of its own negotiated conditional use permit for almost 20 years, occupies 6 acres of residentially-zoned housing smack dab in between one of our only 2 public high schools, and one of our local elementary schools. If the City actually enforced the fines it has racked up over the years -- and if there were no statute of limitations on these things (which there is) -- then Castilleja would owe us tens of millions of dollars.

Let's do the math:

According to the Palo Alto Zoning Ordinance, code and CUP violations must be fined at $500 per violation per day.

At one point, Castilleja had 50 students more than its permitted amount. At 50 students over, Castilleja's daily fine would be 50 times $500 a day, or $25,000 day. If the school has 200 days of operation a year (possible understatement given summer programs), then the annual fine would e 200 times $25,000 = $5,000,000 aka five million dollars a year.

A friend of mine who no longer considers me a friend because she has a daughter at Castilleja (the choice not to be my friend is hers, not mine), insists that Castilleja has been really only twenty (2) students over its permit each year. That number underestimates the figures offered by Castilleja itself, but because I really do like this person, I will go with her number for the sake of argument.

20 violations a day times $500 a violation = $10,000 in fines a year. Times 200 days a year = $2,000,000 in fines a year.

Whether the fines are $2M or $5M, it almost doesn't matter. What we do know is that for the 20 years that Castilleja has been violating their permit, if those code violation fines had been collected by Palo Alto, we would have either $40 million or $100 million more right now to spend on police, fire, Palo Alto Children's Theater, and the College Terrace Library.

And, if we actually used these RH-1 lots for their zoned purpose: residential housing - we would be receiving property tax revenue for the homes that sit in those lovely RH-1 lots in the heart of two of our most sought-after neighborhoods. In other threads, I estimated the potential tax revenues from these residential lots to be as much as $3 million year (over 20 years, $60 million). Maybe that estimate is too high. We cannot know because we do not have residences in those residential lots.

Maybe that loss of residential lots wouldn't be so hard if we were not in the biggest housing crisis in our state's history. And maybe the existence of a school that serves 450 mostly-well-off kids, so many of whom drive to school that the school is insisting that it requires a parking lot to serve just these car-driving teenagers (and not the teachers or staff), wouldn't be so hard on our community if it didn't create such a problem with traffic, and in particular, often large cars driven by very young drivers. And maybe that wouldn't be so bad if this same private school occupying so many residentially-zoned lots were not demanding that it has the right to increase its size and its attendant population by another 50%, even though that demand is in direct breach of a settlement agreement it signed with the city where this school promised it would not ask to expand until it showed it could comply with its original student body limitations, which it did not do.

And you know -- I'm a forgiving person -- maybe all those things would be ok, too, if this school that occupies six acres of residentially-zoned lots in one of our most sought-after neighborhoods so close to so many public schools, actually paid anything into the city coffers. But that school does not pay a dime. It does not pay anything in property tax for those six acres of property, which some believe is worth a billion dollars, more or less several hundred million dollars (are we really even to understand numbers this large?). It doesn't pay anything for the $20 million dollars it receives in tuition from its families every day -- which is net of financial aid, which it offers even in part to only 20% of the student population. Maybe all these things would be ok if this school mitigated the traffic it causes like Stanford does (some say insufficiently, but Stanford does at least mitigate) with electric shuttles open to the public, pedestrian bridges over busy roads like Embarcadero, donations to public schools to make up a little bit for the tax revenues and other potential sums it diverts, and infrastructure projects. Or really - heck - maybe it would be okay if this school set aside a certain percentage of admitted students to needy kids from underprivileged backgrounds, which we do have in plenty, just a few blocks away (and quite possibly closer), like most other highly prestigious private schools, like the Friends School in San Francisco did, when it opened in the Mission District. (And FTR the Friends School set aside several spots in *each grade* for needy kids, including kids from the projects a few blocks away, without expanding the size of its student body at all.).

If Castilleja did any of these things -- or anything else for our community -- I would be excited to have this highly prestigious, world-reknown private school taking up so many badly-needed residential lots during the biggest housing crisis most of us ever have seen.

Or, if it paid its fines for its code violations.

But that hasn't happened. None of that has happened. The City Council -- many of whom have received big donations from individuals who are current or former Trustees, or otherwise just big donors to Castilleja -- has not enforced their code violations, and it has not rejected the application for a new conditional use permit, even though Castilleja signed a settlement agreement that promised that if Castilleja filed for a new permit before it showed it would comply with the original permit, that Castilleja original permit - its existing permit - would be pulled altogether. I don't know why the City of Palo Alto is not enforcing its own legal agreements. I reached out to all 4 of the City representatives who signed that agreement, but none of them work for the City of Palo Alto any more. One is retired, and three now work for a law firm that represents Castilleja so could not talk to me.

I have no idea why this situation is this way. All I know is that we have six acres of residentially zoned lots between Bryant and Emerson, and Churchill and Embarcadero -that are nonconforming, non-enforced, and not being used for residences.

I believe that every residential lot should have a residence in it. Our original City Planners were not wrong in setting aside so much valuable land for residences. They also were correct in setting aside some of the best land for parks and other public uses, like libraries.

It's one thing to allow non-conforming uses on residentially zoned lots, after fair and even-handed negotiation where the City obtains something in exchange for the loss of the residential lots. But if the City is receiving nothing, and the other party is not keeping its end of the bargain, query why we are letting this go on so long, at the great expense of residents, the endless hours of work in our planning department having to write and re-write environmental impact reports that all conclude the same thing (Castilleja causes traffic, noise, and other inconveniences and safety risks to residents)... WE the residents of Palo Alto are paying for all of this. We are paying for the planning department time. We are paying for police, fire, street cleaning, tree trimming, delivery of utilities, and all other public services to Castilleja.

Maybe that was okay when we were not facing a $90 million budget shortfall. But now we are facing a huge budget shortfall.

This is exactly why I strongly believe we need an office of enforcement. Under the settlement agreement the school signed, it had the choice between complying with its original CUP or else having its permit pulled. It chose not to comply. And we .... ... ... did nothing.

Everyone, every entity, every person, every business - we all deserve to be treated equally under the law. It's not too much to ask, don't you think?

So yes, I would prefer that residential lots be used for residential purposes, and I vow to do all I can to make that happen.


Rebecca Eisenberg
Old Palo Alto
on May 15, 2020 at 2:00 am
Rebecca Eisenberg, Old Palo Alto
on May 15, 2020 at 2:00 am
Like this comment

(above, tuition every year not every day - I miss the "edit this post" feature)


Rebecca Eisenberg
Old Palo Alto
on May 15, 2020 at 2:03 am
Rebecca Eisenberg, Old Palo Alto
on May 15, 2020 at 2:03 am
2 people like this

More typos: the number in parentheses should be (20) not (2), and in the next paragraph: $10,000 in fines a day not year. I apologize for not catching these typos, and for other typos I almost certainly missed as well.


Resident
Downtown North
on May 16, 2020 at 12:35 am
Resident, Downtown North
on May 16, 2020 at 12:35 am
2 people like this

This is the not the first time I have heard about conflict of interest and the PTC (Planning and Transportation Commission).

Our city and residents deserves absolute transparency, especially in an important Commission as the PTC.

We had a Planning Commissioner Asher Waldfogel who also served as a trustee at Castilleja School. Why wouldn't he recuse himself from his Planning Commissioner role? That is shocking to read.

Now we currently have Planning Commissioner Bart Hechtman on the PTC who is a law partner at a firm whose website touts their ability to obtain approvals for telecommunications towers. We have to ask the question of whether Commissioner Bart Hechtman has recused himself when the PTC has grappled with the controversial issue of 5G telecommunication towers building in Palo Alto? If he has not recused himself in the cellular tower discussions, why or why not?

IS there a pattern going on here? Is there an issue of ongoing conflicts of interest in the Planning and Transportation Commission and a lack of recusal when recusal should have happened?



Resident
Downtown North
on May 16, 2020 at 12:47 am
Resident, Downtown North
on May 16, 2020 at 12:47 am
6 people like this

Rebecca - do not turn public community space into housing or business development. Cubberly is a valuable asset in our Community. It serves our community in so many ways from the very elderly, to the very young toddlers. I understand and appreciate the need PAUSD teachers may have for housing, but robbing from Peter to pay Paul doesn't help.

Keep Cubberly. Instead I would suggest doing what Facebook does. PAUSD can look to buy up land in East Palo Alto and develop land there and rent out to teachers there as part of their housing reimbursement.

Why take valuable community space away from the community of PAUSD and Palo Alto? Mixed use will limit the parking and open spaces, and green fields of Cubberly. It won't be able to fit everyone who comes and goes from there on a daily basis. Instead it will remove this wonderful community area and give it to developers to build housing.

That is one part of your platform I do not like.


Resident
Downtown North
on May 16, 2020 at 12:57 am
Resident, Downtown North
on May 16, 2020 at 12:57 am
7 people like this

I agree with Palo Alto Native. Greg Tanaka is doing a great job! If anyone has watched the city meetings, Tanaka has consistently represented the residents and children's interests. He asks a lot of tough questions that many less courageous city councilors do not.

Just go back to any of the past city meetings. Tanaka is very consistent. Mark Weiss - you say Tanaka has not but then don't back up your claim. What particular motions did you dislike of Tanaka's? Just look at their voting history? Was it the fact that Tanaka voted with DuBois to protect community services in the last budget? Or was it the fact that Alison Cormack and Adrian Fine voted to get rid of all libraries except 2 that appealed to you? Back up your claims.

Tanaka has done a stellar job. Their voting on motions shows where Tanaka stands and it's always in the best interest of the Palo Altan residents. He has my vote any day.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on May 31, 2020 at 1:11 am
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on May 31, 2020 at 1:11 am
Like this comment

This is about Rebecca being refreshing and not about Greg's consistency but to me he is the guy who knows that 3 nickels is worth less than 2 dimes but doesn't know that a shave and a hair cut is two bits.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 31, 2020 at 3:28 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 31, 2020 at 3:28 pm
Like this comment

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Downtown North

>> This is about Rebecca being refreshing and not about Greg's consistency

How about we talk about Rebecca, pros and cons, rather than dissing others (Lydia or Greg)?

Pros:

She is willing to speak up when others are in the groupthink groove.

She is sensitive to conflict-of-interest issues.

She approaches Castilleja analytically, rather than being overly impressed by all the money and slogans.

Cons:

She is open to more "mixed use" projects that will make the jobs/housing balance worse, and, may be even worse than that, due to the inability of Palo Alto to make zoning and use permit restrictions stick.

She hasn't demonstrated willingness to stick to "Robert's Rules of Order" meeting discourse. Also, she sometimes "gets personal" unnecessarily. (e.g. the misguided 2016 ratings scoresheet aimed at Pat Burt.)

We have multiple slots to fill. I will rank the candidates and vote for my top candidates. No need to attack others in order to support someone.


WilliamR
another community
on May 31, 2020 at 5:30 pm
WilliamR, another community
on May 31, 2020 at 5:30 pm
Like this comment

(I used to live in Palo Alto, and I still follow the politics there.)

Palo Alto has a lot of smart and concerned people, as witnessed by these forums, but some years there are barely enough Council candidates to fill the open seats. Why aren't 20 or so residents running in the elections? That would present voters with a range of personalities, platforms and viewpoints, and offer a real set of choices.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on May 31, 2020 at 7:31 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on May 31, 2020 at 7:31 pm
Like this comment

[Portion removed.]
Pat Burt likely picked Patty Markevitch to co-author his recent op-Ed because he read Rebecca’s report and, to his credit, is addressing his problem. I mentioned this to Eisenberg and she said, to her knowledge, sometimes a woman does all the work and a man takes the credit. I happened to run into Pat M the other day and lightly ran this by her, but she said in this case Burt did most of the writing.
The fact is that the developers rout has continued — on Burt’s watch, the current council— and Eisenberg seems determined to change the narrative.


Cra Cra2
Midtown
on Jun 1, 2020 at 6:51 am
Cra Cra2, Midtown
on Jun 1, 2020 at 6:51 am
2 people like this

Anyone even thinking of considering this candidate needs to watch her interviews before Council. This would be a disaster for our city.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 1, 2020 at 9:37 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 1, 2020 at 9:37 am
4 people like this

>> Posted by Cra Cra2, a resident of Midtown

>> Anyone even thinking of considering this candidate needs to watch her interviews before Council. This would be a disaster for our city.

I'm planning on voting in priority order. Kou tops my list right now, but, Eisenberg is still on it. Consider the alternatives and you will see why.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jun 1, 2020 at 6:43 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jun 1, 2020 at 6:43 pm
Like this comment

Of the two or three things that outsider/newcomer Rebecca Eisenberg has done that caused me to notice her six months before the weekly reports she is running for office, one of them does cut across something that I did a considerable amount of speaking on previously and the people responsible.
This is the link to an article by the weekly about the grand jury report from six years ago.

Web Link

There are some of my comments but of course several places where I am deleted and censored. And I am censored above for referencing it.
I think these cases and how leadership handled it are important prologue to the 2020 election.
Ms. Eisenberg strikes me as someone who will not be easily quieted as I admit I was. Or claim to have been.
I think the 15 minute interview shows she is a refreshing and formidable addition to our quest for self governance, taking the city back from special interest most obviously the developers. PASZ In my opinion tampers down the citizens’ push-back, it did not enable it. People like Lydia, Tom, Eric were compromises and capitulation.
In some ways she is pro growth but she seems anti-corruption and anti-duplicity.


Lychee
Ventura
on Jun 8, 2020 at 10:32 pm
Lychee, Ventura
on Jun 8, 2020 at 10:32 pm
1 person likes this

After viewing her interview for the Planning and Transportation Commission, I am concerned that Ms.Eisenberg's communication style may not be effective for City Council or any Commission appointments.

Her interview is the section 2:00:00 to 2:16:00 at Web Link


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2020 at 8:56 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2020 at 8:56 am
4 people like this

Posted by Lychee, a resident of Ventura

>> After viewing her interview for the Planning and Transportation Commission, I am concerned that Ms.Eisenberg's communication style may not be effective for City Council or any Commission appointments.

She is higher on my priority list than pro-development Adrian Fine. None of us can agree on what a "perfect" candidate is. I'm voting for people who are least likely to damage the city we have. Right now, Palo Alto is threatened by developers who want to Manhattanize Palo Alto.


Geoff Peckham
another community
on Jul 28, 2020 at 8:49 am
Geoff Peckham, another community
on Jul 28, 2020 at 8:49 am
2 people like this

To people like this one looking out for residents at the expense of the larger employers in town, like Tesla and HP, usually leads to those businesses leaving for more welcoming places. When that happens, and it will, she will have to come up with some really good excuse as to why those jobs are gone "and they're not coming back" as her lord and savior in the previous administration did countless times. Why not work with and for all of those within the city limits to improve the quality of life for residents and businesses both?


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 28, 2020 at 9:46 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 28, 2020 at 9:46 am
2 people like this

During the discussions on FHP Eisenberg offered up an opinion which - as the legal representative of the city made no sense and did not recognize the legality of property sales. PA bought the property from the Lee Family. PA owns the property and is legally responsible for any issues which arise from that ownership. She appears to not recognize the legality of the sale and PA's responsibility of ownership. She wanted to reimburse a relative of the Lee Family because he is part of a group that writes a lot op-eds in the papers? So we have a bunch of people that are using the media to control legal issues? That said it all for me. We live in Op-Ed world and organize legal responses to where ever that tide is taking us.


Me 2
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 28, 2020 at 9:53 am
Me 2, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 28, 2020 at 9:53 am
3 people like this

So, in essence, this is what I get from sifting through Ms. Eisenberg's voluminous postings:

Tax more. Keep spending (more) even in this economy.

(she needs campaign PR help. she can't seem to summarize her points without going into incessant detail and narrative. She's trying to sound nuanced, but is sounding wishy washy. It also comes off overbearing. This is an Internet forum, not a blog, so she needs help understanding the medium as well - and why should be better off not participating)

She clearly doesn't understand the mechanics of the economy and taxes. She thinks OPM (other people's money) is there for the taking.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 28, 2020 at 10:46 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 28, 2020 at 10:46 am
Like this comment

One thing I am seeing here is the placing of females in positions of huge responsibility - Oakland, Portland, Chicago, etc. Simply because they have a number of check boxes to address a political strategy. However they have no actual experience in dealing hard=ball issues that require a higher level of authority and experience.

I get very concerned about Oakland and it's port system being destroyed with schemes of ball parks and huge residential building. Ship builders are building bigger ships that require a certain level of port space. The schemes are limiting the revenue income from a good port. If you have interest the ship traffic is reported daily in the SFC. That is a solid revenue generator and supports a diverse population mix. Oakland needs commercial traffic to support it's community.

Worst was the pick for the head of the Police Department who looked like someone's grandmother. And worse is the dismissal of blame for the rioters who are trying to burn up City hall.

I would hate for this city to get drawn into the political drama taking place and trying to respond with the voting in of people who do not understand this city and recognize the different layers of concern in the areas of the city. A lot of cards are being played right now with no regard for what the end result is suppose to be.

When all is said and done we need a safe place that people want to visit and safe residential property zones. We need businesses that the workers can be comfortable at. From where I am sitting that is having a solid police force and solid goals with stated end-results. Just being "progressive" is a dog whistle. We are not dogs.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2020 at 2:34 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2020 at 2:34 pm
4 people like this

Posted by Me 2, a resident of Old Palo Alto

>> She clearly doesn't understand the mechanics of the economy and taxes. She thinks OPM (other people's money) is there for the taking.

I know what you mean. It is easy to tax the poor and lower middle class-- just propose a sales tax for something we all really need. Use the sales tax to fund that, and then, use other taxes for less obvious spending.

It is a lot more difficult to get the super-rich to pay their fair share. If Eisenberg can figure out how to cut sales tax and raise tax on the super-rich, she will have my vote.

As for Palo Alto issues, I see Kuo, Stone, Burt, and Eisenberg at this point being the best for resident issues. Malone and Lee both have interesting ideas but no well-formed, consistent platform; they both need to do more spreadsheet work and make sure that what they are proposing actually adds up. Tanaka can do spreadsheets, but, will vote against his own bottom line if the pro-office-space-developers ask him to. Fine? I almost forgot. TBNT.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 28, 2020 at 4:48 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 28, 2020 at 4:48 pm
5 people like this

Someone needs to dig into the tax base leverage provided to our local big players. We are seeing a turnover of properties right now. What kind of "deal" have they been provided to appear on the scene. Sand Hill Properties, Butler Construction, and our local heroes. Since we don't have a business tax that would require some type of paperwork from which to derive the tax it is open to conjecture as to the benefits provided to them and to us.

A number of our candidates - PACC members may have been involved in some transactions regarding the legal transfers. And we keep toying with the Fry's site with a number contradictory approaches for that site. From the PA Historical Society to the Chinese heritage to conflicting legal interpretation of the end use of the property. We also have some large sales of property to foreign investors - the bank building on University (?).

The big ticket tax strategies reside above the resident's property tax level.
It would be to everyone's advantage to understand how the candidates are approaching this topic. That is where the big money is.


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