MY VISION FOR PALO ALTO
My platform and the policies that I am delivering on, on council
What’s happening nationally and globally scares me. Much is out of our control, and rights and priorities that we thought were sacrosanct are not necessarily guaranteed. Yet this moment is also illuminating the critical role that cities play in strengthening policies and practices to help humans thrive. Palo Alto is known for excellence and leadership, and in these challenging times I’m eager to see our city lead even more boldly to grapple with and solve our most seemingly intractable problems.
A place where all can live.
Palo Alto is a city, not a village or town. And a proper city is one in which a diverse set of people each do their part to support the ecosystem. Yet housing here is so unaffordable that teachers, fire fighters, small business owners, seniors, and our own grown children can’t afford to live here. We need more housing, and housing for all.
A place where youth can thrive.
The Surgeon General recently declared a youth mental health crisis in our nation. Youth right here in Palo Alto are no exception. We need to tackle this issue head on by proactively seeking to learn from our young what it feels like to be a child in our city, and by developing practices and ways of being that promote their sense of safety, security, agency, belonging, wellness, and thriving.
A place that takes climate action.
We have perilously few years to counteract the climate change that is already evident all around us. This is the only home we’ve got, and it’s time to tighten our belts and harness our ingenuity to do what’s right for our city, in furtherance of the health of our planet.
A place that is a safe haven for human rights.
When the Supreme Court recently overturned Roe v. Wade, and simultaneously threatened to review other cases related to bodily autonomy and privacy, our most basic human rights were put in limbo and they may become endangered. We need to be a city that welcomes those seeking refuge from elsewhere in America, and protects those who come under such circumstances from harassment and persecution.
A place where all are presumed to belong.
As a Black, biracial, queer, bisexual, cis-woman, I know full well that representation matters, and that, unfortunately, a sense of belonging is elusive for many in this city due to the way our demographics have changed over time. We all yearn to be treated with dignity and kindness. You can count on me to care about us all.
Whereas Palo Alto once led the state when it came to building affordable housing, in recent years we’ve begun to lag behind in that effort. If we don’t act with intentionality and urgency, I fear we will exacerbate our local housing crisis, making Palo Alto unattainable not just for teachers, nurses, civil servants, and small business workers across the spectrum, but for our longtime residents who are now seniors and our grown children who are now starting families of their own both of whom may find a rental or housing purchase in Palo Alto to be out of reach. A lack of housing in our downtown and Cal Ave districts is also hurting our retail and other small business owners who count on folks to patronize their stores. We need to take a visionary and inclusive lens to our zoning practices and fashion ways to meet our obligations. How we act today is a reflection of our values.
On City Council, I will fight to ensure that Palo Alto does its part to meet the housing requirements given to it by the State of California and regional authorities. I will prioritize building housing at below market and market rates, so that people can afford to live where they work, and partner with nonprofits, foundations, and individuals to identify resources to create truly affordable housing. I will work with community organizations to end chronic homelessness by supporting transitional housing for unhoused individuals and families. I will prioritize zoning practices that combat exclusionary zoning, focus on workforce housing and housing near transit, protect and stabilize tenants, and expand permanent affordability in major transit corridors.
Youth Mental Health
The Surgeon General recently declared a crisis in youth mental health in our nation. Youth right here in Palo Alto are no exception, and the pandemic simply worsened a state of poor mental health that they have struggled with for some time.
Guided by urgent action, accountability, and compassion, I will urge the creation of a Youth Task Force on Mental Health which will truly listen to youth opinions about what it feels like to grow up in Palo Alto. I will engage organizational partners to destigmatize the topic of mental health, clarify and strengthen resources, and promote access to care. I will build deep ties between city hall and our school district to ensure our youth receive the resources they need to support their journey into adulthood and to imagine a bright future for themselves.
Without a planet that can sustain life, nothing else matters. Climate action is the single most urgent issue we face as human beings, and cities around the globe have tremendous power to lead the charge. Palo Alto already has a reputation for leadership in environmental sustainability. Now is the time to continue and accelerate that work so that Palo Alto can be a beacon for Silicon Valley, the nation, and the world when it comes to the problem solving, ingenuity, and boldness required to tackle this issue head on.
I will fulfill the promises of the City’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plan to reach our 80x30 Goals. I’ll pursue green transit solutions such as getting our grade-separation project moving so that we can bring an electrified CalTrain through our city, and by exploring bringing electric school buses to the city to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from hundreds of cars waiting in school pickup and dropoff lines. I’ll also push to pair housing and transit more effectively so that more people can walk or bike from transit centers to their homes and jobs. And I’ll join forces with those who are thinking most strategically about the lack of fresh water, the impending rise of the seas, and the prevalence of wildfire, so as to achieve an equitable and sustainable future for generations to come.
With the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and the looming possibility that the Court may decide to overturn other decisions related to bodily autonomy and privacy, our most basic human rights as Americans are now in limbo and may in fact be endangered.
When our fellow Americans seek refuge from where they currently live in order to access reproductive health care, contraceptive care, and gender-affirming care, I believe that Palo Alto should be a safe haven that will protect them from harassment, persecution, and prosecution when they do so. In so doing, Palo Alto would join the growing list of ‘human rights sanctuary cities.’
We are a diverse city and we have different ideologies, identities, perspectives and lived experiences. And that’s a good thing. But what we all have in common as humans is that we want to be safe, to live in peace, and to be treated with dignity and kindness by our fellow humans. As a Black and biracial person, I’ve had some uncomfortable run-ins in Palo Alto. Thankfully, I’ve experienced only a few instances of outright racism. But on a number of occasions I’ve been treated with the presumption that I probably live elsewhere. We can do better when it comes to embracing all people in our city – regardless of age, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religion, primary language, country of origin, and viewpoints.
Providing a sense of belonging is healthy for every resident. It can promote our economic growth, allow us to overcome our political differences and achieve our common goals, and promote tolerance and humanity to lift our city's spirit high. I will champion equity, diversity, and inclusion and celebrate Palo Alto’s diverse populations and rich cultural heritage and neighborhoods. I will build on our progress for racial equity, and support neighborhood organizations to enhance community interactions. I will focus on confronting wealth inequality and building economic prosperity so that every Palo Alto resident can share in our post-COVID-19 recovery and future prosperity. I will lead the charge to maintain investments in the cultural arts and set a new standard for accountability and community oversight to dismantle racism in our City’s institutions. And I will approach decision-making with a curiosity toward which communities are being prioritized and which are being overlooked, and why.