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After political split, City Council reappoints planning commissioners

Ed Lauing and Doria Summa win fresh four-year terms on Planning and Transportation Commission

On March 1, the Palo Alto City Council made appointments to two citizen panels. Embarcadero Media file photo by Veronica Weber.

Concluding an unusually fractious and political appointment process, the Palo Alto City Council moved on Monday to award fresh four-year terms to incumbent Planning and Transportation Commission members Ed Lauing and Doria Summa.

The Monday action followed a split on the council over whether the appointments should have been made at the end of 2020, consistent with past practice of end-of-year appointments, or in early 2021, which would align with a new policy that the council adopted in December. The technical debate had significant ramifications for the city's most influential commission, where the two members who are most closely associated with the council's "residentialist" camp were nearing the end of their respective terms.

Under the old rules, the lame duck council would have made the appointments, allowing outgoing members Liz Kniss and Adrian Fine to cast votes and giving the council's more pro-growth camp a 4-3 advantage. But with the residentialists winning a majority in the November election, the balance of power swung their way. The council's decision last December to delay appointments until January — which followed a decision by the residentialists to skip out on candidate interviews in late December, depriving the meeting of a quorum — all but guaranteed that Lauing and Summa would win fresh terms.

Planning and Transportation Commission member Ed Lauing was reappointed to a fresh term on March 1. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Lauing ran for council last year, receiving the endorsement of the residentialist-leaning political action committee Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning. Summa is a longtime land-use watchdog who is known for being critical of new developments and zoning policies that increase height and density in residential neighborhoods.

Both of them dissented in November when the commission voted to recommend approving a new conditional use permit for Castilleja School, which would allow the school to reconstruct its campus and gradually raise enrollment from 426 students to 540. The council is set to review the project over two meetings on March 8 and March 15.

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Five of the seven council members — Mayor Tom DuBois, Vice Mayor Pat Burt and council members Eric Filseth, Lydia Kou and Greer Stone — voted on Monday for both Lauing and Summa. Council member Alison Cormack voted for Lauing and architect Jessica Resmini. Council member Greg Tanaka supported community volunteer Kathy Jordan and Resmini.

Planning and Transportation Commissioner Doria Summa, right, and Ventura resident Angela Dellapporta, left, evaluate alternatives for the North Ventura Coordinated Area Plan at a Feb. 27, 2020, community meeting. The council voted on March 1 to reappoint Summa for a fresh four-year term. Photo by Gennady Sheyner.

The council also appointed on Monday two new members to the city's Historical Resources Board: Caroline Willis and Gogo Heinrich. While Willis was appointed unanimously, Heinrich edged out incumbent Martin Bernstein five votes to four after getting support from Burt, DuBois, Kou, Filseth and Stone.

The council also reappointed two other incumbent Historic Resources Board members: Margaret Wimmer, who picked up votes from all seven council members, and Michael Makinin, whose reappointment was supported by Cormack, DuBois, Kou, Stone and Tanaka.

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Gennady Sheyner
 
Gennady Sheyner covers the City Hall beat in Palo Alto as well as regional politics, with a special focus on housing and transportation. Before joining the Palo Alto Weekly/PaloAltoOnline.com in 2008, he covered breaking news and local politics for the Waterbury Republican-American, a daily newspaper in Connecticut. Read more >>

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

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After political split, City Council reappoints planning commissioners

Ed Lauing and Doria Summa win fresh four-year terms on Planning and Transportation Commission

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Mar 2, 2021, 1:02 pm

Concluding an unusually fractious and political appointment process, the Palo Alto City Council moved on Monday to award fresh four-year terms to incumbent Planning and Transportation Commission members Ed Lauing and Doria Summa.

The Monday action followed a split on the council over whether the appointments should have been made at the end of 2020, consistent with past practice of end-of-year appointments, or in early 2021, which would align with a new policy that the council adopted in December. The technical debate had significant ramifications for the city's most influential commission, where the two members who are most closely associated with the council's "residentialist" camp were nearing the end of their respective terms.

Under the old rules, the lame duck council would have made the appointments, allowing outgoing members Liz Kniss and Adrian Fine to cast votes and giving the council's more pro-growth camp a 4-3 advantage. But with the residentialists winning a majority in the November election, the balance of power swung their way. The council's decision last December to delay appointments until January — which followed a decision by the residentialists to skip out on candidate interviews in late December, depriving the meeting of a quorum — all but guaranteed that Lauing and Summa would win fresh terms.

Lauing ran for council last year, receiving the endorsement of the residentialist-leaning political action committee Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning. Summa is a longtime land-use watchdog who is known for being critical of new developments and zoning policies that increase height and density in residential neighborhoods.

Both of them dissented in November when the commission voted to recommend approving a new conditional use permit for Castilleja School, which would allow the school to reconstruct its campus and gradually raise enrollment from 426 students to 540. The council is set to review the project over two meetings on March 8 and March 15.

Five of the seven council members — Mayor Tom DuBois, Vice Mayor Pat Burt and council members Eric Filseth, Lydia Kou and Greer Stone — voted on Monday for both Lauing and Summa. Council member Alison Cormack voted for Lauing and architect Jessica Resmini. Council member Greg Tanaka supported community volunteer Kathy Jordan and Resmini.

The council also appointed on Monday two new members to the city's Historical Resources Board: Caroline Willis and Gogo Heinrich. While Willis was appointed unanimously, Heinrich edged out incumbent Martin Bernstein five votes to four after getting support from Burt, DuBois, Kou, Filseth and Stone.

The council also reappointed two other incumbent Historic Resources Board members: Margaret Wimmer, who picked up votes from all seven council members, and Michael Makinin, whose reappointment was supported by Cormack, DuBois, Kou, Stone and Tanaka.

Comments

Resident8
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 2, 2021 at 4:03 pm
Resident8, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Mar 2, 2021 at 4:03 pm

Congrats to both Summa and Lauing who are both very smart, well informed, thoughtful and seriously consider the impacts on residents when reviewing projects.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 2, 2021 at 4:35 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Mar 2, 2021 at 4:35 pm

Congratulations to Lauing and Summa.

"Both of them dissented in November when the commission voted to recommend approving a new conditional use permit for Castilleja School, which would allow the school to reconstruct its campus and gradually raise enrollment from 426 students to 540. The council is set to review the project over two meetings on March 8 and March 15."

Let the City Council hear from you about the proposed Casti expansion and 5-year construction project that will turn Embarcadero and environs into a traffic snarl as we open back up. especially if Churchill Ave is closed to through traffic.

Too bad about Martin Bernstein being edged out.


Carol Scott
Registered user
Evergreen Park
on Mar 3, 2021 at 10:44 am
Carol Scott, Evergreen Park
Registered user
on Mar 3, 2021 at 10:44 am

Congratulations to Doria Summa and Ed Lauing. It is a shame that Mr. Sheyner portrays them as being associated with "residentialists." To the contrary, I would say that Ms Summa and Mr. Lauing are unbiased. They do not cave in to developer interests, neither do they reject solid proposals that are good for our community. I am pleased that the Council recognized their value to the City.

It is also a shame that Mr. Sheyner chose to take a swipe at the so-called "residentialists" on the Council, saying that they "skipped out" on candidate interviews. Wow. The referenced interviews were scheduled without considering Council members' schedules and commitments, That some actually had to work and could not attend should not be considered "skipping out." Someone should have edited this article for slanted reporting.


mjh
Registered user
College Terrace
on Mar 3, 2021 at 3:03 pm
mjh, College Terrace
Registered user
on Mar 3, 2021 at 3:03 pm

Most of the time Mr. Sheynor manages to hide what appears to be his disdain for those who support moderate, thoughtful growth as oppose to "boom-town" zone-busting construction preferred by developers who do not have a vested interest on the impacts on those who do.


community member
Registered user
University South
on Mar 3, 2021 at 6:44 pm
community member, University South
Registered user
on Mar 3, 2021 at 6:44 pm

It is wonderful that these competent, independent commissioners will remain on the PTC.
The real estate lawyers and land use lawyers have been skewing the town's development and supporting the money-makers instead of the citizens.
Best wishes to two fine people.


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