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Greer Stone Palo Alto City Council

Affordable Housing

The perennial issue facing Palo Alto, and our region, is affordable housing. Housing transcends mere shelter; it forms the bedrock upon which individuals and families construct their lives. Yet, for far too many Palo Alto residents, the aspiration of secure and affordable housing remains elusive. Escalating rents and home prices have propelled numerous neighbors to the brink of homelessness, compelling others to confront the agonizing dilemma of choosing between housing and other basic necessities.

However, the issue of housing affordability isn't solely a moral obligation; it is an economic imperative. A dearth of affordable housing erodes the stability and prosperity of our entire community. It hampers economic expansion, repels talent, and perpetuates disparities. The reverberations of housing insecurity are palpable, as echoed by the concerns of business leaders across the spectrum, from small local enterprises like the lamented Prolific Oven to Fortune 500 corporations who consistently cite housing costs as a foremost obstacle to employee attraction, retention and morale.

Housing must continue to take center stage due to the imperative for our city to attain state certification for our Housing Element. Within this Housing Element cycle, Palo Alto is tasked with zoning for approximately 6,800 new housing units with around half earmarked for low-income housing. It's an ambitious target, but one I have been working diligently toward as a member of the Housing Ad Hoc Committee.

To incentivize increased housing production, I have successfully advocated for and supported several measures including zoning modifications along strategic corridors like El Camino Real, facilitating denser development near public transportation hubs and away from single-family neighborhoods, designing a coordinated area plan for San Antonio Road and reimagining downtown parking structures to incorporate affordable housing.

As a community, we have to acknowledge the inevitability of change to comply with the incessant stream of state mandates that come with little financial support. Non-compliance would entail relinquishing local control, a consequence we must avert. It's crucial to discern the distinction between a housing crisis and an affordability crisis. We have an affordability crisis, not a housing crisis. Palo Alto (and the State) consistently meets market-rate housing quotas. Our challenge lies most in meeting affordable housing quotas, which requires strategic governmental intervention through mechanisms such as inclusionary zoning, subsidies, and state and federal financial backing. We're committed to doing what we can to meet this affordability crisis, but we need more financial support. That's why I will continue working on the Housing Ad Hoc Committee to identify additional funding mechanisms to support greater production of housing units accessible to the lower income population.

So, how do we address this crisis? The solution lies in a multi-faceted approach that gets at the root causes of housing insecurity and expands options for all residents. Central to this endeavor is a commitment to broadening housing access, particularly for low-income communities.

One way is investing in the development of affordable housing units through public and private partnerships. We need to look at streamlining the regulatory process to make it easier and more cost-effective to build affordable housing, providing incentives for developers to prioritize affordability, and exploring innovative financing mechanisms. This needs to be done with an eye also to protect the quality of life for those living in these units such that they have meaningful open spaces and trees to cool their homes, for instance.

One way is investing in the development of affordable housing units through public and private partnerships. We need to look at streamlining the regulatory process to make it easier and more cost-effective to build affordable housing, providing incentives for developers to prioritize affordability, and exploring innovative financing mechanisms. This needs to be done with an eye also to protect the quality of life for those living in these units such that they have meaningful open spaces and trees to cool their homes, for instance.

Just last year, we celebrated the groundbreaking of Homekey Palo Alto, a beacon of possibility forged through robust partnerships. Homekey Palo Alto will provide 88 units benefiting over 200 individuals annually, offering transitional housing to support the journey from homelessness to stability. I was a key proponent advocating for this project and securing the necessary funding from the city.

Just last year, we celebrated the groundbreaking of Homekey Palo Alto, a beacon of possibility forged through robust partnerships. Homekey Palo Alto will provide 88 units benefiting over 200 individuals annually, offering transitional housing to support the journey from homelessness to stability. I was a key proponent advocating for this project and securing the necessary funding from the city. Similarly, the recent groundbreaking of Mitchell Park Place, made possible by a $3 million city allocation in collaboration with Eden Housing and the Santa Clara County Housing Authority, will offer 50 units tailored for residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I was there at the groundbreaking and delivered remarks on behalf of the City.

Furthermore, our dedication to addressing housing challenges extends to our educators with projects like 231 Grant, a teacher-only housing initiative. This collaborative effort between the City, the County of Santa Clara, and educational institutions, will provide 110 affordable rental apartments for teachers and school employees, exemplifying the power of strong partnerships in realizing impactful solutions.

Indeed, actions speak louder than words, and Palo Alto is not merely paying lip service to housing concerns, we are taking decisive action. Currently, our housing pipeline includes a total of 1,118 units, encompassing projects under construction and those entitled by the City, awaiting developer commencement. Among these units, 517 are designated as affordable units, reflecting the tangible progress on City policies and my personal commitment.

Expanding housing access entails more than just constructing additional units; it requires safeguarding existing affordable housing stock and protecting the nearly half of Palo Altans who are renters. We need to implement meaningful and thoughtfully considered tenant protections to shield against displacement and eviction beyond what is already in place.

As a renter myself, I am intimately acquainted with the uncertainty and strain of anticipating the next rent increase and the housing insecurity it can cause. Last year, the City Council took significant strides to fortify safeguards for our city's renters by bolstering tenant relocation assistance to encompass a broader range of multi-family units. Additionally, we curtailed the security deposit limit to 1.5 times the monthly rent, easing financial burdens on renters. Furthermore, we augmented just cause eviction protections, extending safeguards beyond State law mandates and reducing the minimum qualification period for tenants.

There is a concern I share for families with school-aged children who face eviction during the academic year. Whether there are practical ways to mitigate the potential additional stress of housing insecurity and disruption inflicted upon young lives grappling with the rigors of schooling is something that merits exploration.

Lastly, we have to recognize that housing affordability is interconnected with other social and economic issues, such as transportation, healthcare, and education. By taking a holistic approach to community development, we can create more vibrant, resilient, and equitable neighborhoods where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. If elected to another term, this is what I will strive to accomplish.

Climate Change & Natural Environment

The most pressing issue of our time is climate change. Our beloved City of Palo Alto, nestled in the heart of innovation and progress, stands at a pivotal juncture. We bear a responsibility not only to ourselves but also to future generations to safeguard our natural environment and mitigate the impacts of climate change. The signs of climate change are omnipresent. From escalating temperatures to intensified weather extremes, the evidence is unequivocal. Palo Alto must continue to be a leader in addressing this global crisis. I am honored to have the support of the Sierra Club and the endorsement of local climate leaders like Senator Josh Becker, recognizing my work in championing climate issues. by creating a safer, more bikeable and walkable city and by promoting ways for commuters to abandon their cars in favor of public transportation.

First and foremost, we must prioritize the protection of our natural environment. Palo Alto is blessed with abundant natural beauty, from our verdant foothills to our expansive wetlands. These ecosystems not only harbor diverse wildlife but also bestow countless benefits for our community, cleaning the air we breathe, providing a buffer from sea level rise and habitat for endangered species. First and foremost, we must prioritize the protection of our natural environment. Palo Alto is blessed with abundant natural beauty, from our verdant foothills to our expansive wetlands. These ecosystems not only harbor diverse wildlife but also bestow countless benefits for our community, cleaning the air we breathe, providing a buffer from sea level rise and habitat for endangered species. First and foremost, we must prioritize the protection of our natural environment. Palo Alto is blessed with abundant natural beauty, from our verdant foothills to our expansive wetlands. These ecosystems not only harbor diverse wildlife but also bestow countless benefits for our community, cleaning the air we breathe, providing a buffer from sea level rise and habitat for endangered species.

Nevertheless, our natural environment faces existential threats from climate change and the encroachment of development here and in our region. Soaring temperatures, wildfires, and more frequent extreme weather events all imperil our ecosystems. Without decisive intervention, we risk irreparable loss of these invaluable resources. The more we learn about the ecosystem, the more we understand the importance of the fish, flora, even microorganisms and the role they play in planetary health. I look forward to further advancing policies like the Dark Skies Initiative, Bird Safe Glass requirements, and essential creek setback requirements as they are pivotal in safeguarding the diverse ecosystem that renders Palo Alto so extraordinary.

I have also been an ongoing champion of the City's Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (S/CAP) and participated on the S/CAP Ad Hoc Council committee to oversee the formulation and implementation of the S/CAP plan. This plan was unanimously adopted by the full City Council in June 2023. The primary aim is to reduce Palo Alto's greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2030 with the ultimate goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. This is an ambitious objective, surpassing the State of California's targets, which aim to reduce emissions to 48% below 1990 levels by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. The S/CAP furnishes the roadmap to realize these objectives, delineated into two sections: Climate Action and Sustainability. I also supported the adoption of One Margin, an innovative approach to mitigate the impacts of carbon in new construction.

Within the Climate Action plan, I have recognized the paramount importance of ensuring a reliable electrical grid to facilitate the transition to all-electric. In order to achieve that goal, the City is modernizing the electrical grid with an anticipated completion date for residential areas, encompassing nearly 95% of homes, by 2027. We are making substantial headway in this green transition, fortifying our infrastructure to accommodate this transformative shift.

The imperative to address climate change and safeguard our natural environment has never been more pressing. We can accomplish the greatest advancements working together, as a community, with neighboring jurisdictions, and by taking advantage of the environmental expertise that exists in our incredible non-profit organizations and at Stanford University to secure the future for our children and successive generations. Palo Alto has long been at the vanguard of this endeavor, and we are redoubling our commitment. In February, Palo Alto hosted the Green Transition Summit, aimed at fostering deeper collaboration between Sweden and the United States to promote innovation and technological solutions for the green transition. I was honored to host the Crown Princess and Prince of Sweden, alongside the Lieutenant Governor of California. As Mayor and Palo Alto resident, I take pride in our City's considerable influence and power in this sphere. While the changes we enact here alone may not suffice to reverse the climate doomsday clock, if we can inspire enough cities and nations to fervently tackle these challenges, and demonstrate that impactful action is achievable in our small corner of the world, then we can create a legacy of clean air, pristine waters, and a thriving planet for posterity.

Youth Mental Health & Wellbeing

As a teacher and someone who lost a close high school friend to suicide, I understand the importance of youth mental health. As a society, we have recently emerged from the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic. The world acted as one, united in our shared goal of defeating that global health crisis and eventually returned to normal. However, today the world faces another pandemic, perhaps one more insidious than Covid - one that rarely shows symptoms or is easy to diagnose: the deterioration of youth mental health around the world, across this nation, and here in Palo Alto. Sadly, this issue is not new to us. Over a decade ago, our City experienced its first suicide cluster, followed by another devastating wave of tragedies.

That's why, on the very night I was elected Mayor, I announced the formation of a Youth Well-being & Mental Health Taskforce. The Taskforce's mission is to identify the greatest needs of our city's youth, assess gaps in services, and propose policies and programs to address this pressing issue. The Taskforce comprises key stakeholders, leaders, and experts from across the City and region, including renowned professionals from Stanford, dedicated nonprofit leaders, Council members, School District representatives, and most importantly, student advocates.

The Taskforce has been diligently working to provide recommendations for the Council to consider. Already, the Taskforce has identified key trends and are developing policy recommendations, ranging from enhancing means safety to improving transportation solutions for teens seeking mental health services. The Taskforce was able to identify a need for another teen center in north Palo Alto. (Currently, the only teen center is located at Mitchell Park Library in the southern part of Palo Alto.) I'm happy to report that I was able to successfully advocate for another teen center located on Bryant Street in downtown Palo Alto, a space that will also be used by La Comida to serve lunches to our City's senior citizens

I have also been in close conversation with Palo Alto University and the City's Community Service Department to collaborate on a new partnership between the University and the City. My hope is to incorporate Palo Alto University's venerated counseling and psychology programs into Palo Alto and our teen centers and to find a cost-effective way to leverage the expertise and passion we have in the community to benefit our City's youth.

Building Community Trust and Unity

Any casual observer of our nation's politics will instantly notice how divided we appear as a country, and that division seems to have crept into all facets of our lives, from politics to religion, sports teams, to taste in pop culture. We often tend to look for what divides us rather than what brings us together. Unfortunately, conflicts from around the globe have even crept into our local politics, fostering divisions among our own residents here at home. Witnessing this fracture is truly disheartening. In January, shortly after becoming Mayor, I took the position that the City Council should refrain from involvement in geopolitical matters, and I stand by that policy.

However, in recognition of the deep pain many members of our community were feeling (and continue to feel) I believe it was imperative that we collectively worked together as a community to begin the healing process. So, in February, I put together an advisory group with the seemingly impossible task of finding common ground on the conflict in the Middle East. This group was composed of key stakeholders and religious leaders from the pro- and anti-ceasefire groups. I asked Councilmember Veenker to employ her mediation background to mediate the discussions. The group met several times over the course of multiple months and eventually got to the place where they had drafted a Unity Statement that all members endorsed. I then read the Unity Statement aloud at a City Council meeting and received the endorsement of the Council. The full text of the Unity Statement is below:

"Recent events in the Middle East have had a profound impact in Palo Alto. Our residents are suffering and in pain. We have witnessed thousands of deaths, including those of innocent Palestinian and Israeli children. We have seen violence and a humanitarian crisis that has broken our hearts and threatens to fracture our community. Increased incidents of hate against Jews, Palestinians, Muslims, Israelis, Arab-Americans, and others here at home are at odds with the sense of belonging and safety that we hold dear in our city

"Our hearts go out to all members of our community affected by this ongoing tragedy, especially those with friends and loved ones in harm's way and those who have traveled to conflict-ridden areas to render aid. We are particularly heartbroken by children experiencing violence abroad and hate here at home and affirm that children must be protected everywhere. We long for a world without violence, mourn the loss of innocent lives, affirm our shared humanity, and encourage efforts toward a just and enduring peace.

"Here at home, Palo Alto affirms its commitment to fostering hate-free environments, and promoting understanding and empathy. The city cherishes cultural richness and welcomes the accompanying range of dress, cuisine, and religious practices. We will lead by example in ensuring that all people feel respected, heard, and valued. We recommit to creating inclusive communities that uphold human rights and reject discrimination and hate. We encourage residents to show civility, compassion and understanding in support of their neighbors who may be in great pain and suffering.

"We believe in the power of dialogue and education to build bridges and promote healing in our community. We support initiatives that foster civil discourse, understanding, and reconciliation. We encourage Palo Altans to make an extra effort to participate in activities with neighbors that will bring about the understanding and empathy that will promote the healing process together. In short, we recognize the common humanity of all our residents and commit to supporting their sense of safety and belonging in our community."

I strongly believe in the power of this community and our capacity when we work together. In pursuit of community unity, I am eager to find additional opportunities for City events and community gathering spaces. I have been an advocate for Third Thursdays on California Avenue and other long-standing community traditions. In May, I announced a matching grant of up to $10,000 for Palo Alto's beloved Perry and his Barron Park Donkey pasturemates to help cover their rising medical costs and other funding needs. In doing so, I recognized the importance the donkeys play in our community, bringing their visitors of all ages a sense of joy and peace.

I am also a believer in creating a "third place" for community members who wish to find social gathering spaces outside their homes and workplaces to gather as neighbors. None of this comes as an accident, but rather intention and careful city planning that emphasizes the importance of community.

Join our campaign and let your voice be heard! volunteer donate welcome about Greer our issues endorsements volunteer and donate Paid for by Greer Stone for Palo Alto City Council 2024        160 Melville Ave         Palo Alto, CA     94301       FPPC #1470565 Andie Reed, Treasurer          Copyright 2024
Join our campaign and let your voice be heard! volunteer donate welcome about Greer our issues endorsements volunteer and donate Paid for by Greer Stone for Palo Alto City Council 2024 160 Melville Ave      Palo Alto, CA      94301 Andie Reed, Treasurer           FPPC #1470565