PAF Candidate Questionnaire

Questions for Council Candidates--Housing and transportation

General questions:

 

1)    Our identity: What kind of city should Palo Alto be in coming decades?

a)     A quiet suburb: great place to have young kids and a great place to retire.  Not a jobs center. Example: Los Altos

b)    A mid-sized university town: innovative and accommodating to a wide range of ages and socio-economic backgrounds.  Significant job center. Example: Boulder, CO

c)     A major job/ university center: major regional economic center, competing with neighboring cities for jobs.  Major expansion of our downtown area.  Example: Austin, TX

            Please select the above model that most closely matches your vision for the future, and please expound with any nuance.

 

2)    Jobs: Housing imbalance: Palo Alto has the highest jobs: housing imbalance in the country.  There have been different reactions and policy proposals from public officials and the public. Some common themes are

a)     The jobs: housing imbalance is not a problem; this is a natural occurrence in certain job centers, and should not influence policy

b)    The jobs: housing imbalance is a problem; our first and most significant priority should be limiting office growth and taking other measures to restrict job growth

c)     The jobs: housing imbalance is a problem; our first and most significant priority should be devising policies to incentivize the construction of more housing


Do you agree with one of the above statements more than others? What are your main policy proposals to address this issue?

3)     How to handle growth: On May 30, 2015, Palo Alto held its “Our Palo Alto summit” to solicit input into our comprehensive plan.  Attendees were asked to respond to the following question:

Three possible approaches to growth management are:

a)     a cap on overall growth;

b)    metering the pace of growth; or

c)     requiring the future growth offset adverse effects, such as increased traffic and parking demand.

            [Which should be adopted by the city?]

 


 

Specific questions:

1)     Housing Element: The City submitted a housing element identifying 2,000 housing units for the next seven years in response to state law.

 

  • If elected, will you support this Housing Element update or one with similar or more units in different locations?

○       What can we do to ensure that these units actually get constructed?

  • If not, how do you plan to avoid state penalties and the resulting lawsuits if PA violates state law?

 

2) Transportation Management Association/ Transportation Demand Management: Palo Alto has formed a TMA, aimed at helping Palo Alto achieve its goal of reducing single occupancy vehicle traffic by 30% to relieve traffic and parking demand.

  • There are a range of viewpoints in the community about the importance and viability of a TMA.  Where do you stand?

○       Is it a critical tool that should receive a high level of support and attention?

○       Is it an interesting experiment (among many other interesting experiments; not critical, but worth trying)?

○       Is it an unrealistic approach for a community such as ours (for any reason)?

○       Anything else?

  • There have been many sources of funds proposed for the TMA, including development fees, parking fees for commuters and downtown visitors, and employer taxes.  Do you have a viewpoint on what the major source of funding should be, and why?

 

3) Caltrain: What do you think should be done about the “at-grade crossings” where Caltrain crosses streets? Which of the following best encapsulates your view:

  • The tracks need to be trenched, to maintain the aesthetic value of Palo Alto
  • We should evaluate all practical design options, considering a variety of issues including appearance, maintaining street connections, avoiding taking property, and cost
  • Palo Alto should consider “value capture”, using funds from new buildings near the corridor to pay for grade separation and station improvements, and should consider the amount of development it would take to pay for the designs we want
  • Palo Alto should not be responsible for Caltrain improvements. We should fight against more frequent service until Caltrain pays to trench the train.
  • No significant changes need to be made to Caltrain

 

4) Bike infrastructure: please select the choices that are closest to your view:

  • We should focus on creating infrastructure for bicycles: strongly agree/ neutral/ strongly disagree
  • We have overly constrained car throughput in places in favor of bicycles: strongly agree/ neutral/ strongly disagree
  • We should slow car traffic to create safer streets for bicycles & pedestrians: strongly agree/ neutral/ strongly disagree
  • Our focus on Safe Routes to School should be: increased/ kept about the same/ decreased
  • Our focus on safe routes to work: increased/ kept about the same/ decreased
  • Palo Alto needs more bicycle parking racks: strongly agree/ neutral/ strongly disagree
  • Palo Alto needs more bicycle boulevards: strongly agree/ neutral/ strongly disagree
  • Palo Alto needs protected bike lanes: strongly agree/ neutral/ strongly disagree
  • Palo Alto should connect our bicycle infrastructure to neighboring communities: strongly agree/ neutral/ strongly disagree

 


 

Lightning round (short answers only):

Palo Alto Forward submitted a petition calling upon City Council to strongly support some specific housing initiatives.  It has been signed by over 1000 community members (including 8 former mayors).  Choose the answer that best represents your position (and add brief explanation-- 50 words or fewer--  if needed)

 

1. Encourage construction of more studio apartments and other naturally affordable smaller units.

Strongly Support/ Support, but not strongly/ Not important/ Oppose

2. Encourage buildings composed of apartments and condos over ground-floor retail. Current policy requires developers to build office space into any new four-story building in a commercial district.

Strongly Support/ Support, but not strongly/ Not important/ Oppose

3. Make it easier for homeowners to build second units on their property, especially to accommodate multiple-generation households and caretakers.

Strongly Support/ Support, but not strongly/ Not important/ Oppose

4. Allow car-light and car-free housing in walkable, transit-accessible areas for residents who are able to not own a car.

Strongly Support/ Support, but not strongly/ Not important/ Oppose

5. Facilitate the development of new senior housing, including alternative models such as co-housing, home sharing, and mixed-use senior communities with retail and services.

Strongly Support/ Support, but not strongly/ Not important/ Oppose

 

 

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