Community Survey – Now Open

COMMUNITY_SURVEY_OPEN_ONLINE.pngThe National Citizens Survey, missed in 2019, has returned as the Nation Community Survey and now coordinated and managed through the City Manager’s office (it used to be coordinated through the City Auditor’s office). Some of you may have received this survey and already submitted it. If you did not receive the survey, you can take the survey online.

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Regional Planning is Out of Whack

Regional planning had gone completely out of whack and essentially their goal, the way I see it, is to ensure cities and counties fail in its housing goals and obstruct cities to plan land use in a practical, realistic, and balanced manner.

MTC/ABAG had previously assigned Palo Alto to build 10,500+ housing units between 2023-2031 (8 years), later ABAG reduces the obligation to 6,058 housing units. This number is unreasonable when compared to the 1,988 housing units allocated between the years 2015-2023. This MTC/ABAG action is purposefully setting up cities and counties fail so that state laws can take over jurisdiction's land use, zoning and permitting process. MTC/ABAG’s action is strategic to cause divisiveness and to pit cities against cities.

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Airplane Noise Update

It has been my pleasure to represent Palo Alto at the Santa Clara/Santa Cruz Counties Airport/Community Roundtable (SCSC RT) and as liaison to the SFO Airport/Community Roundtable (SFO RT) for the last four years to address airplane/craft noise, which has not only has been excessive, but disruptive and has health and environmental impacts. Council Member Greer Stone is the new appointee to the SCSC Roundtable.

I would like to bring you up to date on the discussions:

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Developer Giveaways - BIG TIME

The election has new incoming City Council Members and I am excited to welcome them and am looking forward to collaborating on policies using good governance to benefit Palo Altans. However, before the new Council is sworn in, it is Duck Season – Lame Duck season. It looks like the outgoing majority will try and push through as many irresponsible policies, developments and bad governance as possible.

On the Monday, November 16 City Council meeting, there are several items of interest.

On the Consent Calendar, item no. 7 is the second reading to adopt a revised ordinance that would open Foothills Park to non-residents. Go here for the settlement materials. In my opinion, in choosing to settle, the City of Palo Alto attorney has allowed to stand the lawsuit's claims that Palo Altans are racists and supported segregation.

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Foothills Preserve Lawsuit - Survey Results

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We invited you to respond to our survey on the Foothills Preserve Lawsuit. 

PURPOSE: The results of this survey will be used to inform Councilmember Lydia Kou of resident's opinions and will be made public before the November 2 Council meeting where action on the Foothills Preserve lawsuit will be decided.


INTRODUCTION: On August 3, 2020 the Palo Alto City Council voted 5-2 to:

  1. approve renaming Foothills Park to be a Nature Preserve,
  2. approve a revenue-neutral pilot program to allow a limited number of non-residents to enter the Preserve without needing to be a guest of a Palo Alto resident, and
  3. encourage the next City Council to put forward a ballot measure on the access rules in 2022.

Fifty days later, a small group of individuals filed a lawsuit against Palo Alto to force the immediate removal of the resident + guest restriction. This lawsuit is backed by local chapters of the NAACP and ACLU and a high-power law firm doing pro bono work for the ACLU. On October 19, the City Council voted in closed (confidential) session to settle the lawsuit with the public vote coming on November 2.

RESOURCES: The text of the lawsuit and a blog critiquing it. There is also a blog about settling this lawsuit.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS: A total of 10 questions were presented to the public. There were over 800 respondents to the questionnaire.

A MAJORITY OF RESPONDENTS:

  1. Want the Foothills Preserve to be reserved for Palo Alto residents only.
  2. Want the City of Palo Alto to actively defend itself against the lawsuit.
  3. Do not believe the lawsuit will damage the reputation of the City
  4. Believe the City should protect its democratic decision making process
  5. Believe failure to defend the City will encourage more nuisance lawsuits
  6. Believe the plaintiff's argument of racial discrimination is not valid
  7. Believe that the area in question should be considered a 'nature preserve'
  8. Do not believe the plaintiff's argument of 'free speech' influenced their preference
  9. Are strongly concerned that the Council decision in 'closed session' lacked transparency

The details of the results are provided below.

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Lack of Transparency at City Hall & the Need to Better Utilize Residents' Expertise and Knowledge

Government transparency, or rather the lack of it, has been a major issue in my 2016 and current campaigns. Many residents are concerned that the City Manager and City staff – NOT the City Council – are running Palo Alto. I fully understand your concerns, and often agree with them.   In the past, the City Manager would present Council with his recommendation and one or two alternatives. Now, many times Council receives a single recommendation to which we can make a few modifications before being expected to “rubber-stamp” it.

In endorsing me, the Palo Alto Weekly said "More than others, Kou has been a councilmember for the majority of those residents who don't have connections at City Hall and who feel underrepresented."

Before becoming a Councilmember, I experienced the frustrations and indignities that many other residents have suffered through the years. These experiences led me to run for City Council. I know it is important for a councilmember to have a strong network of residents throughout the City. Residents willing to share their thoughts on what is important and to utilize their knowledge and expertise in helping me address the issues before Council. The North Ventura Community Advisory Panel (NVCAP) and the Expanded Community Advisory Panel (XCAP) – rail crossings – are examples of the expertise and innovative thinking that residents can bring to difficult issues.

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