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Peter Ohtaki challenges incumbent Betsy Nash in Menlo Park City Council race

Original post made on Aug 9, 2022

Former Menlo Park City Council member Peter Ohtaki has pulled papers to run against incumbent Mayor Betsy Nash in District 4, kicking off Menlo Park's first contested City Council race of the year.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 9, 2022, 11:55 AM

Comments (31)

Posted by Ron
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 9, 2022 at 12:34 pm

Ron is a registered user.

Mr. Ohtaki is one of the few local politicians whom listens to the people. We gravely need more public representation from individuals like him.


Posted by Stuart Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 9, 2022 at 12:45 pm

Stuart Soffer is a registered user.

Well said, Peter.

A consequence of district elections is that while it ensures 'equal' voices on the council from Alameda down to the Bay, it divides resistance to questionable or bad policy.


Posted by Brian Cutcliffe
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 9, 2022 at 12:54 pm

Brian Cutcliffe is a registered user.

This is great news for Menlo Park. Thank you Peter for running. I look forward to a rational, productive and collaborative city council that represents the voters and the community, rather than pushing their personal ideology and agenda.


Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 9, 2022 at 3:06 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

Peter,

you can count on my unending support. your past performance was great for Menlo Park. we look forward to your sage guidance.

thanks
Roy Thiele-Sardina


Posted by Mary
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 9, 2022 at 5:56 pm

Mary is a registered user.

Wow, This is great news for the people of Menlo Park. It will be nice to have a veteran politician that knows how the city works and will listen to us, the residents of Menlo Park.


Posted by MenloVoter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 10, 2022 at 7:44 am

MenloVoter. is a registered user.

Great news for Menlo Park. Hopefully we can get some more people to run that aren't pushing their virtue signaling agendas and can provide leadership that is realistic.


Posted by Iris
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 10, 2022 at 10:24 am

Iris is a registered user.

I thought Peter pushed the "yes" button too frequently for the major commercial developments that have led to the inequities of too many new workers and too few houses.
But his willingness to fight SB-9 makes me reconsider him to represent this neighborhood.


Posted by Steve Schmidt
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 10, 2022 at 2:25 pm

Steve Schmidt is a registered user.

Peter Ohtaki, SB9 is a State law. Menlo Park has no authority to end it or even push back. That horse left the barn long ago when Ohtaki was on the Council. The Ballot Measure Suburban Park landed in our laps has no provision to end the the SB9 lot-splits. Mr. Ohtaki's complaint about SB9 is a distraction from the millions of square feet of office development he approved in his 8 years on the Council. Remember these names: Peter Ohtaki, Kirsten Keith, Rich Cline and Cat Carleton, the Council Members we can thank for the millions of sq ft of office development.

Massive office development is why the State of California has come down hard on Peninsula cities to build housing. Yes, some of it has to be affordable. Some of it should be housing for teachers like the housing Ravenswood School District wants to build at the Flood School site.

Our current council has been handed the damage caused by Mr. Ohtaki and his colleagues. Our council is doing the best it can with the State requirements for housing. Lets not go backwards and elect the very fellow who brought us this pain.


Posted by James Pistorino
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 10, 2022 at 6:39 pm

James Pistorino is a registered user.

It is great the hear that Peter is running. That said, he can't do it on his own. He needs at least two other people on the Council prepared to pursue sane policies and it is unclear whether that is possible.

With regard to SB 9, step one would seem to be figuring out who voted to remove local control over zoning, etc. and get them out of office before they do more damage. The local people who voted for that are both our State representatives, Josh Becker and Marc Berman. If you voted for either of them (or did not vote for people opposing SB 9), then you are getting what you voted for - Central Planning - and that has always worked out well in the past. If you dislike SB 9 and its effects, then vote Becker and Berman out of office. Otherwise, they will continue to pursue policies where the State decides what will be built in your neighborhood (rather than, at least, your local City Council).

So, contrary to Steve Schmidt's comment, Menlo Park and its citizens can push back - by getting rid of Becker and Berman. Likewise, they can vote for people who will pursue sane policies on the City Council.


Posted by Ms. Happy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 10, 2022 at 8:23 pm

Ms. Happy is a registered user.

I am excited that Peter has decided to run for Council again. We need leadership for the community and residents. We need the 4th of July parade and event at Burgess Park to come back, we need the Halloween parade to come back, Easter Egg hunt, Block Parties, and more. These are all wonderful family and community events that bring the City, residents and neighboring communities together. The City needs a Community Services Director and a Council that supports these events.


Posted by MenloVoter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 11, 2022 at 7:36 am

MenloVoter. is a registered user.

Steve:

while SB9 may be state law there are cities and towns that are either telling the state to shove it or, like Atherton, finding creative ways around it. They'll meet their goals by adding ADUs. ADUs that no one will actually live in, but they help comply with a law created by Sacramento politicians trying to be seen as "doing something" about the housing shortage without actually doing anything about it.

Yes, Peter contributed to the problem, but he's also not going to just roll over to the state and the virtue signalers in this town that want to shove this nonsense down everyone's throats.


Posted by Iris
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 11, 2022 at 9:59 am

Iris is a registered user.

Would Peter have the guts to modify the office upzoning that's at the root of the push for so much housing?


Posted by East of Middlefield Road
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 11, 2022 at 1:36 pm

East of Middlefield Road is a registered user.

When the FAA implemented NEXGEN and airplanes were suddenly rerouted over many neighborhoods, my neighborhood included, I first reached out to the city council regarding the frequency and noise from the planes flying to SFO. Peter Ohtaki was assigned with “airplanes” and complaints.
I contacted Peter Ohtaki numerous times and never received a response. I am not impressed with his record and I am still bothered by his lack of concern regarding the SFO traffic that is still here.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 11, 2022 at 5:59 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

East:

yes the air traffic is still there and will continue to be. You see, the FAA is responsible for air traffic routing, cities have nothing to say about it. The best you could have received from Peter is, "I'm sorry you're bothered, but there's nothing the City of Menlo Park can do about it."


Posted by MP Father
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 12, 2022 at 4:26 pm

MP Father is a registered user.

Great news! We need Peter Ohtaki's help to bring greater collaboration and balance to the City Council as well as to better stabilize our city management.

We need a City Council that listens to and work with its constituents and employees.


Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 13, 2022 at 2:24 pm

PH is a registered user.

Is it groundhog day in Menlo Park?

In round two, did Betsy Nash modify Peter Ohtakis office upzoning that's at the root of the push for so much housing? No she did not.

For four years, Nancy had two votes on the dais waiting for her. Ray Mueller and Drew Combs both know when to use the red button. They are not anti-housing. They are reasonable. If Nancy was under the Menlo Together spell she is not so reasonable.

So, no Steve, she's not making the best of it. Housing apologia is not a land-use policy and its not leadership. Full mitigation of new projects is leadership. SRI and Facebook Village are unmitigated office projects on Nancy's plate now because she has so far lacked the understanding and leadership to get them mitigated. The votes are there, but not from her Menlo Together colleagues.

If Menlo Park is doomed to whipsaw between laisse-faire office lovers and woke pro-housing ideologues, the Initiative is rational. Voters reserve certain rezoning powers unto themselves. Surely voters better reflect the majority will than do five council members. I am confident that voters will approve the Flood School project, because Menlo Park voters are genuinely smart and good-hearted. It's unfortunate that when choosing council members, they either get no choice at all or they have to play ground hog day with incumbents both of whom are unacceptable.


Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 13, 2022 at 6:15 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Welcome back Peter,

I would love to know your position on using city parks for potential low income housing development land? It has bothered me that Betsy would not take that off the table when given the opportunity by Ray back at a December city council meeting. I would like to see somebody who is not pushing the Menlo together agenda on the entire city. I think somebody who's willing to speak out and not just blindly line up and follow sb9 would be a wonderful change and would give a majority of reasonable council members in our city council.


Posted by James Pistorino
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 13, 2022 at 6:51 pm

James Pistorino is a registered user.

As to tripling the Utility Users Tax (including on low-income persons) in order to ban the use of natural gas in Menlo Park: Video of August 31, 2021, City Council meeting at 2:36:20-36:45 (Betsy Nash - "I am in favor of doing the UUT now because what we would be doing is starting to collect money. ... So, yes, I am in favor of the UUT.")

As to asking the voters about tripling the UUT, Video of August 31, 2021, City Council meeting at 3:05:05 (Betsy Nash - “To do polling now without education first does not make any sense to me.”)


Posted by Menlo Strong
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 14, 2022 at 8:10 am

Menlo Strong is a registered user.

The battle royale is on for Menlo Park.

If Ohtaki loses, Nash, Wolosin and Taylor will get to appoint Mueller's replacement should he become County Supervisor. The Council majority will grow to 4, making it very difficult to dislodge.

If Ohtaki wins, Combs and Ohtaki will be able to negotiate with Taylor and Wolosin in picking a replacement that will be more diverse in perspective.

District 4's election in essence will decide the ideology of the appointed representative for District 5.

This election is more than just one Councilmember - it is about the future direction of City Council decision making for years to come.


Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 14, 2022 at 11:29 am

MP Resident is a registered user.

Menlo Strong:

Well stated.


Posted by East of Middlefield Road
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 15, 2022 at 9:19 am

East of Middlefield Road is a registered user.

Menlo voter, you missed the point. Peter Ohtaki did not return a constituents call regarding a subject that was important to that constituent. The city of Menlo Park could have joined the band wagon of cities complaining to the FAA and he could have contacted Anna Eshoo as I did. Peter Ohtaki did nothing.
On March 17, 2022, Anna Eshoo, as a member of the Aviation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee addressed the FAA at a hearing. The hearing titled Aviation Noise: Measuring Progress in Addressing Community Concerns allowed citizens and communities to voice their frustration with NexGen.
The participating cities and counties were Palo Alto, Saratoga, Mountain View, and the County of Santa Cruz. Were was Menlo Park and San Mateo county? Peter should have gotten Menlo Park involved in the problem from the start but failed to do so.
The more voices complaining the more likely something could change.


Posted by Clarity
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 15, 2022 at 1:13 pm

Clarity is a registered user.

Make no mistake -- Ohtaki is a registered Republican. Many of those on this thread are registered similarly so this will please you. But for those of you who don't know this, let's be clear about his affiliations and values. Noteworthy: he voted against protections for immigrants during the Trump administration (he was the only one on Council at the time who voted "no" on this immigrant-protecting resolution that passed in our city). I would never vote for someone who has this kind of negative human rights record, hard stop. He was on the wrong side of history, and it showed his true colors. You may like that he voted against it, and that's your choice, but many of us are NOT OK with that. For those of us who do care about human rights and immigrants, let's not forget what he stood for (and what he didn't stand for) during a a very difficult and trying time in our country's history.


Posted by Frozen
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 15, 2022 at 3:53 pm

Frozen is a registered user.

First, I don't know who is perpetuating lies about Pwter, who voted in favor of a sanctuary city Web Link

I don't see any other votes, so if there was one, perhaps someone can post that link.

The city council is non-partisan, so party affiliation doesn't matter.

I have never been a Peter fan, but I think he's a smart, principled person rather than the ideologue that Betsy is proving to be. I'm not in that district, so no vote, but it's disturbing that the winner of this seat will affect who is named to fill Ray's seat, if he wins the county job. The people in that district will have no say at all.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 15, 2022 at 4:44 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

East of Middlefield Road:

Besides people making a lot of noise, did anything come of it? NO. The planes are still flying the same patterns and altitudes as before. Nexgen is here to stay especially since it results in lower carbon emissions due to shorter flight paths. Something the green folks and the current administration like. Peter probably didn't return the call as he knew it was a waste of time. I don't blame him.


Posted by Clarity
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 15, 2022 at 5:34 pm

Clarity is a registered user.

Frozen, Peter Ohtaki voted *against* a city-specific Menlo Park Sanctuary City ordinance on May 23 2017. It was called "safe city" in the minutes and city records. I have copied and pasted the text from the minutes here (obtained from city archives of May 23, 2017). It was Regular Business, Item J1. I have attempted to place a link to these minutes from the Menlo Park site; it's unclear if the link will work here.

ACTION: Motion and second (Cline/Mueller) to introduce an ordinance adding Chapter 2.58, Safe City, to the Menlo Park Municipal Code to limit cooperation with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and to include annual report on any incidents relevant to the ordinance, passed 3-1-1 (Ohtaki dissents; Carlton absent).
Web Link

The Chronicle article you referenced was misleading and is worth explaining. That article described a unanimous vote to support a statewide effort for sanctuary city status for immigrants. However, when the ordinance actually came in front of Ohtaki's Council (after this article was written), he voted "no". He did so after referencing his family's history with Japanese internment camps, interestingly. The vote was incongruent with his reference to his family's history.


Posted by Frozen
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 15, 2022 at 8:44 pm

Frozen is a registered user.

@Clarity - not as clearcut as you make it sound. Peter supported the other pro-undocumented immigrant ordinance, but had issues with the Safe City wording -- and if you do some research, he was not the only person to express concerns. He addresses his particular issues here:

Web Link

Having observed both Peter and Betsy on council, if that were my district, I would vote for him as the lesser of two evils.


Posted by Clarity
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 16, 2022 at 10:39 am

Clarity is a registered user.

Frozen, there was *no* other city-wide ordinance to support undocumented immigrants at that time that came forward for a vote. This is not accurate. This was the final version of something that had been in the works for a while. Peter Ohtaki voted "no" on the sanctuary ordinance when it finally came up for vote. He voted "no" on protections for undocumented immigrants in our city when the final say was due. It does not get more clear cut than that. Talk is just talk, but what people do or don't vote for is the ultimate say for our elected officials. Peter Ohtaki had issues with the "wording" because he didn't want to vote for a sanctuary city ordinance in our city. He expressed more concern about losing money for the city (which Trump had threatened to do but never did) than with protecting the most vulnerable people in our city. He willingly made that tradeoff. You can try to excuse the dissent vote on "wording" or other attempts to shift responsibility to the state to justice inaction at a city level, but he voted "no", and that's the reality. That's as clear cut as it gets. As for what other people did or didn't do that night when the vote came forward, that's not the focus here. He voted no, and he wants another chance on Council. The others who had the courage to show up that night at Council voted for it, and it passed. Betsy Nash has been a terrific leader, in my opinion. We can agree to disagree, but Ohtaki's voting record is what it is, and the records are what they are.


Posted by Stuart Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 16, 2022 at 11:31 am

Stuart Soffer is a registered user.

I served with Peter Ohtaki on both the Planning and FInance commissions.

His presence was a benefit to both panels, especially is finance background.

I support his candidacy for the seat.

And, as previously mentioned, using one's real name, adds credibility to your message.


Posted by Frozen
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 16, 2022 at 12:28 pm

Frozen is a registered user.

If you look at the history, the original sanctuary city ordinance was separated into two ordinances; one passed 4-0, Peter voted against the one that officially designated Menlo Park as a safe city. The main reason seems to have been that it wouldn't make a difference in current procedure and might cost money. Thus, the safe city ordinance seemed to be mostly about virtue signaling.

All the same, should he have voted for it? Yes, he should have. He sent a mixed message that day. However, I don't think he's going to try to overrun the city with offices or build housing in city parks, which Betsy seems to be fine with. I don't like the fact that Menlo Together is now effectively making all the decisions for our city.


Posted by East of Middlefield Road
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 16, 2022 at 12:53 pm

East of Middlefield Road is a registered user.

Menlo Voter, you missed the point of the post again. Peter Ohtaki did not respond to a constituent who had a concern. I called and left a message at least three times and never received a call back. The post has nothing to do with, IF, he could help with the problem. I expect a call back no matter what the answer.


Posted by MenloVoter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 16, 2022 at 3:50 pm

MenloVoter. is a registered user.

East of Middlefield:

I didn't miss your point. Peter didn't call you back because there was nothing he could do. I wouldn't have called you back either. I don't think everyone in town that calls our council people with mickey mouse complaints should expect a call back. I would like and expect them to concentrate on things that they can and should do something about. To be clear, they can't do anything about air traffic, global warming or the lack of affordable housing. To waste time on it is just virtue signaling and I'm tired of it.


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