https://almanacnews.com/square/print/2022/06/14/portola-valley-residents-create-a-pac-to-unseat-town-council-incumbents-in-battle-over-housing-plan


Town Square

Portola Valley residents create a PAC to unseat Town Council incumbents in battle over housing plan

Original post made on Jun 15, 2022

Amid tensions over the town's housing plans, a group is suing Portola Valley for alleged violations of the state's open meeting law, and a political action committee has formed to defeat three incumbent council members in November.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, June 14, 2022, 5:38 PM

Comments

Posted by concerned neighbor
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 15, 2022 at 10:31 am

concerned neighbor is a registered user.

The spin on this article is so predictable. Always making it about elitist people who want to keep others out. THIS IS NOT WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT. Town residents are rising up because their concerns are not being heard. This is not about keeping low income or diverse residents out....this is about the absurdity of high density housing in a rural, equestrian environment. If we want high density, we'd move to Palo Alto or the sprawl of what is now known as the suburb of Gilroy or Morgan Hill (formerly farming communities). The residents opposed to the approach the Town and its committee are taking are opposed to the concentration of the high density in one area of town for obvious reasons such as there are only two routes to evacuate residents in case of fire. They are opposed to obliteration of equestrian facilities and trails which is what the town was founded on (and what people from all over the area come to enjoy on weekends on bikes and by foot to escape their suburbs). There is simply. no infrastructure to support this kind of housing in this type of town. Good urban planners would balk at this State mandate. Europeans would laugh at our stupidity. Why in the world would it make sense to have high density housing in the middle of nowhere where there are no services and public transportation? And event of a fire, everyone trying to evacuate from one highly dense part of town all at once.


Posted by PV Volunteer
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 15, 2022 at 11:37 am

PV Volunteer is a registered user.

The PAC has drawn interest from a good number of PV residents, notably some with significant experience and strong track records as respected Town volunteers.

The Town would do well to take note


Posted by David B
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 15, 2022 at 12:37 pm

David B is a registered user.

Sorry, @concerned... the housing opponents ARE elitists who want to keep others out. The opponents are spending your wealth to fund every possible excuse to hang on to the lifestyle that you're so happy to have. If you lose on the fire issue you'll keep finding new reasons to oppose any new housing that you might, heaven forbid, have to look at when you drive down Alpine Road. Of course at one time in the past, your land was just land... rural, peaceful and no fire exit problem. So I believe you're not really about rural and peaceful: you think it's fine for PV to have had just enough development for you to live there, then you want to pull up the drawbridge and make everyone else live somewhere else. I am just so tired of this.


Posted by LocalNewsFan
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jun 15, 2022 at 1:00 pm

LocalNewsFan is a registered user.

In the spirit of healthy debate, I disagree with David B. We choose to live out here because it is rural - there are plenty of lovely options around with more condensed housing and the wonderful services that are associated with those communities. And yup, not everyone has the good fortune to choose to live out here, but for many of us, moving here was the achievement of a hard fought goal and we invite all those who appreciate the character and have the good fortune to be able to move here to do so.
More importantly, I believe the article does a terrific job of illustrating the concerns. We are all so grateful for the time and work of our town volunteers, but that doesn't mean they were elected to argue for their personal beliefs on any one issue. These good people were elected to REPRESENT the townspeople's views, and it does appear from the quotes in the article, that arguing personal views and opinions, rather than hearing and representing the voices of the constituents, may be swaying some council members' positions.


Posted by ann haley
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2022 at 1:00 pm

ann haley is a registered user.

Portola Valley was the land of gentrified rural life, and runs the risk of losing all of that. I believe that housing development will destroy the natural beauty of the area, at the risk of costly no-growth policies (see Santa Cruz). However, segregation based on racism is not the answer. Affordable housing may be the problem that presents itself most threateningly. Meeting affordable housing needs is a very difficult problem to solve, unless architects strive to exercise excellent taste while meeting affordable housing needs. Affordable need not be ugly or boring, as it so often is (again, see Santa Cruz). Portola Valley needs to address its problems using excellent judgment. It knows what that is.


Posted by Meg
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jun 15, 2022 at 1:20 pm

Meg is a registered user.

I totally agree with Maryanne "With a heap of disinformation, a prickly subject and a Machiavellian nature, a group can prey on the public's fears by constructing a false reality and essentially undercut democracy". And that is what the PV Town Council has done for years. From canning Town Manager Nick P for "wanting to run the town like a business", to calling citizens names, to violatios of their obligation to open government, to propoganda laced presentations and disrespectful behavior at meetings, to smear campaigns against everyday citizens, to trying to stop the addition of affordable child care options in town, to stacking town committees with their followers, and finally to calling the Almanac and being qouted in falsehoods, this council has no respect for the public. This council has presided over a massive gentrification of PV which was once a small rural town. They have welcomed expansive houses where affordable housing once stood. They have ignored traffic and fire safety planning. The minority population has declined over time. And now they blame everyone else. Please just stop blaming others and do your job or get out of the way. This town council has done massive damage to local housing affordability and to any effort to increase diversity. The fire risk is real. Kids are literally building their own tragic safety signals at school crossing due to lack of town action. After many years, it is time for new ideas. Time for a new council and new faces at town hall. Time for honest reporting by the Almanac and for them to stop automatically endorsing the incumbents (yep that is what the editor told me the Almanac does). PV is in crisis because the town government has been unresponsive and lacks any long term logics when it comes to solving problems. I encourage people to vote out those who imply that the town citizens are are Trump like Isurrectionists and then try to claim the moral high ground. Shame on you. These are your neighbors.


Posted by Think.
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 15, 2022 at 1:32 pm

Think. is a registered user.

What is happening in Portola Valley makes me so sad even though, having been watching this build since before I moved away, I am not surprised. I support the town council's attempts to operate in a way that upholds California law, the fire department's wishes, is open, and also recognizes basic human principles of fairness. We are in the most heart breaking time of stay out of my backyard.


Posted by Dave Ross
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Jun 15, 2022 at 5:30 pm

Dave Ross is a registered user.

Lots of people either don't know about (or willfully ignore) that Portola Valley just adopted the most stringent fire hardening building code in the state, if not the country. Sure, it did not include the NIST recommendation of 30 foot separation between structures - but that first came up as a red herring by a small vocal group's attempts to kill the Stanford Terrace (Wedge) project. The efficacy of that recommendation is still under consideration in Town.

The most effective fire prevention measures available to residents is to harden one's own home against fire. I know that, in many instances of the most vocal complainers about the Town council not taking fire hazard seriously enough, those folks live in some of the most dangerous homes and in the most dangerous locations. Why not start at home? Is it easier to moan about someone else's perceived inaction that about your own?

@Meg, while you perceive that the council has presided over recent gentrification, perhaps you should look into the details. I have been on the front line for reviewing building applications for ten years, so if anyone is to blame it's me. But I ask you to take a look at the applicants and the laws governing property rights. You may find that many of the uber-houses being built are by recent "immigrants" who love our rural character but still want their own resort property within it. This is not a council-driven thing. For some reasons, almost no one wants to build a modest home anymore.

My final thought for this thread - the consideration I give to folks' comments is in inverse proportion to my ability to identify the commenter (David B - you're in the clear). Why should council members and Town volunteers be the only ones brave enough to endure the scrutiny of critics? "An anonymous voice is barely heard." - D. Ross, 2022


Posted by Dave Ross
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Jun 15, 2022 at 8:18 pm

Dave Ross is a registered user.

@ann haley - a shout out to you for identifying yourself! I have read and re-read your commentary and take what you have to say seriously.


Posted by Meg
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jun 15, 2022 at 8:37 pm

Meg is a registered user.

Dave - the term "recent immigrants" who "want their own reset" is kind of like "where are you from". Sounds a bit racist.


Posted by Dave Ross
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Jun 15, 2022 at 8:53 pm

Dave Ross is a registered user.

@Meg - sorry if my quotation marks were too subtle. I was referring to people from the Bay area (mostly San Francisco and Menlo Park) who have decided they wand the "Green Acres"* experience but may be conflicted about having to give up mega-houses. They, not the Town council, are the ones tearing down perfectly usable modest homes to build out to the maximum size allowed by zoning - which they have every legal right to do. It may not be what some of us longer-term residents have treasured, though.

BTW, I did not use the word "reset." The accurate quote is "... but still want their own resort property within it." That quote ties in with what I perceive as a mis-match of wanting a rural experience, but with all possible amenities.

BTW, if you are the Meg A. who lives across my back fence we could continue the discussion over a beer or coffee! If not ... nevermind.


Posted by CyberVoter
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 15, 2022 at 9:25 pm

CyberVoter is a registered user.

What ever happened to "Diversity" & "Freedom of Choice". Apparently, many people want to force each CA community to look exactly the same. How did they get in charge?


Posted by PV Volunteer
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 15, 2022 at 9:56 pm

PV Volunteer is a registered user.

On anonymity and participation in the discussion...

Related to this, in discussion with several PV residents over the years, I know a number who will respond privately, or not at all t postings, because they fear that comments will receive backlash of some sort. What we put here, or on the forum can be good discussion, but it isn't necessarily going to fix the world. That is especially true when individuals are not comfortable participating, or using their own names.

PV Volunteer, second comment in the list was me. So there you are.

I attended the PAC meeting on Sunday, curious and wishing to stay informed about "goings on" in town, and among residents. It drew about 60 people, many of whom I know and consider friends, and again, I would say it included respected dutiful town volunteers. Many are concerned about the Town's future, and its direction. Are they wrong?

Ed Holland


Posted by Meg
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jun 15, 2022 at 10:01 pm

Meg is a registered user.

One last note before bed. While I might be wrong, I believe that council woman Maryanne Derwin has implied something that is quite incorrect and very nasty. She stated that the "town's history of racial covenants, exclusionary housing policies"
had contributed to the current racial makeup. The town was incorporated in the mid 1960's and had very few residents. Prior to that there was a large Latino population (some of their decenents still live here) so no covenants then because there was no town.
Further, I distinctly remember a gentle older African American couple living up the street around that time in the mid 1960's and early 70's, he was a retired doctor. There was a Japanese family who's grandson recently went to school at PVSD and she is still here supporting the school. She was a teacher and he was a doctor. And there were also a couple of African American kids in elementary school here. Although I think there dad drove them in they were certainly welcome. I do not believe that PV ever had any racial covenants or institutional discrimination in housing policy. In fact while neighboring communities did have covenant laws, I believe PV has always been open and welcoming to all. It is sad when your town council members make up ugly history to justify poor policy.


Posted by Liesel
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 16, 2022 at 9:19 am

Liesel is a registered user.

@Cybervoter - you commented: "Apparently, many people want to force each CA community to look exactly the same. How did they get in charge?". I hope that is a rhetorical question. "They" are the people who get voted into office. In our area it is Scott Weiner, PV's representative in the CA State Senate leading the benign sounding YIMBY (Yes In My BackYard) movement.

Elections have consequences. I would encourage everyone to read about the candidates before voting rather than blindly pulling the lever for the party you think represents you. Study their positions. See if where they want to take the state resonates with where you want the state to go. Then vote.


Posted by Kenneth Duda
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 16, 2022 at 9:58 am

Kenneth Duda is a registered user.

I like the lively discussion, and love Dave Ross's suggestion to use one's real name, as I have.

There is a moral imperative to build more housing in our state's most productive regions. That includes Portola Valley, and also Menlo Park where I live now and where I was born in 1971.

I recognize that few people want lots of new housing near their own house. The NIMBY instinct is nearly universal and very understandable. But NIMBYs: please think about the compositional effect of your preferred policy. The result is a near-total blockade on new housing across the entire Bay Area region. This lack of supply has driven up rents to the point of forcing out long-time residents. This is not theoretical. It's hurting people every day. California --- the best state in the country --- saw a _drop_ in population because we are forcing our neighbors out. It's simply wrong.

We must build more housing. How and where we build it --- each locality should have control. But whether or not to build it --- sorry. We must make space for new neighbors. There is no ethical alternative.

Happily, this is the exact framework of RHNA and the Housing Element. So please support it. Your future neighbors need it more than you need a frozen-in-time neighborhood character.

Kenneth Duda
Menlo Park, CA


Posted by Janet Chen
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 16, 2022 at 4:33 pm

Janet Chen is a registered user.

We have tried local control enough. These NIMBY cities will never allow dense climate responsible housing.

The first thing the state needs to do is repeal the prop 13 tax subsidy. They want sprawl. Pay for it.

And then let the homebuilders lose on that city to build dense climate responsible housing of all kinds.

The NIMBYs are 100% responsible for all the misery and inflation we see around us.




Posted by Dave Boyce
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 16, 2022 at 5:16 pm

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

Where is that trust in the power of community collaboration that Portola Valley is noted for? Astute residents and others who’ve given their time and thought to town government through their participation know what I’m talking about.

A partial list: the Town Center project; the creek at Town Center; safe routes to school; the old tree at the baseball field; the farmers market; food trucks; license plate-reading cameras; free concerts; land conservation initiatives such as Spring Down and Hayfields.

All inconsequential, maybe, to a species of homeowners not paying attention.

Portola Valley’s community spirit is fungible. Anger can drive it. Anger can be a legitimate response, but it may also be inadequately informed, uninformed or unwilling to be informed, not to mention unwelcoming and stingy. Now there’s community spirit!

Anytime an affordable housing initiative seems to be getting legs, it’s as predictable as a clock that the council chambers will be overflowing with outraged homeowners complaining in righteous indignation, “What the hell is going on here?!? Who’s been minding the store?!? We’re homeowners!!! Why is town government not acting in OUR interest?” As if a democratic town government’s mission were that simple and subservient. But for this crowd, it is that simple: Not In My Back Yard!!!

NIMBY was instrumental in the 2003 narrowly won referendum that rolled back the council’s rezoning of the Natthorst Triangle to accommodate 18 or 20 condos. 20, a huge number for NIMBYites. They’ll kill anything that smacks of multi-family accommodations, always employing one or more fig leaves: wildfire danger, rural character (as if Portola Valley is a rural community), density (!!!), absence of infrastructure (as if that’s a deal breaker that applied community intelligence can’t resolve).

At least they’re not floating the idea of the town a mountain lion habitat and, for a brief time, serving as another (local) national punching bag.


Posted by Stuart
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jun 17, 2022 at 10:11 am

Stuart is a registered user.

@Liesel
While I agree with you that Scott Weiner is the epitome of socialist top-down governance, he does not represent Portola Valley. Senator Weiner represents and is elected by the residents of San Francisco.

Our representatives are:
Josh Becker, State Senate District 13, Web Link
Marc Berman, Senate Assembly District 24, Web Link

It is important to note that both Mr. Becker and Mr. Berman continuously vote in favor of removing local control over most if not all matters (not just housing). Voting matters - but so does communicating with your representative.

Janet Chen: Bot, Troll, or both?


Posted by CyberVoter
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 17, 2022 at 12:47 pm

CyberVoter is a registered user.

Janet - Don't you think that you just might be overstating it when you say The NIMBYs are 100% responsible for all the misery and inflation we see around us."
Really? The massive TECH growth by importing outsiders to do the coding, etc at Google, Facebook, Apple & others is not part of the problem? They could be working in other locations for the TECH companies, but because they are so profitable they pay to have people move here & displace our normal "working people"!

Liesel - I totally agree with knowing the candidates real position before you vote for them. However, virtually none will define their positions & the media (Including the Almanac) never press them for definitive answers. For example did anyone know that Marc Berman (our CA State Representative) was key to passing SB-9? Would you have voted for him? He now has a guaranteed job in the CA Democratic establishment forever!


Posted by CyberVoter
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 17, 2022 at 12:48 pm

CyberVoter is a registered user.

Janet - Don't you think that you just might be overstating it when you say The NIMBYs are 100% responsible for all the misery and inflation we see around us."?
Really? The massive TECH growth by importing outsiders to do the coding, etc at Google, Facebook, Apple & others is not part of the problem? They could be working in other locations for the TECH companies, but because they are so profitable they pay to have people move here & displace our normal "working people"!

Liesel - I totally agree with knowing the candidates real position before you vote for them. However, virtually none will define their positions & the media (Including the Almanac) never press them for definitive answers. For example did anyone know that Marc Berman (our CA State Representative) was key to passing SB-9? Would you have voted for him? He now has a guaranteed job in the CA Democratic establishment forever!


Posted by Bob Turcott
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 17, 2022 at 11:19 pm

Bob Turcott is a registered user.

(Part 1)

Instead of likening residents to violent seditionists (Council Member Derwin) and dismissing their assertions as “community-destroying lies” (Mayor Hughes, link), our elected officials should address the critically important issues that face our town.

Here are some of the facts:

1. In the article, the Town Attorney gives an extensive defense of practices that no one objects to, while ignoring the central issue of the complaint - secret communication among committee members about items under deliberation during a public meeting, in apparent violation of the Brown Act. Instead of ignoring this, shouldn’t the Town Council (TC) simply develop a policy that prohibits secret communication, consistent with the letter and spirit of the Brown Act?

2. The Town of Portola Valley reported to FEMA that our wildfire risk is barely greater than flooding and well below earthquake, landslide, and weather. In contrast, Woodside identifies wildfire as its greatest natural hazard, by far (link).

3. Cal Fire recognizes as “Risk Reduction Communities” those that follow best practices for wildfire risk mitigation by satisfying 6 of 10 criteria (link). How many of the 10 criteria has PV satisfied? None. Not one.

4. The TC declined repeated resident calls over recent years to comply with a State mandate to designate Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones (VHFHSZs) (link). In contrast, Woodside adopted not just Cal Fire recommendations, but the much more extensive recommendations of the Fire District (link).


5. By continued noncompliance with State law requiring VHFHSZ designation, residents of PV are denied the benefits of State fire safety mandates and regulations that apply to VHFHSZs, such as minimum road widths, minimum building setbacks, and adequate water supply (link).

(Continued)


Posted by Bob Turcott
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 17, 2022 at 11:23 pm

Bob Turcott is a registered user.

(Part 2)

6. The TC declined repeated resident calls to comply with a State mandate to, among other things, comprehensively assess wildfire hazard and risk and develop mitigating policies and programs (SB1241 link). The reason given by the Town: Since this mandate applies to communities with VHFHSZs and since such zones weren’t formally designated by the TC, the Town isn’t obligated to comply. Yet, in 2008, Cal Fire, the Fire District, and the Town’s own consultant all agreed and recommended that the Town should designate extensive areas throughout PV as VHFHSZs.

7. The draft Environmental Impact Report for the Stanford Wedge published by the Town repeatedly relies on the existence of an “Evacuation Plan.” But the referenced “plan” is in fact merely an incomplete template for a plan that was prepared by Fire Marshall Bullard and provided to the Town 7 years ago (link, link). The unfinished template lacks much critical information to be provided by the Town, such as locations of temporary refuge areas, identification of populations at risk, their specific needs before and after a disaster, and, most importantly, the individuals responsible for implementation and execution of the plan. It requires annual review and approval. Judging from the reference in the EIR, it appears that this template was last touched when the Fire Marshal produced it in 2015.

8. Despite overwhelming data and broad consensus among fire safety authorities such as Cal Fire, NFPA, NIST, and IIBHS about the critical importance of adequate structure separation, and despite strong resident support for this, our TC has refused to acknowledge, let alone act on, this fundamental mitigation measure. According to Mayor Hughes: “To be clear, there are many other reasons why setbacks and building separation are desirable, but fire safety doesn't appear to be one.” (1/3/2022)


(Continued)


Posted by Bob Turcott
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 17, 2022 at 11:27 pm

Bob Turcott is a registered user.

(Part 3)

9. At least one member of the Wildfire Preparedness Committee resigned after being misleadingly told by Mayor Hughes that the TC could not act on recommendations from the Committee addressing structure separation (link).


10. Mayor Hughes has repeatedly declined invitations to engage in a structured, public dialogue about these safety issues.

11. Currently, ground is being broken for a development that, under the policies and ordinances of our TC, uses cedar cladding on structures whose separation distances and setbacks are well below defined best practices (link). That this is happening in 2022 in a community with extreme wildfire hazard is a telling manifestation of the priorities of our current Town Council.


There are many more examples.

The 3 incumbents facing reelection have generously given their time and talents over many years of service to the community in a difficult role that is often thankless and sometimes met with opposition and criticism. They have led Portola Valley through increasingly challenging times. We all owe them a debt of gratitude for their service.

But reasonable people can conclude that critically important work — work that directly impacts our safety — has been consistently deferred or ignored.

The average tenure of the 3 incumbents is 12 years. It’s time for change. It’s time for the torch to pass to a new generation. I encourage all of the council members facing reelection this year to consider facilitating, rather than resisting, the passing of the torch.

I’ll vigorously support candidates who, among other things, have demonstrated a commitment to the “first responsibility” of local government, which, according to the State Constitution, is “the protection of the public safety.”

-Bob Turcott


Posted by another neighbor
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 18, 2022 at 11:48 am

another neighbor is a registered user.

Wow! Doesn't it seems a little bit "crazy???" that people who wish to be represented by someone other than an incumbent town official would be likened to Jan. 6 Congressional insurrectionist by one of those town officials? I thought that the whole idea of a democracy was to be able to vote for those people that you would like to represent you.


Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 19, 2022 at 9:58 am

PH is a registered user.

@Meg "the term 'recent immigrants' who 'want their own reset' is kind of like 'where are you from". Sounds a bit racist."

Not necessarily.

I recently (almost) described incoming Facebook Village workers in Menlo Park as "immigrants." I changed the word, because I thought some would miss the much greater point: in a booming economic area, ever-increasing job concentration has diminishing local value and results in "incoming" populations. Many of the local policy struggles that arise in booming economies are those that pit current residents against future residents, though most local officials do not see that.

Another word for "future resident" is "immigrant."

In saying "future resident" I made no presumption about the demographic mix of future Facebook Village workers. Nor did I when first typed the word "immigrant." I would imagine “them” to be “high-income” and “young” and “technically skilled.”

I wanted to use the word "immigrant" rather than "future resident" to specifically point out that migration patterns in boom economies of 2020 could be understood, in historical perspective, as today's flavor or what has happened in America for hundreds of years.

Zoning was essentially affirmed in 1926 in Euclid v Ambler. Then Euclid, Ohio, wanted to protect its residential character from economic (industrial) expansion of nearby Cleveland.




Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 19, 2022 at 10:25 am

PH is a registered user.

Here’s the question I have for Portola Valley. Are the RHNA housing requirements put on PV a direct result of increased employment taking place in PV, or are they some kind of regional “fair share” requirement driven by employment somewhere else, say, Menlo Park, Redwood City, etc?

If the quotas are the direct RHNA karma of PV employment, then consider not approving projects that increase employment. If it hurts when you do that, stop doing it.

If the quotas are spillover RHNA karma from places like Menlo Park, then, and I mean this, consider putting your PAC money to work in Menlo Park. It’s an election year there too.

If every city’s creation of housing demand becomes every city’s housing supply problem then every project is a regional project.

Menlo Park continues to build up an unmitigated office storm that will worsen the deficit by possibly thousands, a portion of which PV will have to eat in the next RHNA cycle. At the very least, PV council members could politely ask their colleagues in Menlo Park, an alleged pro-housing council, to build enough housing at Facebook Village and SRI to mitigate those projects. Maybe write a letter?

Monotone increasing job densities are not sustainable. What cannot go on forever will not go on forever. Leaders will either overgrow and crash the region or throttle it through regulatory policy.


Posted by Dave Ross
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Jun 19, 2022 at 12:56 pm

Dave Ross is a registered user.

@PH - good points and questions. I don't believe that Portola Valley's commercial activities have increased significantly over the last decade. It's possible that the daytime working population is higher because of construction, professional gardening, household staff and so on. So, no, the RHNA allocation for PV (and other semi-rural communities like ours) does not seem to be related to local job growth.

I participated in Palo Alto's Comprehensive Plan revision in 1998-2000. At that time, the catch phrase was "jobs-housing imbalance." The idea was that in order to reduce traffic congestion and pollution a jurisdiction had a responsibility to provide housing in balance with its daytime workforce.

Except for increased housing for local service workers (a worthy goal, IMO), it seems that we're being asked to provide more housing for folks who work in other communities.

BTW, I'm not in favor of increasing commercial activity in PV to "fix" our jobs-housing imbalance!!


Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jun 19, 2022 at 8:47 pm

Neighbor is a registered user.

@David B...Fail to understand why you are commenting on a Portola Valley issue, when you no longer live here. Opponents of building dense housing----that is also *NOT* affordable---are not by default elitist, as you surmise, and it's grossly simplistic and, frankly, incredibly hypocritical for you to state this.

Portola Valley does not have a history of being elitist, nor was it even considered desirable until 280 was built, and it's not the Town's fault that housing prices from SF to SJ have been driven sky-high due to the enormous influx of high-salaried tech workers, venture capitalists, and company founders turned multimillionaires and billionaires. Those companies---in particular, Facebook, but also Google and Apple and all the rest---have been allowed to grow and grow without any regard for the topography of this region. We are a peninsula. We have the bay on one side, and mountains on the other. There is a finite amount of space. No, we don't have to allow these companies to grow beyond the capacity of this area.

Fire is real, and the Fire Martial has made it incredibly clear how the risk skyrockets with the influx of dense housing, particularly in an area with only two ways out in case of emergency. Ignoring that is blatant stupidity.

As for Mary Anne Derwin's comments, once again, she fails to see, hear, or smell the obvious elephant in the room: The responsibility of the Town Council is TO LISTEN TO THE RESIDENTS AND THEN ACTION ON THOSE WISHES. It is NOT for the members of the Town Council to impose their OWN opinions, desires, or personal agendas upon this Town. That's not the job. Don't like it? Leave the Council.

The Town Attorney's comments are offensive. Whether or not it legally defies the Brown Act to send personal emails and texts to others while in a Council meeting, it goes against the spirit and ethics of the law. Forming a voting bloc while in a meeting is wrong, no matter how you look at it. This isn't Survivor.




Posted by Dave Boyce
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 19, 2022 at 11:47 pm

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

If you'll point out the hypocrisy in my comment, I'll address it.

On the infrequent occasions in which multifamily housing was a topic in town news over some 17 years, I witnessed, time and time and time again, sudden outrage from a group of homeowners, most of them new to the council chambers, over how they saw the town being run.

Their anger struck me as unreasonable in that they had missed all the diligence and good faith that council members, all of them year after year, employed when they met. (That goes for the other town panels and their members, as well. Integrity all around.)

I have no reason to doubt what I witnessed at those meetings, however.

I didn't say their outrage was unreasonable in my stories for the newspaper; that's an opinion and reporters keep their opinions to themselves. However, I am no longer a reporter.

If I'm off-base about the current uproar, so be it. I was talking about what I've seen many times in the past. It's one reason, frankly, that I would never live in Portola Valley.


Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jun 20, 2022 at 2:19 pm

Neighbor is a registered user.

@David B, my apologies. I mistook you for a different person who has also commented under that name in previous situations. No hypocrisy noted, although I firmly disagree with your evaluation of Portola Valley residents as elitist. FIRMLY.

The vast majority of PV residents grew up middle class, and became successful through their own efforts. The blossoming of Silicon Valley has added a whole new level of wealth to this entire area---not just Portola Valley--- and took away a huge amount of middle-class level housing situations in all of the other communities nearby due to bidding wars. Accusing residents of Portola Valley being elitist simply because their houses appreciated in value isn't fair. Lucky? Yes. Elitest? No.

Nobody is trying to keep out anyone else, and this community has NEVER had any sort of restrictions or covenants against any groups. That's just a fact. Craig Hughes has once again spouted off nonsense that went to print without any sort of fact checking.

Everyone is welcome in Portola Valley---it's just gotten hellaciously expensive. That's not the fault of the residents. It's the fault of the business environment, and other towns who welcomed enormous expansion of those businesses while not requiring any sort of housing or infrastructure for their employees.

It's been clear that previous iterations of the Town Council (several iterations ago, anyway) have had intentions to represent the wishes of the citizens of Portola Valley. It is, yes, a job that requires a lot of time and diligence in order to best represent our community as a whole. Unfortunately, the issue is that it's become clear to many of us over time that some Town Council members have decided that the job is not to represent the community, but to represent---push, insist on, decide, and enact---their own personal agendas and ideas of what is best for the town. That's unethical, and it's wrong.









Posted by David B
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 21, 2022 at 3:16 pm

David B is a registered user.

Actually @neighbor (whoever you are) had the right David B in mind, I'm not David Boyce. I've been posting as David B on the Almanac for many years; I prefer to have some anonymity from search engines on open sites.

Yes, I moved from PV, but as a 22-year resident I don't have a problem with stating opinions about PV issues. I have been keeping my head down on the PV Forum since I was swatted down (by a good friend, sadly) for posting as a non-resident.

My opinion about elitist attitudes stands. I'm not objecting to the house values, I object to pulling up the drawbridge. For people whose lives have been lucky enough that they can live in 7,000 sq ft on 3 acres in PV to then say "I oppose building on any open land because I don't want to look at townhouses when I drive down Alpine Rd", or "Our town rules on property line setbacks can never be changed because the town founders created them in 1964", or so many of the arguments... is elitist. If Santa Clara Valley's rural orchards had been sacrosanct, the tech economy that gave us our wealth wouldn't exist. If rural PV had been protected, your house and mine wouldn't exist. Growth happens, our good fortunes wouldn't exist without it, and all the other people who contribute to that growth have to live somewhere. Saying "All building must happen somewhere else because I like my paradise and don't want it to change" is elitist.

PS: Just like what you say about Town Council's responsibility, it's the job of our state representatives to represent the state as a whole... all 33 million of us, including those who can't afford a place to live. Yay for SB 9, Yes In My Back Yard.


Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 23, 2022 at 10:36 am

PH is a registered user.

@David B "Our town rules on property line setbacks can never be changed because the town founders created them in 1964", or so many of the arguments... is elitist"

Town rules can be changed whenever towns decide to change them. It's like this in every town in America, and has been since towns and cities were first incorporated hundreds of years ago. Zoning has been under local control for 100 years. It used to take a Village.

Now the State is changing the Village rules. The debate is about local determination. Call me whatever name you must but I support local self-determination of local character.

Many of us think Silicon Valley needs yet more housing and is using "housing justice" as its beard.

New dense, market rate units in downtown Menlo Park rent at $7000/mo for a 2BR and $4000/mo for a 1BR. Units are less than 1000sf. They are more "elitist" than anything ever before. Web Link

MP office rents are the highest in the US.

Explain it to me. How do record-setting rents from dense new apts reduce elitism? 20 Uber drivers co-rent a single unit?

SB9 has been a failure since Minnesota. I have no issue with SB9 per se. It is SB9 architects, acolytes, and soon, its apologists I worry about. And further State intervention. No-one who can do math ever thought SB9 was going to break down the income/color barrier in towns like MP, PA, PV.

I'm fine with teachers et al living locally, somehow. But Facebook coders wearing Oculus VR goggles swinging imaginary light sabers in micro studio apts to get exercise. Silicon Valley veal. I'm okay with moving the veal farms to Texas.





Posted by Dave Boyce
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 23, 2022 at 12:08 pm

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

The people who can afford these high rents and mortgages must find a way to accommodate the rest of us.

If they're not going to find a way to subsidize us, whether by paying wages sufficient to set up self-respecting households or paying into a special-purpose fund, then it will continue to be "the best of times and the worst of times" into the foreseeable future.

This invisible-hand, survival-of-the-fittest ethos has got to change. SB9 appears to be trying. More needs to be done.

There are too many, way too many, deep pockets around here turning a blind eye.


Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 29, 2022 at 10:33 am

Joseph E. Davis is a registered user.

Portola Valley should do what San Francisco is doing. Zone the entire town for multi-family, since SB9 only applies to single family zoning. Then add some ruinous requirements that make it impossible to build multifamily in practice.


Posted by Clevenger
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 30, 2022 at 4:24 pm

Clevenger is a registered user.

Isn’t acting in bad faith, as opposed to acting in good faith, a human failing of some kind?

Among the people acting in bad faith currently and with whom you would be keeping company with your zoning scheme (assuming this isn’t just trolling): the US Supreme Court majority in trumpeting the absence of enumerated rights in the US Constitution as a basis for overturning settled law, but ignoring that absence when it’s inconvenient, as in legalizing the purchase and open carrying of weapons of war; the GOP’s derailing the nomination of an Obama-era justice for this court on a premise conveniently and flagrantly ignored when the candidate is the GOP’s nominee; instituting obstacles to voting such as reading comprehension tests for registration and citing trivial mistakes on ballots as a reason to reject them when they’re cast.

Talk about cynicism! This zoning idea suggests that yours is bottomless.


Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 30, 2022 at 5:37 pm

Joseph E. Davis is a registered user.

If it’s good enough for San Francisco, the most progressive place on Earth, why not Portola Valley?


Posted by Clevenger
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 30, 2022 at 7:12 pm

Clevenger is a registered user.

If San Francisco did what you say for the purposes you outline, that is acting in bad faith, regardless of reputation. They've lost their way.