Foothills Preserve Lawsuit - Survey Results


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.


  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.