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Familiar faces to return to City Council Page 3
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PROUD REMEMBRANCES Veterans recall time of service when the world seemed at its end PAGE 21
Eating Out 28
N Arts Youth orchestra offers professional repertoire Page 25 N Sports Stanford football goes with a new QB
N Home Midtown Realty’s Tom Foy looks back
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Local news, information and analysis
Voters bring political veterans back to council Palo Alto race goes to Kniss, Schmid, Burt and Berman by Gennady Sheyner alo Alto voters gave the city’s attorney whose campaign benefited political establishment an en- from a sea of endorsements and conthusiastic vote of confidence tributions from local and state leadon Election Tuesday when they re- ers. Berman beat out financial conelected Pat Burt and Greg Schmid sultant Tim Gray for the fourth seat to the City Council and restored on the council by more than 4,000 former Mayor Liz Kniss to her fa- votes. He received 9,557 votes, commiliar position behind the dais. pared to Gray’s 5,519. Joining the three political veterGray, who loaned $30,000 to his ans will be Marc Berman, a local campaign, ran as the “outsider” can-
didate and did not accept contributions. He received the support of 23 percent of the voters. The only other candidate, concert promoter Mark Weiss, finished in distant sixth place with 4,316 votes (18 percent). Kniss, a former two-time mayor, had the strongest showing with 12,737 votes (54 percent of ballots cast) — the most cast for a council candidate in at least the past five elections.
Schmid came in second with 9,984 votes or 42 percent of the total vote count. Burt and Berman finished in a near dead heat for the final two seats on the nine-member council, with 9,651 and 9,577 votes, respectively. Though this will be Berman’s first elected position in Palo Alto, he is no stranger to local issues. Berman served on the city’s Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Task Force last year and had helped steer the school dis-
trict’s successful bond campaign in 2010. He said Tuesday night that he was “excited” about getting elected to the council and said he expects finances and future developments to take up much of his first year on the council. Kniss, who is about to conclude her final term on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, is a seasoned veteran of local politics, (continued on page 8)
Palo Alto voters strike down marijuana measure More than 60 percent vote against proposal to allow three marijuana dispensaries by Gennady Sheyner
M Veronica Weber
Newly elected Palo Alto school-board member Heidi Emberling (left) shakes hands with a supporter while newly elected Palo Alto City Council member Marc Berman (second from right) looks on during an election party at the Garden Court Hotel Tuesday night, Nov. 6.
With one new member, school board looks ahead Voters back two incumbents, newcomer Heidi Emberling, for board seats by Chris Kenrick
ollowing a hard-fought election for three spots on the Palo Alto Board of Education, newcomer Heidi Emberling, a parent educator, will join two returning incumbents, Melissa Baten Caswell and Camille Townsend, on the dais Tuesday, Dec. 4. The fourth and losing candidate, Google software engineer Ken Dauber, said that despite the loss, he had accomplished several of his goals including ensuring a competitive election and “a serious community conversation about student social-emotional health.” Dauber called the 11,050 votes he received a “strong showing, given that I was running against
two incumbents and another candidate who had been in the race for months with strong backing from many political figures, and that I ran into a very strong negative campaign.” Emberling, who works part time at Parents Place, an organization of Jewish Family & Children’s Services, replaces lawyer and math educator Barbara Klausner, who announced in July she would not seek a second term. She views herself as a consensus builder and, unlike Dauber, did not take strong critical positions during the campaign. A former PTA president at Juana Briones Elementary School, Em-
berling began attending schoolboard meetings on a regular basis two years ago after fellow parents asked her about the controversy over the elementary math textbook Everyday Mathematics. “I’m excited to continue my work for our schools in my new capacity as school-board member,” she said Thursday, Nov. 8. “I’m glad to provide an educator’s perspective as we discuss policies that affect all students. I’m also looking forward to talking with principals, teachers and administrators about their experiences working in our district, their (continued on page 8)
arijuana laws may remain hazy in California but Palo Alto residents made their position clear on Election Day when they stubbed out a proposition that would have allowed up to three pot shops to operate within city borders. Measure C, which sought to legalize three marijuana dispensaries and establish a 4 percent tax on gross receipts from these establishments, went up in smoke Tuesday night with only 38 percent of the voters supporting it and 62 percent opposing it. Of the 21,263 votes cast, 13,252 opposed Measure C and 8,011 supported it. The brainchild of former Ronald Reagan adviser Thomas Gale Moore, the marijuana measure landed on the Palo Alto ballot after proponents of legalizing medical marijuana received more than the required 4,800 signatures to qualify it for the election. The voters’ decision to strike down Measure C illustrates the city’s complex and, at times, almost contradictory views toward legalized marijuana. The majority of local voters supported Proposition 215, a 1996 law that permitted cultivation and distribution of marijuana for medical use. While both the City Council and the school board passed resolutions opposing Measure C, many based their opposition on the measure’s language and the cloudy legal landscape rather than on the drug’s effect. Vice Mayor Greg Scharff, who led the opposition to Measure C, predicted before the results came out that 60 percent of the electorate would vote against it. He was pleased to see the results exceed his expectations. “I’m really pleased that the people
of Palo Alto voted that way,” Scharff said at a political party at the Garden Court Hotel. “It’s good for the community.” Mayor Yiaway Yeh said the vote demonstrates the “thoughtfulness” of Palo Alto voters, who sent a clear message that they are concerned about dispensaries opening in the city. Many have seen the legal problems these facilities have caused elsewhere, he said. “More people are aware of what is going on in other communities (with dispensaries),” Yeh said. Peter Allen, spokesman for the Measure C campaign, said he was not surprised by the result. The decision by Palo Alto’s elected leaders to oppose the measure helped doom it, he speculated. “I’m disappointed with the result, but given the opposition from the City Council and the lack of any organized ‘Yes on C’ campaign, it’s not surprising,” Allen said. The vote gives Palo Alto an effective reprieve from a complex debate that has involved other cities where marijuana shops have been legalized, including Oakland, San Jose and Los Angeles. In recent years, both proponents and opponents of medical marijuana have filed lawsuits to back up their positions, with supporters citing Proposition 215 and opponents consistently noting that marijuana remains illegal under federal law. The state Supreme Court recently considered a case in Long Beach that focuses on whether a state can legalize marijuana without violating the federal Controlled Substances Act but declined to issue a ruling on the issue. The court has also been considering three different (continued on page 12)
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PUBLISHER William S. Johnson EDITORIAL Jocelyn Dong, Editor Carol Blitzer, Associate Editor Keith Peters, Sports Editor Tyler Hanley, Expressâ„˘ and Online Editor Rebecca Wallace, Arts & Entertainment Editor Rick Eymer, Assistant Sports Editor Tom Gibboney, Spectrum Editor Sue Dremann, Chris Kenrick, Gennady Sheyner, Staff Writers Eric Van Susteren, Editorial Assistant, Internship Coordinator Veronica Weber, Staff Photographer Colin Becht, Dale F. Bentson, Peter Canavese, Kit Davey, Iris Harrell, Sheila Himmel, Chad Jones, Karla Kane, Kevin Kirby, Jack McKinnon, Jeanie K. Smith, Susan Tavernetti, Contributors Pierre BienaimĂŠ, Lisa Kellman, Haiy Le, Editorial Interns DESIGN Shannon Corey, Design Director Linda Atilano, Diane Haas, Scott Peterson, Paul Llewellyn, Senior Designers Lili Cao, Rosanna Leung, Designers PRODUCTION Jennifer Lindberg, Production Manager Dorothy Hassett, Blanca Yoc, Sales & Production Coordinators
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I ran to win. Liz Kniss, candidate for Palo Alto City Council, who on Tuesday garnered the most votes of any council candidate in at least the past decade. See story on page 3.
Around Town LESS IS MORE ... One of Palo Altoâ€™s main strategies for helping downtown residents deal with parking shortages is adding more parking facilities. But another strategy, ironically enough, is removing parking spots. The city last year began converting parking spaces at various downtown locations into â€œbike corrals.â€? Each corral is a green zone the size of one car parking space and can accommodate up to 10 bicycles. The city unveiled its first bike corral in spring 2011 near Coupa CafĂŠ on Ramona Street. Since then it added five more and plans to introduce two more near the new Apple Store on University Avenue and one at Lyfe Kitchen on Hamilton Avenue, according to a new report by Chief Transportation Official Jaime Rodriguez. The city sees bike corrals and bike-sharing programs as key components in its broad strategy of easing parking congestion and is offering to install corrals for free upon request, provided adjacent businesses support it. The city also expects to get some information later this year from the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority about a proposed bike-share program, which will bring 100 rental bicycles to Palo Alto. The City Council is scheduled to discuss parking â€” presumably for both cars and bikes â€” at its meeting Tuesday night.
LIEBER TO THE RESCUE ... Former California Assemblywoman Sally Lieber might not have won the State Senate race on Tuesday, but she assumed the role of rescuer on Oct. 30, after she stopped that evening to help a young woman who had been grabbed on the Stanford University campus. Lieber was traveling on campus at about 10:30 p.m. when a woman ran screaming out of the darkness toward her car. The assemblywoman stopped and opened the car door to let the hysterical woman into the passenger seat. As they were driving, the woman pointed out a man who fit the description of a person who had grabbed her while she was jogging. Lieber called 9-1-1, but the distraught woman then jumped from the car and fled. The assemblywoman stuck around and kept in contact with police until they arrived and she was able to explain the situation to the officers. The victim later contacted police to file a report, a Stanford Department of Public Safety spokesman said.
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GUNS AND HASHTAGS ... You wonâ€™t need a badge or a vest to ride along
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with Palo Alto police officers Friday night, just a Twitter account. The Palo Alto Police Department is holding its first-ever â€œvirtual ride-alongâ€? on Friday, Nov. 9, from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. According to the announcement from the department, a public information officer will be riding with a patrol officer during this time and â€œlive-tweeting calls for service, crimes in progress, arrests, vehicle accidents, and anything else that may come up during the course of the officerâ€™s shift.â€? The goal of the activity, according to the departmentâ€™s statement, is to â€œgive our community insight into realities of law enforcement in Palo Alto.â€? All tweets will include the hashtag â€œ#PAPDvraâ€? and can also be tracked by following the departmentâ€™s official Twitter account, @ PaloAltoPolice. Twitter users will also have a chance to ask officers questions during the ride along by attaching #PAPDvra. The department estimates it will send between 50 and 150 tweets during the eight-hour event, depending on the volume of calls and level of public engagement. AS IF BY MAGIC ... When Nicola Keating moved from Cupertino to Los Altos six years ago, she kept all of her important belongings, but lost her six-year-old cat, Magic. The orange tabby had lost his collar in a fight, and Keating had scheduled a veterinarian appointment the day he disappeared. After putting up fliers, talking to locals and canvassing the neighborhood, Keating thought she would never see her cat again. Fast-forward six years to this past Tuesday, Nov. 6. Thatâ€™s when William Warrior, a Palo Alto Animal Control officer, made the call to Keating telling her Magic had reappeared and a microchip identified him. â€œFirst she said, â€˜How have you got my cat?â€™â€? Warrior said. After Warriorâ€™s call, Keating drove over to the shelter and reunited with the tabby she had presumed was dead. The cat arrived at the shelter a little dehydrated and rough around the edges, but without any signs to suggest that it had been living alone on the streets for six years. â€œHe has clearly been cared for ... I donâ€™t know if somebody nearby is mourning an orange cat,â€? Keating said. After six years away, Magic seems to fit right in with the Keating family again, she said. â€œWe are super happy to have him home,â€? she said. Warrior put a video up on YouTube titled â€œMagic Repatriationâ€? for those interested in seeing Magic at the shelter.N
Upfront COMMUNITY COMMUNITY
For those who grieve
Weekly’s Holiday Fund kicks off today
With grant from Holiday Fund, nonprofit Kara helps people cope with loss
Annual fundraiser seeks to raise $350,000 for local nonprofit organizations
by Lisa Kellman hen Michelle Kasper lost her close friend and PTA partner, Ana-Maria Dias, in a car accident last year, she lapsed into a six-month depression that she “couldn’t rise above.” Chuck Merritt, the principal of El Carmelo Elementary School, lost a student in the crash that claimed the lives of Dias, her husband and two children. The Dias family had been the first to greet him as the new principal more than four years ago. “The loss of this family was so important to so many people that the sense of loss just echoed throughout the school,” Merritt said. With many people reeling from the tragedy, local nonprofit Kara lent a helping hand. At El Carmelo Elementary, Kara counselors visited classrooms, set up booths at backto-school night, talked with a girlscout troop that one daughter had been a member of and handed out fliers for anyone who wanted to see counselors in private. “These are people who actually deeply understand the grieving process and know what to do about it,” Merritt said,” Until I started dealing with grief situations and professional studies, I didn’t know that you needed people like this.” Kara, a Palo Alto-based nonprofit, started in 1976 as a hospice organization and eventually transitioned to grief-specific support. It provides therapy to those coping with terminal illness or dealing with the death of a loved one.
by Sue Dremann ach year since 1994, the lisher of the Palo Alto Weekly. Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Grants ranging from $1,000 Fund has helped local non- to $25,000 were awarded to 55 profit organizations serving chil- organizations in 2012. dren and families through generThe holiday fund is a partnerous donations from the Palo Alto ship with Silicon Valley Comcommunity. This year’s fund- munity Foundation. raiser begins on Friday, Nov. 9, The money raised last year inwith a goal of $350,000. cluded an anonymous $100,000 Since its inception, the fund donation from a Palo Alto family has given more than foundation. The gift $3 million in grants was the largest donato local organization ever received by tions. the Holiday Fund. The Holiday Fund Each tax-deductstrives to reach out ible gift that the into corners of the Weekly’s readers community that ofmake is doubled due ten go unnoticed. to matching grants It has supported from local foundaD r e a m C a t c h e r s’ tions, including the tutoring program Packard and Hewlett in expanding a healthy-eating foundations and the Peery and program for low-income Palo Arrillaga family foundations. AdAlto middle school students ministrative costs are absorbed by and groups like Breast Cancer the Weekly, so 100 percent of each Connections in providing free donation goes to the nonprofit orscreening and diagnostic ser- ganizations, which will be chosen vices for low-income, at-risk early next year. women and men. People may donate to this “The donations by residents year’s Holiday Fund online and businesses help foster posi- through www.PaloAltoOnline. tive change to make the Palo Alto com/holidayfund. area a better place for all,” said The campaign runs through Bill Johnson, founder and pub- early January 2013. N
Marizela Maciel, a manager for the nonprofit grief agency Kara, organizes group therapy sessions for Spanish-speaking parents throughout the community. In 2011, Kara helped 1,838 individuals cope with trauma and loss. Thirty percent of them resided in crime-laden, impoverished and frequently grief-stricken communities of East Palo Alto and east Menlo Park, and 70 percent of those were native Spanish speakers. “There is a great need there to support these communities, and we need to speak the language to do that,” Jim Santucci, director of development and operations at Kara, said. Kara struggled to provide services to support these Spanish speakers because of the language barrier. But with the help of a $15,000 grant from the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, Kara hired Marizela Maciel last spring as its program and operations manager, and she has since
worked to open its services to a broader audience. Maciel has worked in the nonprofit sector for 18 years and always wanted to help the Spanish-speaking community, she said. The grant is the first installment of a three-year grant. For the first time in 36 years, Kara, with Maciel, has someone to answer the phone and support English and Spanish speakers alike and make sure that each speaker is offered the same kind of counseling. “It’s a valuable service that, from a cultural perspective. A lot of people don’t understand that there are resources out there that deal with grief and help you move forward,” Maciel said. Kara offers one-on-one peer counseling, peer support groups,
community outreach and education, end-of-life therapy and clinical group therapy for those who face additional complications. All of these services, except for the clini-
cal therapy, are free. While it has no Spanish peer support groups, Kara now has literature (continued on page 12)
Five people arrested as local police clamp down on burglaries Los Altos police arrest two women Oct. 29 while Palo Alto officers arrest three men Oct. 30 by Palo Alto Weekly staff
ive people believed to be responsible for as many as 18 residential burglaries have been arrested since Oct. 29 in two separate cases, Palo Alto and Los Altos police have reported. In the first case, two East Palo Alto women were arrested Oct. 29 by Los Altos police and have been connected to 15 residential burglaries across three counties, including four in Palo Alto, according to police. Ana Lauese, 35, and Malinda Ladson, 33, were arrested for residential burglary, possession of stolen property and possession of a controlled substance after an officer noticed one of the women sitting in a vehicle parked in the 600 block of Almond Avenue at approximately 2 p.m., Los Altos police stated in a press release. The woman gave a false name to the officer and “exhibited suspicious
Malinda Ladson (left) and Ana Lauese were arrested Oct. 29 and have been linked to 15 residential burglaries across three counties, according to police. Courtesy Los Altos Police Department behavior,” according to police. The other woman was found nearby on Higgins Avenue and “had a different account of her reason for being in the neighborhood.” A search of Ladson’s vehicle turned up jewelry that had been stolen earlier in the day
(From left) Bulmaro Sanchez, Jose Angel Jimenez and Carlos Bribiesca-Martinez were arrested Oct. 30 and have been connected to at least three residential burglaries in Palo Alto, police say. Courtesy Palo Alto Police Department
from a home in the 2300 block of St. Francis Drive in Palo Alto, police said. Suspected methamphetamine was also found in the vehicle. “The suspects pried open a locked sliding door to gain entry to the home,” according to police. A
follow-up investigation by Palo Alto police connected Lauese and Ladson to three more residential burglaries in the city this year, and detectives will pursue charges against them for those burglaries, police said. Lauese and Ladson are thought to
be responsible for a June 29 burglary in the 1500 block of Mariposa Avenue, an Aug. 21 burglary in the 800 block of Gailen Avenue and a Sept. 7 burglary in the 600 block of East Meadow Drive, police said. Stolen property was found in a search of the suspects’ residence in the 1900 block of Pulgas Avenue in East Palo Alto, Los Altos police stated in the release. Lauese was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose on charges of residential burglary, possession of stolen property and providing false information to a peace officer. She is being held without bail. Ladson was booked for residential burglary, possession of stolen property and possession of a controlled substance. She is being held on $150,000 bail, police said. (continued on page 14)
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Upfront ELECTION 2012
Hill cruises to victory in state Senate race San Mateo County Assemblyman defeats Sally Lieber in bid to represent Peninsula erry Hill continued his climb up California’s political ladder Tuesday night when he convincingly defeated Sally Lieber in the race to represent the Peninsula in the State Senate. Hill garnered 157,790 votes, or 67 percent, more than double his challenger’s 78,045 votes, according to election-night counts. Hill, a former San Mateo County supervisor who has been serving in the State Assembly since 2008, cruised to victory despite fierce opposition from Lieber, a former Assemblywoman whose campaign focused on education and the environment. The Mountain View resident had hoped that grassroots support from northern Santa Clara County would give her the edge despite Hill’s overwhelming advantage in endorsements and campaign funds. Hill had received more than $1 million in contributions this year for his campaign, and his list of supporters includes a laundry list of elected city, county and state officials, including prominent Democrats such as Gov. Jerry Brown and
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. And while most of Lieber’s support came from individuals in her home district, Hill received sizable checks from dozens of unions, trade groups and corporations. Lieber, who raised $260,000 according to campaign-finance records, drew 54 percent of the votes in Santa Clara County, compared to Hill’s 46 percent. But it was Hill’s overwhelming advantage in his home county of San Mateo that sealed the deal and padded his margin of victory. There, he was favored by 73 percent of the voters. The results were far from surprising given Hill’s convincing win in June’s primary election, when he snagged 55 percent of the votes to Lieber’s 22 percent. Lieber, who had portrayed herself throughout the campaign as an underdog and as the more independent candidate, chalked up her underwhelming primary performance to Hill’s huge financial advantage and to her campaign’s decision to reserve most of its spending for the general election. Reached by phone Tuesday night, Lieber told the Weekly that it had
been an honor to run as one of the top two candidates in the race. “I trust in the voters and the decisions of the voters,” she said. “We were outgunned 10 to 1 in money, but we weren’t outvoted 10 to 1. I think our ideas gained some traction with the voters.” Lieber said the campaign showed the immense role that independent political contributions play in elections. “One of the big messages of the campaign is the overall dominance of money in politics,” she said. “It’s definitely something that needs to be looked at.” With his Election Night victory, Hill will represent a newly formed district that includes most of San Mateo County and northern Santa Clara County and that stretches from Brisbane in the north to Sunnyvale in the south. Much of the district is currently represented by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, who is concluding his final Senate term this year. The new district includes Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Redwood City, San Mateo, Portola
Eric Van Susteren
by Eric Van Susteren and Gennady Sheyner
Jerry Hill greets supporters in Redwood City after his election as senator of the 13th district of California. Valley, Woodside, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. Hill told the Weekly that Tuesday night’s results were “an opportunity to re-engage and make major changes. “With success in sustaining our innovation economy, we can provide resources to improve the quality of life for people in the Valley and the Peninsula and protect our natural resources because once we lose those, they’re gone for good,” he said. Hill, who referred to himself in his acceptance speech as an amateur
magician, said it had been a “magic” campaign, mentioning the fortuitous redistricting, generous donations and support from volunteers as boons to his campaign. Quoting American poet Carl Sandberg, Hill said, “Every politician needs three hats: one to throw in the ring, one to talk through and one to pull a rabbit out of. We’re going to make magic in Sacramento for four years.” N Editorial Assistant Eric Van Susteren can be emailed at email@example.com.
Gordon to serve a second term in state Assembly Republican challenger drew 30 percent of votes in newly drawn district
(From left) Sayer Dolan, Theresa Nott, Gabrielle Reyez, Gaelyn Georgia and Cory O’Connor cheer at the Old Pro in downtown Palo Alto as CNN announces the re-election of President Barack Obama Tuesday night, Nov. 6.
Above: Newly elected Palo Alto City Council member Liz Kniss celebrates alongside Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yaeger during an election party at the Garden Court Hotel Tuesday night, Nov. 6. Left: Re-elected Palo Alto school board member Camille Townsend talks to school board candidate Ken Dauber, who was not elected. Page 6ÊUÊ ÛiLiÀÊ]ÊÓä£ÓÊUÊ*>ÊÌÊ7iiÞÊUÊÜÜÜ°*>Ì"i°V
ssemblyman Rich Gordon cruised to an easy victory against Republican challenger Chengzhi “George” Yang. With all precincts reporting Nov. 6, Gordon took 70 percent of the vote to Yang’s 30 percent in the race for newly drawn Assembly District 24. Gordon now represents District 21, which includes Menlo Park, Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley, East Palo Alto, and Palo Alto. But with redistricting, the same area will become part of District 24. The district has been reshaped to encompass areas including Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and most of the San Mateo County coastside from El Granada south. Gordon was first elected to the Assembly two years ago. Before Sacramento, the Menlo Park resident had served on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. Gordon, who chairs the California Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Caucus, had plenty to celebrate Tuesday evening. In addition to his own re-election, he was pleased to see voters in Maine and Maryland legalize gay marriage. In a statement, Gordon also cited the decision by Wisconsin
Rich Gordon voters to elect Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate, where she is now the first openly gay member. “From coast to coast, voters exercised their civic duty and voted with their minds and their hearts,” Gordon wrote. “Unswayed by the torrent of money and spread of misinformation, voters did not bow down to incredible intimidation and pressure to dismantle all the progress we have accomplished so far.” N —Palo Alto Weekly staff
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Upfront Voter turnout in Palo Alto
Percentage of registered voters who cast ballots in Tuesday's general election
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having sat on the council between 1990 and 2000. She served as mayor in 1994 and 1999. Kniss said she had been aggressively campaigning throughout the week, all the way until late Sunday night. “I ran to win,” Kniss told the Weekly at the election-night party at the Garden Court Hotel in downtown Palo Alto. “I ran because I’d like to serve again.” Burt, who is preparing to start his second council term next year, was more subdued as he saw early results come in. He received 40.9 percent of the ballots cast, just ahead of Berman, who received 40.6 percent. “I’m pleased to just have support for the second term,” Burt said shortly after 8 p.m. “The truth is, I recognized a while ago that I didn’t have the time to aggressively campaign, with a day job and a night job.” Though the results weren’t surprising, the Tuesday election was remarkable in one respect — it
marked the first time that Palo Alto residents elected their local leaders while also voting for the president. The city decided to make the switch from odd to even years for local elections in 2010 to save money and to spur more interest among the electorate. Voters approved the switch when they approved Measure E. Despite the novelty of having local elections in an even year, Palo Alto’s council elections were in some ways underwhelming. The six-candidate pool was the city’s smallest since 1985 and the only one since 1999 with fewer than 10 candidates. Palo Alto’s last council election, in 2009, attracted 14 candidates, including Gray and Weiss. The results also offered few surprises. Gray has run unsuccessfully twice before, in 2007 and in 2009, and fared no better this year despite an infusion of cash. Weiss, who frequently laments the influence of local developers, ran in 2009 and finished in 13th place, just ahead of panhandler Victor Frost. Despite the defeat, Weiss was cheerful as he mingled at the election party. Finishing sixth is better than finishing
‘I’m glad to provide an educator’s perspective as we discuss policies that affect all students.’ —Heidi Emberling, newly elected school board member new high school graduation requirements, equity in counseling services between the two high schools, and discussions on the future of Cubberley Community Center. The group also will push for quick district-wide adoption of the software tool Schoology, through which teachers can post and monitor student workloads and communicate with families. N Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newly elected Palo Alto City Council member Marc Berman (third from left) stands alongside (from left) former Mayor Peter Drekmeier, Councilwoman Nancy Shepherd, Dan Dykwel, Mayor Yiaway Yeh and Councilman Larry Klein during an election party at the Garden Court Hotel Tuesday night, Nov. 6.
Who Palo Altans voted for (see map, above) City Council candidates’ support as percentage of ballots cast Greg Schmid
Northwest Palo Alto
North Palo Alto
Mid-south Palo Alto
Southeast Palo Alto
Southwest Palo Alto
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ber Wynn Hausser. “Running somebody was a tactic, not a goal. “We want to keep social-emotional health and stress levels of students front and center in discussions, to push for transparency in how the district operates and be a positive force in the community for changes where they need to happen,” Hausser said. In particular, Hausser said, the group will focus on measuring progress on
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thoughts and ideas for innovation in our schools and how the board can best support those efforts.” Tuesday, Nov. 13, will be Klausner’s final board meeting, and she will be honored with a pre-meeting cake-and-punch reception that’s open to the public at school-district headquarters. Emberling will begin her term at the Dec. 4 meeting. In Tuesday’s election results, Caswell led the field, winning 13,719, or 49.6 percent of the ballots cast. She was followed by Townsend, with 13,095, or 47.4 percent. Emberling was third with 11,878, or 43 percent. Dauber trailed Emberling by 828 votes, winning 40 percent. The campaign was hard-fought, and Dauber, despite winning endorsements from a number of current and former elected officials, was viewed as a polarizing figure by others. At the heart of Dauber’s campaign were members of a group he co-founded last year, We Can Do Better Palo Alto. Group members said this week they plan to carry on despite the election loss. “This was never about getting somebody elected. It’s always been about the message,” said We Can Do Better mem-
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13th, he noted. The election results ensure that local council watchers will see plenty of familiar faces next year. Even though Mayor Yiaway Yeh and Councilman Sid Espinosa will conclude their council tenures this year (each declined to seek a second term), the learning curve for their replacements won’t be as steep as it was for the four newcomers who joined the council in 2009. Schmid, who is recovering from a heart surgery that he underwent last month, said he was “delighted” with the election, particularly since he had spent the least amount of campaign funds per vote among the
winning candidates. The political party at the Garden Court Hotel remained in full force until well after the election results were obvious. At about 10:30 p.m., Mayor Yiaway Yeh addressed the crowd and called Tuesday a “special night in Palo Alto.” “In Palo Alto, we’re so fortunate that all candidates can come together to see what the results are,” Yeh said, calling these gatherings the city’s “special tradition.” Minutes after Yeh’s address, the crowd of about 50 turned its attention to the TV screen, where President Barack Obama was giving his victory speech. N
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Pedestrians stroll past restaurants, offices and shops on Emerson Street in downtown Palo Alto Nov. 7. The Palo Alto City Council has directed city staff to come up with zoning changes that would protect the retail character of the block. so there is an economic incentive to create or transform retail into commercial space.â€? The council agreed that the vibrant Emerson block, which includes Gordon Biersch, Mantra, Empire Grill and Tap Room, Buca de Beppo, Stanford Florist and Richard Sumner Gallery, should be a priority. â€œWe need to move forward and protect that corridor fairly quickly,â€? Scharff said. â€œOnce you lose and break those retail connections, you donâ€™t get them back,â€? he later added. â€œThis is not something we can take a waitand-see attitude (toward). Weâ€™ve lost a few restaurants.â€? Holman agreed and called the Emerson block a â€œvery important corridorâ€? and a key connector between the heart of downtown and the mixed-use downtown neighborhood known as SOFA 2 (South of Forest Avenue). Scharff and Councilman Pat Burt proposed consideration of broader changes, including revisions to the ground-floor overlay district and to the regulations for non-conforming uses in the district. Scharff said itâ€™s important to look at â€œthe flow of retailâ€? downtown. Retail, he said, works best when â€œitâ€™s not broken up by non-retail use,â€? he said. Burt agreed that the time is ripe to revisit the councilâ€™s 2009 decision to change the downtown zoning. â€œA couple of years have passed, and quite clearly the incentives are there,â€? Burt said. â€œFor public benefit, it makes sense to enhance the vitality of the district by protecting ground-floor retail throughout (the district).â€? But the council decided that broader actions would be premature. Councilman Larry Klein said he doesnâ€™t see the problem his colleagues are trying to solve. Downtown, he said, is already â€œremarkably vibrant.â€? â€œNot only do I see a lot of people,
I see retail spaces being remodeled that werenâ€™t remodeled before,â€? Klein said. He agreed to support the zoning changes for Emerson Street but urged his colleagues not to pursue the broader retail-protection measures for which Burt, Scharff, Holman and Schmid had advocated. Councilwoman Gail Price said the city needs to look at downtown zoning â€œin a more systematic way.â€? On Nov. 13, the council is scheduled to approve a contract for a â€œdowntown capâ€? study that will evaluate recent and projected downtown developments and consider the areaâ€™s capacity for parking and future projects. Proceeding with these efforts on a â€œpiecemealâ€? basis, Price said, â€œfeels a little premature.â€? Shepherd had a similar concern. She told the Weekly after the meeting that she dissented from the vote because she felt considering groundfloor protection at this time was redundant, given that the city is about to proceed with the downtown development study that would look at similar issues. The council agreed to prioritize protection of the Emerson block and asked staff to return with an estimate of how much work it would take to come up with the broader revisions. Russ Cohen, executive director of the Downtown Business and Professional Association, urged caution and asked the council to consider the â€œunintended consequencesâ€? of new zoning regulations downtown. He said members from his association met with city planners recently to consider the proposed changes and â€œconcluded unanimously that there were no more changes necessary.â€? â€œThis is really too soon to reevaluate the 2009 changes,â€? Cohen said. N Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at gsheyner@ paweekly.com.
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oncerned about a wave of offices replacing downtown shops and restaurants, the Palo Alto City Council signaled its commitment to preserve the areaâ€™s retail character when it directed staff Monday night, Nov. 5, to come up with zoning changes that would protect a particularly vulnerable block. By an 8-1 vote, with Nancy Shepherd dissenting, the council asked staff for a proposal that would keep retail alive on a bustling block of Emerson Street between Hamilton and Forest avenues. The strip is one block south of the cityâ€™s main commercial artery, University Avenue, and falls just outside downtownâ€™s â€œground-floor overlayâ€? district, which requires that the first floor of buildings be used for retail. The council had in 2009 removed the ground-floor protection from some of the peripheral downtown blocks because of the faltering economy and an increase in vacancies. But on Monday, the council agreed that times have changed. Downtown vacancies are once again rare, the local real-estate market is soaring and the city has been weighing several ambitious proposals for office developments downtown, including the recently approved four-story Lytton Gateway building; the four-story office building proposed for 135 Hamilton Ave. (it is currently undergoing a design review), and John Arrillagaâ€™s idea for four office towers and a theater as part of a new â€œarts and innovation districtâ€? on University Avenue near El Camino Real. The trend, and the recent conversion of several downtown retail spaces into offices (including Fraiche Yogurt, the Blue Chalk Cafe and Jungle Copy), has prompted Vice Mayor Greg Scharff, Councilwoman Karen Holman and Councilman Greg Schmid to put forth a memo calling for more retail protection. â€œGiven the changes in the economic climate in Palo Alto and Silicon Valley, particularly recent and proposed substantial increases in downtown office space, the city should examine options to assure a vital retail environment and services to support downtown and the community,â€? the memo stated. Schmid, an economist, pointed to the shifting economic climate and noted that office buildings are far more lucrative for developers than shops. Bob Moss, a land-use watchdog, estimated that while the monthly rent for retail tenants is about $2.50 to $3 per square foot, office rents are $4.50 to $5.50 per square foot. Scharff estimated that the monthly rent for office space downtown could be as high as $7.50 per square foot. Commercial office space, Schmid said, is doing â€œtremendously well,
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