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Santa Clara County, CA November 4, 2014 Election
Measure D
Number of Council Member Seats
City of Palo Alto

Majority Approval Required

Pass: 10495 / 53.70% Yes votes ...... 9048 / 46.30% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Dec 28 11:41am, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (41/41)
Information shown below: Yes/No Meaning | Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text

Shall the Palo Alto City Charter be amended to change the number of Council Member seats from nine to seven, commencing on January 1, 2019?

Meaning of Voting Yes/No
A YES vote on this measure means:
A vote "For the Amendment" will reduce the city council to seven members.

A NO vote on this measure means:
A vote "Against the Amendment" will keep a nine-member council.

Impartial Analysis from City Attorney
This Charter amendment would amend the Palo Alto Charter to reduce the number of council members from nine to seven, beginning in January 2019.

Since 1971, the Palo Alto Council has consisted of nine members. Council members are elected in November and take office the following January 1. The term of office is four years. No member may serve more than two consecutive terms.

This Charter amendment would reduce the number of council members from nine to seven. There would be no change to the November 2016 election, at which the voters will elect four council members. If this amendment is adopted, at the November 2018 election voters would select three council members rather than five. When these members take office on January 1, 2019, the council would consist of seven members.

A vote "For the Amendment" will reduce the city council to seven members.

A vote "Against the Amendment" will keep a nine-member council.

This Charter amendment will become effective if a majority of those voting on the measure vote in favor.

Dated: August 19, 2014

/s/Molly S. Stump
City Attorney

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Arguments For Measure D Arguments Against Measure D
VOTE YES ON MEASURE D: To reduce the size of the Palo Alto City Council from nine members to seven, which will save money for the city and improve our democratic process at the same time!

FACT: Residents pay for every Council Member to receive a monthly stipend as well as health insurance. Reducing our City Council to seven members will lower the amount of money that residents pay by 22%, saving tens of thousands of dollars every year.

FACT: Palo Alto School Board has five members.

FACT: Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties Boards of Supervisors have only five members.

FACT: San Mateo, a City of 100,000 has five members.

FACT: The other major Peninsula cities, Mountain View, Redwood City, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara have seven members.

Rightsizing our Council will save money and bring Palo Alto in line with our neighboring cities.

Human nature being what it is, each Council member feels the need to speak to every issue. City Council meetings often run past midnight and into Tuesday morning.

We've spoken to many residents who say that they want to attend council meetings to participate in our local government process but they just can't stay at City Hall that late on a Monday night. This is bad for our democratic process of citizen engagement and participation.

Reducing the Council size will make the Council more efficient and productive, more accountable, save taxpayer money, and increase opportunities for public participation

Join former mayors Judy Kleinberg, Peter Drekmeier and Sid Espinosa in supporting this reduction.

Help improve our local government. Vote YES ON Measure D!

/s/Roger V. Smith
Founder, Silicon Valley Bank

/s/ Betsy Bechtel
Former Mayor

/s/Walter V. Hays

/s/ Liz Kniss
Vice Mayor, Former Mayor

/s/Michael W. Cobb Former Mayor

Rebuttal to Arguments For
Vote No on Measure D.

FACT--The comparisons were misleading. Council sizes vary across the US with many cities having over 20 councilmembers. Most cities mentioned in the proponents' argument have budgets half or less the size of Palo Alto. So the "comparisons" could legitimately be used to argue for INCREASING Palo Alto's council size.

FACT--The "save money" argument mentions 22% but no dollar figure because the amount is small (~$30,000) which is .0054% of the city's budget. A small cost for democratic representation and less than the cost to put this measure on the ballot. If proponents are truly concerned about saving money there are better ways to do it.

FACT--The argument about saving time is just nonsense. Councilmembers speak for as long as they are allowed to speak. Reducing the council size is a drastic solution vs simply crafting sensible agendas and requiring councilmembers to be concise.

What other reasons are there to reduce the size? A smaller council means more power in the hands of fewer people. Campaign donations by special interests will carry more weight. Does that help Palo Alto? Many councilmembers thought not-this measure was placed on the ballot by a 5-4 vote.

Keep council so that ordinary citizens can run. Vote for better governance, spreading the workload, and the opportunity for a more representative council. If the opponents' arguments for downsizing are the best that could be found, then that in itself is significant.

Vote NO.

/s/ Karen Holman
Palo Alto City Council

/s/ Enid Pearson
Palo Alto Resident

/s/ Jennifer Chang Hetterly
Palo Alto Resident

/s/ Thomas S. Jordan
Palo Alto Resident

/s/Doria Summa
Palo Alto Resident

Palo Alto is proposing to reduce the number of council members in the interest of efficiency, to make meetings shorter and put power in the hands of fewer people.

The crux of the issue is Democracy vs efficiency. On one extreme, a one member Council would be highly efficient but no one wants a dictatorship. In some situations, like juries and city councils, you want more participants not fewer.

Palo Alto is a complex city with its own utilities, many commissions, Liaisons to city groups and participation in many regional boards. Reducing the seats guarantees that the City Councilmember position is a fulltime job (though only pays $600 a month). It limits participation to either the independently wealthy, the professional politician, or retirees. Keeping our council at nine seats spreads the workload across more people and makes it more attractive for people to participate in the process. More seats means resident representation by people interested in their city and not professional politicians.

Fewer seats create other challenges. Palo Alto is not like other cities in the area. First, the city-owned utilities more than double Palo Alto's budget and lead to a complex set of decisions that demand special attention. Secondly, we have a huge entity, Stanford, with complex land use issues, that spans multiple city/county jurisdictions, and has a large impact on our city. Finally, some of our city regulations require 5 votes on an issue. By reducing to 7 seats, this becomes much harder to accomplish.

To reduce Council size is to set up poor governance. Having a wider range of choices for the Council allows for a much more diverse group that better reflect the diversity of the City.

Reducing the council size is a strike against representation on the council.

Vote NO on Measure D

/s/Gregory Schmid
Council Member

/s/Cheryl Lilienstein
President, Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning

/s/ Eric Filseth
Palo Alto Resident

/s/ Tom DuBois
Palo Alto Resident

/s/ Lydia Kou
Palo Alto Resident

Rebuttal to Arguments Against

Opponents claim that the Measure D issue is a choice between democracy and efficiency. In reality, reducing the council to seven members would result in both increased citizen engagement and a more efficient and less costly city council.

FACT: Most council members talk a lot and meetings often go past midnight which is too late for many citizens to participate. If we have fewer members this would create valuable time for more community participation by residents.

FACT: Seven members would cost 22% less than nine, saving residents tens of thousands of dollars.

FACT: Santa Clara--with double the population--manages their own utilities and has to deal with both Levi's Stadium and Santa Clara University all with only seven members.

FACT: All cities have regional responsibilities.

FACT: Menlo Park deals with Stanford and has only five members.

FACT: This measure--effective January 1, 2019--will neither help nor hurt current council members.

Measure D is endorsed by:

Former Mayors: Betsy Bechtel, Mike Cobb, Peter Drekmeier, Sid Espinosa, Larry Klein, Judy Kleinberg, and Liz Kniss.

Former PAUSD Board Presidents: Julie Jerome, Cathy Kroymann and Susie Richardson;

Community Leaders: John Barton, Jadish Basi, Annette Bialson, Jon Foster, John Hanna, Walt Hays, Iris Korol, Cathy Moley, Susan Rosenberg, Christine Shambora, Boyd and Jill Smith, Roger Smith, Rick Stern, Bruce Swenson, Jeff Traum, Samir Tuma, Jeanne and Leo Ware, Jackie and Ralph Wheeler

Vote YES ON Measure D!

/s/Gail A. Price
Council Member, City of Palo Alto

/s/Marc Berman
Council Member, City of Palo Alto

/s/ Julie S. Jerome
Former PAUSD Board President

/s/ Larry Klein
Council Member & Former Mayor

Full Text of Measure D
SECTION 2. Adoption of Measure. If a majority of qualified electors voting on such measure shall vote in favor of City of Palo Alto Measure D, the amendment to Article III, Section 2 of the Charter shall be deemed ratified and shall read as follows:

Sec. 2. Number-Term.

Commencing July 1, 1971 January 1, 2019, said council shall be composed of nine seven members, each of whom shall be an elector and shall have been a resident of the city of Palo Alto for at least thirty days next preceding the final filing date for nomination papers for such office. The members of said council shall be known as councilmen, councilwomen, or council members and their terms of office shall be four years, commencing on the first day of January next succeeding their election. The terms of council members who took office on July 1, 1977, shall expire on December 31, 1981. Commencing January 1, 1992, no person shall be eligible to serve consecutively in more than two full terms of office as a member of the council. Any partial term of office longer than two years shall be deemed a full term. Terms of office commenced before January 1, 1992, shall not be counted when determining eligibility under this section.

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