News

Menlo Park: Planning Commissioner Drew Combs considering second council run

 

Menlo Park planning commissioner, 2014 City Council candidate and current Facebook employee Drew Combs has informed The Almanac he is "seriously considering" a November run for City Council as a representative of District 2.

This will be the first year for district elections in Menlo Park. Instead of all residents voting from a set of candidates who would represent the city at-large, residents of a particular area of the city will vote on a candidate from that area under the new voting system.


Drew Combs. Michelle Le/The Almanac
District 2 covers the Willows, Flood Triangle and Suburban Park. Combs is not currently a resident of the district -- he said he lives near the Caltrain station -- but if he decides to run, he and his family will move to the district.

Moving to the Willows or Flood Triangle neighborhoods, he said, is something he and his wife have been talking about. They have been "in and out of the market, he said. "This would fast-forward those plans."

"My interest in leaning toward running has taken this into account," he said. "I would be a resident (of the district) when I pull papers."

If Combs decides to run, he will be facing incumbent Kirsten Keith, who is seeking a third term on the council. Combs ran for a council seat in the 2014 at-large election and was 347 votes from unseating third-term incumbent, Councilman Rich Cline.

(Parks & Recreation commissioner and Suburban Park resident Sarah Staley Shenk announced in March she was considering a District 2 council run, but has since decided against it.)

Combs said he has a "great deal of respect" for Keith, but added, "I do think there is value in new blood. … I think things will come up in an election where there will be differences of approach," he said.

"My primary aim is to make sure I am representing the community," he said. "It will be a hyperlocal focus."

As an employee of Facebook, Combs has recused himself from all Planning Commission matters that deal directly with the company. He's also recused himself from matters relating to projects on properties that abut Facebook property. He said he's not "fully recused from everything that happens in the Bayfront area."

His perspective, he said, comes from being a resident of the community for six years, serving on the city's bicycle and planning commissions and being part of a younger family raising kids.

Combs said his time on the Planning Commission has given the public a chance to see how he votes and get to know him better. "I am more of a known commodity," he said. "You can only be a fresh face once. That's not me anymore."

He said he thinks his track record displays pragmatism and balance and that he has encouraged change, including in some cases embracing more development, particularly for mixed-use projects.

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Comments

25 people like this
Posted by Patrick
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jun 18, 2018 at 12:43 pm

Editorial: Questions surround councilwoman's trip to China
Web Link

Questions raised over council members' expense-paid travel
Web Link

Did Councilwoman Keith misrepresent herself in China?
Web Link

What happened in China?
Menlo Park councilwoman's 'vacation' photo raises many questions
Web Link







Like this comment
Posted by move on dot org
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 18, 2018 at 1:15 pm

If Combs is willing to move to run against Keith, he must see Jen Wolosin as unbeatable. If he wants to be electen, he can move to District 1 which has an open seat.


34 people like this
Posted by Thank you Drew!
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 18, 2018 at 1:31 pm

We think Drew Combs can unseat Kirsten Keith and plan to support him. Cut through traffic has become unbearable where we live. The Willows overpass is a complete mess. We plan to support him. Kirsten Keith has had eight years to improve our quality of life and it's only gotten worse near our home. We have had enough.


5 people like this
Posted by move on dot org
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 18, 2018 at 2:24 pm

Combs could move to Palo Alto to join on their no-growth slate. Only Palo Alto can mitigate the endless flow of traffic being dumped onto Willow Road every afternoon.

If Combs has a plan to address traffic congestion, while recused from anything related to Facebook, he should speak up.


35 people like this
Posted by Thank you Drew!
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jun 18, 2018 at 2:34 pm


We don't care that Drew works for Facebook.

I am pretty sure Kirsten Keith has never voted against Facebook anyway.



2 people like this
Posted by Blondie
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 18, 2018 at 3:53 pm

Will Drew be moving to District 2 to run against Keith? I thought he lives in District 3.


3 people like this
Posted by misrepresent
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 18, 2018 at 6:18 pm

"If Combs decides to run, he will be facing incumbent Kirsten Keith..."

Unless this article was written to misrepresent the situation, Combs already lives in District 2.


1 person likes this
Posted by performance
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 18, 2018 at 8:19 pm

In 2014, the Almanac reported, "Although Measure M supporters say [Combs] could be relied on to work toward changes to the specific plan, he told the Almanac that if Measure M fails, he would regard that as the will of the people and an indication of their support for the specific plan (Web Link), and the Daily News reported, "Although he is squarely in the pro-Measure M camp, Combs also proudly counts among his supporters those who oppose the initiative." (Web Link)

In the past four years, did Combs work toward changes to the specific plan, or were his supporters wrong? Maybe it was the Almanac that was wrong (for asking so many questions) and we should instead believe the Daily News.

Combs said his time on the Planning Commission has given the public a chance to see how he votes and get to know him better. We also know the kind of a candidate Combs will be from his previous performance.


4 people like this
Posted by Zorba
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 18, 2018 at 9:25 pm

Zorba is a registered user.

@misrepresent : it’s unclear the article author is aware of the issue. Speaks poorly of our innane district voting system.


30 people like this
Posted by Dang
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 19, 2018 at 12:07 am

Combs moving his family to District 2 to run against Keith demonstrates moxy and commitment.
Gotta love it!


2 people like this
Posted by Reporting 101
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 19, 2018 at 7:53 am

The Almanac site has a filing from the last election (Web Link) that gives Drew's address as Cherry Ave, which is in District 3. If he's moved or is moving to District 2, that would be a pretty relevant point to clarify in this article. What's the deal, Kate?


Like this comment
Posted by move on dot org
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 19, 2018 at 2:01 pm

Update: Combs is not currently a resident of the district -- he said he lives near the Caltrain station -- but if he decides to run, he and his family will move to the district.


8 people like this
Posted by Kate Bradshaw - Almanac Reporter
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 20, 2018 at 11:37 am

Kate Bradshaw - Almanac Reporter is a registered user.

Hi -- I've updated the story to reflect follow-up reporting I did with Mr. Combs after you (readers) raised the extremely salient question about where he lives. Thanks for keeping me on my toes and apologies for not being more clear that the story has been updated.


17 people like this
Posted by Two Term Fan
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2018 at 1:11 pm

Two Term Fan is a registered user.

Drew would make a terrific Council member and I'm delighted that he is considering running against Kirstin Keith. He seems like a person of deep integrity and that's what we need in Menlo Park and in all politicians. Kirstin Keith has had two terms. She's also had multiple ethics lapses or questionable judgment. [Portion removed; the description of the incident involving a cell phone is not accurate; please check the facts before posting.] Now we learn that she's gone on a "personal trip" to China where she wore a Menlo Park name badge (whether it said Mayor or Council Member is immaterial -- either way, she should not have worn it) as part of a formal signing ceremony where clearly the Chinese thought she was important! She has also accepted money for her personal travel that's well beyond the legal guidelines. The MP City Attorney should be looking into this. We need much higher standards in Menlo Park.


Like this comment
Posted by move on dot org
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 20, 2018 at 4:04 pm

@Fan writes, "She has also accepted money for her personal travel that's well beyond the legal guidelines."

If she was speaking, those limits may not apply. This is a question for the FCCP.


11 people like this
Posted by another view
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 21, 2018 at 8:09 am

I supported Drew when he last ran. That won't happen again.
His votes while on the PC have been a disappointment. Since he last ran he got employment at Facebook.

We certainly don't need a surrogate for Facebook on the council. Facebook is nothing more that a fast growing cancer on our community; destroying our quality of life.

We need a complete new council -- all incumbents should not be re-elected and a new City Manager as well.


24 people like this
Posted by Political Spectator
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 21, 2018 at 10:28 am

@another view, right now the only choices are Kirsten Keith or Drew Combs.

I suspect that Keith's biggest supporter(s) will be posting on Town Forum complaining about Drew working for Facebook, etc. to try to take away votes from him while also complaining about Keith to solidify incumbent advantage.

The fact is if Drew works for Facebook he can't vote on Facebook items. That's different than Keith who has never voted against a Facebook project anyway. The election in District 2 will be decided by the quality of life index in District 2 during Keith's tenure on Council. By that metric she will lose. Ask anyone in District 2 if the quality of life in their neighborhood has improved during the last eight years? The answer for the vast majority is no.

Combs is a fantastic candidate in his own right.

It's not that hard.




Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 21, 2018 at 10:55 am

Drew Combs was part of the far left slate promoted by Gail Slocum (Drew Combs, Kristen Duriseti & Kelly Ferguson). I am no big fan of Keith but when compared to Drew Combs she looks pretty darn good.

Combs supported Maasure M which was resoundingly rejected by the voters of Menlo Park. Henry Riggs made the perfect argument against Measure M and by extension Drew Combs “I would really like to think this means that the voters realize that half a dozen people can’t step forward and say that they’re smarter than six years of a community effort to determine what should or should not be built,” . “And, maybe most importantly, as two people told me in the last 48 hours, we shouldn’t have to decide this level of planning. This is what we have elected leaders for.”

We are a Republic not a Democracy. We elect leaders to make the decisions. Drew Combs represents the myopic and anachronistic thinking of Gail Slocum and Jack Morris who tried their hardest to block the building that now houses Kepler's Books and Cafe Barrone.


16 people like this
Posted by Political Spectator
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 21, 2018 at 11:12 am

Who is Gail Slocum and Jack Morris?

Drew Combs served as Chair of the Planning Commission last year.
The Planning Commissioners, including Henry Riggs, voted him into that leadership position.
His record in the last four years hasn't been anti-growth or crazy pro-growth.





6 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 21, 2018 at 12:31 pm

Although the Almanac will probably never investigate it, there have been a few commissioners who have gotten plum (paid) jobs in return for a tacit agreement that they will vote the "right" way. Their employment has been facilitated by a local attorney who works closely with developers.

This is not a knock on Drew, who is truly a nice guy. But this level of corruption in our small city should be exposed, or at least not tolerated.


Like this comment
Posted by best interests
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 21, 2018 at 12:39 pm

If any of Drew's supporters see Keith as an obstacle to their own political ambitions, encouraging Combs to literally pick a fight with Keith is an effective way to damage them both. Combs may need to find a political mentor to advise him and keep his own best interests in mind.


18 people like this
Posted by Political Spectator
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 21, 2018 at 2:04 pm

@bestinterests - your post couching everything in the context of Keith's political ambitions captures what's all wrong about her and her big supporter(s) - they think about everything in context of her political ambition. Time and time again this calculus has sold out the quality of life of Willows residents.

Combs is a breath of fresh air focused on serving the community.

It's time for a change and to put the monkey business behind us and focus on residents and their needs.


1 person likes this
Posted by fresh blood
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 22, 2018 at 1:55 pm

"Dear Editor: As a 15-year resident of Menlo Park, I’m ready for some fresh blood on the city council. In particular, Drew Combs seems like a breath of fresh air badly needed in our highly charged political atmosphere... We need to elect a city council that is dedicated to serving the residents of Menlo Park, not special interests or political opportunists." — Greg Druehl (West Menlo), Daily Post, October 21, 2014

Combs and company are literally crafting talking point by regurgitating letters to the editor from 4 years ago.


10 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 22, 2018 at 2:31 pm

Lots of you are going to be very disappointed. Drew is a well-balanced, sensible, and fair-minded guy who is interested in the growth of Menlo Park, but also wants to fix its problems.

If you're expecting Drew to represent a NIMBY voice or a Village voice as an antithesis to our current Council, he's not your horse. But thankfully he'd make a great Councillor.


11 people like this
Posted by Political Spectator
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 22, 2018 at 2:55 pm

At the end of the day Combs is not Keith.

We have seen what 8 years of Keith has brought in terms of traffic to our neighborhood.


8 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 23, 2018 at 10:14 am

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

Observer: Your comment speaks to a level of corruption in MP that I never considered possible. Clearly, MP needs a Code of Ethics for elected officials and staff in MP, and those serving on our commissions and committees. We also need an Ethics Commission to investigate lapses and a whistleblower hotline. The City of LA's Ethics Commission has excellent resources Web Link and here's a link to an ethics code collection Web Link The "Fighting Small Town Corruption Toolkit from the Columbia Law school also has actionable suggestions and other resources are also online. Web Link I've seen other resources online. The Procedures Manual for Menlo Park City Council references a City Manager Code of Ethics in Appendix D. Unfortunately, Appendix D was not attached so I have written our city clerk for this Code of Ethics and have suggested that it be put in an ethics section at our website


2 people like this
Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jun 24, 2018 at 6:01 pm

Menlo observer: talk to Henry Riggs today. He’s back on the planning Commission and he seems to have rethought much of the city’s overbuilding the town with office. He opposed the General Plan, as well as council member Mueller because the infrastructure for all this growth is missing. BTW the hyperbole is tiresome. Half dozen people supported Measure M? Go look at the election results.

There’s new thinking in town. The traffic sucks. And we haven’t seen the worst of it yet. Wait until the 35,000 Facebook employees fill up the new buildings! Stop hanging on to old grudges.


Like this comment
Posted by conscience
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 25, 2018 at 1:02 pm

For the record, Henry Riggs was not the only Planning Commissioner who did not vote for the General Plan Update...nor did her vote against his. His concern, shared by Commissioner Strehl, was that the GP Update did not include a transportation infrastructure investments that would address traffic concerns resulting from potential development East of 101. The GP Update was sent to the City Council without recommendation...the Planning Commission was at a impasse.


Like this comment
Posted by recused
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 25, 2018 at 7:36 pm

Three commissioners (including Combs) were recused from the planning commission vote on the general plan update (Web Link). If three council members were ever recused from any matter, the city council would be unable to function.


Like this comment
Posted by compelling
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 26, 2018 at 1:06 am

Harry Bims gave a compelling argument for moving ahead with the general plan update, "Performing yet another traffic study will not tell us anything we do not already know about the scale of our traffic problems and the range of options available to us to mitigate them." Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Replace Keith
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 27, 2018 at 6:44 am

Keith and the gang cling to one public comment from Henry Bims on the General Plan vote. Since that time Belle Haven residents have appeared at Council meetings over and over again asking for relief from traffic, just like residents in the Willows. Most recently at the last City Council meeting Rose Bikerstaff, a long time community leader in Belle Haven spoke at public comment about it. It's time to replace Keith with someone who cares about the community more than their own political ambition.


1 person likes this
Posted by amenities
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 27, 2018 at 9:04 am

Belle Haven residents want the amenities the general plan update will deliver so they can do their shopping and banking locally and avoid the afternoon gridlock feeding onto the Dumbarton Bridge. To suggest that Belle Haven residents are now opposed to the general plan update is lunacy.

Facebook has proposed the largest development project in the history of Menlo Park. Is it wise to have more council members that can't participate in the review and decision-making process for all Facebook projects and the associated traffic mitigation measures?


6 people like this
Posted by Mr. Followup
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 28, 2018 at 1:24 pm

The Daily Post reported yesterday that Drew moved into the Flood Triangle area, which is in District 2, and will be running against Kirsten.


Like this comment
Posted by other interesting elements
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 29, 2018 at 1:39 am

It's a violation of the terms to promote or create links to another website, so lets keep the discussion here. There were other interesting elements of an article referenced by @Mr_Followup.

1. Mike Dunn is also running in District 1.

Who is Mike Dunn?

2. Combs wants to make it easier for residents to modify their homes.

This is a powder keg issue. Kelly Fergusson skyrocketed to fame in 2004 by successfully derailing "home building" ordinance 926, which was proposed by the council majority at the time. The years that followed were very contentious for city council.

3. Combs describes the need for the city to host workshops on Willows cut-through traffic.

Willows residents have attended many of these meetings and workshops over the years, some of which have led to recent council action. We have no record of Combs attending these meetings, providing public comment or even writing to the city council inbox. Further, we already have the Transportation Master Plan Oversight and Outreach Committee to address the bigger issue, but Combs may be recused from participating when mitigation relates to Facebook.


4 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 3, 2018 at 9:59 am

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

Here's the link to the Almanac's Terms of Use for the Town Forum. Web Link Adding links to more information, to illustrate one's points, do not violate the terms of use. The prohibition relates to creating posts that are "primarily intended to promote, or create links to another Website." For the record, I consider Drew Combs a thoughtful, intelligent, and ethical person and I'm glad that District 2 voters will have a choice. Let the voters decide who's best to represent them in District 2.


Like this comment
Posted by mpres
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Sep 11, 2018 at 7:58 am

Dear Not So Fast,

Something over 40% of residents supported Measure M. I'd say that's a bit more than a half dozen. Now we all see more clearly what *not* supporting Measure M has done for quality of life in many of our neighborhoods.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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