Saturday, April 21, 2007

Respecting Diversity in the Quest for Environmental Stability

Yes. Yes. The Bureau is still here, always.
Just ramping up for better understandings, more inclusive resolutions.

A recent article of note:
April 2007

Why is the green movement so lily white?
By Van Jones

In 2005, Americans sat before our television sets, horrified by images of an American city underwater. In 2006, we sat in the nation’s movie houses, watching Al Gore make the case for urgent action. In 2007, Americans are finally rising from our seats and demanding action to reverse global warming.

Students are planning marches and protests to push Congress to curb emissions. Consumers and investors are flocking to carbon-cutting solutions like hybrid cars, bio-diesel and solar power. Reporters and editors are moving their environmental stories from the back of the paper to Page 1A, above the fold. Corporations are stampeding each other to showcase their love of clear skies and lush forests. And both the blue Democrats and the red Republicans are suddenly waving green banners.

The climate crisis is galloping from the margins of geek science to the epicenter of our politics, culture and economics. As the new environmentalists advance, only two questions remain: whom will they take with them? And whom will they leave behind?

We know that climate activists will convince Congress to adopt market-based solutions (like “cap and trade”). This approach may help big businesses do the right thing. But will those same activists use their growing clout to push Congress to better aid survivors of Hurricane Katrina? Black and impoverished victims of our biggest eco-disaster still lack housing and the means to rebuild. Will they find any champions in the rising environmental lobby?

We know that the climate activists will fight for subsidies and supports for the booming clean energy and energy conservation markets. But will they insist that these new industries be accessible beyond the eco-elite — creating jobs and wealth-building opportunities for low-income people and people of color? In other words, will the new environmental leaders fight for eco-equity in this “green economy” they are birthing? Or will they try to take the easy way out — in effect, settling for an eco-apartheid?

The sad racial history of environmental activism tends to discourage high hopes among racial justice activists. And yet this new wave has the potential to be infinitely more expansive and inclusive than previous eco-upsurges.

Environmentalism’s 1st Wave: Conservation

But first, the bad news: no previous wave of US environmentalism ever broke with the racism or elitism of its day. In fact, earlier environmental movements often either ignored racial inequality or exacerbated it.

For example, consider the first wave of environmentalism: the “conservation” wave.

The true original conservationists were not John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt or David Brower. They were the Native Americans. The original Americans were geniuses at living in harmonic balance with their sister and brother species. Before the Europeans arrived, the entire continent was effectively a gigantic nature preserve. A squirrel could climb a tree at the Atlantic Ocean and move branch-to-branch-to-branch until she reached the Mississippi River. So many birds flew south for the winter that their beating wings were like thunder, and their numbers blotted out the sun.

Native Americans achieved this feat of conservation on a continent that was fully populated by humans. In fact, the leading indigenous civilizations achieved world-historic heights of political statesmanship by founding the Iroquois Federation, a model for the US founders.

Unfortunately, those same founders rejected the Indians’ example of environmental stewardship. Colonizers wiped out whole species to make pelts, felled forests and destroyed watersheds. Settlers almost exterminated the buffalo just for shooting sport.

The destruction of nature was so relentless, heedless and massive that some Europeans balked. They created the famed “conservation movement,” a slogan for which could well have been: “Okay, but let’s not pave EVERY-thing!”

Fortunately, the conservationists’ enjoyed some success; their worthy efforts continue to this day. But the first and best practitioners of “environmental conservation” were not white people. They were red people. And the mostly-white conservation movement still owes an incalculable debt to the physical and philosophical legacy of indigenous peoples. But it is a debt that conservation leaders apparently have no intention of ever repaying.

Case in point: today’s large conservation groups together have countless members, hundreds of millions of dollars and scores of professional lobbyists. But when Native Americans fight poverty, hostile federal bureaucracies and the impact of broken treaties, these massive groups are almost always missing in action. In that regard, Indian-killing Teddy Roosevelt set the enduring pattern for most conservationists’ racial politics: “Let’s preserve the land we stole.”

Environmentalism’s 2nd Wave: Regulation

In the 1960s, the second wave of environmentalism got under way. Sparked by Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, this wave could be called the “regulation” wave. It challenged the worst excesses of industrial-age pollution and toxics. Among other important successes, this wave produced the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the EPA and the first Earth Day in 1970.

But this wave, too, was affluent and lily white. As a result, it developed huge blind spots to toxic pollution concentrating in communities of poor and brown-skinned people. In fact, some people of color began to wonder if white polluters and white environmentalists were unconsciously collaborating. They were effectively steering the worst polluters and foulest dumps into Black, Latino, Asian and poor neighborhoods.

Finally, people of color people began speaking out. And in the 1980s, a new movement was born to combat what its leaders called “environmental racism.” Those leaders said: “Regulate pollution, yes — but do it with equity. Do it fairly. Don’t make black, brown and poor children bear a disproportionate burden of asthma and cancer.”

Two decades later, that so-called “environmental justice” movement continues to defend the poor and vulnerable. But it functions separately from so-called “mainstream” (white) environmentalism. That movement has never fully embraced the cause of environmentalists of color. In other words, since the 1980s, we have had an environmental movement that is segregated by race.

Given this history of racial apathy, exclusion and even hostility, is there any reason to expect much different from the latest upsurge of eco-activism?

The Third Time’s the Charm: Investment

Well, in fact: there is. The reason for hope has to do with the very nature of the present wave. Simply put, this wave is qualitatively different from the previous ones.

The first wave was about preserving the natural bounty of the past. The second wave was about regulating the problems of the industrial present. But the new wave is different. It is about investing in solutions for the future: solar power, hybrid technology, bio-fuels, wind turbines, tidal power, fuel cells, energy conservation methods and more.

The green wave’s new products, services and technologies could also mean something important to struggling communities: the possibility of new green-collar jobs, a chance to improve community health and opportunities to build wealth in the green economy. If the mostly-white global warming activists join forces with people of color, the United States can avoid both eco-apocalypse and eco-apartheid — and achieve eco-equity.

Discussions of race, class and the environment today can go beyond how to atone for past hurts or distribute present harms. Today we can ask: how do we equitably carve up the benefits of a bright future?

And that kind of question gives a powerful incentive for people of color, labor leaders and low-income folks to come back to the environmental table. At the same time, for all their present momentum, the newly ascendant greens cannot meet their short-term objectives or their long-term goals — without the support of a much broader coalition.

Green Rush = Green-Collar Jobs?

From the perspective of people of color, helping to build a bigger green tent would be worth the effort. Green is rapidly becoming the new gold. The LOHAS (lifestyles of health and sustainability) sector is growing like crazy: it was a $229 billion piece of the US economy in 2006. And it is growing on a vertical.

But unfortunately, the LOHAS sector is probably the most racially segregated part of the US economy — in terms of its customers, owners and employees. Changing that could create better health, more jobs and increased wealth for communities that need all three.

For example, an urban youth trained to install solar panels can go on to become an electrical engineer. Imagine a young adult trained to keep buildings from leaking energy by putting in double-paned glass — on track to becoming a glazer. Those trained to work with eco-chic bamboo or to fix hybrid engines will find good work.

We need Green Technology Training Centers in every public high school, vocational school and community college. And America needs an Energy Corps, like Americorps and the Peace Corps, to train and deploy millions of youth in the vital work of rewiring a nation.

Beyond that, people of color must also have the chance to become inventors, investors, owners, entrepreneurs and employers in the new greener world. They should also use their political power to influence the scope, scale and shape of the green economy.

It makes sense for people of color to work for a green growth agenda, as long as green partisans embrace broad opportunity and shared prosperity as key values.

Eco-Equity Is Smart Politics

For global warming activists, embracing eco-equity would be a politically brilliant move. In the short term, a more inclusive approach will prevent polluters from isolating and derailing the new movement. In the long run, it is the only strategy that will save the Earth.

In the near term, opponents of change will actively recruit everyone whom this new movement ignores, offends or excludes. California provides a cautionary tale; voters there rejected a 2006 ballot measure to fund clean energy research. A small excise tax on the state’s oil extraction would have produced a huge fund, propelling California into the global lead in renewable energy. But the same message that wooed Silicon Valley and Hollywood elites flopped among regular voters.

Clean energy proponents ran abstract ads about “energy independence” and the bright eco-future. But big oil spoke directly to pocket-book issues, running ads that warned (falsely) that the tax would send gas prices through the roof. On that basis, an NAACP leader and others joined the opposition. And the measure’s original sky-high support plummeted.

To avoid getting out-maneuvered politically, green economy proponents must actively pursue alliances with people of color. And they must include leaders, organizations and messages that will resonate with the working class.

The Hidden Danger of Eco-Apartheid

But the real danger lies in the long term. The United States is the world’s biggest polluter. To avoid eco-apocalypse, Congress will have to do more than pass a “cap and trade” bill. And Americans will have to do more than stick in better light bulbs.

To pull off this ecological U-turn, we will have to fundamentally restructure the US economy. We will need to “green” whole cities. We will have to build thousands of wind farms, install tens of millions of solar panels and retrofit millions of buildings. We will have to retire our car, truck and bus fleets, which are based on combustible engines and oil, replacing them with plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles powered by a clean-energy grid.

Reversing global warming will require a WWII level of mobilization. It is the work of tens of millions, not hundreds of thousands. Such a shift will require massive support at the social, cultural and political levels. And in an increasingly non-white nation, that means enlisting the passionate involvement of millions of so-called “minorities” — as consumers, inventors, entrepreneurs, investors, buzz marketers, voters and workers.

All For Green & Green For All

It is obvious that eco-chic, embraced by the eco-elite, won’t save the planet. Climate change activists may be tempted to try to sidestep the issues of racial inclusion, in the name of expedience — but the truth is that eco-apartheid is just a speed-bump on the way to eco-apocalypse. Any successful, long-term strategy will require a full and passionate embrace of the principle of eco-equity.

Beyond that, there is the moral imperative. The predicted ecological disasters will hit poor people and people of color — first and worst. Our society has an obligation to insure equal protection from the peril — and equal access to the promise — of our new, ecological age.

So now is the time for the green movement to reach out. By definition, a politics of investment is a politics of hope, optimism and opportunity. The bright promise of the green economy could soon include, inspire and energize people of all races and classes. And nowhere is the need for a politics of hope more profound than it is among America’s urban and rural poor.

More importantly, climate activists can open the door to a grand historic alliance — a political force with the power to bend history in a new direction. Let the climate activists say: “We want to build a green economy, strong enough to lift people out of poverty. We want to create green pathways out of poverty and into great careers for America’s children. We want this ‘green wave’ to lift all boats. This country can save the polar bears and black kids, too.”

Let them say: “In the wake of Katrina, we reject the idea of ‘free market’ evacuation plans. Families should not be left behind to drown because they lack a functioning car or a credit card. Katrina’s survivors still need our help. And we need a plan to rescue everybody next time. In an age of floods, we reject the ideology that says must let our neighbors ‘sink or swim.’”

Let them say: “We want those communities that were locked out of the last century’s pollution-based economy to be locked into the new, clean and green economy. We don’t have any throw-away species or resources. And we don’t have any throw-away children or neighborhoods either. All of creation is precious. And we are all in this together.”

A Green Growth Alliance

Those words would make environmental history.

More importantly, they could begin a complete realignment of American politics. The idea of “social uplift environmentalism” could serve as the cornerstone for an unprecedented “Green Growth Alliance.” Imagine a coalition that unites the best of labor, business, racial justice activists, environmentalists, intellectuals, students and more. That combination would rival the last century’s New Deal and New Right coalitions.

To give the Earth and her peoples a fighting chance, we need a broad, eco-populist alliance — one that includes every class under the sun and every color in the rainbow. By embracing eco-equity as their ultimate goal, the climate crisis activists can play a key role in birthing such a force.

Van Jones is the president of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, in Oakland, California ( and a National Apollo Alliance steering committee member.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Measure A Beta Version 2.0

Interesting. In this morning's Mercury News, "Drekmeier said he thinks voters rejected the measure because opponents created doubts with TV commercials featuring farmers and Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith, who said it would hurt family agricultural operations and could expose the county to lawsuits. He said supporters have not decided yet whether to come back in a future election.
If they do decide to try again, he said, ``We would involve the Farm Bureau the next time. We need to rebuild trust on both sides."

Both sides need to rebuild trust? A huh.

Of course the Measure A Empire will strike back. That's a given. But they now realize that they need the minority, those "puppets" of other interest who do not really exist, whose lands are intended only for the the urban recreational good. They need Farm Bureau support now.

Truthiness Bureau, being the keen think tank that we are, has a suggestion. What is needed in our next Santa Clara County election, is a ballot measure that requires some obligation from Silicon Valley businesses for the stress they place on local environment. It could be a fancy formula that balances respective company market cap, along with revenues and profits per each Santa Clara County employee of that company, including supplementals and contractors, etc..etc. Mr. Girard would have to sit this one out, though, because we would need a clearly defined initiative, with provisions based in law and economics (and not just feel-good sloganism and the promise of freebies at the expense of another.) The goal would be to preserve open space while also spreading financial costs to those who benefit. The urban affluent will become joint-investors in the cause.

Monies from a Measure A Beta Version 2.0 initiative would go directly into open space funding, purchasing lands outright from private property owners, or funneled into a competitive market of conservancy easements, etc. Yep... that's what we need. Then again, Measure A's power/wealth network which supported placing all burden on one minority group might not appreciate the challenge. Not only that, those Measure A supporters who have "political ambitions" might also risk political support by challenging business leaders, but hey, the environment is the critical objective here. Silicon Valley industry would soon figure out ways to redistribute this environmental obligation to both employees and customers, thus further maximizing a distribution of financial burden. Industry is extremely efficient in cost distribution. The engine of Santa Clara County population growth is high tech industry, and population, as the environmentalists have advocated, is the dynamic stressing our immediate environment. So....if environment is the true objective, an environmental "tax" on Silicon Valley business makes sense. A lot of sense. (it's ok for the Truthiness Bureau to say such things... no one here is running for office any time soon.)

OK... after Measure A Beta Version 2.0, we can then follow up with that keen suggestion of having a proposition to end all further propositions.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A matter of perspective

From a Palo Alto Online article Nov.8:
Palo Alto City Councilman Peter Drekmeier, campaign coordinator for Measure A, was philosophical about the defeat.
"We faced a number of challenges during the campaign," Drekmeier said in an e-mail to Measure A supporters. "One of the biggest was the scare that if Proposition 90 and Measure A both passed, the result would be an onslaught of lawsuits.
"This was not true, and Measure A ended up losing, but when you have the sheriff saying on TV that Measure A is going to bankrupt the county, voters get nervous."
Drekmeier also said that "there were many undecided voters right up to the end, and they swung into the 'no' column." ...(text)
"On the bright side, things aren't worse than they were before; they just haven't improved," he said.

Mr. Drekmeier was right about one thing. One of the primary reasons Measure A lost was because of the pending threat of state Proposition 90, which would have required compensation for regulatory takings (Prop 90 would have been a nightmare for California, especially harmful to environmental laws and protections, requiring citizen compensation for perceived losses from any ordinance or regulation, big or small.)

Mr. Drekmeier's statement about Proposition 90 is especially interesting because it implies that voters turned Measure A down, not because they perceived an issue of fairness, but because they perceived serious takings with Measure A, and they were afraid of a possible distributive financial burden. That is, they knew Measure A restrictions would significantly devalue rural lands, and voters did not want the responsibility, as taxpayers, of compensating for these devaluations. They realized that eventually they would have to pay. Drekmeier and Girard said that Measure A had an "escape" clause, would not be applied if anyone's rights were determined to be violated. But what they were not readily admitting in their campaign, was that Measure A gave ALL authority to the Courts in determining rights and applicability of provisions (and not the County Supervisors.) These decisions required costly litigation. Santa Clara County Counsel Ann Ravel warned of county expenditures for litigation and compensation in two memos, with a legal analysis if both Measure A and Proposition 90 passed together.

Proposition 90 would have been especially problematic for the County because its provisions mandated compensation for regulatory takings (compensation also for attorney and litigation costs.) The legal analysis of the two passing together was interesting, never acknowledged, or perhaps even understood, by the Measure A supporters. By mandating compensation, Proposition 90 fulfilled a constitutional requirement. With the passage of Prop 90, no one's "rights" would have been violated by Measure A, since the US Constitution allows for takings with just compensation. The interaction between Measure A and Prop 90 would have shifted focus from "rights" to "compensation." Exactly when would Measure A have been a violation of rights (and therefore not applied) if Prop 90 would have readily satisfied the constitutional requirement? Voters did not want to be liable for Measure A's downzonings. So... it wasn't really "fairness" that decided the vote. It was the threat of having to pay for something. And who wanted to pay? All that open space was supposed to be a freebie. Dang that Prop 90!
(A case study of Measure A is being prepared for various policy groups and will include a legal analysis, with the competing interpretations of Robert Girard and County Counsel Ann Ravel.)

Now... as for Mr. Drekmeier's last statement, "things aren't worse than they were before." Well. He may want to read a few articles from the farming community and reassess. According to Jenny Derry, President of the Santa Clara Farmers Bureau, the farmers had always enjoyed a good relationship with environmental groups, had worked together successfully on past projects. Two allies are sometimes needed to protect mutual interests. But the environmentalists shot Measure A out of left field, without warning, written behind closed doors, without public discourse or impact analysis, without any regard for the rural community. Santa Clara farmers may possibly have a different perspective on present relations than Mr. Drekmeier.

Gilroy Dispatch
Measure A Dead
Thursday, November 09, 2006 (need to scroll down on page)

Let's start with the good local news before bemoaning the unsavory TV bombardment that has become the hallmark of California political seasons: It's over, and the little guys - the farmers, ranchers and vineyard owners - won a highly improbable victory in defeating a draconian county land-use initiative, ballot Measure A. And, there's a new Gilroy school board in place that has the potential to be an "honors" class.

Let's first tip our hats to the agriculture community and the private property advocates who fought hard against the twisted message delivered by the misguided proponents of Measure A.

In the midst of the busy harvest season, farmers showed up on the county building's steps to deliver the message that ultimately resonated with voters. Measure A wasn't about preserving agriculture, it was a land-grab led by extremist environmental groups carefully designed to steal property by making land-use regulations so ridiculously stringent that it turned common-sense uses into illegal activities.

Measure A proponents spent more than $1 million trying to make it tougher for farmers and ranchers to exist in our county, but voters, thankfully, still value private property rights, common sense and the local agriculture industry enough to turn back the big-money, Palo Alto-based charlatans.

Santa Clara County's General Plan is a solid planning document, and county supervisors respect its intent and vision. Urban voters, though unlikely allies of farmers, made a discerning judgment in canning Measure A. Now the farmers can go back to work.

Gilroy Dispatch
Friday, November 03, 2006 (need to scroll down on page)
Local Farmer Explains How Measure A Hurts Ag and South County
Dear Editor,
It struck a nerve when a councilman from Palo Alto wrote to the Gilroy Dispatch to say that Measure A won't hurt farmers. I doubt that he would know since he's not a farmer. I am a farmer and I'd like to share my viewpoint.

Measure A does not support working farms. It's unfair to even claim that this is a measure to "save the farmers" when not one farmer or rancher was asked for any input in drafting it. Not only do farmers and ranchers not support this measure, we have come out in force against Measure A.

I also have a problem with the notion that we need the people from the cities to form laws and measures to protect "us simple folk in the country" because we are too idiotic to understand the complexities of a growing urban region and the impact it can have on our community. Thanks for the suggestion, but we would rather have a collected effort of all groups and stakeholders in our communities - not just the environmentalists - to form land use measures that will affect our community and our businesses for generations to come.

What will Measure A do for farmers and ranchers? Well its core purpose is to downzone property in the hillside and ranchlands. This will devalue the land, affecting our borrowing power and flexibility in a very volatile marketplace. Contrary to Palo Alto Councilman Peter Drekmeier's statements, there is a lot of farming and ranching in those two areas - $8 million worth of cattle alone last year, along with wineries, row crops, hay and grain. These are real businesses trying to make a living and these measures just add more regulations and restrictions.

Besides devaluing our greatest asset, our land, Measure A contains restrictions on agricultural operations. The viewshed portions restrict where facilities can be located. The measure requires that most of our agricultural facilities be located within a 3-acre envelope. And it restricts what produce can be sold or used by farmers' markets and wineries in the ranchlands and hillside areas.

These restrictions show that the authors of Measure A clearly don't understand the realities of farming. We all barter and sell produce to each other, and wineries regularly import grapes from within and from outside of the county when needed to make a specific wine or augment local production.

I am also a member of the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau's Board of Directors, so I want to comment on the fundraising issue. Our elected board of working farmers voted to put $30,000 into the campaign to fight Measure A. While Mr. Drekmeier may not consider this much of a commitment, it is quite a bit to a small political organization of 350 family farmers.

We are very proud of our work to defeat Measure A. It doesn't support farming, ranching or the wine industry. If you want to support farmers, buy California and local produce, or support measures that help agricultural businesses expand, not restrict and devalue them. I hope your readers will read the whole measure for themselves. I'll be voting no on Measure A.

Tim Chiala, George Chiala Farms, Morgan Hill

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Measure A gets "plowed under"

From today's Mercury News, November 9, 2006
Land-preservation initiative falls flat
By Truong Phuoc Khánh

"(text)...Measure A, a land-use initiative that took 18 pages to explain itself, was voted down 51 to 49 percent. It would have reduced the number of parcels that can be developed on ranch lands and hillsides spread across 400,000 acres, or about half of the land in Santa Clara County.
(text)....The list of Measure A backers read like a Silicon Valley ``Who's Who,'' including no fewer than three former San Jose mayors.
Measure A's opponents, on the other hand, were farmers, ranchers and developers who were heavily outnumbered, given that only 6 percent of the county's 1.7 million residents live in rural areas of Santa Clara County.
On Wednesday, some environmentalists were baffled that the numbers turned against them. A poll conducted days before the election found the measure had strong support among likely voters.

Alas, a long, complicated initiative full of planning jargon, written by a retired Stanford University law professor, might not have helped.
``There were many voters who had trouble digesting the initiative,'' Drekmeier admitted.
The No on Measure A group, backed by the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau, the Santa Clara County Cattlemen's Association, county supervisors Gage and Pete McHugh and Sheriff Laurie Smith, said the measure would devalue properties and hurt farmers.
That message resonated with voters, said Vince Garrod, whose family owns 120 acres, 80 of which are in unincorporated county land. He compared his real estate to a bank account from which he might want to make a withdrawal at some point. ....(text)"

We won. The land-grab initiative got "plowed under", as the Gilroy Dispatched described the election results.

A 6% rural minority, a statistic revealed for the first time by the Mercury News, went up against unbelievable odds, and won.

Most area papers, including the slanted Mercury News endorsed Measure A ...the Silicon Valley Leadership Group representing local high tech companies and local universities influentially endorsed Measure A .... League of Women Voters, past and present city and county officials, along with a slew of Democrats, all endorsed Measure A ... and the polls were against us from the beginning. But we did it. Against all odds, we did it.

It was uncomfortably close, 51%-49%. This entire campaign has been surreal, never realized how deeply corrupt the social constructs around us have become. The press was a real eye-opener, very slanted, keenly conspicuous in promoting agenda. Reading the morning newspaper will never be the same. And what a difference a day makes. In press statements, Peter Drekmeier is no longer describing farmers as puppets of other interests (he now has to work with the Farm Bureau on future projects.) And alas! The Mercury News, for the first time today, doesn't focus on the campaign funds of the opposition. GASP! What happened at the Mercury?

We definitely need more free-thinking in our society, less unreasoned devotion to party lines. We need more questions, more analysis, more respect for the Law of Unintended Consequences. The Democrat endorsers and environmentalists sponsors of Measure A have now proven themselves elitist/ condescending, with complete disregard of a minority group's needs and rights. This region has gone into hyper-privilege from extreme housing costs and high tech salaries. Very few in this region now have any realistic basis, or point of reference, for the diversity of others and their economic differences. And the problem willonlyt get worse. As our population accelerates, desperate "sanctimonious" land grabs will become more bold, more "justified," more successful. It definitely does not bode well for the future of any group in the minority. Not well at all.

[Note: the blog link in the previous post disclosing the funding for the People for Nature and Land (Measure A) campaign does not seem to be viable any more. Another aspect of blogs is the transience and manipulation of disclosures. What a shame. After considerable rummaging on line yesterday, the disclosure information was again located. Public campaign finance statements for PLAN (as well as disclosures for the No campaign)can be found at the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters at:

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

All the news not fit to print

(Mercury News, Nov. 5, Mercury News Editorial)
Get California back on track
"Opposition to Measure A has been funded largely by real estate interests, which should tell voters all they need to know. The county needs this measure's protection before it's too late."

No.... that's not all we really need to know. We voters could use just a wee bit more information.

The Measure A campaign paid around $136,000 to the Mercury News for its advertising. That was a significant portion of PLAN's expenditures for the campaign. A strategic move, for sure.

The Mercury News never did an in-depth story on Measure A. They treated all Measure A news superficially, as superficially as PLAN's (People for Land and Nature) feel-good slogan, never addressed conflicts of interests, or the absence of impact analysis, or the corresponding similarities and differences to "related" initiatives, and on and on. They actually chose not to print a lot of information. A lot. Just like the supporters of Measure A, most Mercury News articles focused on the real estate interests funding the opposition. An easy scapegoat, to force a focus while avoiding any discussion of the means, or issues of fairness. Not ONE Mercury News article asked, or even wondered, who was funding the supporters? Not one article, not one sentence.

Recently, on the San Jose Inside discussion boards, the answer to who was funding Measure A came to light. A lot of interesting information came to light, by way of a board message directing readers to visit

That's the great thing about blogs. Blogs churn up information; the rest is left to investigative fact checking, which is easily done by accessing public records, like campaign disclosures. None of this information was important to the Mercury News. Mercury News never asked who funded the supporters of Measure A.... nor did it ever wonder how many farmers tend to have venture capitalists friends.

Monday, November 06, 2006

"Together we can all put privileged democracy to work!"

Somewhere in the chaotic din of congressional shenanigans (Pombo), corrupted media influence, extreme private property rights activists, extreme environmental activists, Republicans, Democrats, and rambling pages of tedious text, there may be a few meaningful solutions for both the individual and the environment. Thing is, good solutions do not happen instantaneously as a simple matter of majority vote. The best solutions, if taken seriously, require time and encourage a more broad-based approach, giving voice and respect to all stakeholders and their unique perspective. Even those in the minority. [We might do well to learn a bit from countries like Denmark and Norway, and their efforts in participatory law.] Measure A excludes an entire group from a privileged economic model, with no consideration for determining a win/win value proposition. The initiative is unbalanced, unfair, and coercive.

Thing is, you can "save" the farm, but if you don't save the farmer, what then?

As it is with Measure A, concepts of property are no longer consistently applied. Concepts of environmental conservation and sustainability have also become trivialized by Measure A with its privileged view of who bares all burden. If this community values open space, then the community could make that value explicit by spreading the burden and legitimately securing open space. Compensation is a mechanism for shared burden. And if our prosperous high tech companies want a quality of life for their employees, as Carl Guardino, the president of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has stated, then these member companies, who have been the engines of growth here in Silicon Valley, should also share a financial obligation. The more our environmental perspective opens to broad-based solutions (starting with our individual contributions), the closer we may get to the desired objective, protecting environment within a realistic understanding of accelerating population growth.

Here's a suggestion for The Silicon Valley Leadership Group who endorsed Measure A.... if just 150 of the 200 member SVLG member companies each donated an average of $1 million dollars to open space each year, a combined yearly contribution of $150 million tax exempt dollars, then land conservancy groups could purchase and preserve quite a bit of acreage. Surely a tax-exempt donation of $1 million is a mere drop in the bucket for companies like Hewlett Packard, Apple Computer, IBM, Intel, EBay, Cisco, and Google.

And here are two examples of what their pooled contributions could buy.... 20-acre hillside lots in Morgan Hill average $400,000 (valued less now with new rigid County Plan view shed restrictions, in most cases 20-acre hillside lots are now unbuildable, with lowered average cost around $300,000.) Those 20 acres are already valued less than an Atherton driveway (and the bit of land underneath it.) As for ranch land around Mt. Hamilton, the treasurer of "People for Land and Nature" (the environmental group sponsoring Measure A) put his 170-acre ranch on market in September, asking $1.7 million. Odd timing in relation to Measure A, but still, an example of ranch land value. One hundred and seventy acres around Mt. Hamilton is equivalent to a median priced home on a one-acre lot in Los Alto Hills. These are two examples of hillside and ranch land values. Now. Just think how much acreage, in various combinations, $150 million could buy. One might also consider how much more open space would be protected if conservancy easements were part of the equation.

And what if SVLG corporate "environmental contributions" were an annual obligation, for the purpose, as Mr. Guardino stated, "the health of our companies and the quality of life of our employees." ....Ain't it touching to see corporations care so much about their employees....and the environment? And here's yet another idea. What if these companies also set up employee match/ giving programs that matched the contributions of employees wanting to donate to open space? So many ways to spread the burden, to test our resolve.

Corporate responsibility makes sense. Consensus is that the media will support citizen efforts to hold business accountable, and this will not be a trivial matter in corporate/ public relations. Several publications have commented, that the "content" of the repeated message below deserves continued consideration.
(Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, Nov.3)
The Silicon Valley Leadership Group endorsed Measure A, an initiative that imposes all impact and financial burden on a minority of rural land owners, and yet member SVLG high tech companies exist because of strong property rights laws and protections. SVLG member companies know the value of intellectual property rights, and wage battles for these rights every day. Would they want the speculative value of their intellectual property reduced by a general election that limits their freedom of action? Not likely. They could not survive in a global economy.

Intellectual property is the most important asset of SVLG businesses; similarly, land is the primary asset of rural and agricultural families.
(San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 2)
Santa Clara's Measure A
Editor -- The Silicon Valley Leadership Group endorsed Santa Clara
County's Measure A, which will impose its financial burden on a
minority of rural land owners. Would SVLG companies want the
speculative value of their intellectual property reduced by a general
election that limits their freedom of action? Not likely. They could
not survive.

Similarly, land is the primary asset of rural and agricultural
families. Open space is important, but should be done with fair
compensation to land owners. How are rural families going to survive
in the competitive Silicon Valley economy, if uncompensated for
Measure A restrictions on the use of their lands?
(Palo Alto Daily, Redwood City Daily, San Mateo Daily, Burlingame Daily, Nov.1)
Property rights overlooked
Dear Editor: The Silicon Valley Leadership Group endorsed Measure A,
an initiative that imposes all impacts and financial burdens on a
minority of rural landowners, and yet member high-tech companies exist
because of strong property rights laws and protections. Leadership
Group-member companies know the value of intellectual property rights
and wage battles for these rights every day. Would they want the
speculative value of their intellectual property reduced by a general
election that limits their freedom of action? Not likely. They could
not survive in a global economy. Intellectual property is the most
important asset of SVLG businesses. Similarly land is the primary
asset of rural and agricultural families.

Lofty ideals are easy when one does not bear responsibility for those
ideals. Our environmental challenges deserve broad-based efforts, a
shared responsibility. Open space is important but should be done with
fair compensation to landowners. They too must survive.

Why do Leadership Group companies see their own intellectual property
rights but not the property rights of private rural landowners? How
are rural families going to survive in the competitive Silicon Valley
economy when they are uncompensated for Measure A restrictions on the
use of their lands? Where is the corporate responsibility of Silicon
Valley companies, their financial obligation, in protecting local
environs from the prosperity of high-tech business?
(Gilroy Dispatch, Nov. 2)
High Endorsement Irony in Leadership Group's Stance on Measure A
Dear Editor,
The Silicon Valley Leadership Group endorsed Measure A, which will
impose all impact and burden on rural land owners. Yet SVLG high-tech
companies exist because of strong property rights laws and

SVLG companies know the value of intellectual property rights. Would
they want the speculative value of their intellectual property reduced
by a general election that limits their freedom of action? Not
likely.They could not survive. Intellectual property is the most
important asset of SVLG businesses, similarly land is the primary
asset of rural and agricultural families.
(Mercury News, Oct.31)
The Silicon Valley Leadership Group endorsed Measure A, and yet SVLG
companies exist because of strong property rights laws and
protections. SVLG companies know the value of intellectual property
rights. Would they want the speculative value of their intellectual
property reduced by a general election that limits their freedom of
action? Not likely. Intellectual property is the most important asset
of SVLG businesses, similarly land is the primary asset of rural and
agricultural families.

Friday, November 03, 2006

"The cause was great"...when society takes a free ride
(a relevant excerpt from:)
Thoughts on Equality in the American Constitution
by Guido Calabresi

"(text)......The cause was great — but on whom was the burden?
....(text)....we can see that the 14th amendment has another meaning, and that meaning is akin to the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause. It's the functional equivalent of the Takings Clause. It requires compensation. You know that the Fifth Amendment says property will not be taken for a public purpose without compensation. Compensation has two purposes. First, to compensate the person from whom the property is taken, and second, and more important, to burden those who are taking so they will decide whether taking is worthwhile or not. Compensating sounds great, but Louis Kaplow got himself tenure at Harvard by writing an article saying, “hey, if we want to take the property for a park and we know that it's a good thing, why the heck should we compensate all the people we have taken the land from when some of them are rich and don't need compensation and we could better spend the money for the poor?” A wonderful article because the left at Harvard liked it, the economists at Harvard liked it, the bananas liked it, the perfect tenure piece for any law school. But there is something to compensation despite that.

The problem is that we often don't know whether the taking is worthwhile. The point is that the less we charge those who benefit from it, the easier it is to say that we want the park. We want the park. We want the park, but is it because we don't have to pay for it? Oddly enough, the best statement of this, after Justice Jackson first said it, was by none other than Nino Scalia. In Cruzan, he asked: “are there then no reasonable and humane limits that ought not be exceeded in requiring an individual to preserve his own life? There obviously are, but they are not set forth in the due process clause.” (That is to say, where libertarian interests are not that clear, don't look to the due process clause to protect them.) “What assures us that those limits will not be exceeded is the same constitutional guarantee that is the source of most of our protection.” (And then he gives some sorts of horribles which are laughable that I'll spare you, they're about not driving and things.) “Our salvation,” he ends up saying, “is the Equal Protection Clause, which requires the democratic majority to accept for themselves and their loved ones that which they impose on you and me.” In other words, we must bear the burden, if we would put it on them."

What intriguing thoughts in this excerpt, don't ya' think?
Judge Guido Calabresi is on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He was also former Dean of the Yale Law School. Compensation, as he points out above, serves two purposes, "First, to compensate the person from whom the property is taken, and second, and more important, to burden those who are taking so they will decide whether taking is worthwhile or not."

Now here's a question: when an affluent urban majority places all burden on a rural minority, without any compensatory remedy, without any shared burden, how important is the goal? The goal here being environmental conservation and sustainability? Where is the resolve, the true commitment to this goal? There isn't any.

Does the Silicon Valley elite simply "want" amenity lands because they can easily take them without having to pay for them? Is that the insidious motive behind their environmental philosophy?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Framing the Issue

Where's George Lakoff when you need him?

Hey.... he's on Blogger, too.

PLAN (People for Land and Nature) characterize Measure A an "Open Space" initiative. But the 13 pages of Measure A text are about "land use", with a labrynth of slope/density regulations and restrictions, and subdivsions requirements on private Santa Clara County land. It is a LAND USE intiative. PLAN promoted the measure as an "open space" initiative to endorsers. The Republicans for the Protection of the Environment were led to believe it was a conservancy "set-aside." The assumption was that lands would be obtained by way of purchase or market negotiation, and then set aside for open space, without any possibiity for development of any kind. Now that this grass-roots organization has read the text, and realized the controversial impact on private land owners, they have decided to withdraw their endorsement support. The intiative is considered beyond the scope of their mission, which includes open space, but not private land use.

Similarly, Carl Guardino, the preseident of the Silicon Valley Leadershiop Group, gave Measure A a very influencial endorsement. In the PLAN press release he described their endorsement in these terms:
SAN JOSE – Thursday, September 7

“The Leadership Group has a long and strong history of support for Open Space measures, dating back to the 1990 Open Space measure in Santa Clara County, when our founder David Packard personally led his Board colleagues on a nature hike to underscore the importance of open space to the health of our companies and the quality of life of our employees,” said Carl Guardino, President and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

Once again, the language is framed as an "Open Space" intiative, not as a "Land Use" initiative.

Oh... and let's not overlook Mr. Guardino's assertion that open space is necessary for the "health of our companies" and "the quality of life of our employees." Private land owners exist only as "open space" with sole purpose to support the prosperity of Silicon Valley business. No corporate financial investment in the objective at all.

But doesn't that hiking thing sound real nice?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Double double, toil and trouble

Fire Burn and cauldron bubble

Our egos here at Silicon Valley Truthiness Bureau are still pretty bruised over the curious fact that Google apparently removed us from their regular search index, three days after we posted "The Truthiness of Measure A." Was it something we said?

But... there is hope. The folks at the Berkman Center for Law and Society at Harvard have been very helpful. They are sensitive to clever weasel stuff like this, just hard to prove.

Also, for those experiencing similar unexplained difficulties or other issues in citizen journalism, you may want to visit Dan Gillmor's citizen media website:

The Truthiness Bureau is happy to know that Mr. Gillmor and Berkeley have teamed up to do a CA congressional race media project that mirrors (on a much larger scale, of course) our obsession with similar issues over press coverage on Measure A(slanted and incomplete arguments, among other things.)

The Berkeley law (Boalt) cyber clinic website is:

Ain't life grand? When open source democracy and citizen journalism weasel around the weasels?

More whining....

Distributive Fairness and Corporate Responsibility

Measure A places all burden and financial responsibility for environmental conservation on only one group of Santa Clara County residents, rural residents. One might ask, "How important are these lofty environmental ideals to this community, to urban Silicon Valley residents, if they are unwilling to spend a dime of their own money on any of it." It is always easy to take something for nothing, but what kind of society does that make? (Of course, there are those with a much longer historical view on this.) Where is the real commitment to environment if an affluent urban citizenship, including prosperous Silicon Valley corporations, are not willing to sacrifice a penny in land conservancy or compensatory relief?

Of course our environment is important. The protection and integrity of our environment should be a priority on all levels, community, national, and global. The issue is how this objective is being pursued here in Santa Clara County. Measure A trivialize the complexity of our environmental problems with benign sloganism, no attention to facts or consequential impact, or broad-based solutions. We know the feel-good intent of the initiative, but who has really read all thirteen pages of text? Even County Counsel Ann Ravel had to remind its author, Robert Girad, what the text set in motion, that all regulatory authority was given to the courts (litigation costs), and not the Supervisors. Furthermore, no impact analysis for Measure A was ordered by County Supervisors. Voters have no real information for basing their votes, for understanding who will be harmed, and to what extent, and for what benefit. The County established no basis for showing compelling public need to replace present County plan with the proposed new restrictions. Not a great way to go into takings litigation. What we do know is that all financial burden will be placed on one socio-economic group. The distribution of this financial burden may then extend to all taxpayers in subsequent litigation.

Measure A ignores the property rights of farmers, ranchers, and rural property owners, while property rights of urban residents remain intact and privileged. Peter Drekmeier claims that the initiative "does not devalue land" but will simply "reduce the speculative valuation of lands." Common sense tells us, this is a devaluing. And if common sense is not enough, rural policy and land use studies readily document devaluation after similar land use restrictions. Mr. Drekmeier has also characterized farmers and rural residents as not understanding the issue, and as puppets of other interests, as if opposition is not coming from real people, real families, real business ventures with sovereign needs. He has worked hard to silence the voice of those who will bare all burden. But we know from history, time and again, that there is need to challenge the agendas of those who would so easily silence others in the pursuit of "public good." If Mr. Drekmeier had genuine concern for farmers, ranchers, and rural residents, he would recognize their property and free speech rights, and perhaps help establish avenues for fair compensation.

High tech prosperity is the engine for our growing Santa Clara County population. Ironic that Silicon Valley Leadership Group has endorsed Measure A, and yet SVLG member companies exist because of strong property rights laws and protections. SVLG companies know the value of intellectual property rights. They wage fierce battles over these rights every day. Would they want the speculative value of their intellectual property reduced by a general election that would threaten or limit their freedom of action? Not likely. They could not survive in a competitive global economy. Intellectual property is the most important asset of Silicon Valley businesses, much like land is the primary capital asset of rural and agricultural families. Why is it SVLG companies protect their own property rights, but endorse a sweeping dismissal of the property rights of rural land owners? How are rural families going to survive in a competitive Silicon Valley economy if they are left uncompensated for land restrictions that amount to forced conservancy easements.

And what is the corporate responsibility of Silicon Valley companies, what is their shared financial burden, in protecting local environs from their own high tech prosperity?

---DMD, silly whiner

It's A Truthiness!

(From a letter sent in to the Truthiness Bureau. Our first letter to the editor. We are so proud.)

It's a Truthiness: Family Farmers Won't be Hurt by Measure A!

A tip of the hat to Peter Drekmeier, Palo Alto City Councilman, Campaign Coordinator, Yes on Measure A. In his truthiness-filled Gilroy Dispatch editorial "It's a Lie: Family Farmers Won't Be Hurt by Measure" Saturday, October 28, 2006, he sets the record straight. Measure A supports working farms – and that is the key - working. Any farmer who would every want to subdivide, and sell a portion of the farm isn't really that interested in farming, now are they? As Drekmeier points out subdivisions are incompatible with farming. Interviewed on KGO-TV (Land Battle Brews Over Measure A, by Carolyn
Johnson -

Peter Drekmeier, Measure A campaign coordinator: "It does strengthen some of the protections, but as far as subdividing the land for future development, it's the same minimum parcel size that currently exists. So for them to say it devalues the land, that's simply not the case." As long as they keep working the farm, it's the same minimum parcel size.

Peter Drekmeier: "What we're trying to do is create a balance between the private property rights and the rights of the community to have clean air, clean water, and the beautiful backdrop that we enjoy here."

As far as we rightous defenders of Truthiness are concerned, it is Peter Drekmeier who speaks best for working farmers and their property rights. The 440,000 acres of affected lands, are only about 33,000 parcels of land -- Peter Drekmeier speaks for far more people and far more parcels. Peter Drekmeier speaks for a double majority, urban voters who want a pretty view AND those whose property rights are unaffected by Measure A -including all those working farmers, who want to keep working the land, and never sell out or subdivide, or use their land value in any way, like for business loans, retirement, health care, or other silly expenditures.

As long as they keep working the land, we'll all get along just fine.

Guest writer to Truthiness, Letter to the Editor

Friday, October 27, 2006

Forget about Gulliver.... it's the Lilliputians we should worry about

All this worry over "Big Brother."
It's the little brothers that may have equal covert impact on social discourse. That's my take on the fact that the Silicon Valley Truthiness Bureau (SVTB) is no longer searchable on Google's regular search. Pity.

And to think....Mountain View, the home and heart of Google, is overwhelmingly in support of Measure A. A curious thing.

Yes, it's true. This blog was searchable in Google's "regular" search for several days, and has since suddenly "vanished" from their regular index. Not a trace in regular results, even though other postings on October 21 in other blogs (blog search "October 21" + blogspot), both newly established and older, are indexed in both 1) the popular regular search, as well as 2) the less-used blog search. The SVTB was available, but now can only be searched on the blog feature. Not as easily accessible, but hey.

I don't think any of us really understand the power that Google has over our information, what we are exposed to, how we are led to think, how an information giant could advance its own agendas, whether as a "Big Brother" company, or as a band of "little brothers" who have the means to manipulate the conversation. Nope, I don't think any of us fully realize the implications of that kind of power.

And their "Ethics Committee?" Just try to find a way to contact them. Go ahead, try.

"Do no evil?" How would we ever know?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Truthiness of Measure A

The Myth of Minority Rights in Santa Clara County Land-Use Policy

The great thing about living in a democracy is, majority rules.

Majority rule will soon be apparent to Santa Clara County rural residents who are now opposing Measure A, a county-wide land-use initiative that sets harsh subdivision requirements and building restrictions on 411,700 acres of privately owned rural land. Rural residents are complaining that an urbanite majority, who has no understanding of agricultural business or rural life, will soon be deciding their fate.

But really, what problem do these farmers, and ranchers, and rural families have with us putting more restrictions on the use of their private lands, especially when there are enough of us who want a pretty view and a fun place to go on weekends? We are the majority. This is a democracy. That is the rule. What does it matter if these restrictions disrupt their lives? Rural people in Santa Clara County are a minority, not even a recognized minority at that. Why do they expect special treatment from us, like conservancy easements, or fair compensation for land devaluation, or some other distributive remedy?

Haven't affluent urbanites already made a monumental contribution to Santa Clara County by transforming this valley into the prosperous Internet economy that it is? Measure A finally addresses the compelling reciprocal responsibility that rural residents have in meeting the amenity needs of this prosperity. Land is such a small sacrifice. Compensation for a regulatory taking of this land is also over-rated. Rural neighbors can still find any number of ways to scrape up monies for retirement, health care, and kid's education in an opportunistic Silicon Valley economy. It's the American way.

Our rural residents want us to believe that their land is their only family resource. This is patently untrue. Many of these families have grandparents who can readily tap into the labor needs of a nearby Walmart. The fact is, rural residents should have practiced more strategic capital allocation, or like their urban neighbors, found livelihoods that encouraged diversification, such as stock options, annuities, and 401k's. But we know from the press, as well as the promoters of Measure A, that farmers and ranchers are only puppets of insidious business interests, that they cannot think for themselves. This innate reasoning defect clearly mandates a social response. By restricting rural resident lands to ensure our recreational needs, we will also help rural residents prioritize monies, limiting their foolish spending on educational opportunity, and in doing so, we can protect their children from the stresses of an increasingly technological world, and the confusion of career directions that may go beyond their innate abilities. Santa Clara County rural families have been both myopic and unappreciative. It may not be apparent to them now, but future rural generations will thank the sponsors and urban voters of Measure A for binding their families to these regulated lands, soon to be our recreational playgrounds; rural families do not understand the great custodial opportunities that lie ahead. (At least we can be sure these disgruntled folk will never be our neighbors, unless they find cheap rent, but that's another initiative, another day.)

Many of these Santa Clara rural families have owned lands in the area for three or four generations. They should know by now how a true democracy works. This country was built on the confiscation of good land. It worked then, it works now. They are being unAmerican in opposing this solid tradition. Sure, they had their use in past years, but today's leadership is about technology. There's not a farmer, or rancher, or vintner in the whole lot. That is the past. (Has anyone even seen one of these rural people other than maybe on an organic food label?) Agricultural people insist they have real-world perspectives on environmental conservation and sustainability, and that, as stakeholders, they were denied a voice in this November initiative. More silly minority whining. They do not understand that Measure A was written behind closed doors, by a very smart man not unlike the Wizard of Oz, who excluded all voices equally. And besides, common sense tells us that real-world land-use expertise lies with the environmentalists. They have maps. They have Birkenstocks. And they know where they want to walk. Environmentalists, by their very name, understand the challenge of environmental frontiers, and have the courage to take their SUV's where no public has ever gone before.

Measure A offers us thirteen pages of sheer poetry, as elegant as the Gettysburg address. The initiative's author, Stanford emeritus law Professor Robert Girad, is undeniably Linconish. He stands privileged in the ideals of equal protection and due process, with learned expertise into who should bear all burden for our pretty views and recreational needs. Mr. Girard is a man who puts privileged democracy to work. And we should also applaud the campaign manager of Measure A, Peter Drekmeier of Palo Alto City Council, and ALL the Palo Alto City government endorsers who unselfishly propelled this initiative through their political networks. These Palo Alto officials know how to use and enjoy land; they, too, have real expertise. With their own keen democratic sensibilities over the years, they have enforced restrictions on all non-Palo Alto residents, prohibiting non-resident entry into their own 1400-acre Foothill Park, the only municipal park in all of Northern California to practice such strategic land-use protection. These conservation patriots have protected a recreational sanctuary for the enlightened few, keeping fragile land unsullied by messy, marauding county demographics. They know the power of land, the power of law, the gift of democracy. And they understand pending threat to our American ideals, our recreational entitlements, when minorities presume equal rights. These Measure A sponsors and endorsers don't see race, they just know where where their city boundary is.

Our adolescent Silicon Valley democracy is finally showing signs of maturity. Over the past few years, even Democrats and environmentalists have taken a few pages from Papa Rove. We are finally becoming one recognized people, one recognized law. Distributive fairness and progressive democracy have long been distractions, antiquated dalliances, that only muddy the waters of privileged freedom. As for Measure A, we know that beautiful open space is not free, it comes at a price, but fortunately, in a privileged democracy, it can be as cheap as your vote.

We always welcome praise in support of our righteous exploitation. You can email our staff at or alternatively send your praiseworthy comments to your local Palo Alto officials.

"Together we can all put privileged democracy to work."

From: Palo Alto Municipal Code
22.04.150 Foothills Park.
a)Only residents of the city and regular or part-time city employees, members of their households related by blood, marriage, or adoption, and their accompanied guests are entitled to enter on foot or by bicycle or vehicle and remain in Foothills Park. No person who is not a resident of the city may enter on foot or by bicycle or vehicle unaccompanied by a person entitled to enter and remain in Foothills Park...

Demographics taken from Wikipedia:
PALO ALTO: As of the censusGR2 of 2000...There were 26,048 housing units at an average density of 424.9/km² (1,100.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 75.76% White, 2.02% African American, 0.21% Native American, 17.22% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 1.41% from other races, and 3.24% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.65% of the population.

EAST PALO ALTO : As of the censusGR2 of 2000....The racial makeup of the city was 26.98% White, 23.03% African American, 0.83% Native American, 2.23% Asian, 7.63% Pacific Islander (mainly Tongan and Samoan immigrants), 34.73% from other races, and 4.56% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 58.79% of the population.

GILROY: As of the United States 2000 CensusGR2.....The racial makeup of the city was 58.91% White, 1.80% African American, 1.59% Native American, 4.37% Asian, 0.25% Pacific Islander, 27.73% from other races, and 5.35% from two or more races. 53.78% of the population were Hispanic.