Local Issues

Key Issues Facing Us

Safety Element: Earthquake and Fire Safety

Credit; Woodside Fire Protection District

We live in an exceptional beautiful community. That same beauty provides challenges as an earthquake fault zone and a wildland-urban interface.

We have worked for years with the fire department on earthquake preparedness and evacuation. It is time for a comprehensive evacuation plan to compliment the good work done by WPV-Ready and the Emergency Preparedness committee.

My home is in Woodside Highlands, which is in the highest fire-risk category. Fire safety is a deep and personal concern. There are many environmental and ecologically-sensitive actions we can take to make our community safer while maintaining the beauty of the community.

Having spent years as a volunteer for county search-and-rescue, local emergency response teams, and the town Emergency Preparedness committee, I understand what is involved in keeping us safe. I am heartened by the renewed citizen engagement on this issue. The Town should support community efforts with policies, programs, and grants. Ultimately our safety requires every household to join in the effort. I’m committed to ensuring that the Town has a robust safety element with strong public support.

We know what to do:

  • Hazard Map: Approve a new map
  • Regulations: Work on new regulations. Public buy-in is critical, regulations on their own are of limited value since they apply to new construction. We need everyone to understand why the regulation make us safer and apply them to existing homes.
  • Education: Everyone shares in the safety of the community. Get more information for keeping your home safe: https://wpv-ready.org/

Government Communication and Transparency

A positive side-effect of the pandemic lockdown has been virtual meetings. While I am not a huge fan of Zoom, the virtual meeting format has allowed public participation at unprecedented levels. Our best meetings happen when there is public input, more is better.

Keeping the public informed can be difficult job. It is critical for information about the town’s plans and decisions to reach people. Over the years I lived here, published information has improved with more information available on both the Town website and opt-in mailings, as well as external sources such as PVForum. While the published information has improved, responses to individuals with outstanding projects or questions on critical issues facing the town has fallen short. There are many reasons for a lack of responsiveness, the current results are unacceptable. This must be a priority for the Council.

What needs to be done:

  • Accountability: Residents should expect measurable goals and financially sound, enduring solutions. I’m committed to a transparent town budget and audit process; and an end-of-year review of the Council’s annual goals.
  • Empowerment: If committees are to be empowered then they need to part of a process that allows for meaningful input. Rework the way committees and consultants interact.
  • Commitments: Honor our commitments to respond and deliver. At the end of the day it is the Council responsibility to see that our government is meeting its commitments.

Honoring our Open Space Values

Image Courtesy of Stephen Lea, 2005

I share the founding values of the town to treasure open space. I am currently on the Open Space Committee and was previously on the Trails Committee. As a committee member I was instrumental in raising funds in support for our local open space and for building local trails. I work for Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District as a member of the volunteer trail patrol. I am also a strong supporter of POST and their good work in preserving regional open space.

One of the aspects that makes Portola Valley special is our commitment to preserving open space: we are not Atherton. This commitment is not an accident, it comes directly from our general plan. I will continue to support and, as needed, fight for our open space. This includes scenic corridors, view sheds, and wildlife habitat. If we don’t remain vigilant, we may lose what makes us special.

Being Guided by our General Plan

“General Plan serves as the blueprint for the Town’s future growth and development.” It is our “constitution” and defines who we are as a town. The general plan will come up for review during the next Council term. Any changes should be fully developed with a strong volunteer ad-hoc committee and extensive opportunities for resident input.

Interested in more detail about our general plan? https://www.portolavalley.net/town-government/general-plan

Housing Element

As a member of the Planning Commission, I have been involved in many housing policy discussions. For example, I helped craft the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) policy for the town.

Portola Valley needs to do its part for housing both because of state mandates and because it is the right thing to do. The hard part is balancing our Town values and the external legal requirements. I am committed to exploring creative solutions and doing everything possible to maintain our values and meet our obligations. There are no easy answers but we as a community need to engage in this process to create the best outcome for the community now and for the future.

What needs to be done:

  • Buy time to look for alternatives. This is a hard problem with no easy solutions, we need time to look for alternatives that meet our values and obligations. As a Planning Commissioner I created a “sunrise” provision to provide a 2-3 year stopgap.
  • Actively engage the community in looking for alternatives. We are a smart and caring community, there are potential solutions that fit in a 2-3 year timeframe that are not available today, we should actively pursue them.


Credit: Lorrie Duval

I have a long history of volunteering in Portola Valley and for Bay Area non-profits.

Portola Valley is unique in its level of volunteer participation. Volunteerism has been a core value since the Town’s inception. I hope to foster community volunteers by example, and encourage open and civil discourse in the council and committees. The work of volunteers is difficult enough: keeping an atmosphere of cooperation and neighborly respect smooths the process for everyone. Ad Hominem attacks are counter productive and not in the spirit of the Town volunteerism.