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My votes for City Council

Original post made by Pat Burt, Community Center, on Nov 3, 2016

Amid the heavy partisanship of our current local election I’d like to share my reasons for supporting Arthur Keller, Liz Kniss, Greer Stone and Don MacDougall for City Council.

Arthur Keller will provide strong planning and transportation expertise, good community values and innovative ideas. Kniss brings deep institutional knowledge and valuable regional relationships. Greer Stone is a smart, thoughtful, young renter and longtime resident who will work to maintain the diversity and livability that we value. Don MacDougall has the experience, vision, skills and intellect to be a leader on the council. Stone and MacDougall are focused on addressing our housing and transportation challenges in ways that will be sustainable for future generations.

Continuing the past two years of more constructive and balanced problem solving on the Council will require thoughtful and forthright leadership. Unfortunately, several leading candidates do not fit that bill. Fine has run a distinctly deceptive campaign that has re-cast his development positions as a Planning Commissioner while blaming generations of longtime residents for our housing needs. He opposed the office cap, limits on commercial PC's, residential permit parking, design compatibility and virtually every position taken by the City Council to moderate the rate of commercial growth and reduce its negative impacts. As a Planning Commissioner, Tanaka has taken similar stances, but has studiously avoided making his current positions clear to the voters during the campaign while exaggerating claims of his accomplishments. The community would benefit from an honest and open debate over competing plans.

As critical as they are, planning and development issues are only a fraction of the job responsibilities of the City Council. We need leaders who will also be effective at fiscal management, providing community services, performing organizational oversight, adopting environmental policy and running of our utilities. That is why I support Keller, Kniss, Stone and MacDougall.

Comments (8)

Posted by TuppenceT
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 4, 2016 at 12:18 am

TuppenceT is a registered user.

Thank you Pat - very helpful.

Posted by Trojan horses
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2016 at 11:15 am

Kniss and MacDougall are the loophole to allow the developers to do their over-building.
And who can give Mr. Burt cover to continue his votes for selected developers.

Kniss together with the other development interests voted for the huge, underparked office building on the corner of Lytton and Alma (as did Burt) and also for 240 Hamilton.
Her soft-talk disguises hard support and votes for development.

Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 6, 2016 at 1:24 pm

@Trojan Horses
Downtown parking is a big issue, but the problem is not those few buildings downtown that have provided substantial on site parking. The 101 Lytton was allowed some reduced parking due to their proximity to the Caltrain and bus stations, as well as their TDM measures. The result is that even though those workers are provided free parking, the garage at that building is underutilized. The same condition exists at 300 Hamilton which is the last fully parked building in the downtown area. It also has lots of empty spaces.
Our city sponsored downtown commute survey showed that nearly half of the office workers downtown drive to work. However, service workers do tend to drive.

Posted by Thank you
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 6, 2016 at 2:25 pm

Thank you is a registered user.

Thank you Mayor Burt. I particularly appreciate your concerned comments re Fine and Tanaka, and wholeheartedly agree with them. We need honest, forthright leadership.

Posted by Trojan horses
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2016 at 3:34 pm

@Pat Burt
You are changing the subject to parking but I was writing about your advocacy for big development supporters like Kniss and MacDougall, and your own support for big developments.

Apropos 101 Lytton, it was your Motion that made it possible for the Chamber of Commerce to get Luxury office space at Below Market rent. You defined the building area so that the description precisely fit the Chamber.
From the 2012 Minutes:

AMENDMENT TO SUBSTITUTE MOTION: Council Member Burt moved, seconded by Vice Mayor Scharff to direct Staff to explore with the Applicant shifting the former subsidized retail area to be designated as subsidized downtown serving non-profit on the ground floor.

Voted for: Burt, Price, Scharff, Shepherd, Yeh

The applicant is proposing to offer this space to rent for either a retail use or non-profit office use for a term of 10 years at 50% of market rents

Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 6, 2016 at 8:28 pm

I only addressed the 101 Alma parking issue because you emphasized it in your posting and because I agree that parking is one of our biggest planning issues.
Anyway, I'm not sure it's most productive for consideration of current candidates to debate the details of a particular project from over four years ago which occurred in a different economy and under different zoning regulations.

Posted by Also no on Kou
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2016 at 1:53 pm

Note that Pat is not recommending voting for Lydia Kou. It's telling that he doesn't even mention her name.

"We need leaders who will also be effective at fiscal management, providing community services, performing organizational oversight, adopting environmental policy and running of our utilities."

Posted by I'm for Kou, Keller, Carl & Stone
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2016 at 2:15 pm

Pat Burt may need to be balanced, can only vote for so many

I'm all for Keller, Kou, Carl & Stone

Yesterday I got this from the Stewart Carl's team

Recent Endorsements
This campaign is pleased to note Diana Diamond’s endorsement of Stewart in her Friday, October 28 opinion piece. Diamond is a long-time resident and columnist with a sharp eye for shoddy thinking. Her comments printed below highlight two of the Top 10 Reasons-for-Stewart (#7 - Challenging Dubious Assumptions and #6 - Ideas, Coherence, and Brevity).

She writes:
"He is quiet and thoughtful, relies on hard data to seek solutions and has new ways to look at issues. For example, he recently said in a video that city officials want to solve the traffic problem by urging people to walk or bike downtown or pushing a transportation management program that has not accomplished much to date. He adds that he cannot buy into the idea that soon everyone will be taking public transportation, which sounds to me like a realistic assessment."

[Select Fri 10/28/16 edition, then Page A20 at ]

Stewart Carl for City Council: The Top 10 Reasons

10. Residents! Residents! Residents!
Two members of our new, yet razor-thin, 5-4, pro-residents council majority are stepping down. Thankfully we have two community-proven candidates running, Arthur Keller and Lydia Kou, both fully deserving of our support.

The addition of Stewart’s clear, direct, and insightful voice lifts all truly resident-oriented candidates. With a 6-3 pro-residents majority, far less time would be spent arguing over direction and substantially more would be focused on productively shaping the changes we so sorely need.

9. No Strings Attached
Stewart is in this race solely to protect and enhance what we value most. He has no ambition for higher office, no commitments to interest or political groups. His decision from Day 1 to voluntarily limit contributions to $250 and raise funds exclusively from Palo Alto residents speaks volumes. Stewart’s core beliefs, dedication to a livable city, integrity, and persona will not change by virtue of his run for, or election to, public office.

8. Sky Posse Palo Alto
Disturbed by increased aircraft noise due to the Federal Aviation Administration's shift to consolidate flight paths and approaches to SFO at lower altitudes, Stewart didn’t gripe, he did something special. He co-founded an organization, conceived the Sky Posse name, helped build it into a Palo Alto group of 1,000, collaborated with satellites in other municipalities, and informed and lobbied our elected leaders. As a result, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo brought in FAA representatives for a meeting with Stewart and other Sky Posse members, and the city allocated $300,000 to study the issue. That’s leadership.
Web Link

7. Challenging Dubious Assumptions
Contrary to the opinions or statements of others in this race, on the council, and within city hall, Stewart states that:
- Redevelopment increases, not decreases, the price of real estate; the best way to control prices is to preserve our existing stock.
- No amount of new housing that is unsubsidized will make a meaningful decrease in housing prices.
- Trains, buses, and bikes will not make a significant dent in the number of car miles travelled.
- Decreasing parking in new projects will not decrease car trips.

Stewart will not be swayed by unproven assumptions or illogical reasoning.

6. Ideas, Coherence, and Brevity
A welcome relief from the long-wind, convoluted, and opaque, Stewart is not only informed, but clear, concise, and cuts straight to the heart of a matter. For example, his background in transportation design and new transportation technologies together with his ability to clearly articulate their relevance to Palo Alto’s future has helped re-frame the transportation debate in this year’s election.

5. Housing Not Warehousing
Jamming a maximum number of small residential units into a busy corner with no open space and limited parking via rezoning is a huge contribution to the developer, but a meager one to the residents who will live there and to the larger community. Stewart believes that every housing development we build should be an enhancement to the residents who live in it as well as to the overall community.

4. Holding the Line
Stewart will uphold the 50-foot height limit. He will not only protect the council’s imposition of a 50,000 square foot annual limit on new office construction, but push to extend it to a complete moratorium until at least our Comprehensive Plan is completed. Stewart will preserve our open space legacy, push to make up our urban parkland deficit, and press for formal dedication of more parks to preclude the whim of any future council from changing them to any other use without a vote of the people.

3. Design and Engineering
Stewart’s background in form, function, utility, and aesthetics is his grounding to force the production of pleasing buildings. He realizes we have the design and architectural talent in this town to properly oversee developments. Stewart will push for experts to be part of this oversight process.

2. Quality Assurance
Consultant’s traffic studies almost never show significant significant impacts, while architectural designs wind up imposing and incompatible with their surroundings. And the same occurs in project after project. Stewart is pushing for sensible and sorely needed analysis after a project is completed. If actual traffic measurements and/or completed design do not meet developer promises, there need to be consequences.

1. Less Office, More Q of L
Stewart’s yard sign not only encapsulates the two key issues issues in this campaign, but also their cause-and-effect relationship. The consequences of unfettered development of regional office space has for some time been overtaking roadways, driving out local small businesses and retail, taxing city services, and eroding our quality of life. Rather than a jobs / housing imbalance, a better pairing is a commercial office / quality of life imbalance.

Those who speak to jobs / housing are decades late to the table, and now live in a world where each new hi-tech worker in 75 square feet of office space space would require 10 times that space in order to be housed. We are in a hole we can not dig out of, but we can stop further erosion and keep Palo Alto a town worth living in as opposed to one primarily driven by the dollar.

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