News

Menlo Park: Yang announces run for Belle Haven's City Council seat

 

George Yang, 42, and a 10-year resident of Menlo Park, has announced his candidacy for Menlo Park's City Council. He lives in the Belle Haven neighborhood and plans to run for the District 1 seat.

Yang works as a system architect at Garm8 Inc., a Santa Clara software company that works on garment manufacturing.

In 2012, Yang ran as a Republican for the state Assembly District 24 seat against incumbent Rich Gordon. He lost, earning 29.6 percent of the vote.

On an old Twitter account, which Yang said he no longer has access to, he identified as a Bay Area conservative, rifle owner and born-again Christian. Those labels are mostly still true, he said – minus the rifles part. He said he got rid of them after his second child was born.

For his campaign, however, he said he "would like to focus (on) solutions that transcend party and ideology."

He said that as an engineer, his mindset is to identify problems and solutions. "I think I want to advocate for those solutions," he said. "Those are things I think I can bring to the table in terms of this election."

Yang previously served as chair of the San Bruno bicycle and pedestrian committee, and is currently a member of the Menlo Park Sister City Committee.

Traffic

In an interview with The Almanac, Yang said that one of the biggest problems in the Belle Haven neighborhood, where he is a homeowner, is traffic.

"At certain hours, it's very difficult to get in and get out," he said. "It's very difficult to get groceries … I can see other families suffering."

Six years ago, he said, his state Assembly race platform included trying to alleviate the region's transportation woes. He said he supports better connections between regional transit agencies; specifically, rail should be expanded northward along U.S. 101 past Moffett Field and across the Dumbarton corridor to create a "comprehensive South Bay loop." He suggested the VTA could be the transit agency to bridge the gap between other agencies' stations, because it is not "reaching (its) full potential" and could benefit from increased ridership. But he said he would want to convene other cities – Palo Alto, Mountain View and Fremont – to develop a clearer plan first.

He sent The Almanac a map laying out this proposed loop. Pictured in orange is the Caltrain line, in purple is the Altamont Corridor Express line, and in yellow is the existing VTA line.

The red line represents his concept for a northward expansion of VTA. He noted that in China, where he is originally from, one strategy to reduce costs is to permit private developers to build offices above the public transit right-of-way.

He emphasized the importance of getting rail service across the bay that connects to other rail lines and expressed concern that early plans to revitalize the Dumbarton rail corridor could be part of a stand-alone project, separate from other transit agencies.

Just connecting the East Bay to Menlo Park won't solve the traffic problem, he said. Plenty of people commute in from the East Bay and travel to other places on the Peninsula or in the South Bay, like Mountain View or Palo Alto.

He acknowledged, however, that such a proposal isn't really in the bailiwick of the City Council. One matter that is, though, is the city's midday shuttle. He said he's taken it and thinks it's underutilized and takes too long.

He suggested that the city work with the private sector to set up a ride-sharing program through town for seniors to run needed errands at off-peak hours. If users schedule their rides in advance, it could also be possible to improve efficiency.

'The elephant in the room'

In District 1, Yang said, Facebook is "the elephant in the room." He said he doesn't have any personal or business ties to the company and that he would be in an "open and neutral" position in negotiating with it.

One concern with Facebook, he said, is the company's proposed "Willow Village." The scale of the company's growth across Willow Road from the Belle Haven neighborhood, he said, will make Willow Road a moat, protecting the new development with an impassable river of traffic. The village, he said, could become a "shining castle on the other side of the river we can't get to."

He said Facebook should develop other mitigations, and suggested a landscaped pedestrian bridge over Willow Road for Belle Haven residents to bypass stoplights on the congested corridor.

Teacher housing

Another problem across the city, he said, is a shortage of housing that teachers can afford. He's the parent of two kids – ages 7 and 11 – and believes education is important, he said.

He has talked with teachers at Mid-Peninsula High School who have to commute an hour or more each way to get to work. If more teachers lived closer to where they work, he said, they might have more time and energy to work with parents, tutor kids and participate in after-school programs.

He wants to encourage the construction of teacher housing by rezoning parts of residential areas in Menlo Park to allow up to four units on residential properties – but only if they are used to provide teacher housing.

He envisions rezoning that would allow up to two two-bedroom apartments and two one-bedroom apartments on properties that now permit only one home, on properties with lot sizes ranging from 6,000 to 7,200 square feet.

As part of that initiative, he said, he'd encourage a competition among architects to come up with a set of pre-approved designs that, if approved, could expedite the city's permitting process.

"We want to have the design that's consistent with the suburban feeling of Menlo Park," he said.

As for his campaign strategy, Yang said he plans to focus more on knocking on doors than spending money "to bash someone or saturate something."

"I just want to be about solutions," he said.

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Comments

7 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 5, 2018 at 4:42 pm

Unfortunately sounds like this is his hope of a stepping stone to state and fed politics. If that's the case his interests won't lie with MP needs but with his political career needs.


8 people like this
Posted by real issues
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 5, 2018 at 8:52 pm

@whatever, no Federal, State or even County elected official has ever come through Menlo Park City Council. This is why Menlo park gets the worst deal when it comes to Federal, State and County funding for parks, housing or transportation infrastructure. Short of some horrific scandal with the Democratic nominee, the GOP candidate in these races has no chance. Fortunately for Yang, the city council race is non-partisan. In this article, Yang addresses real issues that face the city. Other candidates should take note and be prepared to talk about real issues.


11 people like this
Posted by Interesting
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 6, 2018 at 11:36 am

"Unfortunately sounds like this is his hope of a stepping stone to state and fed politics. If that's the case his interests won't lie with MP needs but with his political career needs."

As we've learned from Kirsten Keith.


2 people like this
Posted by pay attention
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 6, 2018 at 1:03 pm

@Interesting, regarding, "stepping stone to state and fed politics," you mean Otaku, not Keith, right?


2 people like this
Posted by Council Watcher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 6, 2018 at 6:55 pm

Why do some people impugn the reasons why people run for council. This cynical view implies that the only reason they are running is that they view it as a stepping stone for higher office. Yes, occasionally some do. But for what reason? Some do it because they want the higher office. Others do it because of political pressure from the minority party to do so because having an unchallenged partisan seat (i.e., State Assembly or State Senate) would be embarrassing.

So, why don't we listen to what Mr. Chang proposes to do for his neighborhood and city before casting aspersions on his character and questioning his motives.


2 people like this
Posted by pay attention
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 6, 2018 at 8:16 pm

@Council_Watcher is right. Yang has proposed real solutions to real issues facing the region.


1 person likes this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 7, 2018 at 12:34 am

Council Watcher
And who is Mr. Chang?


1 person likes this
Posted by open book
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 7, 2018 at 11:20 am

If Yang wanted to be secretive, he he could easily cover his tracks on Twitter.

• twitter:com/combsdrew Web Link Account suspended

• twitter:com/VoteCecilia4M Web Link Account private


Like this comment
Posted by open book
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 7, 2018 at 12:23 pm

correction

• twitter:com/VoteCecilia4MP Web Link Account protected


Like this comment
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 7, 2018 at 12:38 pm

Open Book
Cecilia's Twitter campaign acct is not protected. It doesn't exist as it was closed after the election. Perhaps you need to be a bit more Open to accuracy.


1 person likes this
Posted by Paying attention
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 7, 2018 at 3:54 pm

Kierstin Keith previously ran for county supervisor spot while on MP council. ——- and LOST.

Time for new candidates.


Like this comment
Posted by pay attention
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 7, 2018 at 4:12 pm

@Paying_attention, you are referring to a 2012 primary. Keith was re-elected in 2014, so the voters have already decided that.

In the 2014 city council race, one of the candidates had not registered to vote until after being appointed to a city commission... sad.

Menlo Park voters prefer a candidate with core values and a solid voting record.


Like this comment
Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Jul 7, 2018 at 4:18 pm

Observer is a registered user.

What is George Yang's attendance record on volunteer boards, committees and commissions? My impression is that he is a very busy man and misses quite a few meetings due to time constraints. If so, will that continue if he is elected to the city council? I would hope not, as a 5 member City Council works best when everyone is in attendance.


Like this comment
Posted by pay attention
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 7, 2018 at 4:46 pm

@Observer, Yang is the only current candidate in District 1 to ever apply to or be appointed to a Menlo Park commission or committee.


2 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Jul 7, 2018 at 4:50 pm

Observer is a registered user.

Ever heard of

1- Carolyn Clarke

2- Cecelia Taylor

3- Pamela Jones, and

4- Billy Rae White

to name just a few !


Like this comment
Posted by pay attention
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 7, 2018 at 5:02 pm

@Observer, yes Carolyn Clarke and Billy Ray White served on city commissions, Billy Ray served as mayor of Menlo Park three times, but both are not current candidates. To our knowledge, Pam Jones is not a candidate and her daughter Cecilia has never applied to a Menlo Park commission or committee.


5 people like this
Posted by Pay more attention
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 7, 2018 at 5:18 pm

"I would hope not, as a 5 member City Council works best when everyone is in attendance."

Exactly: That's why Keith and Carlton's junkets are problematic and do a disservice to the public.


Like this comment
Posted by pay attention
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 7, 2018 at 5:58 pm

@Pay_more_attention, please name a single vote where attendance affected the outcome.


Like this comment
Posted by pay attention
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 7, 2018 at 6:32 pm

@Pay_more_attention, incorrectly referres to junkets. If an elected official is paid to make a speech, and the city pays nothing, this is not reportable, and is not a junket. Menlo Park residents are free to act as if this somehow affects then, but showing an impact on the city is a real streach.


3 people like this
Posted by Junkets and more
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jul 8, 2018 at 9:32 am

More to chew on regarding Keith’s junkets and tenure in office.

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by open book
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 8, 2018 at 7:16 pm

@whatever writes, "Cecilia's Twitter campaign acct is not protected. It doesn't exist as it was closed after the election."

Her account exists here: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 8, 2018 at 10:25 pm

Yo Open Book
I went to the first link you listed in you comment for Cecilia. That one is caput. Thanks for the corrected link..


Like this comment
Posted by open book
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 9, 2018 at 12:58 pm

Residents that want to stay up-to-date on these candidates and campaigns should follow them on Twitter.

It looks like the D1 candidates are still getting their website setup or are showing information from a previous election.

George Yang
twitter:com/georgeyang2018 Web Link
www:georgeyang2018:com Web Link

Cecilia Taylor
twitter:com/votececilia4mp Web Link
www:taylor4menlopark:com Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by websites
a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2018 at 1:12 pm

campaign websites mean little in district elections that are the size of menlo park's districts.


2 people like this
Posted by open book
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 9, 2018 at 8:53 pm

@websites, each Menlo Park district is larger than several small towns and cities in San Mateo County: Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley, Brisbane and Colma. Publishing a campaign website will let Yang tell his story... and be spared from the Almanac trolls.

Yang has produced an interesting plan to improve regional traffic flow. If Yang were to publish that information to a website, there could be meaningful discussion about it on Facebook and Twitter. The snarky discussion here has not yet touched on Yang's proposal. This Almanac article opens by throwing shade at Yang for being a Christian and for his choice to proudly express his second amendment rights. Bradshaw could have instead highlighted the bio from his current Twitter page, "Father, Husband, Businessman, Technology Professional, Homeowner, Advocate for Public Safety, Equality, Education and Safe Routes to School." Individual Almanac readers may not agree with all of Yang's views, but at least he put them out there for everyone to see.


5 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 10, 2018 at 9:34 am

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

A few of the exchanges refer to the broader topic of ethics. The April 18, 2018 Almanac editorial "Questions surround councilwoman's trip to China" raised reasonable concerns, asked reasonable questions and gave a reasonable recommendation related to a more explicit travel policy.Web Link I would also like Council to discuss establishing an ethics ordinance, and ethics commission and more extensive ethics training for Council, Staff and those serving on our local commissions and committees. Based on what's been in the news lately, and what others have alluded too in various Town Square posts, MP Council needs to address this matter -- and soon.

The FPPC has laws Web Link that directly pertain to accepting financial gifts and a transparency portal where (among other items) one can search for a Form 700. Web Link The Public Service Ethics Laws document Web Link is also helpful.


Like this comment
Posted by pay attention
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 10, 2018 at 1:07 pm

@Lynne_Bramlett, Making ethics training more accessible is a great idea, but forming an ethics commission for a city the size of Menlo Park may not be the best use of city resources. You must also know that when elected officials are paid for travel to make a speech, this is not a gift and is not reportable. This information was previously published in the appropriate article.

This article is about George Yang running for council. If the only issue Menlo Park residents care about is the city travel policy, George is clearly out of touch. George proposed that traffic, development and housing are the key issues that council must address.


6 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 10, 2018 at 2:52 pm

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

Pay Attention -- I raise the issue of ethics in response to some comments made in this particular forum and because I would like those running for elected office to also discuss their stand on the topic of ethics reform. The problem also goes well beyond just a need for a tightened MP travel policy.

Just like we need to solutions to traffic and other problems, we also need ethics reform in MP. The League of Women Voters considers ethics, transparency, accountability and community engagement the cornerstones of good government. California law establishes only minimal ethical standards and the enforcement mechanism seems to consist of filing a complaint with the FPPC. Web Link

MP needs ethics reform to better ensure that public officials, staff and volunteers serving on local committees and commissions are held to high standards. We need to be able to trust that our public officials are making decisions to serve the public's interests. However, I see the first step as a Council appointed resident-led ethics task force to lead the process and to make recommendations. Web Link

Regarding an ethics commission, many small towns have established one and some cities have also joined with others to establish regional ethics bodies. An ethics commission could also save MP money in the long run. An Illinois study found that corruption costs taxpayers more than $1,300 per person. Web Link The Columbia Law School report, “Fighting Small Town Corruption” Web Link makes the point that “small municipalities have been the subject of numerous corruption scandals.” Instituting more accountability at the local level, through an ethics code, training and enforcement is the foundation of their recommendations.


4 people like this
Posted by open book
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 10, 2018 at 7:35 pm

@Lynne_Bramlett, the end result is that the comments on every article turn into your rant about ethics. Your points may be valid, but you are still spamming town square. People will start to ignore every post you make becasure we've already read to same content.


7 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 10, 2018 at 10:58 pm

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

Open book, your incivility and hyperbole are startling. I guess my comments about the need for increased ethics in Menlo Park are hitting a nerve. Too bad you don't use your real name, but instead hide behind your "open book" anonymous post.


4 people like this
Posted by Council Watcher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 11, 2018 at 7:44 am

[Post removed; civil comments are welcome, but don't disparage other posters.]


1 person likes this
Posted by open book
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 11, 2018 at 9:40 am

@Lynne_Bramlett, I don't take issue with your point of view. I have read
your posts and followed the links. The issue is that you post the same information over and over again. I'm also not telling readers to skip over your posts, I'm just explaining to you how people respond to spam; they learn to ignore it.

If your post has nothing to do with the atricle, one sentence with a link to a story about corruption may be a more effective way to get your message across.


Like this comment
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 11, 2018 at 1:36 pm

Open book
In a sense you've been suggesting Lynne is a schill for promoting ethics the same as you being a schill for Yang. Follow your own advice to Lynne, just give a link to Yang's site and leave us be.


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

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