“Young guns” out of step with community – Editorial

Palo Alto Matters – May 13, 2017

Councilmembers Wolbach, Tanaka and Fine have stretched their wings as part of the new Council majority with policy proposals that would worsen the city’s jobs/housing imbalance and shift parking and traffic burdens to residents. Along the way, they have employed tactics that sidestep City staff, exclude public input and forego opportunities for compromise, undermining public trust and repeatedly raising widespread and vocal community concern.

Editorial: A council adrift

Palo Alto Weekly – by Palo Alto Weekly editorial board / May 5, 2017

Bizarre and poorly conceived ‘symbolic’ proposals are wasting time and disrespecting the public process

Hundreds protest bait and switch tactics on “granny units”

Palo Alto Matters – April 24, 2017

Last month, in a last minute policy shift, a divided City Council voted to allow the construction of second homes (known as accessory dwelling units or ADUs) on any property in single family neighborhoods, within six feet of side and rear property lines and with no on-site parking or design review requirements.

In doing so, Council rejected a publicly vetted and broadly supported staff recommendation in favor of a final hour proposal that reduces privacy protections and creates additional parking impacts. Most residents, including those objecting to portions of the new ordinance, support more ADUs. But many thought abandoning the compromise recommendation amounted to bait and switch policy-making that invalidated years of public participation.

Facing sustained public outcry, Council reverses course

Palo Alto Matters – March 24, 2017

Moving quickly to assert itself, the new Council majority used a fast-track voting process to limit debate and sideline the Citizen Advisory Committee’s Land Use recommendations – only to retreat after two months of public backlash.

Making amends

Palo Alto Weekly – Editorial / March 24, 2017

Admitting its January “irrationality,” council backtracks on Comp Plan

Faced with a strong backlash from residents across Palo Alto’s political spectrum and angry colleagues who felt disrespected, the City Council majority that had in January abruptly voted to remove the implementing programs from the draft revision to the Comprehensive Plan reversed course with a do-over Monday night.

Complaint prompts state probe of Tanaka’s campaign

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / March 17, 2017

Fair Political Practices Commission launches investigation into whether Palo Alto council member inaccurately reported contributions

The agency that oversees California’s campaign-finance laws has launched an investigation into the campaign finances of Palo Alto City Councilman Greg Tanaka, who reported an influx of cash from developers after winning the election last November and who accepted and later returned $5,000 from a property owner whose project he was set to review.

Amid backlash, city to reconsider decision on Comp Plan

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / March 17, 2017

Citizens committee blasts City Council’s vote to remove programs from land-use guide

Palo Alto officials will revisit on Monday their controversial January decision to strip all programs from the city’s guiding land-use document, the Comprehensive Plan — a move that some characterized as a “formatting” change and others decried as a betrayal of public trust.

State probing Kniss’ campaign contributions

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / March 16, 2017

FPPC launches investigation into whether Palo Alto vice mayor improperly reported her contributions

Prompted by a citizen complaint, the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has launched an investigation into the campaign of Palo Alto Vice Mayor Liz Kniss, whose re-election bid was boosted by a flurry of late contributions from developers and who did not disclose most of these contributions until well after the election.

A different view of the Comp Plan process

The process has stretched out interminably and at a cost far in excess of what anybody could have imagined in 2008,’ former councilman says.

The Weekly’s Feb. 2 editorial (“A reckless majority“) and the sibling guest opinion by Councilman Tom DuBois (“When democracy is hijacked“) take serious issue with the Comprehensive Plan decisions of the City Council majority in response to the recommendations of the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC).

Read on…

City Council makes wise decisions on land use

Recent actions ‘strengthen local participation and democracy’

Last week the Palo Alto City Council reviewed a series of policy and program choices sent to them by the Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) and staff. A Weekly editorial spoke of a “reckless majority.” Councilman Tom DuBois went further in an op-ed using words like “democracy is hijacked” and “massacred our Comprehensive Plan” and referred to his council colleagues as “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”