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Doria Summa, land-use watchdog, eyes council seat

Original post made on Aug 15, 2022

Doria Summa, a long-time neighborhood activist and current vice chair of the Planning and Transportation Commission, appears poised to run for a seat on the City Council.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, August 15, 2022, 10:00 PM

Comments (26)

Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2022 at 11:51 pm

felix is a registered user.

Summa knows boxcars more right now about the issues facing our city, and potential for real solutions, than have “new kids on the block” candidates such as Lisa Forssell and Lythcott-Haims. The knowledge and experience gap is vast.

Summa’s dedication and expertise is evident at every Commission, City Board or committee she’s served on for years in Palo Alto. Lucky us that Doria is running!


Posted by TuppenceT
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 16, 2022 at 12:44 am

TuppenceT is a registered user.

Doria Summa has been a wise and informed voice. On the citizen advisory committee for the comprehensive plan, she fought to retain affordable housing. She is not tempted with production of new rental housing where a one bedroom place costs more than 4000/month.
I hope she runs.


Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2022 at 2:51 am

Citizen is a registered user.

Summa is the most qualified and weighty candidate. I hope she runs.

I hope the bias in development reporting gets a little once over. I don’t think “slow growth” vs “pro growth” is very neutral or accurate.

Being against growth for growth’s sake is not the same as “slow”. But to be fair, if you’re going to say “slow”, the flip side should be “rapid” or “fast” (to balance the reporter’s obvious bias, maybe “cancerous” should occasionally be used to give equal time to the snide…)

Better yet, “smart growth” vs “Laissez faire growth” or “pro unregulated growth” would be the most accurate.


Posted by Mondoman
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 16, 2022 at 4:54 am

Mondoman is a registered user.

It's good to see people with significant expertise in land use issues running for the council.


Posted by Neighborhood Inactivist
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 16, 2022 at 8:34 am

Neighborhood Inactivist is a registered user.

This is great news -- Doria Summa has been a tireless advocate for Palo Alto on numerous committees as well as on the Planning Commission. She has deep knowledge of land use planning issues and is not beholden to outside developers. I hope she runs as well.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 16, 2022 at 10:54 am

Anonymous is a registered user.

Ms Summa's record shows that I should not vote for her. There are too many NIMBYs on the council already.


Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 16, 2022 at 10:59 am

Annette is a registered user.

I also welcome this news. Two things I especially like about Ms. Summa are her dedication and preparation. She is not one to "wing it" and promote an agenda; each issue gets its due.

And she is exactly right about public transportation not being robust. It will be highly beneficial to residents and the City's greenhouse gas reduction plans to have a Council Member who is alert about public transportation issues.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 16, 2022 at 11:13 am

Online Name is a registered user.

I'm thrilled that Ms Summa's running. She's thoughtful-- as could be seen when Tom DuBois recently asked her a question about a project -- and within seconds she was testifying intelligently, clearly and details. Unlike people who reflexively reduce everything to a chasm between Nimby's and Yimby's as Anonymous above does with bothering to look at voting records, she looks at each issue on its own merits.

Re the YIMBY/NIMBY split, A) it's wrong to call the 5 above Nimby's because their votes aren't consistently that way -- just that some of the divisive members like Mr. Fine -- have been replaced and B) we've seen the national coverage of the hypocrisy of the deep-pocketed YIMBY backers in Atherton who got caught playing "NIMBY" rejecting mutli-family housing in THEIR backyards but pushing it yours.

We need intelligent, detail-oriented candidates like Doria who care more about PA issues than meaningless slogans and divisive rhetoric.


Posted by AnnetteG
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 16, 2022 at 11:21 am

AnnetteG is a registered user.

Having Doria as a council member would be a total win for the city. She is super knowledgeable, professional, has been a committed "volunteer" for years. Count me in to support her campaign!


Posted by azr
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 16, 2022 at 11:39 am

azr is a registered user.

It would be hard to find a more deeply thoughtful and dedicated candidate. Commissioner Summa has put in many years in city public service to keep the powers that run the city on track and has the depth of knowledge and ease with facts and history to ensure a steady hand.


Posted by tmp
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 16, 2022 at 1:19 pm

tmp is a registered user.

It would be hard to find a better candidate than Ms. Summa. She has devoted so many years to helping Palo Alto be a better place to live. Her knowledge and expertise and careful analysis of city and government issues are unmatched by any other candidate. She is also polite and thoughtful to all, both a good listener and a careful speaker. Everyone should vote for this caliber of an individual to be part of our city council.


Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 16, 2022 at 1:26 pm

ALB is a registered user.

Doria Summa has acted on behalf of residents by serving on the Planning Commission and previously as president of the board of her neighborhood association. She has put her time and energy into serving the community. She is seasoned and understands complex land use issues. She is thoughful, calm under pressure and professional. Summa does her homework. Palo Alto needs this public servant now more than ever to be elected to city council.


Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 16, 2022 at 1:28 pm

Local Resident is a registered user.

If Doria Summa runs she will be my top choice. That's saying a lot given strong and excellent candidates already in the race like Ed Lauing and Vicky Veneer. Doria is very knowledgeable about how city government runs and can hit the ground running with no learning curve, unlike many of the other candidates running this time. Doria's service on the Planning and Transportation Committee has been outstanding. She will represent residents concerns with an outstanding level of sincerity and dedication.


Posted by Joe in Green Acres
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 16, 2022 at 2:18 pm

Joe in Green Acres is a registered user.

We are fortunate that Doria has decided to run for City Council. We will be incredibly fortunate if she wins a seat in the upcoming election and I hope she will. I will be supporting her candidacy and voting for her without reservation. As Local Resident said above, she will hit the ground running, given the many years of outstanding service that she has given to the City (as has Ed Lauing).

I second the many comments made above with regard to her years of service and how she had comported herself while on the Planning and Transportation Commission. I urge others to seriously consider her candidacy and, having done so, recognize that voting for her will bring to the Council a person with years of thoughtful service and experience in City matters who will be needed as the City and its residents face many challenges in the years ahead.


Posted by mjh
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 16, 2022 at 3:01 pm

mjh is a registered user.

Doria Suma is a council candidate with the experience and knowledge of city issues both big and small that can only be acquired from years of working on behalf of the public and council. As well as understanding how things work within city hall.

A candidate who has a long track record of quiet dedication which has demonstrated a willingness to put in the long hours, advance preparation, and work necessary to be an effective council member and colleague.

As others have observed, a council member who has the background to be an effective council member from the get-go.



























Posted by TMH
a resident of Mayfield
on Aug 16, 2022 at 3:36 pm

TMH is a registered user.

Doria Summa is the best qualified candidate we have running this year. She is truly outstanding in understanding the details of land use and land use management. She knows the Palo Alto codes, works hard in interpreting what they mean and holds City Staff and her fellow Commissioners accountable for their decisions. No one is better prepared to serve on our Council today than Doria Summa. Vote and support Doria!


Posted by TuppenceT
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 16, 2022 at 4:10 pm

TuppenceT is a registered user.

Yes, Summa voted against a zone change that changed public serving zoning to luxury apartments - a huge gift of value to the developers. Did you see what Alta Local charges?
From their website: "ONLY THE FINAL FEW ONE-BEDROOM RESIDENCES ARE AVAILABLE. STARTING AT $3,995"


Posted by mjh
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 16, 2022 at 5:12 pm

mjh is a registered user.

While the developer assured the Planning Commission and Council that they were building more affordable workforce housing and if the zoning was changed and the multiple code violations were waived they would rent all the units for well under $3000 a month. Wink wink.


Posted by rita vrhel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 16, 2022 at 8:23 pm

rita vrhel is a registered user.

Thank you Doria for giving residents the choice to elect an experienced and thoughtful candidate.

Doria is not a NIMBY rather she is a person who is against unequal application of our zoning laws and Ordinances.

Why are these developers getting upgrades to their property instantly worth millions of dollars and not build the type of housing PA desperately needs?

Seems like an even and fair application of our Codes would be applauded.

As much as I respect Gennady, this article contains considerable bias. Doria is not against development, IMO; just favoritism.

Please review Doria's accomplishments and knowledge rather than just newspaper reports.

She has my vote! Thank you


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 16, 2022 at 11:13 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"Why are these developers getting upgrades to their property instantly worth millions of dollars and not build the type of housing PA desperately needs?

Seems like an even and fair application of our Codes would be applauded."

Sure seems like that. Unless some parties prefer to pass on the even and fair application.

Having a watchdog to ensure fairness and to ensure that projects in all their complexities are managed not only fairly but also efficiently and cost-effectively for all concerned.

Doria's got the attention to detail to ensure that.


Posted by mxhr
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 18, 2022 at 2:57 pm

mxhr is a registered user.

I can think of no current candidate who would be a worse choice for City Council. Clearly the PASZ fan base got the early notice to plug their support quick and early for this candidate but those interested in good governance should pay close attention to how this candidate has engaged in her review of important projects before the PTC. She's demonstrated a consistently incoherent approach to opposing every housing opportunity that's been brought before her. The care she takes to articulate support for housing stand in such dramatic contrast to her voting record that it stinks of disingenuousness. This has been our greatest challenge - like so many PASZ supporters who feign support for housing and affordability but then come up with reason after reason for why a specific proposal isn't the right one to address the problem. I remember once watching her argue in opposition to a project that this one project won't solve the problem. As if one project could??? We need candidates with a greater vision of inclusion and a greater capability to compromise for the greater good. We don't need more individuals who will never work with those on the other side of the debate, we don't need more individuals like the Republican leadership of the Senate who will under no circumstances help move the ball forward.


Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2022 at 7:24 pm

resident3 is a registered user.

@mxhr,

The recent business tax mess shows that City Hall rolls over to lobbyists and organizations that don’t care about anything except their own interests.
Relying on gimmicks like surveys to spook, instead of actually working with actual taxpayers to solve the many problems we have, of which cheaper internet bills is not one of.

My vote would be to have an elected Mayor and elected City Attorney, but since we are about to get new ideas, this time I want to know how those stepping up to run have worked with people who still live here or can still afford to live here. This will be more helpful to people who move here in the future who I hope can say we did a good job instead of finding us all only arguing.




Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 20, 2022 at 5:56 am

Annette is a registered user.

@mxhr wrote "we don't need more individuals like the Republican leadership of the Senate who will under no circumstances help move the ball forward."

In the context of the Palo Alto City Council race, and Ms. Summa's candidacy, what does that even mean? Please, let's not conflate what is needed in Palo Alto with what is wrong with national politics.


Posted by mjh
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 21, 2022 at 12:22 pm

mjh is a registered user.

The vituperative phrase "stinks of disingenuousness" used above brings to mind a recent member of the Planning and Transport Commision who appeared unable to refrain from personal and unprofessional language directed at colleagues who disagreed with him.

Who can forget the 5-10 minute tirade conducted from the dias directed at a 90 year old woman sitting in the chamber who had spoken during the public comment segment whose politely expressed opinion he had taken exception too?!

In contrast, I am reminded that Doria Summa has a long track record that demonstrates her ability to stay civil and on point, even under the most trying of circumstances.

Qualifications that the public has a right to have seen demonstrated through a record of previous public service by any serious candidate for council.


Posted by community member
a resident of University South
on Aug 29, 2022 at 6:29 pm

community member is a registered user.

<<Who can forget the 5-10 minute tirade conducted from the dias directed at a 90 year old woman sitting in the chamber who had spoken during the public comment segment whose politely expressed opinion he had taken exception too?!>>

Ah yes, the unforgettable Michael Alcheck. A real estate attorney a commissioner who got the Planning Dept. to rezone a house he owned on Phillips Road, and he then sold it for $8,000,000 on 4/30/18. Yes,Eight million.


Posted by community member
a resident of University South
on Sep 3, 2022 at 6:15 pm

community member is a registered user.

The point is, that even with such a difficult and irritating colleague, Doria did not lose her composure or her civility,
Not everyone can do that.
She is an excellent person.


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