Standard practice or 'misleading'? | January 24, 2020 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


https://paloaltoonline.com/print/story/print/2020/01/24/standard-practice-or-misleading


Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 24, 2020

Standard practice or 'misleading'?

Mayor's official letter in support of SB 50 rankles council colleagues

by Gennady Sheyner

It didn't take Palo Alto's newly elected Mayor Adrian Fine long to distinguish himself from most of his colleagues when it comes to housing policy — and to ruffle some feathers in the process.

This story contains 1089 words.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at gsheyner@paweekly.com.

Comments

169 people like this
Posted by Misleading
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 20, 2020 at 4:54 pm

It is absolutely inappropriate to have written such a letter without making it explicit that he was representing his own viewpoint.

But it is also clear that after 3 yes on Council, Mr. Fine knew exactly what he was doing.

He should be made to publicly withdraw his letter and, if he chooses, resubmit his comments...


41 people like this
Posted by Fine fail
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2020 at 5:30 pm

PAW
"It didn’t take Palo Alto’s newly elected Mayor Adrian Fine to distinguish himself from most of his colleagues when it comes to housing policy"

looks like you may have a typo or word missing

The term "vociferous" for Ms Kou seems odd in contrast to the article's long explanation for Fine's embarrassing letter.

The letter goes "Dear Senator Weiner", with no recipient address or formalities and read more like a Dear Dad from camp letter.


157 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 20, 2020 at 5:32 pm

Fine consistently shows his immaturity and poor judgment. His language and actions are sometimes shocking.

A recent quote from SFCurbed (Web Link): "In Palo Alto right now, we’re doing absolutely jack shit.... Palo Alto is taking a lot of punitive steps toward business.... We’re losing some big business. There’s not business and commercial growth." From a person who has voted against all office caps.

Obviously he should retract this letter and apologize to his colleagues. The guidebook says: "When presenting their individual opinions and positions, members shall explicitly state they do not represent their body or the city, nor will they allow the inference that they do." Come on, Mayor Fine, this is a poor start. Grow up and do better.


138 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 20, 2020 at 6:10 pm

Very poor judgement on part of new mayor. I strongly oppose SB 50. Wake up, Palo Alto voters. See Livable California.


142 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2020 at 6:10 pm

This behavior if repeated should make his recall necessary. At a minimum, the council should pass a resolution that would have the effect of chastising the Mayor. Additionally, another letter should be crafted that expresses the general sense of the council on this matter. Given how disruptive SB-50 promises to be--it couldn't hurt to put the question on the next election's ballot--giving Palo Alto residents the opportunity to weigh in on SB-50.


32 people like this
Posted by mjc
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 20, 2020 at 6:10 pm

Unlike some recent council election campaigns were more than one candidate misrepresented themselves in their flyers and who there backers were, I give Adrian Fine credit for being upfront about where he stands on taking away local zoning control.

If Adrian Fine runs for re-election later this year voters will know exactly what they are voting for or not voting for.


118 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 20, 2020 at 6:32 pm

Look, news is the bill is moving now. They are doing maneuvers in our CA State Legislature on this controversial bill.

There isn’t time to ponder your vote for Palo Alto City Council members - that’s way down the line.
It’s about contacting your state level representatives to Stop SB 50. This must be done now.

There are times when voters need to take an interest in State of California proposed laws.
This is a complicated, convoluted bill that gives zoning control to the state level.
It can’t be remedied by local voters or municipalities, codes.

Why did they propose such a convoluted mess? To take control. They wish to punish successful cities like Palo Alto, take ever more from us, while exempting pals in Marin County.

Their designations of: “transit rich” areas, “jobs rich” areas, “good public school” are done with unfair, inaccurate, convoluted scheming of certain state legislators. They are deceptive, to lure support of some, while rewarding major builder/developers.

For those who bought single family homes, you are the target, to destroy your equity, quality living situation, parking.
Impact on schools - wow.
Personal property rights - kiss those goodbye.
It is under the guise of supposedly helping give housing to the poor - but it won’t.
They count on busy voters to overlook or accept this. Please read editorials, letters to the Editor, articles, see Livable California website. Thank you for caring. Tonight.

Yes, CA has a housing shortage (of a variety of types and price ranges) but the answer is not this bill.
This is a cynical attempt to confuse people, rush through a epic damaging bill.


18 people like this
Posted by Gennady Sheyner
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Jan 20, 2020 at 6:35 pm

Thanks for the catch! The word "long" was inadvertently left out of the first paragraph when the story was first posted. Sorry for the error.


34 people like this
Posted by Manhattan Kansas
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2020 at 6:53 pm

Bravo to fine for writing this letter. About time, after decades, that Palo alto meet some of it's housing obligations. Not surprised that the majority of posters here are attacking Fine. They do not represent the public. Kou must be beside herself. She is against any housing and has made it her goal to hinder any new housing at all costs. And her not voting for Fine fur mayor was childish.


24 people like this
Posted by Manhattan Kansas
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2020 at 7:02 pm

BTW- I noticed that Gennady did not ask any of the council members that may have supported fines letter for their comments. So very one sided headline and article ( but PAsz will be happy with it)


128 people like this
Posted by Impeach
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 20, 2020 at 7:06 pm

Wish there was a way to impeach Mayor. He wants to do permanent damage to Palo Alto’s social fabric. No concern for traffic and congestion and stress on community resources because of stupid bills like SB50


67 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 20, 2020 at 7:12 pm

No growth. Freeze business licences for 10 years. Require retail space on first floor. Rent Stabilization (finally), city councils determine zoning, and push the silicon valley jobs to other places in the state and nation.


31 people like this
Posted by Manhattan Kansas
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2020 at 7:13 pm

Impeach--very simple solution - get a recall movement started.
Yes, suggesting that we try to meet housing obligations is clearly a removable offense to the "no to any new housing" crowd.


128 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 20, 2020 at 7:19 pm

It's high time for the mayor to be elected by the VOTERS and not by the City Council.

We the voters made our position clear that we didn't want to become more "jobs-rich" when thousands signed the ballot initiative petition to curb -- NOT expand -- office growth downtown yet Mr. Fine has made it HIS priority to "revitalize" downtown -- a move in direct opposition to what the voters want and what all the city satisfaction surveys show, including the major concern which is TRAFFIC / CONGESTION.

Such arrogance in ignoring what WE want is as ludicrous as his mentor's denying we have traffic problems given her many many years in goverrnment. Don't they pay any attention to what residents want or do they only cater to their big-money backers whom they refuse to tax, shifting the financial burden to US while OUR quality of life tanks?

He and Ms Kniss are surprised not more ADUs are being built yet it was blatantly clear to anyone who showed up for those meetings how rushed that whole process was and how full of holes many of the provisions are. Unlike Filseth, Kuo and DuBois, Fine and Kniss couldn't be bothered to respond to the many unanswered questions about the ADUs. Even Filseth, Kuo and Dubois responded "Good question, Have to look into that" to about 1/2 the ADU questions submitted to them.

SB50 is a farce from which even some of its proponents have managed to exempt THEIR districts due to widespread opposition.

Serious question: When and where was young Mr. Fine a city planner?


39 people like this
Posted by Mark Lennartsson
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 20, 2020 at 7:31 pm

Bravo, Mayor! This is what real leadership looks like. SB 50 will go a long way towards solving our acute housing crisis. We need housing, and we need it now.


33 people like this
Posted by Glad Fine speaks his mind
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 20, 2020 at 8:57 pm

Seems like the residentialists are unable to argue against more housing.. so they go after Mr. Fine himself. Pretty low behavior.

Lydia and Tom - what have you done for housing? Maybell anyone?


103 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 20, 2020 at 9:00 pm

So we have a mayor who adheres to the philosophy that it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission. What's new? Fine's letter, while inappropriate, is not in the least surprising. Look critically at Mr. Weiner's city, San Francisco, to see how effective he is and how well his leadership has worked there.

Bottom line: San Francisco is a mess with huge - and growing - problems to solve. Despite what Weiner and Fine say, they are NOT all about creating remedies that will improve the affordable housing shortage. In fact, should SB50 become law, existing problems will only worsen. Don't be fooled.

We cannot afford the impact of faulty legislation; we need solutions that can work. It's time for those of us who think SB50 is a bad piece of legislation to be more engaged and aggressively oppose not just SB50, but also Fine and Weiner. We need politicians who will focus on real solutions, not legislation that promises something that cannot be delivered.


11 people like this
Posted by Petty petty
a resident of Triple El
on Jan 20, 2020 at 9:01 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


109 people like this
Posted by Who will start the recall
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2020 at 9:06 pm

Why does the Weekly continue to use the biased and inaccurate descriptor that Fine is "pro housing" when he has often been against the actual low- or middle-income housed in Palo Alto, such as at the President Hotel? Fine is pro-big-developer, and so is Liz Kniss, based on their behavior, and the fact that they both misled the public about the developer money they both took for their campaigns. The toothless fair election people said exactly that, that Fine misled the voters.

There is no evidence of anything like "slow-growth" as the primary characteristic of the people the Weekly keep tagging with that misnomer. "Smarter planning" "holistic planning" "civic-focused planning" are more accurate. Kou's safety background makes her more inclined to incorporate more complex and essential aspects of every issue in her decisions. Fine couldn't care less about safety.

SB50 is a trojan horse that will NOT achieve any of the empty promises, in fact, it will make all the things it claims to help far WORSE. It is a giveaway to developers that will continue to incentivize them to push out low-income people, ignore safety, ignore quality of life and the ACTUAL environment (not the imaginary made up one of their false promises). Fine is once again MISLEADING the voters by claiming the above. Shame on him.

I would support a recall, too. Someone who misled the voters the way he did should never have been allowed to remain on the council in the first place. Now he has no problem continuing to do something as misleading as this with his office, which is for his own selfish purposes and not representing the citizens of Palo Alto.


114 people like this
Posted by Not Fine
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 20, 2020 at 9:09 pm

Why does the Weekly attach "passionate housing advocate" to his name when Fine's record shows otherwise? He wants more commercial spaces and taller buildings that may or may not have condominiums on the upper floors. Maybe luxury hotels? Who knows? I've seen nothing to demonstrate a plan for affordable housing either.

Fine wants the town he grew up in to be more like Brooklyn or Seattle. He actually said this many times while campaigning. Do local voters want to live in Brooklyn?

Using city letterhead was inappropriate and I'm sure he knew it, especially with all his years of experience. He just got caught. Something needs to be done before he does more damage.


94 people like this
Posted by Who will start the recall
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2020 at 9:10 pm

Any person who is that disrespectful and dismissive of the people they are supposed to be serving and representing should quit and become the self-serving lobbyist they already are. Fine is too selfish to do that, he should be recalled.


87 people like this
Posted by Isn't this illegal?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 20, 2020 at 9:10 pm

Isn't this illegal? Fine, an elected official, used City letterhead to send out his *personal* opinion on legislation? Do ALL city councilors get to send their personal correspondence on City letters? Can Fine send menacing letters to his political rivals on City letterhead?

That seems like misappropriation of City property (both its stationery and its reputation). The City Manager and City Attorney are obliged to investigate and render a view on this. It seems like straight-forward abuse of office.


51 people like this
Posted by Not Fine
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 20, 2020 at 9:20 pm

@ Online Name.

>>> Serious question: When and where was young Mr. Fine a city planner?

It did not jump out on his Linkedin profile. He has a Master's degree in city planning, a couple of internships and some tech marketing roles. Have a look: Web Link


20 people like this
Posted by Kyle
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2020 at 9:22 pm

The people decrying process for a letterhead are why we have a housing crisis. The people decrying neighborhood character need to inspect their moral character.


54 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 20, 2020 at 9:25 pm

@Kyle, I guess for you, the ends justifies the means. Lenin and Trotsky thought so too. For me, and most others, less so. Please reflect.


21 people like this
Posted by Supporter
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 20, 2020 at 9:25 pm

Dubois is right about not using the city stationery, but otherwise there's not much here.

In the April meeting referred to, what the council approved was a set of principles (from the Santa Clara County league of cities) without mention of sny specific legislative proposal. Mayor Filseth then used this as license to write the legislature as having put the city in opposition to SB50, SB330, and several other housing bills. One city council member (Kniss) gave a mild rebuke at the next meeting for violating city policy. I do not see an order of magnitude difference here.

On one-size-fits-all, I do not see any attempt to reverse council consensus from last April. The SB50 prposal now gives localities the option to achieve the same state goals by alternative means. Also, which violates one-size-fit-all anyway: the 2019 version of SB50 or Palo Alto's existing zoning regime which makes large swaths of land exclusively single family housing?

I have watched Mr. Fine since meeting him at a local Midtown campaign event in 2016. He has consistently favored consensus over stretching the council a few more inches towards his preferred policies.



11 people like this
Posted by impact?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2020 at 9:32 pm

Is there any impact of the mayor of a medium-sized Bay Area suburb personally supporting SB-50? The SF Board of supervisors came out against SB-50. But ultimately it's the voters that decide anyway.


52 people like this
Posted by IQ Test
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 20, 2020 at 9:33 pm

Which is one-size-fit-all: "the 2019 version of SB50 or Palo Alto's existing zoning regime which makes large swaths of land exclusively single family housing?"

Umm - the first one, SB50? One is a top-down diktat that says how cities need to set up their zoning, and the other is a locally adopted zoning code. One is decided for us, the other we decide, as a community. See the difference?


17 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Jan 20, 2020 at 9:40 pm

I support the pro housing stance of Mayor Fine's letter, and his right to write it. If he didn't make it clear that he didn't represent the council, he can correct himself. He already did on Twitter. I haven't seen any media representing this as the will of the council anyway. Everyone knows most of the council is anti housing. Hence the need for SB50


11 people like this
Posted by Woke
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 20, 2020 at 9:49 pm

HTG, when are you people going to wake up? I can’t even.


26 people like this
Posted by SB50 needs to pass
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2020 at 9:55 pm

Bravo mayor! This is what leadership looks like.

All these other comments are exactly why we have the problems we do. It’s the year 2020 people, wake up.

Thank you for your leadership. Let’s get SB50 passed.


53 people like this
Posted by Evan
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2020 at 9:58 pm

I don’t believe Fine used city letterhead, instead it is a cut and paste to give the appearance that it is an official letter. It is called fraud!


65 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2020 at 10:01 pm

Fine can call $20 million for the Wilton Court affordable housing development "Jack Shit" but that project will produce more affordable housing in Palo Alto than SB50 ever will.


21 people like this
Posted by Angie
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 20, 2020 at 10:06 pm

Eric Filseth did the same letterhead when he opposed SB50 as Mayor last year! We cannot disagree on process just because we disagree on policy. Mayor Fine has consistently worked toward consensus over divisions. I don't always agree with him but I think some community members are making a villain of the wrong person.


25 people like this
Posted by Evan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 20, 2020 at 10:12 pm

BRAVO Adrian.

After growing up in Palo Alto, I've watched hundreds of friends, family and colleagues get priced out of the area. Many of my friends who remain are struggling to get by, and living in subpar housing or living with family well into their 30s to avoid paying the outrageous rents.

Palo Alto has been selfish, and approved very little housing over the past few decades, while local employment has swelled. There are now more than 125,000 people working in Palo Alto every day, and many spend hours commuting or living in vehicles because we have so few housing options here.

I'm glad SOMEONE on Palo Alto's City Council cares, and understands what needs to be done to make real change — we need state action to get Palo Alto to change and become a welcoming, affordable place again. Mayor Fine's letter was great, and obviously from him. He's the mayor; he gets to use stationary — come on people. Those claiming he was out of bounds just disagree with his opinion. Which is certainly your right, if you'd like your children and their friends and teachers to continue commuting in from Stockton, but don't claim this was out of line.

We need MORE action like this, not less.


80 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 20, 2020 at 10:12 pm

The elected representatives of Palo Alto voted to oppose the developer handout bill known as SB 50, but the mayor went rogue and broke city rules to incorrectly imply that the city supports it. The mayor should be sanctioned. More troubling, this is a clear sign that the city effectively has no mayor. Mr. Fine has gone rogue and seems to represent the interests of his Twitter followers rather than his so-called constituents.


26 people like this
Posted by Doing A Fine Job
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 20, 2020 at 10:14 pm

Adrian Fine is acting in the best interest of the city and has the power to act as such as Mayor. This is irresponsible reporting ("Is this totally normal action actually very bad?"). The "residents" have got their platinum pitchforks ready to recall over a letter that was very clearly the Mayor's personal opinion?

Last year, Eric Filseth wrote a letter to oppose SB50 but did so as if the city had officially taken a position on the bill--it hadn't. Filseth also spent much of his state of the city address to advocate against the bill, using city resources and his Mayoral platform to lobby for his own personal position.


73 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 20, 2020 at 10:39 pm

Inappropriate. Hopefully he will be off the council when he is up for re-election.


43 people like this
Posted by Evan
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2020 at 10:40 pm


No,no, no @Angie and is it the same Angie Evans who rents in high end Crescent Park?

The letterhead used by Adrian Fine is different from the one used by Eric Filseth. Adrian Fine’s letterhead is a botched cut and paste, whereas Eric Filseth’s is on official letterhead.

What it boils down to is that Adrian Fine is committing fraud making it appear that it is an official document. It is beyond unethical and the district attorney and the grand jury should be looking into this.


80 people like this
Posted by This is our Mayor?
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 20, 2020 at 10:52 pm

Looking at the letter itself (Web Link ), clearly he did just "cut and paste" it together. And amazingly, it says "From the Office of the Mayor and the City Council"!

Umm, Mr. Mayor, how does that NOT imply that it reflects the view of the City Council as a body? If you went to the trouble of making up a fake letterhead, why did you make one up that is so patently misleading? This is really amateurish and plain wrong. This is our Mayor? Shame on you.


58 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 20, 2020 at 11:14 pm

> Posted by Evan, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
> I don’t believe Fine used city letterhead, instead it is a cut and paste to give the appearance that it is an official letter.

Seconding that.
It would be interesting for the Weekly to ask Fine whether this is official letterhead and if not, what was his intention is creating/using this.

Details: The letterhead is different from the versions I found in my files. However, that doesn't rule out that it could be another version. However, the graphics (Photo 3 of 3) is far below what I saw in those legit versions. No logo (redwood tree), green line through "Alto" misaligned at both ends, the "Council" second line is left-shifted from the preceding line.


48 people like this
Posted by SB 50's Not Fine
a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 20, 2020 at 11:51 pm

What does Fine do for money? Does he need campaign cash? The high tech corporations behind SB 50 can bankroll his next campaign. High-density housing is not FINE everywhere. But SB 50 is about to be ushered through the state senate. Then only the politicians in the Assembly who want to run for higher office will be needed for passage. Next: on to Governor Newsom. Once the bill is signed or otherwise allowed to become law, city councils and boards of supervisors will likely not support a referendum (or initiative preserving any local control) and the corporate take- over of local government will be nearly complete.


57 people like this
Posted by SB 50's Not Fine
a resident of Los Altos
on Jan 21, 2020 at 12:38 am

Looks like Fine now works "marketing" self-driving vehicles. Got to kiss up to the high tech giants for that. Someone post a link to his form 700 statements of economic interests.


20 people like this
Posted by Ben
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2020 at 6:34 am

Thank you Mayor Fine for taking a stand to support housing. SB50 is badly needed to unlock housing opportunities for people who are priced out of the peninsula, some of whom have to commute well over an hour to work in our communities.


13 people like this
Posted by JustGuessing
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 21, 2020 at 7:03 am

There is another solution to the problem:

Web Link


18 people like this
Posted by Fine fail
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2020 at 8:22 am

"Details: The letterhead is different from the versions I found in my files. However, that doesn't rule out that it could be another version. However, the graphics (Photo 3 of 3) is far below what I saw in those legit versions. No logo (redwood tree), green line through "Alto" misaligned at both ends, the "Council" second line is left-shifted from the preceding line."

Letter doesn't look like it's from a formal letterhead system and doesn't look professional, who writes without some form of recipient address? Was it handed to Senator Weiner? Mailed from the post office?

No pomp for sure, and how many millions are spent so these City leaders can sit in pomp at Council meetings?


98 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 21, 2020 at 8:40 am

@Evan - you wrote, "After growing up in Palo Alto, I've watched hundreds of friends, family and colleagues get priced out of the area. Many of my friends who remain are struggling to get by, and living in subpar housing or living with family well into their 30s to avoid paying the outrageous rents."

Anyone pinning their hopes on SB50 is in for a rude awakening. SB50 will be one more policy that makes housing even more unattainable for the majority of those who need affordable and BMR housing. The critical truth is this: talk's cheap, housing isn't. Nor is land. Development projects have to pencil out for those funding the development and that translates to high rent and high purchase prices.

Politicians promoting SB50 are engaging in the worst kind of cheap talk b/c they are creating false hope. And I think they know it; SB50 works for them and developers; it does not work for those you describe. Fine and Weiner want support and votes and they are hoping people will believe that they will deliver housing in exchange. What we've got going here is the politicization of a serious social problem. To my way of thinking, that is shameful.

A bill that does not require full mitigation is destructive. Sure, housing CAN be built w/o adding to or improving the infrastructure to support it. Several PACC majorities have seen to it that PA has done just that vis-a-vis commercial development for years now. Look where that got us and who benefitted from that approach. And at what happened to housing inventory and price. It makes no sense whatsoever to destroy communities by dangling a housing policy that cannot deliver the promised answer. Instead, communities like PA should promote policies that can work, such as full mitigation of commercial development. This should have been required years ago. Instead, those on CC who have consistently promoted commercial development didn't concern themselves with impact. And here we are. SB50 is a costly mistake we cannot afford to make. And we sure as heck don't want to hand control over our own city to the state and developers. Nope. Bad idea. Terrible policy.


52 people like this
Posted by Flash
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 21, 2020 at 8:42 am

The Daily Post has an interesting detail:

> ‘It was not sent on official city letterhead, which has a tree logo, but does feature a poorly replicated logo that says “City of Palo Alto, Office of the Mayor and City Council” in the top right corner’

Also a troubling quote from the Mayor:

> ‘too many rules, too much process, too much engagement (and I know it’s impolitical to write that!)’


14 people like this
Posted by Asher
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2020 at 9:18 am

This is no different from what the Mayor of Foster City recently did by putting out a letter on city letterhead. Either everyone can use letterhead or no one can without proper public hearing. The difference? In Palo Alto the Mayor is under attack by anti homeownership exclusionary peoole. In Foster City the mayor is part of the vocal anti homes group.


10 people like this
Posted by Evan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 21, 2020 at 9:28 am

[Portion removed.] SB50 is the single-most effective change we could make to (1) lower housing prices (2) reduce congestion and (3) fight climate change, but helping more people live here, live close to work and live a car-light lifestyle, respectively.

[Portion removed.] You don't want your lifestyle to change and don't care about younger Paly/Gunn grads like myself and my cohort, who can't afford to live here. But you should give up pretending that it won't be a huge difference maker [portion removed] and force some (good) change.


74 people like this
Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 21, 2020 at 9:48 am

@Ben, please read Annette's comment above. She is 100% right!

You will NOT get affordable housing out of the SB50 deal.

Check out the rents or condo prices of ANY new housing up and down the peninsula and you will see that the rents are all higher, not lower!

Yes, you can buy a new condo but it will still be out of the reach of those people who commute from far away. And why would they want to live in a tiny space for twice the rent they are now paying? What you will get is tons more traffic because the people who work in Palo Alto will commute because they still will not be able to afford the new housing.

This new housing will probably be filled by high paid tech workers or maybe overseas residents that want to get their kids into PA schools.


75 people like this
Posted by Who will start the recall
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2020 at 9:56 am

@Evan,
You are wrong. Here, in this place, every incidence in which developers get more access results in people on the bottom rungs being displaced and affordable housing being LOST, not gained.

This area has not been in high demand for a really long time. SB50 will only accelerate the displacement of low-income people, make the area more dangerous in a disaster, INCREASE congestion, and increase all kinds of environmental ills like urban heat sink effects which will only get worse with global warming.

You said one thing: "while local employment has swelled"

That's the key here. Employers are bringing in way too many people, too fast.

This was already an expensive area, speaking as someone who has sacrificed and lived in substandard housing for much of my time here.

The ONLY solution is to stop enabling the employers to continue to treat the Bay Area like their own private clown car of infinite capacity, and insist the state invest in one or two more areas -- with naturally affordable housing already and capacity to build more without bulldozing the lives of ordinary people while falsely promising it will solve the affordability problems they've already faced their whole lives.

The only thing the companies need is the nice civic environment that the public built and the ability to cluster together. They should be helped to do that by strengthening local zoning and taxing them until they decide they must start looking elsewhere.

We can have too much of a good thing. We need employers to start thinking about being good citizens, not enabling them to be more selfish by digging now on the LIE that doing more development will somehow fix all the problems that the development has been CAUSING. We are already hearing the alarm from safety experts that San Francisco has built too many high rises in close proximity, and unsafely, and the next big earthquake is going to cause a lot more loss of life. WE are already hearing that this area is dense enough that there will be more loss of life in the next disaster. The state isn't going to take responsibility for that.

We only have a housing crisis because employers refuse to consider multiplying the number of job clusters. They did that with San Francisco -- remember, SF used to be all lawyers (and was then horrendously expensive, too). Tech moved in beyond the capacity, and displaced all the locals, especially people of color and low-income people. It is the companies who need to start considering their selfish impact on the cities their clusters/swarms decimate. It is FAR, FAR easier, and more beneficial to the communities, the companies, and our nation -- for national security, for disaster safety, for the ENVIRONMENT, if we had a few job centers rather than destroying this one.

We have Stanford here, so we do not have to worry that too many tech companies will leave, in fact, it would be good if a few whales moved and allowed this to be a good place for startups around Stanford again.

Because after they have their way with us, they will leave anyway, after having ruined the region, taxed the infrastructure, created unfixable urban heat sinks, and left no capacity to deal with sea level rise or fire danger. Better that we insist on sustainable development.

Kou and Dubois have been the ones who have been steadfast in their support of low-income and ordinary-income housing in this area. SB50 is a pipe dream of false promises [portion removed.]

There is ZERO evidence that the kind of development SB50 will enable will have any of the falsely promised benefits. This is how Hong Kong became Hong Kong, on exactly those same arguments. None of the problems were ever solved, Hong Kong simply became the kind of urbanscape that Fine would like to turn this area into.

The only reason they want to turn this area into an urbanscape is because they could selfishly glom onto all the many public and civic investments that the people they are trying to roll over made before they arrived. The money should be going to restoring cities in California that want to be the next job center, not to finishing the job of destroying the Bay Area on the LIES LIES LIES of SB50.


12 people like this
Posted by Manhattan kansas
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2020 at 9:57 am

[Post removed.]


65 people like this
Posted by Who will start the recall
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2020 at 9:57 am

Correction from above:

This area has NOT BEEN CHEAP AND HAS been in high demand for a really long time. SB50 will only accelerate the displacement of low-income people, make the area more dangerous in a disaster, INCREASE congestion, and increase all kinds of environmental ills like urban heat sink effects which will only get worse with global warming.


67 people like this
Posted by Who will start the recall
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2020 at 10:02 am

@Manhattan,

Um, I'm not a PASZ member, I'm a resident of Palo Alto.

But I guess that makes me the enemy, just as Fine apparently feels. This guy hates the people he is supposed to serve and wants to destroy this place to serve a few companies who do not contribute to our civic wellbeing.

I know you really want to find a single entity to demonize, but our mayor is demonizing all the people who live here just fine already. He "misled" the voters to get elected (according to the Fair elections people). Who will start the recall? It's no more difficult than a referendum.


81 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 21, 2020 at 10:21 am

"Um, I'm not a PASZ member, I'm a resident of Palo Alto."

Same here. And I'm totally disgusted by the polarization pushed by Mr. Fine and his supporters when residents dare to refute the fairy tales pushed by the developer-funded politicians and their supporters,

I DID canvas for the PASZ ballot initiative to curb office growth and found that A) most residents wanted to go way further than PASZ in cutting office growth and declare a TOTAL moratorium on office construction, and B) few residents had even heard of PASZ although they were very familiar with the well-funded YUMBY's which is a NATIONAL party.

It would be special if people dealt with the issues rather than the specious attacks and twisting of arguments.



87 people like this
Posted by Family Friendly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 21, 2020 at 10:21 am

Jeez. What part of "public servant" does he not understand? If he doesn't want to protect the interests of Palo Altans, he should do the decent thing and resign.


35 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2020 at 10:22 am

Can someone point to the exact steps we need to undertake for a recall?


29 people like this
Posted by Woke
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 21, 2020 at 10:43 am

Anyone who supports SB50 read this and come back and explain how you can continue to support it. It is NOT RIGHT.

Web Link


48 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 21, 2020 at 10:44 am

[Post removed.]


73 people like this
Posted by Deception.
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 21, 2020 at 10:47 am

Fine is not in tune with his constituents. He has acted deceptively and misrepresented the city. He is immature and unethical.
He will do irreversible damage to Palo Alto during his term as mayor. He needs to step down and if he doesn’t, a recall is in order. The residents of Palo Alto need to get more involved in how their city is run. The residents should vote for their mayor.
Most of the politicians act like Palo Alto is their private country club.


62 people like this
Posted by Neighbor2
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 21, 2020 at 10:51 am

"Can someone point to the exact steps we need to undertake for a recall?"

Fine's term ends in Nov 2020, so no recall needed. I assume he will run for re-election - put your energy into candidates who oppose him and his band of merry developers.


14 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 21, 2020 at 11:24 am

Bravo, Adrian.


58 people like this
Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 21, 2020 at 11:30 am

Mayor Fine, it is not what you say but how you conveyed your opinion on City of Palo Alto letterhead that is objectionable without consultation of your fellow colleagues on the council. You alone do not represent the entire body of the Palo Alto City Council regarding the issue of SB50. Please respect your colleagues and the position of mayor. It is bad form for you to give approval on their behalf to support your point of view. This is a lesson for you to learn from your improper decision. You appear rash and yes immature. So Mayor Fine learn from this and follow correct decorum in the future because you will not be respected if you continue down this path.


12 people like this
Posted by Manhattan kansas
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2020 at 11:32 am

[Post removed.]


74 people like this
Posted by Character reveal.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2020 at 11:38 am

I agree that this is grossly inappropriate. If Mr. Fine is writing as an individual, the letter should not have a City of Palo Alto header and he should should not use his official Mayor of Palo Alto title as he is not representing a city position on this matter. A vote was taken that went a different way. Mr. Fine is a smart guy. He understands this.

He should apologize to his colleagues and the city, publicly withdraw the letter, and write as an individual if he wishes to do so without invoking City of Palo Alto in any way until he gets a vote that permits him to do so.

This is an inauspicious beginning. Deliberately misleading communication is not something we should celebrate...ever. I just learned something about Mr. Fine's character that I hadn't known before. I hope he will take action make this right.


60 people like this
Posted by RAY
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 21, 2020 at 11:47 am

re Manhattan kansas

Your comments indicate that you believe there is an organization that is loading this site with anti-Fine comments. I quote, "Not surprised that the majority of posters here are attacking Fine. They do not represent the public." They do not REPRESENT the public, they ARE the public. SB-50 is a bil that is supported by some, but others fear that it will negatively impact many cities in Clifornia, not just Palo Alto. It is a devisive bill at a time when we need cooperation and intelligence in dealing with difficult issues. That said, this story was not about SB50, it was about a potentially inappropriate letter sent by an official who may have made a mistake. Or not. The right to discuss it is guaranteed in the 1st Amendment and does not need an underground effort to make people voice an opinion. I have not made a comment either way on either subject


10 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 21, 2020 at 11:48 am

In the same vein as the second comment above @FineFail I would caution against the term “full-throated” in context of Wiener (tho you avoided the gratuitous humor of the type the Chron used in describing Quentin Kopp’s mocking opposition to the state rep:
Web Link

I like Adrian fine, but I disagree with his thrust here.


49 people like this
Posted by Following his leader
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 21, 2020 at 11:49 am

[Post removed.]


14 people like this
Posted by Milo
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2020 at 11:53 am

Thank You Adrian Fine for taking this bold position. The comments here are evidence of the courage it takes to go against the grain and stand up for what is right and just. Wealthy enclaves using housing policy as a method to preserve and entrench their privilege and exclusivity has gone on long enough and must come to an end. The negative externalities reverberate far and wide in the forms of homelessness, broken families, crushing commutes and environmental degradation. Hopefully, with your hard work and the work of others SB50 will be a tool to ensure more folks have access to opportunities as we transform towards higher density, more pedestrian friendly, diverse, and healthy communities. Bravo!!!!


82 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 21, 2020 at 11:55 am

"Mr Fine's contributions from developers are well-known."

As is his opposition to taxing them and the big businesses and institutions whose employees are over-running us, shifting the costs to us, the residents.


51 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 21, 2020 at 11:58 am

Milo, please explan what provisions SB50 has to increase affordable and BMR housing which are clearly less profitable than offices add market-rate housing.

Thanks. We'll wait.


13 people like this
Posted by Janet
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Jan 21, 2020 at 12:21 pm

Mr. Fine is taking a bold statement that may be unpopular with some of our neighbors. That takes courage and I applaud him. More of our leaders should show better leadership on housing. The status quo benefits us landowners way more. Our own long term gains should be scrutinized.

At some point, history is going to look back at us as the selfish ones for not being open to change that would benefit everyone in the long run. I'm now strongly in support of SB 50 as a necessity.


77 people like this
Posted by Vote him OUT
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 21, 2020 at 12:22 pm

Vote Fine out already. Not only he is financially and politically vested in the office growth. He also misrepresents himself as a housing advocate.
Palo Altans! How can you keep falling for the charlatan? Now he is leading the city ... unbelievable.


43 people like this
Posted by Following his leader
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 21, 2020 at 12:24 pm

These were the Honorary Chairpersons for Fine's last campaign. Development advocates all.

Betsy Bechtel - Former City Mayor and Council Member
Gail A. Price - Former Council Member, PAUSD Trustee
- - - - - - - -

Greg Scharff - Vice Mayor, former Mayor
Cory Wolbach - Council Member
Marc Berman - Council Member
Larry Klein - Former Council Member
John Barton - architect, Former Council Member
Victor Ojakian - Former Mayor
Dena Mossar - Former Mayor
Heidi Emberling - PAUSD
Camille Townsend - PAUSD
Dan Garber - Arrillaga project architect
Eric Rosenblum - Palantir and PTC
Kate Downing - former PTC
Lee Lippert - architect, former ARB
Michael Alcheck - Planning Commission
Mila Zelkha (Palantir)
Steve Levy - housing advocate


16 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jan 21, 2020 at 1:28 pm

SB 50 has been amended to allow cities two years to develop local plans that meet their adopted housing goals and comply with state law. SB 50 now includes stronger anti-displacement provisions.

I support these goals and join Mayor Fine who joins the mayors of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose in supporting state policies if after two years cities have not been able to develop compliant plans.

If Palo Altans want to control their own fate re housing we should be working to show that we can develop plans that meet local and state goals.

I do understand that there are residents throughout the region that do not want to meet adopted housing goals but that is a different issue.

Let posters who are complaining about Adrian's action put forth policies and incentives that meet our adopted Comp Plan goal of 300 units a year.

Adrian has been clear that he like Mayors Breed, Licardo and Schaff speaks for himself alone.


88 people like this
Posted by Neighbor2
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 21, 2020 at 1:54 pm

"Adrian has been clear that he like [other] Mayors speaks for himself alone."

'Adrian' (Mayor Fine to the rest of us) should not have given the false impression that he spoke for the city council by doctoring up a letterhead. That's just immature and out of line. That's why he has to retract and apologize.

My biggest concern about Mayor Fine is that he favors virtually every kind of development there is - housing, commercial, you name it - and opposes any kind of caps, having voted against all Palo Alto office space caps. He is not a "housing advocate" - he is a "BUILDING ADVOCATE." He wants to fundamentally change the Peninsula in to a bigger, denser urban area.

He's entitled to that view, but people should realize - it isn't just BMR or affordable housing he wants - it is MORE EVERYTHING, and a lot of it, as soon as possible. He is a tech executive's dream Mayor!




12 people like this
Posted by Monroe
a resident of Monroe Park
on Jan 21, 2020 at 2:00 pm

I'm with Mr. Fine and Mr. Levy. Mr.Levy correctly observes that in the amended SB50, cities have years to develop compliant plans and that:

If Palo Altans want to control their own fate re housing we should be working to show that we can develop plans that meet local and state goals...(let's) put forth policies and incentives that meet our adopted Comp Plan goal of 300 units a year.


47 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 21, 2020 at 2:31 pm

"Mayors Breed, Licardo and Schaff" - note that those three were all directly elected to their Mayoral office by their city voters. Fine, on the other hand, holds a one year term in a rotating position, chosen by his council peers; he is the Council's presiding officer, not its executive. All the more reason he should not pretend to "speak for the city council" as his faked letterhead did.


15 people like this
Posted by HMM
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 21, 2020 at 3:15 pm

@Gennady, @Palo Alto Mom,

Could someone elaborate on the letterhead? Was it official? Was it faked?


23 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 21, 2020 at 3:28 pm

Clearly faked - here's the PDF from the article: Web Link


25 people like this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 21, 2020 at 3:45 pm

This is absolutely unacceptable behavior on the [art of our current mayor. I think he should be replaced as mayor by someone else. Furthermore, I recommend that he be recalled.
[Portion removed.]


34 people like this
Posted by council watcher
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 21, 2020 at 3:54 pm

Fine won't be replaced as he is supported by the pro-development council majority led by Liz Kniss. Which is how he got elected in the first place. Although a recall is unlikely to be organized by anyone, Fine's four year term is up at the end of 2020.


17 people like this
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jan 21, 2020 at 3:55 pm

The claim that anyone could think Adrian was speaking for the council lacks credibility.

Former Mayor Filseth has published widely opposing earlier versions of SB 50 and other council members have spoken out as well.

Posters just disagree with his position [portion removed.]

If anyone has a good idea to meet our housing goals so there is no need for state intervention, here is a good place to air them.

If you really do not want to meet the Comp Plan housing goals, you can state that as well.



40 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2020 at 4:08 pm

Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South

>> The claim that anyone could think Adrian was speaking for the council lacks credibility.
>> Posters just disagree with his position, there is no need for all this personal garbage.

I agree that this is clearly his personal opinion and not the city position, so, sure, let's leave out the ad hominem "garbage".

Let's also leave out the "pro-housing" "garbage", while we are at it. Anyone who supports projects with more jobs than housing is "anti-housing", not "pro-housing". SB50 will not do anything to restore the jobs/housing imbalance. We need to stop building office space first. -That- is the most pro-housing action we can take.

-No more office space.-



62 people like this
Posted by A neighbor
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 21, 2020 at 4:09 pm

Steve Levy, you are just being obtuse. The faked letterhead says "office of the mayor and the city council." How would a reasonable person NOT think he spoke for the council, or at least be confused. Don't accuse others of 'lacking credibility' when the truth is right there to see. It reflects badly on you and your candidate.


56 people like this
Posted by HMM
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 21, 2020 at 4:30 pm

@Palo Alto Mom. Thank you-I should have read all the comments. Truly baffling behavior, and, I think, Mayor Fine owes the community some sort of explanation. If he wants to justify the letter as his own opinion, then why did he not use personal stationary? If he thought it was appropriate to use City stationary, why fake it? And, Mr. Levy, much the text of Mayor Fine's letter reads like he is speaking for Palo Alto. And, in his tweet announcing the letter he writes "here's my official letter thanking @Scott_Wiener and endorsing his bill #SB50" . If it wasn't official to his office, what was it official to?


71 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 21, 2020 at 4:47 pm

It's impossible to be so aggressively pro commercial development and pro housing at the same time. Commercial development is one of the major reasons for the housing crunch. Both Adrian Fine and Steve Levy are phonies. They push the agenda of the obstacles to housing:they represent the interests of big tech and land developers, and they are actually the enemies of housing.


71 people like this
Posted by Another Giveaway
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2020 at 5:21 pm

Almost every politician in California, from your local mayor, to the governor, has been corrupted by real-estate industry money and they are all hiding the corruption behind a confounding veil of social justice rhetoric.

The housing crisis will never end until all of the real-estate industry corrupted politicians are removed from office because to the real-estate industry, the "housing crisis" is NOT a bug, it is a feature.

"never let a good crisis go to waste" ~ Rahm Emanuel


42 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 21, 2020 at 5:21 pm

Palo Alto Mom is smart to point out that while the mayors of SF, Oakland, and San Jose are elected by the voters, the Mayor of Palo Alto is selected by the CC. That is a critical difference. In fact, it's huge. 6 people choosing who leads a city of ~67,000 people. That's more than a little bit ridiculous and it prompts me to ask if a title change is in order. Until we change the governance model shouldn't the title of the person in the middle seat more appropriately reflect that the person has not been chosen by the people but is instead elevated to the position via a CC vote that is so obviously preceded by back room conversations and deals? How about Mayorette?


14 people like this
Posted by Manhattan kansas
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2020 at 5:29 pm

LOL. Now the comments are getting ridiculous. Fine should not be called mayor? Palo alto and other cities in the area elect their mayors this way.
However if you want a mayor elected by the voters, then act upon it. Propose legislation. But remember, you will be electing someone for multiple years at a time. What will you do when the public elect a Liz kniss or Fine for 4 years as mayor. I think your head will explode!


10 people like this
Posted by Manhattan kansas
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2020 at 5:31 pm

Oh and BTW Annette. Council members are elected by the people.


31 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 21, 2020 at 5:42 pm

My recollection of op-eds by former Mayor Filseth, was that it was clear it was his opinion, not (claiming to be) speaking for all of Palo Alto.


37 people like this
Posted by Who will start the recall
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2020 at 5:57 pm

@Anon & Neighbor2

""Can someone point to the exact steps we need to undertake for a recall?"
Fine's term ends in Nov 2020, so no recall needed. I assume he will run for re-election - put your energy into candidates who oppose him and his band of merry developers."

Actually, Fine should have been recalled because of the deceptive way he and Kniss handled their developer financing. He can do a lot of damage in a year, and he already has in days.

Here is a link to the City Charter. Search on the term "recall"
Web Link

You can only recall a councilmember after they've been on the council for six months, which Fine has. You have to file a notice that satisfies certain specifications, and you have to collect signatures of registered voters amounting to 12 percent of the registered voters in the last election. Anyway, read the rules. There are people in town who can help you get started.

If you're going to go the trouble, I'd suggest recalling Kniss, too, because of the deceptive way she handled her developer donations, and the way she and Fine continue to lie about being housing advocates when they really vote against anything that helps moderate to low-income people in Palo Alto and for anything that helps the rich developers.

If we really want to solve the housing crisis in this area, we have to remember that it was punishingly difficult to live here before this latest boom, including when there were plenty of housing vacancies. The false promises will not come true, there is only evidence to the contrary if they are allowed to build build build regardless of safety and pollution and traffic.

The only way to fix this is to DEMAND that lawmakers fix the DEMAND side of this equation, but figuring out how to make a second or even a third job center in this state. Companies do care about quality of life, to the extent that they want to steal from people whose sweat and tears built it and get it for nothing. So the state will have to find ways to entire them. That is the only way to make affordable housing available, is to make more clustered job centers available that companies will want to swarm to.




25 people like this
Posted by Who will start the recall
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2020 at 6:01 pm

"That is the only way to make affordable housing available, is to make more clustered job centers available that companies will want to swarm to."

Seattle improved things by getting Amazon to look elsewhere for its new hqtrs.

Better than that, we should as a state be investing in a few cities that want to attract a whale and all the little clusters that want to be where the action is.


13 people like this
Posted by Manhattan kansas
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2020 at 6:09 pm

[Post removed.]


62 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 21, 2020 at 6:31 pm

RE: Stephen Levy and others about the ethics of using official letterhead or anything that could be mistaken for official letterhead:

I was president of an organization of roughly 2000 members when I was 25 (over 4 decades ago). It was uncontroversial that letterhead was to be used only for official statements with rules and procedures for confirming authorization for the statement and its wording. I have been an officer of various organizations since and they have all had similar rules. In one (civic) organization, an officer was removed after several unauthorized uses of letterhead.

I find it surprising that Fine -- in this mid-30s -- would know what was already ingrained in me at 25.
I expect that Levy also knows these standards, but prioritized politics.


54 people like this
Posted by ralphc
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Jan 21, 2020 at 10:41 pm

I find the following in Fine's letter, written as Mayor most disturbing --
"I care more about having young and old families living near each other [they already do] than I care about parking or traffic. I care more about providing immigrants and newcomers access to great schools and jobs than I do about density limits. I care more about solving the climate crisis than I do about local control."
That's gives me an understanding of our Mayor's personal point of view about his role.


12 people like this
Posted by pmarca
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 21, 2020 at 11:28 pm

It's kind of funny to see how NIMBY's react to someone expressing their view in favor of solving a crisis.

Mayor Adrian Fine should be commended.

[Portion removed.]


55 people like this
Posted by Evan
a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2020 at 9:47 am

It's kind of sad to read the YIMBY's and Stephen Levy's claim that Fine's fraudulent letter using a botched up logo and misrepresenting the council and city of Palo Alto is commendable.

[Portion removed.]


48 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2020 at 10:19 am

Posted by pmarca, a resident of Stanford

>> It's kind of funny to see how NIMBY's react to someone expressing their view in favor of solving a crisis.

So, someone wants to "solve a crisis"? Then, stop building office space here. That is creating the crisis.


4 people like this
Posted by Gina Dalma
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2020 at 10:20 am

Our City has year after year missed its obligations to produce sufficient homes for our existing and growing community members. SB 50 is a state policy that will encourage us to do the right thing. Fully support it. I am also proud of a Mayor that has the courage to do the same. BTW, let's not comment anonymously. We are a community.


37 people like this
Posted by Ur an Useful Idiot
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 22, 2020 at 10:39 am


"Our City has year after year missed its obligations to produce sufficient homes for our existing and growing community members."

@Gina Dalma - and so therefore, in your ethic circle, Adrian Fine can mislead the general public.

Got it Gina Dalma. Stay in the lane of conversation and don't divert from what it is about.


46 people like this
Posted by Woke
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 22, 2020 at 11:12 am

Interesting how not one pro-SB50 commenter has responded to my question so I’ll ask it again. After reading following, please refute or explain how SB50 will benefit those in need?

Web Link

You can’t because it won’t. It’s a power grab by politicians and developers, pure and simple. It IS NOT RIGHT. Stop being swayed by the mis-information from politicians and WAKE UP.


29 people like this
Posted by Fine Must Go!
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2020 at 12:14 pm

Start the recall immediately please! That letter is completely inappropriate and an abuse of his title. How dare he pretend it is the council's view. That shows more about his character than anything else- [portion removed.]


48 people like this
Posted by Helyn MacLean
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 22, 2020 at 1:43 pm

@Gina. If you deplore anonymous comments, why do you like Palo Alto YIMBY’s anonymous posts on Twitter? You have liked both his description of Eric Filseth’s opinion on SB 50 as that of a “garbage gallery brain” , his allegation that Filseth started his political career by blocking affordable housing for seniors, and his comment that Asher Waldfogel (my husband) “wrangled high dollar donation for NIMBY candidates including Kou. He’s bad y’all…and he’s off the planning commission. “ (See Palo Alto YIMBY December 16 for full tweet).

As for Palo Alto YIMBY, I pointed out to him that Erik Filseth’s 4/17/19 letter which several pro-Fine posters here have mentioned, followed a council vote, was on real letterhead, and cc’ed relevant parties. Web Link course, no response.



11 people like this
Posted by Helyn MacLean
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 22, 2020 at 1:47 pm

Oops. Link: Web Link


32 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 22, 2020 at 9:55 pm

How far in the hole are we on that pipe dream about adding 300 housing units a year? Must be 500-600 by now since that was adopted. As far as I know, none have been added. I do see some hole digging at the VTA site but those units are for a highly paid work force who can afford $3,000/mo studios and won’t own cars. SB 50 won’t help median income much less low income (minimum wage) earners. We need honesty from our mayor and council members. Don’t deceive us voters anymore. One term only is what those who make false (clearly unachievable) campaign promises should get.


5 people like this
Posted by The Truth
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2020 at 10:28 pm

The question is: What did Fine know and when did he know it?

We need a lot more housing, but just not near me. Thanx!

Some people are saying that new housing rents for a lot and that somehow means that it won't lower housing prices. WRONG! It will lower the rents of older housing. Not building more housing essentially subsidizes people who do not upgrade the housing they have. Now, start building. not. near. me!


28 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 22, 2020 at 11:25 pm

Lower the rents of older housing? Have you priced that out recently?

$14K+ a month for an older 3 bedroom house. Long waiting lists. That's why you've got "hacker hotels" where 6 or 8 guys rent one house, split the rent and take up all the parking.


37 people like this
Posted by Evan
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2020 at 3:47 am

Adrian Fine,Palo Alto Mayor, in his deceitful letter using a botched cut and paste city of Palo Alto letterhead says in an excerpt

"I care more about having young and old families living near each other than I care about parking or traffic. “

Like his mentor and enabler, Liz Kniss, who has been a denier of traffic congestion, Adrian Fine, drives 3 different cars.

BTW, young and old families already lives next to each other, so together.



5 people like this
Posted by Yay for Housing
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 23, 2020 at 10:14 am

I appreciate Councilmember Fine's leadership on this issue. Thank you!

I am still trying to figure out what is so horrible about housing near transit. It seems like traffic is the only real concern. Really folks, you can make parking really expensive at garages, prohibit on-street, provide car shares, limit parking spaces, provide commute alternatives (yay for the Palo Alto TMA), etc.

More residents downtown = stronger, vibrant, varied businesses districts; more community members; more community events; more money for services; more density to support transit and bike lanes; in general - a more FUN and ENGAGING city for all ages and abilities.

I live downtown and I can count on one hand the number of times in the last 10 years I have driven to access local services. I walk or bike to coffee, cocktails, dinner, Whole Foods, to run errands. It is a sheer joy and walking and biking keeps me healthy and happy. Others would experience the same if we put hundreds (I'd even support thousands) of units around our two beloved Caltrain stations.

We will not all be able to drive everywhere all the time. With any luck, we will all be in our 80s (possibly unable/unwilling to drive) and wouldn't a 1 or 2 bedroom condo downtown near transit, services, family, and friends be amazing!

Dense housing near transit suits all our interests in the long run, young and old. Keep that in mind before we say housing is horrible, remember all the great stuff too!


36 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 23, 2020 at 10:49 am

@Yay for Housing
Housing near transit is a good thing. The city has already significantly increased density and reduced parking requirements for housing near transit, including along the El Camino corridor. They are now looking at other zoning tweaks to incentivize housing in those areas.
One of the key reasons that we are not seeing such new projects being proposed is that the city council majority voted to continue to allow more valuable office development on those same properties. An indication of the importance of eliminating that option is what happened at the former VTA lot at Page Mill and El Camino which is the only significant market rate housing project under development. A developer bought what was formerly PF zoned land, assuming they could get it rezoned to CS which allows offices. The city council turned down that proposal and made clear they would only support a zone change to housing. The property was then resold and a housing project came forward.
The biggest problem with SB50 was that it required very high density housing, with zero parking requirements, in the middle of single family neighborhoods that also happen to be within a quarter or half mile of transit in PA. Also, most of those 4-5 story appartment buildings would not require any affordable housing at all. SB50 supporters have done a strong job of portraying the bill as just requiring denser housing near transit and claiming it would support low income housing. Unfortunately, both of those claims are untrue.


30 people like this
Posted by Who will start the recall
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2020 at 11:14 am

@Yay,

"I am still trying to figure out what is so horrible about housing near transit. It seems like traffic is the only real concern."

If you have to resort to such deceptive and false devices to push SB50, then it's too flawed to deserve any more attention.

What's wrong with unicorns? What's so horrible about cats? It seems like unicorn poop is the only real concern. You're deceptively ignoring that the concerns people express have nothing to do with unicorns or cats at all.

What's wrong with having a family reunion? What's so horrible about seeing your family? Nothing, usually. But if your family reunion has to involve bulldozing the lives and livelihoods of a family that worked for decades to scrabble a roof over there heads there, there is something wrong with it.

The problem with SB50 is that it is a bulldozer that will NOT result in any of the false promises, but will actually enable developers to do the opposite. Every time large numbers of low- and middle-income Palo Altans have been pushed out of their homes, or a developer tried to push them out, or is currently trying to push them out, it has been with false talk about density to bring down costs, along with destroying zoning. Developers stand to make a lot of money from the Manhattanization (or San Franciscanization) of an already desirable place. History shows and is showing that this is especially hard on, not beneficial for, affordable housing. History shows that it results in displacements, as is already happening.

There's nothing wrong with dense housing near transit -- there are many places all over the state where you don't have to displace people and bulldoze what's there to have at it, build to your heart's content. There are many places where there is existing transit and affordable housing and the new housing would be welcomed, along with the JOBS and the job center that companies moving there would help create.

If you really wanted everyone to benefit, you would be pushing for that, not revving your bulldozer and crowing about how great YOUR life is while you are trying to destroy others who are not you.

Adrian Fine is not a housing advocate. Every time he has had a chance, he's come out against Palo Altans who were being displaced. He's for taking over Palo Alto for the short-term, short-sighted, selfish benefit of the companies he works for, who could take a lot from our town and give nothing but pressure for more destruction back.

SB50 is going to make the Democratic party in California seems as corrupt as Republicans. We need to be having conversations about how to develop parts of California that would benefit from becoming another job center or two, and we need to be having conversations about how to help people in traditionally low-wage work in this area (which expensive even during down cycles when there are lots of housing VACANCIES). What we don't need is a false trojan horse that will do the opposite of what it promises, and ultimately make people cynical about any attempts to address housing affordability.


34 people like this
Posted by Who will start the recall
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2020 at 11:31 am

Well, although if you really want an answer about what's wrong with dense housing near transit, we should be talking reality. We already have dense housing near transit in Palo Alto. Have you been to San Mateo lately? San Francisco?

What you're saying is, what's wrong with bulldozing people's lives to build a denser high-rise city?

Well, for one, in an area prone to earthquake, post-earthquake fires, and fires, where emergency professionals have already deemed our area dense enough to result in inevitable loss of life related to that density (here in Palo Alto), and related to the density and high-rise construction (San Francisco), it's time to say we're dense enough for the infrastructure, and consider how to improve a few more places in the state to increase the number of job centers.

Another problem is that metropolis-level density, which is what you are pushing (because we already have density) comes with a lot of other problems baked in, like a certain level of crime, cost to the wellbeing of residents, and in these tech clustering economies, an unprecedented loss of opportunity for people in traditionally lower-wage jobs.

We have too many tech job creators locally. With luck, they will continue to grow. I wish them well. But they cannot all continue to grow here safely, they must move to where they can grow -- move together if that's what floats their boats, and create that high-density utopia where they go.

I've heard excuses like they just want to be where the action is, they just want to be together, etc etc. They can do that anywhere. But they won't, because they also want to take away the quality of life for free, that hundreds of thousands of people built from considerable sacrifice, investment, and lives. So we much make the public investments in other places, while also dramatically raising taxes on the companies until the pay the actual burden they have placed on localities, including to reverse the conditions they have caused resulting in displacements of residents and small businesses.

Hong Kong became the metropolis it is today on exactly the same arguments being used today, that didn't result in any of the promised benefits of density. They just became a very expensive dense place with all the gritty baked-in soullessness and problems of metropolises. But they are an island, we are not. We have cities in the state that want the jobs.

Address the demand side which is the CAUSE of all the ills.


36 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 23, 2020 at 11:45 am

I know it's gospel to preach "housing close to transit" but with gridlock such a major concern to most except Mr. Fine and Ms. Kniss, replacing the transit parking lots with housing seems counter-productive if you want people to take public transit. That's going to happen at the Millbrae BART station.

I agree with the previous poster that it's high time to cut the demand side which is the CAUSE of all this -- the massive tech expansion that keeps pushing up housing prices and increasing congestion.



19 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 23, 2020 at 1:59 pm

Thanks Pat Burt for serving us well on council and as mayor, and for still being concerned about our city and speaking up on this issue in our best interests. I have been in favor of affordable housing for very low, low, and median income people, for a long time, but within the restraints of zoning. Those people are left out of the VTA site development and I suspect they will also be left out of any future housing projects, even those that would be built under the SB 50 plan. I posted several years ago, when Cory Wolbach was on council, that I even favored raising the height limit in the transit hub areas for housing projects if viewability/visibility of the foothills and other existing skyline features could be preserved, and as long that the project would not cast early shadows on existing living units. That would require a study of how many areas are available to meet those requirements. I suspect there would be very few, but why are some of our citizens living in high priced neighborhoods immune from those prospective conditions. Liz will never have to worry about those, even tho she might vote for them to be imposed on others. I questioned at the time, and still do, how it can be made affordable for those at the bottom of the income scale. I suggested a survey be taken of the rail/bus and car commuters to determine how many would live in PA rather than commuting the way they were currently if affordable housing was made available, and to get their input of what affordable meant to them. Micro units were being pushed at that time. I've always questioned how many people would live in them. Most apartment developments are designed for singles or couples, but not families. I suggested that any apartments built should be designed to have flexible, moveable walls and partitions so they could be converted to the needs at the time. Nobody ever responded to my hair brained idea.

Now my admission. I voted for Adrian Fine (also Eric and Tom) based on a meeting at the Wolbach's home to introduce the Democratic Party supported candidates for the election of 2016.

I watch council meetings on Channel 26. Now we have Mayor Fine. I am disturbed by his usage of his fake PA stationery to push his point of view at the state level, but I'm more disturbed by his position on housing and his support of SB 50. If he thinks his position is a powerful one then let's just watch and wait to see how much progress will be made on housing for those at the bottom of the income scale while he sits in the mayor's chair. I'm not currently in favor of recall, but for sure, let's judge him critically on his performance this year and especially what miracle he can perform on housing. If we detect anything related to more affordable housing on his 2020 campaign ads, don't believe them, and don't re-elect him to council.


8 people like this
Posted by Manhattan Kansas
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2020 at 3:43 pm

Today's Daily Post has article explaining the whole letter head issue. It really is the city letterhead and was due to a transfer from Word to Google docs. [Portion removed.]


33 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 23, 2020 at 4:24 pm

[Portion removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]

Before you dump on me and/or Gale Johnson above, THOUSANDS of residents evidently feel the same way based on resident satisfaction surveys, attendance at the SB50 meetings, the 3,000+ residents who signed the ballot initiative proposal to curb office growth, etc.


41 people like this
Posted by Joyce
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 23, 2020 at 4:26 pm


Adrian Fine did not provide disclaimer in his letter that it is his own opinion.

It is also a very messy letter, looks unprofessional and crappy.


50 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 23, 2020 at 4:36 pm

The only role of a city mayor, and of course a city council member, is to represent the CURRENT residents of their city. Their only role is to work diligently to improve their quality of life and what it entails:decrease noise and air pollution, keep the city clean and safe, make the city livabl and pleasant.

The role of a mayor is absolutely NOT represent wannabe residents, big tech and land developers. Just like the President of the USA is not supposed to work on behalf of another nation and on behalf of citizens of a foreign country. Imagine how we would feel as Americans if our Presidents works on Russia's behalf. It's just not his/her job, and he/she were elected only to improve the lives of the city residents, no one else.

Adrian Fine seems to think that the only people he should not be working for are the current residents of Palo Alto.


6 people like this
Posted by Manhattan kansas
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2020 at 5:33 pm

[Post removed.]


36 people like this
Posted by Thank you
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 24, 2020 at 10:41 am

Thank you, Mauricio.
Completely agree. This individual is a Trojan horse.
It's been always amusing to hear from those who cannot afford to live in PA: "How dare you the city of Palo Alto not to make it possible for us to live here?"
Well, that sad but that is how it works in capitalism.
I am renting myself BTW. The real estate prices are obscene but that is the result of the out of hand office development supported by Fine and Co.
How can the educated populace of PA not figure that out?


33 people like this
Posted by Another Giveaway
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2020 at 5:03 pm

@Thank You,

Palo Alto residents are suffering from something like battered wife syndrome.

After years of being called racist, fascist, homophobe, misogynist, elitist, etc. many Palo Alto residents have come to identify with their abusers and believe they deserve the abuse meted out by the San Francisco political machine.


17 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 24, 2020 at 10:49 pm

I am noting in the papers that the city of Sunnyvale is changing how their city is set up - from a mayor elected by the city board to a mayor elected by the residents of the city. Since our city keeps getting reported on - the bad and the good - in national papers it is time that the mayor is voted on by the residents.

There has been too much maneuvering going on behind the scenes recently and I am very uncomfortable with 7 people driving this city train and designating a mayor and vice mayor. Under the previous city manager I always thought that he was the driving force but the new city manager comes from San Jose and I get the uncomfortable feeling that he is busy taking direction from the San Jose location.

We keep getting jumbled with the other cities by the Santa Clara county and are losing our individual control and identity. We have a distinct tax base that is unique to our city. MV has their own distinct tax base which is controlled by Google. Likewise SJ has their own unique tax base. There is no benefit to us to get jumbled into other city priorities unless the residents vote on it. I don't trust our current PACC to get grounded in this cities issues. And if they don't then do not figure on using this job to project a bigger political position because you can not get there from here unless you do a good job here.


23 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 25, 2020 at 12:31 am

"Since our city keeps getting reported on - the bad and the good - in national papers it is time that the mayor is voted on by the residents."

Hear, hear!

Remember only 3,000 signatures from PA residents are needed for a ballot initiative -- a number surpassed by the petition drive to curb downtown office growth a few years back. (Some will recall the CC's gamesmanship that prevented that issue from actually going to the voters plus the deceptive telephone surveys on the issue funded by OUR tax dollars.)

But that was then and here we are now with the new mayor making it HIS top priority to "revitalize downtown" while ignoring community sentiment against more office development

Enough already.


20 people like this
Posted by Who will start the recall
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 25, 2020 at 11:53 am

@Resident-1
I agree the mayor should be elected. I also think we should provide a salary to city councilmembers who come from walks of life that make it difficult to afford a full-time volunteer position. We keep getting people who serve their corporations rather than citizens, like Adrian Fine, because they can afford it.

Go read the City Charter. Go look at the new language being adopted by Sunnyvale (if they are a charter city). Think of how it could be adopted to Palo Alto. Take your proposal to a lawfirm that deals with government and make sure your proposal makes sense. Learn how to make a charter amendment to Palo Alto's charter, which is how you would make this change. State law says it has to go to the voters. That's why we end up voting on the term length changes of school board members, it's a charter amendment.

The process is similar to referendum except that it must go to voters. I think it would be successful, but like all of these things, it requires a champion. Expect to be slimed by people like Fine who have a history of falsely sliming his opponents with exactly his own failings (being beholden to developers) and misleading the voters about his actual views. But also expect to have a lot of support.


23 people like this
Posted by Helyn MacLean
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 25, 2020 at 2:15 pm

It seems I have managed to inflame some of Adrian's supporters. I did post under the name "Civil Discourse", then later decided that it was better to use my own name, whatever the blowback. Palo Alto YIMBY (who apparently outed herself), has launched a twitter tirade that I really can't describe. So, I will just post a link. Web Link

Twitter’s a whole parallel universe of YIMBY high-fiving, bullying, intimidation and of course lying. Palo Alto Yimby can’t decide whether she’s a prophet or a victim. Whatever she is, she’s a useful foil for Cari Templeton, Gina Dalma, Adrian Fine and the Peninsula Young Dems.


21 people like this
Posted by Another Giveaway
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 25, 2020 at 3:30 pm

Another parallel universe for these YIMBYs is a KZSU program called the "Modern Architect" (didn't Stanford shut down its architecture program 50 years ago?).

I think most Palo Alto residents would be shocked to hear the sophomoric opinions these YIMBYs are willing to express when they think they are shouting into a YIMBY-only echo chamber.

The "Modern Architect" with Tom Dioro
KZSU 91.5fm on Mondays 10:00am-Noon


6 people like this
Posted by Steve Dabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 25, 2020 at 4:03 pm

Adrian's letter will really make no difference. SB50 is being fast tracked in the senate and ultimately will be signed by Gov. Newsmen after the Assembly passes it, with Marc Berman's vote for sure. So the real issue is what will happen then. My guess is that it will be tied up in the courts for awhile with its fuzzy legal terminology (Job rich, Transit rich, etc.) Ultimately it will only be dealt with through a statewide proposition amending the state constitution to recognize local control over local zoning issues. Cities would do well to begin planning and developing support for this option right now.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 25, 2020 at 11:01 pm

Given this environment we need to make sure that the Fry's site is rebuilt with residential towers, each having different size units for pricing purposes. That site meets all of the requirements based on location to check the needed criteria. Good planning for the residential sites will satisfy many of these requirements and show progress on the goals that are being imposed on us. If we can show progress then that will alleviate any other random excuse to tear apart residential areas that would create discombobulated neighborhoods.


20 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 26, 2020 at 7:19 am

@Steve Dabrowski - I understand the logic of using the Fry's location for housing but how does a project such as the one you describe pencil out for Sobrato unless the housing is primarily market rate/high-priced? That is, if Sobrato were to change his mind and decide to pursue a housing development project there.

Time will tell on that. Right now It makes sense for developers to wait to see the outcome of SB50. As is, Palo Alto and places like it are the Mother Lode of real estate development. SB50 will multiply that by some very desirable factor. But only those with very high incomes will be able to lease or purchase most of the housing that could result from SB50, whether that housing is near transit or smack dab in the middle of our neighborhoods, which SB50 proponents have turned into the equivalent of an endangered species.

In so many ways we have no business deliberately growing our population. Doing so is irresponsible and, in some ways, inhumane. As our mayor might say, I know it is impolitic to write that, but reality is what it is. And to paraphrase him further, I care more about not displacing people than I do about providing new high-end housing for those fortunate enough to be able to afford it. And I care more about not creating more homelessness than I do about building pricey housing. And I care more about leveraging the connectivity benefits of technology to create new job centers where housing can reasonably be built than I do about stuffing too much development into already saturated areas so that everyone who desires to be here can be here. And I care more about the existing population's needs than adding new development that only adds to our infrastructure/human services deficits. Just yesterday we saw this headline: PSYCH BEDS, PHARMACY MAY BE CUT.

Who are we kidding? The problems of over-population are upon us. It's time our "leaders" stop overlooking reality and create policy that solves existing problems instead of worsening them.


4 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 26, 2020 at 7:22 am

Correction: I should have written @Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, not @Steve Dabrowski.


29 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 26, 2020 at 8:25 am

Thanks, Annette. Many articles have noted that SB50 does nothing to create affordable or below market rate housing. Even developers like Sobrato admit that "regular" housing "doesn't pencil in" ie isn't profitable.

It would be special if SB50 proponents like the mayor and PAF and ABAG dealt in facts rather than slogans for a change -- that their jobs growth policies have only RAISED housing prices by increasing competition for housing while creating ridiculous and harmful congestion that destroys the quality of life for all.


25 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 26, 2020 at 2:18 pm

Each time a politician or or other self professed "Pro Housing" advocate is at the same time strongly pro commercial growth and anti office development caps, they are actually anti housing. Yes, Steve Levy and Adrian Fine, we are talking about you and your fellow travelers.

Advocating for big tech to bring in more and more employees to Silicon Valley and for developers to keep building more and more office space is akin to someone bragging he is against arson while holding a gasoline soaked rag in one hand while pulling out his lighter with the other.

It is time to point out those hypocrites and shame them, because they are near or at the top of list of those responsible for the insane housing prices.


2 people like this
Posted by SB50 = Affordable Housing
a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2020 at 2:28 pm

Please stop with the misinformation. SB50 does do something to create affordable housing. There are requirements to provide on-site units and, of course, any multifamily unit created in Palo Alto is automatically more affordable than the single family home status quo, which is: $1.4 million for a 700 square foot cottage with no parking (see link below).

As for housing "not penciling" that's probably more related to the unpredictable plan review processes driven by attitudes on full display in this forum. For those not familiar, the "Palo Alto Process" for new housing is a "discretionary" process, meaning that new design criteria can be invented on the fly, leading to countless meetings, favoring the privileged few who have the resources, and time, to participate in a process. These people are usually the most die-hard opponents. People who need housing are too busy trying to work (or stuck in long commutes). Most communities adopt zoning rules, then new buildings must simply follow the rules.

The City is no longer acting in the greater public interest and State intervention is overdue. Whether through SB50 or another act, zoning reform is coming to Palo Alto. There will be taller buildings around the Caltrain stations that will be approved based on reasonable, consistent regulations, free of busybody extortion.

SB 50 Project Size and BMR Housing Requirements:
21–200 units: 15% lower income; or 8% very low income; or 6% extremely low income
201–350 units: 17% lower income; or 10% very low income; or 8% extremely low income
351 or more units: 25% lower income; or 15% very low income; or 11% extremely low income
Source: Web Link

Current State of Palo Alto housing: $1.4 million cottage:
Web Link


31 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 26, 2020 at 3:26 pm

Housing complexes with fewer than 11 unist don't have to provide ANY affordable units, forget about BMR units.

"351 or more units: 25% lower income; or 15% very low income; or 11% extremely low income

Using your figures above, at least 75% would be market rate housing in the biggest complexes and lower in smaller complexes, still displacing lower-income people and increasing gentrification.

So all SB50 does is create lots more under-parked market rate aka luxury housing that won't keep pace with jobs growth. Lather, rinse repeat.


27 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 26, 2020 at 6:01 pm

How about some rough* numbers to put SB50's affordable-housing promises in context? TL;DR: SB50 always falls short at the "extremely low" and "very low" income levels, and helps the "low" income level only if all projects are very large and choose not to build housing for the two lowest levels.

Here are the 2019 state-standard income limits for Santa Clara County and the percentage of households in those categories, plus the range (actual value depends on project size) of requirements from SB50:

Extremely Low: Limit $43900. SCC: 22.5%. SB50: 6%-11%

Very Low: Limit $73150. SCC: 14.8%. SB50: 8%-15%

Low: Limit $103900. SCC: 13.7%. SB50: 15%-25%

In Santa Clara County, SB50 falls way short for extremely low income households and consistently short for very low income households. If the projects are big enough (more than 350 units) *AND* the allocation isn't used for the two lower income levels, it improves things for low income households; otherwise it doesn't help. And of course, for smaller projects, there is no requirement, so it falls short at every level.

That's why the households in a future world built to SB50 standards would have less income diversity than the households of today.

Displacement is a lot more complicated; it depends on how much housing is built, how much and what kind of housing is replaced, and how much hiring is done by the tech companies. I'll pass on that question for now.

* I had to estimate the SCC household percentages from graphs, so these are only good enough to give you a general idea.

References: Web Link, Web Link


17 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 27, 2020 at 8:03 am

Allen Akin, thanks for the above post. Good to see some facts inserted into this discussion for a change.

I wonder how many complexes have more than 351 units and how many big complexes are anticipated for Palo Alto. That sounds like a huge number so PA's percentage of "affordable" and BMR units would be even lower


11 people like this
Posted by @OnlineName
a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2020 at 8:13 am

Also, what are the odds that a 400 units project would be split into two 199 units projects?


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 27, 2020 at 10:39 am

Relative to the Fry's site the state is now providing funds for housing. The Gov is trying to make that happen. Sobrato has enough legal help to figure out how to capitalize on the state funding. Or sell the site to the city so the city can hire someone else to do the job. If they can sell the site they can get some tax advantages in the mix that benefits them. This is not hard to do. Go up to RWC - next to the shopping center on El Camino is a whole set of blocks with new buildings, including a SU building. Everyone else has figured out how to do this. It is not a matter of penciling it out if there is a tax angle that can be applied for meeting a state requirement.


15 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 27, 2020 at 3:14 pm

Just like to add here that having a large piece of property on a major location in the city that has no businesses is not penciling out. They probably have a ridiculously low property tax because they have owned it so long. But they still have insurance liability and other costs. And they need approval for any change they make from the city planning department.

Why is it that we used to have a strong city hall and now people throw their hands up and say any one can do anything they want. The city should be exercising control over what is developed on that site. If the city can kick people out of their homes then the city should be able to control what is built there. The city can take the site by eminent domain with the reason that the site is needed to need the state's requirements.


10 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 27, 2020 at 8:34 pm

I'd advise the councilmembers to step back, cool off, and look at this teapot tempest objectively.

1) Fine's letter will have no impact at all. It is one of many many, and it aligns with what the 50 Gang plans to do anyway,

2) Fine has no real authority anyway. He's just the hood ornament on the City Manager's limo


23 people like this
Posted by Useful Idiots to the developers
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 29, 2020 at 3:47 pm


I thinks Adrian Fine publicized his letter to Weiner in support of SB 50 and now published in the Mercury is to ensure Weiner's donors and the real estate speculators will:

- line up campaign contributions for Fine's re-election campaign, or
- gets the independent expenditure committees to get ready to attack Kou, or
- set himself up for a new job with a position to do public and community relations or maybe with his planning degree and work mostly in theory, as evidenced by his advocacy for doing the same failure thing over and over again. Maybe he's hoping for a job offering by Elon Musk for transportation innovation or Facebook/Google might hire him for planning with innovative ideas.



8 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 30, 2020 at 10:32 am

Yes - Mr. Fine has an opinion piece in the SJM which I assume is the contents of the letter. It is filled with the "I" word. Yes - we are all entitled to an opinion. But the PACC and the residents who are paying the taxes here also have opinions. Yes - there are trade-offs in end results but his decisions will trail him throughout his "political" career. Likewise Mr. Weiner who sponsored the bill will be termed out and then attempt to run for a state-wide position. His positions will trail him through his career. The City of SF does not go long with Mr. Weiner - the city from which he comes form - so his political career is questionable. Likewise Mr. Fine's political career is questionable. Mr. Berman is in the Weiner camp. Watch it Mr. Berman.