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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
Local

City of Palo AltoCandidate for City Council

Photo of Greer Stone

Greer Stone

Chairman - Palo Alto Human Relations Commission, Attorney
7,376 votes (7.87%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Control office growth by extending and expanding the current 50,000 square foot cap of office space.
  • Prioritize housing for those who need it most (teachers, police officers, fire fighters, nurses, and those living in poverty)
  • preserve ground-floor retail city-wide, and provide new opportunities for stores to thrive in Palo Alto

Experience

Experience

Profession:Chairman - Palo Alto Human Relations Commission, Attorney
Chairman, Palo Alto Human Relations Commission — Appointed position (2013–current)

Education

Santa Clara University School of Law Juris Doctorate , Law (2015)
University of California, Irvine Bachelor of Science , Political Science (2010)

Community Activities

Human Relations Commission Liaison , Project Safety Net (2013–current)
HRC Liaison , Palo Alto Police Department (2014–current)
Liaison , Homeless Services Task Force (2013–2015)
Student Liaison , Alcohol and Other Drugs Task Force (2008–2010)

Who supports this candidate?

Organizations (2)

  • Sierra Club
  • eVolve

Elected Officials (8)

  • Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt
  • Former Councilmember Emily Renzel
  • Vice-President of PAUSD School Board Terry Godfrey
  • Former Mayor and Current Councilmember Karen Holman
  • Councilmember Eric Filseth
  • Former Vice-Mayor and Current Councilmember Greg Schmid
  • Former Vice-Mayor Enid Pearson
  • Councilmember Tom DuBois

Individuals (3)

  • Jennifer Chang Hetterley
  • Neilson Buchanan
  • Sally Bemus

Political Beliefs

Position Papers

Commercial Development

Summary

Palo Alto needs to limit office growth, and invest in retail protection and personal services for Palo Alto residents. 

If on Council I will propose extending and strengthening our current office cap. We currently cap office growth to 50,000 net new square feet per year.  I will propose strengthening the cap. Stanford Research Park is exempt from that cap. I would allow it to remain exempt. However, this exemption would be conditioned on one simple measuring tool – that they can reduce their traffic impact by 2018 to below 2016 levels. This means not just reducing the amount of traffic new development would bring, but reducing the total trips generated by the Research Park. Stanford has the means as common land owner, and we should ask them to be the stewards of the environment that we know they can and strive to be.

In addition to office caps, we must strongly consider the type of business and culture we want to foster in Palo Alto. Palo Alto is the birthplace of innovation. This is a city where ideas are born, nourished, and then finally tested on the open market in a small startup space within the city. We must remember our history. As other companies in the past, when these companies get too big, they move out to cities where they can expand and grow their headquarters. Our zoning and planning should reflect that history. We should update the zoning code to limit Research and Development employers of over 50 employees.

 

Retail

Summary

We must preserve and expand retail city wide.

If on Council I will vote to extend the current ground-floor-retail protection ordinance. Between 2008 and 2014, we lost approximately 70,514 square feet of retail, but added an alarmingly 537,144 square feet of office and R&D space. As more stores continue to close their doors, residents will have to leave the city in order to do their shopping. This means more car trips, more traffic, and less revenue for the city with less sales tax being generated. With the right attention and entrepreneurial focus that is Palo Alto, I believe we can generate start-up retail programs and incentives. To do this we need to preserve retail locations that are currently in retail use but not in locations that command the highest rents.

   

Housing

Summary

Palo Alto should prioritize our housing policies for those who need it most.

Undoubtedly, the most divisive issue this campaign season will be housing. Palo Alto has gained national attention lately over this very issue. But affordability in Palo Alto is not a new issue; it is the unfortunate consequence of living in one of the most desirable cities in the world.

Some in this race advocate that the affordability issue is supply and demand economics and we can make Palo Alto affordable by increasing the supply of housing. However, no one has opined on how many housing units we would have to build in order to make housing affordable. If we ever build enough new housing units to make Palo Alto affordable, we will by then altered the very fabric of our city to the point where it is no longer recognizable. Don’t get me wrong, I think we can, and should, build more housing, but let’s be smart, not reckless about our growth. The simple fact is we do not have the infrastructure to support such a dramatic expansion of housing as some are proposing. Our roads, public transportation, schools, parklands, open space, utilities, and other necessary services cannot support unbridled expansion.

I offer a different vision for housing. For the past 4 years since I have served on the Human Relations Commission. I have to say yes or no to nonprofit organizations asking for additional funding. I’ve heard their stories, seen the heartbreaking realities of the people they serve. It is the people these organizations serve who most need our help when it comes to housing.

I would prioritize our housing policies to protect our most vulnerable residents. I would increase the number of below market rate units required in new housing developments from 15 percent to 25 percent. Other towns have already done this, we can too. I will also support requiring developers to build these units rather than paying in lieu fees that rarely cover the costs of actually creating new units. We should also build housing for those who serve our community, our teachers, police officers, fire fighters, nurses, and utility workers. We can partner with the school district to build housing on school property. Other communities have already done this, including Santa Clara and the San Mateo Community College District. Regarding our first responders and other essential staff, we should require developers to sell a percentage of new housing units to the city for the price it costs to build those units. The city can then hold a master lease and rent out those housing units to first responders. 

Buena Vista is a best example for the necessity of having an affordable housing in our community, and I have never, ever, been prouder of my city than when we fought to preserve Buena Vista and to keep those Palo Altans in their homes, and their children in our schools.  

We all benefit from having a diverse population. We need each other.

I am a proponent of new housing that offers more affordable options than the traditional single-family home or luxury apartment.   

If on Council, I will support the creation of blue ribbon committee composed of senior councilmembers and local experts which, in 6 months, will return with at least 3 viable and creative solutions for housing projects. Cities around the country are already having great successes with creative, non-traditional, alternatives to housing, including co-housing with private bedrooms living space but with shared kitchens and common living spaces. This option is particularly attractive to seniors.

One particular housing solution I would like to see is a mixed-use of housing for artists with studios open to the public so all can see and appreciate their work. The arts are essential to human existence. As the prices in Palo Alto have risen, our local artists have fled, and we have lost too much of our cultural amenities. Other cities in the county have done similar things. The city of Alexandria, Virginia has created a project with studios on the ground floor open to the public, and housing for the artists above the studios and galleries open to the public. Small housing units could be included for the artists above or behind the open studios. Austin, Texas, provides for a portion of their below market rate housing units be designated for artists. It is time we bring more artist opportunities back to our community.

When we zone for new housing, we must ensure it is built near transportation hubs, near Downtown or California Avenue, closer to shops, restaurants, and jobs. New housing should also be mixed-use developments, with retail on the ground floor and housing above. This model is seen across Europe, and cities across this country, for years, it can work here too.

When approving new development, whether it be residential or commercial, we must always be conscious of the impact it will have on the compatibility of our neighborhoods, existing residents, traffic, parking, schools, parklands, and the environment.

Palo Alto is already 88 acres below our per-capita goal of parkland. We must ensure there is adequate parkland being included along with new development to keep pace with our required ratio of 4 acres of parkland per-capita, and I will fight to keep that required ratio in the new Comp Plan. In addition to new parkland, we should ensure there is sufficient use of outdoor recreation facilities for all in Palo Alto. I would work hard to build another public swimming pool, this time to South Palo Alto, and bringing a Magical Playground to North Palo Alto. And what about returning a bowling alley to Palo Alto? Palo Alto Bowl was a favorite amongst my friends and I when we were growing up here, but we have lost so many family-oriented activities.

 

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